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April 14, 2008

Open thread 105
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:10 PM *

From my shelves:

You do not come to Euphemia only to buy and sell, but also because at night, by the fires all around the market, seated on sacks or barrels or stretched out on piles of carpets, at each word that one man says—such as “wolf,” “sister,” “hidden treasure, “battle,” “scabies,” “lovers“—the others tell, each one, his tale of wolves, sisters, treasures, scabies, lovers, battles. And you know that in the long journey ahead of you, when to keep awake against the camel’s swaying or the junk’s rocking, you start summoning up your memories one by one, your wolf will have become another wolf, your sister a different sister, your battles other battles, on your return from Euphemia, the city where memory is traded at every solstice and at every equinox.

Comments on Open thread 105:
#1 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 05:23 PM:

Funny, I was just wondering whether anyone had used as the basis for a story a world where no-one can individually discriminate between dreamt and real events.

Think of the legal system....

An elaboration I don't think would work: everything you've dreamt is remembered as having happened on Dreamday, the eighth day of the week---this probably being influenced by the band name "Eleventh Dream Day".

#2 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 05:52 PM:

Ah, the fungibility of memory. As Frost said, someday I shall say I took the one less taken, and that shall make all the difference, even if I didn't.

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 05:57 PM:

Over the years, I've played with the idea of a city of memory—functioning like a medieval memory palace—with an independent, though non-physical, existence. If you can imagine it well enough to find it, you can explore more of it and learn new things.

In retrospect, I think I derived the ambience of the city of memory from the book I quoted in this post, though the specific idea is not part of the work.

#4 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 06:00 PM:

This wins the Internet today: http://community.livejournal.com/metaquotes/6644038.html

ceruleanst writes:

ACT I SCENE 2. A road, morning. Enter a carriage, with JULES and VINCENT, murderers.

J: And know'st thou what the French name cottage pie?

V: Say they not cottage pie, in their own tongue?

J: But nay, their tongues, for speech and taste alike

Are strange to ours, with their own history:

Gaul knoweth not a cottage from a house.

V: What say they then, pray?

J: Hachis Parmentier.

V: Hachis Parmentier! What name they cream?

J: Cream is but cream, only they say le crème.

V: What do they name black pudding?

J: I know not;

I visited no inn it could be bought.

There's more. So much more. It made my day.

#5 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 06:09 PM:

Does anyone know of any good 'deep value' handbag makers? Ever since that thread, I've realized the annoyingly short lifespan of my purses/handbags/shoulderbags. I have a bunch of them, but most of them were impulse buys because I liked the outward design, or gifts that are pretty and sturdy but have at least one fatal design flaw.

My current one is ideal in size, but the fastener has gone and was never very good to begin with, so I'm constantly paranoid I'll lose something. I'm looking to invest in something that will stay with me, put up with abuse, and still look presentable.

What I'm looking for now is a bag big enough to hold two books, two small bottles of water, and a small lunch but that would still 'read' to a security person as 'purse' not 'messenger bag' or 'backpack.' Ideally it would have a lot of interior pockets for organization (one of the other weaknesses of my current one.)

I'm willing to make an investment (policemen's boots and all that) but am entirely uninterested in 'brands.' I own several Tom Binh backpacks/luggage items and have considered getting one of their smaller bags as a purse, but I was wondering if anyone knew of a more conventionally styled bag-maker who actually produced items that are functional and LAST.

#6 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 06:20 PM:

Ooo, Invisible Cities! I really liked Invisible Cities, though I could never finish If On A Winter's Night A Traveller, which my lit geek friends assure me is the worthier effort.

In the category of "Shakesperian pastiche", I submit for your approval... Hamlet meets Doctor Who.

Some time ago, I tried to rewrite Sonnet 116 ("Let me not the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments...") in C pseudocode, but it turned out sort of boring and lame instead of funny and geeky. I haven't messed with pastiche since. (Though I *am* toying with a vague idea for a modern Canterbury Tale.)

#7 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 06:22 PM:

Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities?

#8 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 06:48 PM:

Non Sequitur

Joe ducked low, zigzagged through the alley, darted into the street, ignored the honks of angry drivers and made it to the sidewalk, vaulted over a wall, dodged an angry Rottweiler to climb a chain link fence, climbed into a window, sidled into the kitchen and grabbed a cookie from the cookie jar, snuck out the back door ran down the side yard, dashed into the woods, strolled down the path , followed the gravel road past the old abandoned farmhouse, and was almost home, when he clumsily tripped over a clause, smacked his head painfully on a comma, suffered traumatic amnesia, and forgot the subject of this sentence.

#9 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 06:48 PM:

Euphemia: A Fantasia on Invisible Cities

There are two things they do not tell you when they wave you through the lines of camels, of burros laden with beads, strings of dried figs and memories of the latest fireworks display over the canals of Venice: you must lose a memory to get a memory. There are some memories that respectable people do not trade.

You find these out soon enough for yourself.

At first, you trade one memory for another that seems better, and feel rich: the palace intrigues, the memories of stars' births, that you get in exchange for the single memory of blowing the fluff off a dandelion at age five. The merchant weighs your memory in his scales, bites it to test its purity; he is satisfied when it spits a few white puffs into the air. They are carried on the currents through the bazaar where the people swirl in cloaks of red and yellow and blue, and disappear in the dust of a place where dandelions have never grown. What is a dandelion? you wonder, thinking this, and decide that it must be the name of this dark corridor where courtiers plot and whisper, or otherwise the explosion of light at the heart of the nebula.

Eventually, full of memories not your own, you perhaps forget yourself a little, or worse, remember yourself only as your darkest deeds: all you have left. You are desperate to get rid of them; you try to palm them off on passersby. One, taking pity on you, turns you toward a shadowed alleyway where customers and sellers whisper and look over their shoulders as they complete transactions, blackmails of the mind. You are reminded of hallways, a dandelion.

You enter the fray. You sell off the time you screamed at your mother before you left Venice and never returned, you sell off the time you broke your leg, you sell off memories of your black night-thoughts, the ones that prey when you cannot sleep. Someone is always willing to buy, and you leave with memories of quenching strange urges that you are sure you never had, of murder and of making your five-year-old daughter cry. You have no daughter.

*

"Rich" is one of the words you traded early, and because you are a shrewd businessman and canny, you got two memories for your one, both from a native of the town:

The richest man in Euphemia is a messenger who runs the most important memories between the high houses and richest merchants' stalls--all the great memories in the city pass through his head, but do not stay there. The houses and merchants appreciate his trustworthiness, discretion, promptness, and tip him lavishly with gold when he arrives at his destination. Memory is not the only coin the city accepts; he could buy Euphemia if he wished.

The richest man is else a tinker so poor he begs on the streets for bread and fights the rats for rancid meat. He has never traded a memory. Some, bitter, call him the stingiest man in the city, but he smiles more than anyone else.

*

The man with whom you traded looks to you, asks if you might know his name. You shake your head, realize what he can no more: the word "Euphemia" was his last hoard.

Moved now by pity to keep your end of bargains he no longer knows he made, for alms you--generous, rich, young and stupid--give to him memories of dandelions.

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 07:22 PM:

The name 'Euphemia' reminds me irresistibly of Euphemia Williams a politician* from Westmoreland, Jamaica. She was notable for being the candidate the Jamaica Labour Party ran against P.J. Patterson, Jamaica's longest serving prime minister, which means that she only won once, in 1980, when his party, the People's National Party was swept from power decisively (he wasn't PM then, Michael Manley was).

Anyway, Euphemia sticks in my memory not only because she was a perennial loser, except that once, but because in her official party photograph she was shown giving her party sign, the Winstonian v-for-victory sign, backwards. As a native Londoner I could only say 'oh, dear!'.

#11 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Leah @#5

I've been buying LeSportSac bags for some time. They are nylon, and therefore light and durable and somewhat washable. They close by a variety of means, zippers and snaps and magnets. I prefer zippers, though they eventually wear out, but while they work, they work reliably. They come in a variety of colors, patterns and sizes. Most have several compartments. The one I am currently using has two outside zippered compartments, and a main compartment, and a little inside one reached from the main one.

They are not cheap, but I think they are worth the money. Macy's carries them, but I don't know of other places. They also have a website:

http://www.lesportsac.com/

#12 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 09:29 PM:

A "house of memory" is also a memory-training exercise, often associated with the Tarot.

That is, having memorized the cards, you would visualize each of them as rooms (or perhaps corridors, according to the Qabalistic mapping). That lets you store memories in them, effectively "indexing" them by association. Naturally it can work with almost any other structured set of images; the point is just to provide a framework for associations.

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 09:33 PM:

Has anybody ever written a fantasy story about dust jackets? No, not a book's dust jacket, but a literal one, maybe one worn by an earth spirit?

#14 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 09:35 PM:

That "Library Thing" website is neat. I currently keep my records in an Excel spreadsheet. I should definitely thing about uploading it.

#15 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 09:37 PM:

Cassandra, #9: Wow. Just... wow.

#16 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 10:01 PM:

#13 ::: Serge :::

In Macleod's The Cassini Division, Iain M. Banks' Matter, and probably a whole lot of other stories as well, characters wear clothing/spacesuits made up of a large number of very tiny machines that work together---"flocking" potentially in more ways than one. This is nanotech inspired by fantasy, and well might be considered still in that realm.

(M. Banks, in another book, has an entire assassin just drifting in past planetary defences one mote at a time, then assembling itself into swift and dusty vengeance.)

#17 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 10:04 PM:

Two things. First, the cat/theremin sidelight is fricken hilarious. Just had to say that. With a house brimming with cats, that cat is fricken awesome.

Secondly, what is a cheesebear?

#18 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 10:27 PM:

Today I celebrated my cat Gypsy's birthday. I don't know the actual day, but he was estimated to be 3 months old when I adopted him in mid-July 1990. At 18, he is thin and frail, but his sight, hearing, and appetite are good, and he still holds his own with the younger cats. He got a dab of cream cheese, a little sliver of butter, and lots of cuddling for his birthday.

He does not play the theremin.

#19 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 10:42 PM:

David@12, memory palaces are significantly older than the Tarot, altho perhaps not older than cartomancy in general (did the Romans have playing cards?). It dates back to the ancient Roman schools of rhetoric (there are three main classical references, one is a brief comment by Cicero, the others are what remains of the "Ad Herennium", and something by Quintilian). One of the most definitive works of scholarship on the memory palace tradition is "The Art of Memory" by Frances Yates (which I happen to be reading piecemeal right now).

#20 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 11:13 PM:

Leah Miller @ 5 -- you might also consider the Tom Binh-like company "Red Oxx" (redoxx.com). I've only bought large duffles from them, but they make a couple of items that might suit. Again, these aren't cheap -- but the zippers are the really heavy-duty YKK brand and the seams are properly bound. Cordura is basically indestructable if the seams don't pull out, so these should last a good long time.

As an aside, the large duffles I got from them are a bargain at $50. For those of you who need duffles. They also have smaller sizes at smaller prices, suitable for jump bags.

#21 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 11:29 PM:

Anne, i wish your kitty a few more years. I had my first cat Aja go until about 18, when she had a brief illness and then basically winked out (she did have to be euthanized) and my third cat had a 19-year run and passed on her own after announcing it to the only member of the household awake that morning. I took her to the mortuary for cremation myself with many tears. (I am surprised at how good I am at driving and crying, but helping mom take care of dad in his dying days sort of trained me...)

I did have one cat that had to be euthanized early (11 y-o) because he got kidney disease and he was a nasty cat to any veterinary care. and a cat that we adopted at about 10-12 that was 17-18 when his kidney disease finally took him, we'd extended his life a long time with Sub-Q fluids and medication, and held him until he couldn't take any more.

You WILL know that time for your friend, I assure you. It makes it okay, in a way, because you know you've given them the best in the time they have. When they're not enjoying the day-to-day, it's time.

all my best.

#22 ::: Lauren Uroff ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 11:32 PM:

Leah @5, I've been carrying Bagg Lady bags for more than ten years, and my oldest one still looks totally fine.

I have three sizes (really small, large and really extra large), three colors (navy, burgundy, and black) and two different styles (regular and sling back). They're all pleather or psuede, and I just wash 'em, throw them in a zip style plastic bag, squish out all the air, and store in the bottom drawer of my dresser when I'm not using them.



#23 ::: Jim ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2008, 11:45 PM:

Something odd....

I was just browsing the fictionwise listing for The magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and it lists the author as "Spilogale Authors". Spilogale, according to Wikipedia, is a genus of Skunk.

Interesting joke...I wonder whose it is?

#24 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 01:46 AM:

Oh, Invisible Cities is one of my favorites.

So far the only other Calvino I've read is Castle of Crossed Destiny, and I found it oddly unsatisfying to the point of boredom. Writing stories based on Tarot cards is not a trivial task. The one time I tried it, anyway, the results were less than inspiring. (I'd post a link to the attempt, but the web page appears to be misbehaving at the moment - it keeps claiming to find no rows in the database even though they're right there. I'll have to troubleshoot it in the morning.)

Of course, having posted a statement like that, I expect any number of people on this thread will take it as a challenge. I'd enjoy that.

Cassandra, btw, you totally won my internets with that post, and my heart with its final paragraph.

#25 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 02:14 AM:

My injured-but-still-relatively-hale 15-year-old pointer would love a theremin, but I don't think she could do justice to it the way those cats do.

#26 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:22 AM:

> a world where no-one can individually discriminate between dreamt and real events

I recently read something with a very similar premise. Spoilers:

Gur Qbpgbe Jub abiry Gur Fgrnyref bs Qernzf. Vg gheaf bhg gung cerivbhfyl qrgrpgrq zvpeb-betnavfzf ba gur pbybal cynarg unir haqrezvarq gur novyvgl bs gur uhzna oenva gb qvfgvathvfurq orgjrra npghny frafbel vachg naq vzntvarq riragf.

#27 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:22 AM:

Cassandra?

That's really good. "What is a dandelion?"

May I humbly suggest you submit this for publication? Perhaps here.

#28 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:10 AM:

Funny, my edition of The Dictionary of Imaginary Places describes lots of Calvino's Invisible Cities, but not Euphemia. Maybe Euphemia is particularly invisible? Perhaps it's been listed in the newest edition.

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:42 AM:

Michael Turyn @ 16... Banks, in another book, has an entire assassin just drifting in past planetary defences one mote at a time, then assembling itself into swift and dusty vengeance

An assassin made of dust, in the vacuum? I hope his name wasn't Hoover.

#30 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 07:57 AM:

Thanks, Lee, Nicole, and Doug.

Doug--thanks for the suggestion. I'll give it a shot.

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 08:30 AM:

Cassandra... A much belated wow. And may I recommend your sending this to Realms of Fantasy?

#32 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 08:46 AM:

The Romans did not have playing cards. The popularity of cards is one of the consequences of printing.

#33 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 09:09 AM:

Serge @13 -

There was an old Outer Limits episode about a monster (a dust monster?) that was sucked into a vacuum cleaner.

Also, Spirited Away had those soot sprites in the furnace room who hustled pieces of coal to the furnace.

#34 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 09:13 AM:

There's something I've been wondering about for a while now, and I'm hoping you all won't mind indulging my curiosity.

How do you keep up with Making Light? What I mean is, how do you spot the new posts, comments, and particles/sidelights? I'm not as efficient at it as I'd like to be, and I'm looking for possible tips or a new way of managing it.

I have the main page in my RSS reader, so I always know when a new post goes up, but my reader (bloglines) doesn't work with comment threads.* I've had the best success so far by bookmarking the last comment of any thread I'm reading, then periodically going to all the bookmarks to see if there are new comments. Every so often, I go to the main page and check for new particles and sidelights.

It works fairly well, but it does mean that I don't notice comments on older threads, and I spend a lot of time refreshing pages that have no comment activity and changing/deleting bookmarks.

I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining about the site, because I'm not. I'm just wondering if there's something obvious I'm missing.**

*If I sub to a comment thread through bloglines, I get some number of most recent comments on that thread when I first subscribe, but the feed never updates. I haven't poked at it any more than that, because if I'm going to have to manually refresh the page, I'll just go to the individual posts directly. I'm also not convinced that I like RSS for comments because I can't scroll up to see the older comments.

**I do know about the "Most recent comments" sidebar and "Last **** comments" pages, but that long list of intermixed comments from different threads doesn't really work for me. I have trouble finding the oldest unread comment for all the threads I'm following, especially when our hosts have been prolific posters and we have many active threads, as we have recently.

#35 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 09:19 AM:

#33, Steve C. -

Weren't there similar dust/soot sprites in My Neighbor Totoro too? (Yes, I know, it is the same writer/director.) Somehow I got the idea that they were a piece of Japanese mythology (is that the word I want?), rather like we think of "gremlins."

#36 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 09:22 AM:

R M Koske, I check the site pretty regularly when I'm not at work (*blocking* it at work was the best thing to happen to my productivity in months) and click on the most recent comments of any thread-- not the oldest most recent comment, but the newest. Then I scroll up until I recognize something. It means I read some comments twice, but by the end of a long thread, I'm usually skimming anyway; the reread helps. It also lets me know where I last read the thread. I don't use RSS for anything-- I don't even have a Livejournal Friends page, partly out of stubbornness, partly because I like typing in each name as I want to read them.

In other news, fungus gnats are suppose to get *better* when you stop watering your plants, right? Grr.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 09:27 AM:

Steve C @ 33... Ah yes. The episode's official title was It Crawled Out of the Woodwork, but I later found at a gathering of fans that we all call it the vacuum-cleaner creature episode. Which prompted one fan to make a joke about the brain-house episode, in which a young woman turns to dust at the end.

#38 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 09:41 AM:

R.M. Koske @35 -

I believe you're right. My Neighbor Totoro is one of my favorite films - Miyazaki is a genius.

Serge @ 37 -

I'm going have to dig out my OL DVDs and watch that one again. Along with "The Zanti Misfits".

#39 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Steve C @ 38... Woodwork's SFX are primitive, especially by modern standards, but I can put myself in the frame-of-mind of the era, and so the whole is very evocative. I do the same thing with the Zanti Misfits, who are quite creepy when one goes beyond their silly appearance.

#40 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 09:59 AM:

Shakespeare parody: because it was on TV recently:

NYM: But Bardolph, ho! Where is our Bardolph now? What, Bardolph! Speak!

FLUELLEN: He's gone. Certain, he is gone, there is not a sign of him; there is not a Bardolph anywhere, look you, he is complete vapour'd.

PISTOL: Let's ask the wench Elaine. Boy, do you practice your French tongue upon her.

NYM: An I would she would practice her French tongue upon me, Ancient Pistol.

BOY: Peace, good Nym. Alors, mademoiselle, savez vous ou est le monsieur Bardolph? Le soldat anglais avec le nez enrougi? Est-ce que quelqu'un l'a pris?

ELAINE: Ah, monsieur, le foret est devenu vif et l'a pris.

BOY: Why, sure, the woman's mad.

FALSTAFF: Gentle Boy, what says she?

BOY: The very forest, she said, did come to life, and take him.

NYM: Damnation to her!

FLUELLEN: I must confess to you now, good Sir John, that this is entirely outside the principles of war; for I have soldiered in the wars now twenty years, look you, and there is nothing in my experience to account for it; no, not in the wars of great Pompey, at all.

FALSTAFF: Good Fluellen, you do belie your name; for I have heard it said you have no fear of aught of woman born.

FLUELLEN: Why, Sir John, you are wrong, look you, and my name is not belied; for I do not believe that this is a thing of woman born.

JAMY: Look here! Where Bardolph sat!

PISTOL: A horrid mark of clotted blood!

FLUELLEN: It cannot be Bardolph's blood; for his face was ever as purple as the grape, and no wine of this colour was ever pressed from any grape, it is completely against nature.

NYM: Why, cullies, if it bleeds, we'll make it bleed again!

(All discharge pieces and exeunt shouting.)

#41 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 10:15 AM:

Leah @#5: I also have a small LeSportSac bag (manufacturer website, in use), which I like a lot because it's extremely lightweight and reasonably weatherproof.

It's also bigger inside than it looks. In the front compartment I am currently carrying keys, a bundle of thumb-drive-type things, sunglasses, three pens, 1.5 sticks of lip balm, and a roll of antiacids. Middle: wallet, cell phone, PDA. Back: iPod, earphones. If I needed to, I could throw in a PDA portable keyboard, too.

Unfortunately because I have a poor memory for a lot of things I'm not sure how long I've had it. It seems pretty durable, though, in the details of its construction.

#42 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 10:18 AM:

ALGERNON: It seems, then, that we are being pursued by some malicious creature.

CECIL: Surely that can be no novelty for a fashionable playwright.

ALGERNON: (ignoring him) It appears to be able to pass completely unnoticed --

CECIL: Would it not to be more accurate, in that case, to say that it does not appear at all? In any case, I was always under the impression, Algernon, that you regarded most of your critics as unworthy of notice.

ALGERNON: (angrily) Damn it, Cecil, Sir Roger has been abducted by this thing, and there you sit, calmly eating cucumber sandwiches!

CECIL: Well, one can't eat cucumber sandwiches in an agitated manner.

#43 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:04 AM:

Jo@32: Ok, chalk one up for the Anachronisms-to-Avoid list. Altho I do note that Wikipedia says that playing cards were known in Europe slightly before the Gutenberg press and in China in the 12th century -- but as you said, they only really took off in Europe in the mid-to-late 15th century (i.e., after woodcut technology made them more affordable).

#44 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:23 AM:

Subcutaneous fluids for cats:

If you need to do this, and you haven't already, please try warming the fluid before-hand (ten minutes with the bag in a sink otherwise full of hot water, keep the connector out of it on general principles). It made a big difference to our cat's acceptance of them.

Building or bricolaging a cargo-cult IV stand also helped, because it allowed us to comfortably do it anywhere she felt at home.



Selfish note: doing this for her made her dying a lot easier on me than was the case for cats for whom we couldn't do much beyond ending their suffering.

#45 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:27 AM:

From email*, a paragraph that I simply cannot figure out how to begin to answer.

Why do you have to learn Dutch? There are now more mainland Chinese speaking English (Chinglish) than the entire population of North America, so why can't the Dutch learn it? Surely the E.U. will legislate for a common language eventually? Don't think for one moment that it will be Dutch!

Suggestions welcome.

-----

* Australian correspondent; the mutual interest is bookbinding.

#46 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:33 AM:

abi @ 45... Chinglish?

#47 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:34 AM:

45: I would suggest "...er, to speak to Dutch people with?" followed by a long stare.

#48 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:44 AM:

abi: ajay's response is good, followed up with "because the immigrant is the one who should learn the majority language", "because I don't think that the disappearance of non-English languages is a good thing"*, and "because whether the EU picks a language or not (and whether it's English or not), right now most of the people I talk to speak Dutch".

*: Assuming you agree with either of those statements. :)

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:56 AM:

abi, how about "Because learning new languages is cool and fun; because I want to help keep the Dutch language from dying out entirely; because there are social advantages to speaking the language of the country one lives in, even if one can "get by" without doing so; and because I'm sick of Dutch people being able to talk over me without my understanding a word."

Any subset.

#50 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:03 PM:

I'm still waiting for the Universal Translator to be developed.

#51 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:06 PM:

R.M. Koske: I use brute force. I try to remind myself to click the terminal comment when I get to the bottom of a thread. When I come back I hit "last 1000" and scroll to the highlighted comments. I then look to see the first new comment above that in the threads I'm reading (usually all of them).

If I forget, then I go to my last comment, and move forward. That often means a lot of re-reading/skimming to find the place I stopped, but it's how I keep up.

abi: That was a real sentiment? The mind croggles. My answer would be, "Because I am living here and that's what they speak." If I were to me more in the tone of persuading, the answers would be; on a practical level, "Even if the EU decides to make a pan-european lingua franca, and it isn't Dutch, that does me little good now."

I don't understand the reference to Chinese at all, it's a bizarre non-sequitor/appeal to majority which baffles me (as I don't suspect she thinks Australia ought to start speaking Chinese because there will soon be so many of them; or somesuch).

Ow, just ow.

#52 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:13 PM:

I haven't made it all the way through the clips yet, but I just wanted to thank you for posting the clip from Sister Act. That brought back a lot of good memories. (all mine, FWIW)

#53 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:19 PM:

Abi @45

"because the local land use council meetings are conducted in Dutch, and if I can't attend the local council planning meeting and speak, our house will almost certainly get the picturesque stork nest, the smiling tourists, and, nine months of the year, a miasma of rotting fish"?

#54 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:21 PM:

Steve C @ 50... Oui, oui... It still stings that ST-TNG's first episode indicated that by the 24th Century French will be a dead language. Then again that's the century where most Starfleet people don't seem to know who James T. Kirk was, which would seem to indicate a bit of a memory problem. (Must be Q's fault. Or maybe Trelayne's.)

#55 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:22 PM:

Terry 51: I think the point was that if so many Chinese can learn English, why doesn't the much smaller population of Dutch speakers just bow to their wisdom and do the same? It's a pretty stupid point, but it's not a total non sequitur.

abi, am I right in thinking most Dutch people do, in fact, speak English these days? That's what's put the Irish language in danger of dying out entirely (as a native language, at any rate).

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:31 PM:

And I just want to say that "Hysterically angry motorist vs. Cheesebear" shows an astonishingly patient, even phlegmatic cop. I think the behavior of the motorist, of course, is utterly inexcusable even if everything he says is factually true.

I do wonder how that got taped. The quality of the sound from the motorist implies that the cop was wearing a mike.

#57 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:31 PM:

#45: Maybe "because it's their home"?

#58 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:33 PM:

49, 53: in other words "because I don't trust the Dutch*, and I want to be able to understand at least a few important phrases like 'look, the dike has given way, flee politely to the nearest high ground**', 'so, it's agreed, we start persecuting everyone who isn't blond and over six foot four tonight?' and 'hands up everyone who doesn't want a miasma of rotting fish around their house'".



* No insult to the Dutch intended, they all seem very nice.

**Belgium

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:40 PM:

ajay @ 58... Don't the Klingons say "Don't trust a Dutch bearing gifts" ?

#60 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:41 PM:

Serge @ 50 -

I can see the scene...McCoy leaning over the French dictionary: "It's dead, Jim."

"Well, too bad...say, it's been two hours since I got laid, and I'm getting twitchy...any girls around?"

#61 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Serge @ 50 -

I can see the scene...McCoy leaning over the French dictionary: "It's dead, Jim."

"Well, too bad...say, it's been two hours since I got laid, and I'm getting twitchy...any girls around?"

#62 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:54 PM:

#36, Diatryma - The LJ Friends page is a particularly kludgy implementation of RSS, IMO. I had trouble keeping up with it unless I kept the number of regularly posting friends down to >5.

For some reason having to type in (or even open from favorites) a site on a regular basis is something I find annoying. Things that are only mostly-good get culled out pretty quickly when I have to do it.

(Would it help with the gnats to pull out the vacuum and suck them up? I do that when we get a fruit-fly invasion, and it seems to help a little.)

#51, Terry Karney -

I managed to teach myself the habit of clicking on post-timestamps to make the page scroll instead of scrolling the regular way. So even if I forget to click on the terminal comment, I'm usually close when I look for the highlighted comments.

I'm suspecting variations on brute force are the usual method. But it was worth a try. :)

#63 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 12:59 PM:

ajay --

Not so much "I don't trust" as "it's darn hard to participate in my local community when I can't speak the language"; the stork is intended as a humorous example of why you would care.

The "when the notice comes in the mail that the power will be off for four hours Tuesday morning" case is much more realistic, but perhaps not as funny.

#64 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 01:01 PM:

abi, #45: The first thing that springs to my mind is --

"Because I want to communicate with the people around me NOW, not at some unspecified time in the indeterminate future."

Xopher, #56: Indeed. I keep wanting to hit some of the people in the "Goose-stepping" thread over the head with it, and wondered if that might have been part of the reason it was noted in the first place.

#65 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 01:02 PM:

Many, many responses here I agree with. I am learning Dutch because everyone here speaks it, because the laws, contracts and customs that bind me are in Dutch*, because it's damned rude to come here and not speak it, because I like the language, etc, etc. There have even been instances where people have spoken about me in Dutch right in front of my face.

The problem is that there is so much to say that I am lost for a polite way to say it. It's like 10 people trying to go through a doorway at once—in the end no one gets through.

Xopher @55:

am I right in thinking most Dutch people do, in fact, speak English these days? That's what's put the Irish language in danger of dying out entirely (as a native language, at any rate).

Most Dutch people can speak English, to one degree or another. Even road construction workers can muster enough to give directions and explanations. But they don't speak it to each other†.

Gaelic stopped being everyone's native language in Ireland - native Irish households would have English as the home language. Here in the Netherlands, however, it's only funny foreign families like ours that have a household language that's not local.

-----

* You can take the driving theory test in English here, for instance, but the laws that the courts interpret and enforce are the Dutch ones, not the English translations.

† Except for swearing. English swear words like "shit" are considered innocuous enough for even older children to use.

#66 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 01:20 PM:

#65, abi -

It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that non-local curses are considered to be mild in a way that has nothing to do with their heat in their native homes. Which is annoying because I always find myself tempted to add them to my vocabulary.

#67 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Abi:

The only possible (maybe polite) answer is, "Why *wouldn't* I learn Dutch? I already speak X other languages ..."

#68 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 01:55 PM:

Michael Turyn @1: [..] a world where no-one can individually discriminate between dreamt and real events.

Think of the legal system....

Not quite the same thing, but in medieval Europe dream evidence was accepted in the witchcraft trials; i.e., "I dreamt I saw so-and-so meeting with the Devil" was accepted in the courts as evidence that so-and-so had in fact met with the Devil.

#69 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 02:13 PM:

abi,

I'm going to be impertinent: do you know if your Australian correspondent has a)ever traveled to a country where s/he didn't speak the language or b)had any dealings with non-English speakers in his/her community?

#70 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 02:15 PM:

abi 65: There are still places where Irish is the home language. As of a couple of decades ago there were still people who spoke Irish but not English.

These are, of course, the poorest parts of Ireland.

Btw, there are several different Gaelics (Irish, Scots, Manx, Northumberland, others), and they're mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Since you've lived in Scotland, I'll take your word that they just call their non-English language "Gaelic" there, but I have it on good authority that the Irish call their Gaelic "Irish"--when speaking English.

#71 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 02:15 PM:

abi @ 45

Having picked my jaw up off the floor...

I'm amazed. Yes, English is commonly the default language, particularly in Europe for mixed-country gatherings, but you're living in the Netherlands. Speaking Dutch will make all sorts of things in everyday life easier (reading signs, understanding labels, taking part in numerous little transactions, jokes etc..

Ever year when I go to the European conference for zoo/wildlife veterinarians, I am humbled by all the people around me who are presenting papers in English, and conversing with me in English. I am very aware of the number of groups of vets from other countries who speak several languages and politely switch to English when I join them, because this poor Englishwoman cannot manage enough of any other language to hold a conversation in it (I have managed a semi-French conversation on rare occasions, so long as I could answer in mostly English).

#72 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 02:56 PM:

Ronit @69::

do you know if your Australian correspondent has a)ever traveled to a country where s/he didn't speak the language or b)had any dealings with non-English speakers in his/her community

I do not know; we converse intermittently on the challenges of being a self-taught hobby bookbinder, with only the most peripheral information about our lives.

I would suspect from the tone about the Chinese that he has encountered Chinese immigrants to Australia and not been impressed. But because we generally do not get into peripheral matters, I can't really see how to address how very strange I find his comments.

I'm casting around for some way to tell him that he's got no clue whatever about the realities of European life without either ranting or foaming at the mouth. Because I am a little tempted to do one, or both, of those things.

You see, it is almost possible to live here without learning Dutch. It's possible enough that it drives me nuts that people suggest it, in the way that a suggestion that we all switch to Basque does not.

#73 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 02:57 PM:

abi #45: Yeah, it sure seems like it would be hard to really consider someplace home if you didn't speak the native language, even if most everyone could speak yours. Besides, there's something really cool about understanding foreign language conversations around you, especially when the speakers don't think you will be able to.

I have a Dutch friend whose American wife learned Dutch while living there, and she said it was fairly hard learning to speak it, because people would often hear her American English accent and switch to English.

#74 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 02:57 PM:

Serge, #46: Don't know what it means to an Australian, but in Hong Kong, "Chinglish" is the word used -- mostly by Chinese with good English -- to ridicule errors caused by using English vocabulary but Chinese grammar.

#75 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 02:59 PM:

In the theater of memory

Every play is an improv,

Stored bits remade from

Piles of scattered stuff --

Yet the taste of the first kiss

Remains so real.

#76 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 03:17 PM:

albatross #73: people would often hear her American English accent and switch to English

From the "How Others Hear Us" department, that brings to mind an old Benny Hill skit where he would be dressed in American tourist couture and speak using his impression of a standard American accent. Funny but odd.

#77 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 03:17 PM:

Malthus #19:

Another nice book on medieval memory (and its classical antecedents) is Mary Carruthers' The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture. It doesn't just do memory palaces, but also looks into the connections between memory and narrative.

#78 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 03:29 PM:

I tried very hard, when living in Venice, to stick totally to Italian. This was made much easier by the fact that I was staying in a relatively non-touristed area, and that tourists generally have no need to get replacement pot handles at the ironmongers. Result, I made some friends (or at least friendly acquaintances), such as the 80-year-old lady at the dentist (she practiced her English and I practiced my Italian). The dentist himself only spoke Italian, so I had to mug up on vocabulary before even making the appointment. The weirdest conversation, though, was at the ironmongers; the proprietor, convinced that I was Inglese rather than Americana, insisted on discussing, in great detail, the (then-big-news) rift between Prince Charles and Diana. However, I think my graduation exercise must have been deciphering the manual for the programmable thermostat; this was much more difficult than taking notes on a fifteenth-century diary.

(It only now occurs to me to wonder if the thermostat manual was the Italian equivalent of those electronics manuals whose English versions appear to have been produced by Google Translate.)

#79 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 03:29 PM:

Xopher @70:

Re Irish/Gaelic

Interesting. In Scotland, Scots Gaelic (pronounced "Gal-lic") is generally discussed in contrast with Gaelic (pronounced "Gay-lic"), which is the Irish language. I shall note the Irish usage for the future.

#80 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 03:30 PM:

abi -- hey, maybe everyone learning Basque is actually the answer. It would be a great leveler. (Oh, wait. Then we'd have the factions for Rumantsch, Sorbian, and what-all fighting for primacy, like scrapping siblings.)

But I do sympathize, both with the necessity of learning the local language and impatience with the "but English is everywhere, why bother?" mentality. And teaching ESL, I've come to realize that for a lot of Europeans, English is something that they learned at school, maybe 20 years ago, and haven't necessarily had to use again. So just blithely expecting that *everyone* speaks and understands English is ... unrealistic. Just like expecting me to use the French I learned in college. Oy.

#81 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 03:40 PM:

albatross @73:

I have a Dutch friend whose American wife learned Dutch while living there, and she said it was fairly hard learning to speak it, because people would often hear her American English accent and switch to English.

It's a real challenge. But I've found that if I reply to the English comment in Dutch, I can often drag the conversation back into Dutch.

One day I was at the post office trying to mail a parcel, and was making a real hash of things. I apologised to the woman behind the counter for my bad Dutch. And the guy behind me, clearly keen to get his business done, asked what my first language was.

"English," I replied.

"She speaks English," he said (in Dutch)

"I know," I said, still in Dutch, "but I need to practice."

And the two of them bestowed on me a matched pair of delighted smiles. He stepped back, and she and I made it through the transaction in Dutch.



My current strategy for practicing is to only IM my Dutch colleagues in Dutch (our office runs about half on Skype chat rather than actual talking to one another). I had to give that up this afternoon, when I was frustrated for other reasons and hadn't the patience to try to convey what I needed to say in my clunky Dutch. But I do try to do it all in Dutch.

#82 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 03:43 PM:

Tony Zbaraschuk @75:

Excellent.

#83 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 03:50 PM:

I'm just glad nobody expects me to use the COBOL I learned in college any more. heh.

#84 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 03:52 PM:

joann @67:

"Why *wouldn't* I learn Dutch? I already speak X other languages ..."

Well, though, there's the problem. Dutch is the fifth language* I've studied, but let's look closely at the list, shall we?

1. English, in which I am reasonably fluent.

2. Spanish, in which I can pretty well get along as long as we're talking in the present tense. My high water mark there was 8 days in a hospital where no one spoke English, but that was 17 years ago.

3. Latin, which is not taught as a spoken language. I can compose things in Latin, or translate into it, but not quickly.

4. Classical Greek, a language I never loved and have forgotten almost entirely

I have never achieved what I would consider adequate fluency in another language than English. Something in me secretly doubts that I can. That's hard to fight against, harder than any other obstacle.

----

* by which I mean natural language; we glide over my fluency or lack thereof in BASIC, Pascal, C++, ML, COBOL, REXX, and C#

#85 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 03:53 PM:

Stories of Memory

All agree that Euphemia has been inhabited since ancient times, but many are the arguments over how it has grown, and which neighborhoods began first or have grown the most. There are some who tell the tale of an English poet who spoke a couplet, ten iambic feet*, that crawled out upon the bare ground, sat for a moment, and began to unpack itself into a new and shining neighborhood of homes and shops and bustling crowds. They say if you walk to the edge of town, you can find it unpacking still.

The sages of Euphemia are quick to point out that the city is the center of all that is or could be imagined, for memory is a fragile and mutable thing, often transforming and rearranging itself into new shapes. Certain it is that one can look out from the battlements of the city's towers and see memories of the past, or look through the grilles in the walls of the crypts under the city and see future memories. More than this, those who know the city best will tell you of places where you may gaze into what might have been, or scry what can never be.

* "Remembrance and reflection, how allied,
   what thin partitions, sense from thought divide."
     - Alexander Pope: Essay on Man
#86 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 04:00 PM:

Earl Cooley III: I have a Thai freind, who was in Japan with Americans who spoke brilliant Japanese. He could get by (with, as usual better comprehension than speech). So when someone spoke japanese, the Americans tended to answer.

Once the response was, "Oh, look, your monkeys can speak", to which he put on his thickest Indian accent and say, in English, "Yes, they can, isn't it wonderful?"

He said the faces slamming shut when they realised he wasn't japanese was wonderful.

re speaking the local language: When I go to Ukraine I don't speak the local language, but rather Russian. Because I am plainly not Russian (even with a decent accent, my stresses are so-so and my grammar has gaping wounds where English is too solidly part of how I parse things), they cut me slack.

I do try to use Ukrianian versions of polite noises (though one has to be careful, a sloppy rendition of thank you can sound terribly offensive, sounding something like "prick"), and that helps, but my greatest trump card is apologising for only having taken russian for one year.

Never mind that it was a year where I was in class, studying Russian, 40 hours a week, plus homework, study and living with 160 people all doing the same; I leave that out.

When they hear that, they think me an incredible speaker of russian, and I get even more slack.

#87 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 04:03 PM:

You do realise, all of you, that the storytellers of Euphemia are often hanged as counterfeiters?

#88 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 04:05 PM:

RM #34: I do something like brute force. Because I comment way too much, I tend to do a backward search for "albatross," and then skip ahead until I start seeing unfamiliar posts.

You can always do the "distinguished points" trick. Choose some high volume poster whose posts you remember, and then search backward for their name until you get to the last post of theirs you've read. That gets you passably close to the end of what you've read.

I've heard a couple of people complain that ML is too hard to read because of the volume of the comment threads and the lack of sub-threading within these threads. IMO, it is high volume, but dividing up the subthreads would lose a lot of what makes it wonderful.

#89 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 04:11 PM:

albatross @88:

Because I comment way too much

You comment somewhere between not quite frequently enough and just the right amount.

#90 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 04:12 PM:

Terry @ #86, was your Russian study at the Post-Grad school in Monterey?

I spent 5 hours a week learning Russian in both my junior and senior years in high school, but it's mostly long gone. I can still read and verbalize what I read, but I don't necessarily understand it.

#91 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Being Open-thready:

Sticking my favorite Pope couplet on that last post made me think about the concept of "golden lines", the lines of a work or an author that stand out above the lines they're with. The classic example is

    a rose-red city - "Half as old as Time!"


but there are many others. Another one I'm fond of is

    That hour, O master, shall be bright for thee;

Thy merchants chase the morning down to the sea,

What are your favorites?

#92 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 04:28 PM:

I've had to get by in Estonia with Russian (as Terry said of Ukraine, being obviously not Russian helps), and in Hungary with German. I can say "I don't understand" and "thank you" in Hungarian, and little else aside from song lyrics. I don't know any Estonian at all.

I try and use German when I'm in German-speaking countries and Dutch when I'm in the Netherlands, except when I'm socialising or dealing with accommodations. It's far more exciting than it should be when a Dutch person actually responds in Dutch; I don't have the same problem of being answered in English when I'm in Vienna. This could be in part because I have actually studied German (even if only for six months), and have only picked Dutch up sort of randomly. Also, German's far easier to pronounce. :) (I consider myself lucky to finally be able to more often than not hear the difference between -ee- and -ij- in Dutch; reproducing the latter is another story. Not to mention -ui-.)

Of course, then I have to hope I actually understood the reply....

It was also fun when I was studying in St Petersburg and had been there long enough for the lady at the AmEx office who was keeper of the incoming mail to start complaining to me about the clueless American tourist who'd been ahead of me in line, in Russian. Getting randomly harangued in Russian, along with a young Russian girl, by a babushka at a bus stop was another highlight.

#93 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 04:58 PM:

How do I keep up?

I don't, haven't since February, too many things to do outside, behind on everything online and in the house. Only here the last couple of days because I've got a head cold where all the symptoms are dialed up to eleven.



#94 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:06 PM:

abi,

Except for swearing. English swear words like "shit" are considered innocuous enough for even older children to use.

ha, same with english swearwords in hebrew. i was very taken aback my first year, when an ultra-orthodox woman, with whom i was slightly acquainted & whose baby i was holding, asked me "did he make shit?"

swearing in arabic, on the other hand, is double swearing. as hebrew is a recently resurrected language (& resurrected by goody-two-shoes marxists) there are very few good swear words in hebrew itself.

on people switching to english when they hear your accent,

yeah, barreling on in my grating hebrew usually worked for me. after living there four years, my accent got so good people asked if i was french, or russian.

on easily mispronounced phrases you're better off not trying on natives (re terry),

my sister-in-law is russian, so my brother gets her to teach him russian phrases to use with her relatives. they gave up on "where are you going?" because he could only say, "where are you, idiot?"

#95 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:12 PM:

I read ML by clicking on the "See last 1000 comments" link and scrolling down to the last one I've already clicked on. I open the first one after that in a new tab and read the thread from there on, then close the tab and scroll up the list until I get to a different thread, then open that one in a new tab and read to the end. I repeat until I'm done, and then click the very top comment to hold my place until I come back.

#96 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:13 PM:

abi @72 & 81:

I would suspect from the tone about the Chinese that he has encountered Chinese immigrants to Australia and not been impressed. That sort of linguistic entitlement and cluelessness comes from somewhere.

It must be very strange indeed, with all the effort you're putting into achieving fluency, to hear this nonsense from your correspondent.

#97 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:16 PM:

In the spirit of open threadery, and in honour of the Republican party standard-bearer's latest contribution to economic theory:

Prices are rising, driving us all mad,

we all agree that no one can relax;

this is the worst condition, things are bad,

and we can't bear up under these attacks.

McCain says "Cheer up, every lass and lad,

don't shiver in the face of these small cracks!

There is no reason for you to be sad.

We'll just remit some eighteen cents of tax!"

No one could doubt that someone would be glad

to send old John an email or a fax,

explaining just exactly how to add

some more gravitas to his ancient tracks.

For while we suffer he still has to pad

around selling ideas taken from mouldy sacks

and smelling rather worse than day-old shad:

"We'll just remit some eighteen cents of tax!"

#98 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:21 PM:

Linkmeister: Not at the NPG (Naval Post Grad) but DLI-FLC (Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center: yes, I've been institutionalised).

They are a few miles from each other.

albatross: I didn't say that I used my name to find things, in part because I am so frequent a commenter. I've learned better than to say things like, "I post too much".

I don't, for one, think you post too often.

Then again, I don't, really, think anyone here posts too often. I do think threading would be the death of much of what I value here.

#99 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:25 PM:

I'm not keeping up with ML well just now, but my technique works all right when I have the time. I keep a tab open on any thread I"m actively following, and when I have time I go to a tab and reload it, go to the bottom, then scan back up for posts I've already read. This works as long as I don't have so many open tabs that I forget to check some of them, and fall so far behind I either have to skim through or abandon the thread.

I tried using GoogleReader to watch RSS for individual threads, but two things defeated me: the lag between posting and seeing the post in the reader, and the fact that I couldn't get the Reader to keep the posts in numerical order, totally confusing me as to what I had read and what I hadn't.

#100 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:29 PM:

abi #65: In Dutch-speaking (Batavophone?) countries English swearing may have a touch of exoticism. I'm still puzzled by a English-language graffito I saw in an alleyway off the Domineestraat in Paramaribo "yrg gur cbyvpr shpx gurz nyy". Since Surinam is a Dutch-speaking country this was rather odd.

#101 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 05:39 PM:

albatross @ 73:

I have a Dutch friend whose American wife learned Dutch while living there, and she said it was fairly hard learning to speak it, because people would often hear her American English accent and switch to English.

I know several non-Dutch astronomers who had two or three-year postdoctoral postiions in the Netherlands, and they've said the same thing.

(Dutch astronomers are almost invariably the most fluent non-native English speakers and writers in the astronomical community. I'm told this is partly because much of the Netherlands has historically been able to receive British TV broadcasts, and even the Dutch channels apparently broadcast foreign television shows with Dutch subtitles, rather than dubbing them.[*])



[*] Although even dubbing television programs into the local language is preferable to the approach taken by Polish TV: turn the original soundtrack way, way down and have one person read all the parts from a translated screenplay.

#102 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:08 PM:

Mirian Beetle @94 -

ha, same with english swearwords in hebrew. i was very taken aback my first year, when an ultra-orthodox woman, with whom i was slightly acquainted & whose baby i was holding, asked me "did he make shit?"

Okay, that's the funniest thing I've read today.

#103 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Peter Erwin @101:

even the Dutch channels apparently broadcast foreign television shows with Dutch subtitles, rather than dubbing them.

Apart from children's TV, this is pretty well universally true. It's also the case for films, again except for kids' films. (Kids aren't expected to know English yet.) My colleagues also cite this as a reason that their English doesn't get rusty even when I'm not about.

My fellow student of Dutch in the office says he learned the word for body (het lichaam) by watching CSI and reading the subtitles.

#104 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:21 PM:

I had a great time one night in Germany watching an American movie, in English, with German subtitles. It's how I first learned the word 'verfolgen' (from the title of the movie) and that 'spiel' is "play" but also "game."

#105 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:51 PM:

The only Dutch I have is "I'm sorry I don't speak Dutch" - and I've never had to use it. I've only ever encountered one person in Holland who couldn't get by in English - and she spoke German as well as Dutch.

Interestingly, although I can't speak Dutch, I can read it - or at least, make sense of most things - simply by reading it aloud in German and listening to myself in English (if you see what I mean).

Two memories of my last trip to Amsterdam:

Watching the checkout girl in the local corner shop as she spoke to customers in front of me in the queue - Dutch, German, French and then English. She spoke four languages and was working a till - in England they'd make you a cabinet minister if you could do that.

And standing by a canal with a street map out, trying to work out just which bridge over which canal it was. A chap cycled past, glanced at me and immediately hopped off his bike, strolled over and said "Good morning, are you lost, can I help?" I can't think of any other capital city where the first passer-by would offer help. (I'll give him a pass on automatically assuming that a clueless tourist must be English)

#106 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:54 PM:

Interchangable memories? What a weird concept. After a while you will forget who you are. Or someone else will.

#107 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:55 PM:

Terry @98, I just wondered because we briefly lived in Monterey while Dad attended the NPG school (not for languages, though).

When we lived there I attended a school at the top of a hill. At the bottom of that hill was my house. It was a long (mile, maybe? I was 8) bike ride around and up to get to school, but the ride home was about 5 seconds of absolute exhilaration.

#108 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:56 PM:

Bruce at 91: may we just share lines, couplets, and verses we love?

He's not in fashion, but this verse of Swinburne's still takes my breath away.

For winter's rains and ruins are over,

And all the season of snows and sins;

The days dividing lover and lover,

The light that loses, the night that wins;

And time remembered is grief forgotten,

And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,

And in green underwood and cover

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

And also, from Robert Bly:

I am a man in love with the setting stars.

