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April 27, 2008

Open thread 106
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:11 PM *

The process of draining an entire lake started with the construction of a pair of dikes surrounding the lake. The space between the dikes would become the canal from which the drained water would eventually flow to the sea. A large network of windmills was constructed around the perimeter of the lake. Because of the depth of such a lake the mills were often arranged in series, each successive mill lifting the water higher. As the lake drained, a system of drainage ditches was put in place allowing efficient drainage to the windmills.

Designed for Dry Feet: Flood Protection and Land Reclamation in the Netherlands (2006)
by Robert J Hoeksma, PhD

Comments on Open thread 106:
#1 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 04:34 PM:

Literary reference to problems with extensive drainage projects: Dorothy Sayers' The Nine Tailors

#2 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 05:02 PM:

I'm reminded obliquely, as usual, that in my weekly chat (hosted on meebo) I can't mention Dick Van Dyke and have it show up as anything but **** Van ****. I wonder what meebo's more sexually adventurous chat rooms look like.

#3 ::: Ame ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 05:51 PM:

@Kip: I'd imagine they've developed some weird euphemisms and dodges...full stops in the middle of words, in my experience. One forum I'm on you have to type d.ogs instead of dogs because some of the admins had a dog/cat war on the auto-censor settings on April Fools

#4 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 06:06 PM:

A group of friends used to use one chatroom that had weird "switches" which made it somewhat amusing in that we are all aviation/aeronautics/aerospace/science fiction/convention fans.

it would change cockpit into roosterpit, then scold you with a private message saying if you swore any more you'd be booted by the system. And it was quite whimsical (another friend kept testing with all the bad or questionable words she knew and had to keep re-creating new identities).

Alas, it was hosted in the area afflicted by Katrina and we had to find another host. That isn't as picky.

#5 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 06:39 PM:

On the train two days ago, I overheard a cool 71 y/o woman enthusing about Amsterdam to an 18 y/o boy with whom she had struck up a conversation. I was entertaining myself by listening in and the overall conversation was pretty cool, but I totally thought of Abi when she talked about how easy it was to get around the city.

#6 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 06:50 PM:

There's a Dutch commercial that's been playing for the past few months which is illustrative in showcasing the attitude behind what Abi describes in her quote, our relationship with the sea and water in general. Like everything these days it's at Youtube.

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 07:33 PM:

Euphemisms and double-entendres?

Here's one from Some Like It Hot:

Sugar: [on the yacht Junior's pretending he owns] Which is the port and which is the starboard?

Junior: Well that depends. That depends on whether you're coming or going. I mean, *normally*, normally, the aft is on the other side of the stern. But - And that's the bridge, so you can get from one side of the boat to the other.

I wish I could have found the one they came up with for masturbation.

#8 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 08:06 PM:

Wouldn't it be simpler to just run all supposedly objectionable words through a disemvoweler? At least the thought would be preserved.

Of course, when you get right down to it, auto-censoring words just because they are words, without considering context, is asinine at best and heinous, slippery-slope Big Brotherism at worst.

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 08:14 PM:

Fluorosphere author alert: I was wandering through a gently-used bookstore this afternoon and noticed a (in this instance, very tattered and worn) copy of Will Shetterley's Cats Have No Lord looking forlorn, so I bought it.

This was absolutely an "I recognize that name" purchase.

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 08:28 PM:

I like Dutch street names, at least the names of streets in Paramaribo, like Rustenvredestraat (Rest and Peace Street, tricky for English-speakers who want to turn it into Rest in Peace Street) or Krommeellebogestraat (Bent Elbow Street, which is an exact description of the street -- it's a short, ell-shaped street in downtown Parbo), or Domineestraat (Preacher Street).

#11 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 08:37 PM:

Re Sidelights, "What do you want--a No-Prize from the Almighty?":

It's amazing how much awesome writing TNH buries in comments. Thanks for the link to that. Might even be worth reposting on the ML main page...

#12 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 10:43 PM:

Tangential: the drawdown of a dam-created lake is a major plot point in Sharyn McCrumb's Zombies of the Gene Pool. Unfortunately, her descriptions of that event are by far the best part of the book, which is otherwise so nasty and mean-spirited that I cannot in good conscience recommend it to anyone.

#13 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2008, 11:46 PM:

Request for help--if you know this, or know people who work on this, and can point to what you know is an authoritative answer*:

There was a fire in the house of someone I know.

The room that got "badly damaged" held some of their family's personal diaries, handwritten cookbooks and the like.

How would you recover information from books that could be anywhere from mildly water dampened to smoked to water-logged to charred?

It may be a few days (or longer) before the investigation is complete. But they could always ask the fire/police "can we take out that box because it has diaries that need to start [protection and/or data extraction process] now?" and perhaps the f/p will let them.


* Because it's people I know, I don't want to research it and potentially get sidetracked.

#14 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 12:05 AM:

Stephen Frug: Yeah she has a really concise way of flaying a logical fallacy so one can see it's guts.

That's the exact issue I was going round about with Paul J. on in Darwin Fish, and she nailed it in one.

It won't work, of course, to presuade Evidence, but anyone who thinks he was at all worth paying attention to now knows him to be a fake.

#15 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 12:11 AM:

Water damage: Put into a really cold freezer. The water will, over time, sublime away.

Smoke, singeing, I don't know.

#16 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 12:51 AM:

(Continuing the discussion about bio-fuel and food riots from 105)

albatross @ 873: "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."

The difference between turning corn into fuel and turning grass (or algae) into fuel is pretty intuitive. One uses up the stuff you'd like to eat, and the other doesn't. Hopefully, it's intuitive enough that most people will be able to differentiate between them. If that's the case, the backlash might just be against food-based fuel crops, which would be really nice. A broad popular movement to reject corn-ethanol subsidies is just about the only thing I can see defeating Archer Daniel Midlands' lobbying.

The problem I see is that neither cellosic or algal ethanol production are quite there yet--they really need a couple more years and millions of dollars of research. And that, really, is exactly what the U.S. ought to be spending that subsidy money on--investing in opening up reliable, scalable, useful methods of biofuel production, not chasing a dead-end tech like corn ethanol. Yet, poor scientists and engineers don't have the same lobbying chops as ADM.

cajunfj40 @ 881: "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."

I'm not sure that bio-fuel production ever will, or ought to be, a large-scale industry. One of the points people regularly make about fuel production is that transportation--from the source of the feedstock, and to the consumer--becomes a major cost. From that standpoint, difficulty in centralizing the process is just another reason to do the production on a much smaller, more localized scale.

Lila @ 885: "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."

I've been reading Paul Krugman on the issue, and he is pretty convinced that it isn't speculation. If there was speculation, according to him, you'd be seeing stockpiles go up as producers hoarded their product.* Apparently, that isn't happening--stockpiles are at a near-record low. It seems that what's really been driving increased prices is decreased supply (biofuel production), increased demand (rising consumption in China and India) and increased costs of production (higher gas prices).

*A possibility that I haven't heard raised is that consumers might be hoarding, and affecting prices that way. I'm not sure how you could even measure that, though.

#17 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 01:07 AM:

Weird biodiesel question: Does the use of biodiesel from fry oil have any effects on people with serious allergies to the stuff being fried/used to fry? My son has a serious peanut allergy, and I always wonder if peanut oil[1] being burned in an engine would be likely to carry enough of the antigens to him to make him sick. You'd think that the high temperatures inside an engine would destroy most of the proteins from the peanuts which, I think, are the antigen that he reacts to. But I'm not sure....

[1] I've read that most peanut oil, especially the cheap stuff, is processed in a way that's unlikely to leave any of the relevant proteins in the oil, so maybe this isn't as much of a concern with peanuts, but I'm not sure how this would work for other allergies, or if occasionally you'd get a tank of oil that was genuinely dangerous for passers by.

#18 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 02:40 AM:

Because of a strike at the Grangemouth oil refinery (in Scotland), a third of the UK's oil refining capacity is shut down, with a coupld of days each side to start and stop the plant. It's also stopped the crude oil pipeling from the Forties oilfield in the North Sea.

The government has said "Don't Panic", with the usual results.

One of the more sensible comments being made on the situation concerns the resilience of the UK's fuel production system. If one refinery complex is a third of production that's a rather large basket of eggs. And how much storage is there in the system. They can bring in tankers of refined fuel, but it takes time.

#19 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 04:04 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 13

Your friends should check with their contents insurers (assuming they have insurance), because they should have contact details for specialist companies who deal with this sort of thing - the ones who came out when my place got flooded were pretty good and managed to save a number of books I thought I'd lost.

#21 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 09:22 AM:

Blaming biofuels for food shortages would be a great disinformatics strategy for the petrochemical lobby to combat the threat to their market share.

#22 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 10:24 AM:

@heresiarch #873: The difference between turning corn into fuel and turning grass (or algae) into fuel is pretty intuitive.

Unfortunately, even Minnesota Public Radio lumps all biofuel production together most of the time (based on what I hear during my commute), not differentiating between food-crop based and non-food-crop based, unless they are doing a more in-depth story. Anecdotally, what I hear in conversation is that "ethanol is a boondoggle", not "corn ethanol is a boondoggle". I hope there are enough clued-in people around to correct such misinformation, but the ratio of the clued to the unclued is depressingly low even among otherwise knowledgeable individuals I interact with.

I'm not sure that bio-fuel production ever will, or ought to be, a large-scale industry.

If it is going to compete with petro-fuel, it will likely have to be. At least until the algae-fuel systems get compact enough that they can be installed on the roof and pump-island-shade of your typical roadside fueling station and produce enough to keep up with traffic. "in the middle of nowhere on the interstate" fueling stations probably have access to enough cheap land around or near their sites to make all the fuel they need, and even lay pipe to the station to avoid much of the transport costs.

@albatross #17: Weird biodiesel question: Does the use of biodiesel from fry oil have any effects on people with serious allergies to the stuff being fried/used to fry?

I've heard no anecdotal or substantial reports either way, sorry. First time I've seen it come up, actually. The only thing I have even tangentially related is a bit from a story about some guy riding a motorcycle across "uncivilized" territory, crashing it, having the motor oil leak out, and having to refill it with the only thing available - mustard oil. Apparently this cycle had some oil burning issues, as the protagonist reported with some dismay that he appeared to be producing large quantities of "mustard gas" in his exhaust. Can't find the story, don't recall the name, sorry.

@Earl Cooley III #21: Blaming biofuels for food shortages would be a great disinformatics strategy for the petrochemical lobby to combat the threat to their market share.

I think that may already be happening, based on some anecdotal commentary of people I talk to.



#23 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 10:53 AM:

Because of a strike at the Grangemouth oil refinery (in Scotland), a third of the UK's oil refining capacity is shut down, with a coupld of days each side to start and stop the plant. It's also stopped the crude oil pipeling from the Forties oilfield in the North Sea.

The government has said "Don't Panic", with the usual results.

An on-scene account from our local correspondent, Ajay's Dad:

"The government said 'don't panic' so I didn't panic; and then I noticed that the local petrol station had run out completely. So when the tanker came through and delivered some more, I decided to panic, and went down and filled up the car. (ruminative pause) I think in future it'll be safer to panic whenever the government starts saying 'don't panic'."


21: it would be, but that doesn't seem to be happening. A massive amount of the US corn crop is now used for biofuel - 31% - far more than in previous years. Makes sense that this would be affecting prices. Also supply and demand side shocks - meat-eating Chinese and Indians, and expensive fuel and fertiliser.

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 10:58 AM:

Randolph Fritz @ 20... Thanks for the link. By the way, what do you think of the revived Dan Dare? I never read the original (because I never had access to it), but I'm enjoying this one, in spite of its showing that te US and China blew each other to kingdom come, and in spite of its showing Great Britain's Prime Minister to be a weakling under an evil foreign influence.

#25 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 11:24 AM:

Garth Ennis is writing Dan Dare? WANT!

20: Nice article, but I was puzzled by its insistence that Dan Dare and the Eagle had shut up shop in 1969; I read it as a child and I'm still a good few decades away from my free bus pass...

#26 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 11:36 AM:

Kathryn: Have them check out the disaster recovery resources here and here--they're geared toward libraries, but at least some of the techniques should be possible for individuals as well.

#27 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 11:38 AM:

Golly, the internets are a small place! I followed Patrick's link to Teresa's dissection of a Creationist's pleading at BoingBoing and found that one of the posters had put in a link to a picture of one of my cats. (Yes, I can diagram this sentence.)

I must note that this cat is more of a Hedonist than an Existentialist, pace the observations of another commenter.

The sight of Teresa in full dissection mode is every bit as totally awesome as the power of a fully-operational Mothership. If you haven't followed that link yet, or aren't following the thread at BoingBoing, do so.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 11:43 AM:

ajay @ 25... Yes, you most probably want.

The first issue shows Dare having called it quits until the Prime Minister, an incompetent who’s no Churchill and who has no sense of History, even of what the Battle of Britain was, comes begging for help. Dare of course accepts, much to the Prime Minister’s surprise.

”There’s just one thing that puzzles me, mister Dare…”

“What’s that?”

Well, not to look a gift horse in the mouth or anything, but you obviously want no part of what Britain is today – or you wouldn’t be living all the way out here, would you? So I simply don’t understand why you’re still so willing to fight for it.”

“No, Prime Minister, I don’t imagine you do.”

#29 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 11:52 AM:

re oils and effects: I don't know about things like peanut oils, since I don't know enough about the antigens to hazard guesses on their breakdown, aeresol potential, &c.

The anectdotal evidence I can offer isn't more than that, anecdote.

In WW1 the engines of planes used castor oil (which is better than petro for lubricating, as it bears up under heat better, or so enthusiasts tell me). They also burned some of it, which the pilots breathed.

This had a purgative effect. Some of them used this as the excuse for carrying a flask of spirits; to counteract the castor oil fumes.

#30 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Linkmeister @ #9: That was the first Shetterly book I ever read, solely because of the blurb that said he owned cats named Chaos and Brain Damage. (But it was by no means the last!)

albatross @ #17 I have never heard of any research on that point, but back in the early '80s the University of Ga. ran some of their busses on a mixture of diesel and peanut oil. They smelled like hot popcorn (therefore presumably there was some trace volatile component of peanuts still around) but I don't remember hearing of any problems, and peanut allergy's common enough that on a campus that size you'd expect to hear something.

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 12:57 PM:

Lila @ 30.. cats named Chaos and Brain Damage

Don't those names describe the two kinds of cats that live with humans?

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 01:17 PM:

Isn't it tonight that Tania will be on Jeopardy?

#33 ::: Marie Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 01:37 PM:

I'm hoping to leverage the fact that All Knowledge is contained in the Making Light comment threads, and especially All Knowledge about publishing.

For my website, I've taken a stab at creating a glossary of business terms related to publishing -- contract terms, production terms, etc. The kind of things it might behoove an author to know. But I know the list is incomplete both in its entries and in the definition thereof, so I thought I'd poke my head in here and say, if anybody has some time to spare, I'd be most grateful for additions, corrections, and clarifications. (F'rinstance, my current definition of "offset printing" is weak sauce incarnate.)

#34 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 01:48 PM:

Damn it. I don't get to watch her play. I'll be babysitting with no way to get at it.

