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June 30, 2008

Open thread 111
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 07:03 PM *

Ad tempus novum incipere.

Comments on Open thread 111:
#1 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 07:29 PM:


So is this the thread where I talk about how psyched I am to be going to my first Worldcon, or are we to have a dedicated thread where I can gibber about that?

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 07:47 PM:

Skwid @ 1... I don't see why you can't gibber here about going to your first Worldcon. Be seeing ïa ïa ïa!

#3 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 07:50 PM:

At last!

This needed to be linked here of all places:

In which, perhaps, Plums are eaten

Skwid, Avram and I just recently decided we were going to Denvention, mainly because I have a major birthday that Wednesday and wanted to do something neat. It'll be my eighth.

#4 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 07:53 PM:

Bilbo's birthday at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, the emergency number in Japan (isn't it in other places, too?), thirty-seven threes, a very lucky sequence of bits, an unlucky sequence of trits in balanced ternary, a very heavy sequence of bits (high weight!), an intuitive way to write the number three, and an oddball abbreviation for a sentence in which the Spanish version of John gained a single victory.

#5 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 07:53 PM:

Chris (3): I assume you mean your eighth Worldcon, not your eighth birthday. ;) (It'll be my eleventh.)

#6 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:05 PM:

Mary Aileen: Well, seeing as how leap days don't fall in August (and even 32 was a while ago), you assume correctly.

#7 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:05 PM:

One sometimes investigates times that are new to one.

The other day I was wondering if there was a good one-volume history of India anywhere. Recommendations for something that's reasonably accurate and a good read?

#8 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:19 PM:


March 2, 1891, Wednesday

WATERTOWN, N.Y., March 1. -- The largest pulp mill of the Remington Paper Company, about two miles below this city, was almost totally destroyed late last night by the high water, causing damages requiring about $50,000 to repair and killing John Murphy, an employe, aged sixty-eight. Eleven pulp grinders, the wheel, and various other machinery were carried down the river. [ END OF FIRST PARAGRAPH ]

#9 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:19 PM:

I'm going to be going to my first Worldcon, too! Also, I have space in my room if someone or someones would like to share a room...? At the Crowne Plaza Hotel (#2 on the Denvention hotels page), a nonsmoking room with two full beds, arrive Thursday check out Sunday, $129/night for the room even split? I am contained and non-snoring and used to coming in quietly with a modicum of fuss, and if Denver gets hit by some horrible disaster I can lead the exodus 14 miles south to my parents' house... ;)

Oh, and right now on my Livejournal I have a picture from 1913 of a man climbing down a rope from an airship onto a speeding steam train. Awesome!! I found it here.

#10 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:33 PM:

Alas, we aren't going. Between my still being unemployed and the fact that it isn't good for someone undergoing chemotherapy (my partner) to be out in huge crowds, we're staying home.

#11 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:38 PM:

Paula Helm Murray @ 10... My best wishes to you and yours.

#12 ::: Jason McIntosh ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:49 PM:

Thanks for the XKCD-explaining sidelight, Patrick. Not knowing the source material, my first reaction to the comic was "Well, yes, I suppose Munroe's allowed to do a clip show, at this point."

People who enjoyed the Discovery Channel ad will also appreciate Where the Hell is Matt?, which charmed its way through my personal blogocircle last week. I have watched it a dozen times and still mist up a little over it.

#13 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:54 PM:

albatross #4:
It's the emergency number in New Zealand too. Our trans-Tasman neighbours (Australia) use '000'.

I hadn't realised that there's a Wikipedia entry for '111'

#14 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:54 PM:

#7 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk

I haven't read his India: A History, but I have read John Keay's The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Trading Company. His India is the first single Vol. history of India since the 1950's. He's a popular writer, not an academic, so it's narrative history, and should be readable.

Love, C.

#15 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:56 PM:

Which led me to this.

#16 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 09:16 PM:

Denvention 1981 was my first convention. Not just my first worldcon, my first convention, period. I was 17, and flew from Seattle with my friend Jim, and we stayed with friends of the family who happened to be nuns.

#17 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 09:30 PM:

The Discovery Channel commercial and Where the Hell is Matt? both make me smile like it's my job.

#18 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 09:31 PM:

#7 Tony Zbaraschuk; #14 Constance Ash

I have read John Keay's India: A History, and reccomend it unreservedly. I intended to say more, but seem to have lost coherency, so am going to bed.

#19 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 09:44 PM:

John Keay reminded me of this book by John Kaye I found at the British Museum. Google has a (buggy?) scan of a copy from Harvard here.

Really, I was just looking for an excuse to share the shiny tooling.

#20 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 09:53 PM:

A particulate deposit: Court cites nonsense poem in ruling for Gitmo detainee

That's right: a federal appeals court liked the Bush admin argument to something out of Lewis Carroll.

#22 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 10:11 PM:

I'd never seen the Discovery channel ad until it was linked to here, so when I saw the XKCD strip I immediately thought of this.

You could almost imagine the XKCD/Discovery channel song being sung to the same tune. That was how I heard it in my head, screechy voice and all.

#23 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 10:17 PM:

Serge @ 2: I'm speechless with horror.

Ïa, ïa, ïa made the best pun, and opened the door for the nameless ones.

R'lyeh, I can only prostrate myself in front of the master and beg for mercy.

#24 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 10:17 PM:

There's a nicer-looking scan of the East India Company book at the Internet Archive. (Well, the pages are nicer than Google's, anyway. They don't show the spine.)

It'll be in tomorrow's update for The Online Books Page. (And I'm always happy to get suggestions for more titles to add)

#25 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 10:18 PM:

Paula Helm Murray @ 10: Best wishes for a successful treatment!

#26 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 10:28 PM:

Skwid and Madeline F:

Congratulations! WorldCon is a blast! This will be my third... my second for the whole weekend.

Please join the Church of the Great Washed and pack your shower supplies!

#27 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 10:43 PM:

Turns out the library I work at has the history of the Honorable Company, and I am borrowing the other history of India via interlibrary loan. (A wonderful invention, truly...)

#28 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:08 PM:

I wasn't much interested in the movie "Punisher", which is in the works, but someone showed me a preview for it today, and holy crap, it's Titus Pullo!

Might have to do a matinee. Or guys night. or something.

#29 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:12 PM:

I'm still reeling a bit from having seen Wall-E yesterday.

I'm describing it to fannish types as what might result from a Robert Sheckley novel taking advantage of The Velveteen Rabbit. Mixed with a bit of "Silent Running" and "2001."

I sat through the credits partially because I'm not sure I could walk straight if I'd try to leave right away. In any case, the visuals behind the first third of so of the credits are a kind of coda to the story, one that could be influenced by All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

#30 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:27 PM:

Titus Pullo? Oooh! And I haven't even seen Iron Man yet, or WALL-E.

#31 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:03 AM:

Iron Man? Two chrome-plated thumbs up. WALL-E? Mere digits won't do justice. I'm excited to dip my toe into the wild untamed waters of a Making Light open thread (the courage granted by the fact that I can't possibly go off topic is diminished by the fact that I know that there are astonishing experts in every field who will swoop down on my stupidity like a kestrel nabbing a hapless rodent.) Nevertheless, eventually, when one delurks, plunge one must.

I'm doing a straw poll of advice from fans (and or slans, or even flans) on the expat experience. I've been offered a plum of a job Munich. Sounds cool, but what about the books? The movies? The fan community? Advice and help from anglophones living in old Yurp would be massively appreciated...Vielen dank!

And in the spirit of semi-on-topic-ness, I wanna be there when they switch on the LHC. Worth being around if the universe ceases to exist...I can say:

"I -

#32 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:05 AM:

(1) In the Gitmo particle, CNN leaves us with this little propaganda turd: "The ruling came 18 days after the Supreme Court concluded that the approximately 270 men held at Guantanamo have a basic constitutional right to challenge their detention in federal courts, another setback for the Bush administration's anti-terror and war policies."

As if the Bush Administration had "anti-terror policies." God.

(2) See Wall-E. I kid you not. "Try blue! It's the new red!" is the new quote around the house. Also, "I don't want to survive. I want to live!" It's all good! Also, given that sometimes I seem to be aware of some Internet traditions others haven't seen yet, you can visit the the Website of the Buy-n-Large corporation. I especially got a kick out of the privacy policy.

#33 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:08 AM:

Thanks to eight dear friends in six different states, I'll be at Worldcon this year, too! Better yet, I'll be pulling a trick I've done just three times before: hosting parties every night of the convention.

In 1992 and 1996, I did so with the Fan Lounge; in 1992 and 2000, I did so for Minneapolis in '73. (So you noticed that doubling up in '92 did you? Yep, me, too. 'Twas fun...once. I learned that running one party suite every night of the Worldcon is plenty for even my party platter. Parties all day and all night doesn't leave enough time

This year the Big Fun is on behalf of the Reno in 2011 Worldcon bid. Whether you're at your first Worldcon or your 31st, after each great day with Making Light regulars and other erudite folks on the program, please come and party with friends old and new in the Reno suite. Good times, and All That Jazz....

See you on the Funway.

#35 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:43 AM:

Dang Serge, you make me sound so...Mrs. Robinsonesque. And I won't be 36 until next week!

But what I was really going to say is - It's my first Worldcon too! I'm in Denver right now for work, and I'll be back next month.

Be ready for lots of people complaining about figuring out the elevators and towers in the AdamsMark/Sheraton. Oy.

Turns out Mensa is having a meeting here as well. I was wearing my XKCD t-shirt this evening, and someone asked me if I was here for the Mensa convention. Hee.

#36 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:44 AM:

#32: "you can visit the the Website of the Buy-n-Large corporation."

Thank you . . . . that is a work of genius. ("Anti-Consumer Groups are 'Opportunities'.", "BnL Acquires World's News Headlines.") I've seen lots of tie-in websites, but this one is deep, both in terms of links and in its versimilitude.

#38 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:01 AM:

Serge and Ginger: Dagon-it, I've forgotten what I was going to gibber. I seldom wander from Texas for the sake of events, but if the Mountain won't come to the Madness...

B. Durbin, you'll be pleased to hear that, though my geekly tendencies be legion, my hygeine tends towards the fastidious when there's running water available. If I'm camping, it goes out the proverbial window.

Speaking of camping, I know one of the chief pieces of advice (for Denver in specific for us Sea-level folk, and for WorldCons in general) is to stay hydrated...I was thinking of bringing my Camelbak, but it seems like it would be slightly odd. Perhaps being concerned about "slightly odd" is well on the absurd side regarding accessorizing at WorldCon, but, well, you know.

Still kind of pouty about not having figured out a way to get my big Djembe up there.

Very excited!

#39 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:03 AM:

Scott Taylor #21: Not Major Briggs! Crappy.

#40 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:19 AM:

Message sent re room, Madeleine.

#41 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:27 AM:

I will not be at Worldcon, sadly.

But if there's a Making Light party, and anyone has a webcam and a Skype account, I can stay up till silly times with my laptop...?

#42 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:39 AM:

So, about that Discovery Channel sidelight... wow, thanks!

Occasionally we miss out on some great things through not doing TV. I watched it yesterday morning, as I was up a little earlier than the rest of the household. When my 6-year old son got up, a bit later, I showed it to him.

About 10 minutes later he came running back asking me to play the video again. Then again. Then he got his astronaut figure and asked me to play it again while he held the astronaut up in orbit around the globe to act it out. We probably played it about 20 times more for him, before I had to declare a moratorium. Damn it, the world is awesome, and it's delightful when kids and adults can recognize it together.

(But a quibble, because I obsess about things like this: in the video for the first verse, that looks like it's obviously an orca to me, not a great white shark. If they couldn't find any pictures of great whites breaching, couldn't they have changed the lyric to "I love when orcas fly"?)

#43 ::: Nancy ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:01 AM:

Boom de yada, boom de yada! I listened to that about 50 times at work yesterday, without the excuse of a small child, and my brain continued to play it on high rotation all evening. It's almost the perfect earworm.

#44 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:08 AM:

This seems like a good place to mention that I'll have a supply of bright-yellow Fluorosphere buttons (with a space to write your name in) available at Denvention. They're free to any ML denizen; pick yours up at the Starcat Designs table in the dealer room.

#45 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:14 AM:

Tania, great fabric!

#46 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 03:40 AM:


There will be a Making Light party*, and my Significant has been doing all sorts of nifty things with an HD camera, a laptop, and skype accounts.

We can has Talking Pictures. We can carry Abi around the room to join in on conversations, making them better, sonnet'r, faster... we can have the 6 Million baud party.

(Does anyone know what type of input jacks the TVs in the party hotel have?)

* I'm volunteering to host it. Day and time not set-- we don't quite have our schedules scheduled for panels, dinners, etc.

Not so sure of the faux bid party (as in 2006), because we have a regular room, not a suite. (If I/we can co-host it elsewhere (as happened at Westercon), that might also exist, but would be mostly to entirely separate from MLgatherings.)

#47 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 03:40 AM:

abi #41: I will not be at Worldcon, sadly. But if there's a Making Light party, and anyone has a webcam and a Skype account, I can stay up till silly times with my laptop...?

With any kind of luck, the Virtual Tucker Hotel video chat room should be operating during the convention.

#49 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 06:41 AM:

Denvention will be my fifth Worldcon, and my first for which I have traveled outside of California. (Although there's a good chance I'll go to Montreal; that'll be my first outside the US.)

#50 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 06:55 AM:

Kathryn, I was about to say "Guys, we have got to have a party at Denvention," but ... lo, there it is. If the schedules aren't set yet, I hope it's not the same night as the Tor party.

I will do my level best to furnish a pitcher of Scurvy Cure.

#51 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:04 AM:

With any luck I will succeed in recognizing the correct date for the Tor party and the Making Light party. (In Anaheim two years ago I got the days mixed up and accidentally skipped the Tor party in favor of a game of Age of Steam: France. The game was fun, but I suspect the party would have been better.)

#52 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:48 AM:

Wrong continent for Worldcon, but I will be at most of Stabcon (An RPG/Boardgaming con) in Stockport this coming weekend. Any UK Making Light regulars going to this?

#53 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:04 AM:

Portion of Brain: Can we go to Denver?
Rest of Me: No.
PB: But we *like* Denver! It has the art museum, with the one painting we adore, and Coyote tapdancing! Also a Worldcon.
Me: And all the cool kids will be there?
Me: All the cool kids but one, then.