#109 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:58 PM:

Since this thread has fairly few comments on it so far, here is my start of a Making Light song, sorry I couldn't write the whole thing.

(to the tune of Model of a Modern Major General)

I seek illumination from the writers on the fluorosphere.

Each time I look at Making Light I see that even more is here.

Politics and parodies and poems mean a lot to me

as well as all the minor lore of dinosaurs and sodomy.

Chorus:

As well as all the minor lore of dinosaurs and sodomy.

(I envision the chorus singing some lines disemvowelled and some lines in ROT 13, but rhyming with lines that aren't.)

#110 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 06:58 PM:

Sylvia Li @ 74... Thanks for the clarification. Mind you, in all the years I've been around the Bay Area or dealing with its denizens, I have never met any immigrant from Asia(*) who didn't have a better grasp of English grammar than Dubya has. All right, that is setting the bar pretty low.

(*) Or from anywhere else for that matter. I see one from Québec in the mirror every day.

#111 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 07:12 PM:

Swinburne has some really incredible lines, like Prosperine

holding all things mortal

In her cold immortal hands

but I've never really been able to read them for mre than just individual lines.

#112 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 07:14 PM:

I studied French for several years in school but never got up to full conversational fluency (and it doesn't help that it was a completely different dialect from the one spoken a day's drive from here). As is usual with people who learn languages in school, my reading comprehension is much better than my aural comprehension. When I see French-language movies, I often wish that they had French subtitles instead of English ones; it would make it much easier for me to parse the spoken language, because I wouldn't be context-switching in every sentence, and probably help me keep up the skills I have.

I've heard that people trying to learn the language of the country they've moved to often use closed captions for the deaf when watching TV, for the same purpose.

#113 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 07:17 PM:

Peter Erwin @101 says the Dutch are good at English: I'm told this is partly because much of the Netherlands has historically been able to receive British TV broadcasts, and even the Dutch channels apparently broadcast foreign television shows with Dutch subtitles, rather than dubbing them.

This is the approach taken in the Scandinavian countries too. It comes from olden days of cinema: in smaller markets like Scandinavia or the Netherlands overdubs would be too expensive, so they'd take the cheaper solution of keeping the original sound and adding local language subtitles. We wouldn't want it any other way now, of course; overdubs are for kids, and small kids at that.

Around these parts, Norwegian State Broadcasting has a radio news channel that gets a lot of material from the BBC - they'll send English-language news items untranslated in the regular broadcasts, and the occasional whole programme. And at night they just relay the BBC World Service.

#114 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 07:20 PM:

Andy Brazil @ 105: The only Dutch I have is "I'm sorry I don't speak Dutch"

I don't speak English

#115 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 07:22 PM:

Erik 106: Interchangable memories? What a weird concept. After a while you will forget who you are. Or someone else will.

It's worse than that. After a while you will stop being who you are.

Matt 112: I use closed captions every day, at home, in my native language. I don't learn anything from it except what the people on the screen are saying, which I can't otherwise figure out. :-)

#116 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 07:24 PM:

Subtitle story: Back in the days of laserdisks (and pricey ones at that) a friend was looking in a catalog and found one for Das Boot, with subtitles.

He snapped it up.

When it arrived, it was Das Boot, it was subtitled, the subtitles were in Japanese.

What I found disturbing about seeing Das Boot dubbed was how the speech seemed to be English, for the lips; and then it would suddenly be all wrong.

#117 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 07:33 PM:

Matt McIrvin @112: I've heard that people trying to learn the language of the country they've moved to often use closed captions for the deaf when watching TV, for the same purpose.

I like to have English subtitles when watching English-language stuff on DVD - It means I don't have to catch every single syllable of dialogue, but I also don't have to read a lame translation.



Terry Karney @116:

You might enjoy this bit of trivia: Das Boot is actually dubbed in the original language. According to the commentary track on the 3 1/2 hour director's cut DVD, there was too much noise on the set for sound to get recorded cleanly, so they redid the dialogue afterwards. As they pointed out, Germans are good at overdubs...

#118 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 08:19 PM:

abi and Terry: Thanks for the kind comments.

Roy #117: I do that with Spanish language TV sometimes; it's especially helpful if many people are talking at once

#119 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 08:31 PM:

R. M. Koske @34:

I noticed the same problem with the RSS comments feed in NetNewsWire. My workaround is to keep the comments open in a tab; once I catch up I open the last comment in another tab, then close the original. When next I read I can hit reload, then read forward in the tab. (I don't have a problem with too many tabs because stuff that I want to keep around gets moved to Safari; thus tabs in NNW are either things I haven't read yet or ML comment threads.)

#120 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 08:32 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo @ 117

Many movies are at least partly postdubbed these days; it's a result of the fact that many movies are made at least partly on location, where background sound, wind, etc. are very hard to either control or remove from the audio recording.

#121 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 08:33 PM:

Anyone ever been to Constantinople?

It's a stop on a cruise we're considering. (The cruise we've been trying to put together for a couple years now. still haven't booked it.) I thought it might be interesting, historically. But someone we know who'd been there said they got their face slapped for not having their arms covered up.



I spent some time in Israel for work, which was a bit of a stress, not a lot, but a bit. Having my coworker drive me around for lunch and then point out all the places a suicide bomber had blown themselves up, was, odd. But I didn't freak and fly out of the country. But I don't know if I really want that sort of mentality for what is supposed to be a vacation.



Maybe I'll just stay on the boat that day.



#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 09:14 PM:

Greg...Istanbul was Constantinople, now it's Istanbul not Constantinople. Been a long time gone, Constantinople, now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night.

#123 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 09:40 PM:

I don't think any of us are old enough to have been to Constantinople.

I have a friend (in Tel Aviv right now) whom I think has been to Istanbul. I ask. I'd love to go to the spice market there.

#124 ::: Jim ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 10:14 PM:

@Abi, in general--why do you feel the need to respond to this question at all? The questioner is obviously not a language learner, nor a cultural explorer, and so probably will never understand.

My family has never understood why I needed to learn German, Italian, Russian, Japanese etc.*

Language learning, to those who try it and those who love it, is often an end in itself. Practical considerations of daily life aside, it's an excellent way to keep your brain all happy and fed.



@122 Xopher

Damn you, that is going to be in my head for WEEKS.

*Actually, they might understand a bit of why I need to learn Japanese, as my wife's English isn't so hot yet.

#125 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 10:42 PM:

And it's been even longer since visiting Byzantium, except in imagined memories.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,

#126 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:18 PM:

Jim 124: @Abi, in general--why do you feel the need to respond to this question at all?

Good point. abi could just go ahead and write to hir as she has before, with no mention of it. It might have been a joke, one of those that doesn't come off without the proper tone, which doesn't come across in writing.

Damn you, that is going to be in my head for WEEKS.

Hey, there are worse things to have in your head.

#127 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:29 PM:

Xopher, #122: Why'd Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks'!

#128 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:29 PM:

Years before it became a stew of racism and xenophobia, the National Lampoon used to parody xenophobia and conspiracy theory by occasionally running articles on the "Dutch Menace" ready to grind us beneath its wooden heel.

Now that I think of it, "Dutch Menace" is probably the name of a strain available from Mark Emery Seeds....

#129 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2008, 11:35 PM:

Has everyone noticed that Fafblog is back? Go Giblets!! Yeah team!!!

#130 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 12:08 AM:

Skipping ahead here: I keep a tab for each thread I follow as well, but as I leave a thread, I click on the date header of the last message I read in that thread, then place the bookmark.

When I return, I click on the bookmark and I'm back where I was.

It's easy enough in Safari to clean up the duplicate bookmarks; not sure about other browsers.

#131 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 12:09 AM:

Skipping ahead here: I keep a tab for each thread I follow as well, but as I leave a thread, I click on the date header of the last message I read in that thread, then place the bookmark.

When I return, I click on the bookmark and I'm back where I was.

It's easy enough in Safari to clean up the duplicate bookmarks; not sure about other browsers.

#132 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 12:15 AM:

Double post.

Double post.

Apologetic commentary on double post, noting clumsy fingers, slow internet, and nearby dinosaur sodomy as mitigating factors.

#133 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 12:27 AM:

On languages: I think every group of friends must have a linguist or general language nerd and a geologist or general rock nerd. My favorite groups of friends include both, though in some cases both of them are me. Now that I've noticed that, it makes a little more sense how many conversations turn to words or rocks... or, because it's me, incredible feats of biology nerd.

I was both aware of my awkwardness and very proud of it when a Chinese labmate asked if there was a word for the green stem on a poplar tree cutting-- the herbaceous vs the woody part, more or less, a way to differentiate what she was sampling. Twenty minutes, two paper towels of diagrams, and an explanation of vascular cambium later, I answered her simple vocabulary question.

#134 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 12:54 AM:

Diatryama: I tend to be the language geek, rock geek (though Maia is the one who took geology, I'm the one who really likes it), plant geek, and food pornographer.

As bits of nerdery go, those are at least as entertaining as my facination with weaponry and things which go whooosh! and boom.

#135 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 01:11 AM:

R.M. Koske, #34, I use old-fashioned means. I keep a piece of paper on the desk with the names of active posts and I check each one, finding the spot I last read and reading down from there. When a post hasn't had comments for two days, I mark it inactive (cross it off) and when new posts appear, I add them. I realize that a post could become really active again after two days, but I have to limit it somewhere and that works for me.

Tony, #75, great!

#136 ::: Distraxi ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 01:36 AM:

Matt @112

Latin American cable TV (mostly US TV with spanish subtitles) did wonders for my Spanish. Doesn't help with pronunciation, but it's great for learning how to reduce what you want to say to its simplest foreign form (either Spanish has a really small vocab, or they just use a tiny subset for subtitling, I've never figured out which).

Greg @ 121:

Wonderful place*. Get off the boat. Nothing like the pervasive paranoia** you get in Israel, but a fascinating mixture of east & west with more history than you can shake a stick at. Pretty heavily touristed though.

Do your best to be at the Blue Mosque when the call to prayer goes off in the evening (at about a million dB). The noise scares all the roosting birds off the roof and they circle the minarets in the uplighting. I'm not Muslim (or even religious) but I've never felt closer to God than when drowning in a wall of sound in the courtyard of that building.

But yes, covering skin is, at a minimum, polite***, though hair covering and the full-on overcoat isn't necessary. They're pretty cosmopolitan by middle eastern standards, but it's still a muslim country, and some of the older folk blame westerners for everything that's wrong with "the yoof of today" (see ***).



* Istanbul that is. Can't speak for Constantinople, but if you've found a cruise line that goes there can I have their details? A passenger liner seems like such an irresistably right way to time travel

**except it's not paranoia when they are out to get you

***spray on clothes, on the other hand, seem perfectly acceptable, for the local girls at least.

#137 ::: Distraxi ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 01:43 AM:

Diatryma @ 133 on groups of friends:

Yes, but it'd be nice if every group of friends included some people of practical use too. Need a micropaleontologist? No problem. Molecular biologist? I can find you three or four. Plumber? Forget it.

#138 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 02:33 AM:

Distraxi: Simple plumbing (repair/replace the disposal, swap out washers, faucets, toilets, replace the line from the main to the house) I can do.

A new shower, not so much.

I make a tolerable handyman (and give me a mill, a lathe and a foundry, and I'm more than tolerable. I wish I was better at forging).

#139 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 02:55 AM:

Istanbul was Constantinople, now it's Istanbul not Constantinople.

As God as my witness, I thought Turkey could fly.

#140 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 03:14 AM:

Greg: And the fish suit.

#141 ::: Distraxi ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 04:13 AM:

Terry @ 138

I used to live in a proper house with a proper garage and workspace, and work somewhere that gave me access to a proper machine shop.

Now I live in an apartment and work somewhere where touching the tools if you're not a technician will get you shot.

I hadn't realized how much DIY I did until I couldn't.

Having said that, I've always hated plumbing, and having an excuse not to hunker upside down under the sink is nice. Be even nicer if I didn't have to PAY the guy who does it for me, is all....

#142 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 04:17 AM:

Roy G. Ovrebo @ 113:

This is the approach taken in the Scandinavian countries too. It comes from olden days of cinema: in smaller markets like Scandinavia or the Netherlands overdubs would be too expensive, so they'd take the cheaper solution of keeping the original sound and adding local language subtitles.

I've read that dubbing of foreign movies was originally mandated by the government in both Italy (under Mussolini) and Spain (under Franco), in part to more effectively censor potentially disturbing content.[*] (It wouldn't surprise me if this were true of Germany as well.)

[*] On at least one occasion, a pair of adulterous lovers (in the movie Mogambo) were turned into brother and sister by the Spanish dubbing!

#143 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 05:00 AM:

Xopher @104 -- I had a great time one night in Germany watching an American movie, in English, with German subtitles. It's how I first learned the word 'verfolgen' (from the title of the movie) and that 'spiel' is "play" but also "game."

I'll see your English and German and raise you French. Once I was in Basel for a conference and decided to go to a movie. "Good Morning, Vietnam" -- in English with German AND French subtitles.

re: dubbing. Germany has a large enough market (80+ million) to make dubbing affordable. Unfortunately they don't seem to be able to afford a different sychronizer for each actor. Thus we are constantly saying, "Hey, that's Teal'C!" or Dr. House, or whoever -- a small number of people dub a large number of actors.

#144 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 05:33 AM:

My method of keeping up is almost identical to that of ethan@95 -- two points of difference:

1) I don't open the threads in tabs, I just click on the link to the post and then when I'm done with the thread I click the "back" button. [*]

2) When I'm done for the night, I click on the links to the last three posts, not just one. This makes it easier to find my place when I'm starting to read, the next night.

[*] For some reason tabbed browsing has never appealed to me. When I want to follow a link without losing my current place, I do a new window rather than a new tab. (And use Apple's Exposé to get around when things get cluttered.) This does mean that when I post, I have to go back to the comments list by hand, as the back button no longer works. I might start doing the threads in new windows, then closing the window when I'm done with the thread....

#145 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 05:39 AM:

abi@84: You've read Homer, but don't love Ancient Greek? I wouldn't have thought it possible. Sigh.

Here's my list of languages:

1) English, of course.

2) French, a reasonable reading knowledge (although somewhat lacking in vocabulary) but not conversational fluency. I think I could become fluent if I lived somewhere where I could immerse myself.

3) Ancient Greek, which I don't converse in but read at least a little bit every day.

4) Classical Latin, in which my level is somewhat below abi's.

5) German, two semesters of college classes, twenty years ago, which is enough to help a bit when playing board games on line...a smattering.

6) Japanese, two semesters ditto, which is not even a smattering.

Old English goes on the list in a couple of months.

#146 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 05:56 AM:

Debbie @ 143:

Unfortunately they don't seem to be able to afford a different sychronizer for each actor. Thus we are constantly saying, "Hey, that's Teal'C!" or Dr. House, or whoever -- a small number of people dub a large number of actors.

I think that's generic for dubbing markets, particularly since good dubbing requires some skill at making the dubbed dialog seem to match the timing of the original actor's lip movements.[*] The same thing holds true in Spain, for example, where a single voice actor dubs both Clint Eastwood and Darth Vader.

[*] We're not talking about the classically bad sort of dubbing applied to, e.g., Hong Kong movies on American TV in the 1970s.



Xopher @ 104:

Some German channels do show foreign films with subtitles, at least on occasion. But the vast majority of foreign films and TV series are dubbed, unfortunately.

#147 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 06:15 AM:

Matt McIrvin @ 112... When I see French-language movies, I often wish that they had French subtitles instead of English ones

Meanwhile, French movies with subtitles in English are a weird experience for me because, even though French is my native language(*), my attention is always drawn to the words at the bottom of the screen. And it's interesting when the spoken words and the translation don't quite match.

(*) I started learning English in my later years in primary school, and practiced most of it watching Bugs Bunny cartoons.

#148 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 06:16 AM:

Debbie @ 143... I'll see your English and German and raise you French

...must... speak... Frennnnnnnch...

#149 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 06:52 AM:

Peter Erwin @ 146:

I remember being told that when a Harry Potter movie was dubbed into Norwegian for the local DVD release (the cinematic release was original sound with subtitles, but an extra soundtrack was made for the DVD, in order to reach the younger kids) that they took care to choose Norwegian phrases that matched the English words as closely as possible as to the length and even lip movements. This sometimes meant choosing or even making up Norwegian phrases that were not quite what a native speaker would have said in that context.

I'm not a fan of dubbing in general, but some German TV dubbing is surprisingly good at being non-intrusive. In the nineties I discovered that we had a few German channels on cable, and that some American shows that I did not otherwise have access to ran on those channels, one example being Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I would have preferred the English original, and not just because I'm better at English than I'm at German, but it was watchable.

The one kind of dubbing that I really have trouble with, is the Russian one, where one person reads all the lines and generally acts more as a narrator than a dubber. Not the least because they do not remove the original sound, just turn it down.

Per

#150 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:03 AM:

Peter Erwin, 143 -- no doubt you're right about the dubbing market. As far as English-language programming goes, the pay-TV network in Germany (Premiere) broadcasts many if not all of their foreign language programs in both German and the original language. Of course, that usually means English, but Pan's Labyrinth was viewable in both German and Spanish.

Serge @147 -- I've noticed that the quality of animation has increased dramatically since ye olde afternoone cartoone days. (Yeah, duh.) But this is indeed noticeable with speech. I tend to subconsciously lipread dubbed shows anyway, to find out what is 'really' being said, and darned if I haven't recognized original English lip movements in animated characters.

As far as French goes, if you're trying to hypnotize me in an effort to pull out my three years of instruction from the recesses of my addled brain, more power to you! Wish it were that easy.

#151 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:15 AM:

Debbie @ 150... darned if I haven't recognized original English lip movements in animated characters

Clutch Cargo, anybody?

Oh, by the way, I wasn't trying to hypnotize you. That's Bruce Cohen's thing. Since you had mentionned raising the French, I immediately thought of zombies. Coming soon, Charles Boyer, maître des zombies...

#152 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:20 AM:

There is a debate going on here in Norway (and probably in the Netherlands as well) about what will happen with our national languages - and other smaller European languages - eventually. Will they be supplanted by English, or will we - either in a transitory period or even the end result - have a future situation where English is the "serious" language (some large Norwegian companies have already decided that their official language is English, for use even when Norwegian speakers send e-mail to other Norwegian speakers) for business etc., and Norwegian is just a "home language" for a segment of the population, or even the language of a "linguistic underclass".

There is also a tendency that Norwegians more and more tend to spurn knowledge of foreign languages other than English. English is mandatory in schools, and most students choose either German or French (some have the possibility to choose Spanish or Russian, according to what the shool offers) later on. But since Germans nowadays often start a conversation or e-mail correspondence with a Norwegian in English, it is often more easy to continue using English than to signal that you have a bit of German.

On the other hand, the world is not quite that awash in English that we in Western Europe sometimes assume. At my job there is still a demand for someone willing to speak German (not so much to native German speakers as to persons from the Balkans and other parts of Eastern Europe, and some nations in Asia as well), so there are still some parts of the world where other foreign languages besides English are held to be important.

P.C.

#153 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:48 AM:

Roy G Ovrebo @ 117:

I also use the English subtitles (when available) on DVDs. For the reasons that you mention, and because I do not have an equal grasp of all English dialects or sociolects. It also seems to me that I tend to turn the sound more up when watching something not in Norwegian, without subtitles, and as I often watch DVDs in the evening, I prefer use the subtitles as a "crutch" rather than to turn the sound up loud.

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:57 AM:

The American movies I grew up with were dubbed into French, but, as an adult (not an illegal one, abi), I wound up living in an anglophone environment and thus became very familiar with the real voices of the actors. After that, I became unable to watch those actors dubbed into French, because those voices feel all wrong. There are exceptions, when the actors did their own dubbing, like Petula Clark in Goodbye, Mr.Chips or in Finian's Rainbow. Beautiful accent in French.

#155 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 08:25 AM:

Some years ago in the Netherlands I was served in a bakery by a Dutch woman who didn't speak English, French or German. I think that's the only time I've not had some language in common with people in the Netherlands. On the other hand I'm not a regular visitor. (Wikipedia suggests that 87% of Netherlanders have a working knowledge of English).

One thing that has occasionally wrong-footed me is meeting someone who speaks fluent English with an American accent, and only slowly does it become clear that they're Russian, or Dutch or, once, Israeli. I find I've been allowing for the wrong cultural differences.

Serge #147 - have you seen Cyrano de Bergerac? Not only is the French dialogue in Alexandrine couplets*, so are the English subtitles (a quick google says that this was Anthony Burgess's translation of the play).

* Except when they're reciting poems with a different meter, obviously.

#156 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 08:35 AM:

Serge @151 -- Since you had mentionned raising the French, I immediately thought of zombies.

Ah. Although zombies have become much more present in my mental world since reading ML, I wouldn't say they're immediately present.

Cerveaux manquant -- zombies. Français manquant -- me.

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 08:41 AM:

Neil Willcox @ 155... I saw the movie, but it was so long ago that I had forgotten about the unusual dialogues.

#158 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 08:43 AM:

#144, David Goldfarb-

I wasn't a fan of tabs for a very long time, either. I finally tried Firefox for other reasons and figured that I might as well play with the tabs since I had them. The two things that sold me on tabs were an add on that remembered all my tabs and their histories* and the ability to use a keyboard shortcut to go to the last selected tab. It's interesting the stuff that will turn us off of an idea and the stuff that will make it work for us.

*Firefox crashed last night, and I reopened all 93 tabs and their browsing histories without much trouble. You do need to do something non-browser while it loads, or you'll crash it again, but I find that ability to be pretty priceless.

To everyone who responded to my question, many thanks. I think I have picked up some ideas that will definitely be helpful. The fun part is that the tricks I'll use at work are different from the tricks I'll use at home.

#159 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 08:50 AM:

#136 - Distraxi -

I keep planning to watch more Latin American TV and work on my Spanish, and I never succeed. The first trick (and the reason I've failed so far) is to find a show that will keep my attention.

I used to watch an old sitcom called "Que Pasa USA" that I loved because the family included three generations - grandparents who spoke almost no English, bilingual parents, and kids who spoke almost no Spanish. I could follow the plots without knowing the Spanish, which made turning on the subtitles and working on my Spanish far more appealing. It's probably too dated now for even the worst syndication slots.

#160 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 09:05 AM:

I might try the subtitle thing for movies sometime (I'm not a huge movie watcher), but I think I'd be distracted by the words. It's the same with comics: I read the words and never look anywhere else, so I miss a lot. The only languages I speak with practical use are English and Spanish (must recover my Spanish).

The lip thing throws me, though. When vacationing in Mexico with my family, we tried to find English TV. There was some, but the sound was noticeably lagging. I couldn't understand the words at all. Since then, I've been much more aware of how much speech I take in visually.

Distraxi, I could find a plumber at need-- same guy who fixed my trunk when the automatic pull-down broke by pulling it apart, messing with wires, and eventually using a portable jump pack (not that kind) with alligator clips and manually sparking the latch down to the right position. Some friends of mine had a housewarming party once; the rugby friends sat by the fire playing drinking games, the music friends sat on the patio playing music in an exclusive way, and the engineer friends stood in the kitchen watching him fix the sink.

It is interesting how the science-heavy background changes things. Another friend explained liquid chromatography by saying it's like a water softener... and the three labmates she told this to sat back and said 'aha' for we had just been told how water softeners work: like liquid chromatography.

#161 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 10:56 AM:

O all-knowing fluorosphere:

Bruce Schneier's blog has an interesting discussion going on right now[1], involving the Stanford Prison Experiment. One of the posters has claimed that the SPE is not too well regarded in psychology circles, as its full details weren't published in a peer-reviewed place, and a later experiment contradicted the results. ISTR that there are a few people who've studied psychology here at enough depth to know, and it's far enough outside my field that I can't really evaluate whether this is true. So, can anyone give me some clues here? Is this study and/or researcher well-regarded? Has it been replicated or discredited or whatever?

[1] With a commenter with my nickname who isn't me--yes, that's annoying, though I guess I should have chosen one less likely to collide with others' choices.

#162 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 11:05 AM:

RM #159: Have you ever seen the PBS show Destinos? It's a sort of soap opera/novela that runs through a moderately complicated story, starting with a lot of English and backing and filling to help you follow it, and advancing to more and more spoken Spanish. I used to get up for my son's middle-of-the-night feeding and watch the show every night.

I have a hard time finding most Spanish language TV available here very interesting. But Spanish language radio is much more lively and interesting, except when they start talking about futbol, and my comprehension drops through the floor. The downside is you can't get closed captioning. My favorite program is this medical call-in show (Dr Elmer Huerta), in which the doctor responds slowly and calmly in good-bedside-manner mode, explaining various medical things. I've learned a lot of Spanish and a fair bit of random medical stuff from it. (It helps that a lot of medical terms come from the same Latin root in Spanish and English. If you know what kind of doctor specializes in kidney disease, it's not so hard to guess what a nefrólogo is.)

#163 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 12:28 PM:

US State Department redefines "Public Domain"

http://www.dsrt.fiu.edu/exportControl/definitions.html



"Public Domain (22 CFR 120.11) is a term used in the ITAR that generally corresponds to publicly available information under the EAR. Under the ITAR, public domain means information that is published and that is generally accessible or available to the public: (1) through sales at newsstands and bookstores; (2) through subscriptions which are available without restriction to any individual who desires to obtain or purchase the published information; (3) through second class mailing privileges granted by the U.S. Government; (4) at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents; (5) through patents available at any patent office; (6) through unlimited distribution at a conference, meeting, seminar, trade show or exhibition, generally accessible to the public, in the United States; (7) through public release (i.e., unlimited distribution) in any form (e.g., not necessarily in published form) after approval by the cognizant U.S. government department or agency; and (8) through fundamental research."

#164 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 12:34 PM:

#162, albatross -

No, I haven't heard of that one. I'll definitely look for it, it sounds ideal. Spanish-language radio sounds like it would probably work for me too (I could do that one at work!) Thanks for mentioning it.

#165 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 12:40 PM:

Peter 146: Well, this was in 1976. A great many things have changed in Germany since then, and not just from a landscaping* perspective.



*"That huge wall there has got to go. I mean, what on earth were they thinking?"

#166 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 01:01 PM:

"That huge wall there has got to go. I mean, what on earth were they thinking?"

Sounds like an excerpt from "Extreme Makeover: Dictatorship Edition".

Or "Queer Eye for the Stasi Guy".

#167 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 01:06 PM:

http://www.pmddtc.state.gov/docs/itar/2007/itar_part_120.doc

§ 120.11 Public domain.

(a) Public domain means information which is published and which is generally accessible or available to the public:

(1) Through sales at newsstands and bookstores;

(2) Through subscriptions which are available without restriction to any individual who desires to obtain or purchase the published information;

(3) Through second class mailing privileges granted by the U.S. Government;

(4) At libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents;

(5) Through patents available at any patent office;

(6) Through unlimited distribution at a conference, meeting, seminar, trade show or exhibition, generally accessible to the public, in the United States;

(7) Through public release ( i.e. , unlimited distribution) in any form (e.g., not necessarily in published form) after approval by the cognizant U.S. government department or agency (see also §125.4(b)(13) of this subchapter);

(8) Through fundamental research in science and engineering at accredited institutions of higher learning in the U.S. where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community. Fundamental research is defined to mean basic and applied research in science and engineering where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from research the results of which are restricted for proprietary reasons or specific U.S. Government access and dissemination controls. University research will not be considered fundamental research if:

(i) The University or its researchers accept other restrictions on publication of scientific and technical information resulting from the project or activity, or

(ii) The research is funded by the U.S. Government and specific access and dissemination controls protecting information resulting from the research are applicable.

(b) [Reserved]

versus

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/circ92.pdf

Sec. 12 · Works in the public domain. Title 17, United States Code, as amended by this Act, does not provide copyright protection for any work that is in the public domain in the United States.



#168 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Greg @121 re: Istanbul

Go, go, go. Yes, you may dress a tiny bit more conservatively*, but no more so than in many places in the US. Go to Google Images or Flickr, search on Instanbul & Street, and you'll see that you've nothing to worry about.

The standouts for me, based on the strongest of my (now 9 years ago memories) are the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, the Underground long-lost cistern, and just cruising on the wonderfully inexpensive ferries from Europe to Asia and back again. (And if you like mosaics, there was this wonderful little church...)

Wonderful street food, meze (tapas), that tasty stretchy ice cream... all good. The bazaar was fun for a walk, but I would learn to say, in Turkish, "I have already bought a rug." That's the only thing that'll stop the sales people.

Is it a cruise that'll go to Ephesus? That was a standout as well.

Have you been on a cruise before?

I ask because the one thing they'll get you on is the shore excursions. They might charge $X that'll take you to one or two places, crowded with the other people who paid along with you.

Instead, with a little planning, you could pay 1/4th of $X for a guide and a car just for the one or two of you, where you control your time.

Not every excursion is like that--but ones that take you to standard tourist spots easily can be. An hour or two of research per stop now is well worth it.

------------

* iirc, don't show your shoulders (mosques will have shawls to put on otherwise), don't wear shorts**, and don't wear military-style colors or clothing.

** because (again, iirc) shorts are considered tacky for adults, a concept orthogonal to local religion. I did see tourists wearing them, there.

#169 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 02:23 PM:

Per Chr. J. @ 152: There is also a tendency that Norwegians more and more tend to spurn knowledge of foreign languages other than English.

I met some Germans at a conference in Montréal who were very annoyed at people "refusing" to speak English to them. There are some political issues with English in Canada, but I pointed out more generally that, while every German I've met outside Germany spoke English very well, this was not at all the case for people I'd met inside Germany, and Canadians were no different in not universally achieving fluency in the second language taught in the schools.

Re 153, it's normal for native English speakers to turn up the volume when listening to something in a different regional dialect. I've also seen subtitles on US tv for thick accents a few times.

Paula Lieberman @ 167: Aren't those just two different Public Domains? I don't think the ITAR definition is supposed to have anything to do with copyright.

#170 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 02:39 PM:

I might well have had second thoughts about flying into Istanbul on September 11, 2002, but the conference where I was speaking made our reservations. In the event we had a very pleasant three days in a beautiful city, although admittedly we did not attempt to go around on our own at all.

I honestly don't remember shawls being presented at the mosques to cover shoulders, but anyone in shorts or a midriff-baring top was given one--in a pretty offhand fashion. Those same people made their way through the bazaar and other public spaces without any problem.

#171 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 03:18 PM:

Per Chr. J. @ 152

Hey, if all those other languages go, we're going to lose sources we can rumage through for extra vocabulary!

Seriously, although I love my native language (English), and sadly I'm not fluent (or even able to "get by") in any other language (I'm a rotten linguist, wish I was better), I think the world would be poorer if everyone spoke the same language (even if that language was English).

#172 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 04:01 PM:

I speak English (obviously), can sort of get by in French (3 years of school compressed into 2 in high school), Latin (same), and have smatterings of Spanish and Japanese.

Right now, I'm learning Láadan. Is anyone else interested in it?

#173 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 04:15 PM:

albatross @ 161: My partner is a psychologist, so I'll ask her about the SPE. (Luckily for me, she is not a clinical psychologist, but a research psychologist. Very different approach to life!)

Nancy C. Mitten @ 172: I remember reading Dr. Elgin's books and enjoying her description of Láadan, but I've never had the determination needed to learn it. Good luck!

#174 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Found on MeMo's blog, here is the geek hierarchy.



#175 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 04:54 PM:

In descending order of present fluency

English (Native)

Russian (Good/Fair) [I can read it, and comprehend it. My speech is adequate]

French (Good/Poor) [I can still read it fairly well, hear it tolerably. My speech is atrophied terribly. Russian comes out]

American Sign Language (Poor) It used to be fair (or perhaps good), but I have not been even passable in at least 15 years. No practice, and it's kind of hard to read/listen to.

I can scrape by in Spanish, and sort of understand Italian. Latin I can get the broad gist of, but I have to grab a dictionary to decipher the bits which are opaque.

I can make polite noises in German, Japanese, Korean, Ukrainian, Arabic and Hebrew.

I speak menu in all sorts of languages.

It looks so impressive when I write it down.

#176 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 05:32 PM:

I wonder what Fred Clark thinks of that change Typepad is forcing on people.

#177 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 05:35 PM:

I studied French for several years, and then took a couple years of Russian.

One time I was trying to think of the answer (in Russian) to the professor's question. He said that I gave the answer in French. The funny thing is that I have no memory of what I actually said -- I just opened my mouth and Foreign Words came out.

Also it seems that I spoke Russian with a French accent. One of the other people in the class had first learned German, and even I could tell that she spoke Russian with a German accent. Our Russian tutor described my French accent as "good" and the German accent as "bad," which seems a little unfair.

I believe that the Russian word for German, nemetskii, means "mute" -- ie, "people who can't talk." That's harsh.

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 05:45 PM:

Laurence @ 177... I gave the answer in French.

In 2004, I went to visit my family in Quebec, 9 years since my previous trip. Someone asked me a question and I started answering then I stopped myself. "I was speaking in English, wasn't I?"

#179 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 05:48 PM:

Terry@176

His exact words (in a P.S. to a 4/12 post) were "I haven't yet figured out how to turn off Typepad's annoying new comments-per-page limit, but I was able to switch it from the extremely irksome 25 to the slightly less irksome 50 setting."

(One of the irritating features of the new paging system is that there isn't any link to go to the last page of comments. Although there IS a pattern that allows you to figure out how to modify the URL to get there.)

#180 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 05:56 PM:

Michael I. Reading the announcement, it's not something one can opt out of.

Me, I think it makes things less readable. If/when I get a freestanding blog, TypePad just lost me.

#181 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 06:07 PM:

Michael I. Reading the announcement, it's not something one can opt out of.

Me, I think it makes things less readable. If/when I get a freestanding blog, TypePad just lost me.

#182 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 06:17 PM:

After reading Cassandra @9, I found myself typing this:



"I have no memory of those events, Senator," I said.

(I had traded them for a nightsky full of hot air balloons, an afternoon in a treehouse with a kitten and four minutes on stage as the most beautiful Ophelia ever seen).

#183 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 06:26 PM:

Serge @ 178: "I was speaking in English, wasn't I?"

I once read a story by Rudyard Kipling in which he talked about his childhood. He was born in India, spent his early years there, and apparently learned some of the language. Then he was sent "home" to England until he was . . . more or less grown up. At which point he went back to India.

Consciously he no longer remembered any of the Indian* words he had learned, but once back in India he found himself speaking words that he had forgotten the meaning of. He said that this was a very strange experience, but he'd heard of other colonial children doing the same thing.

* I know there is no such language as "Indian." I can't remember if he even specified which language he learned.

#184 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 06:43 PM:

Laurence 177: I few years ago I was working with one of those language programs (on CD) where they say a sentence in English and you're supposed to repeat it in the target language (in this case, Spanish).

The English sentence was "I have three pesos." I got all the way to the end of the sentence and realized I had no idea what the Spanish word for "peso" was. THEN I realized that I'd said the beginning of the sentence in Russian, and it was the Russian word for "peso" my brain was tripping over.

I put the Spanish program away for the day. My blog entry about it was titled "Ya govoryu nur ein Bißchen de Español."

#185 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:00 PM:

Drat it, I have to take another language to see if my brain does the same things. I already know I have the English and Not English slots in my brain-- I respond to all non-English as Spanish-- but let's see how entertaining I can be, shall we?

#186 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:02 PM:

Xopher 184: Brains are funny things, aren't they?

#187 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:30 PM:

Hindi, is probably what Lawrence (#183) was groping for.

This is a typical second, third, etc. language default. Spanish is our second language. Dealing with French, when stumped, the words and phrases and sentences come out in Spanish.

Love, C.

#188 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:40 PM:

Laurence #177: Also it seems that I spoke Russian with a French accent.

I was told this as well, though it was first described as an "aristocratic" accent, which was apparently a nice way of saying "a really archaic pre-revolutionary frenchified accent like my grandmother". I have no idea where I picked it up, since I was mainly self-taught. My Russian handwriting was very neat (unlike real Russian handwriting). When someone went out to the airport to meet a visiting Russian geologist, I'd make a nice legible sign, which prompted one of the visitors to ask "where did you find a Russian calligrapher?" Alas, I've forgotten almost everything, including typing (25 wpm, which maxed out our antique Cyrillic manual, and about 40 wpm transliterating to Roman alphabet, Library of Congress style.

In my high school Spanish classes, we practiced our comprehension by listening to (among other things) tapes of Radio Havana broadcasts of Castro haranguing the masses. As the Cold War was still in full swing, this made us feel rather daring.

#189 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:42 PM:

When I was in France on a school exchange trip, the family I was staying with also had a German au pair.

The German au pair had very little English, and I knew even less German. So we spoke French to each other, much to the amusement of the actual French children -- I have to suppose our accents were comical. And our slowness.

But the really entertaining part, for me, was that when we ran up against a word that wasn't in either of our French vocabularies, we'd try it out in our native languages -- and they usually turned out to be German/English cognates!

#190 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 07:45 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens @ 172: Cool. I'd not heard of Láadan. Does it, er, work?

#191 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 08:36 PM:

The weirdest dubbing I ever heard was an episode of F-Troop dubbed into Thai, followed immediately by the "Knights and Demons" episode (video here) of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, also dubbed into Thai. Even in English, this episode is bizarre: Peter Parker as a combatant in a thinly-disguised campus SCA tournament (he changes into his Spidey-suit in a pavilion); interdimensional Arthurian bad guys; and a touch of Lovecraft.

In both cases, the Thai dialogue would run out before the English, which just kept keep running.

#192 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 08:36 PM:

Rising up from the periodic exercise of grading undergraduate papers, I find myself needing to share this, ahem, gem:

"Once again I must implement, violence causes more violence, and sometimes people fight so long they forget what the fight was about to begin with. An example if that would be Iraq. The military went over there to show them that America is very strong and whatever issues they have with the United States need to be squished, since American holds the better end of the barging stick."

Free donations of Laphroaig would be gratefully accepted.

#193 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 08:52 PM:

Ralph,

I don't know if it works or not. I am capable of forming a short declarative sentence, and have translated my name (Hána, for Hannah (the Hebrew root of my name), which also means "flower" in Japanese (which is appropriate because of my middle name)). I am progressing slowly (still memorizing the vocabulary from lesson 1), and was hoping that given the lovely geekiness of this site, someone could communicate in it already and would be willing to correspond, or someone would be interested in it, and like to learn it with me!

#194 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 09:13 PM:

albatross@161, I've read in a couple of places that the SPE wasn't done with much of any scientific rigor (I believe the guy conducting it was also part of the experiement himself, i.e. no double-blind.) and that attempts to replicate it have produced much different results.

I think the main problem is that it was a single experiment, and no matter how many people it involved, over how long of a time, it qualifies as a single data point. People will interact, they become the culture, and the culture gives the outcome. A single experiment with 20 guards and 20 prisoners would be a single outcome, a single data point. You can't say that there were 20 people in the experiment, and 7 of them abused their authority, therefore a third of your average American would abuse authority. A single individual can easily drag the entire culture down into violence.

But then, I may be projecting. I think I'd last longer than a week before I'd abuse whatever authority I was given. So, I may be thinking people in general would do better than the SPE tries to say. (Since we've already had (a year ago?) the indignant uproar about how wrong it is for me to think this of myself, folks can email me directly if they feel the overpowering urge to tell me what they believe it the proper amount of faith I can legitimately have in myself.) I certainly wouldn't design a prison system that relied on the guards being altruistic and perfect, there would be checks and balances and other procedure to make sure bad actors didn't get out of hand. But I think I could last more than a week before I'd start abusing my authority.

#195 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 09:24 PM:

Re Dubbing:

I am australian, and although the Bananas in Pyjamas were not around during my childhood, they are pervasive enough that I know they have, in their native country, detectable Australian accents.

However once, when in Denmark on business, I turned on the television and saw the Bananas speaking Danish.

I cannot express the strength of the "being hit by a train in the middle of the street" shock* that this caused me. It was just weird.

I hope their Danish at least had Australian accents.

* I know there is a german word for this feeling, but having only six months of high school German back in the dark ages (circa 1980) I can't put my finger on it.

#196 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 09:30 PM:

Hrm, I've just been inspired to check for closed captioning on satellite TV... only to find that, just as they removed the English SAP from the Spanish channels that provide it, they apparently removed all closed captioning.(*)

The joys of multilingual existence: not that I'm all that great at other languages; I have just enough Spanish to be sort of useful. But that also turns out to be just enough to become really confused when I receive the occasional email in Portuguese: I often make it to the second or third line before hitting something that is obviously not Spanish and going back to re-parse with the little bit of Portuguese I have.(**)

And I have noticed that I will sometimes produce a Spanish word in place of a Hebrew word, and vice versa. Odd, that.

____

* Although it belatedly occurs to me that what removed it is actually the upconversion to HDMI through the home theater system. Must try connecting it directly.

** It's actually an overlay over the Spanish; it seems to work well enough for the little I need it. I do much the same with Italian, and it's also a fallback when my French runs out.

#197 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 09:34 PM:

Fragano, my sympathies. Large quantities, even jeroboams (not that Laphroaig would be put into such containers) might be required.

#198 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 09:40 PM:

Just received from Amazon.com:

Now available: "Best Friend For Life : 75 Simple Ways to Make Me a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog" by Neil Gaiman on Amazon.com

My first thought was that this is a reverse werewolf kind of story, but the description gives more detail:

Revised, expanded, and redesigned, this handy paperback edition is loaded with irresistible photos and easy-to-implement tips for raising a happy, healthy, well-mannered dog, no matter what the breed or environment.

Every dog owner wants to communicate better with his or her pet, insuring the well-being of both dog and owner. This inspiring book has great tricks and ideas for dog owners of all kinds, from the first-timer to the lifelong pet owner—and its combination of simple, practical tips with delightful photos and inspiring stories of real dogs makes for a little book that has everything.

Just a little cognitive dissonance to end my day.

#199 ::: Distraxi ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 09:46 PM:

Diatryma @ 185 (et al):

I have three languages (well, one and two halves, at least), but I still only have English and not-English slots: whichever of French and Spanish I used most recently completely overwrites the other. As of now all non-English is Spanish (whether I'm hearing or speaking it), but a few days in France and the Spanish would have disappeared without trace.

Fragano @ 192:

The language seems familar. Does your student write spam for a night job? (Sympathies on marking: I've just finished 150 stage-3 assignments, and now I have to go and explain to people who should be far enough through the system to have figured it out for themselves about reading the question)

#200 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 10:00 PM:

geekosaur #196: When listening to Portugese, I quickly know I'm not hearing Spanish, but catch occasional words, and keep feeling like I *ought* to be understanding more, somehow--like my language processing module is doing a lot of work and just coming up short on decoding meanings. I'm curious how this works for native Spanish speakers. I can't figure out too much of written Portuguese, though I don't see it all that often. On the other hand, I almost always get simple stuff (signs, frex) written in Italian, though I wouldn't want to try to read something complicated in it. (But I also see a *lot* more stuff written in Italian, for whatever reason.)

I noticed that by the end of a week in Barcelona, I was usually able to puzzle out signs in Catalán, too, with some combination of Spanish and occasional French borrow words in English, plus context. But I could definitely not understand spoken or complicated written Catalán. (I wish I could have spent a few months there. Geez, what a beautiful place.)

#201 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 10:06 PM:

Laurence: Yes, does mean "mute". It's the Russian equivalent of the "babararian" of the ancient Greeks.

We had a student in my class who was fluent in French, as her second language. She did her first vocab test with french words, and cyryllic letters. It confused the instructors something fierce

Rikibeth: Cognates in Russian drive me bats (and there are lots of them, from french, german and english). The words look wrong and I have to find the stress, and pronounce them (or hear them said) to understand them.

re SPE: I think it would be hard to duplicate without having people who have zero understanding of what it was. I do know that several iterations of symbolic class have led to examples of strong dicotomy, including degrading behaviors and abuse; with the "upper" class dominating the "lower" class, even outside of the schoolhouse and those who weren't taking part cluing in that the "lower" class were fair game.

This was in high schools, as I recall.

I do know that the temptation to give in and lord it over someone is strong, and I've almost succumbed more than once, and it didn't take a week.

Linkmeister: I think a firkin, or even a pony keg might be drawn. At the very least we could just chip in and get a barrel; we'll have to arrange to deliver it in person.

#202 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 10:07 PM:

Fragano #192:

Speak softly and carry a barging stick. By the right end, of course.

A barging stick is kind of a mixed blessing, really. It enables you to squash any issues your invaded people have with your country (+3 on saving throws vs IEDs, double firepower on airstrikes in civilian neighborhoods). Unfortunately, it also makes you more likely to be manipulated into invading foreign countries (-5 on saving throws vs smarmy expatriate con men).

#203 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 10:15 PM:

Greg #194: I think the single experiment problem is a huge potential one. Maybe he just hit the jackpot with bad choices for guards.

It sure seems like there are anecdotal reports of this kind of meltdown of authority into barbarity in various places, from time to time. It seems quite plausible that this would be something that wouldn't happen every time, or even most times, but that would occasionally happen in a spectacularly horrible and evil way, just because the wrong set of people and events aligned in just the wrong way.

#204 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 10:18 PM:

I spent three years in Israel, and can get by passably; I get complimented by Israelis on my hebrew until they find out that I lived there that long.

In any case, I find myself responding to cab drivers and people in bodegas in Hebrew, even if they start speaking to me in English. It was much worse right after I came back to the US, but it still happens occasionally.

Of course, I do the same any time I order schwarma, but even the Mexican workers at the Israeli-owned stores in New York know enough Hebrew that I can get away with it there - because it is just wrong to order schwarma in English.

In other news:

@194 Greg:

I'm not sure I understand what your point is about one person being able to drag others down. Doesn't that simply mean that a single point of failure is unacceptable?

The fact that there was a single data point should tell us, combined with other evidence, that the soldiers in Abu Ghraib didn't start out evil as well; in that case, we have a probable second data point. Clearly these are not the only data points we can extrapolate from. Further, once it was shown experimentally, we can more easily grasp what occurs, and consider this possible paradigm instead of doing experiments that I think all would agree are not acceptable to carry out.

And re: your argument in totality, I think I see a bit of a inconsistency; If you found yourself in a group that was abusing power, would you still hold out so long? Because by the end, it wasn't 7 out of 20, it was (nearly?) all of them.

I would assume that the fair conclusion that we can draw is that any group in power, of a reasonable size, will degenerate into acting that way. To echo you, don't trust the people, instead design a system that makes sure you don't need to.

#205 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 11:01 PM:

David #204:

The other thing is, I think people self-select to some extent for these situations. If you're a good person, and you see that the prison in which you're working is turning into a hell hole, you may well bring it to the attention of your superiors, try to get someone to take action. But if none of that works, you'll also probably try to find some way to get out of any involvement with it. And it seems like many other people will assume that the brutality and horror of the place is just inherent in prisons (or military interrogation during an occupation), and try to find ways to get assigned somewhere else.

I think a lot of very bad and very good situations are caused by this kind of self-selection process.

#206 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Has anyone else been following the news about Cuba, in particular the change they're making to get rid of a lot of restrictions on foreign travel by Cubans? I don't know enough about Cuba to have much of a sense of it, but from the story, this seemed likely to be a very big, important change.

The story is here (in Spanish).

Am I misunderstanding the importance here? My Spanish isn't that great, and my knowledge of Cuba is pretty much nonexistent, so I could easily be missing something.

#207 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2008, 11:28 PM:

David Manheim: When I am translating (as opposed to just using my russian) the brain gets into grooves.

Language "x" goes in and language "y" comes out. So there have been occaisions I was the recipient of english from the Ukrainian translator, stopped, looked for the things which weren't clear, turned to the American with/for whom I was working and started to give him the Russian version of events.

#208 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 12:06 AM:

#198: Gaiman wrote the forward.

I recall reading, on Gaiman's blog, about his adopting a great honking big white German shepherd.

#209 ::: Evan Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 12:07 AM:

I would love to see what abi and the other poetically-inclined fluorospherians could coax from this MetaQuotes seedling:

J: My pardon; did I break thy concentration?

Continue! Ah, but now thy tongue is still.

Allow me then to offer a response.

Describe Marsellus Wallace to me, pray.

B: What?

J: What country dost thou hail from?

B: What?

J: How passing strange, for I have traveled far,

And never have I heard tell of this What.

What language speak they in the land of What?

B: What?

J: The Queen's own English, base knave, dost thou speak it?

B: Aye!