Dammn. :(

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 02:01 PM:

Terry Karney @ 34... Well, I'm sure a few people will be taping Tabnia's nationwide appearance. (Yes, I still use a VCR. How quaint. How 20th Century.) By the way, did you know that Alex Trebec once appeared in an episode of X-files? As one of the Men in Black, of course.

#36 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 02:04 PM:

There's another problem with ethanol fuel that is glossed over or just ignored by the farmer/biofuel lobby:

It's inefficient. Badly inefficient, when compared to non-biofueled gasoline. E10 is around 95% as efficient as gasoline without ethanol, which doesn't sound too bad until you realize that adds up over a year.

E85, however, is only 75% as efficient as gasoline, and since typically the price is the same for ethanol-fuel as it is gasoline, either one means you actually spend MORE for the ability to drive your vehicle.

If all ethanol is eliminated from gasoline production, though, experts estimate the price of fuel would go up about 15%, so we're screwed no matter what is done.

Throw in rising food costs, increased fuel use, fertilizer overuse and runoff, increased land use, etc, and foodcrop ethanol is a blind alley we should be backing out of ASAP.

Of course, now that the price of gas has already reached what it was predicted for summer, with Memorial Day still a month away, now the experts are warning that we may see $7-$10/gallon gas within 2-3 years. Apparently the sky's the limit!

#37 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 02:12 PM:

Lila @ #30, I just realized I misspelled his name in my original comment. Oh, the embarrassment!

I've read a few pages, but I swore I'd finish David Maraniss's Clemente before I picked up a new book. I've now done so, and its ending reminded me that this country has a genius for supporting tinpot corrupt dictators who do nothing for their people. In this case, Somoza of Nicaragua, whose diversion of aid after the 1972 earthquake in Managua so infuriated Clemente that he determined to deliver the next shipment himself. Then the plane he was on went down 8 minutes after takeoff from San Juan.

#38 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 02:23 PM:

So very don't want to get started on this, but please, can we remember (although the dinks who make "To The Point" don't seem to be able to do so) that the "Farmer/Biofuels Lobby" are a small, rich, and specialized cadre, disconnected from many if not most of the people growing food in the USA?

I'm not even drawing my usual bright line between agribusiness and small farmers struggling toward sustainable ag practices, here: the redirection of existing resources into the biofuel industry has distorted equipment, supply, feed, and seed price and availablity for everyone from egg growers to movie concession stands. There's a nationwide popcorn shortage predicted for 2008-2009, not because popcorn growers don't want to grow their usual crops, and sell them through their accustomed markets, but because corn seed growers didn't plant popcorn last year so the seed is hard to find and plant now.

#39 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 02:48 PM:

@John L #36: There's another problem with ethanol fuel that is glossed over or just ignored by the farmer/biofuel lobby:

It's inefficient. Badly inefficient, when compared to non-biofueled gasoline.

Is that efficiency as in Miles Per Gallon (MPG) or efficiency as in Miles Per Energy Unit (MPEU for now)?

Up to about E10 or so, in a modern fuel-injected car, there's little or no penalty in terms of MPEU. A little less MPG, yes, but not much loss in actual thermal efficiency. Besides, it makes older carbureted engines emit a bit less CO and HC emissions.

E85 is a different beastie as I mentioned up-thread. So-called E85 Flex-Fuel vehicles are not optimized for E85, so they are dramatically less efficient both from a MPG and MPEU standpoint when operating on E85. Optimize the engine for E85 (Higher compression ratio to get the most out of the 105 octane, thus losing the ability to limp home on any form of readily available "plain gasoline" that maxes out at 92 octane) and your MPEU goes up, higher than it was for gasoline. MPG is still down a bit, but not nearly as bad as it was in the Flex-Fuel vehicle.

As it is, around here in MN a co-worker finds (in his Flex-Fuel Dodge/Plymouth Caravan) that his breakeven point for E85 vs. regular varies with price, and a 50-50 mix can sometimes be cheaper than using either fuel straight. About a month ago, it was a few pennies per mile cheaper to run E85 over regular, but he hasn't repeated the experiment enough times to get a good data set to be able to tell from pump numbers which is his best price alternative.

...foodcrop ethanol is a blind alley we should be backing out of ASAP.

On this we agree quite strongly. I don't like burning food. Ethanol per se isn't bad - see Brazil - but most cars won't see best efficiency on it while retaining the ability to run on gasoline.

@biofuel thread in general:

OK, I think I've repeated myself several times now, I'll stop it.



#40 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 03:14 PM:

Ode Upon This Perl Code I Have To Update

I've vacuumed every cat in sight, and three that can't be seen

I've read the blogs of friends of folks whose friend I've never been

I've beaten thirteen clicky games, checked twice if it will rain

Oh lord, here comes the parade of cats, to be vacuumed once again!

I've analyzed twelve flamewars and invented a brand new clock

And browsed the office iTunes shares for random indy rock

I'm just about halfway prepared to deal with Perl and pain

But lord, here comes that parade of cats, to be vacuumed once again!

#41 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 03:24 PM:

John L @ 36 --

When supply in inelastic, and the supply limit is reached, you can get an essentially arbitrary increase in prices, yes. This is the expected result of peak oil, which probably happened in about 2006.

The trick is to stop burning gasoline at all. There's no particular necessity to do so; we might wind up with stirling engines, or turbines, or fuel cells, or steam engines instead of the IC engines, but that's a net win.

(Ethanol or methanol with air fuel cells are pretty straightforward; they have the usual problems with poisoning the source back across the membrane, but I don't think those are insoluble for automotive applications.)

There's a lot of methane in sewage; at that point, you need a catalytic conversion into methanol, or you need liquid methane storage (good for airliners), or you need a compressor (organic natural gas). There's a fellow in Germany doing a steam-process sewage-into-oil thing, too, for getting the lubricants part of petrol-oil-lubricants.

There's a lot of ethanol in cellulose; there's been a recent cyanobacteria ethanol production breakthrough, too.

Throw in high-efficiency solar (whether photovoltaic or thermal) and really, we all ought to be just fine.

It's when one looks at the pattern of obstruction and thinks about that inelastic supply price curve upon reaching supply limits, and the United States' current government's ties to the oil industry that one can really start to wonder.

The desire to extract maximum profit before switching is going to be strong; the tendency to estimate the point at which switching becomes imperative in terms of that desire for maximum profit is very likely to put the point of switching much too far into the future, and all the agriculture in North America is effectively utterly reliant on machine traction. It's likely to get very messy if the clue isn't applied with vigor.

#42 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 03:27 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 41... Is that set to Debussy's The Perl with the Flaxen Hair?

#43 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 03:54 PM:

heresiarch #16: Yeah, if we really believe that CO2 emissions and foreign oil dependency are problems, then you'd think we'd spend a lot of money on research for stuff like this. But then, we'd also not bother at all funding corn ethanol, because it must have been possible to realize that it could never be a substitute for oil in any meaningful sense very quickly. Our spending shows a very different set of priorities: getting elected this year is important, while solving huge potential problems[1] in 20 or 30 or 50 years is just not that big a deal to the politicians who ultimately make these decisions. Future generations can offer you only posthumous gratitude, but ADM can write you a check today.

[1] CO2 emissions, long-term dependency on oil which appears to obligate us to get into wars and topple governments and bribe allies/enemies every few years, rising social security and medicare costs which will apparently (and predictably) swallow more and more discretionary spending over time, huge problems in our educational system whose full costs won't come due for many years, etc.

#44 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 04:05 PM:


Here's a link to a source discussing the E85 problem; I've noticed it driving my office's E85 vehicles long distance. The MPG is definitely lower for them than for normal gas-fueled vehicles.

#45 ::: harthad ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale: seconding the previous advice to contact the insurance company; chances are good that they work with a disaster recovery company. The large companies that work with libraries & archives throw the watery books into huge freezers to freeze-dry them. But it's complicated: what kinds of paper? what kinds of ink? Different materials require different types of handling.

If you are thrown on your own devices, the home freezer method could work, but most folks don't have a lot of freezer space handy, and it takes weeks or months. Note that it must be an anti-frost or "self-defrosting" type freezer. Otherwise, fresh air and light are your best options. Lay things out on plastic sheeting, in the sun if possible. Books may stand on their bottom or top edges, pages fanned. Papers may be laid out flat, singly, anchored with some sort of non-staining weights to hold them down. If there's no breeze, try an oscillating fan. You can try layering (unprinted) newsprint or paper toweling between the pages/papers and applying light pressure to help wick out the moisture. If you have to do this indoors, run a dehumidifier in the drying area. Besides the actual water/smoke damage, mold is your greatest enemy, and sun is the best weapon against mold. I recall one source that recommended wiping the outer surfaces of the books with a rag moistened in a mild bleach/water or Lysol/water solution, but you really have to approach that with caution to avoid doing more damage to the books. Nice library-oriented site here:

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 04:45 PM:

Serge #32: Drat, and I have a class at that time.

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 04:50 PM:

Fragano @ 46... Like I told Terry Karney, I am planning to tape the whole thing. By the way, in her own blog, Tania gloats that she was the tallest contestant around. So much so that they had to dig a trench where she stood. OK, I made up that last part.

#48 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 05:07 PM:

Serge #47: I saw. Also the part where she ate Alex Trebek, moustache and all.

#49 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 05:41 PM:

So we should just give up on biofuel research and development ourselves and in the future be forced to rely on foreign, imported biofuel from an "OBEC" cartel lead by Brazil?

Ah, well, I suppose we could sell them scramjets instead of Saudi Arabia after OPEC goes broke. sigh.

#50 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 05:51 PM:

I wanted to say that I'm having fun at BB on the Ben Stein lizard thread. I mention it here, because the ways in which my online debate and forbearance have improved in the past six years, or so, can be largely attributed to hanging out here.

So thanks to one and all.

#51 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 06:06 PM:

@John L #44:

Thanks for the link. I know I said I'd quit it, but I think I've got that XKCD syndrome...

Here is a site that shows an engine optimized for E85 has nearly identical per-BTU efficiency to a gasoline engine. You won't go as far on a tank, but that is only because E85 has less BTU's per gallon. There is no efficiency loss for E85 in an optimized engine when talking about BTU's.

Here is a site showing fuel economy increases in a MPG sense when blending 10-30% ethanol with gasoline.

Dang, it took a long time to find those links... Nobody makes an E85 only car, so few people have bothered putting studies up on the web about it. Lots of SAE and ANL "Ethanol Challenge" trucks and such, but none with MPG results, just "increased efficiency" and no numbers. SAE articles on those are behind paywalls, too. Rather frustrating.

Time to head home.

Anyone wants to talk biofuel efficiency with me after this, please hit my e-mail. I check it not very often, though, so correspondence will be slow. If at least a few of you chime in on this thread (not in e-mail) that you want more biofuel discussion in-thread, I may join back in later. I need to back off and calm down. Going home and hugging my daughter ought to help. :-)



#52 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 07:12 PM:

Serge, others:

No spoilers, please, on Tania's appearance; I was already seven episodes behind the Tivo curve before this afternoon, and I don't see getting caught up on all of them in any huge rush.

(Took last night off and watched "The Trouble with Harry" for the nth time. I'd never noticed before what a marvelous voice Gwenn had as the Captain.)

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 07:40 PM:

joann @ 52... Does this mean you don't want to be told about the part where Tania burns her competitors to little piles of ashes using her heat vision?

#54 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 09:31 PM:

1) O Great Minds here, can anyone point me to the thread(s) back a ways that dealt with writing stereotypes to avoid? I don't know if they were under the slush pile or a bulleted list (or both, or several of both).

2) Also, how do you link to a specific post rather than the whole list?

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 09:41 PM:

Well, that sucks. Jeopardy wasn't aired here. I hope somebody else recorded it.

#56 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 10:01 PM:

Lee@12: I had your opinion of Bimbos of the Death Sun, but I thought Zombies was realistic rather than harsh; how much material about the first fans have you read? (In Memory Yet Green, The Way the Future Was, The Futurians, . . .) They \became/ giants, but they obviously weren't easy to get along with.

Terry@29: I've heard that also -- but castor oil itself is a purgative. AFAIK, the allergenic part of peanuts is the protein, so the cases aren't parallel

#57 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 10:25 PM:

CHip, #56: See, I saw Bimbos as being a caricature; and, like most caricatures, it exaggerates the least-flattering features of the subject. But I went thru it saying to myself, "Yeah, I know people like that... yeah, I know people like that... OMG, when did she meet my ex-roommate?!!"

Zombies was nastier IMO because it was much more explicit about the subtext of "you'll never be a happy person unless you COMPLETELY abjure fandom and everything connected with it". Even the woman who discovered her favorite author alone and suffering from Alzheimer's, and stepped in to help because there was no one else (and where would you find much of THAT attitude outside of fandom, I ask you?) was mocked as a worthless loser -- in the narrative voice, not by the other characters -- with a strong implication at the end that, now that she was free of fandom, her life might actually start to MEAN something. I kept thinking, where in McCrumb's universe is there room for me? BTW, I don't read her books any more, even though she's a fairly good writer, because she's started letting her vendetta against fandom leak over into everything else she writes. I run up against that and it bounces me right out of the story.

I guess it's the difference between humor with a mean streak and being mean seriously and for real.

#58 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 10:39 PM:

Carol @54:

the date/time in the comment header is a link to the comment itself.

#59 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 10:41 PM:

Lee, #12, I think Zombies of the Gene Pool and Bimbos of the Death Sun divide fans into opposite ends of the "like" range. I don't think they're that bad, particularly on the heels of "fans are slans," although the plots are a little wobbly.

Serge, #32, Ack! I forgot!

JESR, #38, I only have six pounds, maybe I should stock up.

Andrew, #40, LOL Great!

Carol, #44, 2) right-click on the date in the post header and then click on Copy Link Location (or whatever the Mac version is).

#60 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2008, 11:03 PM:

Serge: I didn't have to hie me to the wilds, and so I saw it. We don't have a way of recording it, so I can't return the favor you offered.

And I shan't spoil it.

#61 ::: Joe Eaton ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 12:00 AM:

On Tycho Brahe's moose: no contradiction here. The beast Europeans call elk is Alces alces, now considered the same species as the North American moose. The North American elk is Cervus elephas, more properly known as the wapiti, the same species as the red deer of Europe.

Getting a moose drunk would be an impressive feat.

#62 ::: Clan ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 12:55 AM:

Carol @ 54

Did you mean this post? 14-point list under "context of rejection"? If not, maybe this Marion Zimmer Bradley essay would suffice.

#63 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 01:04 AM:

Joe @ #61:

Would you say that getting a moose (A. alces) drunk was more or less difficult than getting the A. alces high?

#64 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 05:12 AM:

Lee @ 57:

I also found some of the characters in Bimbos surprisingly familiar, almost in a "Has the author been to Oslo in Norway?" way. I also think you're right about the caricature aspect. I've seen similar complaints about a comic book about gamers that I read, Knights of the Dinner Table, but then, they are supposed to embody negative aspects of gaming.

I did sometimes feel that the author rather harped on the theme that the big name fans at the con were nobodies in the outside world, as I do know people who have been active in fandom who have made decent careers.

(There is, by the way, a scene in Bimbos in which the author seems to address such criticism. The English professor complains to her boyfriend, the author/engineer, about gifted people who fail their exams because they've been to busy roleplaying, etc. He then answers that "not everybody has a tenure-track mind", or something like that.)