I went to Denver with my lab group-- driving, even, because there were so many of us-- and we had a great time. Three of us skipped a conference session and lunch to go to the art museum, which turned into half a day out because it is a fun art museum with a lot to talk about. It's a fun place.

#54 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:09 AM:

Virtual conventions?

I have a webcam, but I do not think I shall use it. I wouldn't want to shatter anyone's illusions.

#55 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:23 AM:

#20: Someone with more poetic talent, or perhaps just more time, could probably write The Hunting of the Terrorist: Stupidity for Eight Years...

#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:44 AM:

Teresa @ 50... I will do my level best to furnish a pitcher of Scurvy Cure.

Or should I say 'yum'?
Will it help with Skwid's forgetting what to gibber, and with Ginger's prostration after her having the Punwich Horror revealed to her?

#57 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:49 AM:

I'm surprised no one has so far mentioned this birdie in relation to this thread.

#58 ::: Nick ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:18 AM:

Can I ask questions about Tor books in an open thread? Well, I guess I can ask them. Will they be answered?

Anyway...How come the availability of US editions of Neal Asher's books published by Tor is so spotty? Amazon seems to be selling the UK hardback of Line War, though they are currently out of stock. I can't find any indication of a US edition on the Tor website ( As far as I can tell, only the first and third (of five) books of the Cormac series are available in US editions. What's up? When will there be a US edition of Line War?

#59 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:45 AM:

Alas, no Worldcon for me. New job and possibly a Pennsic run take its place. However, I am in the final mad throws of prep for CONvergence this week/end. 24 GoH, 22 repeating, including my favorite martian scientist.

A move may be coming up in my future. Anyone know what the fannish community in St. Louis is like?

#60 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:45 AM:

2 weeks ago, my partner looked at me and informed me that we are going to Montreal for the 2009 Worldcon.

I am still happy about it, though I am sorry to miss Denver this year.

#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:53 AM:

Nancy C Mittens @ 60... Montreal? Duly noted.

#62 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 10:11 AM:

Tania @ 35

Wait. There will be Mensa members there who will have trouble figuring out the elevators? Why does this make me think of a Gary Larson cartoon?

#63 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 10:19 AM:

I agree fervently about WALL-E. I hadn't really thought of it in connection with The Velveteen Rabbit, but that's exactly right. I was predisposed to like it going in (Pixar mechanical objects with personalities -- I've loved those since Luxo was just a snippet at animation festivals), but my roommate was only going along for the air conditioning -- except then it started with a show tune, and she was bouncing up and down in her seat with squee because she's a huge theater geek, and after that, she was hooked too. My 13-year-old daughter shared my predisposition.

There were the obligatory nods to Blade Runner, without being too heavy-handed; there was a Very Familiar Start-Up Noise which had us ALL bouncing in our seats; and the story line hooked us without provoking a lot of cynical eye-rolling, which doesn't happen so much any more with animated movies.

I'd go see it again.

#64 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:06 AM:

Errr. A bit late, but re #4, just to prevent any possible mishaps for people vacationing in Japan--111 is not the emergency # in Japan.
We have 110 for the Police, and 119 for Fire or Paramedics.
Play Safe!

#65 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:16 AM:

Oh boy!!! Open thread!!!1!!!111!!!MCXI!!

#66 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:18 AM:

Diatryma @53: So what's your favorite pic at the Denver Art Museum? Mine are "The Warning Shadow" and "Dream of Arcadia," both on the American floor. Last time I tried to go there, I arrived too late. Maybe next decade.

#67 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:25 AM:

I'm hoping I can go to Denvention this year. I bought my membership at NASFic, voted for the Hugos, got a room at the Grand Hyatt but due to a death in the family that wasn't covered by bereavement leave at work, I don't have enough vacation days accumulated. If my boss will approve, I can borrow the days, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Since this is an open thread, I'd also like to mention, completely off the Denvention topic, that a donation site has been created to help author advocates who have been sued by a certain literary agent. I don't know how much more I should say here on ML - but if you want to donate you can either visit Absolute Write and click on the button in my signature ( if that link doesn't work because you're not registered - although I think it should - just look for posts by Dawno) or visit my sadly not up to date blog for the donation button in my sidebar.

Alternatively, just go to PayPal and donate to the email ""

#68 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:26 AM:

I'm going to miss Worldcon again this year -- haven't made it to one since Boston in 2004, for want of money or vacation time or both. I'm liable to be retired before Montreal 2009, so vacation time won't be a problem, but it's too early to tell about the money.

#69 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:00 PM:

TNH @ #30: I haven't even seen Iron Man yet

FWIW: I am apparently the only person in the world who found _Iron Man_ boring, but I did. The only thing that I didn't see coming a mile off was that a character _wasn't_ revealed to have done something. And that's not even getting into some of the not-very-subtext.

#70 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:07 PM:

Scott @ 21

Oh, damn. I always liked him, and wary though I am at assigning character's attributes to actors, he always seemed a very warm and decent man. I first remember him as Scully's dad, and always smiled when he showed up in other shot-in-Canada movies/shows.

And *65*! So young!

#71 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:11 PM:

dlbowman76 @ 31:

I'm doing a straw poll of advice from fans (and or slans, or even flans) on the expat experience. I've been offered a plum of a job Munich. Sounds cool, but what about the books? The movies? The fan community? Advice and help from anglophones living in old Yurp would be massively appreciated...Vielen dank!

Munich is a lovely place in many respects, thought it does apparently have the highest cost of living of any German city.

Books: there are two or three English-language bookstores, at least one of which has a (small) SF/fantasy section, and one of the main German bookstores actually has a (smaller) English-language SF section next to its German-language SF section. Also worth noting is that you can order English-language books from the German division of (, and they don't charge for shipping. You can also order books from British web sites without paying customs fees. Ordering from US web sites is certainly possible (and getting cheaper and cheaper as the dollar keeps sinking relative to the euro...), though shipping costs are higher and you will (sometimes) have to pay customs fees. A nifty tool in this regard is, which will calculate total costs for books, including shipping charges to whichever country you specify (though they won't attempt to estimate customs fees).

Movies: Germany is, alas, one of those countries that dubs foreign movies. Since Munich is a relatively large, cosmopolitan city, however, there are some theaters that show movies in "original version" (with subtitles in German at some theaters, without subtitles at others). So it's possible to catch most major movies -- and some more obscure ones -- in English, though they may not stick around. I saw Iron Man when it played here, and I certainly expect to see Wall-E when it gets around to opening here....

There's also an annual "Fantasy Film Festival" which hits several cities in Germany, Munich included.

The only general problem related to movies that I can think of is non-English-language films, which will usually not have English subtitles, not even in the DVD version.[*] For the latter, you'd need to order a DVD from the UK or the US.)

Fan community: I'm afraid I've never been very directly involved in the fan community, so I don't know how to evaluate it for you. Munich does have two universities and a bewildering array of physics-related research institutes (including the one I work at), so you've certainly got the potential community there.

[*] Imagine the fun my friend and I had when we went to see David Lynch's Inland Empire and discovered that roughly a quarter of the film was in Polish. (Though I rather doubt the film would have made any more sense if we had been able to keep up with the German subtitles.)

#72 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:28 PM:

sherrold #70: wary though I am at assigning character's attributes to actors

I can't stand to watch anything with Jason Alexander because Philip Stuckey was mean to Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman.

#73 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Actor Don S Davis, aka Hammond of Texas, aka Dana Scully's dad, apparently passed away today.

#74 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:39 PM:

Skwid, on the hydration, most convention centers have water coolers hanging around, or should. You just have to remember to use them.

Oh, this con is going to be so frustrating on some levels because I'll be toting around the Dude and who knows how he's going to behave.

P.S. Don't forget that alcohol hits you faster and harder at altitude.

#75 ::: BuffySquirrel ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:41 PM:

Just wanted to thank--was it Patrick?--for recommending the "1491" book. Read it recently and found it fascinating. Thanks!

#76 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:46 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ 24: That is a nicer scan, especially that it has the endpapers and covers. Thanks.

#77 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:47 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 32: Inconceivable. I am aware of all internet traditions.

(Actually, I hadn't seen that and it made me giggle. Thank you.)

Today I am having an odd remix of Boom-de-ah-da and O Canada playing in my head. Happy Canada Day, y'all.

#78 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:32 PM:

I'd like to second the thanks to Patrick for Sidelighting the explanation of the xkcd strip for us non-TV-watchers (well, that's not strictly true - when I am in a hotel, I hoover up Mythbusters episodes like nobody's business, but I don't get a lot of Discovery Channel otherwise). Both the strip and the commercial make me happy - not just that I live in a world with such cool stuff in it, but that I live in a world where many other people appreciate the cool stuff.

#79 ::: Debra Fran Baker ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:53 PM:

No Denvention for us. It is Unfortunately Timed in relation to the Jewish calendar, alas. Such things happen. However, Anticipation (which happens to be on similar dates in 2009) is very well placed indeed.

(It is interesting that there are two Worldcons in a row in early August. Is this a function of availability of function space?)

#80 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:19 PM:

the Velveteen Robot?

#81 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:34 PM:

This is kind of an odd request, but I need some old-style WordPerfect documents for a test I'm running, and we only have access to X4. While we can save as older version from X4, we have discovered from other software that save-as versions are often not the same as native.

There appears to be three main types of files, 4.2, 5.1, (possibly 5.2 as well) and 6 on, but I could use files from any version.

Does anyone have some old documents that are sufficiently impersonal (directions or something) that they don't mind them being tossed into a company directory for QA tests? My email is

#82 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:38 PM:

JimR #64: Damn! Sorry I messed that up.

To reiterate, 111 is NOT the emergency number in Japan.

#83 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:53 PM:

Re: The Center Fetish

The Center Cannot Hold.
There ain't nobody in the middle of the road but a bunch of dead armadillos, slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.

#84 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 03:01 PM:

#80: Lean over here.

Little closer.

Yeah. Right there.


#85 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 03:02 PM:

Kip W at 66-- I burst out laughing when I saw the Coyote tapdancing "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" painting, somewhere in the Native American section. I love the... "Soliloquy: Life's Fragile Fictions" by Moyo Ogundipe, and if I could find a print that had the right colors, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Next time I see my cousin in Denver, I may well ask him to take a few really good pictures of it... and maybe bring his laptop to be sure the pictures have the right colors. There's a big map-of-words in the contemporary art section that my friends and I just stood reading aloud. We loved the bubble game and the lights, and made fun of each other for walking into sudden walls.

It was an interesting day in terms of art classifications-- okay, so there's art, meaning Western art-meant-as-art. Then there's archaeology art, which is things which are artsy but not Art-- nice pots, carvings, et cetera. This bleeds into really nice furniture and cabinets, jewelry, things like that.

But then... Native American art. Which is everything from blankets made of feathers to puppets to tapdancing Coyote to saddles full of embroidery. African art is the gorgeous Ogundipe hung next to tribal masks.

I really wish I had written down whether or not the 'modern art' section had a geographical note. 'Modern European/White North American' would not make me as wary and annoyed as simply 'Contemporary Art'-- because where do the extant, currently-working artists who happen to fit two galleries go? Does an artist being Nigerian mean that his work will always go into the African Art wing, and never into the Modern Art? It has two contexts.

This is a weird extension of genre, but art isn't books. You can shelve Nalo Hopkinson in SF, African-American Literature, Fiction, Women's Studies, anywhere you like, all at once. You can't hang a painting on two walls.

It kind of makes me want to design an art museum like a starfish, oldest at the outside, reflecting how artistic traditions began isolated, but have mingled and continue to do so as it became possible.

You have any favorites?

#86 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 04:07 PM:

tavella @ 81: I have sent you something that may be old enough for your purpose. I can't even open it anymore.

#87 ::: DCGelfling ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 05:50 PM:

I have a dilemma for which I can't believe I didn't think of this place sooner. (delurking, Hi!)

While in high school (early 90s), we read a short story which kinda stuck with me-- except for that whole title and author thing. It took place in a society where every person was born with 3 chances and every time you were a victim (of anything), one of your chances got used up. I remember the main character was female and there was a bit about how she doubted that some neighbor kid (I think?) was unlikely to live very long since he'd already used one of his chances so young. Some classmate slapped him, or something.

I think the main plot of the story was someone from another complex (who might have been an unintroduced friend-of-a-friend or something), who was eager to see an execution since they were pretty rare and there was one scheduled for Main Character's complex/building/whatever. I vaguely remember this being risky for MC as well as the other woman, but I don't know for sure. Anyway, the story ended with the execution, with the audience watching in rapt silence as the executioner stalked the condemned around a giant stage for a while and then slit her throat or something.

I know we read "Harrison Bergeron" at about the same time, but it was out of an anthology so probably not also by Vonnegut. I hope one of you lovely and well-read souls can end my misery. I really want to reread it, and then maybe toss it at victim-blamers.

#88 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 06:25 PM:

WALL*E has got some of the Rad Right in an uproar.

Right Wingnuts don't like WALL*E

#89 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:01 PM:

Here's a cooking question for the open thread:

I've been making a version of this recipe. (The font color/background choices are unfortunate there, sorry.) I have problems with step 2 every time. Step 2 says: "Heat the curry paste and oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Cook the curry paste, mashing it and mixing it with the oil until well mixed and bubbling."

I can't figure out how to do that without it popping and spattering all over my hands (ow!) and the stovetop. Is there a trick to it, or should I just invest in a really long spoon and plan to clean the stovetop every time?

#90 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:11 PM:

#88, Steve C. -

Glenn Beck: I can’t wait to teach my kids how we’ve destroyed the Earth. … Pixar is teaching. I can’t wait. You know if your kid has ever come home and said, “Dad, how come we use so much styrofoam,” oh, this is the movie for you.

I don't actually see this one as a bad thing. Beck (whoever that is) may think so, but it sounds like praise to *this* ecobaby. Okay, "Teach my kids how we've destroyed the Earth" is unbearably negative. But teach them what we're doing wrong so we can STOP? Oh yes.

Pollowitz just makes me laugh. I hope his campaign to boycott all the tie-in junk is
very successful.

Maybe I should be worried that these people will create enough of a noise that Disney and Pixar will listen, but mostly my reaction is, "Heh. Idiots."

#91 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:13 PM:

RM Koske @ #89, "invest in a really long spoon"

Well, you know, sup with the devil and all that.

#92 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:25 PM:

R.M. Koske #89:
I'm afraid the popping & splattering is part of the deal. It's because the curry paste has water in it that it spatters. A long spoon (or similar) helps. I also find that constant stirring helps to reduce the spatters.