J: Then hearken to my words and answer them!

Describe to me Marsellus Wallace!

B: What?

JULES presses his knife to BRETT's throat

J: Speak 'What' again! Thou cur, cry 'What' again!

I dare thee utter 'What' again but once!

I dare thee twice and spit upon thy name!

Now, paint for me a portraiture in words,

If thou hast any in thy head but 'What',

Of Marsellus Wallace!

B: He is dark.

J: Aye, and what more?

B: His head is shaven bald.

J: Has he the semblance of a harlot?

B: What?

JULES strikes and BRETT cries out

J: Has he the semblance of a harlot?

B: Nay!

J: Then why didst thou attempt to bed him thus?

B: I did not!

J: Aye, thou didst! O, aye, thou didst!

Thou hoped to rape him like a chattel whore,

And sooth, Lord Wallace is displeased to bed

With anyone but she to whom he wed.

#210 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 12:29 AM:

Fragano @192, albatross @202: At least if you're carrying a barging stick (for fending? prodding your pullers?) you get to sing/hear the Volga boatmen's song (vocal sample, from here; others are available elsewhere, including a ringtone!?).

#211 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 12:38 AM:

#208

Wouldn't you think that they would mention, somewhere in the e-mail, the person who wrote the book?

This reminds me that last year, right before WisCon, I was looking for "Portable Childhoods" by Ellen Klages. I couldn't remember the title, just the author, and several bookstores told me it didn't exist. I finally went to Uncle Hugo's, and the clerk there, who actually knew science fiction, tracked it down. It was in all the software as being by Neil Gaiman, because he wrote the introduction. It didn't show up on any searches for "Ellen Klages*."

There is something seriously wrong with the database software for books, I'm thinking.

*We'll just pause here to contemplate the irony of going up to Ellen Klages, at WisCon, to get an autograph on a book she wrote, which can only be bought (in mainstream bookstores) by attributing it to a man.

#212 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 12:51 AM:

David@204: I'm not sure I understand what your point is about one person being able to drag others down.

I don't recall the numbers, but say he had 20 guards. Say he had 1 guard that was a complete b*st*rd. And his actions was able to cause 6 other guards to abuse their power.

That doesn't mean that 7 out of 20 of the people in the US would abuse their authority. It might mean that 6 out of 20 would abuse their authority, but only if some asshole was there leading the charge.

But the problem with a single data point is you can't really extract much of anything from the numbers. er, number. At least, you can't really extract enough to make any sort of a prediction.

Doesn't that simply mean that a single point of failure is unacceptable?

Back when I did satellite stuff, we had to error correct for 1 bad bit in the pipe, and we had to be able to detect (though possibly not correct) 3 bad bits. Whenever you have an agency that has as part of its job description the application of force, you should probably have a system of checks and balances designed that you can prevent a single bad apple from doing any damage at all, and if you have 3 bad apples, they might be able to work together so that you can't prevent teh abuse from happening, but the system should be able to quickly detect it, shut down, investigate, fix, and reboot.

I don't know if the numbers should be 1 and 3 or what. But that should be the basis for how you configure your entire system. How many bad apples can you stop and/or detect before crap gets completely swept under the carpet.

Of course, having two bad apples be the president and vice president will give you stuff like Abu Graib. I don't know what sort of system it would take to correct for that. Some things in teh design are just critical to operation and cant be corrected in any easy way. In satelite design, if youre clock dies, you're pretty much screwed for that channel and you'll have to switch to anotehr channel and another board wtih a working clock.



If you found yourself in a group that was abusing power, would you still hold out so long?

Yes. I believe I would.

Because by the end, it wasn't 7 out of 20, it was (nearly?) all of them.

I don't think so. I believe it was something like one-third of the "guards" had exhibited "sadistic" behaviour. Not sure how the experimetn defined "sadistic" versus simply abusive, or having overstepped their power but then self corrected.

I think one of the basic things that SPE supports, along with hundreds of real world casss, is that training matters. If you take people and give them authority to use force and no training on when and how to use it, you can quickly regress into Lord of the Flies territory.

But that's another issue with what SPE really tells us (if it tells us anything). Everyone in teh experiment were undergraduates. About the last thing you'd want to do is grab a random selection of 20 year olds, give them billy clubs, and tell them they're in charge of the physical possesion of some other randomly chose group.

It's like throwing parachutes at people and expecting them to be able to skydive. Wouldn't recommend it.

A lot of poeple don't know how to deal with physical confrontation. In a way, that's a good thing, because it means we're not fist-fighting on the streets to get to work every day. So, the more interesting questin is, after training, and possibly even sorting out the easily detectable bad apples, how many bad apples still get through? What's the percentage of good versus bad apples?

Once you know that ratio, you can at least start to guestimate what it would take to design a fail-safe system. That's the other thing you need to know when designing a satelite, how bad is the radiation going to be? How fast is it likely to corrupt my bits? And what are teh odds that any individual component (capacitor, diode, transistor, chip) will fail? From there you can start desiging somehing that can handle whatever level of failsafe and fail detect you want.

I don't think SPE really tells us anything usable in that aspect.

#213 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 01:36 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 192

Free donations of Laphroaig would be gratefully accepted.

After reading that gem, I'd think you'd prefer nepenthe. Or better still, the waters of Lethe.

#214 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 01:40 AM:

Diatryma @ 185

I already know I have the English and Not English slots in my brain-- I respond to all non-English as Spanish-- but let's see how entertaining I can be, shall we?

I already know I do that. I took Spanish for four years in high school and one semester in college, but let it get very rusty after that. Recently, I spent several years substitute teaching in the local school district, and would often find myself in ESL or bilingual classes. The bilingual was english/spanish but the ESL could be a mix.

As I said to the kids, solamente hablo un poquito español, but usually I would know enough Spanish and they would know enough English that we could get by. However, this would fall apart a bit when I would have ESL kids that were not Hispanic...Hmong, for example. My urge would still be to address them in Spanish, and I had to remind myself that they probably knew less Spanish than they did English.

#215 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 01:48 AM:

geekosaur @ 196

I have a DirecTV sat-dish, and can verify that most of the channels have closed captioning. I leave it turned on all the time, because I have a severe hearing loss in both ears with almost no hearing above 3 Khz, and it's not a whole lot better in the highs even with the very good hearing aids I use these days. I lose significant speech comprehension, and filling in the gaps seems to slow my comprehension speed down, so closed captioning helps me follow the audio at normal speed.

I do have a direct HDMI connection from the receiver to the TV, so as not to lose any of the HD goodness in between, so that could in fact be your problem.

#216 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 02:36 AM:

The SPE would be a very difficult experiment to replicate, for all sorts of reasons, but it does give us some data which correlates with a lot of reality.

It gives us a data point that says that people don't have to start evil for things to go badly wrong.

Reports of "badly wrong" which stick in my mind include broken juvenile detention systems, and the meme of prisoners deserving to be raped.

And I Was A Fugitive From A Chain-gang

[Insert Gandhi quote]

#217 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:04 AM:

209: another lost scene from "Henry V" -

III.i. Before the walls of Harfleur.



HARRY: I counsel thee, trust not my shots are spent,

And every quarrel now be all exhausted.

You walk on groaning ice. This English bow,

This English yew and hide and twisted cord,

Impelled by English hand and English heart,

Will send its blow against you with such force

That, be the shot its last, your very head

Will leap from off your shoulders. Heed me well.

Or yield yourself, your people and Harfleur

Unto my royal mercy and my rule;

Or else resist. And when your town be lost

This prize shall make my battle worth the cost.

#218 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:50 AM:

Laurence @ 183... Maybe Kipling was embarassed, as a kid, to admit to the other kids on British soil that he could communicate with the 'inferior' races and thus might have become one of 'them'. (Like heterosexual boys who enjoy certain activities normally associated with girls.)

As for myself, it was simply that, after 9 years of nothing but English (aside from infrequent calls to my mom), it took a conscious effort at first to remember to speak French. That often has me wondering if, when I live in an English environment, my brain really speaks directly in English, or if it thinks the thoughts in French and then very quickly translates them into English.

#219 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:52 AM:

Fragano @ 192...

"I don't like the way Teddy Roosevelt is looking at me."

"Perhaps he's trying to give you one last word of caution, Mr. Kaplan. 'Speak softly, and carry a big stick.' "

#220 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:27 AM:

Linkmeister #197: I'd settle for a direct flight to Islay at this point.

#221 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:32 AM:

Distraxi #199: I am pretty certain that the student in question is not Nigerian. I am constrained to wonder how the student made it to a junior-level class.

#222 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:36 AM:

albatross #202: Now that's an image!

#223 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:46 AM:

Epacris #210: I'm feeling more like a vulgar boatman, meself.

#224 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:51 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers)#213: The waters of Lethe? I contemplated the waters of Styx. Sometimes you really wonder why you bother, when young people, with the world in front of them, don't even try.

#225 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:53 AM:

Serge #219: 'And remember to barge in'?

#226 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 07:07 AM:

albatross #206: El Pais is reporting that the government of Raúl Castro plans to ease travel restrictions on most Cubans (except medical school graduates who have not done their social service, interior ministry officials, and a few other categories).

#227 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 07:26 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @#224:

Sometimes you really wonder why you bother, when young people, with the world in front of them, don't even try.

Panning for gold, maybe? You have to teach the turkeys in order to have the opportunity to teach the occasional non-turkey.

Or maybe it's just to entertain your friends..."squish," hee!

#229 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 07:51 AM:

Mary Dell #227: There are, fortunately, students who want to learn. Never as many as I'd like.

#230 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 08:33 AM:

Xopher (184):

The English sentence was "I have three pesos." I got all the way to the end of the sentence and realized I had no idea what the Spanish word for "peso" was.

"Tengo tres dollars", of course...

#231 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 08:34 AM:

Fragano @ 229... So that's why my English teacher liked me so much that he introduced me to Mad Magazine and to Doctor Strange. Oh, and to the Silver Surfer.

#232 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 09:03 AM:

Evan @209:

What, this sort of thing?



Capt: A dozen years have pass'd since this took place,

And all that time hath Parliament kept hid

The secret of this world, till River here

Unearth'd it from their minds. They feared she knew.

And right they were to dread, since many more

Among the spinning worlds would know it too.

And someone has to speak for those now dead.

For divers reasons did you join my crew

But all have come together to this place.

I've in the past demanded much of you.

Today I ask yet more; perhaps for all.

For this I know, as I know anything:

That they will try again. Another world

Will be the lab for this experiment.

Or maybe they will sweep this landscape clean

And in a year or ten attempt again.

They'll swing back like the needle to the north

To the belief that they can better men.

And I hold not to that. Here from this grave

I will not run. I aim to misbehave.



Capt: There's more to flight than buttons, albatross,

More to the pilot's role than charts and maps.

You know the foremost rule of flying? Aye,

I know you do, since you know what I'll say

Before I part my lips.

Riv:                     I do, but yet

I like to hear you say it nonetheless.

Capt: 'Tis love. Though you know all the math the 'verse

Contains, if in the sky you take a ship unloved

She'll shake you off as sure as worlds turn.

Love keeps her in the air when she should fall

And tells you that she hurts before she keens.

It makes her home.

Riv:                     The storm is getting worse.

Capt: We will endure a while, till it disperse.

#233 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 09:12 AM:

Mary Dell @ 227

Oh, that's what Dutch Schultz was trying to say: "Bargees have never laughed, nor dashed a thousand birds."

#234 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 09:28 AM:

Right now, I'm learning Láadan. Is anyone else interested in it?

I'd be more interested if there were anyone to talk to in it who didn't want to discuss politics to the exclusion of all else. But I think that's one of the perils of learning a language that was specifically constructed for a political purpose. That said, bíi eril alehala Suzette wa.

It still bugs me that the third Native Tongue book went so utterly off the rails.

I already know I have the English and Not English slots in my brain-- I respond to all non-English as Spanish-- but let's see how entertaining I can be, shall we?

The slots in my brain are "English" and "French", which makes things amusing when I try to read, say, Japanese as if it were French.

#235 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 10:16 AM:

Fragano #206: Thanks! I got that much from the article myself, but what I was having trouble with were the implications--does this mean that Cubans can freely travel outside their country now, or is it still going to be hard for them to do so? (The article said they still had to have a passport, and I have no idea if that's hard to get or not.) Is this likely to lead to a big outflux of Cubans to the US or other countries?

And the context of the article involved a lot of other liberalization, like letting Cubans stay in tourist hotels and buy more consumer electronics. The whole tone seemed something like the Iron Curtain coming down in Europe, though not quite so dramatic. But I haven't noticed other news sources trumpeting it as a huge story, so I suspect I'm reading more into it than is really there. (For example, it's not on the top page of news on the BBC in either Spanish or English.)

#236 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Carrie S,

I recently saw something from Suzette about why the third book was so odd. She wrote that Láadan had failed in becoming a common language, and that the third book reflected that, and the women who had invented it picking up the pieces and moving on.

I am not interested in talking about politics, so if you'd like, I can point you at web resources to start learning.

#237 ::: Evan Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 10:50 AM:

abi @232: Woohoo! waves lighter

ajay @217: Dirty Harry? I'd like to fit "if you do trust in fortune" or suchlike in the last few lines, but can't see how to do it.

#238 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 10:51 AM:

Nancy: I have the grammar book, actually*, though I've never found much on the Net besides the site you pointed at; are there actual useful lessons online?

As for the reasons for the third book being how it is, I know why she did it; I just think it was a poor choice--though not as poor as gutting the entire purpose of the Lines in Judas Rose by making the aliens Benevolent Advanced Beings Who Pity The Poor, Backwards, Violent Humans. They were much more interesting when they were people too.

*: The plastic comb bound one, with the bird.

#239 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 11:35 AM:

Bruce C #213:

Why not champagne, to celebrate the fact that at least Fragano will be done grading (for the nonce) some time soon? Besides, it has the advantage of already coming in jeroboams.

#240 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 11:44 AM:

albatross #235: If they have the money, and if they're not in any of the limited categories (medical school graduates who have not met their social service obligation, for example), then yes. That's what the article seems to say.

#241 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 11:51 AM:

A couple of language-related things:

On a KLM flight to Amsterdam, they were showing Greystoke with Dutch subtitles. I rarely use the headphones, so I got to do a sort of opera-one-time-removed thing. On my connecting flight out of Schipol, the chap next to me was reading a Dutch newspaper. Damned if I couldn't read it at sight, without the usual tedious translating-into-mental-pidgen-German bit. Of course it wore off directly I landed and had to start speaking Italian. Probably something to the idea of the overloaded "non-English" mental slot.

To me, there's a strong relationship between 16th-c. Venetian dialect and Portuguese, but I wouldn't dare try to use this perception to get around in Portugal or Brazil; it's probably only useful as written.

On the afore-mentioned research semester in Venice, everything went fine until my husband showed up for the last two weeks. Greatly to my embarassment, I suddenly ceased to remember any Italian vocabulary at all, as I started speaking English again. Mind you, I'd read a lot of English, spoken English on vastly expensive long-distance calls to my husband, and kept up various online correspondences, but this was the first time that I had to switch instantaneously back and forth from English to Italian. And my circuits just fried. And it's only an oral/aural phenomenon; I had no trouble switching between more languages than just Italian and English (include Latin, 15th- and 16th-c Venetian, French and German in the list) during my travels through various archives and libraries. In fact, the various Italians and Venetians made me able to translate large chunks of Latin at sight for the first and last time in my experience. But if you'd asked me to speak it, well, the Life of Brian sketch wouldn't have even come close to the true horror.

#242 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 11:56 AM:

#237 - yes, that stumped me too. Having done "Predator at Agincourt" (#40), I'm trying to work on "Aliens at Agincourt" as well, but can't get past "Hast ever been mistook for a wench?"

abi - excellent stuff; in half an hour I plan to go home and watch it again...

#243 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 12:03 PM:

Xopher @122 : Because of the aforementioned associative earworm phenomenon, my brain is now happily singing "I returned a bag of groceries / Accidentally taken off the / Shelf before the expiration date..."

Give me a few minutes and it'll be "Your Racist Friend."

Yay TMBG Flood!

#244 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 12:13 PM:

Serge @ 218: That often has me wondering if, when I live in an English environment, my brain really speaks directly in English, or if it thinks the thoughts in French and then very quickly translates them into English.

What language do you dream in?

I occasionally say things in French (and I think perhaps even Russian once or twice) in my dreams. I flatter myself that this qualifies me as fluent.

#245 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 12:49 PM:

Laurence @ 244... What language do you dream in?

That's a good question. I think I dream in English. I don't know if my usually being a lucid dreamer (as opposed to a not-so-lucid one in the other world) might affect things.

#246 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 01:08 PM:

And Yay abi @232! Passing on the link to friends who will go squee about it.

#247 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 01:16 PM:

#206 -- Been following closely the changes implemented by Raúl Castro Rus.

Not that any of these changes mean anything for the United States, which is not allowing Cubans to come here, or us to go there.

Last weekend at the annual Experience Music Project pop music conference in Seattle, the Cuban guest could appear only via webcam - satellite hookup.

The biggest change, and the one that may be the most significant for the Cuban people as a whole, though, isn't part of this group of loosening protocols. It is that Venezuela is planning to assist Cuba into the digital world by paying for the installation of all that fiber optic cable, that Cuba never got because the U.S. demanded Cuba be left out of that globe spanning connection project. This would give the island enough band width to connect everyone.

As it presently stands, most U.S. homes have more band width than the entire island of Cuba.

Love, C.

#248 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 01:23 PM:

More accurately, instead of 'most' I should have typed, "...many U.S. homes have more bandwidth than the whole island of Cuba."

Certainly a typical office building in Manhattan does.

Love, C.

#249 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 01:26 PM:

Carrie 234: It still bugs me that the third Native Tongue book went so utterly off the rails.

I took it as her acknowledging that the first two books, which are good stories but filled with nonsense linguistics and other bad science, were meant as a joke.

I love singing, and have sometimes kept singing when I ought to have been eating, but I can tell you from personal experience that no amount of singing obviates the need to eat. That is pure bullshit. Well...the stuff in the first two books is less obviously nonsense, but it's nonsense nonetheless.

#250 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 01:39 PM:

Serge,

I just sent you a picture of me.

#251 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 01:53 PM:

I took it as her acknowledging that the first two books, which are good stories but filled with nonsense linguistics and other bad science, were meant as a joke.

Eh, given the state of the art when she started writing, I didn't think the linguistics was so bad--thought the kids turning themselves inside-out was certainly a groaner--she just took Sapir-Whorf a little too seriously. If you take Native Tongue on its own, it's a quite cool book; if you then read the sequels...well, Judas Rose disappointed me greatly, and I read Earthsong pretty much because I kept hoping for it to get interesting.

It's the snarky remark about how Láadan failed (though it's still around, and people still work with it) and Klingon succeeded, and how we should "draw our own conclusions from that" that makes me grind my teeth. How about, I conclude that any language attached to the wildly-popular Star Trek franchise was going to do better than something from three obscure sci-fi books by a second-tier author, and that most women are no more interested in learning a new language than the members of any other group of roughly half the people?

#252 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 02:08 PM:

Neil Willcox @182: (I had traded them for a nightsky full of hot air balloons, an afternoon in a treehouse with a kitten and four minutes on stage as the most beautiful Ophelia ever seen).

That was beautiful! Thanks for the new memories. It fits my reading of abi's intro text above -- memories traded aren't memories lost.

#253 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Carrie S. at 238,

There's a livejournal group, and a yahoo group. Also, these links seem to contain a lot of information:

http://www.jackiepowers.com/Laadan/

http://internet.cybermesa.com/~amberwind/

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 02:20 PM:

(I found the following on www.superherohype.com)

Jennifer Garner and producing partner Juliana Janes have signed a first-look deal with Warner Bros. for their Vandalia Films, and one of the projects is the following:

"3 Days in Europe," a romantic adventure following a couple as they face danger and excitement on what was supposed to be the perfect Valentine's Day vacation. Vandalia Films has partnered with Hugh Jackman and John Palermo of Seed Prods. to bring the graphic novel by Anthony Johnston and Mike Hawthorne to the bigscreen. Eric Gitter and Peter Schwerin are producing for Oni Press through their Closed on Mondays Entertainment banner, and Jackman and Garner are attached to star.

(Never having read that graphic novel, I am unable to tell TexAnne how likely Jackman is to go shirtless.)

#255 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 02:24 PM:

Carrie 251: Too seriously AND not seriously enough. She relies on people speaking Láadan (even non-natively) to change their cultural assumptions, but the Linguist households are full of normal kids who happen to speak an alien language—instead of culturally half-alien kids with totally bizarre cultural assumptions that lead to clashes and fights and probably coprophagia and cannibalism, who knows?

Either accept Sapir-Whorf or don't, but don't have it apply where you want it and be totally absent when you don't.

And the Interfaces are ludicrously craptastic nonsense. You learn languages by immersion because the desire to communicate is so strong, and because people around you are referring to things all the time as they go about their daily business. Child language acquisition works like that, too.

Putting a single alien in the Interface with a single child, for only part of the day, will accomplish exactly nothing. The child has no motivation to learn, and the alien has no one to talk to, and nothing to talk about (that is, no references in the world to pin the language on). Try it with a monolingual Spanish speaker and it won't work at all; the idea that it would work with an alien humanoid is not from our universe.

I don't know when she started writing, but NT is copyright 1984. I was out of college by then (class of '81, and I never went to grad school), and trust me, the state of linguistics was advanced well beyond any of the above nonsense.

Don't even get me started on her 1950s cartoon cavepeople; the men are goonish and monstrous, but the women are just like current ones, only sneakier (because they have to be); none of the women totally buys into the patriarchal society they live in, and ALL of the men do. In fact, not one man in all of those books ever says anything that isn't stupid, and she writes their dialogue to make them sound even stupider.

Because obviously no man is capable of noticing and objecting to sexism, or any kind of injustice. Their Y chromosome automatically disqualifies them from all virtues. And sex between a man and a woman can only be enjoyable for the man; women not only "lie back and think of England"; they pretend to enjoy it, thus ensuring that no man can ever learn to pleasure them properly. Then she turns around and asserts that some of them do learn! How? By magic?

Oh, I know. They sing. Then they can spend the time they'd otherwise waste eating studying sex books.

Wow, I didn't realize I was so pissed off about this, even now decades after first reading them. But the exaggerated misandry in these books sounds more like Andrea Dworkin than any kind of serious writer. (Yes, I mean that just how it sounds.)

#256 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 02:28 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens @ 250... Yay! I wrote back to you a few minutes ago with a couple of questions. No matter what, I'll have the photo up tonight.

#257 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 02:34 PM:

#251, Carrie S. -

I'm not familiar with Láadan, but can I assume that someone is using its failure to claim that women don't learn languages well or some such nonsense? If they're using any disproportion on genders learning Klingon to further their point, they're even more full of it.

The nature of Klingons as portrayed onscreen makes the language unfriendly to people who are thin-skinned, I think, and I can certainly see that many women wouldn't put up with the "culture" long enough to learn the language. [1] I think there'd be more people of both genders learning Vulcan, or Andorian or Bajoran, or anything other than Klingon. (Okay, probably not Romulan.)

I say that because my experience attempting to learn it [2] included the discovery that a lot of folks wanted to also do role-playing, for lack of a better word, on the tlhIngan Hol mailing list. From some people, this was delightful and fun. From many of them, it meant an extremely hostile learning environment. Many Klingon players interpret "Klingons are direct" to mean that "Klingons are rude" and "Klingons consider honor very important" to mean that any potential insult, no matter how trivial or accidental, is cause for an immediate and loud argument, possibly followed by grudge-holding. It also means never, ever admitting you're wrong, even when you are (although this last infects the fan club far more than the language list as I recall.) And if you can't speak Klingon, you should still be rude and argumentative in English. Because that's the Klingon way.

No matter how curious I am about how a language which includes subject, object, and negation as suffixes on the verbs will handle Sonnet 145, [3] it hasn't been worth trying to find out.



[1] Not that I think that Klingon culture as portrayed is anti-female. I don't recall enough details to say.

[2] I gave up for lack of bandwidth. I was in college and had better uses for those brain cells)

[3] They're restoring Shakespare to the original Klingon. Last I checked, (years ago) they'd finished Hamlet and one of the comedies.

#258 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 02:49 PM:

Xopher @255:

none of the women totally buys into the patriarchal society they live in, and ALL of the men do. In fact, not one man in all of those books ever says anything that isn't stupid, and she writes their dialogue to make them sound even stupider....Because obviously no man is capable of noticing and objecting to sexism, or any kind of injustice. Their Y chromosome automatically disqualifies them from all virtues.

There's a strain of this in a bunch of SF, not just the Native Tongue series. Le Guin* went through a phase of it, and it made me abandon the only effort I ever made to read Tepper (Gibbon's Decline and Fall). Atwood and Piercy tired me out with it as well.

Basically, any book where the men are evil and the women simply misguided betrays the craft. People are more complicated, interesting and unpredictable than that. Sometimes I get irritated when an author pulls that kind of cardboard characterization on me. Sometimes I just get bored.

-----

* Otherwise one of my favorite authors; my teddy bear is named Ursula, even.

#259 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 02:53 PM:

Debbie @252 - Like all markets, the dream market is a place of alchemy where we exchange dross for treasure*.

Not entirely by coincidence those aren't my memories; they're some I would buy.

* And curiously, so does the person we bargain with.

#260 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 02:54 PM:

abi @ 258... You should try Elisabeth Vonarburg's Motherlands. No carboard in there.

#261 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 03:11 PM:

abi 258: Thanks for this. It's nice to know for sure that my own Y chromosome wasn't keeping me from seeing how right SHE (initials, not pronoun*) is.

As for your teddybear, yeah, but that's a pun, surely?



*Oh wow. I bet it's a pseudonym. Never noticed that before.

#262 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 03:15 PM:

Xopher @261:

Maybe I'm just misguided?

Martin's teddy bear, which predates Ursula by some years, is named Orson. That's both an OSC reference and a pun on Urson (little bear).

#263 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 03:22 PM:

I have a coyote named Wile E (but he's THAT coyote, so I didn't get to name him), a Western* Velociraptor named Victor, and a raccoon named Sheldon.

*You can tell he's western 'cuz he has a bandanna 'round his neck.

#264 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 03:23 PM:

She relies on people speaking Láadan (even non-natively) to change their cultural assumptions, but the Linguist households are full of normal kids who happen to speak an alien language...

Y'know, I never even thought of that.

Putting a single alien in the Interface with a single child, for only part of the day, will accomplish exactly nothing.

I'm pretty sure by JR it was specified that there were two Aliens at a time if possible, but that doesn't solve the motivation problem.

none of the women totally buys into the patriarchal society they live in, and ALL of the men do. In fact, not one man in all of those books ever says anything that isn't stupid, and she writes their dialogue to make them sound even stupider.

There're a couple of guys in the third one who aren't idiots--both of them Indians, IIRC.

I think part of the problem is that, if we show a sympathetic man, what do we do with him? Linguists don't go into politics, after all. Also I expect it's terribly seductive to grow up in a society that tells you science has simply proven you're superior; we've got enough guys who believe they're better than women even in the face of science saying they're wrong. How much worse would it be with "studies prove" all over the place?

Because obviously no man is capable of noticing and objecting to sexism, or any kind of injustice. Their Y chromosome automatically disqualifies them from all virtues.

OK, I'm gonna take issue there; the women themselves say that the men are acting in a perfectly sensible, just way given their base assumptions. Ned Flandry, for example (Michaela's husband) is a dolt, but Thomas Chornyak is emphatically not, and there are a number of instances where men say things to the effect of women being smarter than most men given them credit for.

Which is not to say the presentation isn't biased, because it is, but I don't think it's out-and-out misandry.

And sex between a man and a woman can only be enjoyable for the man; women not only "lie back and think of England"; they pretend to enjoy it, thus ensuring that no man can ever learn to pleasure them properly. Then she turns around and asserts that some of them do learn! How? By magic?

Yeah, that was dumb. Every bit of sex advice I've ever seen says, "By the way, faking it? Stupid. It just means he'll never learn what you actually like."

I'm not familiar with Láadan, but can I assume that someone is using its failure to claim that women don't learn languages well or some such nonsense?

No, it's a comment from the creator of Láadan, with a distinct tone of "What can you expect from such a culture as ours?" I'd think it was accidental, but this is the woman who wrote The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense

#265 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 04:03 PM:

I'm with Xopher; my reaction to Carrie's post was "what, you think it only went off the rails with the *third* book?" Native Tongue was awful, awful stuff. I probably should have known better with the setup where women *vote away* their own rights, but it just went on in craptasticness from there.

#266 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 04:17 PM:

abi @ 262... a pun on Urson (little bear)

'Urson'... What language?

urson

The Canada porcupine. See Porcupine.

Origin: Cf. Urchin.

Source: Websters Dictionary

#267 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 04:22 PM:

Xopher,

Suzette Haden Elgin is not a pseudonym; she's written academic and popular nonfiction as well as the fiction. Her livejournal is under ozarque.

#268 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 04:42 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens @ 250... Your photo is now up in the Gallery. Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum, eh? By the way, there are other recent additions, some of which were mentionned near the very end of Thread 104 and so may have been missed. The Gallery now has miriam beetle as the Tank Girl, Terry Karney as Dorian Gray, and Serge as the Doctor (courtesy of Mary Dell's phootoshop-fu).

http://pics.livejournal.com/serge_lj/gallery/000118yw?page=1

#269 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 04:48 PM:

Serge: I know that when I get enough practice, I think in Russian. I also know there are things which don't exist in Russian, which do in English (and vice versa).

Carrie S: When the dominant not-English part of my brain was French, it was what I reached for while studying Russian. My grasp of the difference between a cause de and parce queif I had done "verb" then..., but the actual Russian form is even easier to do)

Now if only English had the equivalent of the Russian, "Begin parenthetical digression here" (in verbal speech), I'd be happy as a clam, because people would get less lost when I go off on a tangent.

#270 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 04:55 PM:

Serge @266:

Well, I thought it was French, but clearly I'm wrong...

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 04:55 PM:

Terry Karney @ 269... the dominant not-English part of my brain was French

The reason why I wonder if I think in French and extremely quickly translate into English is because I find it easier to count in French, even 22 years after I left Quebec.

#272 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 04:58 PM:

abi @ 270... You were very close. The French would be ourson for the bear cub. The male bear is ours (pronounced oor), and the female is ourse.

#273 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Ah...it was a spelling mistake, then; I have only heard it spoken and was guessing.

Rule One: never guess French spellings.

#274 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:16 PM:

Serge, 271 -- I find it easier to count in French, even 22 years after I left Quebec.

A couple of days ago at the pharmacy, I was counting small change under my breath -- in English. The pharmacist, who hails from some part of former Yugoslavia, noticed and smiled. "You count in your native language? I do that." And I remember a colleague from China counting in Chinese.

#275 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:20 PM:

Languages, dubbing, and Dutch: I have only ever seen Meet Joe Black dubbed in German, but I understand that the original version has the character Joe Black speaking* a Jamaican dialect to a woman in hospital. In the German version, he speaks (possibly slang-y?) Dutch to her, and it's subtitled in German.

*no idea how well Brad Pitt got it down.

#276 ::: Zed ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:22 PM:

I took one of Native Tongue's speculative elements to be: what if a radical hard interpretation of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis were really true? I was as okay with the effects attributed to linguistics as I am with magic in a fantasy universe, and, on balance, enjoyed the book (while broadly agreeing with the other faults Xopher cites.)

The second book just seemed disjointed; I didn't go on to the third.

#277 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:26 PM:

abi @ 273... Rule One: never guess French spellings.

Or you can ask me. Doesn't matter anyway because the spelling 'ourson' also works (and might even work better) for a Teddy Bear named Orson.

#278 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:29 PM:

debbie @ 275... no idea how well Brad Pitt got it down

Probably better than Wes Studi speaking French in Last of the Mohicans.

As for counting in one's native language, thanks. I guess it's a common habit.

#279 ::: vito excalibur ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:56 PM:

Serge@254:

Sa-weet! Three Days in Europe is smart, funny, hip, kind of sweet, and passes the Mo Movie Test. It's a screwball comedy for the noughties and exactly the sort of source material they should be making movies from. And yes, there is every chance we will get to see a great deal of Mr. Jackman. :) (Which I will be greatly looking forward to.)

#280 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 05:58 PM:

If I'm counting aloud, I abbreviate the words. Len, tel, thirn, forn, fin, sin, sen, een, nihn, twe are eleven to twenty-- I picked up the habit in a couple of afternoons working timing and scoring at a racetrack. If I'm counting something smallish, half the time I subdivide it until I don't have to count at all.

#281 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:12 PM:

vito excalbur @ 279... there is every chance we will get to see a great deal of Mr. Jackman

You hear that, TexAnne? It appears that this movie won't have you leave the theater feeling deprived the way The Fountain did.

#282 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:13 PM:

Carrie 264: OK, I'm gonna take issue there; the women themselves say that the men are acting in a perfectly sensible, just way given their base assumptions.

But she never gives any reason for the women to have different base assumptions than the men. The women should be (mostly) believing themselves to be intellectually inferior and acting accordingly. And if they didn't, they'd be teaching the men to respect their intellect, not hiding it for all they're worth.

Ned Flandry, for example (Michaela's husband) is a dolt, but Thomas Chornyak is emphatically not, and there are a number of instances where men say things to the effect of women being smarter than most men given them credit for.

OK, here I have to admit that it's been a long time since I've read the books. But it's still got a distinct flavor of misandry, to me.

And also, linguists as the reviled minority who make everything work? Give me a break! It's like a parody of Slan.

#283 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:16 PM:

Serge: Oh! Numbers. Numbers are hard. The only language I can read digits in, and not have it be English in my head, is Russian. I suspect this is a function of how had numbers are in Russian.

We had three 1 unit classes which were nothing but hearing numbers and transcribing them. I still can't read digits as being other than the nominative without endings being indicated a la 2me

#284 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:35 PM:

Just a rant about the debate on the 16th: I didn't watch it, and was planning to ignore it. But I saw the Obsidian Wings spoof of it with Lincoln and Douglas as participants. I swear, I thought they had to be wildly exagerating.

So I read the transcript from the NYT. They weren't exaggerating. Roughly the first half of the debate time was taken up with the kind of goofy crap that would have made good Steven Colbert questions.

To a first approximation, I counted 9 basically frivolous questions up front (a couple were at least not offensively silly, though they had nothing to do with any actual issue facing the US), 11 questions with some policy content (depending on how you counted, as some questions were multipart), and a couple frivolous ones at the end. Of the frivolous ones, there were a few true standouts:

a. [To Obama]: Does your pastor love America?

b. [To Obama]: Why don't you wear a flag pin?

c. [To Obama]: Why did you associate with some ex-Weatherman who blew stuff up 40 years ago and may still not be an especially nice guy?

A couple goofy questions came Hillary's way, but the real winners were all directed at Obama. Both candidates also batted goofy zingers around at each other, though Obama also kept pointing out that the goofy issues were kind of goofy.

Now, I don't frankly expect much from the MSM, who mostly seem to have jobs that require more intelligence, intellectual breadth, and intellectual honesty than they have. But this was amazing. Both candidates are smart, accomplished people, and here they're answering these humiliatingly idiotic questions (and batting them back at each other). You wouldn't waste your doctor's time with this level of triviality--you wouldn't dare. And yet these two extremely capable people, one or the other of whom is quite likely to end up as president, had to stand there and pretend that their questioners weren't wasting their and everyone else's time.

I'll admit that Obama's responses to those silly questions reassured me that, as president, he wouldn't actually nuke anyone or order anyone kidnapped, waterboarded, and killed for offensive stupidity. The flag pin question was especially fun. I honestly can't imagine trying to answer that with a straight face and no ridicule.

I'd threaten to boycott the MSM over this sort of thing, except I already do--they only get my eyeballs at the gym, when it's CNN or one of those murder mystery "ripped from the headlines" shows.

If we really choose a president on the basis of things in the first half of that debate, I don't see how we've avoided electing some complete idiot who would....oh sh-t, never mind.

#285 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 06:46 PM:

Sally Jenkins, a sports columnist for the WashPost, has an interesting column today on how China is using the Olympics to cow us.

As long as I have the WashPost site open, here's the Peeps contest top finalists.

#286 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 07:22 PM:

People are bad at estimating risks, probably because evolution prepared us to estimate risks based on life in hunter-gatherer tribes and small agricultural villages, not based on man-bites-dog news coverage and intentional preying on fears to sell products and win election.

A blog I read, Effect Measure, had a link to a really nice reference for actual information about mortalities.

CDC Site

The information from this was amazing to me, and really useful. You can specify age, sex, race, hispanic origin, and probably a couple other variables, and then get a table of how many deaths were associated with each cause. You can follow links in these tables to find out more and more information.

I was moderately surprised that for people my age, accidental poisoning is a more common way of dying than car wrecks. Apparently, the poisoning is about half drug overdoses, and half overdoses of prescription drugs. (Suicides are classified separately, but I have no idea how accurate they are.) I would never have guessed that.

I was really blown away by the data for children. Accident is the most common cause of death (no surprise--mostly this is drowning and car wrecks), but dying of cancer[1] is about 1/4 as common as dying in accidents. In fact, we've got the accident rates down to the point where various hard-to-predict medical things kill about as many kids as accidents, which tells you how safe children are in our society.

[1] Malignant neoplasms--if there's some subtle difference between this and what you'd normally define as dying of cancer, I have no idea what it is.

#287 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 09:19 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @215:

Having made the direct connection between the DiSH receiver and the TV, I now have uglier upconversion and closed captioning. SAP is still not there, but that fails to surprise me. The DVR has multilingual support and is set to prefer English, then Spanish, so presumably the station that claims to have English SAP doesn't in the satellite feed. (This may be due to licensing, as the Spanish and English rights to sports programs are sold separately.)

#288 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 10:01 PM:

I am several days behind here, so was astonished to read:

#138 ::: Terry Karney

...I make a tolerable handyman (and give me a mill, a lathe and a foundry, and I'm more than tolerable. I wish I was better at forging).

...and even more astonished that no one has, in the following posts, cautioned Terry that admitting to criminal activities, even here, might not be wise. The ill-gotten gains presumably go for the coveted equipment.

#289 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 10:05 PM:

Via pharyngula, I saw references to this bag of 10 plush items for sale. Am I a bad person for switching between 'Ick!' and 'wow, only $20?'?

#290 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 10:45 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @289:

Perhaps you'd prefer this version?

#291 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 11:11 PM:

Diatryma @ 280... Terry Karney @ 283... I'd be curious to see which parts of our brains light up when we translate numbers as opposed to everyday communications.

#292 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Carol 288: You are joking, right? You really know the difference between forging and forgery?

#293 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 12:07 AM:

I smelt a rat? Can the minds here hammer out a solution? I'd like to iron out the difficulty.

#294 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 12:09 AM:

And I've always loved:

I work the iron

I worked the iron.

I have wrought the iron.

But you can't have wrought a check.

#295 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 12:24 AM:

Xopher: Of course she's joking, she's wondering why no one has had the brass to start a string of metal based puns.

Frankly, I too was wondering.

#296 ::: vito excalibur ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 12:47 AM:

Xopher@292:

She just wanted to remind us that steeling is wrong.

#297 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 01:14 AM:

Serge: and the results of steeling can take years to iron out.

#298 ::: vito excalibur ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 01:25 AM:

But you'll never take him alive, copper!

#299 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 02:09 AM:

I'll brazenly step in to warn about where this might lead; what depths might it plumb?

#300 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 02:33 AM:

Astatine to think this is rather dis-terbium.

#301 ::: vito excalibur ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 02:43 AM:

Nonsense! Do not metal in the aferrous of others.

#302 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 03:07 AM:

Carol @288:

I treasure the memory of the advert that stood at the entrance to Edinburgh Airport. It used metalworking imagery and proclaimed, "Clydesdale Bank: Forging a New Scotland."

This is even funnier because Clydesdale Bank is the least prolific of the three Scottish banks† permitted to print currency. Clydesdale notes are the least common of the four types in circulation* in Scotland, and tourists do sometimes wonder if they're really money.

-----

† In addition to the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Bank of Scotland. Bank of England notes are also valid in Scotland.

* In common circulation, I mean. I twice saw Bank of [Northern] Ireland notes in 14 years of living there.

#303 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 05:11 AM:

Remember Dirk Gently and the gruesome finding of his fresh-new client, right after he was hired for the job? The client, Wikipedia helpfully verifies* "is found in a sealed and heavily barricaded room, his head neatly removed several feet from his body and rotating on a turntable."

The cops call it a suicide. Funny, funny scene...

...until today.

Because I just found out that a friend of mine, Austin middle-school teacher and pro-Palestinian activist** Riad Hamad, was found gagged & bound in a lake. His death was indeed declared by the local police to be a "suicide".

A couple of reports about this have appeared in the local news - but nothing greater seems to have hit any larger media.

I am dismayed at this. Riad's history makes this feel like either a hate crime or worse, an assassination by an interested party. Killing activists - that's not how we do things here, is it? Any activists. Free speech gets mighty chilled when it's bound, gagged, and plunged in a pond, and called suicide.

Note: this is not about his activism and cause. There is no cause that merits murder. I'm pretty much sitting here to share my dismay.



* Since my copy is out on loan.

** The nature of Riad's activity was to collect vitamins, text books, gently used clothes, and send them to be used by Palestinian children; he also collected donations for the digging and operation of wells and the planting of trees, and sold made-in-Palestine olive oil, camel pins, and kuffiyas. My understanding is that he was entirely non-violent, and that he provided aid to both Muslim and Christian children, and in no way focused on any particular group. But any non-violent activist should be safe from attack.

#304 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 05:20 AM:

Dena discussed this matter with me before posting the above comment. Although Open Thread comments are generally not something that need pre-approval, I appreciated the heads up.

That way I can come in straight away and point out that the matter at hand is that an activist has been found dead; that the police are calling it suicide; and that that verdict has raised questions among his friends. In other words, this is not about Israel and Palestine, but rather the safety and treatment of activists.

And Dena, I said it privately, but I'll say it publicly too. I'm sorry for your loss.

#305 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 07:17 AM:

Dena Shunra @ 303

Oh, Dena, I'm terribly sorry to hear about that. It must be awful to have to feel the pain for the loss of a friend while wondering if someone might have hated him or what he believed in so much as to kill him. I can't tell from what I was able to google whether that's likely; a lot of the weird vibes I got from the story seem to emanate from the FBI, who are much more likely to assasinate someone's character than the someone, and who almost certainly assumed from his name and ethnicity that he was a supporter of terrorists, if not one himself.

If you are at all close to his family, please comfort them as much as you can. It must be a terrible strain on them to have to deal with the death of a loved one amidst so much innuendo and uncertainty as to what happened. And being told your husband or father probably committed suicide can't be anything less than a hellish experience even when you believe its true, which I doubt is the case here.

#306 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 07:53 AM:

Dena... My sympathies.

#307 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 09:17 AM:

Dena, I'm sorry for your loss, and yes, I think that's an outrage.

It reminds me of the case, in the 1980s, of a Wiccan guy in the midwest who was scheduled to give a talk on Wicca at a local library. The day before that, he was found hanging in his garage, his hands tied behind his back.

The local police decided it was a suicide.

Rulings of suicide, it seems, either mean "this person killed himself" or "we think this person deserved to die, and we want to make sure the person who did it gets away with it." The Ku Klux Klan was an active part of many police forces in its heyday; seems like the Austin police force hasn't changed all that much.

As LMB had one character put it, "Seventeen stab wounds in the back, worst case of suicide they ever saw."

#308 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 10:43 AM:

ajay @ #242:

You bring to mind one of Shakespeare's lost works, in which Prince Hal, due to an imagined slight, refuses to allow an Archer (or, as the text has it, Bowman) to come in out of the cold, and then...

...actually, it's not clear what happens after that. An existing fragment has Hal singing a nonsense verse about daisies, but most scholars now suspect that to be a mislabelled scrap from a draft of Ophelia's mad scene in 'Hamlet'.

#309 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 10:53 AM:

Dena - how awful. My condolences.

#310 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 11:13 AM:

I keep looking for the silver lining, but it adamantly refuses to appear, no matter where I cast my eyes.

#311 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 11:24 AM:

Good God, Dena, how horrible. My condolences to all who knew the victim, and my fervent hope that someone in the mainstream media will jump up and down on the "suicide" theory, screaming loudly enough to get widespread attention.

#312 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 11:41 AM:

Serge #271: You find it easier to count in French? Let's see, this costs a dollar sixty-seventeen cents, and that costs four dollars four-twenties thirteen cents, so the whole thing comes up to six dollars sixty ten cents....

#313 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 11:43 AM:

Debbie #275: Brad Pitt got the Jamaican patwa down pretty well.

#314 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 12:03 PM:

Fragano @ 313... It's patwa, not patois? For all I know, both spellings are used in Jamaïque.

One actor who did a good job speaking French was Kevin Kline in French Kiss. Heck, he sang la mer. (For those who don't know, it made it to the USA as beyond the sea.)

#315 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 12:14 PM:

Dena #303: My sympathies.

#316 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 12:25 PM:

Serge #314: Depends who's doing the writing, but the convention is moving towards Patwa as the normal way of writing the vernacular name of Jamaican Creole English. Di aadinari chat a di aadinari piipl a Jumaka.

#317 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 12:27 PM:

If an Islamic court decrees it's official language to be Jamaican Creole, is that a Patwa fatwa?

#318 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 12:31 PM:

(belatedly): Greg London @#17, since a "bear" is a state trooper (because they wear Smokey Bear hats), I'm guessing a "cheesebear" is a state trooper with a camera in his car, as in "say cheese".

#319 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 01:16 PM:

Xopher #317: It would surely be fatuous to inquire?

#320 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 01:45 PM:

Notes from the continuing war against the English language (or, I am still grading essays, and finals are just around the corner):

"Morality incubuses all standards of living that society deems important, and essentially defines all roles in society."

#321 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 01:48 PM:

Lila: Not likely. I looked at the reports (as many as I could find) and the, "there was no, concrete" evidence of foul play" was pretty strong.

The police statement, that no one else was in the area (which they decided when they found his car; before they found the body) and the ME declaring a lack of trauma, well I can spin a couple of plausible suicide scenarios (scenaria?).

So I suspect it will sink, and no one who cares will ever be certain of the correct answer.

#322 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 02:04 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 320

Now, see, I've been saying for years that this morality thing is an invention of the devil, but no one will listen. And I'll have a cheesebear on a role, thank you.

#323 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 02:08 PM:

Fragano @ 320... That person's grammar really sucubus.

#324 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 02:11 PM:

...and Serge can't cast a spell.

#325 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 02:16 PM:

Thanks Bruce, Serge, Xopher, Lila, Ronit, Terry, Fragano, and Abi (major thanks for your support last night, Abi!).

Part of processing such an event is in the retelling; this morning, I had to tell my children about it. No, not the details. But the death, and the sadness, and the question marks left behind. A violent death is hard to explain in any circumstances.

The media coverage has not grown since midnight (which is when I found out about it). I wonder if this will make any difference, in the scheme of things.

#326 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 02:46 PM:

#303 ::: Dena Shunra:

I am so sorry for your personal loss, the loss of a friend. None of us have so many friends that the loss of any one of them doesn't leave a huge gaping hole in our lives forever.

I also am so sorry that what truly does appear to be a hate crime is being categorized for easy filing by the authorities as a 'suicide.'

This did make the news in certain circles, though not NPR, for instance; however, Rachel Maddow on her program 6 - 8 p.m. on Air America, discussed this last night.

Love, C.

#327 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 03:07 PM:

Constance 326: None of us have so many friends that the loss of any one of them doesn't leave a huge gaping hole in our lives forever.

I remember seeing a sign at the boundary of a small town once: "We have many children, but none to spare: please drive carefully!"

I find that echoing in my mind all the time, especially since I started reading the names of the US deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan every Sunday. OK, Terry will explain how military people are "expendable," but not one of them is "to spare" or "extra"; every one of those deaths broke someone's heart—usually many someones'; and that's without even reckoning the loss to society of their potential, or their own loss.

My hatred for the Masters of War rises up, and gives me a terrible headache, while it doesn't bother them at all. Dammit. Bastards. I hope they die and I hope they die soon.

Same with the people who murdered Dena's friend. I hope their bone marrow rots while they yet live (I phrased that quite a bit more strongly on the first draft, but realized that the way I'd written it violated my magical oath).

I really do have a headache now. I'm going to go do something about that.