#65 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 07:31 AM:

I definitely had the feeling, with both Bimbos and Zombies, that the characters were people I might meet (and sometimes hope not to) within a fannish environment.

But, after seeing a couple of her other books, I could see a pattern of mockery which went beyond caricatures and stereotypes. A convention, or a bunch of reenactors, or any other group with a connection beyond the usual conventions of suburban sitcom America, seems to be fair game. Structurally, for a murder mystery, there may be the purpose of setting up a closed group--an equivalent of the country-house party--but her pattern goes beyond that.

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 07:44 AM:

A few of us, when I was living in Toronto, were amused by Bimbos having a fan from Canada named, of all things, Diefenbaker.

#67 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 08:25 AM:

cajunfj40 @ 22: "Unfortunately, even Minnesota Public Radio lumps all biofuel production together most of the time (based on what I hear during my commute), not differentiating between food-crop based and non-food-crop based, unless they are doing a more in-depth story."

That's unfortunate. Well, we'll do what we can, I guess.

"If it is going to compete with petro-fuel, it will likely have to be [a large-scale industry]."

Sorry, I think I was being unclear. By "a large-scale industry" I mean a centralized, highly unified industry, dominated by a small number of large producers. I think that bio-fuel can compete with petro-fuel in terms of raw production without adopting a similarly rigid model. I see a number of very small, very local enterprises in the place of a few huge refineries run by equally huge companies. With petro-fuel there are a number of factors that make high degrees of centralization more efficient: transporation, refining, huge inital costs in machinery and surveying, etc. With bio-fuel, the incentives are in favor of smaller, more local and more agile enterprises.

Graydon @ 41: "The desire to extract maximum profit before switching is going to be strong; the tendency to estimate the point at which switching becomes imperative in terms of that desire for maximum profit is very likely to put the point of switching much too far into the future,"

That's exactly what I was saying to a friend not five hours ago. The gas crunch is going to be incredibly profitable for oil companies. The incentive to delay for as long as possible, and squeeze out every last penny of profit is going to place them in direction opposition to efforts to diversify our fuel sources.

#68 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 08:46 AM:

We know that some biofuel processes--fermentation and distilling, for instance--can be done at a local level. But an internal combustion engine doesn't care what the fuel tastes like.

#69 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 09:08 AM:

I liked Bimbos and found Zombies too sad and bitter. A lot of the characters in the former were very much like people I knew in the SCA. I also liked McCrumb when I saw her at a reading; she pretty much abjured both books in an "I don't like to talk about that primitive phase of my career" kind of way.

I read one of her murder mysteries, and although it was well crafted none of the characters grabbed me (a problem I have with nearly all mysteries).

#70 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 09:27 AM:

Thanks for the links on good writing (or not!) and the clear instructions on how to link to specific posts.

#71 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 09:32 AM:

#63 ::: Paul A.

Joe @ #61:

Would you say that getting a moose (A. alces) drunk was more or less difficult than getting the A. alces high?

Hot air balloon? Zeppelin? Getting it drunk definitely sounds easier.

As I now have a grasp of deer/red deer/elk/moose, may we now clear up the difference between caribou and reindeer? I don't care what Wiki says unless someone here vets it...

#72 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 09:50 AM:

heresiarch #67: Given the realities of government, though, that probably means we need to either get biofuels that aren't subsidized, or ones whose subsidy program/research grant/etc. is very simple and uniformly available to everyone. Because if there are ten $10M grants available for doing it, your mom-and-pop producers will definitely not be getting those, but ADM and major universities will.

IM(rather uninformed)O, one of the best subsidies possible is to waive the road taxes on biofuels while they're still a small fraction of the market. This gives them a noticeable price advantage that can support growth of a bigger biofuels industry in whatever form makes sense, without requiring Washington contacts and a large legal department to get the benefits of the program. Even better, it's self-limiting--if the biofuel programs simply can't come close to competing on cost/efficiency with fossil fuels, the small benefit won't help. (Now, to convince John McCain that he should propose this instead of just waiving all the gas taxes. Though I don't suppose waiving gas taxes for the summer is much stupider or more obvious pandering than just sending everyone a check for economic stimulus purposes, in a way that just happens to arrive a few months before a hotly contested election.)

That won't work with stuff that's still way off in research land, and I doubt we can do enormously better than standard research grants for that. We can and should also offer prizes for well-defined successes--that always seems like a low-cost clever way to get people doing research--but I doubt that can ever really be a substitute for research grants that, for all their messiness and waste, actually do fund real, live researchers (grad students, postdocs, academics) who spend time on the desired problem because success will lead them to graduate, get a good job, get tenure, rise in the hierarchy of their field, etc.

#73 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 10:29 AM:

I don't think the Mekon has ever heard of HMS Jervis Bay

#74 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 10:33 AM:

I'm with Marilee (59) on the Bimbos/Zombies issue. Bimbos of the Death Sun always struck me as a wryly affectionate look at fandom and its excesses. (If you think Bimbos is mean about fandom, I can tell you that there are other mysteries out there that are *much* worse.) YMMobviouslyV.

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 10:51 AM:

Marilee @ 59... Mary Aileen @ 74... I feel pretty much the same way about the two books. In the outsiders-looking-in-and-seeing-only-weirdness dept, my strangest example would be the episode of Wonder Woman where she winds up at an SF convention, with everybody in costume. One thing that's strange is that WonderWoman herself looks at the costumes as being weird. One really strange thing is that nobody at the con notices her.

#76 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 10:52 AM:

In a more indirect tie to the sidelights, related to the evolving lizards, there was an article in yesterday's Boston Globe about a scientist at Brown University, Casey Dunn, who is using comparative DNA of the entire genome to get a more accurate picture of who and what came first, evolutionarily speaking.

It's called the The Tree of Life Project, and it's got some pretty neat stuff

#77 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 10:57 AM:

Eliminating summer gas taxes is an incredibly stupid idea; not only does it only reduce the cost of a gallon of gas by about $0.20, it cripples the ability of states to continue needed highway construction projects. That Federal gas tax funds anywhere from 50% to 90% of highway construction, and the summer months would represent over a quarter of the annual revenue the states would get for that purpose.

Unfortunately, stupidity appears to be contagious. Not only is McCain's proposal appearing to get traction in Congress, now my state's legislators are thinking it is a good idea to eliminate the state gas tax too this summer. As if dropping about 30% of Federal highway money from the budget isn't enough, now they want to eliminate that much again from the state funds too?

#78 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 12:14 PM:

Serge #53, #55:

Right, that was the part about which I did not want to hear, which anyway may or may not be apocryphal given that you didn't actually see it.

I'll let you know what happened in a week or so, when I get round to that episode, assuming that certain issues between the Tivo, the second cable box, and the main HD cable box, seemingly involving a repeater repeating that which it should not, remain resolved.

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 12:28 PM:

joann @ 78... may or may not be apocryphal given that you didn't actually see it

Considering Tania's relationship with the Green Lantern Corps, her incineration of the competition IS a distinct possibility. Still, had that happened, I suppose that it'd have made it on Fox News as proof that Liberals are evil. Meanwhile, I'm still mad at myself for foolishly trusting the TV Guide over the show's broadcast times.

#80 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 12:41 PM:

I used my DVR to record Tania's Jeopardy appearance, but I'm not sure if I have the ability to record that recording onto a sharable medium. It's new tech for me. Any ideas?

#81 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 01:15 PM:

kouredios @ 80... I do hope someone can help you figure this out.

#82 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 01:35 PM:

kouredios #80:

It can be done, but it's multi-step and requires some home networking, although I think you should already have it.

#83 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 04:01 PM:

Marilee, the ones who should really worry about popcorn price and availability are the big movie-makers. The sad truth of the multiplex is that ticket prices barely cover the rental cost of films. The money to pay the young people in the maroon polyester polo shirts who point to the theater doors and clean the bathrooms, land rental, electricity to run the projectors, and so on, comes from the obscene prices at the concession stand- and people smuggle in candy and drinks all the time, leaving popcorn as the critical commodity for the movie-house's profitability. The movie distribution companies may well find themselves with a shrinking pool of places to distribute films, with marginal theaters driven out of business by having nothing to sell to keep the doors open.

Serge and others, re Tania's appearance on Jeopardy: she has balanced out My Cousin The Berkeley Professor, who needed two boxes to get up to camera height.

#84 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 04:08 PM:

joann @82. Hrm. It's not a Tivo, but a generic DVR provided by the cable company. So the Tivo software won't work, methinks. I might be able to experiment tonight and figure it out somehow, though. I haven't yet really explored all the ports in the box.

#85 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 04:10 PM:

#83: I once read that a movie theater, to the owners, is a snack stand with a large, dark seating area.

#86 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 04:18 PM:

Stefan Jones, that's pretty much what my son's multiplex employee training amounted to- the necessity of selling the popcorn, keeping the popcorn available, never letting the concession stand run out of popcorn, and so on, was emphasized more than, say, making sure unaccompanied young 'uns didn't sneak into R rated movies.

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 04:29 PM:

JESR @ 86... That might explain the time my wife and I went to see del Toro's The Orphanage. The row ahead of us had two young women with two very young kids. Unsurprisingly, they didn't stay thru the whole movie.

#88 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 04:37 PM:

#87: But did they finish their popcorn?

Movie popcorn in particular is horribly, horribly expensive.

#89 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 04:43 PM:

My mother remembers in the 1950s when they drew down the Croton Reservoir, to repair the dam.

Seeing the trees and houses reemerge from the lake bed was rather creepy.

#90 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 04:48 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 88... If they finished the popcorn, they must have done it fast because it didn't take them long to realize this wasn't going to be Little Orphan Annie.

#91 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 05:13 PM:

There's a theater (for lack of a better term) here in Atlanta that is essentially a restaurant with movie screens. I haven't been there yet, and can't recall the name, so I don't know how well it actually works, but it strikes me as a fairly good model for them to move to if the kinks can be worked out.

#92 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 05:22 PM:

R.M.Koske #91:

At a guess, that would be the Alamo Draft House, which started here in Austin any number of years back and has recently gone all chain-franchise-splodey. It seems to work good enough, with some highly creative movie/food pairings, although I'm somewhat stonkered by the announcement that the downtown one (recently moved to the Sixth Street college drunk district) is getting a mixed drinks license.

#93 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 05:24 PM:

kouredios #84:

Does your DVR's manufacurer have a website?

#94 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 05:26 PM:

Please, oh gracious hosts, can the preview software have a 10-second timeout before we're even allowed to punch the "post" button? Honestly, I do know how to spell "manufacturer", but I didn't notice what I'd done to it until just after I'd hit "post".

#95 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 05:41 PM:


Don't get me started, McCain is invading my work place on one knows what to do between threats and news fiasco's (they're reporting that this is an open un-ticketed event, or that there is tickets or that you need to call some one to rsvp but you don't need confirmation or that the event starts at 10 (it does) lasts all day (ah no) and everyone should be here by 8 (eek).

And why? Because wants the Jewish vote and because he has a bad health care plan.

#96 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 06:06 PM:

About portrayals in mystery stories...

I remember a friend who complained about all kinds of subgroups getting such a negative treatment in thrillers and mysteries. Then he thought about it agian, realising that after all the point in thrillers is that all kinds of environments turn out to be havens for evildoers.

Some of the most negative portrayals of fans I've read are part of the novel He Walked Among Us by Norman Spinrad (only available as a download from the author's web page, but published in book form in German translation, as Die Transformation). But again, I recognise some of the negative fannish traits that the caricatures are based on.

#97 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 06:54 PM:

Dave Bell @73 said (in total)

“I don't think the Mekon has ever heard of HMS Jervis Bay
No context I could glean from skimming back thru' comment thread. No illumination from linked material, tho' it's a good story. So, Dave (or another), [*]?

Jon @89, reminds me of stories about Adaminaby re-emerging from Lake Eucumbene with the drought.

#98 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 07:03 PM:

Epacris @ 97... That's a reference to the Dan Dare comic-book revival.

#99 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 07:17 PM:

Oops, forgot to ask Lila (@69), who has a problem with mystery stories, if she's looked at Jo Walton's Farthing?

#100 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 07:36 PM:

Dr Albert Hoffman, the discoverer/inventor of LSD-25 has gone on the ultimate trip at the age of 102.

#102 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 09:21 PM:

joann @93:

It's this one. I've been poking around, and it sounds like it's relatively easy to plug a VCR into it. Of course, our only VCR is built into a TV on another floor. Maybe I should just film the TV and upload it. :D

#103 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 09:23 PM:

Thanks, Serge, that at least gives a bit of a clue. Sorry I missed your reply in my hurry.

#104 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 09:36 PM:

Fragano @100, thanks for the pointer, but something odd happened to the link. Try this version, which I hope works better.

And I'm leaving RSN, honest. I see sunlight, if not warmth, out there. It's not going to last that long into winter, which is wrapping its long, chilling fingers around us early this year.

#105 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 09:50 PM:

Lila@69: Interesting. Certainly her mysteries from that time are more like accumulated bitchery than interesting stories; maybe some people have bad stories (or moods) to get out of their system, not just bad prose. The more recent work, especially the folk-song series (mysteries well into the Appalachians, all titled by traditional songs) has more heart and substance. And there's one not-just-mystery about stock car fans that actually made it sound interesting.

JESR@83: Perhaps that balance of income is why theaters are becoming larger (more seats \and/ more screens), which in turn supports more extensive food; IIRC, both of the megaplexes inside Boston city limits offer individual pizza cooked to order (pretty good if you don't mind almost--deep-dish), hot dogs, ice cream sundaes, and other foods that don't travel well. And the "juke box" (you have to see the facade) in the suburbs has an actual restaurant almost at one end, next to the luxury theater (big seats, free snacks, I forget how much more it costs).

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 10:11 PM:

Epacris @ 103... No problem at all.

Speaking of the revival/reimagining of older stories, some people took notice of what was done with Doctor Who and Galactica and is working on Blake's 7.

#107 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 10:24 PM:

There's a mystery author I've read whose name doesn't spring to mind offhand* who is rather entertaining because of the unconscious subtext of her novels. She's very overt in her politics, saying that, for example, this particular group of rural types is benighted because they believe in certain things, those poor ignorant souls. Yet her apparently enlightened protagonists have pretty terrible lives— aside from the shocking events that happen in the novels, they're just not happy. That's stated explicitly and implied through their thoughts and actions.

It's pretty hilarious, since the author seems to be completely unconscious of the fact that the lifestyle and thought processes she's arguing for are also being strongly discouraged in her own text.

*Most mystery novels are, in my mind, "popcorn." Fun and not too filling.

One more thought: the topic of cellulose ethanol came up the other day, and my mom had one word: "Kudzu."

#108 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2008, 11:18 PM:

Would someone in the Fluorosphere be able to explain this catchphrase which has always baffled me: "A cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education."

#109 ::: cherish ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 01:03 AM:

Michelle @ 95:

Speaking of a bad health care plan ...

I found this disturbing.

The comment thread reflects my reaction: "Larry Niven? WTF?"

#110 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 01:16 AM:

CHip, #105: It was finding the anti-fandom vendetta in one of the Appalachian mysteries (The Ballad of Frankie Something-or-other) that made me take her off my list altogether.