In general, for best results, curry pastes should be cooked in oils until fragrant (the spices cooked enough to release aromas). If you can't smell it, it hasn't been cooked long enough.

#93 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:32 PM:

Diatryma @85 - was it you or someone else who a few months ago was talking about museums and that presenting things by (say) date, but mixing country/tradition or presenting by medium but mixing dates wasn't the best way? Becuase I had the idea that you could organise your museum with an x-axis for time, a y-axis for geographical area and the z-axis for medium (so we might have, say, fabrics in the basement, paintings on the ground floor, ceramics on the first floor* etc.). This would be fantastic for comparing different places at the same times (an vice versa), influence of one medium on another etc. It's also unworkable as some cells have more and better examples than others, and if there's a museum with too much display space and not enough exhibits I've yet to hear of it. Still, I'd like to design a museum the way I'd design the database to catalogue it (although I'd probably run out of dimensions).

R M Koske @89 I'd invest in the long soon (and an aloe vera plant) and clean the stovetop everytime, but that's generally how I cook. On the other hand, despite what it says I'd probably cook it in a casserole dish which would reduce splatter; that's because I was given a cast iron Le Creuset when I was 19 and use it at every opportunity.

* if you come from a tradition where the ground floor is the first floor, forgive me

#94 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:34 PM:

Do we all know about the Robot Hall of Fame?

#95 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:52 PM:

#88: Heh. I predicted that would happen on a post on Whitechapel. You just KNOW that James Lileks is going to write a tut-tutting review wondering where Pixar went wrong.

#96 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:53 PM:

BB's complaints against Wikimedia were dismissed in NJ State Court today, all but one with prejudice.

#97 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:58 PM:

#90: Beck (whoever that is)

Glenn Beck is yet another of the AM Radio right-wing ranters.

#98 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:00 PM:

Neil, that might have been me, but I don't remember it. I'd wonder how to do regions at all-- east to west? Change the organization of one axis as you move along the other to reflect different trade routes?

I think my ideal museum is huge, almost-perfectly organized (meaning that there's still room for a database conversation) and is populated by lots of friends who know things that aren't on the placards and wander around geeking out. Small games, do-it-yourself bits, and interesting architecture make everything better, too.

#99 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:55 PM:

Bring the Camelbak, Skwid - you'll fit right in. All the cool kids in the high country are wearin' 'em!

Saw Iron Man and adored it. Will be seeing Wall-E on Saturday. Will be reading Steve C.'s link after that.

R. M. Koske @90: I don't actually see this one as a bad thing. Beck (whoever that is) may think so, but it sounds like praise to *this* ecobaby. Okay, "Teach my kids how we've destroyed the Earth" is unbearably negative. But teach them what we're doing wrong so we can STOP? Oh yes.

"We'll tell our children's children why
We grew so tall, and reached so high
We left our footprints in the Earth
And punched a hole right through the sky"
-Marillion, "Season's End" (Pop music warnings about global warming in the '80s? Why yes!)

#100 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:18 PM:

Stoopid commercial: "Are you exposed to toxins from the food, water, and air we breathe?"

If you breathe food and water, you have worse problems. Just moving that 'the' would fix it.

#101 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:55 PM:

"[The Christian right] is so out of control that even the Satanists are saying 'All right, you guys are being really mean.'"

--Margaret Cho

#102 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 10:00 PM:

#92, Soon Lee -

Okay. I thought as much, but it was worth asking. Thanks!

#97, James D. Macdonald -

That's about what I expected.

#103 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 10:08 PM:

Xopher, that Margaret Cho quote entertains me, since the only Satanists I know are the sort to politely ask the audience to please stop crowd surfing, because security's getting overworked in the heat and the girls in the front are getting kicked in the head, so everyone cool it and we'll all have a better time, huh?

The really impressive part is, it worked.

#104 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 10:34 PM:

AKICIF (or at least AKICIML?)

Later this month, I'm going to Tales of the Cocktail, a bartending convention, with a focus on liquors and mixed drinks: history and how-to. [My husband tends bar; I'm going largely because it sounds like a lot of fun]

Problem is, I have very low alcohol tolerance, and don't want to make myself sick and thus miss out on panels (or worse).

Any tips on things I can do to help get thru the tastings?

I was thinking it would be helpful to bring along some snack foods, to avoid drinking on an empty stomach, but any specific foods to gravitate towards or avoid (proteins, carbs, etc)?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

#105 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 10:46 PM:

I have heard that high fat foods slow alcohol absorption, but I am not an expert.

Were I doing this myself, with low alcohol tolerance AND my own poor sugar metabolism, I'd be going for high protein rather than high carb snacks, because I know that alcohol and crashing blood sugar heterodyne for me. Maybe there's a reason besides the high salt content that peanuts are a traditional bar snack.

Bringing bottled water and drinking more water than you do alcohol will help to keep you hydrated and forestall hangovers.

Other than that... I guess I'd be trying to taste in little sips, not full drinks or even large mouthfuls.

#106 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:00 PM:

Lis Riba #104:
Having food helps, though I wouldn't know what sort to recommend. My alcohol consumption usually goes with food. Drinking lots of water is also a good thing - so you don't get dehydrated.

With winetastings, I'd spit the wine out* after tasting. Failing that, you could reduce alcohol intake by either getting you husband to pour you a smaller portion, or alternatively, don't feel obliged to finish every single drink.

*But not if it's a really good wine. Spitting is standard practice at formal winetastings, but 'civilians' tend to prefer to swallow.

#107 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:02 PM:

Ugh, typo.

"your husband."

#108 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:07 PM:

Lis Riba @104: Another low-alcohol-tolerance person here. Like Rikibeth, I recommend high-protein foods, although keep some complex carbs in the mix. Definitely eat (before you start drinking) and keep eating. Drink slow and keep drinking water in between.

I don't know how liquor/mixed drink tasting works -- is it Done to spit? If not, sip just enough to taste, and don't be ashamed to leave some behind (or donate it to someone else).

Finally, avoid carbonated beverages as much as possible, since carbonation tends to speed alcohol absorption.

#109 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:19 PM:

Yes Rikibeth, I know. Cho was using a stereotype to make a point. Not too many people actually know Satanists personally.

#110 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:30 PM:

Xopher, that's why it entertained me so much -- the popular stereotype (which makes the joke funny one way) vs. my actual experience (which makes it funny in yet another way).

Sometimes I think this IS Bizzarro World.

#111 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:46 PM:

Steve, #88: Wow. They sound like a bunch of 3-year-olds kicking their heels and holding their breath until they turn blue.

Xopher, #101: It's not just the Satanists. And look who's running that website mentioned in the article!

#112 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:51 PM:

I have wanted with a great wanting want to go to a Real Live Con!! since I first read Callahan's Crosstime Saloon stories in smelly, ink-smeared back issues of Analog from the 25-cent rack at the library. I hate you all.

Hey, apropos of completely nothing, I was wondering about sociopathy. M. Scott Peck tells a story about two clients on Guam, both deathly afraid of snakes, which is a bad thing to be on Guam because it basically ends your life. One client said she knew she had a problem and needed to change, and that was a neurosis that Peck could treat. The other ranted about the lazy natives who wouldn't get rid of the snakes and the sloppy military contractors who wouldn't build houses that kept out snakes and blah blah blah, and that was a personality disorder that he couldn't treat.

So: Have there ever been any self-aware sociopaths? People who are stunned to realize that they fit the definition of "sociopath," that there really is a hidden connection between speech and action that is clear to everyone BUT them, that when people behave as if their consciences prick them they are being neither duplicitous nor dupes, that their emotional landscape is lacking some landmarks, etc.? And if so . . . is there any therapy that can help a willing sociopath learn how to operate in socially acceptable ways?

I happened to be talking with someone online who insisted that he was a diagnosed sociopath and that he was struggling hard to change, and ever since then I've wondered.

#113 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 12:15 AM:

Ralph Giles: And that quotation... was the 2nd Court of Appeals "Snarking", in a big way.

The Chicago Tribune article has a serge-worthy headline. Court ruling poetic justice for detainee

The ML-ish party for Canada Day was great fun. Faces to names. David: I did the same thing... scheduled the one free day we had to go... for the wrong day. It was greatly depressing.

I will not be at Denvention. I will be at Montreal if I have to beg money and hop freight trains.

Tavella @ 81: I might have access to some older versions of WP.

Jim: I wish Beck was limited to Radio, but some one of the cable networks has given him a chunk of mid-day time.

Lis: Take sips. Eat something between sips. Fats slow absorbtion. You still get as affected, but it takes longer. Chocolate is good, if you don't feel like packing a bunch of sausage/bacon.

Drink Water, or juices to prevent hangovers.

#114 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 01:48 AM:

The way my life feels these days, if the Worldcon was held in Scunthorpe I doubt I'd be able to get away for long enough to have any fun.

And there are too many topics floating around blogs that I don't want to touch with the proverbial 10-foot pole.

Oh well. I guess it's back to making weird CGI porn.

(Humanoid, sentient, and willing: the rest is commentary.)

#115 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 01:54 AM:

Jenny @ #112:

Personality disorders - and that is what "sociopathy" is, officially labeled "antisocial personality disorder" - are extremely difficult to change. They're deeply integrated into a person's character. They used to be considered nearly untreatable, but there are some therapies now which seem to make headway.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is considered the therapy of choice for borderline personality disorder; I don't know whether it's also applied to treat antisocial personality disorder. Some psychologists seem to think the latter is pretty much untreatable, but I don't know that that's the official line.

I have some indication that DBT is effective on personality disorders. Our foster daughter ranks very high on test scales for both borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, along with a bunch of other problems like mood disorders, possibly bipolar. Thankfully, we did not write her off. The last six months of DBT has seemed to make a big difference. She still has a tendency to be very self centered and think as though the world revolves around her, to blow off thing that's not immediately appealing, and to see everything as absolute good/bad - but now she's doing these in a way closer to how an average teenager can be like that. She is definitely less manipulative and more willing to engage honestly than before. (Note this is following hospitalization and nearly two years of other therapy. She turned out to be a much more troubled kid than we had any idea when we took her in.)

Some of that may be simply that we had the faith to stick with her even when we didn't want to, and to agree to take her back in when she was done with the various residential and group-home treatment programs, even after 18.

I am a bit suspicious of M. Scott Peck in general; some of what he writes rings very true, but at other times he seems prepared to see the Hand of Satan in ordinary human bad behavior, and I wonder how much that clouds his observation and interpretation.

P.S. I'm not a psychologist, I only play one on the Internet.

#116 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 01:56 AM:

Wow, Dave, you're getting better and better at that stuff. I admire the way that's posed, lit, and framed, as well as the rendering.

#117 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 02:07 AM:

Terry Karney @ #113, the TV channel which carries Glenn Beck is CNN's Headline News. I have yet to figure out how a network which takes itself as seriously as CNN does could put two radical right-wingers like Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck on its headline service.

For that matter, why are there two full-length talk/rant programs on what's billed as a Headline News Service in the first place? Never have figured out that logic either.

#118 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 02:28 AM:

BBC News 24 shows various non-live-news programs.

Even with a lot of the studio set being virtual, these days, I suppose they need some time to sweep the floor and such.

#119 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 04:37 AM:

The RIAA is at it again.

I get the impression that they're grabbing for as much as they can get now, in the anticipation of having a less greed-oriented administration to deal with after the election. Sort of like the oil companies.

#120 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 07:14 AM:

Well, saw the movie "Wanted" staring Angelina Jolie last night. Probably give it a 7.0 on the scale, which translates into a solid matinee.

I think it was slightly better than IronMan, and I gave IronMan a 7.5. Hm. But if I go 7.6, it's an evening price. Think I might have to drop IronMan to 7.0.

Didn't take a counter with me to figure out the warpr0n score, but it's probably on par with V for Vendetta. The main difference is the movies infatuation with showing bullets go through people in super slow motion. But the body count is probably on par with V for Vendetta, so, probably around the same score.

I'll have to go through the DVD to tally the full score though.

#121 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 07:18 AM:

I wonder how much the RIAA members want for a live performance by a musical group not under contract to any RIAA member?

Rare? Maybe not.

#122 ::: Del ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 07:56 AM:

I haven't read it, but Michael Wood's The Story of India is the companion book to last year's BBC2 series marking the 60th anniversary of India's independence, which I did see. doesn't have any customer reviews, but does.

#124 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 10:33 AM:

I saw Wanted this past weekend, Greg, and enjoyed it. I would agree with your 7.0 rating, but would give Iron Man an 8.5 or so, so obviously our opinions differ on some things.

Also, I think you're probably neglecting gur cnffratref bs 4 be 5 pbzzhgre genva pnef from your bodycount tally, which I suspect the Loom of Fate did not...

#125 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 11:33 AM:

Happy Birthday, Saija -- a little sumpin is on your LJ.

Love, C.

#126 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 11:57 AM:

I'm teaching summer school, and the following, ahem, gem turned up in an essay comparing the movement for equal rights for gays and lesbians to the movements for civil rights for women and ethnic/racial minorities: "Thus this group has attempted to raise pubic interest on the idea of constitutional protection to sexual minorities as well as several other topics but seemingly is closely correlated to some of the same principles currently effecting minorities in the United States as well."

#127 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 11:58 AM:

"Not too many people actually know Satanists personally."

Strangely enough, I do... former Satanist, actually.

I have a lot of strange friends.

#128 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 12:22 PM:

Fragano, does the writer of that think they're graded primarily on wordcount?

#129 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Fragano@ 126: Er, I'd be inclined to think they wanted to raise something else besides "pubic interest", but maybe that's just me.

#130 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 12:47 PM:

P J Evans: #128: Quite possibly. The essay as a whole had a strong odour of the lamp. However, she was trying to make an argument. That, at least, was good.

#131 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Ginger #129: Me too.

#132 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 01:00 PM:

B. Durbin @ 127, me too. I more or less understand it as Objectivism taken to more of an extreme, and called Satanism just to mess with people.

In other satanist news, we have a real live satanic panic going on. That story, from my hometown newspaper, is a triumph of the bizarre. Rape and assault are serious charges, but -- satanic rituals? Really?

#133 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 01:29 PM:

It's probably not a good idea to be active in politics if you indulge in extreme sexual kinks. And that could easily be the truth behind the story.

See, as an example from the British legal system, the "Operation Spanner" case. Essentially, in English law there are precedents for the idea that you cannot lawfully consent to some activities.

And, having said that, it could easily be as blatantly criminal as the story implies.