#328 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 03:15 PM:

Fragano: But Serge, because he grew up with it, doesn't see it as a string of odd constructions of scores and teens, the numbers just are.

The sentence at 320 isn't war on the Enlgish language, so much as an assault on logic, using some words from English as the weapon.

#329 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 03:31 PM:

Terry Karney #328: Undoubtedly, but numbers like soixante-quinze (75) or quatre-vingt-onze (91) still seem strange to me.

The sentence is an attempt to grapple with a concept presented by Emma Goldman in her speech "Victims of Morality" (1913).

#330 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 04:02 PM:

By the way, for the Francophones here: Aimé Césaire

has died.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/aime-cesaire-founding-father-of-negritude-.html

#331 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 04:14 PM:

Serge @ 278: As for counting in one's native language, thanks. I guess it's a common habit.

I have a tendency to read numbers and single letters in the native language - so whenever some idiot writes leetspeak or similar, I have to read it very slowly and carefully. Of course, when they write like that it's unlikely they have anything interesting to say.

#332 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo @331

whenever some idiot writes leetspeak or similar, I have to read it very slowly and carefully. Of course, when they write like that it's unlikely they have anything interesting to say.

O RLY?

#333 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 05:08 PM:

The illustrious Mr. Stross gets an endorsement from Paul Krugman.

#334 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 05:53 PM:

No matter what goes on inside the brain, no matter which part of it revs up when handling numbers in one's native language or not, I often find myself thinking that there is awe and wonder in the very act of being able to switch from one language to another.

#335 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 07:13 PM:

I'm more surprised that languages remain discrete so easily-- the only blurred boundaries seem to be when the words aren't completely interchangeable. Why don't I put Spanish words in with synonyms? Why not make a distinction between escritorio and pupitre in English, using the Spanish if necessary? I've met people who code-switch much more readily; I would like to examine it more closely within myself, but I can't.

#336 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 08:15 PM:

Dena, I am sorry for your loss.

#337 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 10:25 PM:

Dena, #303, I'm so sorry.

While catching up on old WashPosts, I found a Tom Toles cartoon that I cut out and put on my fridge.

#338 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2008, 10:31 PM:

Dena, I'm sorry to hear of your loss, and I hope someone takes the time to work up the case as a homicide.

#339 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 01:58 AM:

It's not just a Military Industrial complex any more. It's a Military Industrial Media complex:

Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

Remember: If you say anything bad about the military, you hate soldiers and Jesus will twist the head off of an innocent kitten.

#340 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 02:26 AM:

abi @ 84: "1. English, in which I am reasonably fluent."

I have to laugh--if this counts as "reasonably fluent," then I cannot even imagine what eloquence would be.

"I have never achieved what I would consider adequate fluency in another language than English. Something in me secretly doubts that I can. That's hard to fight against, harder than any other obstacle."

I know precisely what you mean--I've never completely mastered a foreign language, and the possibility that doing so is simply beyond me is frightening. I wonder if part of what makes it so daunting is that your standard of comparison is English, a language in which you can do this. The idea of doing that in Dutch can't help but seem impossible. But here's the thing: doing that in Dutch is probably pretty unimaginable to most Dutch people too. Your comparative fluency in English exaggerates your lack in other languages.

#341 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 03:39 AM:

"You do realise, all of you, that the storytellers of Euphemia are often hanged as counterfeiters?"

On the edges of Euphemia, the black market flourishes--always moving, always changing. You found it years ago, you think perhaps on accident (though they assure you it was not.) Now you track it by the signs scratched in dirty windows, by the shape certain birds make in the sky. The wind drops a scrap of paper by your feet, and you know the place you must go will be written there.

Some days it is a warren filled with steam and smoke, and as you seek your prize you must dodge clanking machines herded by wild-eyed men. You cough, fist over mouth, as you wrangle your purchase from the hands of a poorly-oiled clockwork salesman, before slipping off into the dark. Yet the next day you find it rebuilt in a new place, all hard lines and shining steel, selling its goods in automats and drivethroughs. The people smile at you with beautiful teeth and clear eyes as they glide past in their enormous, silent conveyances. A week later, you climb endless stairs to find only a small, silent lozenge cut from ebony lying alone in an empty room--yet, that day, their selection encompasses more than you thought possible.

(You wonder sometimes if it is, in fact, a single market at all. Perhaps every market you have visited is its own creation, and yet endures--perhaps it is only you who wanders. The idea haunts you: an infinity of secret neighborhoods hidden around and within Euphemia, never a part of it, but shaping it, guiding it in ways it cannot know. You wonder how much this thought might be worth, to the right buyer.)

You know that they are impossible, the memories they sell. They are filled with nonsensical things, vast things, ideas that stagger you with their implications. You know they are impossible, and yet you do not care.

Sometimes, you return to your home, carefully, furtively unwrapping your newest memory only to find that it has turned to dust, or perhaps was always dust. You howl with disappointment and impatience, your addiction unsated. You search the skies and walls of Euphemia impatiently, looking for the sign that will guide you back, so that you may try again to find that sensation you crave more than all else: wonder.

#342 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 04:45 AM:

Diatryma @ 335-- I'm more surprised that languages remain discrete so easily.

I don't know why they're so discrete, either, but they sure seem to be. When my children were small, they instantly recognized whether a person was speaking their native language, and refused to answer them in anything but the speaker's native language. So Germans who tried to speak English with them got answered back in German. Little smart-alecks.

But the separation goes beyond speech, i.e. speaking. I learned to touch-type in the 9th grade, and it's second nature now. Enter the German language, and German keyboards, the most prominent feature of which is that 'y' and 'z' are interchanged (also, of course, punctuation was rearranged to make room for umlauts).

Over time, I mastered the German keyboard. Using alt + shift I can go back and forth between US and German layout. Here's where it starts getting weird. Regardless of which layout is currently in use, my typing pattern is still heavily dependent on which language I'm typing in. (I did in fact just type 'tzpe' and had to correct.)

/anecdata

Research on the neural basis of language(s) is fascinating, but difficult to stay on top of.

heresiarch @341-- you're pretty darned fluent in English yourself!

#343 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 05:59 AM:

heresiarch @340:

You may be right about setting my goalposts a little high. I've always delighted in English, and I've been practising it pretty hard for a long time. I may not recognise fluency when it comes.

I would like to write poetry in Dutch. I think it would come out very different. All of the Dutch poetry I've read has been fairly grounded in reality, but that's mostly a product of selection bias. I don't know what's out there.

Right now, linguistic success is having a brief chat with my neighbor about when we're moving and where.

(Shorter me: Don't wanna walk! Wanna fly!)

& @341:

Wow. You turned a tossed off thought into the heart of our community. Very nice indeed!

#344 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 08:11 AM:

Debbie @ 342:

When my children were small, they instantly recognized whether a person was speaking their native language, and refused to answer them in anything but the speaker's native language. So Germans who tried to speak English with them got answered back in German. Little smart-alecks.

A friend of mine whose children are bilingual[*] (he's Catalan, his wife is American) told me that up until the age of about five or six, his kids were very specific about which language went with which parent: even though they could speak English (with their mother), they refused to speak anything but Catalan with their father, even if he tried using English. As they got older, they became more flexible.

[*] Having grown up mostly in Spain, the kids are actually trilingual: they speak Spanish with each other and most other people around them.

#345 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 08:31 AM:

Diatryma @ 335... Why don't I put Spanish words in with synonyms?

Because your brain knows that they're not two words similar meanings within the same framework/language? Of course things do get blurred when one word from one framework becomes adopted as one word within the framework next door. (Is it my imagination that French words adopted into English seem to acquire that word's more naughty meaning? For example, lingerie... Oui, oui?)

#346 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 08:50 AM:

heresiarch 340: Your comparative spectacular fluency in English exaggerates your lack in other languages.

FTFY. :-)

Peter 344: Adam Makkai got a whole linguistic article after an incident in which his bilingual daughter came to him and said "I want to draw the Török Pasha in Mommy language" (that is, English). It's called "The Transformation of a Turkish Pasha into a Big Fat Dummy."

#347 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 08:58 AM:

Serge said (#345):

Diatryma @ 335... Why don't I put Spanish words in with synonyms?

Because your brain knows that they're not two words similar meanings within the same framework/language?

I think Serge is right. After all, languages are more than just sets of words -- they include whole associated systems of phonology, morphology, and grammar that go along with the vocabularies.

(A trivial example: if you've got an adjective, how do you turn it into an adverb? If it's an English word ["quick"], you can usually add -ly ["quickly"]. But if it's Spanish ["rapido"], you would add -mente ["rapidamente"]. If you've got a verb, how do you use it to indicate something taking place in the past? How many different ways can you specify past actions involving that verb? Etc., etc.

Speaking, e.g., Spanish includes a whole set of regularities and rules [and exceptions] which make it distinct from English, above and beyond the words themselves.)

#348 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 09:23 AM:

That's kind of what I thought, Serge, but I know so many different words for colors of blue-- and so few correlations with the actual shades-- that I expect 'azul' to creep in. The boundaries do mix a lot, and I remix archaic English a fair amount ("Okayest-thou?). I caught myself thinking, "That's all uraa*," about something inside-out once.

Boy do I need to take up Spanish again. I did not like most of the short stories I read in Spanish lit classes, but such a non-twisty non-English language.



*In aikido, you have mote or something spelled like it and uraa or something sounding like it. I don't know the spellings, and I certainly don't know the Japanese. Mote is when you do a technique straight in, frontways, straightforward. Uraa is when it's inside-out and twisty, but I think it actually means 'add a tenkan/turn'.

#349 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 09:42 AM:

I meant "out of" rather than "after." Drat.

#350 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 10:18 AM:

Diatryma, the term you are looking for are omote and ura.

Omote (usually -- this is flexible terminology) moves your center towards and past or "through" your opponent's center. Ura moves your center towards your opponent's rear, often utilizing tenkan footwork. Omote tends to be direct; ura does indeed tend to move your opponent in a more "twisty" fashion.

#351 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 11:02 AM:

Serge #345: Hmm. Consider the difference between the meaning of 'canard' in French and English, then.

#352 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 11:12 AM:

Belated response to Terry Karney @ 86: (though one has to be careful, a sloppy rendition of thank you can sound terribly offensive, sounding something like "prick")

In Mandarin, 'qing wen' is 'please.' Unless of course you use the wrong tone, in which case it's 'kiss me.'

I'm glad I got that one from an online lesson and not from people giggling at me.

Peter Irwin @ 142: On at least one occasion, a pair of adulterous lovers (in the movie Mogambo) were turned into brother and sister by the Spanish dubbing!

The US broadcasting networks more recently did that to a couple of lesbians in Sailor Moon.

Dena @ 303:

That's terrible and chilling. The first time through your post I read it wrong and did not realize it had happened in the US. Realizing it had, I'm almost too angry to speak. My condolences.



heresiarch @ 340, abi various:

I'm quite good at picking up pronunciation, so casual "phrasebook language" comes quickly to me, but I've never managed to get past tourist level in anything, and I do feel that my aptitude in English has something to do with it. (Although living in China has renewed my determination to get fluent in something.) The fact that it's a professional field for me and a lifelong obsession, not merely a medium of communication, means that when trying to pick up something else... well, I feel like a pro guitarist trying to moonlight on the panpipes. There's the sense for what the thing is, which is just enough to know that there are millions of subtleties in it and therefore that those subtleties are a lifetime's study away.

#353 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 11:15 AM:

Diatryama: I think you mean omote, and ura. The latter isn't, "inside out and twisty" but rather, "to the rear", or perhaps, "to the back". One can think of it as left, and right, vaariations. It does tend to have more rotational/twising movement. The rear in question is, btw, one's own, not the opponents.

I happen to find some techniques (e.g. ikkyo) much easier when done ura because the extra motion adds energy, and that adds speed, which makes it harder for the uke to recover.

But aikido terms are an interesting example. The relationship between uke and nage doesn't translate to english. The closest words are all wrong (opponent/attacker, defender/reciever) and I can't imagine using other words for them.

Which is, I think, part of why things are discreet.

Different example: In russian the sense of time is very different from english. Things have happened, or they haven't and if one doesn't know they happened, one can't say they did. This is esp. true of verbs of motion. If someone leaves for a place, one can't say they got there without some personal knowledge (phone call, letter, report back from someone who saw them, email, you need something).

We got chided for this all the time. If someone tells you, in english, "I'm going to the store," and someone asks you where he went, the response, "She went to the store," is perfectly correct. In russian that's not the case.

"Oh no, ребета you can't say that; he left for the market, she was headed toward the market, etc, but you can't say, она ущла."

This would be followed with a long list of the possible reasons she didn't make it to the store. It always ended (no matter who was correcting us) with, "She could be dead. You don't know," (and now that ребета amuses me, because it means everybody, and was also always part of that correction; if it was a mistake in class).

So, I'm in the barracks, someone in a class behind us answers my question (which as in Russian) about where Zahler had gone with, "он ущ&еuml;л в столоваю." To which I replied, "You can't say that, he might have changed his mind and gone to the PX, maybe he tripped and hurt his ankled, etc." ending with, "He might be dead, you don't know."

All the ancillary meanings which come with the words are there in my head: some of them have changed (where I had one understanding of a word before I learned it in its native home, and a new now), and those flavors can't be conveyed to the people who don't have that sense. Perestrioka has an ironic, sort of false, context to it in English, because of how the press dealt with it. In russian not so much (though it can be bitterly ironic, that's not the default).

Debbie: re typing, oddly enough if I am thinking in Russian, the "C" will change its meaning, and become as an "s" to me. Very annoying. I think, oddly, that this is because transliterational keymaps all put the two together, and sometimes the "c" is an "s" in english.

#354 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 11:27 AM:

I find that my hard won fluency in English (though not so much for typing) helps me at first, and hinders me in the middle bits.

English grammar is is thoroughly infused in my way of looking at words, and the world (the French and Russian senses of time were amazing to have revealed, it truly was a new way of seeing the world), and I struggle to not force other languages into its models.

#355 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 11:50 AM:

Debbie, abi, Xopher: Thanks all! It seemed the thing to do.

#356 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 12:56 PM:

Fragano @ 351... In France, a canard can also be a slang word for newspaper.

#357 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 01:18 PM:

Serge #351: That's just ducky.

#358 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 01:25 PM:

356

Given the current state of US news reporting, that might be a good usage to adopt. We see so many canards in our canards (even if they aren't enchained) ...

#359 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 02:18 PM:

A friend of mine whose children are bilingual[*] (he's Catalan, his wife is American) told me that up until the age of about five or six, his kids were very specific about which language went with which parent: even though they could speak English (with their mother), they refused to speak anything but Catalan with their father, even if he tried using English. As they got older, they became more flexible.

That's quite common, actually; learning a language is a lot of work and kids do everything they can to cut down on how much work they have to do. Knowing that they can count on a particular person speaking a particular language is one of the ways they cut down on the work. Lemme see, where was that link...you can always count on Mark Rosenfelder for good information...

#360 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 02:43 PM:

Terry, the left for/went to thing is nifty. Recently, I tried to explain to a Korean ESL student that yes, she was right, but also her teacher was right, and her teacher said things the way people speaking English do: "I'm going to the store tomorrow." Present progressive as future. I hadn't had to think of it that closely until she asked me why, "I will go to the store tomorrow," was wrong.

#361 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 03:22 PM:

Diatryama: And to prove that no language is consistent, the russian for, "Let's go" transates directly to "let's went." The better interpretation might be, let's be gone from here, but that's not what it is.

#362 ::: R. Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 04:54 PM:

Albatross @ 161:

The SPE was badly designed, chiefly in that Zimbardo set himself up as the prison warden. So the guy running the experiment was "on the side of" the guards, and the instructions he gave them emphasized the kind of excessive power they'd have over the prisoners. So it seems likely that a lot of the bad behavior was because of bad leadership. The BBC did a partial replication a couple of years ago, much better designed and without the confounds. Without strong leadership, the guards were nervous about excercising any sort of power and mostly retreated to their end of the prison. Eventually, realizing that neither side was happy, guards and prisoners got together and renegotiated the rules to create an egalitarian commune-type set-up.

...which quickly started to devolve into the unpleasant sort of heirarchical set-up they'd been trying to avoid in the first place. The experimenters halted the project before they could implement the fairly severe and potentially abusive rules they'd created.

In spite of the SPE's problems, there are a lot of other experiments that show people's vulnerability to group pressure (like Asch's work) and authority (like the Milgram shock experiments), so Zimbardo's original conclusions aren't entirely unsupported either.

#363 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 04:57 PM:

Stefan #339:

This fits a general and creepy pattern. They're using information warfare methods on the American people. They're also using high tech intelligence gathering techniques on the American people[1]. More and more of that keeps coming out, with very little actual outrage resulting. We've made the war on terror a military and intelligence matter, and now we're seeing military and intelligence resources used here on US soil, against US citizens, to fight it. And once in use, the whole set of tools is available for all kinds of misuse.

I don't think anyone really understands the path we're headed down. I'm convinced that most of the people involved in the war on terror genuinely want to keep Americans safe from terrorist attack, and have no desire to see us fall into some kind of police state. But we pretty clearly could.



[1] I have no inside knowledge, but I believe rather firmly that if the whole scope of domestic wiretapping comes out, we will discover that something like Echelon has been turned on inside the US. And that this was just part of what's been done.

[2] The best explanation I've seen for why there's a huge push to immunize the telecoms from liability on this stuff is that a lot of damning, politically inflammatory information will come out as a result of these lawsuits going forward. Some already has come from those lawsuits, and it indicates, at least to some people, the opportunity for really awful misuse.

#364 ::: R. Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 05:08 PM:

Xopher @ 265: I had a lot of the same problem with the portrayal of men in those books. Nobody questions the assumptions of their culture? And it creeps into the language--one of my main issues with Laadan is that the words for "love" all mean things like "sexual and emotional attraction without respect" and variations thereof--the assumption being that women love men and will probably choose them as lifemates, but that there's unlikely to be real communication between them.

But having read other works by women and men of the same or older generations, and having spent time talking to same, I am forced to the conclusion that more men used to act in these inexplicable and to-me-absurdly-rude ways. Which makes me A) extremely grateful to live when I do, and B) impressed by the degree to which cultures can change for the better over time. And also makes it easier for me to see why someone growing up with those boundaries to inter-gender communication might not realize that men also questioned.

Suzette, btw, is herself a wonderful person who is quite aware that these things have changed over time. I recall a panel at a Wiscon a couple of years ago where she in fact came to the same conclusion re Klingon vs Laadan popularity that you mentioned (i.e. that it helps to have the Star Trek franchise backing you). And her Livejournal hosts a terrific ongoing salon focusing on communications, linguistics, gender relations, eldering, etc., and attended by people of a wide range of genders, ages, and linguistic backgrounds.

#365 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 05:10 PM:

Fragano @ 357... One could even say that the French were thus the first to get their news on the web.

#366 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 06:34 PM:

R. 364: I didn't know that about Láadan. Note that she assumes gays and Lesbians will cease to exist, and that no one in her world will be transgendered. Or at least that the Linguist Houses are so superior that such defects will never appear among them. Or perhaps she herself believes (or believed at the time) that "romantic love" between people of the same sex is simply not possible, and doesn't need to be accounted for in a reasonable language!

Yes, more men used to act in these ridiculous ways. But Native Tongue was published in 1984; it was already uncommon. Even in 1884 there were men who treated their wives with more respect than any of her men do. She's writing a feminist dystopia, but it involves the inexplicable loss of 100 (or so) years of social progress, and the successful elimination of any knowledge of same.

I'm glad Suzette is a wonderful person, and I'm not going to ask her if she renounces those books! As for her linguistics...well, she's the author of a couple of books on transformational grammar, which is turtles-all-the-way-down nonsense, so I guess I shouldn't expect much.

#367 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 06:34 PM:

Greg #212:

I really liked the connection in your comment between error correction/detection and enforcement of rules in the system. I've thought a lot about both these kinds of problem, and hadn't really considered the parallels between them. Now that I think of it, there are a lot of parallels[1], and probably someone has thought of this in great depth, but I hadn't before.

[1] Thresshold schemes, protocols whose security bounds distinguish between how many actively malicious, disruptive participants they can survive, and how many "honest but curious" participants, analyses of voting architectures based on minimum number of people needed to tamper with an election outcome, traitor-tracing schemes, etc.

#368 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 07:27 PM:

Serge #365: In more than one sense, actually, as those of my friends who had Minitel terminals would tell you. They were on the very beak of technological change.

#369 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 07:31 PM:

Xopher #366: Definitely more than 100 years. J.S. Mill, after all, published On the Subjection of Women in 1869, and his maleness cannot be disputed.

#370 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 08:32 PM:

Dena Shunra #303: Oh my god. I was just reading about this earlier today, and now I forget where. I had no idea he was a friend of one of our regular readers.

What an awful, awful thing.

#371 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Terry @353: In russian the sense of time is very different from english. Things have happened, or they haven't and if one doesn't know they happened, one can't say they did. This is esp. true of verbs of motion. If someone leaves for a place, one can't say they got there without some personal knowledge (phone call, letter, report back from someone who saw them, email, you need something).

There seems to be a vaguely similar semantic distinction in Japanese for reporting inner emotions/thoughts and states of mind-- I can say about myself "Ureshii" (I'm happy) or "Tabetai" (I want to eat), but if I'm describing someone else, I have to add modifiers: "Neko wa ureshii sou da" (it looks like the cat is happy) or "Neko wa tabetai rashii" (apparently the cat wants to eat).

#372 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 09:14 PM:

Fragano 369: My point was that SHE had no excuse for believing that no man would ever question the supremacy of the male sex, even back in the bad old patriarchal days of 1984, when, as you know Bob, all women were kept barefoot, pregnant, and chained to the stove by their domineering, abusive husbands, not one of whom ever let it cross his evil patriarchal mind that keeping women BP&CTTS might not be entirely just, proper, and in keeping with the Order of Nature.

And of course, Suzette Haden Elgin was one of these women, and certainly not a linguistics professor or writer, and had no reason to think anything could be otherwise.

#373 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 09:45 PM:

Thought while reading #368:

If Minitel rolled out electronic text services to a massive userbase long before the Web arrived, why don't we have a French-dominated cyberculture today?

#374 ::: R. Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2008, 11:45 PM:

Xopher @ 366: I hesitate to keep arguing about this, because it's obvious that the books pissed you off massively and I can't really blame you. Whenever I read NT, I end up jumping up at regular intervals to complain at whoever's nearby, because men aren't like that, and language isn't like that, and the Nobel Prize committee isn't like that... But I think you're missing the degree to which things like LGBT might have been less visible to someone of an older generation living in the Ozark mountains in pre-internet days. Or the degree to which universities were still bastions of male privelege 30 years ago, such that a female professor might be less inclined to think well of male flexibility by being there.

Her experiences with gender roles, at home and in academia, make me profoundly grateful to live in a time and a culture in which those experiences seem profoundly alien. I end up not so much angry at the books, as deeply sorry that anyone has had to live in a world that could make those premises seem reasonable. And grateful that my worries about my academic job have nothing to do with being a woman, and grateful that I can live openly with my wife and only occasionally have problems because she's my wife and not my husband, and grateful that if I did have a husband I could reasonably expect him to treat me as an equal...

I bumped into the same thing in a subtler way rereading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress last week. Lunar women are described as having all the power in social relationships--except that the men all talk to the women like children, and the women all act flattered by it. And you want to shake Heinlein and point out to him that when society changes, people will change with it. And not just by having more sex, either.

FTR, my point here is not so much, "Don't hate the Native Tongue trilogy," as the more tangential, "It's easier to imagine flying cars than people who are different from the people you know... but if we could only have one, I'm awfully glad we have the people." So perhaps not so much arguing with you after all, and more working out these things for my own edification.

#375 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 01:07 AM:

Some of the metal-working puns uptopic sounded a little heated. You should all watch your tempers.

- - - - -

Here's a question that occurred to me after I recently delivered a package sent from the "Magical Knicker Shop": Is "knickers" a false-plurality, like the old "pant"-vs-"pants" argument?

I've seen the pant/pants flamewars arise a few times, but I've never seen one arise over whether "knicker" or "knickers" is the gramatically correct term.

Also, I must say that I'm amused by the concept of "magic knickers", and wonder what special powers or protection they give to the wearer.

Perhaps they're kin to the magic swim trunks in one of Fredric Brown's short-shorts, wherein the aged, decrepit owner of the trunks would be young, handsome, charismatic, virile, and incredibly attractive to women... so long as he kept the trunks on.

Alas, a quick look at "The Magic Knicker Shop"'s website reveals the "magic" in magic knickers is merely one of size-control. I guess "The Magic Knicker Shop" is more attractive to customers than "The Gruesome Girdle Joint" would be.

#376 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 01:58 AM:

Is a Gruesome Girdle Joint akin to a badly-fitting knee brace?

#377 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 03:15 AM:

R. Emrys @ 374: Thanks for saying that. And there are sadly other areas of the academy where such things are very much still a problem.

I've not read the books in question, so I don't have much to say, but one thing that feminist analysis shares with science fiction is an awareness that we can't always see the biases built into our culture, and one way to take the coloured glasses off is to change the setting, reverse things, or indeed exaggerate the bias into a distopia. That doesn't excuse other biases, or make for timeless literature, but sometimes these things are written with the intent to educate, rather than traduce.

Regarding Sapir-Worf, it is mentioned in passing in one of Iain M. Banks' novels that the language the Culture humans speak is a conlang, designed by one of the Minds, and that if they stop speaking it for too long they also stop being quite so nice to their fellows.

#378 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 04:40 AM:

Is "knickers" a false-plurality, like the old "pant"-vs-"pants" argument?

Are there dialects of English where they use pants singular rather than in pairs?

I know that in Danish and eastern Norwegian they'll talk about a pair of pants - "et par bukser", while in western Norway we'll say a pant - "ei bukse". Around my parts, eyeglasses come in pairs, but there's apparently places where they too are singular.

#379 ::: Per CJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 05:23 AM:

I actually found both Native Tongue and The Judas Rose interesting (although a little hard for a male to read, as certain male behaviour patters were exposed, even when it did sometimes descent do caricature). Since I've studied linguistics at the university, I know that linguists consider the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (or at least the so-called strong form of the hyphothesis) speculation, and passé speculation at that, but as an SF fan I do understand the attraction the hypothesis has for SF writers. I did have more problems with the audiosynthesis stuff in Earthsong, however, as the series then left science speculation in favour of something I personally felt to be extremely New Age-y.

#381 ::: Per CJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:11 AM:

R. Emrys @ 362:

When I've read about the Stanford Prison Experiment I have in fact wondered whether any expectations about how prison guards "should act" came into play. My country still had the draft when I was a young man (well, we still have in theory, but in practice the military only choose the best candidates, or so it seems), which meant that I spent a little over a year as an airman. I was loyal and willing to learn and do my chores, but I wasn't very apt at the basic soldiering stuff we started with (I was better at the specialist tasks/desk job I got afterwards). If I were asked now to play a military man, either a private or an officer, however, I'd probably do an impression out of a movie.

#382 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:25 AM:

Is "knickers" a false-plurality, like the old "pant"-vs-"pants" argument?

And just how much is "half a knicker"?

#383 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:48 AM:

Xopher #372: I see your point.

#384 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:54 AM:

Thinking about it, knickers seem to be plural when worn (I had to strip to my knickers), but singular when stored (It was in my knicker drawer).

Looking at my examples again, it looks like they're actually plural as a noun, but singular as an adjective.

Is this of any help?

(Examples from speaking English in South East England)

#385 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:55 AM:

Bill Higgins -- Beam Jockey #373: Because Minitel never had an equivalent of Usenet.

#386 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 09:56 AM:

Ralph Giles @ 378

That's the Lieutenant-Commander-Worf Hypothesis: "A warrior raised as a middle class Russian Jew speaking Yiddish** will revert to type at the touch of a bat'leth."***

* Thanks for the excuse to post this. I tried a couple of days ago and went through a series of contre-temps with my computer worthy of the Three Stooges before it finally crashed and took my previewed but unposted comment with it.

** Or was that my false memory of Theodore Bikel speaking Yiddish on ST:NG?****

*** I wonder what Sapir and Whorf would have to say about the routine use of the Universal Translator?

**** And an excuse for yet another footnote, raising the ratio of footnote to text to 3:1.

#387 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:01 AM:

Paul A. @ 382

1/2 knicker = 1 snicker

#388 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:06 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 385

Anyone who was in France at the time may have better information on this than I do, but my impression was that the system was highly centralized, and attempts by users to pervert it to their own uses (like turning the early messaging system into discussion boards) were strongly discouraged. This is based on 25 year old memories of conversations with French and French-Canadian engineers working on various graphics and character set standards committees that reviewed the Minatel technology.

#389 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:06 AM:

#375 ::: Bruce Arthurs

Here's a question that occurred to me after I recently delivered a package sent from the "Magical Knicker Shop": Is "knickers" a false-plurality, like the old "pant"-vs-"pants" argument?

#378 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo

Are there dialects of English where they use pants singular rather than in pairs?

Yes, very old ones. "Pants" used to be made as two legs held up by a sash or belt, overlapped in the back, and laced together in the front to a pouch for the genitalia - the codpiece.

Monocles originally were more common than "a pair of glasses".

I don' know nuthin' 'bout knickers, other than "half a knicker" sounds like a comment from Mr. Ed.

My mother was fond of a rather elderly (to her, at that time) woman whose name was Mrs. Schmalhorst. Mom called her "Aunt Pony".

#390 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:08 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 386... Didn't someone once convince Whorf that prune juice was a drink worthy of a warrior?

#391 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:11 AM:

Aargh. My mother was fond, as a child...

It's lucky I'm typing this,as if I were speaking, it would be hoarsely (and yes, Xopher, I am joking!).

#392 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:45 AM:

Serge @ 390

Didn't someone once convince Whorf that prune juice was a drink worthy of a warrior?

Well, it is. It'll kick the sh*t out of you if you're not careful.

#393 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:57 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 392... By the way, I think that Whorf's parents were indeed supposed to be Russian Jews. Too bad the father wasn't played by Alan Arkin. He'd have knocked some sense into Whorf.

#394 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 11:20 AM:

386: some Trek book author needs to put a Vulcan named Sapir on the Enterprise.

Picard: "Your hypothesis, Mr. Sapir and Mr. Worf"?

#395 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 11:40 AM:

Actually, I believe Worf himself deemed prune juice "a warrior's drink!" after Dr. Pulaski gave him some. (IIRC, the Klingon beverage he wanted her to sample was toxic to humans, but she gave herself some kind of protective injection so she could try it.)

BTW, Bruce Cohen STM @ #392 FTW.

#396 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 11:58 AM:

Wit of the Submit button: "if you don't respect it."

#398 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 01:11 PM:

By the way, I think that Whorf's parents were indeed supposed to be Russian Jews. Too bad the father wasn't played by Alan Arkin.

Too bad Worf wasn't played by Alan Arkin. For that, I would have carried on watching past series 2. (Also: Bea Arthur as Dr Crusher and Julia Dreyfus as Troi.)

#399 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 01:20 PM:

ajay 389: And, I suppose, Bob Newhart as Picard?

#400 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 01:25 PM:

R Emrys #374: I guess that could just be a weirdness of the society on Luna, except that very smart and competent women in Heinlein's books often act in a similar way. It's perfectly plausible that sex roles in the future will move in ways we can't imagine and would consider a bad direction, but it seems like they ought not to be a rehash of current-in-the-day stereotypes.

And one interesting problem with this is that you can quickly have a lot of readers looking at some secondary part of your invented culture and thinking the whole book is about just that. For example, imagine a pretty normal book set in a high-tech workplace in 2008--say, mine. The gender and ethnic makeup of this workplace full of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians (and one physicist who ended up in computer security) would likely seem, to an American reading in 1950, like the most weird and important part of the story. Nearly half the technical people are women? And depending on how you do the classification, either just over half or just under half are even white?[1] And a few of the older people are divorced and/or remarried, and a few are single parents due to divorce? I think a lot of readers in 1950 would take such a story as some kind of radical leftist polemic on racial mixing and abolition of sex roles, even if the actual story didn't have anything to do with those roles, and was (say) a mild comedy of manners surrounding two young white postdocs getting together or something. That's in addition to the technology threatening to hijack the story--iPods, smart phones with calendars and IMing, laptops with local connection to the net everywhere, the net with all it implies, GPS.

[1] The East Asian, Indian, and black members of the technical staff are easy to classify as nonwhite. Latin Americans have been classified either way at different times and places.

#401 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 01:27 PM:

Xopher @ 399

Yes, and Tom Poston as Geordie.

#402 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 01:29 PM:

John Laroquette as Ryker.

#403 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 01:50 PM:

albatross 400: OK, but now suppose someone wrote a novel today, in 2008, and set in the future, where ALL the white people are detestable racists and ALL the nonwhite people are supergeniuses who hide their talent and appear to submit to the white people (drinking at the Colored water fountain, etc.) while plotting their downfall. Suppose that in 2032, in a discussion of the novel, you see someone saying "well, see, it was hard for people back in 2008 to see how society might change."

That's the situation I find myself in wrt to SHE's novel (I was so tempted to call it HER novel!). There's a movie from about that time where the teenage boy pulls up in a fancy new car, and moves over to let his girlfriend drive; she marvels at this (her ex-boyfriend is a pig), and the boy says "hey, it's the 80s!"

Things were just not that bad (as far as gender prejudice) in 1984. As far as gay stuff, yeah. Being openly gay in the workplace, even in NYC, was difficult if not impossible. Same-sex marriage wasn't even on the table, and I frankly didn't believe I would see it in my lifetime.

But I had female bosses a lot of the time. Some of the older men still harbored silly prejudices, but some others, including some who were almost retirement age back then, were as non-sexist as I was (which was pretty non-sexist).

And SHE was already a university professor when she wrote that book. She wasn't living in God's Wrath, Arkansas and writing in secret on the backs of grocery receipts.

#404 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 02:05 PM:

albatross @ #400:

It's perfectly plausible that sex roles in the future will move in ways we can't imagine and would consider a bad direction, but it seems like they ought not to be a rehash of current-in-the-day stereotypes.

I choked early on Marion Zimmer Bradley's Thendara House because of a relatively trivial aspect of this: one issue for one of the heroines is that the HR computers (and personnel) in the Amazing Far Future Great Terran Empire could not handle the idea of a woman having a different last name than her husband. I am no great defender of the Evil computers wreak upon people with nonstandard surnames, but this was a solvable problem at the time the damned book was published (1983) and made the book feel dated from the get-go. The fact that it even came up in a novel supposedly set in the far future to me said a lot about where MZB's mind was stuck.

#405 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 02:55 PM:

Sometimes you come across authors whose complete lack of stereotypes and anachronisms makes you think they're more modern than they are, which is the other side of the coin we're discussing here.

I read James H Schmitz's Telzey Amberdon series as a teenager, and assumed that they were recent (in the mid 1980's). I was floored when I discovered that they were from the 60's and very early 70's. They simply don't read that way to me. He writes about a world where gender equality is a non-issue.

The fact that he could write so offhandedly about a world like that when he did does make me give other writers less rope when they fail.

(His guesses about computers are pretty good, too—he includes an equivalent of the Internet, and characters carry miniature computers around with them that are connected to the wider web.)

#406 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 03:00 PM:

I like the ST:TNG recasting. I think Wesley should be played by David Spade.

#407 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 03:01 PM:

I was rather amused when Voyager premiered that one of my co-workers's main complaint was there being way too many women in positions of power on that ship. And that was before 7 of 9 came onboard. My mention of this to a female co-worker was received with the appropriate sounds of derision, and her fear that next thing you know, the Federation would allow women to vote.

#408 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 03:15 PM:

Serge @ 407

Well, OK, but 7 of 9? Really, you're not even considered potential management material in the Borg until you're at least 3.

#409 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 03:26 PM:

abi @ 405

Yes, I got into his stories in my teens, too, but a little earlier than the '80s :-). As I remember them, race was also a non-issue. He deliberately covered over ethnic background with contrived names, and there's no overt racial behavior on anyone's part (and not even a lot of xenophobia towards nonhumans), but there are subtle hints and casual mentions in places of racial or ethnic group differences in general phenotype and cultural background, which are almost never the cause of antisocial behavior towards them. I'm sure I remember at least one story where a character is mentioned in passing as having very dark skin, and it doesn't enter into the story in any other way than as part of the character's physical description.

Although there sure are a lot of mad scientists, which makes me wonder about the university system.

#410 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 03:32 PM:

I just saw "Jarhead" last night, and I could see either Jake Gyllenhall or Jamie Foxx as Data. Two very different interpretations, I bet.

#411 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 03:36 PM:

Serge @ #397:

My hit graph was burning!

Through a very logical set of free associations starting with those clouds and ending with a Tiny Toons episode, I will this evening see how the TMBG "Istanbul" works as a polka.

#412 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 03:49 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 408... you're not even considered potential management material in the Borg until you're at least 3

"Madame 2 of 9?"

"Yes, drone 76 of 3455?"

"I think there is a problem with your project's requirements."

"You will do as ordered, drone 76 of 3455."

"Butbutbut.."

"Resistance is futile. Prepare to be assimilated."

#413 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 04:06 PM:

...from a lost episode of Voyager

"We'll always have Paris. He'll make an excellent drone."

- Humphrey Borgart

#414 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 04:15 PM:

Serge @ 412

"No, Catbert, evil Drone of HR, this isn't pointy hair, it's a Wi-Fi antenna."

#415 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 05:35 PM:

Bruce Cohen #388: That's because it was being run by a state monopoly telephone company, and it was being run as an entirely centralised system within quite rigid lines.

#416 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:10 PM:

Susan @404 on MZB's Thendara House:

the HR computers (and personnel) in the Amazing Far Future Great Terran Empire could not handle the idea of a woman having a different last name than her husband. I am no great defender of the Evil computers wreak upon people with nonstandard surnames, but this was a solvable problem at the time the damned book was published (1983) and made the book feel dated from the get-go.

I guess MZB had never heard of e.g. Iceland - just one of the places where last names don't Work That Way.

#417 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:12 PM:

Because it is springtime and evil plants are clouding the air with their evil pollens, I've written my obligatory post on what is, in my non-sneezing opinion, the best ever thing for pollen / nose-based allergies*.

I've run into too many people who've never even heard of it** to know that they should give it a try. Since I'm able to go outdoors without tissues, Its my duty to point to it as why I can do so.

-------

* cromolyn spray: prevents histamines from being released, over the counter, non-addictive, not a steroid.

**it doesn't get advertised much (vs a prescription like Flonase) and on the shelf it could look like merely a pricey steroid spray.

#418 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:24 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo #416: Nor had she ever heard of the normal practice in Spain, which is that a woman does not normally abandon her family name (which is patronym plus matronym) when she marries. Though she may socially be known as señora de (patronym +husband's patronym).

#419 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:36 PM:

I've read a couple books in which the explicitly white people were explicitly racist-- or in one case, a colony ship full of nasty hate groups was sent to a nasty planet and recombined into Super Hate Group-- and it annoys me. Yes, there will be racial politics in the future. But they'll be different racial politics. Feminism has changed since my mother marched. It's changed since her mother, and her grandmother, all the way back to the beginning. The arguments had better have changed by the time I have children, because if the future isn't different, what is the present for?

It bugs me more when it's part of a systemic problem in the book, where the story says it's feminist and is actually rather not. Sigh.

#420 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:50 PM:

Was it Starship Troopers which ended with the sudden revelation that the lead character was Filipino? I always thought that was one of the sneakiest sandbaggings of stereotyping I'd ever run across.

#421 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 07:00 PM:

Fragano:

The irony is that on Darkover itself, naming practices were not strictly patronymic. I don't have the details at my fingertips, but there was hyphenation, children taking the name of the higher-ranked parent, daughters and sons taking different parents' names, etc. MZB also had a specifically Spanish strain in the regressed-to-feudal planetary culture.

It was just the advanced, egalitarian Terran Empire that was completely shocked at the notion that a woman would have any name other than her husband's and whose computers couldn't handle any other possibility. That really is not a logical extrapolation from 1983 into a non-dystopian future where women have full equality. I'm not sure when the practice of keeping one's name at marriage became not-that-rare (if still not a majority choice) in mainstream American culture, but I can testify that it was around at least by 1977, when I was fascinated by my fourth-grade science teacher, Ms. Lewis, whose name was (1) different from her husband's and (2) used with "Ms." First time I'd ever encountered "Ms." I wonder if she had any idea what a feminist role model she was for a little girl.

#422 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 07:18 PM:

Linkmeister @ 420: It was.

#423 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 07:34 PM:

"Yes, there will be racial politics in the future. But they'll be different racial politics."

There was a cute story, published decades ago in The Space Gamer, in which a visitor to a starport bar witnesses a bizarre variety of cyborgs, gene-altered humans, uplifted beasts and so on come in to relax and hoist a few. Everyone is getting along just fine . . . then the visitor lets slip that he's an alien. Everyone is shocked and disgusted. The kindest person present brusquely tells him that his kind is not welcome and to leave ASAP.

* * *

One of the most aggravating things commonly said about science fiction: "Good science fiction is really about the present."

Um, no. That's an out for lazy scriptwriters who substitute transparent parables for an earnest attempt at extrapolation. There will always be limits to our attempts to imagine different societies. I mean, duh. But you can try.

It starts by putting away your axe and turning off the grinder.

#424 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 08:27 PM:

susan,

I'm not sure when the practice of keeping one's name at marriage became not-that-rare (if still not a majority choice) in mainstream American culture, but I can testify that it was around at least by 1977,

i'm personally very grateful to be the second generation of that kind of woman. my now-husband's family is traditional in a lot of ways, & i did get a lot of people asking me why i wasn't planning to change my name. "it just seems natural to me; my mother never changed her name" shut people up really good. no one wants to be second-guessing someone else's mother.

#425 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 08:31 PM:

dena,

i'm very sorry for your loss (your post was way up there, but i'm only seeing it now, after passover holidays). i hope you (& godwilling others) can make enough noise that the authorities have to, at the very least, say why they're so sure it was suicide.

#426 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 08:55 PM:

miriam@424: i did get a lot of people asking me why i wasn't planning to change my name.

I wouldn't say it's neccessarily purely sexist (culture occurs to some people like the law of gravity, it just is), but either way, it certainly is annoying.

#427 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 08:57 PM:

A.J. Luxton @ 380: Thanks, I'd forgotten about that one. You'd think after all this and what happened with orchestra auditions there would be more attempts to implement blinds for things like journal peer review...

Sorry (if that's the word) to hear you're forking your blog btw, I just started reading it. Hope you stick around here, one way or another.

Bruce Cohen @ 386: See, everyone thought adding and empath to bridge crew a sign of '90s therapy culture, but really it was to cut down on the diplomatic incidents the "universal" translator was always causing!

#428 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 09:09 PM:

Bruce@410: I just saw "Jarhead" last night,

good movie.

One of the few war movies I've seen in a long time that is completely free of war handwavium.

There's a completely non-spoiler scene near the begnning where n enqvb qbrfa'g jbex naq fbzrbar unf gb eha haqre sver gb nabgure sbk ubyr gb trg nabgure onggrel, gura onpx gb gurve bevtvany cbfvgvba, bayl gb svaq bhg gur onggrel vf qrnq, and I remember thinking, "Yeah baby!" It was like seeing rust on a spaceship in a science fiction movie.

and I could see either Jake Gyllenhall or Jamie Foxx as Data. Two very different interpretations, I bet.

Jake is a damn fine actor, in my opinion. There isn't a role I can't imagine him pulling off well. I can imagine him kicking ass as Data.

I'm not nearly as familiar with Jamie Foxx, so I can't really say.

#429 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 09:19 PM:

Ralph@427: empath to bridge crew a sign of '90s therapy culture

I thought they took Spock's vulcan character and split his logical side into Data and his "mind meld" side into Troi. The only problem they didn't forsee was that every time any issue could be easily solved by an empath who could read minds at a great distance, they had to knock her unconscious, put her out of communication range, or tune down the granularity of her perceptions till she was a pointless emotive repeater.

great joy and gratitude... great joy and gratitude...

#430 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 09:36 PM:

One of the most aggravating things commonly said about science fiction: "Good science fiction is really about the present."

Without the qualifier, I think this approaches reasonable. We're all creatures of our time; I don't think we can really escape that. When we read Victorian science fiction, we can read it as fiction, surely, but we can also learn about the Victorians: what they hoped for, what they feared, what they thought worth noting, what they assumed was true.

I think it's John Clute who has a theory about how novels have a "Real Year" which is the time that informs their sensibility, regardless of the literal setting of the text. I think it's true that for a lot of modern science fiction, the Real Year is now.

#431 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 09:59 PM:

greg,

I wouldn't say it's neccessarily purely sexist (culture occurs to some people like the law of gravity, it just is),

i agree. my mum-in-law is a smart & insightful woman, & i feel like if she had been born ten years later (she is about ten years older than my mother) or maybe to more canadianized parents (her parents were japanese immigrants), she would totally be a feminist. as it is, she talks about 80% egalitarian & 20% unexamined patriarchal assumptions.

(this is, of course, just my unfair impression as a privileged young white woman raised in a fairly feminist household by two native-born us citizens.)

#432 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:06 PM:

re: naming

I did not have a middle name on my birth certificate. Paula Jean might have been an option but my mom was Norma Jane and my sister Sarah Jane.

When I got married I took the option and moved my maiden name to the middle name position. It took until the mid-80s to get every place that you give your name (magazine subscriptions, etc.) to stop putting a f-ing hyphen between the Helm and the Murray.

#433 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:08 PM:

Greg 429: That episode is so bad that whenever it's on I have to stop watching all forms of Trek for two weeks...even if I don't watch it.

#434 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:08 PM:

Norma Jean (not Jane). ooops

#435 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:12 PM:

Greg @ #426:

I've started sitting my male friends down for serious conversations when they get married:

- do you plan to change your name?

- why not?

- don't you feel like you won't really be a family if you don't change their name?

- what about when your kids have a different name from you?

- do you plan to quit your job if you have kids, at least for a few years?

- won't you feel guilty about not being a full-time parent?

etc. etc. etc. The whole range of questions that my female friends have to go through over and over again. Most of the guys get it at about the halfway point, after starting off somewhere between confused and hostile.

#436 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:28 PM:

Susan@435: I've started sitting my male friends down

Except it isn't all gender driven. That'll get a lot of it. But some of it is simply culture, which means some women will have resistance to anyone not conforming. And if you ask those women those same questions, they might very well answer "Yes, I did. She should too." At which point, the questions need to expand from simple empathy like "put yourself in her shoes" and expand more into representative language and concepts like justice, i.e. "what's right for you isn't necessarily right for them."

#437 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:32 PM:

The subthread on marriage and names reminds me of Frisbie's explanation of the name non-change when he married: she felt that Mrs Frisbie was his mother, and hyphenation was a non-starter.

(My favorite married-name weirdness: the great-aunt whose maiden name and married name are the same. She's buried next to her brother. Someone in the future will have a headache sorting it out.)

#438 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:45 PM:

Greg: I think you're missing the point. These conversations with female friends happen pretty automatically - someone brings it up with women, family or friends or whoever. Often over and over again. You don't even have to be getting married - I've had people hear my last name and immediately make a comment about how glad I will be to get rid of it when I get married. (As if! As if twice!) It's not about the reactions of any particular individual; my female friends have made all sorts of different choices. It's about the fact that for women it comes up and for men it doesn't. So men don't have to think about it. And I'm tired of that discrepancy.

I've assembled a list of questions for MM's too, for similar reasons.

#439 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:56 PM:

I've got a friend whose maiden name and married name are the same, and her husband and father have the same given name. But both are very, very common names, and (iirc) the husband was willing to modify his first name if requested (it wasn't) i.e. from William to Bill.

#440 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 10:57 PM:

Susan, we have friends who decided that, because of his job o lack of it made him the natural default to be a stay-at-home dad. (she's some kind of computer scientist and is a teacher/maybe professor at U. Kans.)

It's a good thing in ways, because both their children, both born prematurely, have both been diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum.

it's not a good thing in other ways because until now they were pretty laissaize faire parents, which made some things, like SF club meetings in the ginormous Victorian Mansion that is KC's Writer's Place, terrifying to those of us who pay attention to small children.

#441 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 11:32 PM:

As a child, my great-grandmother shocked the room by proclaiming that it wasn't fair that girls had to change their names when they got married, and that she wasn't going to change hers.

As it turned out, she found someone with the same last name to marry, which couldn't have been easy, given that the name in question was Baloun (pronounced "balloon" and means...balloon). A little easier in a Bohemian ghetto, but not like Smith or something.