#111 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 02:03 AM:

heresiarch @ 57

That's exactly what I was saying to a friend not five hours ago. The gas crunch is going to be incredibly profitable for oil companies. The incentive to delay for as long as possible, and squeeze out every last penny of profit is going to place them in direction opposition to efforts to diversify our fuel sources.

I'd say the peptalk our Petro-President gave this morning was undead proof of that. He was pushing increasing oil production (open up ANWR, which of course can't start producing for 5 to 10 years) and building more refining capacity (despite that we're using less capacity than at this time last year). And, of course, we're not in a recession, so run right out and drive as much as you can.

Will no one rid me of this turbulent president?

#112 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 02:13 AM:

John L @ 77

Unfortunately, stupidity appears to be contagious. Not only is McCain's proposal appearing to get traction in Congress, now my state's legislators are thinking it is a good idea to eliminate the state gas tax too this summer. As if dropping about 30% of Federal highway money from the budget isn't enough, now they want to eliminate that much again from the state funds too?

And every economist and his pet pig are on the air these days talking about how limits on supply will just cause the price to go right back up, so instead of subsidizing infrastructure maintenance, we'll be subsidizing the oil company profits. I'm not sure that prices are that inelastic, but I suspect the oil companies are eager to prove the economists right. The pigs have not yet sung.

I've now heard two oil industry analysts who say that the current spike in prices has nothing to with either supply or demand; it's the result of an influx of $250 Billion into the oil futures market. Guess which way they're betting on the price going?

#113 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 02:18 AM:

As Dubjay suggests, I've just poured a glass of wine in celebration of Jack Williamson's 100th birthday. Please join me in a toast to the man who had a huge sense of wonder, and kept it shining bright for longer than just about anyone else.

#114 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 02:41 AM:

Lila, #69, I like McCrumb's Appalachian Ballad mysteries, at least partly because I live close to that area and like it.

Allan, #108, a cauliflower is a cabbage, so by giving it a special name, instead of cabbage, you're elevating it. (Of course, all cabbages have special names, so the saying is kind of silly.)

#115 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 02:55 AM:

Hm, so Jack Williamson was born 60 years and one day before I was? I never knew that.

#116 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 05:03 AM:

Would someone in the Fluorosphere be able to explain this catchphrase which has always baffled me: "A cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education."

I would assume it's one or both of:

a) a cauliflower looks basically like a cabbage with its heart replaced by a large brain, implying it's more intelligent

b) a cauli is just a fancy form of cabbage

#117 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 05:21 AM:

David @115,

I can say you don't look a day over 40.

And Happy Birthday

#118 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 06:26 AM:

David Goldfarb #115: Felicitous natal anniversary to you.

#119 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 07:14 AM:

On an Internet road newsgroup I participate in, I posted an article several weeks ago with gas experts predicting $4/gallon gas before summer got here. I was roundly derided for posting "chicken little" news stories, no way would the prices rise that fast, etc.

California currently has $4/gallon gas.

A week or so ago I posted another article with fuel pricing experts predicting that gas may max out over $5/gallon within 2 years. More derision, etc, etc.

Now there are fuel experts claiming that's too low, we could be seeing $7-$10/gallon gas within 2 years. Personally, if gas hits those heights, I'll be riding a mo-ped to work (6 miles away), and my wife will quit working altogether (45 mile commute) or telecommute full time. I don't think it will go that high, actually; I think the economy will fall apart way before we get to $7/gallon gas...

#120 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 07:15 AM:

Woowoo. The Patrick Stewart Macbeth has transferred to Broadway and there are still good seats available! For Saturday night! Now I have two of them. And any other theater nuts in the NYC area (are there any on ML?) ought to get some of the others and we could all meet in the lobby at intermission. 'Cause it's a really good production.

#121 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 07:27 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) #111: The resident of the White House's press conference yesterday is one more bit of evidence that nobody in the Republican Party has the least understanding of the science of political economy.* The rumbling you are feeling is the collective turning over in the grave of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Maynard Keynes, and John Stuart Mill. Karl Marx can be heard snorting in the background.

*Hillary Clinton's eagerness to join in the stupidity is disheartening.

#122 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 07:42 AM:

Way back at comment 22, Cajunfj40 wrote "even Minnesota public radio lumps all biofuel production together," not distinguishing between problematic food-based kinds and less problematic kinds from waste materials. That suggests some expectation that public radio would be more discerning than commercially subsidized news or commentary. My local public radio station has Arthur Daniels Midland as a major underwriter, so I suspect they have a strong incentive to lump "biofuels from corn" with "biofuels from other materials," and even to call corn-based biofuels by vaguely friendly terms like "alternative energy sources."

#123 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 07:50 AM:

ADM has recently gone on the offensive to defend grain ethanol production, claiming they aren't the reason why food prices are skyrocketing, and that if done right, ethanol production also creates livestock feed with the byproducts.

Except, those byproducts aren't as digestible by livestock (and specifically, chickens can't digest it at all), it costs more than feed corn, and producing and transporting it uses diesel and other fuels that cost more as well, raising the price even higher.

Oh, and ADM also railed against attempts to eliminate the $3.2 billion ethanol subsidy, claiming that wouldn't be fair. No sir, not fair at all.

#124 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 07:51 AM:

Happy Birthday, David Goldfarb!

By the way, why would your fingers leave your hands at any time?

As for drinking to Jack Williamson, no wine, but I did have a big glass of milk.

#125 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 08:10 AM:

The UK is pushing $10/gallon, but it is a bigger gallon. And a smaller country.

One looming problem for big offices in the UK--the cleaning jobs are often low-paid and part time. The people who do them can't afford to live close to the office blocks. Fuel prices increase, so transport costs increase. And on a part-time job there soon might not be enough workin hours in the day to pay the transport costs.

There's also some tax pitfalls over employer-provided transport.

#126 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 08:18 AM:

#92, joann -

Alamo Draft House sounds completely unfamiliar, so I don't think that's it. (I only know of the place in Atlanta from hearing ads on the radio.)

*Googles, like I should have done in the first place*

Ah! I'm thinking of the "AMC Buckhead Backlot". says it "allows movie goers to order dinner and have it brought to them while the movie is playing." I do wonder how disruptive that would be. I think I'd have to try it out on a movie that didn't matter a lot to me first. Which is why I've never been there.

#127 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 08:20 AM:

Dave, that's not a problem unique to Great Britain; it happens in every medium/large city in the US too. Here in NC many of the fire/police/sanitation workers live well outside of the cities, because rising housing prices in the city make nearly everything unaffordable for them. I've got coworkers commuting 50+ miles because they cannot afford anything equivalent closer in, and they are being hit hard by the dual rising food/fuel costs.

#128 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 08:23 AM:

Serge, #24: you're welcome. I haven't foraged for comics in a long time, so I haven't actually seen the new Dan Dare--I noticed the article because of the discussion of comics art and architecture and was pleased to see that it confirmed a long-held suspicion about the design work of Norman Foster.

On another topic, does anyone know who 1950s sf author Mark Clifton worked for, when he was an industrial psychologist? AKICIML, you know.

#129 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 08:40 AM:

#108 Allan Beatty--This is actually a quotation from one of Mark Twain's novels, Pudd'nhead Wilson: "Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."

IIRC correctly, it was one of the eponymous Mr. Wilson's (he was supposed to be a lawyer in a small Mississippi River town in Missouri) many aphorisms. A lot of famous phrases from Twain are part of what Twain referred to as Pudd'nhead Wilson's Almanac.

#130 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 08:49 AM:

epacris @ #99, yes, read it and loved it. I also like Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh (the ones involving the theater) and Tony Hillerman. Also the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series, but not McCall Smith's other work. Re McCrumb, the one other of hers I read was The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter which made very little lasting impression on me. The Appalachian setting was well done, I only remember one character's name, and the plot has vanished entirely.

Re commutes, a lot of people here in Athens commute to the Atlanta area (about 75 miles). The "bedroom communities" closer in are really expensive. Public transportation outside the city proper is nonexistent. My drive to work is only about 10 miles, and I'm already feeling the pinch. I wonder what the impact will be when people start asking themselves, "How many hours do I have to work to pay for the gas to get me here and back?" Will any of the large employers consider subsidizing buses, trains, or housing for their employees?

#131 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 09:14 AM:

Re: cabbage/cauliflower

Cabbage was (is?) cheaper to grow and get to the consumer. There are frequent references to slums as smelling of old cabbage (which means the resultant gas as well).

Cauliflower is more expensive, so it becomes more attractive.

#132 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 09:19 AM:

Thank you to everyone on Open Thread 105 who had suggestions about books for my friend's mom. I did end up emailing Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and getting over 50 suggestions.

#133 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 09:51 AM:

For train wreck fans, Daily Kos has a frontpage story on Larry Niven. It isn't kind.

#134 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 09:59 AM:

John L #127:

We've been looking to buy a house around here, and one thing we've noticed is that there are a lot of neighborhoods that have kind-of filled up with police cars, as the housing price bubble here collapsed awhile back, and in much of the county, there are nice homes in nice neighborhoods selling at about 25% off their price a year and a half ago. In Montgomery County, my understanding is that police officers get a police car issued to them (they get to drive it home) iff they live inside the county, so there's an incentive for them to live here. And obviously, they aren't able to telecommute from the next county over to save on gas money, so right now, there's a *big* incentive to get a house inside the county.

And I'm still trying to decide whether I expect housing prices to stabilize here or keep falling. There are still developments that were started just before the bubble burst, which are still building new houses. (This is more-or-less a demonstration of something out of first-year microeconomics--it sometimes makes sense to keep producing despite your total cost being higher than your total revenue, because your marginal cost for building the next house is still lower than your marginal revenue for selling it. But only for awhile....) On the other hand, there are a lot of houses on the market here, and a lot are selling.

#135 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 10:17 AM:

Jon #133: ISTM that we discussed this before. It's such a silly (and horrible) suggestion that it pretty much has to be a joke, and I seem to recall even the press coverage that was available put it together with a couple of other obviously out-there/joking statements. (Though that coverage seemed like it was trying to drum up some kind of controversy or other excitement from what sounded like an overwhelmingly boring bitch-session.) FWIW, I've said things in meetings that were misquoted to the point of making me sound like a wacko conspiracy theorist, so maybe I'm just assuming that this is more common than it is. (On the other hand, I'm not in front of the press much at all, so we're talking 1/10 of the times I've been available for controversy-inducing misquotes, it's happened.)

I know it's the current thing to find some quote (maybe incorrect, maybe out of context) and loop it with outraged commentary about it, endlessly. Outrage is good for readership/viewership, and getting the troops mad helps keep them motivated and interested. But it's a kinda shitty thing to do.

I mean, it's shitty when done to Obama. It's shitty when done to Hillary. It was shitty when it was done to Gore and to Kerry. So I kind of have to think it's also shitty when done to people on the right. More to the point, if it's shitty to snip Obama's "bitter" quote from a long statement and loop it with outraged commentary (and it is), or to snip the most inflamatory things Rev. Wright said from a long list of long sermons and loop them with outraged commentary, it's hard to see why the situation is different with Niven.

Has anyone asked Niven if he really thinks that's a good idea? Because even if he were as evil as the idea would require, it would also be blindingly stupid, which isn't something I associate with his work.

#136 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 10:17 AM:

Yeah, if you've got a perfect to near-perfect credit history, it's a great time to buy a house or get a mortgage refinanced. The housing collapse has helped a lot of people get into homes they couldn't have afforded a few years ago. We're currently trying to refinance our variable rate mortgage, but since our credit isn't near-perfect from a few years back (thanks, Sears), we're treated by lenders as if we defaulted on 3 mortgages in a row.

#137 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 10:47 AM:

In the last open thread, there was some discussion of how people read Making Light. There were a couple of comments about opening things in new browser tabs (or windows). How does one do that?

There are lots of times that people give links to something, and I don't bother to click because it will mean having to hit the back arrow to get back to ML, which will take me to the bottom of the list of comments, and I'll have to scroll back up and find where I was, and it's more trouble than it seems to be worth. We'll take it as read that I'm fairly lazy, but am I also doing something wrong?

Links on other pages do open in new tabs, for what that's worth.

#138 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 11:02 AM:

Juli Thompson (137): Try right-clicking the link, then choosing "open in new window" or "open in new tab."

#139 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 11:36 AM:

Mary Aileen (138) Thanks! I am using an iBook, which doesn't have the right click option. Hm. I'll have to check and see if alt-click or shift-click or something else does that. (I'm at work now, so can't check on my "real" computer right now.)

This might solve it! Thanks again!

#140 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Serge at #106

I'm at best *cautiously* excited about the B7 news. Sure, both remakes, Dr Who and BG, turned out ever so much better than we feared, but on the other hand, I never was passionate about either of the originals. B7, on the other hand, was my Star Trek. I can still (probably) name every single episode (*blush*), debate what Avon was thinking in Star One, debate who was more kick-ass, Jenna or Servalan, etc., etc.

The Niven thing reminds me about a conversation I recently had about Michael Flynn. I loaned a friend the Firestar series, and 1/2 way through the first book she called and said, "Wow, he's (Flynn) really conservative, isn't he?" I tend to read fairly obliviously to such things (and try not to assume that character's views channel their authors), but now I'm considering rereading with more political attention, just to see if I agree with her.

#141 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 12:12 PM:

sherrold @ 147... Paul Darrow's Avon is going to be a tough act to follow. What is that line of his that Abi has mentionned before?

"I'm not stupid, I'm not expendable, and I'm not going!"
#142 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 12:21 PM:

Music recommendation time.

Back in the '80s, Planet P Project put out some interesting (lumpy, but very interesting) albums of somewhat experimental new wave-ish rock with a touch of the sf concept album about them. The guy responsible for the project later moved to Germany, and has done other things since then, but in recent years he's put the Project to use again. He's released two albums in a projected trilogy of very political rock on the broad theme of just what's gone wrong with Western society (and the US in particular) and what our prospects are now.

The overall title of the trilogy is Go Out Dancing.

1931 (Go Out Dancing, Part 1) is most directly about recurring fascism, and the extent to which the countries that fought the Nazi powers have taken up their enemies' tools. At the Amazon link you can check out snippets; the ones for "Work Will Set You Free", "Join the Parade", and "Waiting for the Winter" (from the viewpoint of a Jewish Pole in Warsaw) cover the ground for the sound.

Now he's got Levittown (Go Out Dancing, Part 2) out, too. "In Babylon" in particular has caught my delight, a bitter, compassionate commemoration of those every polity sacrifices for someone else's benefit. "White Sands" is one of the few occasions I've heard it pointed out that the New Frontier came to us courtesy of Operation Paperclip. "Fremont Street" is one of those Springsteen-esque viewpoint songs, in this case that of someone whose grandfather sold some of the land that went to Hoover Dam and Las Vegas, and is haunted by the sense of missed opportunity.

Great stuff, to my taste, and you're not likely to hear it around much.

(I bought both albums from eMusic, but Amazon is better for listening to snippets if you're not a subscriber.)

#143 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 12:36 PM:

#139 Juli Tompson -

Command+Click will open the link in a new tab. I also just recently discovered also that click-and-hold seems to produce the equivalent to a right-click menu (as will option+click.)