But the odd thing is that the Satanic element, if it is truly present, makes more sense as sexual role-play.

Really, it's far too early to say, but my five cents is teetering towards it being something weird that went wrong, rather than it being deliberate criminal abuse.

#134 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 05:08 PM:

In clarity of noon the forest glows,
we listen as the leaves begin to fall
and see in proper place a single rose.

We got our answer rightly on the nose:
the world, we found out now, is very small,
in clarity of noon the forest glows.

There is no reason for the gate to close,
you note the light upon the garden wall
and see in proper place a single rose.

Praise of the moment would seem grandiose,
there is so much that we have to recall;
in clarity of noon the forest glows.

This is no time for slumber or repose,
you have to set things up within the hall
and see in proper place a single rose.

Now is the time for one who thinks he knows
the meaning of the days when they are tall;
in clarity of noon the forest glows;
and see! in proper place, a single rose.

#135 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 07:31 PM:

Open Thread question: why was there such a surge of interest in the movie V for Vendetta last summer?

Reason I'm asking: My partner was watching it on DVD, and wondered whether it had come out pre-2000. I said no, it was quite recent, within the last couple of years. He said absolutely not. We looked it up on IMDB, and apparently it came out in 2005.

But... I remember the huge fuss about it roughly a year ago! We had a long discussion here, which was the genesis of Greg's warp0rn scale, and half of my friendslist on LJ was suddenly using V icons. So what happened last year to stir it up again? Was that when the DVD came out, or what?

#136 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 07:43 PM:

#135: Dunno. Perhaps an adaptation of another film came out which sparked a parallel discussion?

I remember a discussion about torture somehow linked to a long side-discussion about "V". Maybe that was it?

#137 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 08:01 PM:

#135 - a quick glance suggests that the big V for Vendetta discussion was on the November 5th Post Penny for the Guy.

#138 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 08:30 PM:

Re-reading my post to Jenny, I see that I mostly went off on a huge tangent with little bearing on what she asked about. So, uhh... sorry.

#139 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 10:08 PM:

I rapped this to Shiva today, who was not impressed. Fortunately, we don't have the parts for this.

#140 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 11:38 PM:

Fragano re: "pubic interest": I remember taking a sociology class in college where we were discussing something about crime and punishment, and one student asked a question about "penile law," and I could just tell that she knew to be careful not to say the wrong thing, which is to say exactly what she was saying.

This was at NYU, by the way.

#141 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 08:10 AM:

And today's paper shows that Dave Bell @133 got it in one. Still no evidence on criminality or not, but apparently Satan was not involved.

Including bonus interview with the actual Church of Satan!

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 08:26 AM:

Fragano @ 126... Maybe your student was feeling crotchety.

#143 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 08:40 AM:

Chris Quinones #140: *Snort*. In grad school, at UCSD, one of my colleagues in a seminar circulated a paper she hadn't properly proofread which referred to a 'horny problem'. This wasn't as bad as the paper in which a fellow student (now one of the leading figures in the area of Latin American studies) in pressing an analogy announced that the angles of a triangle added up to 360 degrees, causing me, the non-mathematician*, to have to point out to him, that this wasn't the case in Euclidean geometry.

* I and the horny problem student were the B+ students in stats.

#144 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 08:44 AM:

Serge #142: Perhaps, or feeling swell.

#145 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 08:55 AM:

Fragano... I also notice that your student referred to "...some of the same principles currently effecting minorities..."

1. Something brought about by a cause or agent; a result.
2. The power to produce an outcome or achieve a result; influence.

So, those principles are causing the existence of the minorities?

#146 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 08:57 AM:

Serge #145: Right. Or fairy dust. I've all but given up on the affect/effect confusion.

#147 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 11:05 AM:

A question for those who are quite familiar with the First Lady of Crime...

My wife and I have been watching the Hercules Poirot movies. I've noticed that Suchet's Poirot is a big romantic (in a small package). Also in One, Two, Buckle My Shoe(*), he outright says that the fate of nations concerns him far less than that of the individual. How close is his Poirot to Agatha Christie's?


(*) "Hey, that is Chritopher Eccleston!"

#148 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 11:14 AM:

An apparently complete copy of the original Metropolis has been discovered in Argentina. The version originally shown in Germany, in 1927, has long been believed lost. About a quarter of the movie had been cut out, and only a few hints at the content have been discovered.

But it now seems that a complete print was sent to Argentina in 1928, eventually buried in a museum collection until it was realised that it was much longer than expected.

#149 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 11:40 AM:

#143: a fellow student … in pressing an analogy announced that the angles of a triangle added up to 360 degrees, causing me, the non-mathematician*, to have to point out to him, that this wasn't the case in Euclidean geometry.

Well, it is the case, if you measure angles by the bend* – how much each deviates from a straight line – rather than the interior; e.g. 90, 135, 135 instead of 90, 45, 45. (Subtract the angle from 180 degrees to convert.) Not only that, but every polygon's angles add up to (some multiple of) 360 degrees when measured this way, not just triangles'.

* If there's a standard mathematical name for this, I don't know it.

#150 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Perhaps I should clarify that I don't mean that He Was Right And You're Wrong; just presenting something I find interesting.

#151 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 11:46 AM:

a fellow student... in pressing an analogy announced that the angles of a triangle added up to 360 degrees, causing me, the non-mathematician, to have to point out to him, that this wasn't the case in Euclidean geometry.

"Well, naturally; I majored in Blasphemous Hyperborean Geometry." (Ph.D., Cornell, 1979; Ph.Nglui, Miskatonic, 1984.)

#152 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 12:23 PM:

Fragano #143:

I think I may have mentioned the student (female) who said that "the bust of Nefertiti had been arousing to art historians".

#153 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 12:29 PM:

Dave Bell #148: When I heard that news, I got chills like you wouldn't believe. When are we going to be able to see this? I have to see it!

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 12:43 PM:

ajay @ 151... I majored in Blasphemous Hyperborean Geometry

It wasn't easy either. My dog, Tyndalos, kept eating my assignments before and after the deadlines.

#155 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 02:37 PM:

Fragano, I had a philosophy professor in college whose response to inept uses of the language was to take a big red pen, circle the offending part, and write "EVIL" in huge capital letters. If your paper were particularly messed up, he might take a fist full of markers and do a huge spiral out from the problem areas. It would look as though he'd bled on the paper.

This was the same professor who declared that notes should never be taken in pencil, and would defenestrate any pencils thus used.

"Immanuel Kant, 1724-1804. Put it in your shorts so it's the last thing you see."

#156 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 02:38 PM:

Joann #152: Tut, tut!

#157 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 02:40 PM:

Kevin Reid #149: Eek!!

#158 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 02:41 PM:

ajay #151: Ah, they teach some complex lower mathematics at Miskatonic.

#159 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 02:43 PM:

B. Durbin #155: I wish I had the courage to do that!

#160 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 02:55 PM:

Serge @147: I had the misfortune to read the novels after first seeing Suchet play the character, but to me the way he plays it has always seemed a perfect fit with the way Christie wrote it.

Kevin Reid @149: I think the term you don't know is "external angle".

Random open thread question: can somebody tell me how necessary it is for F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack novels to be read in order. I have acquired two of them (Conspiracies and Hosts) from a local second hand shop and am wondering whether I should read these to find out if I like the series and then order the rest, or just bite the bullet and pay full price for the first one. I tried to skim the wikipedia article, but it seems a bit too spoilery for my tastes. I've been left with the impression that it might be OK for some of the books but not others... does that sound sensible?

#161 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 03:01 PM:

Jules @ 160... I had the misfortune to read the novels after first seeing Suchet

Problem with the writing?

#162 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Fragano @ 159... I take this to mean that you don't demonstrate the fine points of your teaching by bringing a meat cleaver into the classroom like Edward James Olmos did in Stand and Deliver?

#163 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 03:06 PM:

A question for the radio folk here about: Does the Morse code key part in Enigma's Age of Loneliness (Club mix) actually say something? Or is it, er, just music?

Example of the song (with cheesy video!) here if tubing is your thing.

#164 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 04:04 PM:

Serge #162: Being a meek and mild sort, I merely keep reminding students that when they put words on a page they are committed to those words, and that words have meanings.

#165 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 04:13 PM:

Fragano @ 164... I merely keep reminding students that (...) words have meanings

Alas those words go in one ear and out the other?

#166 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 04:17 PM:

I just noticed that the SciFi Channel is celebrating the Fourth of July with a Twilight Zone marathon today and tomorrow. How appropriate.

#167 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 04:20 PM:

Open threadery:

In regard to TNH's campaign scam article.

I live in the 13th District of Georgia, and I'd noticed a little while back, on the eminently useful, the anomaly of a no-hoper Republican challenger having a war chest nearly three times as large as that of the Democratic incumbent in a safe Democratic district. I'd wondered about it. Especially since I'd seen no activity by the candidate, and her web site was standard Republican pap. I've seen no yard signs, no bumper stickers, no advertising of any kind. I grant, it's a long way to the general election, but I'd have expected some visibility.

One of my colleagues, who has campaigned for some candidates (including a challenger for the Democratic nomination in the district two years ago) wondered if it was because the fact that the incumbent, David Scott, having been challenged two years ago, might have been seen as vulnerable by someone in the Republican Party. But, as is now clear, that doesn't seem to be the case. I am amazed at the naïveté of Ms Hunnicutt and her campaign staff (especially at the idea that she can manage with a sum that's less than half of Congressman Scott's funds in her war kitty). I'm less amazed at what this scam says about the current state of the Republican Party. This is the post-modern KKK: korrupt kriminal klowns.

#168 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 04:24 PM:

Serge #165: Well, all I can do is try. I hope that some of what I say sticks. That's the most that any teacher can do.

#169 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Fragano #156:

You will have to Aton for that. Amun, well, really ...

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Fragano @ 168... Yup. There usually is one who wants to learn, and that's the one who'll remember you decades from now.

#171 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 04:35 PM:

Susan has posted her Balticon report, in which she finds that De ayed Gree, whatever that means, and where we learn that some Tor editors apparently are insufficiently remunerated. Oh, and there are some really neat masquerade photos.

#172 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 05:34 PM:

joann #169: You, ma'am, are clearly in de Nile about this.

#173 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Serge @ 147:

I'd say Suchet's portrayal is pretty accurate, but it's been many years since I've read the books.

My flaky memory also tells me that Poirot was a huge romantic who had a penchant for auburn-haired women.

#174 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 06:32 PM:

Fragano #172:

Anubis would cause a problem.

#175 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 06:57 PM:

mcz @ 173... As for Miss Marple, I rather liked Margaret Rutherford in the role, but I don't know how close she was to the stories's depiction of the character.

#176 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 07:01 PM:

mcz, #173: Close -- it was Hastings who had the penchant for auburn hair. Poirot was inclined to be sympathetic to ingenues, but his own taste ran toward flamboyant women such as the Countess Vera Rossakoff.

And yes, being "more interested in the fate of individuals than in the fate of nations" hews pretty closely to the way book!Poirot is written.

#177 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 07:13 PM:

joann # 174: Perhaps it comes from being Set in your ways. It happens to the Bast of us.

#178 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 07:52 PM:

Serge #175:

Margaret Rutherford was about as far as you could get. Joan Hickson was *perfect*. The more recent Geraldine McEwan entries were interesting, but I thought the character was a little too, well, obviously knowing, with a slightly malicious overtone. I always got the feeling from the books that any knowlingness on Miss Marple's part was always carefully hidden and came as a big surprise to others. Even when they were being reminded, gently, for the 49th time.

#179 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 07:55 PM:

Fragano #177:

I always aim for the heights of Luxor. That way everyone else can Giza and despair ... no, wait, that's another category.

#180 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Lee @ #176:
Ah yes! Now I remember. (I have a liking for the countess, her Hell-club and her monster dog Cerberus as well).

Serge @ #175:
I don't remember seeing Rutherford's Marple, but I like Joan Hickson's work very much.

Oddly enough, my favourite Christie book is The Mysterious Mr Quin, a one-off collection of short stories. Some of them have that quality of enchantment that I've found in the works of Elizabeth Goudge and Gerald Durrell.

#181 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 08:00 PM:

Has anyone else followed the news lately? It appears that our torture techniques[1] were actually derived, probably unintentionally, from Chinese torture techniques used to elicit false confessions from American captives in Korea.

You can see a discussion of this on Obsidian Wings. I saw it on the front page of a couple newspapers yesterday. Incredibly, it doesn't seem to be front-page news on BBC or El Pais today. (Embarrassing revelations about American torture of detainees has ceased to be news, sort of like unrest in the Middle East or corruption in Mexico.)

I simply cannot wait to see how this is spun by the right as still more evidence that they somehow backed the good guys. Because the hard core of the right is so invested in believing in their guys, they're like the victim of a con who is so convinced, he's ending friendships with people who point out to him that he's being conned.

[1] Which we weren't really doing, because Americans Don't Do Those Things. Besides, the bastards had it coming, even the 14 year olds sold to us by their families' enemies in Afghanistan. And what we're doing is not torture, it's just harsh interrogation techniques that cause hardened terrorists facing a death sentence to crack, beg for mercy, and spill everything they've ever even imagined doing. And besides, what're you, some kind of pinko liberal that wants to give Osama Bin Laden a chance to re-enact the OJ trial?

#182 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 08:03 PM:

joann #174: I think using Anubis is illegal most places, other than in The Netherlands.

#183 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 08:05 PM:

joann #179: It would not be Pharaoh to criticise you.

#184 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 08:09 PM:

#153: a DVD news site I check occasionally says a Metropolis DVD with the recovered footage is coming in 2009 from Kino.

#185 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 09:05 PM:

Albatross@181: I don't know if I'd grant "unintentionally". According to the NYT story I read, the chart used in US training came from a 1957 study *called* "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War", and the chart in the original paper says right at the top "Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance". It's kind of hard to miss, in its original form.

I haven't seen direct links to the study in news accounts, but it's online. You can read it here.

The issue of the medical journal it was published in has a bunch of related papers on Chinese Communist coercion as well (including one by Robert J. Lifton, and one dealing with the legal background of the Chinese "interrogation" methods). Links to the full issue, the journal, and a few other online resources can be found in a recent blog post of mine.

#186 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 11:07 PM:

I celebrated today, the third of July, as the beginning of a new time, by harvesting the first vine-ripened tomatoes from two of the twelve varieties I'm growing this year. Ahhh!