#442 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 12:36 AM:

Linkmeister: It's not an ending, but late in the book where he says they spoke tagalog at home. I'd thought, because of his mother being in Buenos Aires that he was Argentine.

The movie (gacckkk) made them all Argentines.

Re names: Honestly, I can't imagine Maia taking a new name when we get around to actually getting married.

Greg: Putting the ROT-13 into an url makes it impossible to decipher it directly, least for me, usuing l33t-key.

#443 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:18 AM:

Terry: I had no trouble deciphering it using LeetKey. What is the nature of your difficulty?

#444 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:30 AM:

Roy G. Ovrebo @416::

It's worth noting that as recently as the mid 1990s I was encountering order entry systems in the US that couldn't deal with international addresses. (I was writing order entry systems back then, so tended to notice various infelicities — and the occasional good idea — in other such systems.) Since then, the web seems to have cured that in large part; but I still occasionally run into systems that can't even handle my university shipping address, much less some of the longer international addresses.

(As for the original issue: in the 80s? Yes, there were indeed systems inflexible enough to make the name issue rather difficult to deal with sanely. Usually bureaucracy was involved in the difficulty, which makes the Terran Empire a not at all unlikely target for such a rant.)

#445 ::: Distraxi ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:42 AM:

It's worth noting that as recently as the mid 1990s I was encountering order entry systems in the US that couldn't deal with international addresses

And there are still plenty around that can't cope with the fact that not all countries use States or Zip codes.

#446 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:27 AM:

Terry @ #442, I just remember doing a classic double-take when I read it. Maybe at the end the ship is named after a Filipino President or something, too? The surprise was total; I know that.

#447 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:28 AM:

Steve C. #406: No one should be played by David Spade. Ever.

Terry Karney #442: The movie (gacckkk) made them all Argentines.

Hrmph. That's all I have to say to your gacckkk.

#448 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 04:26 AM:

My parents also had the same last name before they married - the concept of a hereditary last name is only a few generations old in Norway, and they were neighbours. I doubt she'd have kept her maiden name upon marriage if she'd needed to choose, but keeping it as a middle name has been pretty common.

#449 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 06:09 AM:

Did you know there's a sequel to Starship Troopers; Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation?

(And IMDb informs me that there is another sequel in production Starship Troopers 3: Marauder)

#450 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 06:22 AM:

geekosaur @ 444:

It's worth noting that as recently as the mid 1990s I was encountering order entry systems in the US that couldn't deal with international addresses.

Foo; I had that problem earlier this decade when I moved from Wisconsin to Spain: a surprising number of US businesses (Hello, AT&T? Citibank?) had no provision for foreign addresses in their consumer billing systems. Much amusement ensued when I sent them change-of-address forms.

(The weirdest incident was when AT&T decided that I lived in a country called "Madison"; then someone scrawled "Italy" by hand on the outside of the envelope -- and yet somehow it actually made it to me in Spain.)



In retrospect, it was nice that most Spanish businesses and government offices were able to handle people with only one last name, even though the standard forms all have spaces for "First Family Name" and "Second Family Name" -- but then they've probably had to adapt to being in the EU.

#451 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 07:07 AM:

Susan @ 435... When Sue brought up that subject before we tied the knot, the discussion lasted about 10 seconds because my answer was that I'd rather keep my own name so why should she change hers? Mind you, when I go pick up something for her at the phamarcy, they sometimes assume I'm Mr. Serge Krinard.

Meanwhile, in the chining Future... There was one episode of ST-TNG where Riker found himself married. I don't remember if he'd wound up in an alternate reality, or a divergent timeline, or a glimpse of his own future, or maybe some aliens were messing with his head, or the frakking holodeck was on the fritz again. Anyway, without anyone blinking, his wife was introduced as Mrs. William Riker.

The 24th Century apparently will be like the early 1960s.

#452 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 07:19 AM:

Paula @ #440:

I'm going to hazard a guess that he periodically gets the opposite conversation - the "don't you want to get a real job?" one.

#453 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 08:20 AM:

Terry@442: Putting the ROT-13 into an url makes it impossible to decipher it directly

Aw, bummer. I thought I was making it easier for folks. I don't have leetkey, so I couldn't test that. Back to the drawing board.

#454 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 08:55 AM:

Geekosaur, I opened a bank account via the internet in January. The bank's system couldn't accept fractional addresses. I'm at 114 1/2.

I think I disappointed one of my uncles once by not blinking when I wrote down a non-US phone number for him to call his wife back. Okay, it had only six digits... but it's what she said. I think he expected me to have asked where she was or demanded an explanation. I had just assumed that she was in France and that French phone numbers had fewer digits, and discovering that she was in Uganda wasn't that big a deal.

#455 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 08:57 AM:

I changed my name when I married, and I regret that it wasn't a deliberate decision one way or the other (I married in 1998) because now I always feel guilty when the topic comes up in discussion, like I've failed to uphold women's rights. (I have read at least one article where the opinion was that I *should* be ashamed because I've done exactly that.)

I did not adopt my maiden name as my middle name. That felt intrusive and wrong in a way changing my last name didn't. The last name felt like a bit of bureaucratic ID - almost as unimportant to me as changing my social security number would be. But dropping my "middle" name*, to stick a bureaucratic ID in its place? Oh hell no.

*I've mentioned it here before, so sorry for the repeat, but I don't think I have a middle name. I have a two-word first name with a space, not a hypen, in the middle. I have enough trouble getting my "real name" into forms and official papers. I'm not adding a fourth word to it just to satisfy tradition.

#456 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:26 AM:

Over at The Edge of the American West, they noted an important anniversary yesterday.

#457 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:28 AM:

RM Koske, when my brother was little, he once got upset because he didn't have a middle name-- he's J* M*, all one name, no hyphens. Mom had thrown quite a few fits at his teachers, who insisted he be J* for some reason while letting Ashley Lynn be Ashley Lynn, but she thought he knew that technically, M* was a middle name. So she told him his middle name was Fred.

Don't do that to young and gullible children unless you are very, very sure they'll get the joke.

On the other hand, both he and my father went up to the high school graduation announcers and said, "Hey, just so you know, this is my first name." When his name was read, it wasn't J*, M*, K* with defined pauses, but J*M*, K*. And we were all very happy.

#458 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:41 AM:

Ethan @ 447

No one should be played by David Spade. Ever.

Don't agree. David Spade should be forced to play David Spade. Over and over. Forever. With no audience but a laugh track made from synthesized voices.

#459 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:44 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 458... Isn't there something in the Constitution against harsh and cruel punishment?

#460 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:50 AM:

Serge @ the Bradbury number comment

The long history of problems with the holodeck is evidence of 2 things:

1) It will take more than 3 centuries for ISO 9001 to have a significant effect on software reliability.*

2) Corruption in the military supply chain is alive and well in the 24th century.

On second thought, make that three things:

3) Field units in the 24th century will still be considered appropriate alpha release test sites. This probably means that Pickard's login password is "pear-shaped".

* Hmm. Will quality requirements make it necessary for all software characters narrating holostories be reliable?

#461 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:55 AM:

Diatryma @ 457... Don't do that to young and gullible children unless you are very, very sure they'll get the joke.

Last year, when I met my in-laws, I told my 6-year-old nephew (who has a very active fantasy life) that my youngest dog loved to eat shoes. Right away, I saw his expression, the one he gets when he thinks people are making fun of him. That's when I realized that he'd taken my words literally, that my dog actually ate shoes. That's when I said two things to him. One was, I had meant that my dog loved to chew on shoes. The other was that I'd NEVER make fun of him.

#462 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:55 AM:

Serge @ 459

Since when do the agents of Karma have to pay attention to the US Constitution? We're talking Cosmic Law here. Or, as Yahweh was heard to say at the press conference just after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah: "Why? Because they pissed me off, that's why!"

#463 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:58 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 460... Pickard's login password is "pear-shaped"

Not "merde"?

#464 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 10:08 AM:

On the changing of married names.

One view: when we got married we discussed the question, and (this was in 1970, when the man changing his name wasn't on the table) Eva said, "I don't care. This surname isn't mine, it's eomething I got from my father when I was born, no choice on my part. So if it makes it easier to deal with the bureaucratic process, I'll take yours."

Another view: A friend and colleague of mine, an Iranian expatriate whose family had left because the Savak had it in for them, and stayed away because the Revolution had it in for them too, said she'd kept her father's name because that was the longstanding tradition going back to the Persian Empire. It was, she said, a token of respect to her and her parents' family.

#465 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 10:20 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 464... As for my wife's younger sisters, they couldn't wait to get rid of the name they were born with, what with people's tendency to pronounce 'Krinard' as "Cry-nerd".

#466 ::: martyn44 ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Half a knicker was 10/- in Lsd, which translates to 50p in modern money.

Or two half crowns, twenty tanners, forty threepenny pieces and four hundred and eighty groats.

#467 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 10:37 AM:

Bruce #464: My wife took my last name, and used her previous last name as a middle name. I assume there was less bureaucratic nonsense that way, but I know she still had all kinds of hassles with small-time stuff like frequent flyer numbers (which wanted some kind of high-caliber proof of the name change to transfer a few miles to a new name). ISTM that it makes life noticeably easier for both of us to have the same last name (and for the kids to have the same last name as both parents), though I haven't dealt with the other situation, so maybe there's no trouble there.

The women I know who kept their names were mostly people who'd published under their maiden name. It makes life a lot more complicated if half your papers are under Jane Smith, and the other half under Jane Jones or Jane Smith Jones or Jane Smith-Jones or whatever. Though it's also pretty common for women to keep their maiden name for publishing stuff, regardless of what their legal name is, I think.

It strikes me that there's no obviously best way to handle this. If you want family names to track with both parents and all the kids, at least one adult is going to change their name. Since educated people in the first world usually get married after having accomplished some stuff (like getting a college degree, maybe writing some academic papers or newspaper articles or something), changing names is likely to be a hassle for either or both adults doing it.

Out of curiousity, does anyone know what the convention is (or if there is one) for legally-recognized gay marriages?

#468 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #458:

David Spade should be forced to play David Spade. Over and over. Forever.

Isn't this what he's doing already?

#469 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 10:55 AM:

Bruce Cohen (StM) #458: Oooh, OK, I take it back. I like yours.

#470 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 10:56 AM:

The wife of one of my friends had got her doctorate and been published before she was married, and so is Dr C* at work and professionally and Mrs K* at home and socially.

I'm told it's not quite like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

#471 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 10:59 AM:

Though I'm sure I've said this before, another factor in the question of post-marital name change is the familiarity of the name. Since I *always* have to spell my first name for strangers, I stick with maiden name Miller rather than also having to spell out the married name of Hanscom (even if does sound more interesting).

Besides, I'm a big fan of baked goods....

#472 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 10:59 AM:

Serge @ 463

I could never take Pickard seriously as a Norman farmer. That accent was just plain wrong. My best theory was that his family got left behind in the 11th century by William the Conqueror to hold the original family estates, and tried only partially successfully to assimilate* when the English were kicked out.

* "Nous sommes le collectif de Bourgogne. Nous essaierons de vous assimiler."

#473 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 11:04 AM:

#418 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2008, 06:24 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo #416: Nor had she ever heard of the normal practice in Spain, which is that a woman does not normally abandon her family name (which is patronym plus matronym) when she marries. Though she may socially be known as señora de (patronym +husband's patronym).

Actually, MZB was well aware of the Spanish tradition -- in several of the Darkover books the Comyn nobility's full given names included patronym and matronym joined by the letter "y."

It's the Terrans and their computers which cannot handle the concept of a different surname for husband and wife.

Would it help to know that Darkover was originally a fantasy set in the Southwest where the Spanish retained control of the area?

#474 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 11:16 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 472... "Nous sommes le collectif de Bourgogne. Nous essaierons de vous assimiler."

Luckily for the integrity of our History, le collectif bourguignon ran into Quentin Durward.

#475 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 11:41 AM:

474 led me immediately into

Nous sommes le collectif de Gascogne

De Carbon et Castel Jaloux

Bretteurs et menteurs sans vergogne,

Nous sommes le collectif de Gascogne...


#476 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 12:05 PM:

Neil Willcox @ 470

I'm in a similar position; it's not uncommon. My step-mother also used her maiden name professionally (as a medical doctor) but was also known as "Mrs.

I use the "Mrs" very rarely, but there are times when "Mr & Mrs" seems appropriate. What I loathe is when people write to me as "Mrs [my husband's full name]", or write to the two of us as "Mr & Mrs [my husband's full name]". I have my own first name. I love my husband dearly, but I am neither an appendage nor a chattel of his (and he wouldn't want me to be either). Does anyone know a polite way of asking people (old family friends, for example) not to do that?

#477 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Susan #421: It certainly assumes that several hundred years in the future, the Terran Empire will have the mores of America in 1955. Not a very safe assumption in a book published in 1983, that's for sure.

#478 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 12:14 PM:

I know a couple who simply added a third name to both their names, so she was D* P* before and he was A* C*, and after they were D* P* A* and A* C* A* respectively. Their kids just have the adopted third name as their last name.

I know another couple who both kept their own last names, but adopted each other's last names as middle names. So she was S* G* and he was D* F*, and now they're S* F* G* and D* G* F*. It's a little confusing, but it works for them.

#479 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 12:17 PM:

I am very fond of my initials and of the look of my signature. However, I've never particularly cared for the sound of my last name, especially in combination with my first. There was a brief while that I contemplated just changing it myself, but I couldn't think of anything that would keep my initials the same, sound good, and not annoy my grandmother. Plus, it seemed like a lot of work.

However, I think that if I ever get married, I may take my husbands name *if* I like it more than my current one. It would be a good excuse to make that change. I won't change it if it makes my current name seem delightful in comparison.

#480 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 12:24 PM:

dcb:

It's correct formal usage to use the husband's name with Mrs; using your first name instead suggests that you are divorced. If they're prone to use that sort of styling, they probably are vaguely aware of this and would choke on the Mrs. Hername Lastname usage.

You might have some luck asking them to drop the honorifics completely and go with "Joe and Mary Smith" instead on the grounds that (as family and friends) you would be so very happy if they were comfortable abandoning formal style with you. That puts them in a position where it's harder to refuse.

#481 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 12:25 PM:

Fragano 477: No, it isn't, as we've discussed before, but for Terra to become an Empire (especially under that name, implying the existence of an Emperor), an awful lot of social regression would have to take place. Maybe they went back to being sexist imperialists, or the existing sexist imperialists took over? Maybe this is the outgrowth of a Handmaid's Tale-style society.

Progress is always forward, but progress isn't a law of nature. I assume dramatic regresses will continue to happen. Who knows which force will dominate? Nor is it a sure thing that technological progress/regress will match signs; you could have dramatic tech progress with equally dramatic social regress, for example. And that could lead to the Terran Empire.

Or maybe MZB was just narrowminded and shortsighted. I only met her once, but I certainly don't discount that possibility.

#482 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Susan @ 435 -- wonderful! We should videotape it and make it required viewing for everyone.

Why is that a woman's last name is "her father's", but her brother's last name is . . . his own?

#483 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:16 PM:

I think it was Susan who, a couple of years ago, mentionned the case of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who, I think, was born Villar until he married a lady named Raigosa.

#484 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:22 PM:

I already had sufficient name problems (Southern double name instead of Firstname Middlename that I'd converted to Firstnamemiddlename, with no "real" middle name, on leaving for college) that it was one of the factors in not adopting my husband's name upon my marriage in 1981. The others were rather oddly variegated. First, I got married right in the middle of my interview semester, and changing my name on the 93 forms each for 47 engineering companies didn't seem particularly productive. Second, my husband had this bizarre reluctance for me to take his name, rather the reverse of what was usual at the time.

The really odd part is that for fast-food transactions requiring my name, I now give out just the original Firstname. At only two letters, it's fairly easy to spell.

#485 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:28 PM:

#473 ::: Lori Coulson

I'd always assumed MZB was using a Portuguese model there, since the honorifics follow the Portuguese manner. She employs the Portuguese 'dom' rather than the Spanish 'don' -- and all those mountains isolating one great family from another. Traveling around Portugal I spent a lot of 'dream' time attempting to imagine myself back into medieval times there -- and just how isolated every part was from every other part, how long it would take to get from one place to another. Fascinating place, Portugal. (As is Spain, of course! -- though I do pefer Spanish cuisine to the typical Portuguese menu.)

Southwestern Spain was the earliest region conquered by Islam and whose Caliphates were the last of the reconquista. In 'our' history, I mean! :)

Love, C.

#486 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:38 PM:

Xopher #477: Well, an Empire could imply an Empress, y'know....

#487 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:42 PM:

When I got married, at the age of 23, I had just finished college, so it was a straight up choice whether I liked my original name better than Martin's. As it happened, I found his name more euphonious, so I chose it and added my maiden name to the two I already stashed in the middle*. The only material downside is that S makes for more sets of initials that Spell Things† than F did.

We did talk briefly about him taking my name, but since I liked his better than mine we didn't pursue it.

Here in the Netherlands, however, the custom is that women do not take their husbands' names in all contexts. Someone may be Mevrouw Hisname, and they're the family Hisname, but she is known as Firstname Hername on her own.‡

-----

* Original middle name (my mother's first name) + confirmation name, which I liked enough to keep around.

† Unfortunate things

‡ I think. I'm not sure yet.

#488 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Xopher @ 481:

I could also be misremembering it as an "Empire" instead of a "Federation" - it's been a while since I last reread any Darkover novels. But the [Terran multiplanet social entity] as portrayed was generally egalitarian, with women in positions of authority and comments made about how competent women transferred off Darkover because Darkovan society made it harder for women working there, that sort of thing. That's why the name thing made me choke so badly - it didn't go with the rest of the setup.

Serge @ 483:

I think that mayor has since divorced or something; not sure what (if anything) he's done re. name.

#489 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:54 PM:

Constance Ash @485: I'm going by what one of MZB's college friends told me.

You may have noticed that the fire problems mentioned in various Darkover novels are a match for California wildfire season (down to the type of forests and the watchtowers). The Dry Towns probably correspond to Arizona/New Mexico. And one of the Alton estates is called "Mariposa."

I have no familiarity with Portuguese, so missed the significance of "dom, domna, domnina, etc." I'd assumed MZB was reaching back to Latin for those. Before Darkover was a planet, it was a kingdom called "Meridia" IIRC.

#490 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:55 PM:

Serge 483: Back when my husband and I were talking about how our family naming would work, before we got married, we considered doing something of that type.

Until we put our names together and "Porker" came out.

(We both kept our names as-is, because we like them that way. When we mentioned this at a family gathering, a relative of my husband's declared loudly "Well, I guess THAT marriage isn't going to last very long!" Grr.)

#491 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:56 PM:

I did have friends named Gibb and Klapp who gave up entirely on taking one or combining the two, and simply changed to Loxley on their marriage.

#492 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 01:59 PM:

Susan @ 480

I'm aware that in old-fashioned formal usage you go to "Mrs [own first name] [Last name]" when you become a widow (or, as you suggest, after divorce). The point is that this whole system of refering to married women as "Mrs [husband's first name] [Last name]" comes from the time when women didn't have an identity other than as an appendage of their husband. I object. I'll see if I can try your suggestion it might work, and it can't make things worse.

#493 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:01 PM:

Constance Ash @ 485:

Southwestern Spain was the earliest region conquered by Islam and whose Caliphates were the last of the reconquista. In 'our' history, I mean! :)

The last Muslim state to fall to the Reconquista (in 1492) was actually Granada, which is more to the southeast...

#494 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:05 PM:

Tchem @ 490... we put our names together and "Porker" came out

You could have changed it to Bacon, I guess.

As for my wife's name and mine, merging them would result in phonetically atrocious results. Except for 'Maynard', which brings to my mind Maynard J. Krebbs.

#495 ::: R. Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:21 PM:

Per CJ @ 381: In the case of the SPE, the expectations were heavily reinforced by the experimenters. But I also have an article on my floor right now about how new prisoners in the Netherlands form (incorrect) expectations about prison life and behavior based on American media.

Albatross @ 400: No kidding. Sometimes when I'm procrastinating I mentally narrate my life as a science fiction novel for a reader from 1900 or 1950.

Re Lunar society, I interpreted it as you describe. But it was interesting to me the ways in which the narrator seemed much less reliable than when I first read it at 20, and I don't think all of that was deliberate on Heinlein's part.

Another thing about MIAHM is that computers screwing with the election results For the People's Own Good seems a bit more sinister than it did a few years ago.

New topic: I just got a new stove today. It has a smooth ceramic top, because I was sick of cleaning all the finicky little nooks in a coil-top. But the warnings about how hot it gets and what you can and can't put/leave on the burner are all on the order of "Do not taunt happy fun ball." Translated: if you don't use the stove, you can't sue us. Also, I'm discovering what a pain it is to try and center a pan on the burner with only visual feedback (i.e., with no friction, putting the pan off-center doesn't feel any different than having it on-center). Does anyone here have experience with these? Any insight into what really shouldn't be done for safety reasons, or tips for making them easier/more pleasant to cook on? Have I just done the equivalent of buying an oven with Windows Vista instead of Unix?

#496 ::: R. Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:31 PM:

Also, with respect to computer systems and last names: The computer system at my work cannot make any distinction between the full legal name in the payroll system and the use-name that goes in directories and on office doors. So my options were either A) lose my original last name when I already had publications under it (bad for career), B) keep my maiden name with no new name (didn't want to; it's a name my family picked a generation ago because the Ellis Island name was still too Jewish for them to get hired under), or C) legally become Mrs. Emrys space-no-hyphen Oldname (first half of the last name can be bumped into the middle name slot on the computer system). I knew from Teresa exactly how much of a PITA this would be, and it still seemed like the best option.

#497 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:31 PM:

albatross @ #467:

It strikes me that there's no obviously best way to handle this. If you want family names to track with both parents and all the kids, at least one adult is going to change their name.

Our planned compromise is to give FutureBaby my last name as a middle name, just there's some obvious-upon-looking-at-IDs link between me & FutureBaby. Also, keeps us from having to think of a middle name too . . .

(FutureBaby gets Chad's last name, Orzel, because it is considerably easier to spell and say.)

#498 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:36 PM:

R. Emrys @ #495, we love our ceramic-top stove, but I've never had a problem with centering the pan visually.

In normal use, we've never had any problems with cracking, etching, etc. (which IIRC are the things the manual warns you about), though I admit to wiping up hot high-sugar spills sooner than I would on a different surface, just to be safe.

Otherwise, my only tip is for really tough burnt-on stuff that's not coming off, apply the special cleaner and then let it sit for a while. It'll dissolve and save you major effort.

#499 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:36 PM:

Kate Nepveu @ FutureBaby gets Chad's last name, Orzel, because it is considerably easier to spell

Never underestimate people's capacity to misspell even the simplest name.

#500 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Assuming I ever get married (current planned date: a few months after the youngest child--of which there are none yet--graduates college), I am not planning to change my name; it's a very unusual name, and aside from me and my parents there are about ten people in the US who have it.

Or maybe MZB was just narrowminded and shortsighted. I only met her once, but I certainly don't discount that possibility.

I haven't read any of her stuff except for The Mists of Avalon, about which I can only say, please make up your foolishness about someone else's religion, thanks!

#501 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 02:50 PM:

R. Emrys @495-- Enjoy your new stove! I've had one since 1988; when we remodeled the kitchen a few years ago, I got another ceramic.

There have been few if any problems (knock wood). Apparently one should avoid letting aluminum foil on a hot burner. My husband knows someone that this happened to, and they couldn't get it off. Although it would be tempting because of the flat surface, I don't use the stove top as extra counter space. Anything that has happened to burn on -- including sugar -- has come off with scraping and/or cleaner.

I would suggest making an effort to use *all* the burners, and not consistently use one burner with full power. The burner I used for the teakettle did wear out on my old stove. YMMV. (And I now have an electric kettle :-))

Centering the pan does require visual checking, sometimes repeatedly, but you'll probably get used to that pretty quickly. Flat pans with heavy bottoms will help with that, and of course improve your heat distribution. I suspect that's slightly more of an issue with ceramic stoves than with the coils. An advantage of the flat surface is that you can remove a pan from the heat quickly.

#502 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 03:03 PM:

dcb @ 492:

No, widows get to keep the Mrs. Hisname Lastname formation, just like they get to keep wearing a wedding ring. And technically a divorcee would get Mrs. Maidenname Hisname, no first name used at all.

The problem with "Mrs" is that for a few hundred years its has been used to mean, more or less, "appendage of", which is why it goes with Hisname and not Hername - it doesn't make sense with her name. She's not the wife of herself. (Though I take devilish glee in the problem this presents w/r/t same-sex marriage - "Mrs. Mary Smith" would seem to be quite correct usage for Jane Smith who is married to Mary Smith. Moohahaha!)

So if you've got people who are stuck enough on old-fashioned usage to use "Mr and Mrs Joe Smith" in the first place, arguing with them that they should replace it with a technically incorrect usage is probably going to get nowhere. That's why I suggest avoiding the issue entirely - either go with Ms, or just scrap the honorifics.

Given the choice between working to reclaim Mrs to give it a different meaning or just using the very reasonable Ms, I pick the latter for personal use. When I address invitations, I skip honorifics entirely ("Joe and Mary Smith" or "Joe Smith and Mary Jones" or "The Smith-Jones Family") and thereby evade the issue.

#503 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 03:04 PM:

xopher,

I know another couple who both kept their own last names, but adopted each other's last names as middle names. So she was S* G* and he was D* F*, and now they're S* F* G* and D* G* F*.

my brother & sister-in-law did that, but not legally or nothing, & i'm not sure if they even try to make it stick, with acquaintances.

kate,

Our planned compromise is to give FutureBaby my last name as a middle name, just there's some obvious-upon-looking-at-IDs link between me & FutureBaby. Also, keeps us from having to think of a middle name too . . .

after this discussion & one a few weeks ago on bitch, phd, i'm thinking of doing this, too. i find compound last names too unwieldy, especially for kids, who will have a worse dilemma when they maybe eventually get married.

but it would be nice to have my last name still be a "family" name, even if it might not be visible most of the time. & my husband's family has a tradition of giving two middle names, so my last name could be a fine, unobtrusive second (or third!) middle name.

acourse, i haven't brought this up to him yet, & my children are much more hypothetical than yours.

#504 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 03:36 PM:

Susan @ 502... The problem with "Mrs" is that for a few hundred years its has been used to mean, more or less, "appendage of"

In French, the word to refer to a married woman is 'madame', which translates as 'my lady'. Unfortunately, in English, it has acquired unfortunate connotations that also have to do with appendages.

#505 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 03:44 PM:

Oh dear, the Welsh are at it* again.

It's not the getting drunk and dressing in a bin bag to impersonate Darth Vader that gets me, not even when you then go after the members of your local Jedi church with a metal crutch.

It's not even the fact that the judge issued a warrant with the words, "I hope the force will soon be with him."

It's actually the fairly bland tone with which the Beeb reports these facts that I love. Absent them, of course, this case would never be on the website, but their inclusion is done as calmly as any other factual description of a trial I've seen.

-----

* for wtf? values of "it"

#506 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 03:55 PM:

We've had Jenn-Air range equipment for roughly 20 years; the cooktop burners are glass, not ceramic. That doesn't preclude visible wear if one burner is consistently in use to the exclusion of others. In our case that happened because we often put the grill elements on one side and thus had only two burners to work with. I finally got smart and started rotating the plug-in burner elements when I switched the grill out.

E-Z Off seems to work pretty well. It works on our glass Salton hot tray too, but that finally died after a couple of decades of use, so I'm looking for a replacement in the 9"x18" size.

#507 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 03:57 PM:

I know a couple who were married before 1983, when I first met them, and who, being the progressive people they were, decided they would both take a hyphenated surname. Unfortunately, while they wanted to follow the accepted practice of taking oppositely-ordered hyphenations, Hisname-Hername and Hername-Hisname, they were forced to both use the same hyphenation or have to deal with the laughter wherever they went. So they're both now known by Wirfs-Brock. The alternative was a little too, ah, meaty :-)

#508 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 04:07 PM:

We bought a glass-top stove a couple of years ago, and have been very happy with it. It's easy to clean, though we do get burnt-on guck that takes a little work sometimes. Centering pots and pans on the burners is a visual job, there are no other cues, but it's not too difficult, and not as critical as all that. It's actually more of a hassle to remember which part of the heat knob to use for the dual-size burner; it's pretty obvious when it's set at large size for a small pan, because you'll see the red of the uncovered part of the element through the glass, but you can miss that the small burner's trying to heat up a large pan.

And I love not having to pull up the top to clean out all the greasy detritus of spills.

#509 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 04:09 PM:

Serge #494: As for my wife's name and mine, merging them would result in phonetically atrocious results.

What, you don't like Krilloux? Well, at least people wouldn't call you "Mr. Maalox".

#510 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 04:15 PM:

#497 Kate & #503 miriam--mother's maiden name as a middle name (and sometimes grandmother's 9either side) maiden name as a midle name isn't quite common enough in the southern US as to be a default setting, but it is quite common--common enough that when someone responds to an inquiry such as "Your middle name is Jones" by saying "It's my mother's maiden name," it passses without any further need for explanantion or comment.

#511 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 04:23 PM:

ethan @ 509... you don't like Krilloux?

Makes me feel like a whale's diet. No wonder the Maalox would be needed. I think I'd rather be Maynard J. Krebbs, aka Ginger's love on a certain insular show.

#512 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 04:25 PM:

#493 ::: Peter Erwin

That's true: Sevilla was reconquered in the 13th C.

The Portuguese Reconquista earlier, 'finishing' in 1249 with the conquest of the Algarve -- which is certainly southwest, and also fits into MZB's earlier vision.

Though it is hilly rather than mountainous -- and hot and arid.

The entire Iberian Peninsula is a understable inspiration for a Fantasy geography, or so it always felt to me. Not to mention the history. The Algarve, for instance, dates back in the written historical record to the Phoenicians and the Carthegenians. This just took my breath away. Like Sintra Castle, first built by the Moors, on the foundations of what had to have been a Phoenician lighthouse, from where Byron looked over the mountain plain vistas at the time he embarked writing "Childe Harold".

What's not to be inspired by?

Love, C.

#513 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 04:31 PM:

Fragano 486: a) Not if they assume the wife will take the husband's name. b) You're assuming an "Emperor" can't be a woman. You're aware, I take it, that aside from the Oscars the term 'actress' is falling into disuse?

Susan 488: Then it just makes no sense. I hate that.

R. 495: Ohhh, I HATE those stoves! But then I can't stand electric ones generally. It's gas, and gas alone, for me. I've been known to say that I'd rather build a fire in the back yard than try to really cook over electric, but I'm exaggerating.

Carrie 500: I understand that The Mists of Avalon is a love-fest compared to Witch Hill.

Serge 504: Oh, not at all! You're confusing 'madame' (/m^dam'/) with 'madam' (/mæ'd^m/). The latter is also never used as a title. They're entirely different words.

#514 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 04:41 PM:

Constance:

I'm sure you've read The Lions of Al-Rassan, The Curse of Chalion, and Paladin of Souls (by Kay, Bujold, and Bujold, respectively), all set in alternate-Reconquista-era-Iberias? Wonderful books, all three.



#515 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 04:46 PM:

When I said MZB's Darkover was originally a kingdom in the Southwest, I meant the American Southwest not Spain!

The supposed reason for the Spanish (Portugese?) language in Darkover is that some of the inadvertant settlers in _Darkover Landfall_ spoke it -- one of the characters commments how dull it would be if only one language survived.

There is also a Scots contingent (from which we get the Comyn) and Hastur, of course, comes from _The King in Yellow_. Camilla and Cassilda were Spanish saints, IIRC.

In the later books the languages spoken are referred to as Casta (Castilian? Catalan?) and Cahuenga, with Casta being the language of the nobility.

#516 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 04:55 PM:

Xopher @ 513... True, but one comes from the other. There is also Ma'am, which once prompted Captain Janeway to tersely explain that the title was not to be used when talking to her.

#517 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 05:02 PM:

Serge 516: Well, 'martial' and 'marshall' have a similar relationship, yet are used very differently. 'Poodle' comes from the same root as 'puddle', which rather makes one think they might not housebreak easily!* And a template used to be a small temple.

Nail jello to the wall before you try to keep words from changing and diverging and merging.

*Actually they were lake retrievers originally.

#518 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 05:10 PM:

Xopher @ 517... So, you don't think that calling a married woman 'madame' in English would be greeted with dismay? As for variations on the word, I once had a calendar where each month reprinted a poster from an old film noir. One, about the deadly dames of the genre, had this tag line:

Her mouth was filled with broken promises.
#519 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 05:18 PM:

Susan #411:

Surely it's TMBG "Constantinople"...

Serge #499:

I've taken to introducing myself as, "Soon, as in, 'not now'" an an attempt to pre-empt mispellings like, Son, Sun, Soong, Soun and the like. It's like I have a thpeech imphdiment.

#520 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Soon Lee @ 519... Alas, I have no such shortcut available. I have to spell the whole thing out and, by the time, I'm done, people's eyes are starting to glaze over.

#521 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Serge @ 499: Never underestimate people's capacity to misspell even the simplest name.

I can confirm that; I get "Waters" and "Walter" even when someone is looking right at a typescript.

My joke when we got married was "No wife of mine is going to bow to the patriarchy!" I did, in fact, prefer that she keep her name, but it was totally up to her (she did).

#522 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 05:45 PM:

Tim Walters @ 521... My favorite example was my buddy Martin Miller. Pretty simple, right? Still, some managed to call him Martin Milner by accident. Yes, we did feel free to annoy Martin with Adam 12 jokes.

#523 ::: R. Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 05:47 PM:

Xopher @ 513: Well, that's essentially what we did for the seder, since we didn't have a working oven on Saturday.

Admittedly, the fire was in a grill. But the grill was in the back yard. This could be seen as either not very traditional, or extremely traditional, depending on how far back you go.

I hold the minority opinion of hating gas ovens, but that's probably because I've never used one that wasn't decades old and provided by a stingy landlord.

#524 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 06:05 PM:

Soon @ 519:

Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople.

(That was an intentional setup, right?)

It does work nicely as a polka. I expect to crack up the dancers at my next waltz evening with it.

#525 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 06:05 PM:

Xopher #513: You're confusing 'madame' (/m^dam'/) with 'madam' (/mæ'd^m/). The latter is also never used as a title. They're entirely different words.

What about Madam Hooch, Ye Teacher of Ye Quidditch? And do you distinguish between forms of address and titles, as in all those witty replies by Dr Johnson, among others, that begin with "Madam"?

#526 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 06:21 PM:

joann 525: All uses of language in the Potterverse are ipso facto worng.* "Oculus repairo," my foot!

And Dr Johnson's usages are not modern.

#527 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 06:22 PM:

*Yes.

#528 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 06:34 PM:

Susan @ 502

Interesting; I always understood that "Mrs [herfirstname] [surname] was the form used for a widow.

I did think, when I got my PhD, that I'd no longer have to deal with the whole Miss/Mrs/Ms thing (and I don't know about in the USA, but over here if you say you prefer "Ms" it's generally assumed you're really "Miss").*sigh*

As an aside, is there anyone here from continental Europe who can explain why, when I've signed in for a conference and hotel room as "Dr", the hotel staff keep calling me "Mrs"? It's happened in at least four different countries. I've never heard them refering to a man who was "Dr" or "Professor" as "Mr", but they remove my "Dr" all the time.

#529 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 06:35 PM:

Xopher: I am with you on the gas/electric dichotomy. My cooking is not as good when I'm using an electric stove.

As for Serge, and Madame, he's not confusing it, but it would be confused.

As for MZB. I always found her to be far too sure of herself, and a little hard to take. the Darkover books were interesting enough, but as I got older (say toward 15-16, they began to fail to hold my attention. MoA never even made it past the blocks.

#530 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 06:41 PM:

#505 ::: abi,

Oh dear, the Welsh are at it* again.

It's actually the fairly bland tone with which the Beeb reports these facts that I love.

I especially liked this last bit:

Defending, Frances Jones said alcohol was "ruining his life" and he had no idea where he got the crutch from.
That last phrase encompasses an entire story: "...you see, I have no idea where I got the crutch from..." Hum. I wonder what Neil Gaiman would do with that, or perhaps...*



*this is just to say

I have drunk

the wine

that was in

the icebox

and taken the bag

you were probably

saving

for trash

Forgive me

the crutch was metal

so shiny

and so odd

#531 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 06:50 PM:

R. Emrys: If the day for prepping the food hadn't been the sabbath, then I'd say you were right; it was traditional, but I suspect you lit the fire after sundown Friday,and before sundown Sat. :)

Seriously, I commented at Seder that I was glad I didn't have to abide by orthodox/conservative rules for food prep, because that would have made an extra burden.

#532 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 07:01 PM:

Kate Nepveu, 497, repsponding to albatross, said:

Our planned compromise is to give FutureBaby my last name as a middle name, just there's some obvious-upon-looking-at-IDs link between me & FutureBaby.

Kate Nepveu, albatross, and miriam beetle (503),

I am pleased to report that we chose that precise solution for our kid: FirstName MiddleName Lastname Lastname. We didn't get any pushback from the nice lady from the birth certificate office either; a little whiteout was sufficient to make room enough for "two middle names".

Oh, and this is because we both kept our names. (Many reasons, not the least of which is that a last name contains reputation power in academia, so it seemed ill advised to change it.) We also considered it prudent to have our child marked as both of ours ;)

#533 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 07:03 PM:

Xopher #513: Yes, I am.

#534 ::: R. Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 07:20 PM:

Terry @ 531: Actually, my father-in-law lit the fire... but I suppose that goyim in-laws aren't exactly traditional either. And I certainly did plenty of things clearly identifiable as "work" in the preceding hours. While the Sabbath would have made a great excuse to foist it off on everyone else, I too was relieved that I wasn't worrying about those rules.

Don @ 532: That's good to know that they'll let you do that with birth certificates. Our semi-hypothetical children are all going to have four names, and one of them may have five if we lose an argument.

My wife's family has a tradition of using otherwise defunct maiden names as middle names.* This tradition pleases me, and delights my mother (who is an only child and changed her name, and I think regretted it later), but I'm not willing to give up on putting in a "normal" middle name alongside.

*This is the only sensible thing that my wife's family does with names. Her grandmother turns out to have had two brothers named John. Both living into adulthood. At the same time. My wife never realized they were different people until she started asking questions for a family tree.

#535 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 07:49 PM:

dcb (528): In the (American) South, 'Mrs.' has long been pronounced like 'Ms.' ('mizz'). My mother's students called her Mizz Buss, which led to a new misspelling of our last name: Buzz (the 'z' sound was carried over...). Other common misspellings: Bass, Boss, Buff. Very few people get it right on the first try.

#536 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 07:54 PM:

albatross@467: It strikes me that there's no obviously best way to handle this.

If we were to start a new cultural "norm", I'd vote for having couples choose new last names based on something that has some meaning to them as a couple, rather than based on their respective families. Since the new name wouldn't include either previous surname, then neither side of the family would be slighted more than the other. And since the new name would be something both partners choose, it ought to be something that represents something important to them, or acts as some sort of reminder to them as to who they want to be together.

Once that gets some cultural traction, it might overcome some of the other cultural influences which reflect favoring one name over another.

It wouldn't be a "perfect" solution, but it would be kinda cool I think.

#537 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 08:06 PM:

Further to msg 325, thank you Constance, Kayjayah, Marilee, Ginger, A.J. Luxton, Patrick, and Miriam.

Light Makers, you have all helped immensely. In a world which often feels insane, it has been a huge comfort to be able to come here and talk about Riad's death - and have people who listened, and cared.

Thanks.

#538 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 08:12 PM:

R. Emrys @523: I hold the minority opinion of hating gas ovens, but that's probably because I've never used one that wasn't decades old and provided by a stingy landlord.

Sounds exactly like my kitchen. I describe the refrigerator as 'predating the moon landing'. I don't use either, but I can't get him to remove them.

It's a ridiculously small kitchen, and the stove blocks effective use of half the cabinets and all of the counter space. I have an 'apartment fridge' and a microwave stacked up on the stove (which I'd stack where the old refrigerator is, if I could get rid of that...)

#539 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 08:25 PM:

Re: married names

My husband took my name. It's worked out great.

#540 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 08:25 PM:

R. Emrys, when I was shopping for a new stove, the question that the (wonderful SCA-type) saleswoman asked was: "do you ever do any canning?"

Apparently, there's a problem with very heavy post being exposed to long-term heat. Like, for example, a canning session.

Seeing as I have had to learn how to can in self defense (cherries, apples, and plums live in happy harmony alongside me; they produce more fruit than I have friends and neighbors. And that is a *lot* of fruit), and ended up becoming a hobby canner (onion-amchur jam, anyone? cherry-sake marmalade?) I stayed with the less-satisfying, harder-to-clean, and functional-for-thirty-years-or-more electric variety.

Your kind of stove is much, much prettier.

#541 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 08:30 PM:

All Knowledge is Contained in the Fluorosphere:

I am looking for a book which may not exist.

I have a friend whose mother is a battered wife. She reads romance novels. I am looking for a romance novel which I can lend her which has the following themes/ideas/plotpoints/whatever-you-want-to-call-them:

-woman leaves abusive spouse

-woman is okay on her own

-woman finds true love with non-abusive man

Does anyone have any suggestions?

#542 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 08:46 PM:

dcb @ 528:

[sarcasm]I guess a widow doesn't get "penalized" 'cause it's not her fault she's no longer married.[/sarcasm]

Yes, I'd think getting the PhD would solve the problem too, though non-medical doctors don't necessarily use the honorific socially in the U.S.

Greg @ 536:

Some of my local young (20something) friends did the both-switch thing, though I think they picked the new joint surname out of one or the other of their family trees, a couple of generations back. Having met his delightfully weird family, I bet they didn't even blink. No idea what hers thought.

#543 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:30 PM:

When I was substitute teaching, most of the teachers went by Ms. but I stubbornly insisted on being a Miss. I like Miss, at the moment.

I think it is a little funny how few people in the US probably even realize where the Mrs (missus) came from. After all, no one goes by Mistress anymore, and it has taken a decidedly scandalous tone.

I sometime joke with soon-to-be married friends that they might consider "Goody" or "Goodwife", which is completely silly in this day and age.

#544 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:46 PM:

#494 Serge

You could have changed it to Bacon, I guess.

That would have raised even more eyebrows, between the Jewish side of the family and our vegetarianism. :)

Another aspect is that both our last names are unusual enough that almost anyone with them in the US is our family, so we're particularly fond of them, and can calculate the chances of their dying out.

The plan for any theoretical kids is for a female to get my last name and a male to get his. I like the second-middle name idea being floated here, though.

#545 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:52 PM:

Nancy C @ 541

Try Danielle Steele. She writes about things like that. Nora Roberts had a trilogy with abused women, also - they lived on an island, and at least two of them were witches. (Sorry, my name-thing hasn't clicked on that set for a couple of year.)

#546 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 09:54 PM:

I should be writing a serious essay on silly Victorian dance games for Kickery (to answer a question someone sent me), and instead I am emailing back and forth about organizing an evening of silly Victorian dance games with a bunch of graduate students. I wonder exactly how much alcohol will be necessary to turn off modern sophistication enough to make this work. This leads to mathematical exercises like "if I run the Glass of Wine figure with twelve dancers including myself and assume equally distributed outcomes, how many times can I run it before I myself am tipsy?"

Whoever said serious historical research was dry and academic?

#547 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 10:26 PM:

TChem@544: That would have raised even more eyebrows, between the Jewish side of the family and our vegetarianism.

not to mention, a pig is a filthy animal. Sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know because I'd never eat the ... oh, never mind.

#548 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 11:19 PM:

Susan @ 546...Whoever said serious historical research was dry and academic?

Probably not you, at least a few days ago, considering your recent plumbing woes.

#549 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 11:27 PM:

Electric vs. gas:

I'm solidly on the "gas" side. Electric and I just don't get along.

Shabbat/Pesach I:

I know the rules of eiruv, and am happier not worrying excessively about them. (My Shabbat-keeping isn't so hot, either, but I have my boss and his boss to blame for that; it will take a job change to get out of being on-{call,AIM-from-boss} and the latter means I'm active online anyway. Feh.)

Susan @524:

TMBG polka: I like the way you think.

Kayjayoh @543:

...except when said by K9. (Although admittedly the American connection there is slim except for older PBS viewers.)

#550 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 11:33 PM:

geekosaur:

It's a polka.

It's a Charleston.

It's a foxtrot.

It's a one-step.

It's a two-step.

It's a sauteuse.

It's a quick sauteuse.

It's a Scotch reel.

All ur dancez r 1!!!!

Glass of Wine calculation: I'm safe. Repeats needed even with absolute minimum dancers (six) fall into the "more times than I would run it" category.

#551 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 11:35 PM:

Susan @ #502: The problem with "Mrs" is that for a few hundred years its has been used to mean, more or less, "appendage of", which is why it goes with Hisname and not Hername - it doesn't make sense with her name. She's not the wife of herself. (Though I take devilish glee in the problem this presents w/r/t same-sex marriage - "Mrs. Mary Smith" would seem to be quite correct usage for Jane Smith who is married to Mary Smith. Moohahaha!)

This raises the possibility that Jane Smith's married name would be "Mrs. Mary Smith", and Mary Smith's married name would be "Mrs. Jane Smith".

Neat.

#552 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2008, 11:40 PM:

Greg: That's not really fair. Pigs are, left to their own devices, very clean. They, however, will tolerate a lot of filth, and we tend to not give them the room they need to avoid creating a lot of it.

A satuese sounds like some wonderful cooking trick I don't know how to perform.

#553 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:08 AM:

Paul:

Yeah, isn't that great?

Terry:

A sauteuse is one of those madly-leaping-about Regency-era dances that would give all the people who watched "Becoming S/t/u/p/i/d Jane" and decided "Hole in the H/e/a/d Wall" was their romantic fantasy dance serious palpitations. Saut=leap. The quick sauteuse involves kicking. Leap, kick, leap, kick, etc. Whee! Take that, ignorant movie choreographers!

#554 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:09 AM:

Greg: That's not really fair. Pigs are, left to their own devices, very clean. They, however, will tolerate a lot of filth, and we tend to not give them the room they need to avoid creating a lot of it.

#555 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:10 AM:

I am learning aikido. I am sort of fake learning rock climbing. I am attempting to run. I do not need another interest involving my body and lots of frustration.

But boy, do you tempt me, Susan.

#556 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:18 AM:

Susan: yes, hole in the head. It's one dance done at regency style events I categorically refuse to do. I can probably do it now, but years ago it made me physically ill, and I just refuse.

So I accept requests to sit it out together.

#557 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:40 AM:

Abi @ 487: I had my in-house Dutch cultural consultant check out the Postbus 51 to check out the Dutch laws and regulations about name changes. Here's what he said:

No, she got it reversed. She would always *be* Mevrouw Hername, but she might *be known* as Mevr. Hisname, if she so chooses.

(1) There is no difference between men and women with respect to names under Dutch law. There is also no difference between married or registered partners, and between homo- or heterosexual partnerships. The use of 'Hisname' and 'Hername' in her example are therefore inappropriate.

(2) A distinction is made between one's official name (administrative purposes), and the name(s) one is allowed to use, and is generally known by, in daily life. The official name does not change and cannot be changed. As to the latter: each partner has the choice between:

- Ownname

- Partnersname

- Ownname-Partnersname

- Partnersname-Ownname

The adoption of one's partners name as (part of) one's own name is an individual choice, does not require a partner's permission, and the parties do not need to make the same choice; they could, theoretically, even switch.

In all but the 1st of these four possibilities, the choice must be registered with the civil registry. Each partner may change their choice whenever they want, but they'll have to register that too.

(Other types of name changes are not possible in the Netherlands)

This led to a fascinating discussion of what our daughter's name would have been had she been born in the Netherlands rather than in East Jerusalem; as it stands, she has a double-barreled, hyphenated first name, and a double-barreled, hyphenated last-name composed of his-mine. There are so many possibilities, none of which was the one we eventually chose...

#558 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:42 AM:

Terry:

"Hole in the Wall" isn't even a Regency dance. It's from the 1690s. Putting it at a Regency event is a colossal act of deception. It's nothing like the dances of the Regency era except in involving a longways set.

I have several separate canned rants on this topic which I will not start here because it will bore everyone silly or now because I am really, really medicated and need to go to sleep so I can be perky amid the placentas at work tomorrow for recruitment. You may, however, enjoy my rant on how to judge the accuracy of Regency dancing, which is here. It's the biggest hit of my four months of blogging - about 5000 hits on that one post in just 5.5 weeks. (If I'd realized how popular it would be I would have made more of an effort on the writing.)