#144 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 12:37 PM:

...and many apologies, Juli, for the misspelling of your last name. I'm making typos and bizarre spelling mistakes all over the place today. (For example, I tried to offer "apoligies" just now. Ugh.)

#145 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 12:39 PM:

Whoops. I'm all about mistakes today. Option+click doesn't give you a menu in firefox, at least.

I think I'll go have some tea, I seem to be undercaffeinated.

#146 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 12:50 PM:

RM Koske (143,144,145) It's all good. I'll try these things in various combinations and see what happens. In the meantime, have tea.

Bruce Baugh (142) wOOt! I'm a fan of Planet P, so this is great to know!

#147 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 01:03 PM:

Juli Thompson @ 139 -

ctrl-click on an OS X system gets you the context (right-click) menu. As does using any USB mouse, or any Apple mouse made in the last couple of years (although those can get weird - they're pressure sensitive, rather than a discrete "button".

Me? My Powerbook uses a bog-standard Dell USB wheel mouse (made by Logitech, and the only piece of Dell hardware in the house), and a Microsoft bluetooth portable in the bag.

#148 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 01:09 PM:

Juli Thompson @146 etc.:

I also use an iBook, and I have set my touchpad preferences (system preferences: keyboard and mouse) so that I can click by tapping the touchpad with one finger, and right-click by tapping the touchpad with two fingers. I also use two fingers to stroke the keypad for scrolling up/down. The other day I was reading a large hardcover and I realized that I wanted to stroke the page to make the text move. I have been spending too much time on the internets!

#149 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 01:13 PM:

Juli Thompson: Delighted to share. :)

#150 ::: Mark D ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 01:15 PM:

Distressing: the usually invaluable Jeopardy Archive is missing Tania's show.

I'm a reasonably regular Jeopardy watcher, but missed it. Seeing a Fluorospherian in action would have been way cool.

#151 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 01:18 PM:

Can I use this thread to have a bleat about the spam-generating qualities of Making Light?

The "view all by" feature uses a URL which includes your e-mail address (hold your mouse over a "view all by" link and you'll see the URL in the status bar, in IE or Firefox anyway). So somewhere on the ML site there's a page or pages with your address in it, so your address can be harvested by spammers' crawlers. I get lots of spam at the address I use on ML; some spam even comes with a subject mentioning the ML thread where it found my address. So I use that address for ML only - Google finds it only on ML - and rarely look at it. But some of us do use real addresses on ML. Is there any way for "view all by" to use some other mechanism that doesn't involve exposing our addresses?

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 01:19 PM:

Mark D @ 150... I like their description of Tania's residence:

Tania Clucas, an education specialist from North Pole, Alaska

I bet you that Chilly Willie lives next door.

#153 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 01:58 PM:

John Stanning @151: My answer had been to 'encode' my email addr. It's not very sophisticated, but I think (hope?) that it's helped.

#154 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 02:09 PM:

Juli Thompson @ 146: Yes, ctrl-click is the same as right-click on MacOS X. Early versions of Safari didn't have tabs, but should still be able to open a new window that way.

Also, both my Safari and Firefox return to where I was in a page when I use the back button (which is also cmd-[ btw). For whatever that might be worth.

#155 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 03:13 PM:

Responding to several people - I'm home, and indeed, control click is the option I want. Thanks! My ML reading experience will be improved.

BLoppe (148) I had no idea I could do that! I don't seem to have the option to make two fingers a right click (mine is a G4), but I have never particularly looked at that menu. I'm going to have to poke around in there. Thanks for bringing this up.

#156 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 03:23 PM:

Juli Thompson, knowing as I do how easy it is to misspell your first name (which I share, although I'm usually Julia these days) and how very many ways there are to spell {Thompson->Tomsen} I suspect it's people getting it right that surprises you?

#157 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 03:43 PM:

Juli -

The touchpads on G4 laptops (iBooks and Powerbooks) don't have that functionality, AIR - it was a feature put on the Intel Macbooks and Macbook Pro systems. It might have showed up on the last of the Powerbooks, but I don't think so.

#158 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 03:43 PM:

Larry is a friend of mine, and he has faults; but I find it hard to credit he said this without his tongue in his cheek.

Yes, he probably does think the problems hospitals are having is the fault of undocumented workers, but that's not limited to Conservatives.

And yes, we did talk about it here, in OT 104/103, IIRC.

Juli Thompson: If I hold ctrl and click the think: new tab, same window. Shift gets me a new window.

Serge: they asked her about that, it seems North Pole, Alaska is near Juneau.

re email addies. I don't get spam (or at least not past the spam) from ML.

#159 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 03:58 PM:

Terry Karney @ 158... it seems North Pole, Alaska is near Juneau

And here are a few of the things that make up the town's Saturday-night entertainment.

#160 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 04:16 PM:

John Stanning @ 151... Is there any way for "view all by" to use some other mechanism that doesn't involve exposing our addresses?

Some people use their real address, but they insert some garbage characters that a human could recognize as such and remove, leaving the real address. For example, if I were so inclined, I could change my view-all-by address to

An automated process would grab that address as is, and spam would wind up in NowhereLand. I hope. Not in my mailbox, anyway.

#161 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 04:37 PM:

I prefer on-keyboard trackpointers to touchpads. I wish I still had a laptop with one of those. I hope the technology stays around a while.

#162 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 04:44 PM:

Serge Le Magnifique #160 & Rob #153: Thanks, I think that's the answer.

#163 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 04:47 PM:

I carry a trackball with me whenever I carry a laptop... most Macs will recognize and make use of the standard windows right click menus, if you insert a mouse or trackball with that functionality. A trackball doesn't have the 'surface' problem that bringing a mouse might; you can easily rest it on your thigh or the chair where you're sitting, or even beside you on the ground.

I know it's not for everyone, but it's a practical necessity for me. The only time I can recall having a serious hand or arm injury from tech use was when I got my first laptop. After playing with it a lot, I was painfully unable to grip or type with my right hand for weeks. When I stopped using the touchpad and switched to a trackball (while taking the meds/doing the exercise the hand doctor I visited recommended), it went away. Ever since then I can't use a touchpad for more than 20 minutes without getting a warning ache in my wrists that says 'remember, this could cause problems.'

#164 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 06:24 PM:

Thanks for the birthday wishes, Kathryn and Fragano.

Hey Xopher: I baked Black Hole Brownies of Death to take to my gaming group tonight, and gave one to my mother when she was over today. She thought they were excellent.

#165 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 06:53 PM:

Because of spam, the email address I use at Making Light is one that goes to a dead box I never check. If I changed to a new clean email address which I could munge, though, wouldn't I lose connection to the last five years of my comments here? "View all by" works on email address, so far as I can tell. I'm like a raccoon who can't get out of a trap because I won't let go of the shiny thing.

(I spin off a new address for every new place, and forward them all on to my main address... But not tblog ("Teresa blog"), which goes to a dead box, because it was nothing but waves and waves of spam. What if someone has tried to get in touch with me? What if someone has tried to take some discussion to email? I would never know. It eats at me. But asking for a search and replace that changed all "tblog at" to something unspammed... That seems like too much work to put on the fine blogrunners here, if it's even possible.)

#166 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 07:44 PM:

R.M. Koske, #126, we have the Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse (ah, Montgomery has one now, too) that has levels of tables so people can eat and watch. They don't show first-run movies, so people aren't as worried about watching. And recently, they've started adding some local shows.

#167 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 07:49 PM:

Regarding address harvesting, I've been struggling with a meta question. As a mailing list administrator I periodically get requests--in the usual spectrum of politeness--to take someone's email address off a public web page. I'm usually thinking, "You poor fool, thinking that will help." Followed by, "It's hard to be motivated by compassion when you don't think it's going to help."

So, does keeping an address private actually work for you? As a colleague cynically remarked, the amount of spam one gets is related to the number of one's correspondents who are using Windows. I've never kept my address unlisted, so I don't actually know. But I get 10-20 thousand spams a day, and I understand not wanting to cope with that kind of flow if you aren't already.

I also miss the days when it was easy to find anyone's email address if you wanted to write them out of the blue. Which is ironic, since the open nature of email correspondence is why we can't get rid of spam in the first place.

What bothers me is that the root of my "you'll need a spam filter eventually anyway" reaction is that it's very close to the "everyone should be thick skinned" species of troll argument. And I don't know why email should be different.

#168 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 08:08 PM:

Oh, lovely:

According to an NPR interview with a Texas social worker, the young residents of the Yearning for Zion ranch who are going into foster care are out of respect to their former conditions are a) not allowed to have the color red in their rooms, and b) are






The social worker wasn't clear if the children had been taught to read or not.


According to another report I've read, the FLDS community is already plagued with an inherited condition brought about by inbreeding.

Maybe, if these folks really think they've got it on the ball, they should be allowed to live just as they like. With no outside contact. At all, except occasional overflights. No more starving the beast through welfare fraud, no more emergency care.

It would be interesting to see how long they can last utterly free of the corrupt outside world.

#169 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 08:26 PM:

Since no one else seems to have been able to come by it another way, I'm in the process of replaying Tania's Jeopardy on my TV and filming the TV. I'll post a link to the vid as soon as it's complete. If anyone manages to get a better quality copy made, let me know. But I don't want folks to suffer Tania-less any longer than they have to.

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 08:30 PM:

kouredios @ 169...

(Serge jumping up and down, waving frantically)

Me first!

#171 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 09:12 PM:

The email address I use here is the one that gets used "in public" which I check most days - it gets about 2,000 spam messages a month. The google mail account dumps almost all of them into the spam folder.

The one I give out to people who I know in real life or who actually want to have a conversation rather than just an ID check gets about 4 spam messages a week, although I think it has some sort of pre-filter.

#172 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 09:53 PM:

Ralph Giles @167:

I have had accounts that I have never sent mail from receive spam within a week or so after being created. That said, letting your address be seen without any obscuring tricks will vastly multiply the spam it receives.

#173 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 10:27 PM:

Most of the spam I get at the address I use here is not identifiably tracking to here. Some, however, comes via address harvesters (generally the ones wanting to help my website ... the one I don't have). Most days it's 6 to 10 pieces that have escaped the filter.

Then there was the fruitcake map spam.

#174 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 10:29 PM:

I just noticed Patrick's Particle about John Berkey having died.

#175 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 10:30 PM:

Stefan 168: I favor a more direct approach. Give all the kids new identities, kill all the adults and bury them in the desert.

I am merciful.

#176 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 10:48 PM:

Tania on Jeopardy: part one and part two. Please forgive the poor quality (and my daughter protesting bathtime at the beginning. :)

#177 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 11:21 PM:

Terry @ 158:

Larry is a friend of mine, and he has faults; but I find it hard to credit he said this without his tongue in his cheek.

I just figured he was riffing on Solution Unsatisfactory.

Not a riff I favor, but then, I understand the appeal of a hack (and a smart-ass remark in its moment of verbalization), even a black hat hack turned to the service of evil. That's a perception I first gained from Oliver North's delight in sending the Iranian arms sale monies to the Contras. Evil but clever, and on at least one level, I could relate. Empathize, even.

#178 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2008, 11:35 PM:

#175: I'm tempted to agree. At least the old goats who perpetuate that vile system.

#179 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 01:35 AM:

The Spockanalia/eBay Particle includes, under the "and also" links, an eBay listing for a collection of 5 mailings of FLAP, a private apa (still in operation, approaching its 150th mailing) begun by Dave Locke and Jackie Causgrove.

The eBay listing includes the information: "Among the editor/publishers are Dean A. Grennell, Joni Stopa. Dave Locke, Mike Glicksohn, Rpy Tackett, Jackie Causgrove, Suzi Stefl, Meade Frierson, John Bangsund, Eric Lindsay, Dave Wixon, Arthur Hlavaty, more."

*sigh* I was a middlingly prominent fanzine fan back in the day, but nowadays, I guess I'm just "more".

#180 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 02:31 AM:

Xopher #175 I am merciful.

I figure I would require just 3, maybe 4, Planck units of time with omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence to deal with all situations like that which need to be fixed.

#181 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 04:42 AM:

This weekend is the ever-nifty Maker Fair in San Mateo. It is filled with grand examples of People Who Make Time To Make (to tie into that thread).

Any other fluorisphii going to be there?

#182 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 05:57 AM:

Serge @24: By the way, what do you think of the revived Dan Dare?

One of the biggest delights for me was the full page ad on the back cover of the first issues: Virgin Galactic now taking reservations for sub-orbital space flights (link to website specified in ad).

Not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary story! How long have we been waiting for an ad like that, seriously meant, published anywhere?

Of course, the revived Dan Dare is published by Virgin Comics...

#183 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 06:20 AM:

Ralph #167: I have several e-mail addresses, for various reasons historical and otherwise. I monitor most of them with Outlook Express (yes, I know). Some of them never get spam at all. The ones that do are either (a) ones that are, or have been, mentioned on web pages, such as the one that I use here; (b) on sites that have been hacked, including Tiscali, Hotmail and Yahoo; (c) where clever tricks have been used. One clever trick was one of those chain e-mails that say "please forward to everyone you know to save this little child from cancer", or some such, but this one added "please copy us when you forward". Of course some fool sent it to me. Aaargh.

A way around giving your address in harvestable form on a web page is to make it into an image. There's a site somewhere which does that for you.

#184 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 07:29 AM:

On what I think of my personal email address, I get a few bits of spam a day, where "a few" has been between 0 and 9 a day, many of which Thunderbird takes care of. (I've no idea whether this is a lot of spam or a just a trickle.) This is an address that I generally give out only to friends, business contacts and a few trusted websites.

The address I give out generally for registration, LJ contacts and whatnot is a hotmail address that gets a lot of spam, much of which the hotmail junk filter takes care of; the rest I don't care about as much as on the address, because it doesn't come direct to me and I only go check on it once a week or so. It doesn't feel like such a personal affront.

My gmail address I mostly use to send documents to myself when I freelance, it got no spam at all until I gave it out for friends to contact me while I was cruising around the Japan and Korea last year. The spam filter there is particularly good, though, and I never see any spam on the main page.

If I could reset -- maybe next time I move -- I'd keep the same set-up, add a business address, and be more strict with which address I use for which purpose. At the moment there's a certain amount of leakage of purpose between them.

#185 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 07:48 AM:

Damn. John Berkey was my favorite!

#186 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 07:58 AM:

Re #20, 24, 25, 28, 98, 128, 182, etc.:

Speaking of Dan Dare, there's a very nice newsreel tour of Frank Hampson's studio. He used a lot of props and models, so the place is littered with space helmets, rocketships, and Mekon heads.

#187 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 08:43 AM:

#166, Marilee -

Ooh. It sounds really appealing if it isn't first-run movies. Something I've seen once or twice or a million times, but with restaurant food on a big screen? Yes, definitely.

I'll have to check and see if the Buckhead Backlot shows first-run or not, because I think I'd really enjoy that.

#167, Ralph Giles -

I've been moderately successful keeping one of my email addresses spam-free. The odd thing is that I have used that same address since 1998, and for the first five years I used it, it was my only email address so I used it for everything. Even so, I get very little spam, on the order of one a day or fewer.* (This in spite of the fact that one of my friends persists in forwarding me all kinds of propaganda with my email address in the clear. He doesn't send email, just forwards. Argh.)