Not that growing tomatoes is a new thing, but it's never been more than four varieties in any given year. (I dropped into the Community Gardens next the Kaiser hospital, after the final check of my lens-replacement, and they had a vacant plot for a Senior Citizen ....)

Whether I will celebrate, tomorrow, the anniversary of the establishment of my country's Ideals, and its Achievements over the years, or wear Mourning, is still an open question.

#187 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Wesley #184: Well, I guess I can live with peeing in my pants until 2009.

Speaking of peeing, I just came across (on Wikipedia) this great quote from Dmitri Shostakovich, about one of my all-time favorite pieces of music, his 8th String Quartet: "It is a pseudo-tragic quartet, so much so that while I was composing it I shed the same amount of tears as I would have to pee after half-a-dozen beers".

As for celebrating the 4th, I'm going to do what I always do, which is watch Elvis movies. Every year since the late 90s my oldest friend and I have watched The Trouble With Girls and one other Elvis movie--the second one changes every year, and is usually terrible, although some of them (notably Harum Scarum and especially Speedway) are pretty damn fun. This year I rented Kissing Cousins, in which Elvis plays two different people. I'm guessing that, despite the title, hot Elvis-on-Elvis action is too much to hope for.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 12:23 AM:

joann and mcz... Like I said earlier, I liked Rutherford's character, but I had this suspicion from the more recent movies that their Miss Marple was so different that they probably hewed closer to Christie's. As for Miss Marple knowing more than people expected even after the 49th time, that reminds me how again and again and again Hamilton Berger was sure that this time he'd get the upper hand on Perry Mason. And again and again and again Bergfer got his butt kicked.

#189 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 01:45 AM:

So I'm not doing anything for the Fourth.

The new house has a flagpole mounting. By this time next year, we'll have a pole for it, and a Stars and Stripes*. But not yet.

I miss the Fourths of July from my childhood, with street parties and parades (small town stuff). Tell me tales of my home country, people. What are you Americans up to?

* Also, a saltire for St Andrews Day and Burns Night, and a Dutch flag for Koniginnedag and similar occasions.

#190 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 01:56 AM:

abi @ #189, There are seven or eight professional fireworks shows scheduled for Oahu. The biggest is probably the one at Ala Moana Beach Park, near Waikiki. We won't be attending, but we expect the television people to show us some on the late news.

I'm crossing my fingers that I don't need to sedate my 16-year-old dog this year, since she's already taking enough meds and I worry about interactions. Who knew there were anti-dementia pills for dogs? (Selegiline, if anyone's curious.)

#191 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 03:09 AM:

Serge, #171, I assumed everybody knew that was Delayed Green, so I didn't comment on it over there.

abi, #189, I'll likely watch The Twilight Zone while I do regular things. Although I'm considering hacking back the ivy while sitting in the chair on the porch if it doesn't rain. I was at the post office today and the flag was too low and loose and then I realized they were putting up the POW-MIA flag for the holiday. Too bad they can't leave it up all the time.

#192 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 03:11 AM:

Abi, I hope you will have no occasion to fly the US flag inverted, this time next year.

#193 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 04:21 AM:

abi -- we won't be doing anything specifically "American" or celebratory today, but I suspect we'll all be a little nostalgic for last year, when we were visiting my mom. On the Fourth we watched fireworks from the 25th story of a Des Moines office building. I'm pretty sure that not all those fireworks had a permit. ;-)

I will probably enjoy some more of the West African Ginger Beer made from the recipe that Joel Polowin shared recently. Excellent stuff, and very easy to make. Thanks again, Joel.

#194 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 05:12 AM:

167: been reading that story too. Now I'm thinking of ... turning it into a musical!

The Campaigners!

At the K Street office of legendary campaign consultant Max "Mudflap" Bialystock, a plot takes shape...

-- "Why, Mr Bialystock, it's funny, but you could make more money from a failed campaign than you could from a victory."
-- "Say that again?"
-- "All you have to do is raise a lot of cash from every interest group there is, and do whatever you want with it. You could spend some on the campaign, but the rest you could just, you know, keep. As long as the candidate loses, no one's going to ask to be repaid. But you'd need to be sure you'd lose; otherwise your donors would start asking for favours as soon as your candidate got into office, and you'd never be able to repay them all."
-- "All you'd need would be a candidate who was certain to lose. A dud. A hopeless, catastrophic, clinically insane dud. Leo, you're brilliant!"

And while Leo interviews a succession of no-hoper extremists, Max departs on his money-raising trip into Little Old Bigot Land...

#195 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 05:13 AM:

serge: The Poirot series feels right to me (though Hastings is a bit less of a boob in the books). I have never seen a Marple I thought very good.

abi: I am not working a show, because I am afraid I will be called out to deal with forest fires. That will be a royal pain, because odds are it will be for 30 days, and there is no one home but me, company expected before 30 days are up and a host of animals, plants, problems to attend.

So I'll be at a friends, hoping to see a good show from the roofs of Century City.

#196 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 07:26 AM:

Terry, #195: Depends on which book. In all of them, he's portrayed as a little dim and with zero learning curve, but in Curtain he's just AWFUL. It's probably no coincidence that my favorite Poirot stories are the ones in which he does not appear.

#197 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 08:53 AM:

abi @ 189... What are you Americans up to?

Well, Sue and I will go have a picnic at a park somewhere. (I'm not sure of the details, as my involvement mainly was to buy some baloney - or rather, very thinly sliced ham.) Tonight, we'll probably watch our DVDs of 1776 (see the Founding Fathers dance!) and/or of Yankee Doodle Dandy (see James Cagney dance!). Then, at about 8:30pm, we'll walk to the top of our backyard, from where we'll be able to see the fireworks going off around town.

#198 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 08:56 AM:

Marilee @ 191... About "De ayed Gree', I had figured out that it was supposed to say 'Delayed Green', but I had no idea how green could be delayed, aside from the fact that my employer still hasn't refunded the cost of that plane ticket.

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 08:59 AM:

Terry Karney and Lee...Did you ever see the early the movie The ABC Murders, in which Poirot was played by Tony Randall? I did, a long time ago, which is why I don't remember if it was absolutely dreadful.

#200 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 09:14 AM:

abi #189:

This whole week, our goddaughter is out here visiting, and so we've been doing things that will be fun for both a 13 year old[1] and our much younger (7,3) sons. (The teddy-bear factory was a big win.) Tonight, we'll all go watch fireworks and hope not to get rained on too much.

[1] It still messes with my mind that my goddaughter is now old enough to be interested in boys, and that she will hop between being excited by the clothes for the cute teddy bears and wanting to flirt with the cute boy that walked by.

#201 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 09:19 AM:

From Lisa Goldstein's The Red Magician...

They climbed up the ramp to the ship. It was already filled with American soldiers returning home. They ran to the railing, and Kicsi thought how odd it was that they were all so anxious to get a last look at the land they were leaving. Vörös's hair was a small dot of color among the people on the dock. He waved at her.

The ship left the dock. She waved back to him and continued to wave until he was out of sight. The coastline faded as slowly as a smile fade.

She turned and looked to the west, to America.

#202 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 10:09 AM:

abi (189): I'm going to watch my new DVD copy of 1776, then go eat barbecue. Later, I'll lie awake wishing that the local idiots setting off illegal firecrackers would get rained out so I can sleep.

#203 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 10:11 AM:

skwid@124: RE: "Wanted" warpr0n scoring.

Gur genva jerpx jnf pnhfrq ol n aba cynlre punenpgre fynzzvat ba gur oenxrf, pnhfvat n qrenvyzrag, nf n erfhyg bs gur svtug tbvat ba orgjrra cynlre punenpgref, juvpu dhnyvsvrf nf pbyyngreny qnzntr. Vg jbhyq or jne ce0a vs gur zbivr qvq ABG fubj pbyyngreny qnzntr, guhf zvavzvmvat gur pbfg bs jne. Vs gur qrnguf ner gur erfhyg bs pbyyngreny qnzntr naq gur zbivr fubjf gubfr qrnguf, gura vg qbrfa'g pbhag nf jne ce0a.

Vg jbhyq unir orra qvssrerag zngu vs gur crbcyr ba gur genva unq nyy jbexrq sbe bar fvqr bs gur cynlre punenpgref be bgure. Gura gurl jbhyq unir pbhagrq nf cncre gnetrgf rvgure sbe be ntnvafg gur gbgny jne ce0a fpber.

Ohg orvat pvivyvnaf pnhtug va gur pebffsver bs n onggyr npghnyyl fubjf ernyvfgvp qnzntr sebz n jne. Gur hygvzngr jne ce0a irefvba bs mreb pbyyngreny qnzntr vf jura fhcreurebrf unir n znffvir onggyr va n pvgl naq gur tbbq thlf ner fubbgvat jrncbaf naq guebjvat ohffrf ng gur onq thlf, ohg gubfr cebwrgvyrf naq jrncbaf nyjnlf snyy ba rzcgl cnegf bs gur fgerrg be ba n "pbairavragyl rzcgl jnerubhfr".

#204 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 10:49 AM:

Serge @ #188: I liked Rutherford's character, but I had this suspicion from the more recent movies that their Miss Marple was so different that they probably hewed closer to Christie's.

My father, who's read a lot of Christie, watches the new Geraldine McEwan Marples primarily in order to find out what strange new way they've found to warp the story *this* week. (There's at least one where they changed the identity of the murderer, and I think even one where they changed the identity of the *victim*.)

I try to be a receptive audience for his snarking, but not having read any of the Marples myself, the only episode I was able to join in on was 'By the Pricking of My Thumbs'. ("Item one: Since when has By the Pricking of My Thumbs had Miss Marple in it..?")

#205 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 10:52 AM:

Iowa City's firework were moved from City Park-- I should go see if it's still underwater or if it's just possible structural damage to the Park Bridge-- to Hubbard Park, which is right by the IMU. In some of the flood pictures posted, you can see this tiny little chapel, a wall of sandbags, and behind it the river-- that's Hubbard Park. Spectators can sit on the grass next to Old Capitol and the other big limestone buildings. I'm kind of disappointed that no one I know is heading to my building's roof. It's close! It's a clear line of sight with no trees! It is a roof!

Last year, the fireworks fizzled-- the computer setting them off crashed hard. I'd just had my wisdom teeth out and was happy to have recovered so quickly.

Before the explosions begin, a friend and I are planning to see WallE.

#206 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 10:59 AM:


Thus this group has attempted to raise pubic interest on the idea of constitutional protection to sexual minorities as well as several other topics but seemingly is closely correlated to some of the same principles currently effecting minorities in the United States as well.

To quote the former head copy editor at The New Yorker: "If you tapped this sentence on end it would never stop rocking."


I would be more impressed with The Robot Hall of Fame if they had inducted Huey, Dewey, or Louie--if for no other reason than it might get someone to cough up one of the drone suits (I remember seeing an article that said Trumbull had one sitting under the CE3K Mothership in part of his office) long enough so I could measure it. In college I found an account of a simple bipedal robot that had been rejected in favor of Lunokhod 1 that would fit perfectly into a drone body, and I'd really like to have a body to put it into. Oh, and my wife would like to get it fully assembled and out of the way...

#207 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:05 AM:

ajay #194: As a colleague said to me when we were discussing this 'Why don't people like you and me think of things like this?' My reply was 'We're cursed with honesty.'

#208 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:16 AM:

Jesse Helms has died.

#209 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:18 AM:

Bruce E Durocher II @ 206... One of the earliest issues of Cinéfantastique was a special about Silent Running. I don't remember if it showed blueprints, or anything with specific dimensions, but there was at least one photo of Huey (or was it Dewey? Or Louie?) with part of the front section removed so that you could see the face of the kid inside. That might give you a good idea of the scale, if you keep in mind that the kids had no legs.

#210 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:20 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 202...

Thomson: [calling for a vote] Where's Rhode Island?
McNair: Rhode Island's out visiting the necessary.
Hancock: Well, after what Rhode Island has consumed, I can't say I'm surprised. We'll come back to him, Mr. Thompson.
Thomson: Rhode Island passes.

#211 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:25 AM:

Paul A @ 204... So, as with James Bond, they've been making up stories about Miss Marple. Hmm... That would explain the following exchange in 2006's Casino Royale.

James Bond: I always thought M was a randomly assigned initial, I had no idea it stood for...
M: Utter one more syllable and I'll have you killed.

#212 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:26 AM:

Does that mean the Civil War is finally over?

#213 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Fragano 208: Damn, my apartment is a mess, and I promised to have a party on that occasion!

#214 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:38 AM:

Bozo the Clown, Democrat, died too.

#215 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:41 AM:

213: You've got time to tidy up and have the party in a couple of days - it's not like he's going to rise from the grave. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Ha ha ha.


...Actually, could someone just go and check?

#216 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:41 AM:

P J Evans # 212: Alas, no.

Xopher #213: Clean up, man, and send out the invitations!

#217 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:45 AM:

ajay 215: I'd be willing to take a 2-hour shift in the traditional three-day Dance On His Grave 'Til We're Sure That He's Dead.

#218 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:54 AM:

My parents are coming up for a visit, and we might go to my partner's hometown for the fireworks, but I'd rather sit out in front of the house and see what the neighbors fire off.

#219 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:56 AM:

In the department of Not Speaking Ill of them as have died: Bless his heart.
(Said with a southern accent, to get the full effect, including the (uncomplimentary) meaning.)

He won't be having beer and BBQ with Adams and Jefferson. He's more likely to be having warm Coke and burnt (and also undercooked) grits, where he's going.

#220 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 12:05 PM:

I suspect that when his heart is weighed, it will not balance the feather very well. Ma'at he didn't have.

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 12:14 PM:

Nancy C Mittens @ 218... see what the neighbors fire off

#222 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 12:19 PM:


I have that issue. There's an actual measured dimension that helps in the article: drones 1 and 3 have two-inch deep bottom pans. If you take an opaque projector and the pictures in that issue and in the photo spread in Esquire when the film came out you can adjust the projected image to get the measurements correct. (This is why I want an opaque projector, which my wife, the artist who uses Photoshop daily, never quite gets.) The problem is that there aren't really any nice close shots of the fittings used on the body (and now that Boeing Surplus is closed I can't search through the bins) or the arm that Trumbull's father built for them--it would make life much easier if I could just arrange access to one of the suits with a ruler and 35mm camera in tow...

#223 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 12:32 PM:

@219: Circle 8, Bolgia 9?

#224 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 01:00 PM:

Jean Hickson converted me to Miss Marple. I've never been able to read Christie, but those Hickson BBC Marples are wonderful in every way, radiating from Hickson's center of gravity -- while she doesn't play Marple with gravity, so to speak. They're period perfect.