#559 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:53 AM:

Diatryma: If you can move your body reasonably well and have balance (doing aikido would certainly qualify) and can hear the rhythm in music you can learn to dance. If you can walk at a brisk pace, I can probably have you doing a respectable 1910s dance in Diatryma: If you can move your body reasonably well and have balance (doing aikido would certainly qualify) and can hear the rhythm in music you can learn to dance. If you can walk at a brisk pace, I can probably have you doing a respectable 1910s dance in under 10 minutes.

Not that I specialize in temptation or anything. Right now I am thinking mostly about early foxtrots and silly Victorian dance games. And cough medicine with alcohol. And bunnies!

#560 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 01:43 AM:

Susan: I've read it. I've long known the dances weren't "right" but they are fun, excepting that Hole in the Wall nauseates me.

#561 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 01:57 AM:

While we're on names and perceptions, a friend of mine just made an absolutely fascinating post about being a white person with a black name.

Serge @ 516: The use of "Sir" as a gender-neutral in Star Trek was a formative influence for me. I still think "ma'am" sounds like a fake word when, say, customer service people use it...!

#562 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 02:18 AM:

My cousin, who started her professional career in the late 1950s, refused to use the term "sculptress" or allow it be used in reference to her without a fight. She was, by god, a sculptor, and it didn't matter what kind of plumbing she had. That made a big difference in the way I considered gender terms and roles; it helps to have an active role model. I've had a lot of problems with my immediate family, but I had good models in my aunts and cousins.

#563 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:38 AM:

505: Earlier, when Hughes failed to arrive on time, District Judge Andrew Shaw issued an arrest warrant, adding: "I hope the force will soon be with him."

This proves a theory I have been working on for some time: Serge is not really a French-Canadian SF fan, he's a district judge from North Wales. There cannot be two people in the world who make puns that bad.

#564 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:17 AM:

A J Luxton... I'm curious as to what term modern-day English-speaking Navies use these days when addressing female officers. I remember when The Wrath of Khan had Kirk address Saavik as Mister Saavik. As for Ma'am, my understanding was that it'd be used when addressing higher-ranked officers. But what do I know? ("Nothing!") I heard that.

As for myself, I'll usually refer to a woman as Ms. Meanwhile, when a younger person calls me sir, I feel weird. Like, do I look that old? Do I really deserve the respect that I associate with the title?

#565 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:22 AM:

Tchem @ 544... Oops. Calling yourself Bacon would indeed raise eyebrows between the Jewish side of the family and the vegetarianism.

#566 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:24 AM:

I see that ethan now contributes to movie review site Filmslash.

#567 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:28 AM:

ajay @ 563... I knew I should have asked Abi never to comment on my accent being like that of immortal Connor McLeod.

#568 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:44 AM:

I understand that in the RAF you use sir or ma'am to commisioned officers who are senior to you. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the more senior an NCO you are, the more ma'am sounds like "mum".

#570 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 07:47 AM:

Terry @ #560:

Sorry - when you said "Regency style" I wasn't sure you knew the difference. Any event where HiTW is done is by definition not Regency style!

#571 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 07:56 AM:

Dave Bell @ 569... We did forget.

Men at some time are masters of their fates:

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves,that we are underlings.

#572 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 08:00 AM:

Dave Bell #569:

Of course, not.

They that have power to hurt and will do none

That do not do the thing they most do show,

Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,

Unmovéd, cold, and to temptation slow;

They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces

And husband nature’s riches from expense;

They are the lords and owners of their faces,

Others but stewards of their excellence.

The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet,

Though to itself it only live and die,

But if that flower with base infection meet,

The basest weed outbraves his dignity:

For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;

Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

(William Shakespeare, Sonnet XCIV)

#573 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 09:06 AM:

Dave Bell @ 569

That reminds me ... (Sonnet 100)

Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget'st so long

To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?

Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,

Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?

Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem

In gentle numbers time so idly spent;

Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem

And gives thy pen both skill and argument.

Rise, resty Muse, my love's sweet face survey,

If Time have any wrinkle graven there;

If any, be a satire to decay,

And make Time's spoils despised every where.

Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life;

So thou prevent'st his scythe and crooked knife.

#574 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 09:28 AM:

Susan #546: Clearly not dry in this case....

Greg #536: Yeah, there are all kinds of conventions that would work. And in the absence of the whole cultural tendency toward sexism, it (and gender-neutral language, and....) would be utterly non-controversial and unimportant. After all, there are all kinds of dumb assumptions embedded into language and culture which have simply lapsed and mostly don't bother anyone, from "mister" and "señor" to genders for every noun in some languages to ceremonial swords for some military officers to bad science embedded in all kinds of words and phrases (he fell off the edge of the earth, to go to the four corners of the earth, a phlegmatic disposition, sunrise and sunset, the stars come out at night). Mostly we just ignore that stuff, because it's not very important; our culture and language are built on the beliefs and worldview of people long dead, and a lot of that worldview was wrong at the time, and still more is wrong now.

#575 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 09:59 AM:

#505 abi: I am reminded of an incident in my hometown. Here's the story from the newspaper's "police blotter" section:

1-legged man wields crutch in dispute

A one-legged man struck two men in the face with an aluminum crutch when they refused to buy him 10 hot dogs at a downtown hot dog stand, Athens-Clarke police said.

According to police reports, the unidentified man approached the men at College Square about 4 a.m. Friday. Both men sustained small lacerations in the attack but refused medical treatment. The one-legged attacker left the scene before police arrived.

General unrelated fluorosphere-contains-all-knowledge query: my daughter asked me last night, "Why do people yell 'Geronimo' when they jump out of planes?" I have no idea, myself.

#576 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:04 AM:

Nancy C. Mittens @ #551: you might also ask the bloggers at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books for ideas that fit. They post reader requests for help pretty frequently and would be much more your audience.

The Nora Roberts trilogy mentioned is the unfortunately-named _Dance Upon the Air_, _Heaven and Earth_, and _Face the Fire_, which I remember nothing about. I know she has more but am blanking on titles too, sorry.

#577 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:12 AM:

Should you scroll to the bottom of today's post by Kaja Foglio, you will find a link to a photo of my cat genius Agatha.

I have no mouse and I must squee!!!

#578 ::: R. Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:20 AM:

Thanks to all for the tips and reassurances on the ceramic stove. I'll give it a few days and see if I grow fonder of it.

Dena @540: My wife is going to be sorry to hear that. She's been wanting to learn canning. Our salesperson reassured me that the ceramic tops could do everything the coil-tops could do, but I guess I can understand why she didn't think of this one. I suppose we can always pick up an old range on Craigslist, if we ever get into it seriously.

I have to go now and see what kind of damage the very small UFO did to my car last night, so I don't have time to double-check my memory for my favorite Shakespeare bits. Instead, I'll ask what authors most successfully write the bard himself as a character? Kage Baker is one of the few who gets away with it, IMO. And the data is sparse until July, but I've gotten the impression Elizabeth Bear can manage it too. (I'm trying to remember if Mike Ford ever made the attempt. He certainly wrote in-the-style-of with great success, but I don't recall off the top of my head him ever using Shakespeare as a character.

#579 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:33 AM:

On names, and related "traditional" stuff: Being from the South, the female side of my Mom's family has a very high percentage of "double first name". Among my Mom and her sisters, she is the only one who does not, but her first name is such that it is often mistaken for and written as two separate first names.

My wife took my last name, keeping her existing middle name. That is one of a few "traditional" practices that she wanted to follow when we got married. We talked about hyphenation or combination of some sort, but she wanted to take my name, so she did. As for our daughter's name, my wife told me what her name would be - I had no real choice in the matter. She apparently had had a highly realistic dream when she was 13 in which she had a daughter and the name of that dream daughter was what we named our daughter. That I like the name and that the combination of her first name and middle name makes for a nice nickname to call her by means not having a choice bothers me even less. She also tells me that she'd like a son we have to have my name, and hence be the IV'th male in my family to have it. I said "only if he looks just like I did" and she laughs. An oddity: My paternal Grandfather apparently had a different name than the one we always knew him by. He didn't like his given name, so he went by the one I (and my Dad) have now, but never actually legally changed it. His given name was very interesting, and I always confuse it with the name of a certain android from Red Dwarf. My middle name is neat, and AFAIK rather unique (excepting my Dad and his Dad). My Dad used to bet people $20 that they couldn't guess it when presented with all the letters out of sequence. He never lost and now says he should have bet $100. I've only ever had one friend guess before being told or having access to search features.

On stoves: I like gas stoves much better than electric ones. Not only do I prefer to judge stove "heat setting" by flame height, flames seem far more tolerant of non-uniform or insufficiently flat saucepan bottoms. I seem to do a lot more pan holding to maintain good heat distribution with my current electric stove than I did with gas stoves. Do those "quartz" style flat stovetops give good heat distribution despite cooking vessel bottom irregularities? ISTM that most electric stoves rely on conductive heating, which requires good pan/element contact. If there are types that rely on radiant heat they would be far more tolerant of pan/stove mismatch. Gas flames give considerable tolerance for non-uniform saucepan bottom shapes. This is especially important for wok-like pots with small flat bottoms, especially those that don't balance well when empty...

Later,

-cajun

#580 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:45 AM:

PJ,

Thanks; I found the Nora Roberts trilogy in question, and am bookmooching it today.

Kate,

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is open on my browser as I type! I was going to try to search the archives, but if they are open to requests, I will email them one. Thanks!

#581 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:49 AM:

What's with the eyetalics on ML's front page?

#582 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:52 AM:

Nancy @541:

Nora Roberts - "To Dance Upon the Air"

Caveat: This book has magic/witchcraft in it. If your potential reader can't deal with the fantasy element, don't recommend it.

#583 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:53 AM:

Serge @ 564:... more random ponderings... "Sir" is these days connected for me with (a) customer service, (b) military, and (c) kinkiness. I've never found myself reaching for the wrong association, but I imagine it would be interesting if I did. ("Ma'am" is connected with customer service and governesses. I suppose that may be why it always sounds a little surreal for me.)

The somewhat immortal protagonist in the novel I've just more or less finished polishing up (and which has... oh, heck, the exciting announcement deserves its own blog post!) changed her surname from "*-dotter" to "*-sson" when the former version went out of fashion, and thought it was a relief.



Gendered forms of address and communication are just plain weird. The part of me that deals with truth balks at gender pronouns; the part of me that deals with correctness and language asks pointedly, "well, what then?"

It's rather neat that my Chinese students often get their gender pronouns scrambled, actually. See, in Mandarin, "he", "she" and "it" are written with different characters, but pronounced the same way...

#584 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:05 AM:

The male names that seem most unfortunate to me are Firstname Lastname Jr., the Third, etc. I wouldn't want to be my father's "clone".

My first name is an ancestral last name, minus the extra R -- another variant on the whole business. I also have a Ph.D, but have never been tempted to call myself "Dr." (that's for the folks in the white coats, isn't it?).

And with all the discussion of Madam/Mme etc. above, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned "Madam, I'm Adam" till now!

#585 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:08 AM:

The whole front page has been taken over by the forces of italics ...

#586 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:10 AM:

The (via) at the end of the first Particle at the top left of the page has two "start italics" tags and only one "end italics" tag.

#587 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:19 AM:

Serge #566: Thanks for keeping me from having to do my own egregious self-promotion. It's so much more civilized this way.

A.J. Luxton #583: Congratulations!

It's rather neat that my Chinese students often get their gender pronouns scrambled, actually.

I've noticed that my Korean sister-in-law sometimes says "she" when she means "he", but never the other way around. I don't know enough about Korean to know why this would be, and I don't want to ask her, because she's already far more insecure about her English than she has any need to be.

#588 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:23 AM:

Nancy Mittens (541): I've read a few like that, but I'm blanking on the titles. I'll give it some more thought.

A J Luxton (561/583): That just proves you aren't from the South, where children learn very early that "ma'am" is the polite way to address adult women. My parents aren't from the South, and my neighborhood had a large percentage of non-Southerners, but I still learned it. I no longer live in the South, and many women here are a bit taken aback at being addressed as "ma'am", but it's thoroughly engrained.

Echoing Serge (581): Why is the front page of ML all in italics?

#589 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:25 AM:

A J Luxton @ 583... Congratulations!

About genders... In French, words are gendered. For example, the foot is masculine, and the hand feminine. That's why one says 'his foot' even if it's Claudia Black's, or 'her hand' even if it's Hugh Jackman's.

#590 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:28 AM:

Re: flame height

Be sure the flames don't touch, much less bend around, the bottom of the pan on a gas stove (particularly an old one), as that generates carbon monoxide. Even with a range hood running full blast, you can still accumulate dangerous levels.

This happened to me recently.

#591 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:30 AM:

I, for one, welcome our italic overlords.

Serge @ 589 - Thanks. Now I'll be thinking about Claudia Black and her various appendages all day.

#592 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:52 AM:

ethan @ 587: It may have something to do with the way she learned, though I'm not certain as I don't know very much about Korean. A lot of the students here tend to make the mistake of using "he" for everyone, but I have occasionally heard it the other way around.

Mary Aileen @ 589: yes, California, actually. I do marvel at regionalisms but I think that's a whole 'nother thread.

Carol @ 590: Wow, I had no idea. Thanks for that. I knew one wasn't supposed to let the flames do that, but I thought it was only to avoid pan damage.

Serge, ethan, thanks!

#593 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:01 PM:

@Faren Miller #584: The male names that seem most unfortunate to me are Firstname Lastname Jr., the Third, etc. I wouldn't want to be my father's "clone".

I'm a Third (written as ", III" which surprisingly causes few problems with forms) myself. As for being my Dad's clone, well, there's a photo around of my Dad at age umpteenish that could be a photo of me at the same age, save that the photo predates my birth... There's very high familial resemblance between my Dad and his Dad, too, which probably reinforced the decision to make my dad "Junior". I ended up with the rather pretentious (to me) sounding when spoken all out combination of "Firstname Middlename Lastname the Third". (My friends never gave me any grief about it, though) Per my post #579, if my wife has her way and FutureMaleBaby looks like me, he'll end up saddled with "Firstname Middlename Lastname the Fourth". Certain traditions can stick pretty hard...

@Carol #590:

That seems an odd possibility to me, unless the flame is also sooty and/or yellowish. I don't doubt that it happened, I just have trouble seeing the "how" there, absent the soot and/or yellow flame indicating incomplete combustion. Then again, when I last had my furnace tuned up, the cheery blue flames were apparently spitting out a higher than OK amount of CO, so something else is at work here that I never learned way back when in combustion class. Was it chalked up to the cold pot surface "quenching" the flame, thus preventing complete combustion?

Durnit, now I want to design a "flameless" (catalytic style) burner for a stove that goes under a smooth top surface, with at least one "wok pit", that relies on radiant heat to get the pot hot. Venting would be "interesting" but probably no more challenging than the large flat gas-burning steel steam tables that are in greasy spoon diners and Teppanyaki restaurants everywhere.

Later,

-cajun

#594 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:05 PM:

A.J. Luxton @583-- Congratulations!

Regarding names -- my grandfather grew up in South Dakota, mainly speaking German. His family and given names were German. However, he hated his (abusive) father, so when he left home, he changed his name. Some people called him by his first name, but most called him "Red", for his red hair. He'd learned and taught some Latin, so the name he chose for himself was Rufus + [old first name] + King. Very healthy self-image.

My mom has taken the name of her husbands (hmm, that sentence sounds more scandalous than it is), but has also done some cosmetic surgery on her name. Basically, she kept the bits of names she's had and used and liked.

#595 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:13 PM:

cajunfj40 @ 593...

Principal SS Officer at Castle: You have zuh diary in your pocket.

Professor Henry Jones: You dolt! You think my son would be that stupid? That he would bring my diary all the way back here?

[pause]

Professor Henry Jones: You didn't, did you?

[another pause]

Professor Henry Jones: You didn't bring it, did you?

Indiana Jones: Well, uh...

Professor Henry Jones: You *did*!

Indiana Jones: Look, can we discuss this later?

Professor Henry Jones: I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers!

Indiana Jones: Will you take it easy?

Professor Henry Jones: Take it easy? Why do you think I sent it home in the first place? So it wouldn't fall into their hands!

Indiana Jones: I came here to SAVE you!

Professor Henry Jones: Oh, yeah? And who's gonna come to save you, JUNIOR?

Indiana Jones: [shouts] I *told* you...

Indiana Jones: [grabs a gun and shoots all soldiers dead]

Indiana Jones: ...DON'T call me Junior!

#596 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Coming in late - re: unexpected ethnicity in Starship Troopers (#442 and prev.), that isn't the only time Heinlein's pulled that trick. He gets most of the way through The Cat That Walked Through Walls before the protagonist makes a comment that shows he's black.

#597 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:17 PM:

cajunfj40:

It's at least strongly arguable that the suffixes (Sr., Jr. III) only apply as long as everyone with the name in question is still alive. So when Sr. dies, Jr. can drop the suffix, or become Sr. while III becomes Jr. The point is to provide distinguishing labels between living people with the same name, not create an endless numbering process or provide fodder for social pretension. (Though the latter surely accounts for some people's keeping suffixes like "III" even when their ancestors are all deceased!)

Royalty are the exception to this, presumably because people still need to keep track of the various Georges and Edwards and Henrys after they're dead. Most people don't have families of such consistent interest to the historical record.

#598 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:25 PM:

Faren Miller @ 4

Well, I'm a veterinarian as well - but over here, we don't get the honorific "Dr". Then I'd visit the USA and be called "Dr" and feel uncomfortable - but if I protested, it would be assumed I wasn't qualified yet... Then I got the PhD and "Dr" feels comfortable whichever side of the Atlantic I'm on. Maybe PhDs use their "Dr" more over this side of the pond? I certainly knew both medical and Phd-type "Drs" when I was growing up in a family of medical types - who have been known to joke that I'm the only "real" Dr.

#599 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 12:50 PM:

Serge: My reaction to, "sir," has mellowed. Asa= an NCO it feels wrong. As a person it feels slightly wrong. I don't feel old enough for it to be a default assumtion in semi-social situations, but in customer oriented actions I kind of appreciate it.

And I know I'll get it when on post in civilian clothes. There it feels really painful, because I know it's a courtesy extended to people on the outside/for whom the soldier has no way to place in the heirarchy of life.

Susan: knowing the difference is why I said, "style" not event.

In honor of the Natal, and as a tribute to my friends here:

Sonnet XXX

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

I summon up remembrance of things past,

I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,

And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:

Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,

For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,

And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,

And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:

Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,

And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er

The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,

Which I new pay as if not paid before.

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,

All losses are restored and sorrows end.

re stoves and heat: I've used a lot of stoves in my time. Gas; professional and home, electric, wood; and open fire, grill and glass topped.

Of them all I like glass topped less. First, I dislike the slow response curve of electric (which is funny, because I like cast iron on flame). Secondly because I can't see the heat. Different electric ranges have different values for the same numbers, so one has to play guessing games with each stove.

With a gas range, the volume of flame is a pretty consistent value, so an eyeball estimate is usually enough to get in the ballpark (though pressure, carbueration, and which gas is being used are all variables to take into account).

The thing which electric ranges do well is disperse heat across a broader area, but I have some cast iron diffusers (about the size of an old, "stove lid", and those work well. They slow up the heating of the pan, but they are great for preventing a ring of really hot metal, and a fast fade to cold.

Which is really handy when you are putting a lot of cold stuff into a pan and want to keep the heat up.

I do know tha the glass topped elements aren't supposed to have pans much larger than the element, (which is probably the real issue with canning).

In the category of things which made me smile, someone told me that one of my pictures reminded him of, WCW, "This is just to say". Which was recursive to ML, because what I really like about that picture (though I sometimes seem to run it down) is the suffusion of light it has.

That was a wonderful thing to read first thing in the morning.

#600 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 01:29 PM:

Serge 589: Nouns are gendered in many other languages as well, and French is the only case I've heard of where the possessor element of the pronoun is affected. Wow. In German, for example, "her" is 'ihr' before a masculine (or neuter) noun and 'ihre' before a feminine noun; "his" is 'sein' masc/neut and 'seine' fem.

Larry 591: Why should this day be different?

#601 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Xopher @ 600... Oh, I know that, but I mentionned French specifically because that's the one language other than English with which I'm well acquainted.

As for Larry's #591, I too wonder why today should be any different.

#602 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Serge 589: Nouns are gendered in many other languages as well, and French is the only case I've heard of where the possessor element of the pronoun is affected. Wow. In German, for example, "her" is 'ihr' before a masculine (or neuter) noun and 'ihre' before a feminine noun; "his" is 'sein' masc/neut and 'seine' fem.

Xopher, I'm not seeing a difference between the German system as you're describing it and the French system as I learned it in high school*; the possessive pronoun has to match the possessor in grammatical person and the possessed in gender and number.

Claudia Black's foot is thus "son pied", Hugh Jackman's hand is "sa main", and either's arms would be "ses bras". My foot is "mon pied" and my hand is "ma main" and my arms are "mes bras"; yours are "votre pied", "votre main", and "vos bras" respectively (since I don't know you well enough for them to be "ton pied", etc). I'm not seeing how this is different from changing between "ihr" and "ihre" or whatever.

*: Though obviously I am not a native speaker and Serge is, so his version of the internal representation should be taken as authoritative.

#603 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 02:07 PM:

AJ - congratulations!

Didn't LeGuin also specify skin color (ethinicity?) later on in her Earthsea trilogy?

#604 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 02:11 PM:

Carrie S @ 602... Serge is, so his version of the internal representation should be taken as authoritative

...must... not do... General Zod... impersonation...

#605 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 02:25 PM:

@Susan #597:

Hmm. Well, my Dad didn't drop Jr. after his Dad died, but then again I was around by then so maybe it would have been too much trouble for him to switch to Sr. and me to Jr. - which I would have resisted anyway. (see Serge @#595, heh!) IIRC, though, it is on my birth certificate, so it is an "official" part of my name. It is certainly on my marriage license and certificate, driver's license, credit cards, etc... Maybe keeping it is a Southern thing?

Name-related digression: My Mother-in-law was blocked in her request to get a Minnesota driver's license yesterday. Something to do with her still having my Father-in-law's last name despite a years-ago divorce. (She never changed it back or to something else.) Also an Illinois driver's license is apparently insufficient proof of ID in Minnesota. She needs one or all of her birth certificate, marriage certificate, and/or divorce decree. All of which are in a storage unit in Illinois. Which may mean Yet Another Seemingly Unnecessary Roadtrip. Yay.

Later,

-cajun

#606 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 02:29 PM:

Terry:

I'm not writing clearly today, sorry. Lack of sleep and continual coughing affecting my brain.

The point I was trying to make is that the event wasn't in Regency style if it included HiTW. If you'd gone to a Regency-style event, they wouldn't do stuff like that at all. Calling it "Regency style" is as much a romantic fantasy (factually incorrect) as calling it "medieval style", though I don't doubt that the organizers do so regardless.

#607 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 02:31 PM:

Carrie S @ 502

In German, the ending indicates the gender of the noun/possessed, the stem the gender of the antecedent. French and Latin don't do this.

#608 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 02:34 PM:

cajun @ 605:

I remember New Jersey refusing to accept my passport as sufficient ID to get a replacement driver's license. They insisted on having my birth certificate. I pointed out that that had no picture on it, and that it could be anyone's birth certificate, but they didn't care, as long as I had the piece of paper. I came back with just the birth certificate, gave no other ID, and had no trouble getting the license, even after I told them it was actually my sister's. (It wasn't, I just wanted to see what the clerk would say.)

I suspect they've tightened things up since 1989.

#609 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 02:45 PM:

P J Evans @ 607... Actually, in French, on a few occasions the ending can indicate the gender of the noun/possessed. Most of the times though, it doesn't, and you have to rely on your memory to figure out the gender. Loads of fun for the non-native speakers.

#610 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Serge, I was reading a book one time and trying to figure out which of the people mentioned in one sentence 'sa biographie' was referring to (I was trying to translate it for my father). It would have been much easier if there hadn't been more than one (and both male and female, at that).

#611 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 03:12 PM:

Xopher: You didn't know that about French?

In Russian the rule is, orthography rules; except for human beings pronouns.

So a male Misha gets feminine endings, but the referential pronoun would become male.

And I think Carrie's explanation works.

Serge: Not fun at all for non-native speakers. I am amazed at the ability of the brain to keep it all straight, such that native speakers automatically (it seems to me) have the gender of a new (to them) noun, and keep it straight.

And it makes no sense in the way they are apportioned. Cream is feminine, milk is masculine? Wha? At least with russian it's arbitary, and obvious (save for that small class of words, the "soft sign nouns" which can usually be sussed by imagining oneself to be a sexist pig living in the 10th century. Doors are feminine because one goes into them, and things like that).

Faren: In places like Russia (and, I believe, Germany) it's the other way round. Physicians aren't called doctor, but Ph.Ds are (the fellow who won the '84 Olympic Gold in Dressage [a beautiful ride, and the day was only marred; if one could call it that by the first below the cut getting to demonstrate the pattern; and doing it perfectly, while one of the people who made the final had her horse balk 3 times] was Herr Doktor Someone, from West Germany).

Sam Kelly: re Heinlein and race. Since the Cat Who Walked Through Walls was supposed to be a follow on to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and there's a big deal made about the various colors of skin in the first book; which is late, but doesn't feel out of place; or shocking, I don't think it can be called sandbagging.

#612 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 03:14 PM:

P J @ 610... It's a fairly safe bet that a French word that ends with an 'e' preceded by another vowel has the feminine gender. That applies to 'biographie', and to 'tortue', for example. A word that ends with an 'e' preceded by a consonant can be of either gender. Unless of course the ending is 've', in which case it's probably feminine.

#613 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 03:18 PM:

My father was a III; he didn't change it when his grandfather died, but then again, his father didn't drop the Jr., so that would have been... confusing. (Not that it helped much; they all got mail/phone/bills for each other anyway, even after the elder two had left this world.) He did drop the III, I think, after his father died, but it may have had more to do with him having left his profession and not needing his "professional" name any more.

But even if everyone moving up one is technically correct, I figure if I want to keep my whole name after getting married, why shouldn't a man get to keep his after his father dies? I'm a big fan of being able to use the name you've been using your whole life.

(If you want, that is. I'm also a big fan of going by the name you like. I go by at least six different permutations of my full name, depending on the situation, but the important bit (to me) is that my Official, Legal, and On Important Papers Everywhere name stays the same.)

#614 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 03:25 PM:

dcb@598: On this side of the pond, some PhDs are addressed as "doctor" and others are not -- it's a combination of the speciality in which the degree was awarded, and personal preference. My mother's PhD in chemistry meant that other scientists would address her as "doctor", but she didn't prefer it. As a veterinarian, I am usually addressed as "doctor", although I introduce myself as Ginger Lastname.

Of course, in academia*, everyone with an advanced degree is addressed as "doctor" whether they have a doctorate or another degree.

With respect to names: my partner has her own name, and our son kept his original Lastname (he was her grandnephew before we adopted him), so the three of us have three different names. Somehow, we've just never settled on a family name.

*This gets ridiculous at the elementary school level.

#615 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 03:59 PM:

Growing up in the South, I knew several boys called "Trey." I thought it was a regionally popular name. It was years before I figured out that it was because they were Firstname Lastname III.

#616 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:08 PM:

R. Emrys @ #578, Clifford Simak wrote Shakespeare into The Goblin Reservation quite successfully, I thought. He also did a pretty good job in that book with a Neanderthaler (Simak's word) named -- Alley Oop.

#617 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Dena Shunra:

I'm so sorry to read of your loss. Words fail.



Susan #524:

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam.*

*Nod to Abi.

#618 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:24 PM:

I just got spam from a Pakistani company offering to sell me bagpipes and uilleann pipes.

I like that even more than the message from the Indian company that sent me a list of maybe two dozen kinds of tweezers they'd be happy to sell me.

#619 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:31 PM:

Hi, everybody. The job made of starlight fell through, so I've taken one made of moonlight instead. Tell me, what kind of cons are there in Missouri?

#620 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:36 PM:

TexAnne @619:

I am sorry about the starlight, but I hope that the moonlight waxes more than it wanes!

#621 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:40 PM:

#592 ::: A.J. Luxton

I knew one wasn't supposed to let the flames [touch the bottom of the pan], but I thought it was only to avoid pan damage.

Brainpan?!

#593 ::: cajunfj40

That seems an odd possibility to me, unless the flame is also sooty and/or yellowish. I don't doubt that it happened, I just have trouble seeing the "how" there, absent the soot and/or yellow flame indicating incomplete combustion. Then again, when I last had my furnace tuned up, the cheery blue flames were apparently spitting out a higher than OK amount of CO, so something else is at work here that I never learned way back when in combustion class. Was it chalked up to the cold pot surface "quenching" the flame, thus preventing complete combustion?

There's a lot of old "wisdom" about the color of the flames indicating CO or lack thereof, such as violet-purple is always safe. It isn't.

Lots of articles here. Dr. David Penny is a recognized authority.

#622 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:45 PM:

TexAnne... Got details on the moonshine job?

#623 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:46 PM:

Soon @ 617:

People just liked it better that way!

#624 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:51 PM:

TexAnne:

Archon in St. Louis. Not sure what kind of con it is other than "large, regional" though.

#625 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:53 PM:

Serge @622:

Got details on the moonshine job?

I'm sure it uses all of her distilled wisdom. I hope she's up ferment-al challenges and mash-inations.

Still, getting it must have raised her spirits.

#626 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 04:59 PM:

abi, 625: Yes, it felt as though I'd been struck by white lightnin'. But you know what they say, if you can't likker, join 'er.

#627 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:03 PM:

TexAnne @626

Well, if they're gonna offer you a job, vodkan you do but accept?

#628 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Juli 615: I didn't know that until you posted it. That's amazing!

I know someone who knows a guy named Treyf. But I think that's the name he took when his Orthodox Jewish family threw him out for being queer.

#629 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:07 PM:

abi #627: A job's a job, even if it's the corniest squeezin's.

#630 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:09 PM:

TexAnne... Much Comfort to you.

#631 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:12 PM:

R. Emrys (578): Harry Turtledove's Ruled Britannia is alternate history with Shakespeare as a major character. Sarah Hoyt's series starting with Ill-Met by Moonlight is Shakespeare meets faerie. The Turtledove is very good; I haven't read the Hoyt.

#632 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:12 PM:

TexAnne.. Gin and beer it.

#633 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:14 PM:

Terry Karney #611: The most elaborately titled academic I've ever met was a gentleman from the Dutch-speaking world whose business card proclaimed him 'Prof. Mr. Dr.' (Professor, Meester [i.e., possessor of a degree in law], Doctor] before getting to his name). I should add that he was the first person in his country -- Surinam -- to have been entitled to that full set of honourifics.

My dissertation advisor, himself a Dutchman, described that as 'old-fashioned'.

#634 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:20 PM:

cajun @ 605: Also an Illinois driver's license is apparently insufficient proof of ID in Minnesota.

I'm sorry my state's bureaucracy is being extremely annoying to your mother-in-law. Is it that her valid Illinois drivers' license has a name other than her current legal one, or something?

Usually getting a MN drivers' license is just a written test and a vision test, if you have a valid license from another state plus ID*.

Sometimes there's not even a written test. However, if the other license is not current, then there's probably a road test involved.



If it's any help, our idiocy is not xenophobic, but extends to our own: I was told by someone of a circumstance in which a Minnesota driver's licence was an insufficient proof of ID in Minnesota in the very building where the license was issued. (I forget the very convoluted tale, but for the friend it happened to, it was Dire.)

* One primary form of ID and one secondary form required, and as they say, "the primary document must contain your full legal name (first, middle, and last) and the month, day, and year of your birth." A valid passport is primary ID, just like a birth certificate or tribal ID card or military ID card or a few other things. Her Illinois drivers licence, as long as it's not expired more than five years ago, should count for secondary ID, according to the MN DMV website, provided it has her legal name on it. Marriage certificates are listed as secondary documents, so there wouldn't be an advantage to fishing that out rather than using the IL license, unless there's a name discrepancy on the IL one -- which it sounds like there is, from what you said. Social security card is a valid secondary ID, too.

http://www.dmv.org/mn-minnesota/apply-license.php#New_Residents

#635 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:24 PM:

Juli Thompson (615): As a kid, I knew not only a Trey, but also a Tripp, for the same reason (from 'triplet', I gather).

#636 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:28 PM:

TexAnne: best of luck with moonlit employment, and may many fine things come to you.

#637 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 05:56 PM:

TexAnne: Well there are the violent felons, the white collar criminals and all the other usual sorts. I'd not worry about any but the escaped cons myself.

#638 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 06:07 PM:

@elise #634:

No apology needed, I live in MN too. Thanks for the info, though. I didn't get all the particulars from my wife on why it didn't work out, which is why I think it might be the name thing, too. The license is current, I know that for sure. I'll probably get more info tonight - I'm sure my wife looked up exactly what the website said was required to get a license here, and got her Mom to bring the appropriate info. She's at least as good at websearching as I am.

Are you in the Minneapolis area? Ever go to Uncle Hugo's for a scifi fix?

Later,

-cajun

#639 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 06:12 PM:

elise #634:

What happens if you are bereft of middle name? (Although I probably have one in my case; it would be just a matter of picking apart the firstname I glommed together all those years ago.)

#640 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 06:14 PM:

TexAnne:

Best of luck. At least you can read by moonlight.

#641 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 07:33 PM:

According to Miss Manners, Senior/Junior/III etc. only apply to living members of the family, unless you are a dynasty.

When Harumph Worthy, Senior (I'm making up names as I don't remember her examples) dies, Harumph Worthy, Junior becomes Harumph Worthy, Senior, and his son Harumph Worthy, III turns into Harumph Worthy, Junior. Miss Manners points out that those expensive informals just engraved for "Mrs. Harumph Worthy, Senior" then become an excellent gift for her daughter-in-law.

This was doubtless set up by printers, who must now rely on brides to justify their engraving presses.

#642 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 07:42 PM:

Cajun, I have indeed been known to go to Uncle Hugo's for a science fiction fix, although it's been a month or three. Also, I used to work at Dreamhaven, and get there sometimes too.

My neck of the woods is Powderhorn Park. Ever go to the May Day parade and celebration?

Joann, I'm not sure what happens if one doesn't have a middle name. I don't know that one's required, but anything's possible. (I don't know what happens if one has more than one middle name, either. I wonder.)

#643 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 08:03 PM:

Oh, and Texanne, does that mean you'll now have to become MizzAnne?

#644 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 08:19 PM:

Today's 21st Century Moment of Horror is brought to you by DARPA: Brain-plug weapons could provide war crime immunity

#645 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 08:38 PM:

How does Miss Manners define a dynasty?

Or is that left as an excercise for the reader?

#646 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 08:47 PM:

Terry, Miss Manners means "dynasty" as in "of kings". The only people who should keep their numbers after their seniors' deaths are those who are going to go into the history books that way.

Arguing from Miss Manners doesn't get one very far with the more emphatic "well MY dad died and I'm still JUNIOR" types, though.

#647 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 08:57 PM:

Ah, she meant an actual dynasty. All right then.

And she's, right, and wrong, because Jr. will be Jr. to his dying day (unless senior dies young, or Jr. was born late). I am me, and I know me by my names as to others.

I don't know (barring hundreds of thousands of people dying and it being discovered I am entitled to a throne, or I become pope) that I would be comfortable with an imposed change of name. Were I Jr., I might flout Miss Manners and go with the present convention.

#648 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 08:58 PM:

joann 643: If she changes her handle it should be MoAnne.

#649 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 09:47 PM:

Dave, #569, it's his death date today. Saturday is his birthdate.

A.J. Luxton, #583, wow, congrats!

Mary Aileen, #588, and where children call me "Miss Marilee." I can live with it when they're little but always hope the parents will let go when they're teens.

Stefan, #618, yes, I got those, too.

Texanne, #619, Moonlighting can be fun.

#650 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:29 PM:

Terry@554: Pigs are, left to their own devices, very clean.



We raised hogs back on the farm from birth to market. They've a powerful smell.



But that quote wasn't my personal view on hogs, it was a quote from "Pulp Fiction". Samuel Jackson speaking to John Travolta (I believe they were in the diner). Tarantino has a voyeristic infatuation with violence, but he's consistently got some really good dialogue.



Sorry for the confusion.

#651 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:31 PM:

re: languages with arbitrarily-gendered nouns: I recently listened to a lecture (The Teaching Company, John McWhorter, "The Story of Human Language") which said that in German, forks were feminine, spoons masculine, and knives neuter. Which I only remembered because it's so *not* anthropomorphized.

I believe the theory he offered for the existence of gendered nouns was that grammatical gender was the much-distorted remains of classification systems that made sense at the time.

#652 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 10:37 PM:

TexAnne at 619

What part of the state will you be living/working in? ConQuest is in Kansas City on Memorial Day weekend.

http://www.kcsciencefiction.org/conquest/conquest.htm

#653 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:13 PM:

For Lila way up at #575:

If no one's answered it yet, I was told you yelled "Geronimo!" because it took three seconds to say, which is how long you were supposed to wait before opening your parachute after exiting the plane. That could also be complete and utter B.S.

#654 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Greg: Ah, it was niggling familiar.

Yes, the smell of hogs in the sty is... potent. We had some swine pens below the turn out for the horses at my college... wheew! The pong on a hot day would stagger an ox.

#655 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 12:22 AM:

My 50-year-old sister still calls our mother's friends "Miss Mary" et al. Mary has been "Miss Mary" to her as long as Mom's been "Mom."

#656 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 12:54 AM:

Terry: Maybe it's just me, but I find weird to think of "Junior" or - especially - an ordinal number as part of an actual name rather than as a modifier to a name. It's like thinking of "Ms." as part of my name rather than That Thing People Stick Up Front. Of course, I reject my own particle and use the proper name to derive my last initial, so I'm not prone to follow American habits anyway.

I'm not likely to spawn, but if I did, I'd not be putting any numbers or other modifiers on the poor kid's birth certificate (which might well make it a legal part of the name - I don't know.)

#657 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 12:56 AM:

In passing: Designs on Dignity: Perceptions of Technology Among the Homeless. (Best paper, CHI 2008).

#658 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:06 AM:

Particles... I liked the one that Teresa put up for the Big Barda drinking game, whereby one is to have a drink every time Big Barda says "mega-rod". That darn thing seems to be the Apokolips equivalent of the Swiss Army knife.

#659 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:09 AM:

Judith Martin can be delightfully dry in her persona of Miss Manners. "Miss" is her given name, not her title. There's a difference between saying, "Here are the rules and how they work" and "These rules are a good idea".

Though I do have trouble keeping a straight face when some guy introduces himself as Selfthought Handsome Stranger IV. Bow to the patriarchy!

The only queen I know of who has the added numeral is Elizabeth II, but England has been shy of queens who reign in their own name. There have been a whole string of Marys, but they get dragged onstage under their King. Figuratively.

#660 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:18 AM:

Carol @ 659... There have been a whole string of Marys, but they get dragged onstage under their King.

"Think of the Empire."

#661 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:24 AM:

Per Chr. J.: First, may I say that your command of English is outstanding? But I did notice one tiny detail that I'd like to point out so that it doesn't trip you up sometime.

Way back upthread, you say: not just because I'm better at English than I'm at German. In that phrase, no native speaker of English would ever use a contraction for the second occurrence of "I am"; we would say, "I'm better at English than I am at German." Not being a professional editor or a grammarian, I can't explain precisely why, but it just goes CLANG -- the more jarringly so because the rest of your usage is so very good. I'm sure it's a parts-of-speech thing; perhaps someone with more grasp of formal grammar than I can explain it in detail.

Laurence, #177: Once, a very long time ago, I got a phone call in the middle of the night. It woke me out of a very sound sleep -- and without even thinking about it, I answered the phone in French, a language that I know only from school classes and have never used in practice. That was weird.

albatross, #200: That reminds me of why Vietnamese is the only Eastern Asian language I can immediately identify. Apparently the French were there long enough to leave some of their phonemes behind, so it sounds enough like French that I keep thinking I should be able to understand at least a phrase here and there -- but since no words come clear at all, then it's obviously not French, and therefore must be Vietnamese. No other Asian language sounds like that to me.

R.M. Koske, #257: Unfortunately, no one has ever actually put together a grammar and vocabulary for Vulcan, or Bajoran, or any other Trek language except Klingon. It would certainly be nice if they had.

tavella, #265: I'm not at all sure it's so unthinkable that women would vote away their own rights. All it would take would be enough women raised in things like the "Quiverfull" movement, and a genuine Christianist takeover of the mass media for a couple of generations, and there wouldn't be enough of us uppity bitches left to override them.

In fact, I think we can all be grateful for GWB being such a miserable little incompetent. If he hadn't been, we wouldn't be seeing anything like the current political backlash... and we might be well on the way to something like The Handmaid's Tale by 2050, as those of us who remembered real freedom died off.

Dena, #303: Coming in very late on this, but I do want to say (1) that sucks mightily, and (2) I think you're absolutely right about the way it smells. My condolences to his friends and family, and may Somebody drop a large enough rock to get those investigators off their lazy butts to do their jobs.

Xopher, #366: SHE is certainly a product of her time in at least one respect: she appears to have a deep-seated belief in her own incompetence, which I have little doubt is the direct result of being told, by many men in authority for many years, that she was incompetent. I read her LJ, and it's distressingly routine for her to assume that in any communication or cultural or mechanical or computer difficulty, it's all her fault. This also happens in stories she tells about her own personal history, so she's clearly had the habit for a very long time.* Now, I can see why she might take on more responsibility than the average person for communication issues; she is, after all, a professional linguist, and that would be the equivalent of the contradancing adage that when a dance goes wrong, it's the caller's fault. But her constant assumption that everyone else is perfectly competent, and herself the only one not so blessed, is sometimes very hard for me to deal with.

Serge, #407: But I remember also that it was a Big Huge Honkin' Deal for Voyager's captain to be a woman. We had, I think, seen female captains on random ships that just happened to interact with the Enterprise or DS9, but for the star, the lead billing on a Trek show, to be a woman? That was unheard-of. And that was in the mid-90s.

Linkmeister, #420: Sudden revelation? I didn't think so. At the very latest, I got it midway thru when he says something in Tagalog and refers to it as his native language. And it's revealed fairly early on that even though he's called Johnny, his actual name is Juan, which at least points to him not being "default white".

Susan, #435: *snork* I'd like to see that list of questions in full!**

albatross, #467: I remember the landmark case that established a woman's legal right to retain her birth name after marriage in Tennessee. The woman in question was a lawyer of some reputation, and chose not to change her name for professional reasons. Then came the next election, and she was informed by the polling-place supervisor that she COULD NOT vote, because the name on her voter registration card was no longer her real name since she was now married, and that she would have to change it. This was IIRC sometime in the early 80s.

You never saw a lawsuit go thru the system so fast. She was PISSED.

abi, #487: I was in college with a basketball player named Jan Van Breda Kolff. My own birth name was also Dutch. This was during the Laugh-In era, with the "if So-and-so married So-and-so" jokes. One afternoon my best friend looked at me and said, "Do you realize that if you married Jan Van Breda Kolff you'd have SEVEN INITIALS?" That started the giggles, but it wasn't until I said something about the monogrammed towels that we both completely lost it.

Greg, #536: I must admit to a sneaking fondness for a solution postulated by Diane Duane in one of her Trek novels. In the book, Scotty's family has a tradition of male children having the father's last name, while female children have the mother's. It just seems so nicely symmetrical and right, and it gets completely away (after a generation or two) from the issue of "no matter which name she chooses, it's still a man's name."

Terry, #560: What's the problem with Hole in the Wall specifically? Just that it's not a Regency dance?***

TexAnne, #619: The only two that come to mind offhand are Archon in St. Louis (large, general-interest but much more media-oriented than you're used to) and ConQuest in KC, which I've never attended and don't know anything about. Let me poke around a little and see if I come up with any more that are reasonably near where you're going to be.



* Incidentally, some of those stories -- and the social attitudes casually illstrated therein -- are pretty damned horrific even for me, and I'm old enough to remember a much more sexist society than the one we currently live in. She's also complained of occasions within the last 5 years in which the local building and repair professionals (plumbers, electricians, etc.) have refused to tackle an annoying but non-emergency problem until they could talk to her husband (who was out of town), and she had to call a "city man" from 50-odd miles away to find someone who'd actually do the work on her say-so. Her life, and the local mores with which she has to deal, are clearly very different from yours or mine.

** Although I have to admit that I did use the excuse of getting married to ditch a birth name which had been annoying me more and more for about 10 years -- and I didn't take it back after the divorce, either!

*** Listening to the dance discussions here sometimes makes me very grateful to just be an "English dancer" rather than getting all wound up with which dances are what period and therefore should or shouldn't be danced in the same session.

#662 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:28 AM:

re Marys. William and Mary were an oddity, and by rights it ought to have been William and Mary II.

Susan: I think it's how one thinks of oneself. I have many names (rough count, about seven, right now) each of them is specific to different aspects of me (or deliniates relationships, there are a couple of dozen [at most] people who call me Terrence, because my english teacher in 11th/12th grade had never had someone named Terrence and asked if she might call me that because she thought it a wonderful name). I have had about 20 names.

So if I spent forty, or fifty years, signing Jr. at the end of my name; putting up with (or enjoying) people calling me Junior, the sudden switch to no Jr., or Senior, would be jarring.

Sort of like the people who say, "Mr./Mrs. 'X' is my father/mother" (I met a Japanese internment veteran, who said that to me. It was perfect).

#663 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:49 AM:

Lee @ 661... it was a Big Huge Honkin' Deal for Voyager's captain to be a woman

It was? As for myself, I had been thinking it was about bloody time. By the way, you do know that Janeway was originally played by Geneviève Bujold, right? She apparently decided that she couldn't handle a TV schedule so she bowed out. I think there are film bits of that floating around. Me, I want to see Ellen Burstyn as a starship captain.

#664 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:53 AM:

No disrespect was intended to anyone concerning whatever handle they use.

My uncle, till the day he died, was called "Junior" by his mother, as a reminder that he'd never be the man his father was. This string has made me realize that the fault is not in the I-II-III naming, but in the attitude. If her patriarchal husband hadn't given her that ammo, she'd have made do quite well with something else.

#665 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:57 AM:

Lee @661 re: marriage and name changes:

If anyone wants an academic read on trends in keeping names, Making a Name: Women's Surnames at Marriage and Beyond covers trend in the late 20th century US.

Under 10% in 1980, 35% in 2001.

And as late as 1972, a woman could lose her driver's licence if she didn't change her name--Alabama law affirmed by the SCOTUS.

#666 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 02:10 AM:

And then there is what might be the most recent and thorough review of name-changes in the US as law and culture, Emen's Changing Name Changing: Framing Rules and the Future of Marital Names (U Chicago Law Review 74:3, 2007)

#667 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 03:55 AM:

On possessive gender: in Biblical Hebrew, you get both a gender marker for the object (only used for feminine nouns) and a gender-specific suffix indicating the possessor. Number is also marked for both, by insertion of a vowel before the suffix for the object's number, and the suffix is different for single/multiple possessors. (Notably, the gender marking ion the suffix only affects spoken Hebrew; spellings are the same, as none of the vowels involved are written. The number-marking vowels, on the other hand, are written.)

Modern Hebrew is simpler, as the form is generally object-with-number-and-gender “shel”+possessive suffix; possessives are not applied directly to nouns except in some idioms taken from Biblical Hebrew (and sometimes as a stylistic device in songs and poetry).

Dena Shunra @303:

my belated condolences, and (if it doesn't bend the structure of space-time too much...) zichron tzadiq livrakhah (may the the memory of the righteous be for a blessing).

Lee @661:

On the use of contractions: My observation is that generally “to be” is only subject to contraction when it is a copula. I notice this because it parallels languages which omit it entirely in that case (Hebrew, Arabic, sometimes(?) Russian). In the second instance of “am”, it's not merely a copula so it is not contracted into the pronoun.

As to Starship Troopers: thank you for the memory check; I thought it was obvious well before the end, but it's been long enough since I read it that I couldn't say it with any certainty.

Serge @663:

Sadly, I recall some of the surprised / shocked comments at the time. (Even sadder was the reminder of how the original Trek pushed the boundaries, but now(then) a female captain lead was shocking. Feh.)