I do get a lot of spam from the email I use here, but I got a lot of spam for that address before I started using it here. That's why I chose it for this use. That account is probably getting ten to twenty spam messages a day.

*I actually think it is closer to one a week, but I check all my accounts at the same time in Thunderbird, and I'm having trouble keeping them mentally separate. There's also a possibility that there's a behind-the-scenes spam filter I've forgotten about.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 11:28 AM:

Kouredios @ 176... Thanks!

#189 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 11:38 AM:

O dearling Fluorosphere of Knowledge; I'm reaching in my brain for Le Guin's four word/layers of defining strangers/aliens, and not finding what or where they are.

Any of you recall off the tops of your brains?

#190 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 11:43 AM:

Kouredios #176: Many thanks! I see, by the way, that the Final Jeopardy "right answer" was wrong (Henry VIII's last queen, who survived him, was Katherine Parr, Anne of Cleves also survived him, but she wasn't his last queen).

#191 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 11:56 AM:

On objectionable words, I was a member of a forum for awhile that some mod fed a list of "naughty" words to without really thinking it through.

One of the words was "cock."

It was a poultry forum.

It auto-substituted the phrase "male genitalia" for the word "cock."

An unusual level of hilarity, for that board, ensued after the first time someone referred to "fighting ....s"

They fixed it pretty quick.

#192 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 12:06 PM:

#189, Ruth:

I certainly haven't read all of LeGuin's writing, so I may have missed it, but I've never seen four terms of strangeness in her work. I have, however, seen four terms of strangeness in Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead: utlanning (the human from another region), framling (the human from another planet), raman (the human or human-like being of another species), and varelse (the being who is incomprehensible to us). The passage that defines the four terms may be found here. Could it be what you're looking for?

#193 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 12:46 PM:

albatross @ #134: "And I'm still trying to decide whether I expect housing prices to stabilize here or keep falling."

The best way to determine "historical norm" for your area— the stable price for housing— is to look at rents. Unless there is some weirdness about the rental properties in your area*, rents are the best reflection of what the local economy can afford in terms of housing, because renters are highly mobile and will move when necessary. So housing prices should be roughly 100x monthly rent for comparable amounts of floor space. A 1200 square foot apartment renting for $1000 a month (hey, I'm in Cali, give me a break) means that a 1200 square foot house usually ends up around $100,000 using historical norms.

Of course, that fluctuates depending on desirability, size of lot, and what have you, but if there's a variance of more than 20% there will probably be a correction.

*The city that I live in was incorporated in 2000, and has more than doubled the population since then. It started out short of rentals and then almost all of the growth has coincided with the housing boom, which means that there are less than half of the rental units necessary to service our area. (Builders don't build "rentals" during booms, even if houses end up rented out. They build "single family residences" and convert apartments to condos.) To make matters worse, there is a short gap between this city and the most ghetto-y area of the nearest large city, so there's a distinct pressure to stay very local when looking for rents.

The upshot is that we just got our rent raised, again, despite the fact that housing prices are falling like a rock. Falling fast, but, darnit, not fast enough. Despite a huge fall, they're still out of line with rents even though the rents are higher than they should be for the area, and we still can't afford to buy. And because there's almost nothing to rent, we're trying to cram a bunch of baby stuff into an apartment that just isn't big enough to hold it due to lack of storage.

No, we're not getting rid of the books. That might help the space situation, but then we'd be very cranky.

#194 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 01:22 PM:

Rymenhild @192 -

Thank you, that's exactly what I was apparently-only-a-quarter remembering.



#195 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 01:40 PM:

I'm going to post later today about the excitement of four months of double-blogging, but in the meantime I have a question that I'm hoping people might have some advice on.

If someone sends me a free book on the express condition that I blog about it, what do I do if I hate it, or even just think it's mediocre? I don't have any problem expressing my distaste for books I buy or that come free but one step removed (I'm getting ready to really slag one of those right now) and without the book-for-blogging tradeoff, but this feels a little bit different. A book is not sufficient bribe for me to push it if I don't like it, and there does seem to be a willingness on the part of the author to gamble. It's not someone I know personally, so there's no friendship at risk, and if the book really is awful I suppose it's no loss if the author never sends me another.

But it just feels like a weird sort of situation to get into. At the moment it is purely hypothetical, since I won't get to the book in question before this weekend at the earliest and may like it just fine.

Any advice?

#196 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 02:06 PM:

Susan @ 195... One problem with getting a book with the understanding that it will be reviewed is that it'd establish a precedent, either with that author or with others.

As for what the review'd say, well, that's a gamble an author takes.

But that's just my opinion as the hubby of a writer.

#197 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 02:13 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 186... Thanks for the Dan Dare link. That was neat!

#198 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 02:27 PM:


unless you agreed "yes, if you send me this book i promise i will review it on my blog," before the book was sent, in my view it is socially correct to not mention the book if you don't dig it.

i've been sending my book to bloggers for the last few weeks. i only expect it to get mentioned if they really like it (or if they dislike it in interesting enough ways that it would make a good post). i didn't say this in the letter, i think it's implied.

if you feel obliged to review the book because it will encourage more people to send you books to review, &/or will make your blog more popular, then i agree with serge. you don't want to get into that kind of obligation, where you have to spend a column on everything you might get in the mail.

congrats on four months!

#199 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 02:29 PM:


i just remembered what i forgot to say: if somebody says, "if i send you my totally fascinating dance book, will you review it?" i'd say the correct response is "i promise i'll take a look at it."

then it's up to them whether that's enough of a guarantee, to put it in the mail.

#200 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 02:39 PM:

Susan @195 - You've agreed to blog about the book, so obviously you should*. To me that implies you're going to give it an honest review.

As an occasional reader of your blog(s), I'd be looking for either an honest review or commentary on some aspect of the book. If it's mediocre and you feel the need to be polite, you can just talk about any interesting points it touches on and faintly critcise the rest.

Final thought: I understand from previous discussions here that a free book only gets you a review; the going rate for a good review is somewhat higher.

* As Serge and miriam said, probably not a good idea to get into the habit of blogging-for-books.

#201 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Not getting into the habit of blogging-for-books, though I do have a standing blogging-for-DVDs offer out which has not been taken up by anyone so far. My to-read pile is substantial and scary already and I get plenty of books without strings attached. But in this particular case, I voluntarily picked up the string because the book sounded interesting, with the string merely being to blog about it, which seemed a reasonable trade. I don't really think of myself as reviewing; I've no idea how to write a review. I just talk about things.

Neil, thank you for this:

If it's mediocre and you feel the need to be polite, you can just talk about any interesting points it touches on and faintly critcise the rest.

That sounds like a good idea given that I requested the book. That feels like it imposes some burden of politeness. And also this:

...a free book only gets you a review; the going rate for a good review is somewhat higher.

Yeah, that's about what I was thinking.


If someone sends me a dance book, the odds are close to 100% that I will look at it, and I will not be the least bit shy about criticizing it if I think the author is full of it. Anyone who does not expect this does not know me very well. But that's in my professional field, which is a little different, since my comments will be more knowledge-based than opinion-based. Unless a novel is simply dire (Pleistocene Redemption dire) or riddled with grammatical errors, typos, continuity problems, etc., then what I'm blogging about is really just my feelings about it. I'm not a professional critic and not inclined to become one (insert standard remarks about copious free time, lack of sleep, etc.)

#202 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 03:11 PM:

On reviews, my personal opinion is my obligation is to the reader, not the writer of the novel (or maker of the movie, or whatever). Therefore, I'm going to be honest when I write.

Though you may get flack if you're honest.

My assistant on Firefox News recently reviewed a book in the enthusiastic negative. (Moral of the story: Don't send a book with an innaccurate Hollywood representation of Wicca to a practicer of Wicca with a well known reputation for snarkitude.)

The book's publisher was rather ... displeased. Vocally. And unprofessionally. It turned out to be a POD that slipped past our POD-detector filters, but wow, what a fuss. It probably didn't help his ego any that it was the only review of the book out there.

-- Leva

#203 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 03:17 PM:

#191 - Leva, the forum we were on that did stuff like that changed one of our member's last names to Hitch"rooster"...

Which led to much levity. Not as much as a poultry forum, though.

#204 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 03:20 PM:

RE "Dan Dare":

Warren Ellis did a sort of loving deconstruction of the comic, "Ministry of Space."

It's a just-so story about how Britain became the world's space superpower after WWII.

Great artwork, dark secrets, twist ending.

#205 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 03:27 PM:

Another fascinating "Big Dog" robot video!

That thing is getting more life-like all the time.

#206 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 03:41 PM:

Open Threaditude: Ben Stein loses his mind.

Leva, #202: Got a link? I love a really good snark!

#207 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 04:30 PM:

#206: Oh, Ben Stein hasn't lost his mind. He's mouthing the Discovery Institute's mission statement. I presume he's being well paid to do it. And even if he isn't, his appearance would pay off; Trinity Broadcasting is a religious media outfit whose audience is being encouraged to see his new movie.

If he was interviewed on a PBS news show, he'd probably avoid the God talk and instead blather about how scientists and educators don't treat ID proponents fairly.

He's a manipulative putz.

#208 ::: Clan ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 04:32 PM:

I commented on this site for the first time a couple days ago, and got my very first piece of spam at that address within 24 hours of that comment. *sigh* Didn't think about that when I put my e-mail in.

Hey, has anybody else read "Little Brother" yet? I finished it within 12 hours of having bought it. A ripsnorter of a Young Adult yarn. (YA yarn = YArn?) I bet Marcus would have thought about the spam situation before entering a working e-mail address.

#209 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 04:36 PM:

I'd change my email address in the comment box for something with dummy characters, but then "view all by" wouldn't lead to all of my posts anymore, right? "view all by" is dependent on both name and address for identification. Since I comment but rarely, I'd like all of my extant posts to stay together. I guess I'll just continue to rely on Yahoo's increasingly ineffective spam filters.

#210 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 04:50 PM:

Clan (208): Yes, some people here have read Little Brother. Try this thread. :)


Does entering a website as well as an email address cut down on the spam problem? (If you put a website in, your name links to that instead.) The address is use here is also on my website in the clear, so I can't distinguish sources.

#211 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 04:53 PM:

That should be "The address I use here...."

(Previewed that comment three times, and didn't see the error until after I hit post. *sigh*)

#212 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 05:07 PM:

re Ben Stein: Loses? I have to admit, he did some nice columns about his personal life about 15 years ago.

Other than that, he's an unrepentant Nixonian speechwriter. That says a lot.

#213 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 05:41 PM:

Once upon a time, there was a professional writer who tested his book by making it available on for a while. More than a year later a small press (in which he was a partner) came out with a nicer edition.

Evidently he googled for any mention of the original edition.

The new edition is blurbed.

By me.

Not from a published review.

Not from my own blog.

From a comment thread on Making Light.

#214 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Open Thread comment on a perennial topic. The V&A museum here in London has an exhibition on at the moment entitled Blood on Paper: The Art of the Book. If you get the opportunity, don't go - it's truly appalling.

Namechecks what famous artists have done with the idea of the book, 1947-now. 39 in total, 37 of them unremittingly Western, 37 of them male. Some of them do involve sequentially legible information-containers, all of which are sealed in glass cases. A couple of them are actually interesting artifacts.

But worst of all, no metadata. No context, no explanations, no intro to the concept of the book. I blogged it in more detail, but I thought I'd post a comment here as a public service too.

#215 ::: Clan ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 07:21 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 210

I thought it was funny that no one was talking about it! Should've checked. Thanks.

#216 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 08:40 PM:

I get very little spam even though my edress is all over.

John Berkey was hired to illustrate reports and such for the company from which I'm on long-term disability. And we had a giant painting of his in the group workroom in the vault. I love his work.

#217 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 09:07 PM:

I just bought a Macbook, not even a top-of-the-line one, which cost more than my entire lifetime's computers and my first car (all bought secondhand) put together. I have not merely drunk the MacKoolAid, I am bathing in it. My Macbook sang to me and showed me pretty pictures of the universe. It is sharp and all in black (so naturally I find it appealing, even before I get into it being warm and having a really big hard, um, drive). I am in love. I can even forgive it for trying to take my picture.

On the Spockanalia thing: those editions are easily available - I bought a set at a con last year, and they had a dozen or more for sale.

#218 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 09:42 PM:


I went the extra fifty bucks for the black MacBook just because I wanted to recognize mine in a crowded room. They are beautiful babies, aren't they? I think I might be about to get another.

#219 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 10:18 PM:

Weird news bits today: First, the DC madam apparently committed suicide today. Second, Fox News had a story debunking any allegations that it wasn't suicide and that she was killed to keep her quiet, quoting only Larry Flint as the source of the claim that she was killed. (Am I just too cynical, or does the existence of the anti-conspiracy story in Fox news actually make other people more suspicious, too?)

I haven't followed the story at all, and have no reason to suspect anything nasty. It was just an odd pattern of stories to see....

#220 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 11:15 PM:

BDurbin@193: 100x sounds \very/ low; we paid 150-200x (depends on how you fudge the comparability) when we went from renting to buying in 1994 (economically middling times). I suspect the multiplier varies with the location.

#221 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 11:16 PM:

albatross, that would make me suspicious too. But we have to remember that Faux News stories are not absolutely guaranteed to be untrue.

In oddly related news, a congressman from my area was arrested for drunk driving last night. I knew he had to be a Republican from the fact that they didn't keep hammering "Democrat, Democratic congressman, Democrat Democrat!" like they always do when a Democrat is in trouble. They finally said "his likely Democratic opponent" and that confirmed it, but they never said the word Republican once in the whole report.

This wasn't even Faux News. It was the local ABC affiliate. I guess all TV news is now what Faux was 5 years ago, and Faux is now the CHINO Al Jazeera.

#222 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 11:48 PM:

I wonder if there will be a book drive for the Yearning for Zion kids. Hope so. If I were rich, I'd donate a complete set of the Harry Potter books to each of them, for starters....

#223 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 11:59 PM:

#222: I'd go in with you on a set if we could find a way to let the Elders of the sect know about the gift.

"Hey, we've given the god-fearing twelve year old you were going to 'marry' next year a book about a young boy who leaves home to learn magic from a secret society of witches and wizards.

And a copy of Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe."

That should make the old pervs pop a gasket.

#224 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 12:23 AM:

John @ 218:

I love my Macbook. I am going to sleep with it tonight.

#225 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 12:28 AM:

Mary Eileen @210:

Sadly, including a website doesn't reduce spam.

That said, I get a lot of spam due to Internet longevity — all filtered with about 98% accuracy because that longevity also means I've had a lot of time to learn the tricks.

On another topic: people who find themselves getting empty links in their messages should check what the <a href=""> tags look like after a trip through "Preview". I caught it rewriting the tag as an anchor (!) the other day; reentering it worked.

#226 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 12:37 AM:

Susan, et al.

What I can remember from my father buying my my first personal computer, a Mac LC II, the cost of that poor little beast was about double what I spent for my current iBook G4.

Just sayin'

#227 ::: Joe Eaton ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 12:49 AM:

Carol @#71:

My understanding is that caribou is the North American wild form of Rangifer tarandus, reindeer the Eurasian domesticated or semi-domesticated form.