I don't believe I've seen a Rutherford Marple.

I've just lately begun to look at Poirots, since there are no more Marples for me to see.

Love, C.

#225 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 01:06 PM:

#212 ::: P J Evans

Been over for decades. The South won.

Just look around.

Love, C.

#226 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 01:48 PM:

I shall remember Jesse Helms in the words of Roy Zimmerman and the Foremen: That Jesse Helms Song (MP3 snippet, 40 seconds)

(full lyrics)

#227 ::: Melody ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 01:58 PM:

Few times have I been more proud of a MN politician than when Paul Wellstone told an interviewer right after his first Senate win that Helms "represents everything to me that is ugly and wrong and awful about politics."

The day is a bit brighter than it was.

#228 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 02:40 PM:

From PNH's Sidelights: Jesse Helms dies, hopefully in misery and pain

That momentary chill you are feeling, that brief whiff of stale and musty air, is the restless shade of Terry Carr, haunting you for abusing "hopefully."

#229 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 02:59 PM:

Hear Ye, Hear Ye:

By the powers invested in me (OK, I invested myself, but that's my prerogative) I hereby decree that absolution has been given (in advance and in perpetuity) to all those who defy de mortuis nil nisi bonum in the case of Jesse Helms.

Feel free, in other words. Don't hold back out of misguided superstition.

#230 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 03:07 PM:

Nice line in the Balloon Juice comments about Helms:

I can only hope there’s some sort of affirmative action program in Heaven, and he loses his spot there because they had to give it to a minority.

A Win.

#231 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 04:13 PM:

Does this mean that Madeline A. gets to reclaim her "Somebody in the State Department Loves Me" shirt from the estate? Because she did more sucking up to Helms to get his block of UN funds out of the way than the sucking up Johnson had Humphrey do to Fulbright to limit cloture to get the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed--which I hadn't thought possible.

(I'm not a Johnson fan, but I do have to give him credit as ex-Senate leader for figuring out Fulbright was the key to limiting cloture and that Humphrey could work with the old bigot--which Johnson couldn't after Fulbright decided Johnson was a traitor to the South over the 1957 Civil Rights Bill. I still don't understand how Humphrey pulled it off...)

#232 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 07:13 PM:

re Jesse Helms: Happy Independence Day.

I really ought not be so chipper, but you know... I can't feel any sorrow. Like Xopher, I can't help but think the world is better off for his absence.

#233 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 08:39 PM:

Serge, #198, a delayed green is when the stoplight on one direction of a street turns green after the other stoplight does. The reasoning for the sign is that people who see the folks coming toward them will get upset that their light isn't green, decide it's broken, and go anyway. Locally, we don't have signs, but in the places where we have delayed greens, they're to give pedestrians a headstart.

#234 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 09:04 PM:

I'm going to be looking at tomorrow's crop of political cartoons with extreme interest. I want to see how many of them feature Helms being "sent downstairs" by a big black God.

I'm also pleased that he lived long enough to see two states legalize same-sex marriage. It must have eaten him alive to realize that he could no longer hold back the tide of change.

#235 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 10:58 PM:

Re the churches of Kizhi: we have one just like that a short ways up the road from us. Drove the building inspectors crazy when they were putting it up.

#236 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:04 PM:

TCM is playing the unredacted 1776

Will be eating bratwurst, cheese, bread, beer, and waching same.

#237 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:11 PM:

Diatryma @85: The two pieces I most looked forward to seeing again at the Denver Art Museum were "The Warning Shadow," an American genre painting of a hunter seeing a shadow that alerts him to a mountain lion -- it's a moment when they're both aware of each other, and neither has done anything yet. It may have been painted as a magazine illustration; I don't know the artist's name. The other is "Dream of Arcadia" by Thomas Cole, a large canvas of a pagan scene that I just wanted to step into.

Going to that museum and seeing all the rows of Buddha heads and hands made me think of generations of pith-helmeted Europeans and Americans, dashing off of boats and rushing to prize pieces off of all the native deities. And perhaps a class of native artisans who specialized in replacing such pieces after the boats left.

There were a lot of other things I liked, of course. An elaborate dollhouse. Painted wooden crucifix. Racing a friend up the stairs, laughing and gasping and nearly losing my equilibrium (and breakfast) at the top.

#238 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:29 PM:

Morning of the 4th of July, this morning, I heard the familiar voices at NPR read The Declaration of Independence. Good patriotic moment.

Evening of the 4th of July -- right now -- I'm listening to NPR, Scott McClellan, about how the Bush administration told lies to get us to go to war with Iraq and when it was done, could not acknowledge the mistakes that are keeping us there. F**k.

Have I said recently how much I despise these guys?

#239 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 12:21 AM:

I remember "Dream of Arcadia"! I don't think the other made enough of an impression on me if I saw it. We three conference truants were more or less wandering around, occasionally laughing and calling the others over to see or share a bit of weird knowledge.

Did you see the map made of words? That one held us still for a while.

#240 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 05:22 AM:

ajay @ 194: Brilliant.

Lee @ 234: "I'm going to be looking at tomorrow's crop of political cartoons with extreme interest. I want to see how many of them feature Helms being "sent downstairs" by a big black God."

I think I'd prefer a shocked Helms standing before an enthroned, decidedly Middle-Eastern/North-African-looking Jesus, who is arching an eyebrow at him. The caption: "Didn't see this coming, did you?"

#241 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 09:08 AM:

Tery Karney @ 236...

"I am obnoxious and disliked."

#242 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 09:13 AM:

Marilee @ 233... they're to give pedestrians a headstart

They must be an East Coast thing because I don't remember seeing such a sign during the 12 years I lived in California.

My most amusing memory of NY City in 1982... Coming to an intersection, and seeing the whole bunch of pedestrians crossing even though they didn't have the right of way.

#243 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 09:29 AM:

Tonight, on the SciFi Channel... Ginger Snaps Back: the Beginning

Remind me to say something nice to our Ginger.

#244 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 10:13 AM:

Serge @243: Too late!!!

Oops. I didn't mean to say that out loud.

I'm just trying to help my son with his math homework, and golly gee whiz, you'd think it was the end of the world as we know it.

#245 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 10:25 AM:

#228: I suppose Jesse Helms might have died in a hopeful manner in the midst of his misery and pain. I guess it would be evil for me to think that he didn't even have that going for him.

As a 0th generation gay Chinese-American (I moved to the US when I was 6), I wasn't his prime target. However, I got enough splash effect to make me amazed at the sheer dignity how those who got the full force of his his hate comported themselves.

Hmm... must avoid the news media for the next few days. I don't think I can bear the hagiography which inevitably follows the death of political figures this time.

#246 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 11:45 AM:

Paul A @ #204, I haven't seen the series, but feel compelled to point out that Christie herself, when producing theatrical and novel versions of the same story, would change the plot to avoid people going in knowing the ending.

P.J. Evans @ #212: no. "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past." --Faulkner

Linkmeister @ #229: I refrain not out of "misguided superstition" nor out of regard for Helms but because I think it's cheap to kick people who can't kick back. Also, the man had family.

#247 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 11:46 AM:

As was my wont, I put in a little time deciphering (for the nth straight year) the Declaration of Independence in original copperplate on a back section page of the NYT. This year, for some weird reason, I started reading it from the perspective of an Iraqi. Boy, have we blown it. Not my best Independence Day.

#248 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 11:49 AM:

There's a teaser trailer up for The Day The Earth Stood Still, the remake with Keanu Reeves.

Teaser trailer

My first reaction: Reeves is no Michael Rennie, but that's hardly a surprise. Still, I'm curious.

#249 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 11:54 AM:

Ginger @ 244... I'm just trying to help my son with his math homework, and golly gee whiz, you'd think it was the end of the world as we know it

You mean that it's not the end of the world as we know it?

#250 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ #216 :

"Xopher #213: Clean up [your lodgings], man, and send out the invitations!"

No, no -- as Karen Anderson once put it, mock-incredulously, "You mean ... you clean house _before_ hosting a FanParty?"

We need to get our perspective & priorities straight, here.

#251 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 01:09 PM:

It's the end of the world, Serge, but not as we know it!

#252 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 02:05 PM:

Serge: That might be because a pedestrian taking such a headstart in calif., would be guilty of jaywalkng. Delayed green is also (at least in my neck of the woods) pretty much the default.

Having now seen the full version of 1776, I know why Nixon didn't like that song.

#253 ::: Shay ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 02:18 PM:

*delurks again to say:*

I haven't seen mention of this yet (I did a quick search to check), and I think it would be of interest to many of you here in the fluorosphere.

LJ users of many fandoms have banded together to create a charity auction in support of Marriage Equality, and inspired by George Takei and his lovely fiancé. Live Long and Marry!

From the userinfo: "The auction will raise money for the fight against the California initiative which will legally destroy existing same-sex marriages and ban any further ones. If the initiative passes, it will write discrimination into the state constitution, annul existing marriages, and make Mr. Sulu cry."

Up for auction are a wide variety of items and services -- from specialized fiction critiques, to hand knit items, to care packages from all over the world (including Iceland and Estonia), to made-to-order fan or original fiction, art, baked goods, and much more. Oh, and let's not forget the ironic offers of books autographed by Orson Scott Card and Anita Bryant.

The auction is still open to new offers if you get inspired. Bidding closes at 12:01am PST on July 15th.

#254 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 02:22 PM:

abi: I drove my parents and the Dude down to Novato to see their annual parade. My niece, six years old, was a banner carrier for her school. This parade is quite a nice one, especially as there is a WWII museum dedicated to working vehicles from that war (both sides in the European theater) and they intersperse the vehicles in between the other groups. Jeeps, yes. Big people movers, yes.

Tanks. Great big tanks. The Dude didn't much care for the backfiring engines, but they were still pretty cool.

Other groups of note: The Pini Hardware Plunger Brigade, the Nave Patrola (comedy marching), Basset Rescue, an electric guitar brigade playing "Smoke On the Water"... fun stuff. Very much a family-friendly parade (not too long, lots of candy and other kid-oriented handouts.)

Then we went to my sister's for a barbecue and everybody was lovin' the Dude (well, my three-year-old nephew was unimpressed.)

Then we drove home and after dark went to my parents to set off the tiny little thing of fireworks I bought last year before finding out that my apartment complex doesn't let you set them off. Sheesh. You'd think it would be smarter to rope off part of the back parking lot (where nobody parks) and let all the residents set them off there.

I know it's high fire danger, but there's acres of concrete available for use and "safe and sane" fireworks don't travel.*

Incidentally, Evil Rob— who once got his pyrotechnicist's license for stage work— is plotting about next year, when the Dude will be old enough to appreciate the fireworks. Ought to be interesting.

*Yes, people can injure themselves with "safe and sane" fireworks. They just have to ignore all sensible safety precautions, such as "light fuse and step away."

#255 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 02:33 PM:

Serge 242: I'm not entirely sure about NY, but in NJ pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way. 'Crosswalk' is broadly defined (as in, it applies to a swath going from the line of the building to the curb, and continuing right across the street), crosswalks needn't be marked, and there's no such thing as jaywalking. The difference between a pedestrian being in the "crosswalk" and not is that drivers are required to stop and allow a pedestrian in the crosswalk to cross the street. That's even if the intersection is controlled by a light.

In fact the ONLY thing the New Jersey motor vehicle code requires of pedestrians is not to "jump out in front of a vehicle in such a way that it is impossible for the driver to stop in time." Note: that word is 'impossible', not 'inconvenient', 'annoying', or even 'scary'.

Traffic lights control cars (and all motor vehicles and to some extent bicycles). Walk/Don't Walk signs are advice, and have no legal force AFAICT (IANAL). So if you have the green, and I'm in the crosswalk, technically you're required to let me cross "against" the light.

This is the law (as I read it, keeping in mind that IANALATINLA), not the common practice, of course. Most drivers appear to assume that the law is "pedestrians better get outta my way." But then they also seem to think stop signs mean "slow down to the point where you can blame it on the other guy if you hit someone."

#256 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 03:13 PM:

The best 4th of July display in my memory was the time we were camped at a FoF's place on the east shore of Marrowstone Island and could see all the fireworks from Bellingham to Tumwater (on the evening of a day when we'd been able to see the Cascades from Baker to Hood). 1980, fewer cars, air that didn't turn brown and crispy on a hot July afternoon. Last night there was a constant barrage of aerial displays- big ones funded by Homeowners Associations and little ones funded by birthday money and allowances. They went on and on past the point of sensory overload, and the smoke lingered until the tide started running in and broke up the inversion layer.

#257 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 03:17 PM:

Serge @243, I broke down and asked my friends list if it was worth watching "Ginger Snaps Back" et'c et'c and the primary Hugh Dillon fan on my friends list made a reply which included the information that she'd only seen it once even though she owns it.

On the other hand: Canadian pioneer werewolves!

#258 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Doctor Who

There's plenty of good bits in the season finale.

The actual ending has the feel of a good story, but it seems tacked on, even rushed. And it's a cop-out.

I'm not sure I'd call the thing a Mary Sue, but almost everything which happens is what a Mary Sue would be blamed for.

#259 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 04:16 PM:

For the first patriotic holiday in the 11 years I've been here, there were only a few late-night bangs, and no spent fireworks under my car in the morning. Yay!

(I like fireworks--under controlled conditions and at reasonable hours.)

#260 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 04:27 PM:

I actually got to watch the local fireworks display from my front door. My house is serendipitously placed; the fireworks set off at the (I think) Richmond waterfront (that's Richmond, CA) are precisely in line with the viewing angle from the front door of my home. Last night I opened the door, (it was a mild night) put a chair in the doorway, and drank a Sierra Nevada Summerfest ale. (That's my tradition.) Next door, my neighbors were doing the same thing from their driveway, minus the ale. It was fun.

#261 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 04:32 PM:

#258: So, it's a Mary Who?

#262 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 04:56 PM:

JESR @ 257... Canadian pioneer werewolves!

Do they like maple syrup? No matter what, it sounds like I should pass, even though there's someone called Ginger in it.

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 04:59 PM:

Xohper @ 255... I don't care if it's the law that cars shall not run over pedestrians. It sounds like suicide to assume that drivers will always be vigilant.

#265 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 04:59 PM:

and, while I'm commenting, let this be a link from my previous address to an email address better suited to publication.