#668 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 04:53 AM:

Both Ancient Greek and Classical Latin follow the same system as French (although for the Latin that should perhaps be expressed the other way around) in which the possessive pronoun agrees in gender and number with the thing possessed, and no distinction is made by sex of the possessor.

(Ancient Greek does have sex distinctions for participles, which seems quite odd to me.)

Ronit@603 says:

Didn't LeGuin also specify skin color (ethinicity?) later on in her Earthsea trilogy?
Actually, she specified skin color extremely early in the trilogy -- in my copy of A Wizard of Earthsea, the violent Kargads are specified as having white skin and blond hair on page 7; there are other hints about Ged's skin color shortly thereafter, and on page 39 the narrator comes right out and says that "red-brown" is what most of the characters have. (That same page introduces a character with "black-brown" skin, who becomes Ged's best friend.)

#669 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:15 AM:

Tangentially related to Jr./III/etc.: I once ran across a gentleman named Curtis with four children: Curtis Jr., Curt, Curtessa, and Curtessina.

#670 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:29 AM:

The only queen I know of who has the added numeral is Elizabeth II, but England has been shy of queens who reign in their own name. There have been a whole string of Marys, but they get dragged onstage under their King. Figuratively.

Not that many Marys, actually. Only one who reigned in her own right - Queen Mary, known as Bloody Mary, burner of Protestants and predecessor of Elizabeth I. There's also been Victoria (of course), Mary the wife of William III of Orange (the two of them ruled jointly for complicated reasons), Anne, Matilda, and two Elizabeths.

But that's male primogeniture for you. None on the way for the next fifty years at least, barring heavy (Kind Hearts and Coronets-level) mortality among the male offspring of the House of Windsor.

#671 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 07:40 AM:

j austin@653:I was told you yelled "Geronimo!" because

I jumped from 13,000 feet and didn't yell anything. My mind had gone partially numb. After a minute or so of free-fall, I'd gotten slightly more used to the notion of nothing directly under my feet. After the chute opened, there was something screwy with my harness and my legs had fallen asleep. The landing was not pretty. It was in a sandy spot, though, so at least it was a muffled "oooph".

#672 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 08:16 AM:

#659 ...England has been shy of queens who reign in their own name.

The first time we had one there was a civil war called "The Anarchy", and obviously the blame was laid at the feet of Matilda* in particular and female rulers in general.

Still, there were countries who were even shyer of female rulers.

Possibly more interestingly, I have a friend whose father is a Turkish Cypriot; her last name is her father's first name (and her grandfathers last name, and so on). Additionally, different parts of her family live in different parts of the middle east and the spelling and format of their names vary as different standards were adopted at different times in what are now different countries (and in different alphabets too).

*She was the acknowledged heir and the barons had agreed to her succession; however she lost the war, which is why it's her fault

#673 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 08:47 AM:

#662, Terry Karney

Sort of like the people who say, "Mr./Mrs. 'X' is my father/mother" (I met a Japanese internment veteran, who said that to me. It was perfect).

I don't actually understand how this relates to your point about "junior." Can you elaborate? I say things like that to people because it makes sense to me to connect the name they know ("Mrs. X") with my mother. Is that odd?

#674 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 08:51 AM:

671: boy, that sounds familiar... except I think I was slightly luckier with my first landing. Standup landing, albeit about 300 yards downwind of where I was aiming. At least there was lots of space in the Mojave.

No screaming, though - I was just concentrating on getting the drills right and not going into what I heard described as the "frog in a liquidiser" flight mode.

#675 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 09:04 AM:

I never had any trouble keeping my own name, back in 1978; then again, I was in grad school at the time, and "I want to get the degree in the name I enrolled under" was sufficient explanation for just about anybody who bothered to ask. The advice I encountered -- to the extent I bothered to look for it, which wasn't much -- was mostly along the lines of "either change it for everything or don't change it for anything, and in either case begin as you mean to go on," which proved to be sound.

Afterward, not much changed. Herr Doktor Professor Springer, over in the German Department, switched to calling me "Frau Doyle" instead of "Fraulein"; the US Navy, when I went to get a military ID card as a dependent spouse, didn't make a fuss about the matter at all. In fact, once I got my degree, the Navy was punctilious about addressing joint formal invitations and the like to "Lieutenant James D. Macdonald and Dr. Debra Doyle" -- on the grounds, presumably, that since I had a formal rank, it would be used. (I never did manage, though, to convince them that local custom where I got the degree was for the "FirstName Lastname, Ph.D." usage, rather than the "Dr. FirstName LastName" one.)

I've never figured out whether the reason for the lack of hassle was that I was living all that time in an atypical enclave of gender-nomenclature egalitarianism, or that I was sufficiently thickskinned and absentminded as to be happily oblivious to random acts of sexism, or that I somehow had all the people around me too scared of me to even bother trying to start something.

#676 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 09:23 AM:

Texanne:

Moonlight in Missouri - a lullaby or a romantic ballad?

#677 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 09:43 AM:

I said it on the Bitch PhD thread, and I will say it here again: my last name is not my father's in the sense that people usually mean. If my last name is a man's name, and thus not mine, why does my brother get to keep it? I'm a Krahe, will remain a Krahe as far forward as I can see, it's mine mine mine, and I'm not giving it up so there.

If I didn't like the name, I might switch to a name from my mother's family, but not her maiden name. Her maiden name belongs to Grandpa; he's the only person who uses it in a meaningful way. I'd be a Weiser, because when we visit Mom's family, we visit a lot of Weiser aunts. That makes Weiser a matriarchal name, even though I know it's been handed from father to son and none of the aunts are Weisers now. Weird little brain trick there.

#678 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 10:18 AM:

Congratulations, TexAnne. Always good to have a landing you can walk away from. I hope this job proves more light than you expect.

#679 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 10:20 AM:

Carol @ 590

Good advice for internet flames as well.

#680 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 10:40 AM:

Kate @651, I can match that and raise it. In Hebrew, breasts are male.

Also in Hebrew, and in an entirely unantrhopomorphised manner, forks are masculine, while spoons and knives are feminine.

#681 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 10:46 AM:

Woohoo! Second International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day!

Rejoice!

#682 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 10:49 AM:

Geekosaur @667 - well put, and thanks. That is entirely appropriate in this case.

#683 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 10:53 AM:

geekosaur @ 667... now(then) a female captain lead was shocking

Not only that, but the engine-room boss also was... gasp... female.

Eek!

#684 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 10:57 AM:

Dena Shunra @ 680... I can match that and raise it. In Hebrew, breasts are male.

Same thing in French, and a vagina is male too. As for forks, they're female, along with spoons, but knives are male.

#685 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:00 AM:

Various people upthread: interesting comments about the differing uses of "Dr." for Ph.D.s. I think I'd feel more at home with it if I'd become an academic, instead of moving fairly directly from T.A. at Cal Berkeley to full-time member of the Locus staff (where there's only *one* high honcho).

Mary Aileen (#631): In Sarah Hoyt's Ill-Met by Moonlight, Shakespeare is still a teenager, though already married. I liked the book pretty well, but wished the wife had been given a bigger role since Young Will wasn't a very dynamic character.

On contractions: in Melissa Marr's YAs, "have" and "had" rarely (never?) appear in full, but only as part of "would've," "she'd," etc. This started to bug me after a while, but maybe Kids Today talk and think strictly in those terms. (/senior grumble)

#686 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:08 AM:

Debra Doyle (675): I've never figured out whether the reason for the lack of hassle was that I was living all that time in an atypical enclave of gender-nomenclature egalitarianism, or that I was sufficiently thickskinned and absentminded as to be happily oblivious to random acts of sexism, or that I somehow had all the people around me too scared of me to even bother trying to start something.

Could have been a combination of all of the above.

Generally: When my parents married, my mother didn't so much change her last name as add a new one onto the end. She is officially Firstname Middlename Maidenname Hislastname, but the middle initial she uses is the one from her maiden name. After they divorced, she kept "his" name, on the grounds that she'd had it half her life, and the most recent half at that. Also, she didn't want to confuse her students by changing her name (I think they would have adapted), plus she had four kids with that name.

#687 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:11 AM:

ajay @ 670:

Mary of William-and-Mary was technically reigning jointly with William, though she doesn't seem to have done much, and is Mary II. I think they only pick up a number when there are following monarchs of the same name - Elizabeth I didn't need a "I" in her lifetime because she was the only one to that point.

On switching suffixes: anyone who's a "Sr." presumably had to tack that on later in life - I don't imagine there are too many parents who are sufficiently optimistic as to name their little snookums "Something Something Sr." at birth on the assumption that he will eventually provide them with an identically-named grandson to justify the suffix.

#688 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:18 AM:

Thanks Debbie, Ronit, Marilee.

Names: I chose my own name as soon as I had one that suited me, because my birth name didn't. This got sorted out about four years ago now, and I've not looked back. My last name is my father's surname, and I've always liked it (it's an Anglicization of the Yiddish "Lockshin"); my middle name is a name that appears frequently in my mother's family tree (and has some other significant connotations for me) and my first name is something that doesn't really show up on either side of the family, but suits me to a T.

In my marriage, we have considered taking on a shared second middle name, but we have no idea what it would be, so that idea is sort of in the reject heap for now. So we've just all kept our names as they are. Referring to our family by last names ("Luxton, Newman & Snead") makes us sound like a law firm, which I think is cute.

Good luck to TexAnne.

David Goldfarb @ 668: Actually, she specified skin color extremely early in the trilogy -- in my copy of A Wizard of Earthsea, the violent Kargads are specified as having white skin and blond hair on page 7; there are other hints about Ged's skin color shortly thereafter, and on page 39 the narrator comes right out and says that "red-brown" is what most of the characters have. (That same page introduces a character with "black-brown" skin, who becomes Ged's best friend.)

I just re-read A Wizard of Earthsea today, and while I wouldn't say the definitive mention is *late* late, it's very cleverly just past the point at which most people who pick up a book in a bookshop have probably decided to keep reading or stop reading it. There's a remark from LeGuin herself on the subject, handily quoted near the end of the the estimable essay Shame by Pam Noles.

#689 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:20 AM:

Carol #641: (I'm making up names as I don't remember her examples)

I'm sure it's Rhinehart Awful or something along those lines. I love Miss Manners.

#690 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:21 AM:

Diatryma, #677: From the POV of a society in which the woman HAD to change her name upon marriage, your brother gets to keep it because he's a man, so it becomes his in a way that yours would not have. This is, as you note, a less-important way of looking at it in a society where you also have the option of keeping it. But it could also be argued that we won't get completely away from this until you can pass along your last name to your daughter (or son) independently of your husband's, without having to jump thru a lot of legal and social hoops to do so.

#691 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:23 AM:

Serge #684: In Spanish the vulgar, as opposed to formal, term for vagina is masculine (coño), while the vulgar term for penis (pinga) is feminine.

#692 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:24 AM:

Diatryma, #677: From the POV of a society in which the woman HAD to change her name upon marriage, your brother gets to keep it because he's a man, so it becomes his in a way that yours would not have. This is, as you note, a less-important way of looking at it in a society where you also have the option of keeping it. But it could also be argued that we won't get completely away from this until you can pass along your last name to your daughter (or son) independently of your husband's, without having to jump thru a lot of legal and social hoops to do so.

#693 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:25 AM:

cajunfj40 @ 579: My brother is a fourth. He seems to like it okay. It does lead to wonderful opportunities for (good-natured) teasing: (Name)-bot Mark IV, "they'll fix it in the next version!", etc.

A.J. Luxton @ 583: The somewhat immortal protagonist in the novel I've just more or less finished polishing up (and which has... oh, heck, the exciting announcement deserves its own blog post!)"

Oh yay and happy and joy! Go you! Here, have some cake to go with your fresh, hand-picked win.

"It's rather neat that my Chinese students often get their gender pronouns scrambled, actually. See, in Mandarin, "he", "she" and "it" are written with different characters, but pronounced the same way..."

Interestingly, the different characters for "he" and "she" only date back a couple of centuries--classical Chinese only had one. They were made up because in response to European linguists who were so very offended by the crudity of a language that didn't distinguish between men and women. So terribly primitive!

#694 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Ack, sorry for the double post -- it hung, and then I didn't think it had gone thru.

#695 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:29 AM:

688: as I seem to remember noting before, it's a bit much for Le Guin to set up Earthsea as some sort of pioneering work of anti-racism, when it has one black character (Vetch), and he's obviously less capable and less intelligent than the hero (although terribly loyal and all that) and the only piece of magic we see him working is a very petty charm which involves fried chicken for heaven's sake.

("Red-brown"? Could be anything from a Guarani Indian to a Frenchman who spends a lot of time outdoors. Ged's not a Norse type like the Kargs, but that's about all one can tell.)

#696 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Lee @ #661:

Listening to the dance discussions here sometimes makes me very grateful to just be an "English dancer" rather than getting all wound up with which dances are what period and therefore should or shouldn't be danced in the same session.

Yeah. Listening to the writing discussions around here makes me very grateful to just be a "reader" rather than getting all wound up in plots and characters and grammar and stuff like that. But just as professional writers worry about these matters, professional dance historians worry about dance history. I would be happy if I could be even more wound up in it. You should probably avoid my dance blog, where I'm so wound up I'm mummified.

(I won't disturb you with the arguments about whether "English dance" as done in America deserves to still be called "English", though some English dancers I know have some pithy opinions on the subject. Not historical, not my problem, la la la la la la la!)

Malthus @ 681:

I did my pixel-stained part via non-fiction by answering a question on dance games (with and without drinking) with an essay even though the question came packaged with a "can you teach me to do what you do so people will hire me instead?" request that kind of annoyed me.

#697 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Re: female captain of Voyager

Apparently casting a black man as the lead (he wasn't technically a "captain") on Deep Space Nine was also somewhat controversial (and DS9 came before Voyager.)

Avery Brooks has a great story about how when he was cast for the part of Sisko, his head was shaved, but they asked him to grow his hair out "because otherwise people might not be able to tell Sisko and Picard apart." Huh?

#698 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 12:29 PM:

Tim 669: "Your honor, the defense rests."

Neil 672: Is that Matilda the one also known as the Empress Maud? If so, it was her personal unpleasantness that lost her the throne, and she didn't so much lose the war as the Papal ruling that Stephen had been annointed and had to be King. Also...she didn't get to be Queen, but her son got to be King.

And Stephen was a dolt and a clod.

Debra 675: I vote for scared. (Yes, I'm teasing.)

#699 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 12:29 PM:

697: well, obviously there's a subset of ST viewers who perceive the show through echolocation, and if both captains had hard, un-fluffy, highly sonically reflective heads, they'd look identical. The fact that the two captains had different albedos would be entirely lost on them.

("I'm not black, I'm a Low-Albedo-American").

#700 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 12:48 PM:

ajay 699: Funny, when I watch TV by echolocation, I see...a flat panel. And my pings mess up the dialogue too, so all TV shows, not just all characters, come out more or less alike.

#701 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 12:55 PM:

@Carol #621: There's a lot of old "wisdom" about the color of the flames indicating CO or lack thereof, such as violet-purple is always safe. It isn't.

Lots of articles here. Dr. David Penny is a recognized authority.

Forgot to thank you earlier, I'll be looking at those links for a refresher. I remember some flame color indicators for oxy-fuel (OFW) welding in terms of an oxidizing or carburizing flame, but that is not the same animal as heating flames.

@elise #642: Dreamhaven is quite nice, too, I've had Gaiman sign a book there! It and Uncle Hugo's are perennial "I want a gift certificate from here" locations on my x-mess wish list that my Mom asks for every year. I always get a Borders one instead... Powderhorn Park isn't too far from where I live either (Northrup area), I've been to the May Day parade a number of years back, maybe I can convince my wife to go with my daughter and I this year.

@Carol #641, Carrie S #646, Terry Karney #647, Susan #656: I'm "stuck" with "III" for similar reasons to Terry - it's too much a part of who I am for me to want to bother changing it. I think in my case it's a Southern holdover that accidentally got officially recorded... I'd have to dig up my birth certificate to check, though. It's kind of handy though - when some telemarketer calls and asks for Mr. Lastname, I ask "which one? SR, JR, III?" They inevitably ask for SR to which I reply "Sorry, he's dead, please don't call back again. {click}" The "he's dead" bit varies a lot with mood (he's no longer with us, he's passed on, he's kicked the bucket, et cetera...), and I know it may seem insensitive to my dear departed Papa, but I think he'd laugh at it.

Oh, and @Carol #664: No offense taken at all. I mentioned I have some resistance to naming FutureSon "IV", but I also mentioned my wife has a rather strong influence when it comes to names...

As for it being "for royalty", apparently if you look at my Mom's family and go far enough back we've got an ancestor who was kicked off of/lost the throne in England. Then again, down in the South there are plenty of "dynasties" that pass along the family name, with varying degrees of the "heavy" sort of patriarchal overtones. Perhaps the Double Firstname phenomenon was a response among the females to get a "middle name" they could keep after marriage, as it appeared to be rather uniform to take the husband's Lastname and keep the Maiden name as the middle name.

Later,

-cajun

#702 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Some dialects of Jamaican Creole do not make a distinction between male and female pronouns:

'Wey Miss* Jane gaan?' (Where has Miss Jane gone?)

'Him dung a fi him caanfiil.'(She is down at her cornfield.)



*'Miss' is an honourific applied to an older woman, regardless of marital status.

#703 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:06 PM:

ajay: echolocation is the only rational explanation. They were worried about losing the bat demographic. Or bat[something] anyway.

#704 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 01:57 PM:

cajunfj40 (701): I think you're missing a link there. (pity this isn't the Darwin fish thread ;)

#705 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 02:20 PM:

I have a second cousin named Kimball Smith (called Kim), for his father's mother's maiden name. His dad looked at his male cousins' litters of girls and did what he could for the Family Glory.

A friend married into a family where the mother's Lastname was the son's Firstname. Hers was complicated, hell in school and jobs, and she was so glad to marry and abandon it that she refused to saddle any child of hers with it.

The daughters were exempt, of course.

I would have loved to have been Kimberly Carroll in Junior High, but like many here, accumulated too much history to change or abandon what I had when that became an option.

The idea of me being a "Junior" would have loosened my father's bowels.

There were three of us uppity females in Hastings, Nebraska (pop. 25,000), in the 70's. We didn't move in the same circles, but were regularly filled in on the doings of the others by conscientious acquaintances.

#706 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 02:21 PM:

Lee @ 661, can you give me some google-able terms for:

albatross, #467: I remember the landmark case that established a woman's legal right to retain her birth name after marriage in Tennessee. The woman in question was a lawyer of some reputation, and chose not to change her name for professional reasons. Then came the next election, and she was informed by the polling-place supervisor that she COULD NOT vote, because the name on her voter registration card was no longer her real name since she was now married, and that she would have to change it. This was IIRC sometime in the early 80s.albatross, #467: I remember the landmark case that established a woman's legal right to retain her birth name after marriage in Tennessee. The woman in question was a lawyer of some reputation, and chose not to change her name for professional reasons. Then came the next election, and she was informed by the polling-place supervisor that she COULD NOT vote, because the name on her voter registration card was no longer her real name since she was now married, and that she would have to change it. This was IIRC sometime in the early 80s.

#707 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 03:15 PM:

@Mary Aileen #704:

Whoops. It looks like copy/paste drops HTML tags, and em tags fail across line breaks. That was Carol's link, thus my quote should have been:

"@Carol #621: There's a lot of old "wisdom" about the color of the flames indicating CO or lack thereof, such as violet-purple is always safe. It isn't.

Lots of articles here.. Dr. David Penny is a recognized authority."

Hrmm. Now that I check the link (a Google search string, BTW), I cannot find any information on why a gas stove flame contacting a pot would produce more CO than when it does not contact the pot. I also see that the EPA and several gas companies all say "blue flame OK" referencing gas/propane stoves and CO. They also, of course, say to vent any fuel-burning appliance used indoors because they all emit some level of CO. Carol, did you have a specific link I could look for about the "flame hitting pot == bad, makes more CO" thing? Thanks.

Darwin fish thread? Must go read it... :-)

Later,

-cajun

#708 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Remember when I said that my son wanted a cake with Adam Savage from the Mythbusters on it for his seventh birthday?

Well, here's the cake and here's the boy with it.

I think I did pretty well, particularly considering that the only food colors I could find were red and green, plus brown from chocolate.

#709 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 03:40 PM:

It's a striking likeness, abi.



Hurrah for the birthday boy!

#710 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 03:46 PM:

Don Delny @706,

Both articles linked by me upthread--665, 666--cover these in detail.

#711 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 03:54 PM:

abi... Congrats to the birthday boy! Did he try to blow up the cake, considering its MythBusters theme?

#712 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 04:00 PM:

Susan, #696: Sorry, that comment should have had a smiley on it. Believe it or not, I do appreciate the work dance historians do; without it, I wouldn't be able to do the dancing I do. (And I've read and enjoyed several of your blog entries.) But it's like food in a way -- when it's time for dinner, I enjoy being able to have curried chicken, corn on the cob, cranberry rice, baklava, and iced tea all at the same meal, without worrying about the ethnicity of each dish and whether or not the ingredients would ever be found together "in the wild", so to speak.

Laurence, #697: Say what?! I thought that was to differentiate him from his other best-known role, Hawk in the "Spenser" miniseries. And he slowly went back to that look over the course of DS9.

Don, #706: Looks like I was a little off on the date. According to this, the case in question was Dunn v. Palermo (522 S.W. 2d 679), decided in 1975. HTH!

While I'm thinking about citations, could the person who mentioned CostCo having to pay a quarterly fine for the privilege of treating its employees decently (over in the Capitalism thread) please point me at a link or two, or at least something I can Google for? Apparently my own Google-fu is not strong enough to come up with anything.

#713 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 04:01 PM:

Abi @708 - that is one awesome cake. And pretty extreme cuteness photographed beside it.

However, this has consequences. To keep the universe from imploding, you'll have to balance out the mothering excellence by something truly spectacular, like spending his college fund on book binding supplies or particularly nifty ink for committing poetry to paper.

#714 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 04:07 PM:

You should brag about that cake on the MAKE Magazine blog.

#715 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 04:31 PM:

Lee @ 712: Say what?! I thought that was to differentiate him from his other best-known role, Hawk in the "Spenser" miniseries. And he slowly went back to that look over the course of DS9.

Hmm, I tracked down the page where I originally read that: it's here. He says that they gave him both explanations, on separate occasions.

#716 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 04:39 PM:

Lee @ 712:

Sorry back at ya. I'm coughing myself inside out this week when not drugged into a stupor and it's made my thinking very muddy and incoherent and my brain more one-track than usual.

Doctor: "That's a blood clot. You should go get an ultrasound immediately to make sure there's not a dangerous deep vein clot; if it is, we need to get you on anticoagulants."

Me: "Will they help with the coughing?"

#717 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 04:43 PM:

abi #708: Very icely done.

#718 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 04:44 PM:

Cajun et. al. re: CO articles, flame height/colors

I have anecdotal post-trauma experience standing by the professional as we adjusted the flame and watched the meter. He googled CO and immediately pulled up several Penny* sites, which must have been on the link but were eluding me.

I'll check with him and get back to y'all.

* He kept citing "Dr. Penny" which I confabulated with the likes of "Dr. Ruth".

#719 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:00 PM:

R. Emrys @ 578

I hope no one else already mentioned this. Poul Anderson wrote an alternate history (plus fantasy) of the English Civil War complete with an alternate Will Shakespeare, who isn't a playwright but should be. It's called "A Midsummer's Tempest".

#720 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Susan @ 716... My best wishes to you that you'll soon recover.

#721 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:06 PM:

abi @708 -- looks like you've got yourself a lifetime gig. Great cake!

#722 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Susan @ 716... My best wishes to you that you'll soon recover.

#723 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:17 PM:

Apropos of nothing, this Origin Of The Universe. takes Recent Creationism out for a nice reductio ad absurdum.

#724 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:30 PM:

#698 - Matilda was/is also known as Maud to differentiate her from Queen Matilda, King Stephen's wife. On reflection saying that she lost the war is probably a bit strong, and ignores the sequel. Like a lot of wars, and especially civil wars and medieval wars it dragged on and on without anyone winning or losing*.

Although she was never crowned and didn't use the title Queen, she was ruler of England for the six months between Stephen's capture and release.

Anyway, my point originally was that part of England's shyness towards female rulers was that they'd had one, and didn't enjoy the experience. Somewhat unfairly the thing they remembered was that she was a female, rather than [insert all the other historical events surrounding the conflict].

* You'd think that Matilda's forces capturing Stephen would end it, but instead they swapped him for Matilda's half-brother.

#725 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:33 PM:

Not to scale new heights of ruffling old feathers, but a nifty new study confirms that the T-Rex's closest living relatives are birds, not alligators or lizards, based on molecular analysis of collagen proteins.

Harvard's press release summarizing the results

National Geographic has a well-written analysis of these results.

Here's the abstract from 2007 where the researchers describe how they got the sequences, and here's the abstract for today's research:

"Despite missing sequence data, the mastodon groups with elephant and the T. rex groups with birds, consistent with predictions based on genetic and morphological data for mastodon and on morphological data for T. rex."

#726 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Susan #716: I hope you recover soon.

#727 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 05:53 PM:

R.M. Koske: It relates because after a lifetime of being Jr., and thinking of one's father as Sr., the mind balks at being called by someone else's name.

I am, properly, Mr. Karney. There was a time I wasn't (age being some sort of marker). Having a 70 year old man tell me he wasn't Mr. X, that was his father (whom I presume to be some years dead), is the same sort of thing.

Susan: You are correct, a titled ruler is un-numbered until one with the same name assumes power. I have a copy of a biography of, "Queen Elizabeth" because it was printed in 1951. Later printings are "Queen Elizabeth I".

John Paul I violated this, and it was jarring; if only briefly. No, it's still jarring but only to people like me. (that was a strange time, the summer of three popes).

#728 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 06:07 PM:

I can see 'John Paul I': he was clearly the first to use that name.

There had been wives of kings named Elizabeth before - I can think of two right off the top of my head - but I don't know if they were, properly speaking, queens. (I'm under the impression that 'queen consort' isn't necessarily the correct title for the wife of a king, and I do know that not all of them were crowned.)

#729 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 07:13 PM:

There are a number of more accessible articles on CO searching flame impingement carbon monoxide

Most of these deal with the flame having plenty of oxygen (i.e. not touching or wrapping around the pan). I haven't gotten far enough to find a color reference, other than that pink may mean someone in the area is using a nebulizer.

More modern ranges have better clearance between the maximum height of the flame and the pot. For this reason, the "flame tamer" Terry mentioned using with an electric stove is not a good idea with gas, unless it sits quite high on an elevated burner.

My professional suggested NOT googling "gas cock".

#730 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 07:26 PM:

Adding "color" to the above search gave a lot more links.

Basically, what they say is that a blue flame is no guarantee of safety. If the previously blue flame goes yellow and smoky, you may be in real trouble.

#731 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 07:42 PM:

PJ @728:

I think the distinction is between a queen consort (wife of a king) and a queen regnant, both being referred to as "queen" in general usage. You don't have a queen regnant when there's a king, except in very special cases like that of William and Mary. There is no such thing as a king consort, since only women acquire a parallel title by marriage. Queen Elizabeth II's husband's highest title is Prince.

#732 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 08:05 PM:

Carol @ 729... "gas cock".

Someone needs to take some Pean-O pills.

#733 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 08:26 PM:

Serge & Fragano:

Thanks. At this point I'll settle for either option. I feel like I'm coughing up the lining of my stomach.

#734 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 08:55 PM:

Susan... Go to Emergency.

#735 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 09:46 PM:

Greg @671:

You have cured me. I, somewhere in the back of my mind (way, way back,) had envisioned a much braver version of myself trying it someday, and maybe making that sound Goofy does whenever he's catapulted off of something. But something going screwy with my harness and my legs falling asleep is precisely the kind of thing that would happen to me.

#736 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 10:05 PM:

Kathryn #725: Yeah, but when are they gonna open the themepark?

#737 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:39 PM:

Heresiarch @ 693:

Interestingly, the different characters for "he" and "she" only date back a couple of centuries--classical Chinese only had one. They were made up because in response to European linguists who were so very offended by the crudity of a language that didn't distinguish between men and women. So terribly primitive!

That's very interesting, because the whole Thai culture did something very, very similar at the turn of the century. I blogged about it, but my post was mostly just a reaction post and Cliff's notes version of an extensive, well-written article about the historical Thai gender situation, the author of which I could just hug, if hugs were the usual response to incredibly fascinating academic work.

ajay @ 695: Fair enough, but it still managed to impress on me at an early age that, should I ever write a book about a whole world (which I'm sort of setting out to do right now) most of the people in that world won't be white.

Carol, cajunfj40: I have no idea (not a scientist | not having a gas stove at the moment | possibly talking out the wrong orifice) but upthread when it was suggested that CO emissions are due to incomplete combustion of the gas, I assumed that when the flame hits the pan, it interrupts the combustion and causes some of the gas to fly off un-burned. But see above disclaimers.

Susan, damn, I hope you get to the doctor soon and get it sorted. I had a phantom health crisis this week with a pain in my leg that didn't feel like a muscle ache; felt silly for dragging my translator to the hospital to ultimately find nothing wrong, but my mother had a near-fatal blood clot when I was younger and it sort of imprinted on me the importance of getting these things checked.

#738 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2008, 11:45 PM:

...And somehow I neglected to mention how bowled over by awesome I am @ abi's Adam cake. That's one of those bizarre and wonderful things that goes down in memory as the pinnacle of... well, I'm not sure what it's the pinnacle of, but it's clearly a pinnacle.

#739 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 12:09 AM:

P. J. Yes, he was the first. What if no other pope ever chose to take the name? Then he wouldn't be the first, he'd be the only.

It's sort of like, "This is the first annual...," ain't such beast in the present, one has to wait for the second.

re stoves: Since I have good ventilation, I'll keep using my diffusers with my gas stove (they aren't really needful for electric).

#740 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 12:15 AM:

Susan @731: . You don't have a queen regnant when there's a king, except in very special cases like that of William and Mary. There is no such thing as a king consort, since only women acquire a parallel title by marriage

There must be something about Mary(s)-- William III and Mary II were co-rulers as first cousins with approximately equivalent Stuart descent, but Mary I did give her husband, Philip II of Spain, the effective title of "king consort" of England... come to think of it, those two were first cousins as well, albeit once removed (Philip's paternal grandmother was a sister of Catherine of Aragon).

#741 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 12:18 AM:

Terry #739: I like it when events are called "First Annual". It's a nice, hopeful way of looking at things.

#742 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 12:59 AM:

AJ @ 737:

I was at the doctor this morning, getting my mysterious leg pain diagnosed as a blood clot and getting the resultant emergency ultrasound plus a severe scolding for not bothering to come in for a week to find out why my leg was in agony. (I'm so accustomed to living in pain and w/o insurance that my "go to the doctor NOW" trigger seems to be mis-set - I figured after the first 24 hours when I hadn't died that it probably wasn't fatal, so I waited for my already-scheduled appointment.) It is officially superficial phlebothrombosis without pregnancy. Or something like that; I was in no shape to retain medical terminology. Definitely superficial and without pregnancy, which I suppose makes me fit right in with other local idiots this month.

Unfortunately, there's not much to be done about the cough except to use my steroid inhaler and wait for it to run its course. It is not, at the moment, pneumonia, nor is it the blood clot traveling to my lungs and doing whatever badness it would do there. I should put ice packs on my head and warm compresses on my leg and try not to breathe intensely because it triggers bronchiospasms.

Teaching tomorrow night and Saturday morning should be really special.

#743 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 01:01 AM:

I'm half-watching an episode of the NBC comedy "30 Rock."

A few minutes ago, one of the characters pulled out a graph and explained The Uncanny Valley.

I love it when high geekery leaks out into popular culture.

#744 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 01:12 AM:

Susan @ 742

I can understand not going to the hospital for a cough, but trying to teach with that sort of problem seems exceptionally counterproductive to me. Please take care of yourself, and get better soon.

#745 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 02:18 AM:

Susan @742,

I'm glad to hear it isn't pneumonia, and can sympathize about a painful cough*.

You probably already know about those large-bandage-like heat packs available in drug stores.

They're good for providing heat to a location when you need to be mobile--not too much bulk and without needing to change the heat source every half hour.

(my family goes through packs of them in the winter, because our climate is just a bit too cold for the Tortoise, and he seems to appreciate the extended mobility the heat-pack-things give him on a chilly day.)

-------------

* Two years ago I did have walking pneumonia and couldn't persuade my doctors of it because there was no fever. I couldn't watch comedy, because laughter...ouch.

#746 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 02:34 AM:

Oy vey. I just took a quick look at the Darwin Fish thread. Sorry, guys -- normally I'd come in and give you some backup, but I've already had all the creeps and idiots I can stand this week with the foofaraw about the Open Source Boobs Project.

#747 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 03:17 AM:

Susan,

Thank goodness it wasn't life threatening. I hope you go to the doctor sooner next time you are in that kind of pain*.

And I second the vote for heat packs, though I've never found bandage-like ones in Europe. I use pouches and Ace bandage†.

Best of luck with the teaching.

-----

* Except that I've got a muscle tear-type pain right now, and do you see me at the doctor?

† Or local equivalent

#748 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 03:23 AM:

Lee @746:

The Darwin fish thread is fine. Our visitors aren't going to be swayed by anything they say, so one can either take a few swings at the piñata for the fun of it, say something for anyone more open who might come along later, observe the rare Fangless Troll* at play, engage in a side discussion, or go do something else with your time. All good.

Reading about the Open Source Boobs Project has taught me many things, but one thing stands out above all else:

I hate LJ's comment threading. I want to be able to read multiple subthreads at once, on the same page, so I can skip back and forth among them. I want the page to open with the comments expanded. Grrr.

-----

* They use troll dynamics, but they don't swear, and their comments have no bite to them. It's really quite fascinating, if troll-watching is your thing.

#749 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 06:36 AM:

In parts of our family (one on my side, one on my wife's side), there are male lines that have used the same full name over 3 or more generations, But they don't do "Junior" or "III" or any of that.

Instead, they alternate between using "first" and "middle" names each generation. (That is, "X Y lastname" is called X, his son is called Y, *his* son is called X again, and so on.) This means that grandfather and grandson get called the same name, but they're at different enough stages of life that this usually isn't ambiguous. Except for genealogists a few generations later trying to keep them straight.

I don't know how common this is, but since it cropped up twice (once in Boston, once in Canada) in families that had no relation before we married, it can't be that uncommon.

#750 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 07:16 AM:

Bruce @ 744:

Unfortunately, the option of not teaching is not a particularly good one - it's not like they can just sub in a random person, and it would do bad things for my reputation. I have plenty of experience locking down illness/pain for brief periods to focus on dance, so one hour tonight and one tomorrow should be manageable. I'm more worried about the drive back and forth (2.5 hrs each way).

#751 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 07:23 AM:

It's been at least three decades since I read the Paston letters, but one of the things I still remember is that it seemed over a couple of generations at least half the men in the family were called either John or William, and the women seemed to mostly be Margaret or Ann. Quite confusing.

#752 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 07:36 AM:

Susan @ 750

Good luck with the teaching and the drive, then. If you can, find some Fisherman's Friend cough drops at a pharmacy (some supermarkets carry them, but not all). They're the best commercially-made cough drop I've ever found; the effect actually lasts for awhile after the cough drop has completley dissolved.

#753 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 07:51 AM:

Terry Karney @ 611:

Faren: In places like Russia (and, I believe, Germany) it's the other way round. Physicians aren't called doctor, but Ph.Ds are (the fellow who won the '84 Olympic Gold in Dressage [a beautiful ride, and the day was only marred; if one could call it that by the first below the cut getting to demonstrate the pattern; and doing it perfectly, while one of the people who made the final had her horse balk 3 times] was Herr Doktor Someone, from West Germany).

I'm pretty sure German physicians are called doctor (or "Doktor"); the distinction lies in how their title is written. Someone with a Ph.D. is "Dr. X", while someone with a medical degree is "Dr. med. X". If you have both, then you get to be "Dr. Dr. med. X". (See below for even crazier versions of this.) The nomenclature and ordering does tend to suggest that a medical degree is somehow derivative of (and thus inferior to?) a Ph.D., but I have no idea if that's a valid inference.



Fragano Ledgister @ 633:

Terry Karney #611: The most elaborately titled academic I've ever met was a gentleman from the Dutch-speaking world whose business card proclaimed him 'Prof. Mr. Dr.' (Professor, Meester [i.e., possessor of a degree in law], Doctor] before getting to his name). I should add that he was the first person in his country -- Surinam -- to have been entitled to that full set of honourifics.

It's easy to see more elaborate constructions than that in Germany. My favorite example was a shiny brass nameplate outside a (medical) doctor's office here in Munich that started off "Dr. Dr. med. privatdozent" -- and then there wasn't any more room for the guy's name, which had to go on the next line. The string of titles indicated that he had a Ph.D. ("Dr.") and a medical degree ("Dr. med.") and, in addition, a teaching position at a local university that entitles him to supervise graduate students ("Privatdozent").

A couple more examples, from random Googling:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Sahin Albayrak (who has a doctorate in engineering and the post-doctoral "habilitation" degree as well)

Prof. Dr. Dr. med. habil. Peter Graf (a plastic surgeon)

#754 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 08:00 AM:

ajay @ 695: "as I seem to remember noting before, it's a bit much for Le Guin to set up Earthsea as some sort of pioneering work of anti-racism, when it has one black character (Vetch), and he's obviously less capable and less intelligent than the hero (although terribly loyal and all that) and the only piece of magic we see him working is a very petty charm which involves fried chicken for heaven's sake."

There's a lot more to racism than black people, ajay. There's a considerable amount of racism that targets people with red, yellow, and brown skin too. A book doesn't have to be filled with ebony-skinned heroes to be anti-racist.

Serge @ 711: "Congrats to the birthday boy! Did he try to blow up the cake, considering its MythBusters theme?"

I'm guessing he scientifically tested its deliciousness. Hypothesis: tasty. Most scientific!

(Go abi! Next thing you know he'll be demanding Great A'Tuin on elephant-back.)

A.J. Luxton @ 737: There's also an interesting situation with Japanese, where the "he/she" pronoun-equivalent words only entered common usage in response the attempts to translate Western works. (Actually, the whole concept of pronouns seems to be very new to Japanese.)

I wish I had the time to read that article!

#755 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 08:39 AM:

Like legionseagle, who pointed me to it, I do think one good thing came of the Great Open Source Boobs Row, namely some Dorothy L Sayers fanfic where Sylvia and Eiluned find themselves at a party with some idiots.

#756 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 09:05 AM:

#727 - Terry Karney -

Aaah! The "No, I'm not Mr. X, that's my father" implication didn't come through to me. Yes, it relates clearly now. Thank you.

#757 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 09:14 AM:

Bruce:

I am secretly convinced that I am turning into a giant strawberry cough drop. I have a fresh bag just for today (trying to get through a day at the office, drive to Boston, teach, and collapse.) I bet I have no voice by the end of tomorrow's session.

#758 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 09:26 AM:

open thready:

About half-way through "Matter", the new Iain M. Banks Culture novel, I realized why Culture ship names have been getting more and more familiar-sounding in the last few years: the good ones are chosen using aethetics and criteria similar to those I think were used to pick some blog names. I could definitely believe in a blog named "You'll Clean That Up Before You Leave" or "Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill"; conversely I would appreciate a ship wbose Mind used the name "Unqualified Offerings" or "Seeing the Forest".

These names reflect some attributes of the minds we see behind them: articulateness*, independence of thought, and a certain confidence in placing one's own opinions and actions in front of the world.

Anyone else have favorite blog names that a Mind might like? Anyone want to discuss whether bloggers and their technology may evolve into Minds?

* Help me here. This is an ugly word, but "articulation" brings to mind a professional contortionist, not someone good with words.

#759 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 09:45 AM:

abi @ 747... do you see me at the doctor?

You called?

#760 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 09:45 AM:

Full acquittal on all charges in the Sean Bell shooting.

The three cops who gunned down a man the night before his wedding get off scot-free. They opted to waive a jury and so were tried solely by a judge, whose verdict of not guilty was based on lack of credibility in the prosecution's witnesses (including conflicting statements, their prior records, and other factors).

I don't feel justice was done, but I've never been in that situation, and haven't the training or experience to know whether reloading twice is reasonable in the heat of the moment. Nor what level of credibility the witnesses actually brought, as I didn't hear their testimony. But somehow, I find it hard to believe that 50 shots against an unarmed man is no crime at all.

While leaders in the community are calling for calm, I am VERY glad it's not deep into a long, hot summer when this happened.

#761 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 10:08 AM:

Susan @ 757...get through a day at the office, drive to Boston, teach, and collapse

In that exact order, please.

#762 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 10:25 AM:

#712 Costco does not so much pay a quarterly penalty as the result of treating its employees better than Walmart treats theirs--what's actually happening is that when they post their earnings (which, asyouknowBob is done on a quarterly basis) their profits are lower than they might be because they aren't cutting personnel costs to the bone. This means that various investment analysts rank them out because they aren't making as much money as they could be, in a shocking display of anti-Friedmanism. (Oh! The horror!)

The "quarterly penalty" = "lower profits".



In other investment news, rice futures at the Chicago Board of Trade are at an all-time high.

#763 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 10:56 AM:

Bruce #758: Yeah, I've noticed the blog name/ship name connection, too.

I keep thinking some economics-themed ship names would be fun.

GSV Constrained Rationality

GCU Moral Hazard

ROU Adverse Selection

etc.

I'm not sure a Mind would find writing a blog very exciting. But man, talk about being hard to argue with--imagine trying to argue with something whose intelligence compares to yours the way yours compares to that of a dog.

Banks doesn't really seem to make his ships that smart, but that's the assumption of the stories. But in _Excession_ in particular, Sleeper Service acted in somewhat incomprehensible/deep ways that might have reflected great mental depth, but most of the other ships seemed like rather peevish humans to me, not as smart as a lot of people I know.

#764 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 11:01 AM:

One of the eco-bloggers I read on a regular basis is furious about the profiteering going on in food futures, and calling for action. I'm beginning to wonder if he isn't right.

#765 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 11:49 AM:

758: the word you are looking for is "articulacy".

In a discussion elsewhere, one of the commenters bemoaned the US navy's habit of calling its carriers and other warships after (often rather dubious but well-connected) politicians such as John Stennis and Carl Vinson; I suggested that a better habit might be to follow the Greeks, who called their large war triremes at Salamis after Greek virtues: Eleutheria, meaning "Liberty"; Demokratia; and Parrhesia, meaning "Free Speech". The US navy's warships could be named after the articles of the Bill of Rights; USS Freedom of Conscience, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Assembly would probably be carriers, and then you have USS Right to Bear Arms, USS Cruel and Unusual Punishment, USS Self-Incrimination, USS Reserved Powers, USS Voting Rights, and so on...

#766 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 12:01 PM:

@Carol #729: There are a number of more accessible articles on CO searching flame impingement carbon monoxide.

That found it, thanks! This link here gives a pretty good account of the "quenched blue flame == CO" phenomenon. It is not a full scientific study - there are plenty of those available in the Google search - but the simple study involving camping stoves, a CO detector and adjustment of the height of a pan of cold water above the flame showed dramatic results. Thanks for the education! I'm sorry that you had to learn about it via a post-trauma adjustment...

As for flame color, I was mostly commenting that the EPA and the Gas Companies were essentially still saying "Blue Flame == No Worries (but install a CO detector anyway)". CO burns with a nice blue flame according to this link as well.

@Terry Karney #739: re stoves: Since I have good ventilation, I'll keep using my diffusers with my gas stove (they aren't really needful for electric). According to the first link I pointed at, you could raise the diffusers up high enough that the flame no longer impinges and lower the risk of CO production substantially. Further searching to try and figure out whether suspending a pot above an electric heating element would give good even heating to non-flat-bottomed pots (or pots with too-small flat bottoms) has yielded no useful results. Grr. My primary cooking problem is pots not balancing on the coils nicely, causing hot spots and other annoyances. Installing a gas range would involve installing an exterior vented hood, so is cost-prohibitive at this time.

Later,

-cajun

#767 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 12:22 PM:

Lee: I may have to bail on that thread too. I think my toleration meter just pegged. I don't know if I'm happy, or not, that my first line to Paul J. got left off when I posted.

I don't think I've been so pissed off at someone in a thread in ages, and not on ML since Megan (IIRC) said she didn't care who we tortured, or if it worked; so long as we were torturing somebody.

But the most expressive piece of my language on that was left out. I still have it, but was so pissed I didn't notice it was missing (since I'd gotten it out of my mind and onto the page) until just after I hit post (which was after two edits in preview).

Because, contra abi, they do have teeth, and that they smile so blandly with them doesn't change that. It's more civil, but they can rise to rare offense; perhaps because of it.

abi: Yes, threading suck. I wish I could "unthread all" but I can't. ML, and boing boing and slacktivist, is a much better system. The page may take longer to load, but it's worth it (even if I've taken to using notepad to type my comments, that I need not flip up and down the thread).

Peter Erwin: I was unclear in my comment. I don't think the default is to address a physician as "doktor" outside of practice. It strikes me the announcer at the Olympics wouldn't have said, "Herr Doktor Klimke" were he a medical man.

Completely off-topic, he was beautiful to watch. Alherich (his mount in the '84 competition) was something like 21 at the time, and such an economy of motion. One might almost have thought the rider was just along for the ride. Sadly Klimke died nine years ago, at 63.

Bruce Adelsohn: The reloading isn't dispositive. I do it automatically when I run dry. I wonder that, with four other cops involved, he ran dry (assuming he carried the 17 17 rd clip for the issue Glock of the NYPD) I find troublesome.

More troublesom is the information in the story leads me to believe he had the compact, with a 15 rd. clip, and he had one extra in the chamber, reloaded and fired dry twice.

My real problem is with the use of undercover cops in this sort of thing. I am a sort tolerable deferential to authority. Some random yobbo yells he's a cop and pulls a gun isn't going to get a lot of faith (or real respect) from me, esp. if I've not done anything I can see a reason for a cop (much less an undercover one) to be interested in.

Assuming (for the sake of argument) this was a justified shooting (though I have my doubts... cars aren't the most efficient of weapons against a person on foot. The person on foot has a lot more ability to manuever. Guns are a poor response, even if one has a constrained avenue of escape, because shooting someone isn't going to immediately stop the car, but I digress), this shows a number of flaws in the way the NYPD operates.

Flaws which are consistent with problems we should have seen repaired after the Amadou Diallo shooting.

#768 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @ #719: Poul Anderson wrote an alternate history (plus fantasy) of the English Civil War complete with an alternate Will Shakespeare, who isn't a playwright but should be. It's called "A Midsummer's Tempest".

Actually, Will Shakespeare doesn't appear in 'A Midsummer's Tempest', being already dead by the time the story begins. And I don't think it ever says that he wasn't a playwright; in fact, it would be hard to argue that he wasn't, since the point of the exercise is that this is the world where all of Shakespeare's plays were History Plays, and every one of them word for word true. (Which has all kinds of entertaining consequences, as you might expect.)

#769 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 12:40 PM:

fidelio #762: But the analysts can only say bad things about them, they can't affect dividends or anything. The management of the company may think they can do better by keeping their employees happy. If you suspect they're right, then you should likely invest in the company, as the stock is probably undervalued. That sure seems radically different from being fined by the state, either for being not nice enough to employees or being too nice to them.

I'm of two minds about the idea that corporate management shouldn't worry about doing good outside of obeying the law and turning a profit. On the one hand, it's damned hard to argue that doing good is a bad thing in general. On the other, corporate management already does a lot of feel-good projects, nameplate burnishing, building of monuments to itself, etc., and I'm not sure I believe that more pursuit of "good works" would actually lead to more good being done, rather than more money being spent polishing the CEO's tarnished post-stock-options-scandal image or something. (And corporations do a lot of buying expensive art, donating money to good causes, etc., so it's not like this currently doesn't happen. It's definitely not clear why it' sensible to take the shareholders' money and donate it to the CEO's favorite charity--why not let the shareholders decide what to do with that money?) On the gripping hand, telling CEOs and corporate management to just focus on the bottom line seems to have little effect on boondoggles, but still seems to encourage justifications for all kinds of penny-wise, pound-foolish crap like reorganizing various departments twice a year, downsizing to the point that people can't do their jobs, spending as little as humanly possible on support for customers and then scratching your head in bafflement as your customers flee to a competitor, etc.