#228 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 01:03 AM:

Here's a fascinating article about recent sucesses in modeling the complexity of hand-written Arabic calligraphy in a computer font. Very interesting. My favorite quote:

The rejection of book printing between 1450 and 1729, when Müteferrika produced his first book, was thus not the result of conservative unwillingness or cultural inflexibility. It was the rejection of an unsuitable technology. As Thomas Milo, an Amsterdam Arabist and type designer, put it, “It was as if you had urged someone who was riding in a magnificent horse-drawn carriage to get out and ride in a Volkswagen with square wheels.”

Take that, Bernard Lewis.

#229 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 01:26 AM:

I submitted the link to that Ben Stein interview to Boing Boing.

Mark posted it. It's up to 61 comments already.

Apologies in advance to Teresa . . . is there a way to tip the moderator?

#230 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 01:42 AM:


May you get great enjoyment from your new MacBook. Although I was one of the first people in the world to buy an IBM PC (I bought it in 1982, while I was working for Intel, and thus had all the best programming tools for it), I finally did settle on Macs in 1991, when I bought my first Mac desktop. I held off on a laptop until 2001, because I wanted an active matrix LCD on it, my eyes couldn't easily follow the cursor because of the ghosting of the old displays. Now my primary computer is a MacBook Pro I bought last year, after my 2001 Pismo just got too slow for the things I wanted to do with it.

I envy you your black MacBook. There isn't a black case option for the Pro, so I'm typing right now on an aluminum case machine. I really liked the black plastic case of that old Pismo, and I wish it had been an option for this new computer.

#231 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 04:14 AM:

Earl, #222: Hey, that made me realize that this would be a great place to ask a particular question!

The question is: what books can you recommend, especially for the YA age group, which involve magic in a way that is clearly not Satanic?

The most immediate example I can come up with is the Lord Darcy books, in which magic is under strict control of the Church (and practitioners of black magic are considered criminals).

I'd include Diane Duane's "Young Wizards" series, except that her Powers are probably not Christian enough for the list. I'm looking specifically for magic in a Christian context.

#232 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 06:31 AM:

Lee #231: what books can you recommend, especially for the YA age group, which involve magic in a way that is clearly not Satanic?

It would be problematic for me to try to recommend books of any sort at all that I think wouldn't be willfully misinterpreted by that hideous cult as satanic in influence. I really do not feel that the delicate sensibilities of the cult patriarchs should at all have anything to do with what those children are allowed to read now that they've been freed from their grotesque influence.

#233 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 07:36 AM:

JESR @156 - Exactly! I long ago stopped taking offense.

#234 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 07:43 AM:

Susan @ 274... I love my Macbook. I am going to sleep with it tonight.

That sounds like the setup for an XKCD cartoon.

#235 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 08:15 AM:

Lee, #231, asks: what books can you recommend, especially for the YA age group, which involve magic in a way that is clearly not Satanic?

Lots of luck there. If it isn't by an explicitly Christian author the concerned Christian mother's brigade* will eventually find something wrong with it.

Earl, 232,

I don't think Lee is asking about the cultists.


I'm going to take your question at face value, and assume that you are a Christian (or similar) who is looking for depictions of magic that aren't irredeemably dark, as used by the protagonists, in YA fiction? Or do you want fiction that doesn't have baddies that use that either? The second requirement leaves almost nothing left, including Star Wars, Narnia, LOTR, etc.

More generally, I think the inability to distinguish assorted modern pagan religions** from satanism doesn't help Christian types when this kind of thing comes up.

*abbrev.: CCMB

**Xopher, would that phrase be acceptable as a category for Wicca? (To distinguish it from, say Shinto or Hinduism? Or is the distinction offensive?)

#236 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 08:47 AM:

Lee @ #231:

Katherine Kurtz's Camber trilogy. The magic is done in an alternate-Catholic style with invocations to the archangels, apostles, trinity, etc., and practiced by priests, bishops, and monks. As long as they aren't of the anti-Catholic variety of Christian that should work okay.

Her other Deryni books would be more problematic, since many of them follow the theme of the church deciding that magic is Satanic and pursuing its practitioners, which muddies the message a little.

#237 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 08:59 AM:

don @235: Even if it is by an explicitly Christian author, it's liable to be attacked by the sort of people who attack books for Putting Satanic Ideas Into Children's Heads. C S Lewis has come in for his share of such attacks over the Narnia books. Of course, Lewis was an Anglican, and as we all know, Anglicanism is crypto-Catholicism, and thus one step away from overt Satanism...

[Given some of the visitors the fluorosphere has been hosting of late, I probably need to make it explicit that there is a certain amount of satire involved in the last sentence above.]

#238 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 09:04 AM:

I think the Young Wizards books count, but they do put Christianity in a larger context as a facet of good rather than the whole of it-- Archangel Michael shows up, but it is clear that Archangel is one mask of many.

I can't think of anything else off the top of my head; the word 'explicit' is throwing me. I know that I've read at least one book in which a character asked if this magic nonsense was evil, but even then I don't think that the word 'Satanic' came up. For me to see a plot element as Satanic, it has to be pretty explicitly pointed out.

Wait! Melanie Rawn, Spellbinder. I'm not sure if the is-magic-evil conversation comes up, but the bad guys are, if not Satanic, inspired by such, and the contrast might make it clear that magic in general is not.

And Doranna Durgin, A Feral Darkness, in which a woman who invoked an old god has to figure out what she did, now that other old gods have also been invoked. She eventually decides that the one she brought up is an angel, mistaken for a deity by the people who first saw it. It's not YA, but it's suitable for YA readers, if that makes sense.

#239 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 09:30 AM:

Hmm. If the Young Wizard books are not sufficient, I'm guessing this means Christian authors or explicitly Christian magic only? as the Young Wizard books are definitely God-positive (the protagonists explicitly serve good forces (not seen to look like a guy with a long beard, but I'm sure there's a guy with a long beard among them somewhere) and oppose a Lucifer-type entity.)

Madeleine L'Engle specifically was Christian, and I'm not sure her work would satisfy requirements either...leaving me a bit stumped.

#240 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 09:35 AM:

"...KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft..."

Gives a whole new meaning to purse-snatching.

#241 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 10:02 AM:

don #235: ***sputter*** You might want to read a bit of Lee's "view all by" posts....

Lee #231: Tolkien and CS Lewis were both serious, practicing Christians who wrote fanatasy books involving some level of magic, though the LoTR books don't have any kind of direct obvious link to Christianity. I think _The Eye of the World_, while not Christian, definitely deals with good and evil. (The God figure isn't visible, but the devil certainly plays a big role in that and subsequent books.)

ISTM that there's a basic split between authors who view magic as interacting with some kind of spirit or magic world (potentially full of good and evil spirits/gods/powers/etc.), and those who view magic as essentially technology. The WOT books have a form of magic which is basically technology used by all sides. This has the feel, to me, of being about the same as both sides in WW2 working on nukes and radar and submarines and rockets and codebreaking. It seems like that view sidesteps the issue of magic as maybe contradicting or calling into question Christian beliefs, or being forbidden by them. Maybe this is a bit like martial arts or yoga, which can be seen as either being tied into some some kind of Eastern religions/spirituality, or as being basically an imported fighting style/sport/exercise program.

#242 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 10:12 AM:

Stories of magic and Christianity:

My idea of how Christianity relates to magic was formed by reading Norse folk tales, looking especially at the example of trolls:

According to D'Aulaire's book _Norse_Gods_and_Giants_, the earth is made of the body of a giant troll, who Odin slew. Later on, the trolls fled to the mountains to be safe from the gods.

Later on, according to the folk tale collections of Asbjornsen and Moe, trolls were creatures who hid in the forests and stayed out of sight of the churches.

So maybe, as it were, Christianity is the infrastructure of the city, and magic is the forest that existed before the city showed up.

This is not really a helpful answer to the question asked in #231, but this is something that shaped my perspective so I thought I'd share it.

#243 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 10:31 AM:

I'm going to be in NYC this weekend, with a schedule something like this:

Sat AM: family psychodrama & doing Something with 13-yr-old half sister I have never really met (ack, gah, help!)

Sat PM: go to library and crank silent filmstrips until my eyes cross and my arm cramps

Sat dinner: ???

Sat nite: Scottish Play, take II

Sun AM: watch Torchwood 02-11/12/13

Sun PM: teach Regency quadrilles & The Coolest Renaissance Contra Medley Ever

I'm open to suggestions for:

1) things to do with a smart, bookish, semi-Aspie 13-year-old female stranger that can be fitted into two hours. Starting point is (more or less) the Apple Store up by the park.

2) people to have dinner with or otherwise fill in the time between the library kicking me out the door and the play starting.

3) anyone who wants to see Macbeth - there are still tickets available and it's an amazing production (enough so that I'm seeing it for the second time!) kibitzing in the lobby at intermission.

#244 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 10:40 AM:

Susan @ 243... things to do with a smart, bookish, semi-Aspie 13-year-old female stranger

How about going to a bookstore that also has a coffee bar?

#245 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 11:11 AM:

Dena Shunra, miriam beetle, and any who have a passing familiarity with Hebrew.

Over at the thread on Boing Boing about the evolution of lizards we got a definition handed to us (from Strong's Concordance; about which I have reservations; but some of those are secondary from the attitudes of the poster). We didn't get the Hebrew word (cud, as in what cattle and other clean beasts chew) but we were given this.

"as scarping the throat, to bring up the cud, by anal, to saw-catch-chew-destroy."

Which I find to be nonsensical.

Further, do any of you know the talmudic reasoning for saying rabbits "chew the cud"?

(my suspicion is that Strong built his definition of "cud" to include the cecal pellet eating behavior of rabbits, but that's probably more than a little of the cynic in me leaking out).

#246 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 11:31 AM:

Susan re family one has not met: I did that. Long story, and not worth going into here, but I was about 19 when I met my father. for different reasons my eldest half-sister on his side of my family was about 12 when I met her (it took us a while to get in the habit of regular communication; she's on her way to college next fall).

It's not that hard. One just has to treat them as people; and accept that some of them may have expectations of you which are based on lots of daydreaming. I found myself a trifle idealised, but not by the eldest, so much as the middle. The half sister I have the worst relationship with is the one whom I saw pretty regularly until she was eight.

After that, well let's there are lots of reasons why she doesn't talk to me, and most of those aren't clear, even to me.

#247 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 12:08 PM:

Lee @#231: Wormwood and by Graham Taylor are outright Christian allegories (somewhat to the detriment of the plots IMHO).

Lois McMaster Bujold's The Spirit Ring has magic under the watchful eyes of The Church(tm).

#248 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 12:34 PM:

magic and Christianity... would R.A. MacAvoy's Damiano trilogy count? Is that magic? Is it properly Christian?...

Actually, that's the real question, whether the magic is "properly" Christian. For some groups of Christians any hint of magic or psi or whatever, that isn't met with Immediate and Painful Justice, is "Satanic." For the majority of Christians, Harry Potter isn't a problem.

I hate thinking like a grown-up. All the answers end up being, "It depends."

#249 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Earl, #232: I'm not thinking of That Cult specifically. As a dedicated long-time reader of SF, I occasionally run into someone who's having that issue; I'd like to have a set of works to recommend under those circumstances, but since that set of filters isn't part of my mindset, I don't have a ready-made list.

Don, #235: I'm looking for stories which demonstrate that magic and Christianity are not necessarily mutually exclusive. As such, Bad Practitioners are fine as long as you have Good Practitioners as well. And yes, I realize that nothing is going to get thru to the kind of person who doesn't recognize Catholicism as Christianity.

As to your assumption... I suggest following albatross' advice, before you swallow any more of that foot. :-)

albatross, #241: The WOT books...

Wot's that, then? ;-)

#250 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 01:06 PM:

Madeline F @ #165: If I changed to a new clean email address which I could munge, though, wouldn't I lose connection to the last five years of my comments here?

kouredios @ #209: I'd change my email address in the comment box for something with dummy characters, but then "view all by" wouldn't lead to all of my posts anymore, right?

A while ago, in one of the open threads, I saw two consecutive messages, which I paraphrase from memory:

"This is my last post with my old email address; the next post in this thread has my new address."

"This is my first post with my new email address; the previous post in this thread has my old address."

If you did something like that, you would still end up with your history split over two "View all by" pages, but each would contain a pointer to the other.

#251 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 01:09 PM:

Museum of Natural History? (Or Modern Art, if that's her thing....)

#252 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 01:16 PM:

A tangent from stories of magic and Christianity:

I remember reading something once about the presentation of the Fair Folk in English folk tales. In olden times, it was taken for granted that the fairies were adherents of the Old Religion, which is to say they were pagans, and could be driven away by the signs and symbols of Christianity. But after the Church of England got established, there started to be folk tales that took it for granted that the fairies were adherents of the Old Religion, which is to say they were Catholics...

#253 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 01:51 PM:

Terry @ 246, David @ 251:

I think I'm going to default to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the theory that there's always something cool to see there and I've never finished working my way through the permanent exhibits anyway. And it's on the East Side, where I think I'd better stay given time constraints.

The problem is that I know this girl only filtered through my father's and sister's perspectives, which are suggestive that we'd get along but hardly definitive. Interest match does not necessarily mean personality mesh. And I'm not terribly clear on how adult 13-year-olds are; the only one I've interacted with in any meaningful way recently was mature well beyond her years and could just be treated as a short adult.

I can't believe I found my life so short of psychodrama that I agreed to get myself reinvolved with my father's family. Gaaaah! What was I thinking? Madness!!!

#254 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 02:34 PM:

Susan: Yeppers. That's the problem(s) I had/have with my sisters in a nutshell.

Good luck.

#255 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 02:37 PM:

Leva @ 191, Paula @ 203: I'd hate to see what happened if someone started a discussion of the music of Bruce Cockburn on such a forum.

#256 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 02:42 PM:

#249 ::: Lee, 249, (and albatross, 241)

As to your assumption... I suggest following albatross' advice, before you swallow any more of that foot. :-)




*seriously, any attempt by me to explain what I was thinking when I inserted that assumption would only make matters oh so much worse. I offer my self-mockery up as an apology.

#257 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 02:49 PM:

Susan @ 253... Or, as James Donald said at the very end of The Bridge on the River Kwai...

"Madness! Madness!"

#258 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 02:59 PM:


I think most intelligent 13-year olds would be so grateful to be treated as an adult that you could easily make a friend for life. I would do just that. (Part of my recipe for raising kids is to treat them, as much as possible for their age, like less-informed and inexperienced adults.)

#259 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 03:34 PM:


That's more or less how/why I got into congoing (first con, age 13, treated like adult, wow!)

My general feeling, which may be projecting, is that this poor kid has been so tugged/pushed around by adult desires/pressure, that she'll probably have pretty good walls and there's going to be a trust problem. I certainly did by then, and I had one good parent. My opinion (based on second- and thirdhand reports) is that some of her parenting has been close to emotionally abusive. It's also possible that she's just a spoiled brat whom I will find annoying, no matter how smart she is. I can't stand my full sister, who's quite smart.

My only real models on how to treat kids are as (1) large cats and 2) small adults. Presumably 13 puts her well into the second category.

But overall I think this is better than a group lunch with father, stepmother, half-sister, and half-brother prior to them going off for religious observances, which was the other offer on the table.