#266 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 05:39 PM:

The Guardian has a polite and devastatingly precise obituary of Helms:

#267 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 05:52 PM:

geekosaur, #263: Now if only the producers of Bones could be brought to do the same! (Bitter? Who, me?)

Serge, #264: Yes, exactly. Especially where cellphones are involved.

#268 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 07:19 PM:

The sense I have is that the last ten minutes of the Doctor Who finale could have been a whole story.

A lot of the main plot was a gaudy mess.

#269 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 07:34 PM:

OK, so is there any fannish reason why we can't hear such a thing as a ukulele mariachi band?

#270 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 07:55 PM:

Are any of the Reno in 2011 concom regular Fluorosphores?

Also, I propose a new term for trolls on Making Light: Quencher, or Collisional Quencher.

A quencher absorbs light and prevents fluorescence, turning light into heat. When the quencher is removed from the normally fluorescent, fluorescence is returned. A quencher quenches, removing light. A quencher perturbs.

The fluorosphere can experience a decrease in fluorescence upon collision with collisional quenchers.

Used in a sentence
"This thread has become heated and angry, and $Username has posted the same text to 5 different blogs: I think we've been quenched."

#271 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 08:12 PM:

My wife Josie (whom some of you met on Sunday) made the Chronicle today.

#272 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 09:00 PM:

Xopher: Way back when I had occaison to look up the relevant laws in Calif. (the LASFS is mid-block, across the street from a liquor store/small grocery).

The rules here are.

Pedestrians have the right of way at all times.
All corners are crosswalks

Traffic Controls (defined as a light) control ALL traffic.

Pedestrians may assert their rights of way at crosswalks (so long as they don't violate a Traffic Control Signal)

Crossing a street which has Traffic Controls at both intersections is Jaywalking.

If there is not a oontrol at BOTH ends of a street, a pedestrian; so long as they do not interfere with the flow of traffic may cross at anyplace they like. If they do interfere with the flow of traffic, they are guilty of jaywalking.

The most obnoxious enforcement example of this I know of was the cop who set up across from Arcadia High School. The street there is 1/2 mile between intersections, both of which have lights. After he started writing up the first kids, others crossed to see what was going on.

Sola (who was, along with her boyfriend, one of those caught because of curiosity) said there were about 40 kids at the arraignment.

#273 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 09:25 PM:

Terrry, I'm waiting for them to stake out the intersections just north of LA Civic Center, on both sides of the freeway. There are an awful lot of people going to, among other places, the federal courthouse and city hall, who cross the street on red lights, apparently because they can't wait for the signal to change.

They might be able to pay for the police presence from the fines.

#274 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 09:55 PM:

Done with the Hugo novels with two days to spare. A Yiddish cop and her priestly programming pal must learn to navigate a virtual Rio and solve a bank robbery before the aliens take over ... nifty story, that.

#275 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 10:11 PM:

Every time I think the media has gotten as dumb as it can get, it surprises me with something even dumber.

Of course, this is Fox News, which I am almost certain is run by children.

#276 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 10:25 PM:

P.J. What pisses me off are the lights in Glendale (on Brand). At the big intersections they've installed demand lights for "walk" signals.

They don't, so far as I can tell change the duration of the signal... annoying enough.

But nasty... if you hit the button one side (going N/S, you use the E side of the street) the other side (W) gets a don't walk signal.

The signs show the Vehicle Code about lights and pedestrian travel (enter a crosswalk with a "don't walk" signal and you are jaywalking).

It's a trap, if you see some one hit the botton on the opposite corner you have every reason to expect to be able to legally cross at the same time they do.

#277 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 10:26 PM:

Serge @ 249: Well, the world did not end, and his daily page of homework was finally correctly finished. He demonstrated a misunderstanding of places to right of the decimal point -- very consistently wrong -- and finally understood our explanations.


So tomorrow's page should be even more fun.

#278 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 11:15 PM:

I started counting Don't Walk flashes a while back and realized that, in Iowa City at least, there's a pattern. Most will flash eight, fifteen/sixteen, or in one case twenty-four times (there's one twelve that I know of). If you know how many times it flashes, you have a better idea of when it's safe to cross-- it stops flashing when the light turns yellow.

There's one crosswalk that has an on-demand walk signal that basically... as long as the light has been green at least twelve seconds or so, you hit the button, the light turns yellow right that instant. Other than that one, I think they're mostly to give pedestrians something to do.

#279 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 11:49 PM:

LA is starting to install crosswalk signals with a countdown timer. It's fairly clear to long-time residents that you're not supposed to start crossing after it gets to zero, but people from places without this kind of signal may be confused. (Best confused person I've seen: standing at the corner nearest my place, watching the walk signal until it started flashing red, then crossing the street.)

#280 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 12:27 AM:

Serge, #242, California has pedestrians?

Shay, #253, I'd looked when it first started and today have not only bid, but offered a custom necklace. I'm out of my mind.

Wesley, #275, wow, that's hard to believe.

Terry, #276, we mostly have demand walk signals in Old Town and they make all the lights red. Probably not long enough for me to cross, but for most people.

#281 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 12:51 AM:

What got me was Boston. The pattern (and appallingly consistent, to the point I modified my driving) was for pedestrians to wait until the light turned red to enter the intersection.

I still can't fathom why.

#282 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 12:57 AM:

I forgot this earlier. There's a Texas GOP delegate who came to DC and was shocked, I say, shocked, by all the nudity. In the art. He tried to make nude statues illegal as a plank in the platform, but did not succeed. He said: "You don't have nude art on your front porch," and I think we should help him out there.

#283 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 01:04 AM:

Terry #281: Brown University students do that exact same thing. I do my best to run them over.

#284 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 02:20 AM:

Marilee @ #282, I've been waiting for the nudes ban attempt to show up on "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me," since co-author of that squib Roxanne Roberts is a frequent contestant on the show.

#285 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 04:24 AM:

Dave Bell@258: So in other words (I haven't seen the finale yet) it's on a par with all three of the previous series finales?

I'd say that Russell T. Davies is excellent at setup, less so at resolution. With luck Steven Moffat will be better.

#286 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 07:08 AM:

Dave Bell @258: You're more charitable than I am. I greatly enjoyed the episode, but the resolution of one plotline well and truly had me thinking "EG Qnivrf, jr nyernql xabj nobhg lbhe Znel Fhr snagnfvrf, lbh qba'g arrq gb fcryy gurz bhg va *gung* zhpu qrgnvy."

#287 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 07:53 AM:

Marilee @ 280... California has pedestrians?

I don't know about Ellay, but, I'd say yes, considering how crowded the BART trains could be. And there were times, when we'd get out of the trains and onto San Francisco's Market Street, where I'd think of the opening scenes from North by Northwest, except that I never bumped into Cary Grant or Alfred Hitchcock. I did once come across Newt Gingrich.

#288 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 07:55 AM:

Linkmeister @ 284... I've been waiting for the nudes ban

And what of the nudes tan?

#289 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 07:59 AM:

Well, I'm trying to avoid spoilers, but even the Daleks get a Mary Sue moment.

And I want to see a certain Radio Times cover personality performing "Anarchy in the UK" for Children in Need

#290 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 08:00 AM:

Dave Bell @ 269... a ukulele mariachi band?

That reminds me of the ST-TNG episode where Q had been stripped of his powers. By the end, upon his regaining them, he was so happy that he conjured up a mariachi band on the bridge of the NCC-1701-D.

#291 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 08:03 AM:

Lee @ 267... Notice how old-time SF, upon describing the wonders of the Future, seemed to assume that people's intelligence would grow to match the increasing complexity of technology? When it didn't make that assumption, the story usually turned out to be a satire of our Present.

#292 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 08:58 AM:

I'm currently in the second chapter of Bertrand Russell's The Conquest of Happiness, and obsessive that I am, I can't help noticing how this book leaves tracks through Heinlein. From Hamilton Felix to Jubal Harshaw, I'm seeing Russell's words, lightly polished, parts numbers not particularly obscured. I don't know Russell well; is this book the path through Russell for Heinlein? Or another?

#293 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 09:18 AM:

Random open thread note: After looking over some older ML threads, I saw a reference to "The Seven True Things You Can't Say on Television," a blog post that is moderately hard to find (the site that it originally appeared on doesn't have it anymore; you can find it here.

It struck me that reading this in 2008, many of the comments hold up quite well. In particular, revelations from the last five years make #1 (Bush and company made up the justification for the war for political reasons) look rock solid. #4 is pretty much confirmed by the mishandling of the Katrina disaster. #5 tracks quite well with my memories of the use of the terrorism threat level, though I don't have hard data about how it was used. #6 is transparently true, and has been for a long time.

As an aside, one of the many reasons why we get such misleading and crappy coverage of political issues by the MSM is that they so rarely look back at old news stories and claims, and check to see how they held up. This makes it easy for professional liars to simply come up with a different lie each month, knowing that no reporter or MSM news source will ever bring up the past.

#294 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 10:51 AM:

Marilee @ 282

It says he has 14 kids; he should have gotten over that by now. (The Texas GOP party is busy trying to turn the clock back at least as far as the late 19th century; they don't like the modern world. Except when it's convenient: if they ever had to actually deal with the world they're trying to create, they'd be completely lost.)

#295 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 10:58 AM:

P J, I think you're right about the late 19th, but I think we can date it more precisely: the Civil War. They think things were better when the darkies all had clear owners.

#296 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 11:42 AM:

So I've got a question. OK, I've read about Degler in FanCyclopedia, in Mimosa, in TNH's short piece. But I still don't understand PNH's response back in 2002:

Come now. In a blog universe that contains Gary Farber, Avedon Carol, Vicki Rosenzweig, and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, among others, Cosmic Claude's name shall be forever green.

None of you are old enough to have been active in Fandom when Degler was. Or born yet. He vanished in 1951, with one possible brief reappearance in 1981.

How can his name be yet green in the minds of people who never knew him?

#297 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 11:58 AM:

#278 ::: Diatryma

Re: on-demand walk signal...I think they're mostly to give pedestrians something to do.

Like the "Close Doors" buttons in elevators?

#298 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 12:47 PM:

Actually, they might have other uses-- tracking pedestrian traffic, for one. Most people, coming up to an intersection, hit the button even if people are already there. That might work as a data collection method.
I've seen intersections in town that didn't show the Walk signal unless someone hit the button-- it just stayed Don't Walk as the light turned green. This seems unnecessary to me.

#299 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 01:20 PM:

Where creative juices come from!


#300 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 01:40 PM:


I think that's because, when someone hits the button at one of those, it actually lengthens the signal. (I've actually gotten out of the car and hit the button at one intersection where the pavement sensor wasn't working and the light wouldn't change. Not exactly what they intended, but it worked.)

#301 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 01:44 PM:

PJ Evans, what do you mean? I'm not sure which signal you're talking about.

#302 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Ooh, ooh, there's a sequel to the Tuscan Milk cantos! The Odes to the Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable are out!

#303 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 02:18 PM:

Diatryma, the ones where the walk light stays red if no one pushes the buttton. The signal where I had to get out and push the button was one where it usually was green on the main street, unless a car on the cross street triggered the change. (When the sensor on one side of that kind of setup quits working, you can wait a long time.)

#304 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 02:27 PM:

Carol @ 297... Like the "Close Doors" buttons in elevators?

Not quite. It does happen that, on my way down and out of the building where I work, my elevator stops on the way down - possibly because someone accidentally pushed the 'down' button instead of 'up'(*). I usually wait 5 seconds, then I push the 'close' button.

(*) How does the Federation deal with that?

"What happened, Odo?"
"He beamed down, but he pushed the 'down' button."
"There's nothing downward other than vacuum."
"I know. You should see the mess where he intersected with that shuttle."

#305 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 03:06 PM:

Pedestrian controlled crossings, of various sourts, are all over the UK. Even as part of a light-controlled traffic intersection. The advantage is that when nobody presses a button, the system doesn't have to go through an all-red phase to let pedestrians cross.

And there also should be a back-up timer system in case the vehicle sensors fail. Though the fail-safe option should surely be "vehicle-present"?

#306 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 03:19 PM:

I'd like to take the opportunity provided by the Arrow's Theorem sidelight to promote a discussion we had on alternate voting systems back at my blog. Forty-two comments, almost all of them detailed and thoughtful. One of the points that was made there is that Arrow's Theorem assumes that voters only indicate the ordering of their preferences, and not the strength; many of the popular voting systems, such as approval voting, break this assumption.

By the way, I should say that I don't particularly deserve credit (or blame) for that thread; it was started and moderated by my co-blogger Ben Webster.

#307 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 03:43 PM:

Fragano@167: I'm confused; you seem to be saying first that the challenger has 3x the money of the incumbent, then that she has Globe ran a couple of stories about a "fundraising" organization that sends out letters asking around the country for money for no-hopers, then takes ~95% of funds raised for "expenses". (Worse, in the most local case they kept sending letters even after the no-hoper had been eliminated; they claim they thought he was running a write-in campaign.) Private enterprise at work!

abi: the paper says Boston had its usual blast; my wife and I don't do crowds of half a million, so it's been a long time since we've gone (and the last time we made use of museum memberships to get restricted seats on a nearby rooftop). Instead we listened / watched as a friend's neighbors set off cannon crackers and small rockets, had indoor-grilled burgers, watched a bit of the pre-fireworks Pops concert (Irish stepdancers accompanying the theme song from a local movie, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", and the traditional 1812 Overture, with howitzers and maroons but no tower bells I could find), and played a couple of rounds of a silly board game. (We were moving slowly enough that we completely missed the ritual showing of 1776; \someday/ I'll see the first half-hour....)

JESR@256: that's great when it works. There was a San Jose Westercon where the suite patios were placed so we could see SJ downtown, Moffett AFB, Marriott's GA, etc....

#308 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 06:13 PM:

Vintage ads from fictional futures. I had not known that UBIK acts twice as fast as aspirin.

(Found via Weekend Stubble.)

#309 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 07:13 PM:

Speaking of Ubik, thank you for the "Richard Nixon, all-purpose dystopian president" sidebar link.

Reading that prompted me to track down "The Two Dicks," a short story by Paul McAuley (F&SF, November 2001) that I'd never read before. If you have an appropriate library card, you can read it online here through "Access My Library."

#310 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 09:01 PM:

CHip #307: It looked as if she had nearly three times as much money as the incumbent, in fact, she had been given less than than half ($200,000 out of $1.7 million, versus $580,000 in the incumbent's war chest) what the incumbent had by her 'fund-raiser'. Sorry for the confusion.