#770 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 12:56 PM:

769

Mine bought a lot of art (I can't say whether it's expensive or not) and they have the pieces in the work areas where we-the-employees can see them. (People have even gotten in trouble for taking artwork with them when they moved to a different location.) I was at one place where the building lobby had a display of SEM photos on one wall, like a mural, and display cases of scientific equipment and other things on another.

Beats having it only in the executive suites.

#771 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 01:46 PM:

TexAnne:

Congratulations on the new job! Are you on Ravelry? I was hoping to see what the pretty sock yarn from a while back turned into.

Dena Shunra @ 680:

In Hebrew, breasts are male.

In Latin, the vagina is masculine, and the penis, feminine. I remember reading somewhere that they were named in the gender of those for whose use they were intended. I feel like it was in De Bello Gallico, although now that I write it, I'm less certain.

#772 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 02:53 PM:

If you're reading LJs with collapsed comment threads, you can expand the threads on a thread-by-thread basis--which isn't as good as expanding them all at once, I admit. Look for a little (Expand) next to (Thread); if the LJ you're reading happens not to support that, put ?format=light at the end of the URL and you should get a format that supports it.

#773 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 03:21 PM:

Kate @772:

I've been using thread by thread expansion. The problem is that not all LJs do it.

Thinking about it, I want this because I am interested in the personalities commenting as well as in the content of each subthread. So if X comments like this here, how did they do in the next subthread? Thus the desire to go back and forth.

I don't know if this is a different set of priorities* or just that I'm not used to the interface.

-----

* and therefore evidence of my indefinable specialness†

† yeah, right.

#774 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 03:35 PM:

TexAnne - Congratulations!

Susan - Yikes. You know, maybe listening to what your body is telling you isn't always a bad thing...

abi - Happy Belated Birthday to your #1 son. Mythbusters cake, that's great.

I'm almost done with grad school. yay!

And to offer up proof that I'm not a sock-puppet for Serge (though I would like to be Spartacus), I can report that my appearance on Jeopardy! airs on Monday the 28th. One of my fellow contestants works for Holtzbrinck in women's lit!

#775 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 03:45 PM:

Tania @ 774... Back in the drawer, you naïve sock puppet! I'll let you out on Monday night.

#776 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 03:56 PM:

Kate @ 772: Yes, I was very glad when LJ grew those expand links. Still, I like the single thread here better.

abi @ 708: Awesome. My partner did a great job on the requested "Spiderman and Batman and flowers" birthday cake a few weeks ago. Especially under the constraint that as much of the icing as possible be purple. :)

#777 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 03:59 PM:

Terry @767:

The teeth were growing in. Sorry they bit you.

I've shown them the door, only barely restraining myself from addressing grandpa munster as gríma munster.

If they don't leave, I will mount their vowels on a spike in my garden, as a warning to all who would dare cross me. I'm not in a very good mood right now.

#778 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 04:12 PM:

abi @ 773: That's exactly it. I want to follow what different people are thinking and how the discussion is drifting as they react to each other. The threading assumes one is more interested in the information under discussion.*

I don't remember this being an issue back when I read usenet with threading. Maybe it was because the internet was so much smaller then, and it was easier to read the personalities through the various threads, while with blogs I do much more drive-by reading, as it were. I doubt the discussion was any better back then, but I was much younger which amounts to the same thing.

--

* Which is helpful, I guess, when one is interested in skipping topics you don't care about, and don't have any particular relationship with the posters as a group. I also don't mind threading in technical mailing list archives.

#779 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 04:31 PM:

abi,

did you see you were shouted-out on neil gaiman's blog today?

vicarious squee!

#780 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 05:15 PM:

miriam @779:

Well, now, that is cool.

I never tire of the original; it's one of my favorite poems, for many disparate reasons. It's even more of a pleasure to find out that my translation pleased him back.

Good stuff.

#781 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 05:31 PM:

But abi! Your version doesn't have killer bees!

Evrfing beter wiv kiler beez.

#782 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 05:53 PM:

I've been trying to elaborate on that blog post, but I think he's covered most of what I could say.

Basically, the conversation between artist and audience is changed and enriched by copyright law that permits transformative work. Everyone benefits.

- the author gets to see other takes on a matter that interests him (of course it interests him, or he wouldn't have produced the original work!) I'm sure some of them suck, but any useful perspective is a bonus*.

- I get to spend more time and effort on a work, and come to love it more. I learned a lot about both that poem and Mike Ford's villanelle by translating them.

- the reader gets to see another view of a given work. This may, for instance, overturn an initial dislike and cause him to give it another try.

- the writer therefore gets more readers

-----

* Barring, of course, the risk of plagiarism accusations if the author later uses anything that resembles the transformed content, AKA the MZB dilemma.

#783 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 05:55 PM:

abi: It's not your fault, and I saw the intimations of teeth; to be fair (or some fascimile of kind), I wasn't an absolute paragon of gentleness in my previous comments to him. I was civil, even polite, but I did; in effect, tell him his way of looking at his religion was grossly inconsistent. It may not have hurt, nor even stung, on the conscious level, but I can see where he might have been chafing.

I don't think that justifies the tone he took, and I'm still not sure my comment about his being an "ignorant, arrogant, twit, peddling condescending codswallop" being left behind is to the good. The rest of it is hot enough that I don't think that would have been out of keeping.

That, btw; to relate to other conversations we've had, is what I look like when I am upset to the level of some people swearing, others repeating themselves and still others getting very precise. Make of it what you will.

re Neil Gaiman: I agree, it's six kinds of squee to have him mention one. I am still, gently, aglow from his doing somewhat the same to me, and that five years gone.

#784 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 06:05 PM:

Neil @781:

Evrfing beter wiv kiler beez.

Perhaps to a human, but a human mentioned fairy tales without bringing up Puss in Boots. Cats have different priorities.

U puny humanz r doin it rong.

#785 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 06:10 PM:

abi @#773: thread by thread expansion . . . not all LJs do it

?format=light should fix that.

So if X comments like this here, how did they do in the next subthread?

Yeah, one learns to pay attention to usernames, but it's not always optimal. Neither is opening up a bunch of threads in background tabs.

#786 ::: Tania, who is responding to a dare ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 06:28 PM:

I think that a giant schnauzer can probably sleep anywhere he wants, by virtue of his giantness.

(this post should make no sense to most of you, move along, nothing to see here...)

#787 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 06:34 PM:

How much space should a schnauzer snooze

If a schnauzer should snooze space?

A schnauzer should snooze as much space as a schnauzer could snooze

If a schnauzer should snooze space.

#788 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 06:34 PM:

It seems to be that the basic problem with threads is that it splits the conversation lengthwise, and there's no natural way to rejoin the threads afterwards. Even something like a way to note "replying to comments 2, 5, 7.2, and 3.1.2" (checkboxes?) would help some, especially if a link then appeared in the original threads.

#789 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 06:41 PM:

Tania @786 FTW!

#790 ::: Joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 06:44 PM:

Sun of Suns this week in the Tor e-mail!

Thank you thank you thank you!

#791 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 07:13 PM:

I kind of like the threaded comments. It does not make the same commentspace as the long string here, but it has its strengths. I don't read Livejournal at work-- I have it blocked, in fact-- so if people comment, I get emails. I can't handle a Making Light thread at work-- also blocked-- but a few emails in one sub-conversation, that I can do. I can see how breaking the entire conversation into sub-conversations would be jarring, but it also makes it so people don't have to scroll through a great deal to find the one bit they're paying attention to.

A long string is good for thread drift and many participants. Threaded comments stay closer to the original conversation and tend to have fewer people involved.

#792 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 08:04 PM:

albatross @763:

It's kinda difficult to write about someone much smarter than yourself. I tend to take that as the best that a human mind can make of a Mind.

abi @773:

They're still tweaking the threading stuff regularly; for example, yesterday they announced a round of bugfixes which (among other things) are supposed to insure that all the threading options are available regardless of journal style. That said, as yet I've only seen third party stuff (e.g. a Greasemonkey script) to do unthread-all; maybe you should make a feature request for it, or for whatever threading system you would prefer to see.

(Apropos of nothing, it just occurred to me that one reason I find myself liking ML is that it's refreshingly free of "lazy English".)

#793 ::: Random Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 08:20 PM:

But how giant *is* a giant schnauzer?

#794 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 08:32 PM:

And does a giant schnauzer have a giant schnozz?

#795 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 09:38 PM:

And if that schnauzer does have a giant schnozz, how is it distinguishable from Jimmy Durante?

#796 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 11:01 PM:

abi, #773: Mileage varies. I like the LJ comment-threading feature, because it's like the way I used to read conversations on Usenet. Of course, you had to watch out for thread drift; some groups had a convention whereby if the topic changed considerably, someone would change the header as well, but that didn't always happen at the point where (ideally) it should have.

Getting a feel for personalities happens over time, by seeing how they comment in different threads and on different journals. Again, very like Usenet.

While I've gotten used to the way blogs such as ML work, to me they seem less useful because they insist on imposing a strictly linear structure on a non-linear process -- especially with open threads, where there may be 18 different conversations all going on at once, and no way to track them except by using comment numbers and scrolling up and down.

#797 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 11:46 PM:

Tim Walters #669:

Even more tangentially, I read online (so it must be true) that John C. Wright named his sons Orville & Wilbur.*

*But his Wikipedia article lists his sons as Orville, Roland & Justinian.

#798 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2008, 11:53 PM:

My schnauzer has no nose.

How does it smell?

Terrible!

#799 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 12:04 AM:

Lee: I did usenet. I don't have any real problem keeping up with ML, etc., because I'm used to real life conversations which work that way (any newsroom I've ever been in has at least three conversations going, and one is [unless on deadline] usually chiming in on at least two of them).

I aslo did a lot of listserve, and BBS, discussions, and asynchronus was the order of the day.

So both work for me. I happen to prefer being able to scroll up and find the reference, without having to go back, to some thread which isn't connected to the part I'm in (or go and open an old e-mail, and paste it to the clipboard, or scroll up, and lose track of how the convsersation is leaving me behind).

#800 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 12:44 AM:

*waves groggily*

The internet having been so fecundly full of fools and idiots this week, I have tried my hardest not to contribute to the drooling and drivel.

abi, that is a wonderous and admirable cake indeed.

(Stupid imperfect flu vaccine).

#801 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 12:55 AM:

JESR @ 800... The flu? Bleh. And what is the latest about your roses?

#802 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 02:07 AM:

LJ Unfolding - I have a free Firefox add-on that will unfold comment threads. It does a lot more, but I only loaded it for the unfolding.

Susan, I hope things are okay now! Get some rest!

#803 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 04:27 AM:

Marilee @802:

Super. The Firefox plugin works a treat!

More generally, although I tend to prefer the ML "soup" approach to threading, it's only a slight preference. I find that my wetware is fine for processing either system, as long as I have all the input to work with.

#804 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 07:17 AM:

abi #784 - If I'd stopped to think rather than just declare my love of killer bees I'd have noted that both the boots and the bees show an attention to detail bringing out important elements of the genres referred to, fairy tales and disaster.

The killer bee sub-genre of movies seems to be smaller than I thought; IMDb only lists 17 items under the keyword killer bee, and some of those are documentaries.

#805 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 07:30 AM:

Neil Willcox @ 804... IMDb.com has even fewer hits for 'wasp'. Not including the hits it came up with for 'was', my favorite of which is:

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

aka "How the Solar System Was Won" - USA (working title)

#806 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 11:23 AM:

Meanwhile, raku ray guns.

#807 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 11:53 AM:

Serge, the Souvenir de Malmaison is full of buds. It sits in a southwest facing inside corner between the kitchen windows and the back porch, and lives in a different climate than the rest of the garden. Not, sorrowfully, sufficiently different that most of the blooms don't ball in the rain every spring; it's a bad rose for a rainy climate.

I have a better rose I was going to put there (Crepescule, which needs an accent grave, I think) but I took a good hard look at how much needs done to make the move and how little help I have and then decided to give that plant to my neighboring cousin's equally neighboring mother-in-law. She is trying to screen an abandoned car to which none of us have title and which, in addition, has somehow gotten both grown into an oak tree and built into that part of the fence. I'll be able to see the rose from here, sort of, if I go outside and crane my neck to see over the rise of the land.

#808 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Shark attack season has begun.

#809 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Neil Willcox #804: IMDb only lists 17 items under the keyword killer bee

Those keyword lists are very incomplete and always being updated. I find some of them hilarious, and recently I've been using them as my homepage on Firefox. In the month or so I've had...er...child shot in the head (sorry if that make me seem disturbed, but it's really funny to me that IMDb has a "plot keyword" for that) I've noticed the list jump from about ten to its current twenty-three. Check back on killer bee in a month or so and I'm sure the list will be longer.

#810 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Julie, #806: Oh man, those are so cool! If I had $275 to throw around, I would absolutely get one -- especially since they come with a wall-mounting plaque, and so could be made to be not at risk from the gravity-testing cats.

#811 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 12:54 PM:

JESR...

Crepescule, which needs an accent grave, I think

Close. The word, which means twilight, needs the acute accent. Thus the correct spelling is crépuscule Had another accent been used, you'd have come up with a wonderful name for a restaurant, one that would specialize in wonderful crêpes, and which would do business only during the twilight hours. That's go well with someone who lives in a place called Souvenir de Malmaison, which translates as Memory of the House of Evil, and where abandonned cars grow into oak trees.

(I'm beginning to think that you live inside the magazine Realms of Fantasy.)

#812 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 01:01 PM:

Making Light Community Knows Everything, Post #465

Hey everyone: when I was a tween or a teen-ager in the 1980s, I read a young adult book and I'm trying to remember the title.

It was one of those really authentic YAs...an arcade or something gets shut down, or the town bans arcade games, and the 16 or 17 year old protagonist (male) and his friends decide to do something about it. It was probably written in the late 1970s or very early 1980s, a la Robert Cormier books like The Chocolate War or I Am The Cheese....

Any ideas? Wow. I really wish I had my old boxes of paperbacks from my mom's now.

#813 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 01:11 PM:

Serge, in fact, Malmaison was the Empress Josephine's private house and garden, where she grew roses and encouraged the breeding of same (by the first Monsieur Paul) and employed the artist Pierre Redoute to record her collection.

My place is not so much the realm of fantasy as it is a liminal space where discarded technology begins to evolve into the picturesque; think Ruskin (the evil cad) meets steampunk.

#814 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 01:13 PM:

Julie L.

Holy Klono's Brazen Balls, I want a DeLameter!

#815 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 01:20 PM:

JESR @ 813... it is a liminal space where discarded technology begins to evolve into the picturesque; think Ruskin (the evil cad) meets steampunk.

That still sounds like something from the realms of fantasy.

And it makes me wish I could write my way out of a paper bag.

(Pierre Redoute... I wonder if he had an explosive temper.)

#816 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 03:02 PM:

Along the lines of cool links, steampunk meets radio-control hobbyists. Click on the guy's username and you'll get to a bunch more videos. But the robot in this one could be used as a base for The Luggage in a fan-made Pratchett movie!

#817 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 03:05 PM:

To elaborate on crepuscular in the realms of animal behavior it means, "active in the gloaming."

Most often used in reference to snakes (such as the corn snake, of which we have too many... if someone should be interested in acquiring a pet; or knows someone of such a mind, just let me know).

It's a wonderful word.

#818 ::: Michiel ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 03:12 PM:

#34 R.M. Koske:

[on keeping up with the comments at Making Light]

I use a Greasemonkey script that Todd Larason created in 2006. Now when I load a ML post, the comments that are not new for me (have been loaded before) have a darker background color. That really works well for long open threads.

It helps in keeping up. It doesn't help in thinking one has something to say.

#819 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 03:41 PM:

Lee @ 816... I think I'm going to steal that link from you and bring this to Kaja Foglio's attention next time I go over there.

A steam-powered centipede.

Wow.

#820 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 03:44 PM:

Terry Karney @ 817... I don't know why exactly, but the way you talk about snakes reminds me of Jeff Corwin's nature shows, especially those involving snakes.

#821 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 03:52 PM:

My schnauzer has no nose.

How does it smell?

Obviously it doesn't, you insensitive bastard!

#822 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 04:20 PM:

bryan @ 821... you insensitive bastard!

Heheheh... I'd better not make fun of Mister Peabody's poor eyesight. Or of Deputy Dawg's lousy law-enforcement techniques.

#823 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 04:41 PM:

More fine steamness is at www.crabfu.com, which is the guy's website.

When I was figuring out a steam tank design for a Space:1889 I decided to dodge the problem of drive and steering by using two steam engines, one driving each side. Track-laying vehicles have to be wide for their length, to be able to steer, so the boiler/piston layout would have resembled a Shay-type geared locomotive, only double-sided.

I've driven Caterpillar tractors with clutch-and-brake steering. Tanks have some seriously complicated, and heavy, drivetrain tech to give the steering ability and torque capacity.

The Medium Mk. A Whippet used the two-engine method of steering, and it turned out to be a bit too uunpredictable to be safe for anyone outside the tank.

#824 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 05:30 PM:

JESR @#813, Serge @#815: Indeed! Fantasy is pretty big on limnal spaces, ancient relics, and the afterlife of forgotten things....

#34 R.M. Koske, via Michiel @#818: I use the "link visited" coloring on the "Most recent comments" listing to the same effect. You can jump to the highlighted comment (last one you saw) and then click the dateline for the last comment you read, thus highlighting that one.

If fact, I usually jump to the last comment in the thread, and scan back to the "last read" comment first, but that's just me.

#825 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 05:55 PM:

Serge @ 815

Here's the first chapter.

Souvenir de Malmaison

In every generation of small-town children there are one or two who will defy the wisdom of the older generation and go where their presence isn't wanted. In my generation in the town of Memory, there were two, Jan Wilderwood, the town Sheriff's kid, and me.

Jan was a natural leader and an ardent skeptic, who'd likely question your authority to say that the sun would rise over Blue Mountain in the east in the morning. So when the adults in town told us stories of the fates of young people like us who had trespassed on the property of the Malmaison family, Jan wasn't much impressed.

"I don't believe in haunts and spriggins, and besides, they're our third cousins, aren't they?" This was in reply to the Sheriff's latest more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger speech to us after we'd been caught on the far side of the Malmaison place, on Henry Reticule's south 40. Henry didn't want us kids there because of the bog that lay on the boundary between the two places, but that was an attractant for us. Not that the sheriff wasn't angry; he was pretty steamed, to look at his face. This was the third time he'd had to read us the riot act that month, and he was never a patient man. But his wife, Jan's Mom, was still upset about the last punishment he'd given out, and he was trying to keep his temper.

The reason I always got in trouble along with Jan was that I just wasn't real good at keeping my mouth shut when I should, so I had to attract the Sheriff's attention right then by backing Jan up.

"We got close enough to see some neat stuff in there. There's a couple of old cars with trees growing right through them! I think they're pretty neat people if they have stuff like that."

"Maybe so," said the Sheriff, "but you kids aren't welcome to roam around on other people's property just as you please. The family's made it clear they want to keep to themselves, and part of my job is making sure that requests like that are honored, even if it interferes with your learning everything there is to learn about everyone in the county. Now Jan, you go on home and stay there for the rest of the day. I don't want to have to go chasing after you twice in one day. And you're going to get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight, remember there's church tomorrow, and you haven't been in a couple of weeks."

The Sherrif turned to me and said, "And you, Hoop, I've already called your Mother and she's expecting you home really soon. So you'd better be going there straight from here, and no side trips. I expect she'll have a few things to say to you too, so best you be thinking about how you're going to answer."

Jan and I put on our best hangdog looks as we went out the door to the bike rack, but as soon as the door swung shut, Jan was saying, "OK, 9 tonight. I'll wait at the old oak just past your drive. Be sure to bring the big 9-volt flashlight, the moon isn't up until after 10."

As usual after saying more than I should, I didn't want to talk at all, so I just nodded and waved, got on my bike, and pedaled towards home to face the music.

#826 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 06:41 PM:

I have been dumped by the boyfriend.

Funny, I don't feel a thing. At all. In fact I'm feeling a little numb just at the moment.

Sigh. Suckiness abides.

#827 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 06:46 PM:

Aww, Xopher, that sucks. Have a virtual hug. Have three.

#828 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 06:51 PM:

Thanks. I was really in shop-for-a-ring mode about this one, too. Sigh.

#829 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 06:54 PM:

Xopher.. Phooee to that nogoodnik. And a hug to you.

#830 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 07:14 PM:

Thanks...he's not really a nogoodnik. He did it for reasons that make sense to him, and have to do with pressure he's under from other things, including the fact that he has cancer right now. Needless to say, I don't agree with his decision, but it doesn't make him a bad person.

See, if I could hate him it would be easier.

#831 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 07:20 PM:

Xopher, I'm sorry. If it helps, picture him having that imaginary conversation with his mom that you wrote about before.

#832 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 07:35 PM:

Xopher, I'm sorry. If you feel comfortable accepting virtual hugs, consider yourself hugged. (And if not, not. No pressure.)

From my own bout with cancer a few years ago, I can venture to guess that he may just not be able to deal with people right now. It's a shame you're one of the ones he's shutting out, but sometimes it's the ones we're closest to that are the hardest to deal with. (Or it could be something else entirely, and I'm talking through my metaphorical hat.)

#833 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 07:52 PM:

Xopher, that's a shame, I'm sorry you're having to go through that. I can see how not hating him for it could make it harder, but you can feel any way you want about it, and I certainly won't think ill of you. Add my virtual hug to the collection if you want it.

#834 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Xopher #826: That's terrible. I'm truly sorry to hear that. I wish there was something I could do to make you feel better.

#835 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 08:10 PM:

Xopher @ 830... I stand corrected. Still, consider yourself hugged.

#836 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 08:29 PM:

Thank you. Gladly accepting all virtual hugs.

#837 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 08:46 PM:

Xopher, what a bummer.

If hugs help, virtual ones now and real ones with accrued interest at Denvention. I've been looking forward to meeting you, and the music thing since you first started talking about putting it together.

Very much rats.

#838 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 09:02 PM:

Xopher: hugs. Not hating him is better, just more painful right now. It would, for the nonce, be easier, but in the long run less pleasant.

But you know all that.

Condolence and sympathies.

#839 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 09:21 PM:

Foo, that Greasemonkey script for Making Light sounds perfect, but molehill.org seems to be down.

#840 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 09:25 PM:

Oh hell, Xopher, I'm so sorry. More hugs, and a wish for happier times.

#841 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 09:31 PM:

Lila, that's cute. And it's a puppy...like the boy (who I called Puppy).

#842 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 09:32 PM:

Xopher, I'm so sorry. It sounds like he is going through a very rough time, and now you are too.

*Hugs* (if you want more.)

#843 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 09:33 PM:

Xopher, Hugs.

Terry Karney, the rose Crepescule is a pale blushing apricot, like the beginning of dawn or the last tint of sunset.

Crepuscular animals are wonderful; I suspect the Least Weasel which was hunting out under the seed feeder on Tuesday was stretching his waking hours in the dusky drizzle. Going out in the spring dawn brings one into contact with many more wild things than one expects- deer and coyotes are in motion then, and moles fumbling about on top of the ground, quail skittering around before the hawks awaken. The ends of dusk, on the other hand, put one into contact with owls moving from their daytime roost to their hunting stands.

Probably the most beautiful thing I ever saw, played out against the last warm apricot of evening, was a pair of barn owls on a mating flight, close to the ground, close to the swing set where my children were playing, oblivious to all of us as they swung lazy arcs up and down across the darkening sky.

#844 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 09:41 PM:

JESR @ 843...The Least Weasel? Not the Rented Ferret?

#845 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 09:47 PM:

Xopher: Sorry. Big virtual hug.

#846 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 09:53 PM:

Xopher,

Sorry to hear this.

#847 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 10:05 PM:

Xopher, as big a hug as I can manage. (Not as big as I'd like: I put a kink in my neck last month and it ain't fun.)

Crepuscular critters? Like the small group of coyotes in the west overrun at Burbank Airport?

#848 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 10:13 PM:

JESR: While I hate to arise for it, I love the creeping dawn. Late sleepers shambling their furtive ways to bed, and the early rises slipping, quietly to their usual haunts.

I've seen in in lots of places, Iraq, Kuwait, Germany, Korea, Ukraine; and about 20 different states (and at least that many sub-regions of my beloved California, from the deserts, to the mountains, the shore to the inland flats. Cities and fields).

Life, like The Dude, abides.

#849 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 10:20 PM:

((Xopher))

#850 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 10:28 PM:

My sympathies, Xopher. *hug*

#851 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 10:33 PM:

Sorry, xopher.

#852 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 10:46 PM:

Xopher: Damn, sorry. Virtual hugs may or may not help, but you at least have a large supply of them, including one from me.

#853 ::: John Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 11:04 PM:

Hi, regular lurker, irregular poster. First, Xopher, that bites. I wish you well and that you are in a safe and comforting place when the numbness wears off.

Second, I have need of the Hive Mind. My cousin's Grandmother just passed away, calling hours are Sunday, funeral is Monday, and there is a line of poetry wedged in my head. Sadly, Dr. Google has been no help.

"Don't look for me here, I'm gone."

Any help would be appreciated.

#854 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 11:17 PM:

Xopher: I'm terrible at sympathy. But, for what it's worth: *sympathy*

#855 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 11:24 PM:

Xopher, #826: Damn, I'm sorry to hear that. Consider yourself virtually hugged -- in a platonic, non-sexual manner, of course. ;-)

#856 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2008, 11:33 PM:

Michiel, #818: I must have missed the existence of that GreaseMonkey script, and now the hosting site is down.

Given that it's evidently designed for use with Making Light, perhaps we could host it. Since you have a copy, it shouldn't be too much trouble for you to email one to pnh@panix.com, should it?

#857 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 12:26 AM:

You know what's an awesome idea? This is an awesome idea.

#858 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 12:56 AM:

Xopher: So sorry. Huggy-wuggies.

#859 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 01:14 AM:

Condolences, Xopher. :(

#860 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 01:26 AM:

Thanks again everybody. Your support means a lot to me.

#861 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 01:42 AM:

heresiarch @ #857, I'd like to see it too, but I don't think it'll happen. The consensus I've seen is that HRC is much better in debates than is Obama, and I'm sure he and his campaign managers know that.

That said, it would be really nice not to have Big Media (and its Egos) inserted between the candidates.

#862 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 01:44 AM:

Our torturous overlords cam't leave us be for a quiet weekend, it seems. Now the NY Times reports that Shrub was lying when he said the CIA wouldn't be allowed to torture prisoners(surprise, surprise!). Instead, they've been told that the use of illegal means can be justified if their intent is "to prevent a threatened terrorist attack, rather than for the purpose of humiliation or abuse." Ah, the Jack Bauer justification: even if it doesn't produce any reliable intelligence, it'll make us feel better that our agents are getting a little revenge in ahead of time.

This is what comes of electing a President with delusions of adequacy. What's that? Oh, right, it's what comes of letting such a man steal the election.

#863 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 01:56 AM:

John Thornton @853

Were you thinking about this poem?

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow...

#864 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 02:11 AM:

Xopher,

My sympathies.

#865 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 04:03 AM:

::sympathy for Xopher::

#866 ::: Melody ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 07:46 AM:

For any interested, one of my favorite web comics, Unshelved, ran a strip today about Little Brother Here.

And sympathies from myself and Oleander, Xopher...

#867 ::: Melody ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 07:49 AM:

Argh! First time trying an embedded link, and I fail miserably. Well fine then, here: www.unshelved.com/archive.aspx?strip=20080427

#868 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 08:16 AM:

Huh. I guess any publicity is good publicity, and I usually like Unshelved, but the joke in this one seems to be suggesting that young people can't deal with stories in which the good guys and bad guys aren't perfectly clear-cut, an idea which doesn't seem to me born out by looking at the stories that are actually popular with young people.

#869 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 08:28 AM:

To Xopher: virtual hugs, and, since we are in the age of Cyberspace, virtual cacao nibs. If you are a chocolate-preferring type, that is.

#870 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 08:46 AM:

Xopher: many virtual hugs.

#871 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 09:22 AM:

Xopher: I'm so sorry to hear this. I hope you're able to stay friends.

I'm back from NEFFA, having survived my classes and not died of rampaging blood clot or coughed my internal organs onto the dance floor. I spent most of the non-teaching parts of Saturday sitting gloomily around watching dancing while waiting for my friends' sessions to come up so I could provide auxiliary support if needed. This did at least provide food for thought along the lines of "if someone asked me to teach a 50-minute session on N, which is not enough time to teach even a tiny fragment of the complete N, what would I choose to include?" I did do some networking, and at the last of my friends' sessions managed to work up enough energy to do one-steps and slinky foxtrots with the extremely hot (and sadly uninterested in me) J. and then let it all hang out in a wild Charleston (my Charleston skills are minimal, but I do my limited repertoire with enthusiasm in memory of a dead friend) to wind up the day. So overall it was worth going, but I'm glad to have today to sit home and try to get some work done. I can't afford to lose time to illness like this. This is my last home day until May 17th.

#872 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 10:07 AM:

Bruce #862:

So, we are (sometimes) using the torture that we aren't allowing anymore, that we previously weren't doing (except for a few bad apples) but which the President has the authority to do anytime he decides to as long as it isn't equivalent in suffering to death or major organ failure, but which Americans simply don't do. Right? Because sometimes, I find the sequence of claims about our policy here just a tiny bit confusing. Why, it's almost as though they're just saying whatever they think will play best right this minute, with the confident expectation that the media and the people will just forget all previous statements and never notice any contradictions.

And, at least as far as media goes, it looks like they're right.

#873 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 10:30 AM:

R M #764: I've seen a kind of blitz about these stories in the last couple weeks. I'm curious, does anyone know how much impact on food prices (and fuel prices) is actually coming from biofuels? A quick Google search suggested that about 20% of the US corn crop in 2006 was devoted to ethanol, so it could plausibly be having a serious impact on food prices.

The depressing thing is, corn ethanol is a pretty obvious boondoggle. It doesn't make sense as a replacement fuel in terms of either oil independence or decreasing CO2 emissions. Its main purpose is to win votes and campaign contributions from farm states and agribusiness companies.

The backlash that's building up against biofuels is not going to discriminate between sensible and silly ones, assuming there are sensible ones that may be developed. (You pretty much have to think of the plants used as low-cost one-season disposable solar collectors, whose production cost is paid out in terms of fertilizer and irrigation, instead of in terms of electricity and supplies and pollution from solar cell factories.) I don't know how likely it is that a sensible kind of biofuel could be developed, but we're likely to end up with a nuclear-power-style backlash/prejudice against any such fuel in the future, thanks to the current food inflation and the current boondoggles.

Linking slightly to some of the other political threads going on, it's hard to look at the way public policy is made in the US, and parse it as any kind of rational decision made in accordance with the community's values or beliefs or interests. If Iowa didn't play such an important early role in the presidential primaries, I wonder whether there'd be a substantial corn ethanol policy in the US today.

#874 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 10:34 AM:

Patrick @ #868:

This isn't a joke about "young people". It's a joke about this particular young person, who is a recurring character whose inability to recognise quality literature is an established trait. (In fact, he's not much of a reader in general; he only hangs out at the library because the library computers are good for playing video games on - hence "should have played up the part about the Xbox".)

#875 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 10:45 AM:

I wish there were a broader movement to recycle used deep-fry oil into biodiesel. The individual enthusiasts seem to do it, but the commercial biodiesel operations, as far as I can tell, are using fresh vegetable oil.

I wonder what percentage of the nation's trucks could run on the (filtered and processed) oil that the fast food chains discard?

#876 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 11:12 AM:

On crepuscular critters: The May Smithsonian has a fascinating article about hyenas. Yes, they have a lot of disgusting habits, but some of the facts are astounding: a matriarchal group where the females have "pseudo-penises", true society and intelligence rather than a bunch of dumb loners, and an ancestry that's closer to the feline and mongoose than to dogs. If I wrote SF, it would be a great source of inspiration about some alien species!

#877 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 11:38 AM:

Susan 871... not died of rampaging blood clot or coughed my internal organs onto the dance floor

I'm glad to hear it.

#878 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Xopher, sympathy and positive thoughts for happier times.

Rikibeth @875-- I did a double-take when I saw a McD truck with a huge picture of French fries and a sign proclaiming, "We're driving with biodiesel!" I don't know how direct the connection actually is.

#879 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 11:45 AM:

Xopher: My sympathies. Love needs vulnerability, but the flip side of that hurts...

Albatross @#873: Linking slightly to some of the other political threads going on, it's hard to look at the way public policy is made in the US, and parse it as any kind of rational decision made in accordance with the community's values or beliefs or interests.

Slow on the pickup, aren'tcha? :-) ShrubCo simply don't care about "the community's values or beliefs or interests." They have done their best to subvert every element of government they could reach, toward the personal agendas of themselves and their cronies. What they can't own, they destroy. I'm pretty sure they're trying to kill the whole biofuels movement -- done right, it would be competition for Oil, and they simply won't allow that.

#880 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 11:53 AM:

Debbie @ 878: Really? I will have to apply my Google-fu to see if they're recycling their oil. That would be fantastic.

#881 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 11:55 AM:

@#875 Rikibeth:

I suspect there are a number of issues that point a commercial biodiesel operation towards fresh oils.

First would be the varying inputs that using WVO (Waste Veggie Oil) would present. Industrial processes are driven towards efficiency and predictability - therefore what goes in must be kept as constant as possible. Filtered WVO would vary considerably, and require more expensive constant tinkering of the processing, which is anathema to a large-scale plant. Add in the filtration costs, filter disposal costs, extra wasted reactants as you guess wrong what the inputs are, contamination problems (rancid oil, non-oil liquids, etc.) and suchlike and new oil looks much better to them.

Second would be the additional licensing needed: WVO is a waste that generally requires special handling, processing and disposal licenses. That presents additional overhead costs and regulatory burden that businesses would dearly love to avoid.

Third is the competition with the "yellow grease" market that already exists to "feed on" the WVO. That stuff isn't dumped, it is generally used for non-human-edible purposes. The market is big enough that there is a constant problem with "grease rustlers" taking the contents of grease dumpsters they don't have contract for. This drives an input cost up, again bad for business.

Add those up and I suspect it ends up cheaper to run on new oil. There's also probably some weasel language in various biofuel subsidy bills that say WVO doesn't qualify for the subsidy...

IMHO, food-crop based biofuels are a bad idea.

Use algae. You can get much more biomass per square meter of ground, you can tailer for several different fuels (biohydrogen, bioethanol, biomethanol, biobutanol, biodiesel, biogasoline, biomethane, etc.) either singly or in some combination, and you don't raise food costs for everyone else while making it. Heck, you can retrofit an algae biofuel operation to the smokestack of a powerplant and use the sun to "burn the coal/oil/natural gas twice".

As for your question about how many of our trucks could we power solely on the available WVO, if we diverted all WVO from fast-food restaurants to trucking? Hmm. I suspect Googling for biodiesel conversion efficiency, then amount of oil that passes through fast food joints annually, then transport numbers (how many trucks, how many gallons of fuel used annually) would give you the numbers you seek. I don't have the numbers offhand, but I bet Wikipedia has a start on it.

later,

-cajun

#882 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 12:05 PM:

This guy is doing it, at least.

And they're doing it in the UK.

Based on side comments, I am now also very tempted to offer to save my boss some money by letting me haul away our waste fryer oil instead of paying a disposal company. I have an oil furnace, and next winter SCARES me.

#883 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 12:36 PM:

I've seen reports of experiments showing that prairie plants (grasses and others), just ordinary mixed prairie plants, produce more ethanol than corn. Of course, they wouldn't then need the big subsidies to agribiz for hybridized seeds and lots of fertilizer and insecticides, especially if 'harvesting' is simply running a mower through the field. (Think of McCormick's reaper: you wouldn't need much fancier than that.)

#884 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 12:46 PM:

albatross @ 872

Yep. I think Ol' Shrub sent out a memo to the interrogators that could be paraphrased, "You good ol' boys keep doin' what you're doin'. The lawyers say you're allowed to do anythin' you can git away with. An' by the way? If anyone asks, I didn't say that."

#885 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 12:54 PM:

John Thornton @ #853, sorry I can't help with the poem, but my condolences nonetheless.

Re biofuels, I'm sure they're helping drive up food prices (as is the cost of petroleum-based fertilizer and diesel to run farm machinery and to process and transport the food), but apparently commodities speculation is also playing a big part.

#886 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 12:56 PM:

Rikibeth @880 -- You beat me to it. The truck I saw was in Germany, so they may be starting it here, too, but the most recent Spiegel article was from July, announcing the policy in the UK.

If you want to use fryer oil as heating fuel, you'd have to filter it sufficiently. As I understand it, the oil is sprayed through a nozzle before it's ignited, and you don't want to gum that up.

Lightly tangential: current gasoline prices in Germany ($/gal):

Regular -- $8.86

Super -- $8.51

Normal diesel -- $8.13

Biodiesel -- $7.03

cajunfj40 @881-- Heck, you can retrofit an algae biofuel operation to the smokestack of a powerplant and use the sun to "burn the coal/oil/natural gas twice".

It's not quite that easy. I agree algae has a lot of potential, but the road to success is rocky.

#887 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 01:04 PM:

[gloom]Everything is driving up food prices right now. Just wait until this time next year.[/gloom]

The biggest hit is getting agricultural products to the ultimate consumer, be it livestock, grain, or garden plants.

#888 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 02:05 PM:

I meant to say before when I grumped about the latest twist in the torture debate, that the letters DOJ sent explaining that position were made public (with with some sharp questions) by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. He's my Senator, and I'm proud of him for doing that. Just now I need things in the American political system to be proud about.

#889 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 02:13 PM:

JESR @ #887 et al: Wendell Berry's essay "A Good Farmer of the Old School", which is in his collection Home Economics, is a startlingly radical inversion of the current thinking on food production. I recommend it to anyone concerned with issues of energy, food supply, and the environment.

#890 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 02:18 PM:

Xopher,

{{{{{hug!}}}}}

A time of testing

Uncertainty clouds love

Strong stands the willow

If you're still in contact, pass a hug to him from us too...

#891 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 02:44 PM:

JESR @ 887, others -

It's not going to get better.

One of the things I'm doing this weekend is checking the levels in my pantry. This isn't a "zomg world gonna end" it's a "staples will cost more at the end of the year than they will at the beginning - likely across the board. Better to stock up now, and have them on hand, then to go to do weekly and monthly shopping trips later, and pay more."

Corn-based ethanol was an amazingly short-sighted and foolish move. Ethanol in general might not be (Brazil fuels much of their cars on a gasohol blend, using sugar cane - of course, almost nobody grows sugar cane in the US, or imports it, because the corn subsidies so strongly encourage the use of high-fructose corn syrup instead of sugar).

It is not, however, the only source of the increase in food costs world wide - the increase in fuel costs hurts a lot (most modern agriculture is very fuel-intensive), but a lot of other petroleum-based products are also in the mix, and so is weather, geopolitical instabilities, and remarkably short-sighted farm policies in general - partly fueled by typical "corporations are short-term oriented sociopaths" behavior on the part of large-scale agroproducers, partly government driven (when you can tell the difference between the two).

I'd say victory gardens are a necessity this year. I know I'm putting some window boxes in, and maybe a wire rack out on the patio for larger stuff. (apartment dweller, not allowed to till the earth, or I would have been before this).

#892 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 02:50 PM:

{{{Hug}}} to Topher.

Relationships ending are never any fun. No matter the circumstances.

#893 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 03:11 PM:

Hmmm. I'm thinking stocking up on food would hurt other people (those who can't afford food now) more than it would help me, especially since we have mice, which makes long-term cereal storage problematic.

I can, however, eat lower on the food chain, eat as much locally produced stuff as possible, and maybe grow something in my yard if I can find a spot out from under the oak trees.

#894 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 03:24 PM:

I hope that giving corn syrup purveyors over to the ethanol fuel crowed would give America's patriotic cane sugar producers a viable chance to become more competitive again.

And, no, I'm not giving up on eating rice because of food riots. It's still cheap enough for me to afford it, and I, personally, would rather eat food than not eat food. If that's selfish, then so be it.

Of course, if I win the lottery, I'll lay off the rice a bit and switch to steak.

#895 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 04:44 PM:

Earl Cooley: Steak takes more cereals to make, so leaving off the rice doesn't free up grains for hungery people.

I wish we weren't moving, because that makes gardening harder.

#896 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 04:59 PM:

The "rice shortages" you might have heard about stem from 1) Australia having a very bad year, and 2) Rice exporting countries like Thailand and India cutting back on exports of fancy basmati and jasmine varieties.

But I'm actually happy about the rice rationing stories. If it encourages nervous nellies to buy multiple 50 lbs. bags of rice, I say bring on the panic!

Why? In a few months, the CNN addicts who let themselves be scared into filling up their closets will realize that, while prices haven't dropped much, there's plenty of food around. And decide to quietly drop off four of their five bags of rice to the local food pantry.

* * *

I tend to accumulate non-perishable foods out of the bad habit of spending my entire grocery budget.

I've got something like 20 boxes of cereal in my pantry, and dozens and dozens of cans of vegetables and beans.

What I should be doing is buying more and more exotic fresh fruits and vegetables.

#897 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 05:55 PM:

@Rikibeth #882:

Thanks for the links. The first guy has a small operation, he can be far more tolerant of input variability, he already has the permits, and he already has the grease. Cool thing to do, not knocking it one bit, but it's a different beast than a high-yield commercial biodiesel op. The second link is very encouraging - McD's would not do a thing if it were not cheaper than the status quo or otherwise beneficial in some directly measureable financial way. Looks like the economics may be breaking towards WVO as a feedstock rather than new oil, which is a good thing.

On using waste fryer oil in a furnace, I echo Debbie at #886 on filtering it, and you'll need to preheat to get it to flow nicely through the nozzle. Plenty of hits on Google for "WVO heating oil furnace" and here is a decent description of the level of involvement needed to run it straight in. Turning the WVO into biodiesel would allow you to do the change with much less modification, though you'd still be advised to heat it some.

@P J Evans #883:

I've seen similar reports. I think the numbers rely on cellulosic ethanol, not sure. Mixed prairie plants appear to produce more cellulose per acre than corn, and if they are not "tended" before harvesting they obviously use far less petroleum based fertilizer, irrigation pumps, etc. And my guess is you're dead on about the subsidies.

@Debbie #886: It's not quite that easy.

Oh, I agree. Being an engineer, I tend to gloss over certain technical difficulties - I consider them to require more engineering work than research work. It may be more of a financial problem than an engineering one, too. Oil companies, while they may make huge sums of money, do so on relatively thin margins. Shareholders are unlikely to allow hunks of cash or debt to be used on "biowhatsit" when they already balk at putting scrubbers on existing plants... That shortsighted quarterly view thing again.

Later,

-cajun

#898 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 08:10 PM:

The Kansas City Star reports that ethanol-blended gasoline provides less energy than conventional gasoline.

"...over the course of a year of normal driving, it would take an additional 40 gallons of E-10* to go the same distance as conventional gas. If they were both priced the same, it would mean an extra $120."

****

*gasoline with 10 percent ethanol

#899 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 09:14 PM:

Xopher, #826, I'm so sorry.

Mary Aileen, #832, I don't know about Xopher's ex, but I stopped dating when I got really sick because I don't ever want to be a burden on someone.

Susan, #871, glad you're okay!

JESR, #887, I usually buy 25-pound bags of hulled sunflower seeds for the feeder (the hulled are more expensive, but I was not able to convince the condo board that the hulls are good mulch), but the last time, the bag was 20 pounds and $2 more.

#900 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 09:32 PM:

j austin@735: You have cured me. ... I had envisioned a much braver version of myself trying it someday

Aw. I was still glad I did it. From 13,000 feet, you get about a minute of free-fall, which is oh-my-god-its-full-of-stars awesome.

I did a tandem jump, so I had an instructor strapped to my back. After about 10 seconds (or so, time sort of got weird) of weightlessness, we hit terminal velocity, and watching big puffy white clouds go zoom past you is wild. The instructor moved my arms as we fell, and he steered us around as we fell, going around one tall cloud, punching through another. (instant white out, a couple seconds of pure white, then instant green.) It was like we were playing "superman" or something, but it was really working. we were flying and controlling our direction.

We opened the chute at 5,000 feet, I think. And it took something like 2 or 3 minutes to glide down from there. The instructor let me play with the chute and I steered it around a bit, and then turned towards the sand pit. While the chute was open was when the harness started cutting into my legs and cutting off the circulation a bit.

But the landing wasn't terrible. The instructor flared pretty well, so we weren't moving too fast. I ended up face down, but that was more because my legs wouldn't move than because we were coming in too hot or something.

If you have the remotest inclination to skydive, I'd say go. If you want to do it once and get it over with, then find a place that is serious into skydiving, has a good club or something, has some experienced tandem instructors, and do a tandem jump from as high as possible, 13,000 feet if they offer it.

You should be able to show up in the morning, do all your training in a couple hours, then jump sometime in the afternoon.

The awesome-ness you feel afterwards will far outweigh the fear beforehand.

#901 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 09:40 PM:

Xopher@828, Aww, sorry to hear it didn't work out.

One hug for you now. Two on standby for when you might need them again.

(don't worry, they're low on preservatives, but they still stay fresh a long time.)

#902 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 09:44 PM:

albatross @872:

That more or less summarizes everything the Bush camp has said for the past 8+ years (I include the campaign period in 1998/99).

...and @873:

My understanding (as mentioned by Lila earlier) is that it's mostly futures speculation in both cases. Worse, gas prices now are almost invariably based on expected crude oil prices several months to a year from now — when they should properly be based on the cost of the crude used to make the gas when it was bought.

Also, you can't blame the Iowa caucuses for the corn situation. Big-ag corporations have been a very powerful lobby for a long time, and it was an open secret that the whole corn ethanol thing was just ADM exploiting another way to hike their profits at our expense.

#903 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 10:39 PM:

@Laina #898: The Kansas City Star reports that ethanol-blended gasoline provides less energy than conventional gasoline.

Hello Laina, most gasoline sold in the US, at least in winter, has just under 10% ethanol or has some other oxygenating additive. Here is an EPA site detailing "winter oxygenated gasoline" places - where ethanol or MTBE or ETBE or similar is required to be in the gasoline.

Here in MN, it is state law that gasoline have nearly 10% ethanol in it year-round and the pump need not be labeled as such unless it contains 10% or more ethanol. "E-9.9" is sold as gasoline. E-10 is sold as E-10. There are places that sell "nonxygenated gasoline" and you can generally find out about them via snowmobile and motorcycle and other motor-enthusiast clubs. Putting oxygenated gasoline into a 2-stroke engine that was tuned "hot" on non-oxy fuel will cause it to overheat, may cause it to seize and can possibly cause it to melt from lean-out. It'll run really really good right until it does so, though... (note: anectodal, but I've seen a number of scored/melted pistons...)

All oxygenated fuels contain less energy per gallon, as you mention.

E-85 is a way different beastie. Hot rods from the 60's, when jetted up properly (about 20% more fuel flow, so mpg gets even lower...), love the stuff and make gobs of power. 105 octane! Woohoo!

Later,

-cajun

#904 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 10:45 PM:

geekosaur #902:

Okay, but the futures speculation involves people betting a lot of their money that prices are going up over time. While they could just be counting on a bubble from other speculators, I expect they're looking at some real things (like, say, the Fed obviously pumping money into the economy to try to soften the blow of the housing bubble collapse and subsequent mortgage market meltdown) that look likely to cause these prices to be higher next month or next year. And the fact that so many different commodities are all headed the same direction implies to me that there's something real going on there. I could believe speculators in one particular market driving up the copper price for a short time before it fell back down, but not speculators simultaneously driving up gold, oil, rice, corn, and natural gas prices.

I keep wondering how much of the weird pattern of price increases we're seeing has to do with the overlap of monetary inflation, cheaper credit and the collapse of the real estate bubble lowering some costs, oil and energy raising other things' costs, and continuing decreases in costs of production of some manufactured goods. Because what's happening to commodities seems like about what you'd expect with the Fed pumping money into the economy, but the rest of the stuff on the market doesn't seem to be reacting the same way.

#905 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 11:26 PM:

It might be interesting to find out how much corn is used directly as people-food (minimally-processed vegetable, tortillas and chips, cornmeal, cornstarch), how much for animal feed, how much for corn syrup (subdivision: regular and high-fructose, and there also are non-food uses, I think) and how much for ethanol (subdivision: beverage and fuel).

Then we might have a handle on what's going on.

#906 ::: John Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 12:56 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale, you are amazingly awesome! I knew someone here would have the answer, and just in time for the funeral tomorrow.

Thanks!

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