#260 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 03:50 PM:

Paul A. @250: A while ago, in one of the open threads, I saw two consecutive messages, which I paraphrase from memory:

"This is my last post with my old email address; the next post in this thread has my new address."
"This is my first post with my new email address; the previous post in this thread has my old address."

If you did something like that, you would still end up with your history split over two "View all by" pages, but each would contain a pointer to the other.

If you included a link to your old 'view all by' in your first post with the new addr, this would help with the bridge.

I would start with something like: Here is a link to <a href = "">my old (view all by)</a>.

Then right-click over an instance of my old (view all by) from one of my earlier posts and choose 'Copy Link Location' from the pop-up menu (I'm using Firefox, YMMV). Then paste that link location between the "" in the link you've started.

#261 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 03:51 PM:

Susan #259:

If it seems at all appropriate, you can confess that you're scared, too. She's at least as likely to notice your own walls--even if she doesn't have the terminology for it--as you hers.

I'd spend a bit of time in the museum shop; there ought to be some trinket (charms, earrings, scarf) that she'd love.

And be sure she gets fed, something/someplace vaguely dashing and adult, since you're both skipping out on the family lunch; that way she won't feel as though she'd gotten the short end.

(When I was about nine, there was a period when I became almost completely dissociated from normal social interaction and behavior. On being sent to a child psychologist who ran any number of tests, it was determined that I felt that my mother was not giving me anywhere near the appropriate amount of quality time, not that we had that word back then. She started taking me, oh, just ordinary places on Saturdays, shopping, the library, all that, and things soon returned to something resembling normal. All it had taken was feeling I was getting a bit of adult attention.)

#262 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 03:55 PM:

Susan, oh, and speaking of being treated like an adult, you can always ask her if she had anything particular in mind that she'd like to do. If she does, that might solve the problem right there, and if not you've got your fallback plan so as to avoid the stale routine of "I dunno, Eddie, what do you wanna do?"

#263 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 04:07 PM:


No, I have to return her for the lunch; that's why there's a two-hour time limit. I am skipping out on it, since the combination of me+them+religion is almost guaranteed to produce an explosion which I'm not sadistic enough to inflict on two 13-year-olds. My father's been smart off enough to stay off the topic with me this time around, but it would be hard to avoid at a pre-ritual lunch.

Also, I will NOT be able to impress her with either shopping or restaurants. Not a chance. I will not even try.


One of my nervous fears is that my father is forcing her into this meeting. I keep suggesting that I ask her what she wants to do and he keeps informing me that she will do whatever I want. This is typical of my father's parenting style.

It will be interesting to see if my father's desire for me to play One Big Happy Family with them outweighs what I suspect he will see as me being a bad influence. (I see his being willing to put us together unsupervised as something of an act of desperation, I'm just not clear on whom the desperation is about -me or her - or how far it goes.)

#264 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 04:22 PM:

"I keep suggesting that I ask her what she wants to do and he keeps informing me that she will do whatever I want."

And they're wondering why she seems socially awkward and inclined to withdraw? Bleah.

I'd feel almost inclined to rule out Asperger's on the basis of this background; at the very least, it's going to be difficult to distinguish from the normal effects of toxic upbringing on a sensitive kid.

#265 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 04:26 PM:

Susan, once you're out of sight of your father, ask her what she'd like to do. She might be glad to be asked instead of told.

#266 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Susan #263:

I wasn't thinking so much of impressing as offering opportunities for interaction. Bribery, perhaps, in the nicest way, but impressing, no. If something you saw at the museum really caught her imagination, then something related at the shop might be a way of marking the occasion if it seemed warranted. If the two of you decide that you like each other, then starting to build your own shared history--not your family's--is a good thing.

You've got a sense of humor; I expect that she does too. Giving it play might be the best thing you could do. Best of luck tomorrow.

#267 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 04:42 PM:

Clifton: Right. The question for me is whether she will rebel (my approach) or whether she has succumbed to the equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome (my sister's approach).

PJ: I put the chances of getting an honest answer to that at no better than 50-50. I bet she's been lectured up, down, and sideways about this meeting and not screwing it up. My father isn't stupid; he's figured out that she's the reason I'm talking with him again. I'm going with museum based on my sister's comments to me about one of their trips to London: "She had done all this reading and wanted to go to all these historical sites and museums. It was just like traveling with YOU!" (Note that my sister did not consider this a compliment.) So a museum seems like a reasonably good bet.

#268 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 04:52 PM:


Free Comic Book Day is tomorrow.

Salon has a review of the comics being offered.

#269 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 05:18 PM:


Sorry, you hit one of my hot-buttons. One of my father's approaches is to try to impress/intimidate with dashing restaurants and gifts/bribes. The only real benefit to surviving this is that now when men try doing that sort of thing to impress me it completely fails to work. Has the opposite effect than intended, in fact.

If the girl has internalized measuring people by the money they spend on her - and she may have by this time; my sister did and she wasn't raised that way from birth - she's probably not salvageable without more work than I'm willing to put in.

#270 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 05:56 PM:

don 235: The trouble is that Hinduism and Shinto are also modern; they're just not new. That's why we use the term Neo-Pagan to describe a new take on Paganism. Shinto and Hinduism would be Eo-Pagan, but usually you don't need to use the term.

#271 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 06:09 PM:

Susan: Even if you feel dubious and awkward about all this, you're doing a mitzvah. You deserve thanks for it from someone - so, thanks.

It's sad that your sister was lost; but even if your half-sister is not able or ready to escape the wilderness of "normality" right now, it may do her good to know that some people find their own ways out.

On a wild tangent, as I read you describing the delicate complexities of the situation, it reminds me of Cold War spy novels. Your superficial mission is to establish a diplomatic détente; the underlying mission is to subtly convey to a potential defector that it would be possible to escape to a neutral territory, without blowing your diplomatic cover should the apparent defector prove to be a double agent.

#272 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 06:25 PM:

Clifton, I like that analogy. If my family ever turns toxic, I may use it.

If I were in your situation, Susan, I would try to do pretty much as you are doing, plus a small, tangible reminder-- the museum gift shop suggestion, really, though it also serves to mark the occasion as special and perhaps set you up as kind of a treat. Foodwise, it's hard, because I was and remain issue-tangled with food; I expect that if I were meeting someone I didn't know, under stress, I'd want something extremely familiar rather than anything fancy. It's the sort of thing you'll have to handle on your own, unless you can check the comment thread via cell phone or something.

I can't figure out anything that doesn't assume I'm the girl, and I know that my weirdness is not anyone else's. Good luck with it, and I hope the family drama doesn't mutate into anything you cannot handle.

#273 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 06:33 PM:


A minor quibble. Nearly as I can tell, magic isn't actually controlled by the Church in the Lord Darcy books. However there isn't any particular conflict between the Sorcerer's Guild and the Church and there are church officials who are members of the Guild.

#274 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 07:44 PM:

Don, #256: 'sokay. It actually wasn't that unreasonable an assumption to make -- for someone who hadn't read much of my overall posting. (And you have to go back surprisingly far to get to anything that makes it really clear; we seem not to have been having much in the way of religious discussion of late.) You just thought that I was "of the culture", when my actual goal is "subverting the culture".

Susan, #259: Oh ghod yes -- and each and every one of them interrupting her, speaking for her, and talking about her as if she weren't there.

I'll agree that "treat her like a person" is the best first step. And I'll also agree with Clifton @271 that this is a brave and admirable thing for you to be doing.

Michael, #273: I think this is a semantic issue. Magic in the Lord Darcy universe is used (controlled) by the Talented; however, it is strictly overseen (controlled) by the Church. One can only be a legitimate sorcerer by passing Church-administered inspections and being granted a license. And the license can be pulled by the Church, and various punishments administered (up to the forcible removal of one's Talent), for using magic in unapproved ways.

This isn't nearly as tyrannical and abusive a system as it sounds like written out above. The sort of things that will get your license yanked and/or your Talent removed are pretty damn nasty; no Wiccan would want someone who was doing that kind of shit running around loose either!

#275 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 08:06 PM:


Yes. Had forgotten about (and missed in most recent reskim) the part where Church boards do the licensing.

(Although "strict control" still seems like too strong a term to me.)

#276 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 08:48 PM:

albatross @241:

No obvious Christian links? You mean, say, like a major character with special powers who returns from the dead? (Admittedly, the mythology is a bit muddled — Olorin is identified as a Vala, and the Valar are obviously angels.)

It's also worth noting that there is a movement among Orthodox rabbis (even "modern" O) to forbid all martial arts, yoga, etc. for being fundamentally pagan.

Terry Karney @245:

Without looking up vocabulary (modern Hebrew dictionaries are of limited use with Biblical and Mishnaic; modern Hebrew was almost invented from whole cloth), it would not at all surprise me to find that all of those terms share a common consonantal root. Hebrew works that way.

As for hares "chewing the cud": it looked to them like that was what they were doing — and this was pre-scientific method and nearly pre-science. (This is in fact the standard explanation.)

#277 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 08:53 PM:


I think of this whole thing as playing the Game. In this case, I have fairly clear short-term objectives (infiltration and discovery), which should let me do better than the last time around. Being dead also helps. But all the same, the first round with my father was...rough. Initial objective achieved. The long-term objective, if I decide it's worth it, is for fifteen months or so from now, when she's sent away to school. It will probably be in New England, and I want visiting access, which almost certainly requires parental permission. That will give me time to see what can be done, if anything. The question is what I'll have to give in order to get this.

And really, I'm not doing this to be nice. I'm selfishly interested in finding out if I actually have a remotely interesting relative. If she turns out to be a spoiled little brat, I'm not going to pursue it.

#278 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 09:12 PM:

CHip: It is entirely possible that I used the wrong multiplier, but if your name implies a California connection, then all bets are off anyway. ;) Anyway, I remembered the multiplier as being something absurdedly easy, and I know there are some people out there who have trouble with 150%. (Not my family.)

A little harder is to figure out what the prices should be using the traditional 3x median income for the area to get the price of a median income house. It's harder because you have to know what the median income is, and what a median house is. Around where I live that would be under $150K, and housing is not there yet. Who knows if it will be? I'm in Cali too*.

(Oh, and traditionally you should borrow no more than 2.5 times your income. That means a house that is 3x the median income expects a down payment that is half of the median income to follow this standard. Median houses are NOT supposed to be "starter homes", and "starter homes" should NOT be six or seven times the median income!)

*Many things to love about my home state. Housing prices sure ain't one of them.

#279 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 09:26 PM:

If some bank were stupid enough to let me borrow 2.5x my income, I wouldn't waste it on a piddly house, I'd squander it on computer and video equipment, DVDs, computer games and steak dinners. Yum!

#280 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 09:39 PM:

B: no, I'm at the other end of the continent; the sig is a compression of my name. The fudge factor comes from having rented half a tall semi-detached (very uncommon in the Land of the Three-Decker, but they do exist), then moving to a 2.5BR/1B.

Joe@227: according to one of our tour guides in Alaska, the difference is <saccharine>"reindeer can fly!"</saccharine>

#281 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 09:46 PM:

Being dead also helps.

EXPN? [*]?

Are we talking zombie dancemistress? "And that was just one of the many times I died, a delightful experience I recommend to all of you."?

#282 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2008, 11:14 PM:

For the Maker Faire*, I'll be there tomorrow the 3rd.

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend, you should go- it's filled with the shiny. Blimp kits and 3D printers and tesla coils and the person weaving fiber optics into her cloth.

One room for the kids is filled with

1. electronics--Apples to VCRs--and

2. screwdrivers.

Need I say more?


May 3-4, San Mateo County Fairground

"Build. Craft. Hack. Play. Make. Maker Faire is a two-day, family-friendly event that celebrates the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset. It’s for creative, resourceful people of all ages and backgrounds who like to tinker and love to make things."

#283 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2008, 12:04 AM:

#282: I'm not going this year, but I encourage all in the Bay Area to check it out.

My old rocket club is hosting a build-your-own project.

#284 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2008, 12:57 AM:


Good luck with your half-sister. Every once in awhile I think about getting back in contact with my own siblings; I haven't even talked to any of them on the phone in more than 20 years. But we really have nothing in common anymore, even though our father, who was the reason I dropped out of contact, has been dead for 10 years. It's just been too long, and too much blood over the dam. And only one of them is anywhere near my age: 5 years younger. The other two are 15 and 17 years younger, so we barely know each other. Sometimes I wish it were otherwise, and I'm glad you have a chance to find out if can be otherwise for you.

#285 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2008, 01:18 AM:

Well, thanks loads, Patrick -- I followed your link to Jo Walton's fantasy name generation tips, and the code Muse struck, and I wrote the damn thing in Perl before I even knew what I was doing. Now how am I going to finish the paying work on time? Huh? I blame you. And the Bush Administration, of course (goes without sayin.)

#286 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2008, 01:58 AM:

albatross, #219, Palfrey had spent 18 months in jail for earlier crimes and had said repeatedly that she would kill herself before going to jail. Apparently she meant it.

The annoying part of the local NBC station was that they played the 911 tape of her mother after finding her. That was rude.

Susan, #269, my dad had the gift/bribe thing -- "if you come visit, I'll give you [something he thought I'd like]" -- never worked, particularly because he had made promises to me through my childhood of the nature "if you do this, I'll buy you that" that he never kept. In fact, he died owing me about $3K from my childhood work -- I never asked for it back after he told me that since I was his child, it was really his money after all. Good luck, and you'll probably do best following your instincts.

#287 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2008, 03:04 AM:

Marilee @ #286: "they played the 911 tape"

You know, our local stations do that too, and I don't know why (well, of course I know why; it's titillating). I don't have a need to know/hear that anguish. It doesn't inform at all. I wish they'd stop.

#288 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2008, 03:10 AM:

Geekosaur: that's what I figured. This yahoo is saying (which hope I made clear) that rabbits do chew cud, the only difference is it comes out the anus.

The best guess is [gerah], but we've not been blessed with his actual word.

#289 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:50 PM:

Terry & Geekasaur - oops, I wasn't following the open thread. For completeness, here's my answer (as given on Terry's blog):

Drawing on the fine etymological dictionary by Avraham Even Shoshan, the 1992 edition:

2. The word is indeed gerah (which is either גרה if you use diacritics for vowels, or גירה if you choose the standard, vowelless orthography.)

1. The phrase for chewing cud (to chew cud) is lehaalot gerah (literally, to bring up the gerah). The specific word for cud may have some etymological relationship to the word for a single grain (garger or gar'in - גרגר, גרעין, and to agora אגורה, which is a small-denomination coin). There is also an Accadian relationship (the word in Accadian is Giru.) It refers to anything that you've brought beyond your teeth and is still in your mouth (Even Shoshan says that it could be used to refer to food that is stuck in your teeth).

Interestingly, there is another etymology, which relates to the upper torso: it is also called gera, and is related to garon, the neck (the inside of the neck. The outside is tzavar).

3. Modern Hebrew does not relate cud-chewing to anything done by anus, nor to saw-catch-chew-destroy. However, the word for provoking or challenging someone is hitgara (התגרה) (years of reading about graylag geese come crashing to the fore... ...they use neck motions for warning as well as for courtship). Basically, the word for cud relates to various words for aggression, so that catches the "destroy" word.

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