It's a pretty savvy scam. As a colleague of mine said, 'Why didn't it occur to people like you or me. My response was 'We're cursed with a basic honesty.'

#311 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 12:21 AM:

Classified documents are being released that indicate that the South Korean government during the Korean War executed up to 100,000 political prisoners without trial, and that the US knew about it and in some cases approved of it ahead of time.

news story.

#312 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 02:06 AM:

We spent the evening of July 4 having dinner and conversation with old friends who've just come back from a 6 month trip to Ecuador and Venezuela. One of them is probably the last tenured Marxist professor of economics in the US, and the other is an anthropologist; we had a lovely evening catching up with each other, hearing of their encounters with the Ecuadorian Secret Police, and getting to talk again with people who fundamentally agree with us on what's wrong with the way the world is run. We didn't need a fireworks show; the families on their block kept the explosions going until almost midnight.

In other news, it looks like one of the neighborhood cats has sdopted us. It's a young male, who lives next door; but the woman who lived there has left for the summer and rented the house out, and apparently told the renters (and her mother, who comes in to take care of the grounds) that it's an "outside cat". I don't think even the cat believes that one; he drops by every once in a while to get a drink of water and be rubbed behind the ears for an hour or so. It's not like he's been abandoned; they do leave out food for him; but he's taken to crossing some heavily-traveled streets, and was found about half a mile away once. I've managed to trade voicemails with the mother, and she's dead-set on the "outdoor cat" notion, so all we can do is say hello to the cat when he comes around, and hope he's not hit by a car.

#313 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 02:14 AM:

Cats change as they get older. Tabitha, local feline mistress, is far more inclined than a year ago to stay in the house and sleep.

Mind you, it's a bit startling when she wakes you up by grooming your moustache.

#314 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 10:44 AM:

Dave Bell @ 313... It could be worse. It's hard to sleep in when you have three dogs who decide they're hungry, especially when the 40-pound thing with a big muzzle and a wet tongue decide to lie on your chest.

#315 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 11:41 AM:

Marilee @280, I once walked from Hancock Park to Olympic and Hoover (it was enlightening; wish I was up to it these days) and my observation then was that pedestrians in LA are best described as "people who have finally found a parking space."

#316 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 12:39 PM:

JESR: It depends a lot on where you are. There are parts of town which are very friendly to pedestrian traffic, and where it exists. Most of it isn't really; because it's suburban, and the distances make some sort of vehicle (be it car or bicycle) pretty much incumbent.

#317 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 01:14 PM:

[in passing, like everything these days, it seems]

Interview with Jeff Sharlet. Mostly on the Family, a radical christian group that aims at converting the politically powerful, and has succeeded depressingly often. But check out The Revealer, which is like Media Matters for religion in the media.

#318 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 01:23 PM:

Terry Karney, actually, I found walking-as-walking easy in LA; there are sufficient controlled intersections for crossing streets in the areas where I did most of my getting around (downtown, Olympic and Hoover, Melrose and Clinton, Santa Monica), and the long walk was mostly instructive about how other pedestrians behaved: they walked from parking to stores and services, then back to their cars.

LACMA and I guess the Getty are accessible by public transportation, but getting to, say, the Huntington, or Descansos Garden without a car is pretty much impossible, and unless things have changed a lot, the Zoo and Hollywood Bowl are off the RTD map.

I've never had a driver's license, and spent a lot of time in LA a moderately long time ago, dealing with normal life sans car- it's doable, but not as easy as Seattle was at the same time, nor Thurston County now: most of that due to scale rather than density. (I'm biased about LA as a bike town; one of my husband's friends was a bicycle-only LA person, and died in a car-bicycle accident last summer).

#319 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Loren posted on the Disch thread and I emailed to find out about him and Lauryn and how they were doing and was happy to find Lauryn has a cool Cafepress shop!

#320 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 11:54 PM:

JESR @ 318

The Bowl is easier to get to now than it used to be - they put a subway stop not too far from it, and there are buses that go there especially for performances: I'm having to dodge them when I'm leaving the train station in the evenings. I don't know how many routes actually go there, because it's not a full-time route, and the MTA site isn't really very friendly.
The Getty, either of them, is more difficult. I think there might be a bus on Sepulveda that can get you to the main museum, but I wouldn't want to bet; I've heard there are also shuttles from somewhere on the West LA side of the hill. The one in Pacific Palisades is likely less accessible than that.

#323 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 10:01 AM:

Open Thread, so I'll insert here a bit of Squee! and plug a group I've been working with for some time. I know plugging one's own site is generally not a great thing to do, but this just excites me too much to resist.

Our first non-US Socrates Cafe contact!

While it's not yet on the website I link to here (and in my name/profile above), the Socrates Cafe Minnesota webmistress (my wife) just got contacted by a couple in Dubai, U.A.E. that they've been running a Socrates Cafe group there for about 4 months now! is the home website for the Society for Philosophical Inquiry (SPI), the "parent organization" for Socrates Cafe. SPI is a global thing, but they unfortunately don't list the available groups directly on their website - you have to e-mail them and/or become a (paid) member. Socrates Cafe is a book written by Christopher Phillips, and is what the group I moderate at the Ridgedale Public Library/Hennepin County Government Building in Minneapolis (Every Thursday evening at 7PM, on the second floor, between the Dunn Bros. and the DMV, in case you want to drop by) is based on.

Our site has links to all the MN-based Socrates Cafe groups we know about and for which the group organizers would permit us to list them, plus a number of out-of-state groups, and perhaps soon the U.A.E. group. We've gone global!

Oh, and just in case you go and notice, yes, the forums (under Amphitheatre, just to be cute) are rather slow/nearly dead. Just in case you needed somewhere else to read/post...


#324 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 10:20 AM:

Daniel Klein @ 321... Dare I say that it'd sewerve him right?

#325 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 10:36 AM:

Serge @324: That's kind of a stinky thing to say -- and you're looking rather flushed -- are you sure you feel ok? All this hot weather might be leaving you a bit drained.

Not that GWB doesn't deserve his very own memorial building.

#326 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 11:08 AM:

Ginger @ 325... you're looking rather flushed -- are you sure you feel ok?

That's information few are privvy to.

#327 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 11:32 AM:

My brain is flattus this morning. I'm going back to bed so I can digest a bit on this sludge. I know I've been lagoon-ing on composting here, but this spring was pretty floc-ed up for me.

#328 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 11:48 AM:

Tania @ 327... this spring was pretty floc-ed up for me

It will pass.

#329 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 11:50 AM:

Serge, yeah, but working at the George W. Bush memorial sewage plant? That would stink.

#330 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 11:55 AM:

Daniel Klein @ 329... It's a dirty job, but necessary.

#331 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 01:10 PM:

Serge #330: Clearly they want to commemorate just how moving his presidency has been.

#332 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 01:21 PM:

Fragano @ 331: After all, this president is widely known for his intellectual bran, as well as for his moral fiber.

Serge @ 326: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be a stool pigeon.

#333 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 01:35 PM:

Ginger @ 332... I didn't mean to be a stool pigeon

...who works for the power behind the throne?

#334 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 02:06 PM:

Fragano @ 331: And remember, it's not quite over yet! Who knows, maybe he'll go out in a flush of glory.

#335 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 03:39 PM:

I wonder...does the Bush administration seem to swirl clockwise in Australia?

Marilee @ #317, I bet you can guess which of her product sections caught my eye...lovely stuff!

#336 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 06:14 PM:

I wonder if the readership can help me with a furniture care problem. I bought a couple of deck chairs for my new apartment's balcony. They're made of unvarnished but heavily oiled acacia wood.

Since I live right next to the ocean now, it seems like a good idea to put some sort of sealing finish on them, but I can't figure out what sort of finish would work. I have three contradictory opinions from three different sources, none of which seems trustworthy:

- A clerk at the store where I bought the chairs thought that the factory-applied oil should be sufficient by itself.

- A guy selling beeswax-based furniture polish at the San Diego County Fair assured me that his product would do exactly what I wanted.

- A clerk at an ISO standard hardware store (Ace brand) recommended scrubbing and sanding down the wood to get rid of as much of the oil as possible, then applying primer and spar varnish. (This option seems especially ill-advised.)


#337 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 06:15 PM:

I just got a spam from an outfit looking for a buyer for an Indian pickle and chutney factory.

65,000 pounds plus VAT.

Anyone want to go in with me?

#338 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 06:33 PM:

Zack, I'd say stick with the oil for now, but you'll probably have to re-oil it every so often.

I think tung oil is the preferred finish for this sort of thing - my parents had a teakwood dining table with an oiled finish, and it needed to be re-oiled once in a while - but a furniture place would know more than I do.

#339 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 08:58 PM:

Open Thread request for assistance:

I got four automatic Windows updates earlier today, clicked to install them, rebooted, and discovered the updates had killed my ZoneAlarm firewall. Every single program I try to access, be it e-mail (and all the links in e-mail) or Firefox, is refused by ZoneAlarm. No opportunity to bypass the alarm is available. Even ZoneAlarm's website is blocked by its own firewall. The only way to get access is to shut down the Zone Alarm firewall and rely on the built-in Windows firewall.

Great. Anyone know a workaround or fix?

"Get a Mac" is not an option.

#340 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 09:16 PM:

Skwid, #335, it caught my eye, too! I used to belong to a group that had a squid as an icon.

Zack, #336, stick with the oil. Some woods are better with oil than polishes or varnishes.

Linkmeister, #339, Ack. I have the same updates waiting for installation. Good thing I don't have Zone Alarm. I don't know anything about Zone Alarm, but the best thing I can think of is to uninstall it and then reinstall it (over the new updates).

#341 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 09:22 PM:

Marilee @ #340, It's a nice thought, and that's what I did. I downloaded a new Zone Alarm, replacing the old one. Didn't work.

#342 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 09:33 PM:

Linkmeister: For now, uninstall Windows XP update KB951748. ZoneAlarm's website has a lot of discussion about how to bypass this-and-that-and-the-other, and they're working on a proper fix.

#343 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 09:37 PM:

Zack --

There are drying oils and non-drying oils.

Raw linseed is non-drying; most linseed sold for furniture these days has stuff in it to make it a drying oil.

Walnut oil and tung oil are drying oils.

Anything you are going to sit on, you want a drying oil.

If the furniture is already oiled, you've got an oiled finish unless you want to go the 'disassemble; re-machine one quarter inch smaller in all dimensions' route.

Heavily oiled acacia wood ought to be good for anything short of pouring bleach on it; tung is probably what you will find most easily. Remember to store the closed container upside down so you don't get the top side where you pour from oxidizing and skinning over in the container.

You can -- this is what the original French polish is -- mix bee's wax and non-drying oils. Doing it with a drying oil is dis-recommended. Since you've probably got tung oil on there, don't go with the wax top coat.

Remember to wipe the excess oil with something lint-free.

It's a really quite low-maintenance finish; not quite as tough as modern polyurethanes, but, well, generally tough enough.

#344 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 09:38 PM:

Joel @ #342, Thanks! I'll give that a shot.

Where on ZA's site could I find that discussion?

#345 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 09:46 PM:

Joel at 342, do you happen to know if this is a bug with other security programs besides Zone Alarm? I use a Trend Micro security program. I haven't downloaded any Windows updates recently...

#346 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 09:51 PM:

My parents had a Danish teakwood dining table. It got re-oiled after my father lightly-sanded the top to reduce the dings (dropped stuff does that to wood). I don't know if there were other times, but they had the table for twenty or so years.

#347 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 10:07 PM:

Joel, I found the ZA thread at their forum, here.

Thanks, it worked like a charm.

Lizzy L @ #345, I'd go look at Trend Micro's forum, if any. The patch was Windows-wide, so if it's going to be a problem for your system, I'd imagine it would have created an outcry there.

#348 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 10:33 PM:

Same darned thing just happened to me, too: ZoneAlarm, WindowsXP automatic update, suddenly nothing worked.

I'm cruising with built-in Windows firewall right now.

#349 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 10:37 PM:

Graydon @ 343: what happens if you mix beeswax with a drying oil?

#350 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 10:45 PM:

Glad to help. I saw a warning about that update on rec.arts.sf.fandom after I'd told my machine to download the latest set of updates, but (luckily!) before I told it to install them.

On a related note, the new AVG antivirus version 8.0 appears to have an interesting new ability: it can activate a modem to do its scheduled updates even if the Windows settings have auto-dialing disabled. It may be unable to negotiate the password, etc., with the machine at the other end; I infer this from multiple failed attempts to complete the connection. There's a setting in the AVG configuration which enables this use of modems, turned on by default.

I was not happy to be awakened on Saturday morning by the sound of the modem dialing, without my having told it to do so. That's my cue to lurch to my office and yank the modem cable out of the wall.

#351 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 10:59 PM:

The fix to the ZoneAlarm problem:

Go to Add/Remove Programs (in Control Panel).
Make sure "Show Updates" is checked.
Remove update KB951748

One of the things that Security Update KB951748 apparently does is inform Microsoft every time you start MS Word, even if you've told your firewall not to allow MS Word to access the internet.

#352 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 11:07 PM:

Thanks, Linkmeister. I went to the TM website & found nothing on it about Windows updates, so either they're ignoring it or it isn't a problem.

#353 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Ah. This must be some strange new usage of the word "security" that I hadn't previously been aware of.

#354 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2008, 11:13 PM:

Dare I ask what Security Update KB951748 does if it can't contact the mothership? Say, if one is off-line, or if Small'n'Limp's server is down?

#355 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 01:44 AM:

Joel @#354, when you hear a small whimper emanating from the CPU...

#356 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 02:03 AM:

The overview of what KB951748 does, from Microsoft:

A security issue has been identified that could allow a remote attacker to misrepresent a system action or behavior unbeknownst to users on Microsoft Windows systems. You can help protect your computer by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

#357 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 03:33 AM:

By the sounds of it, you can fix the problem by reinstalling Zone Alarm. It sounds as though Zone Alarm makes its own copy of several core windows DLL files, and when MS release a patch that changes those files it gets screwed up. Uninstall Zone Alarm, install the update, then reinstall Zone Alarm should make it work fine.

#358 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 05:08 AM:

ZoneAlarm is hardly an obscure program.

Either Microsoft's testing is so incredibly slipshod that they didn't know about this problem, or they're so uncaringly stupid that they thought somebody, whose firewall they'd buggered, could look up the answer in the internet.

Neither is a good advert for Microsoft.

#359 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 08:16 AM:

Today's post on Tania's blog reveals that Ronald McDonald supports the Gay Agenda.

#361 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 09:13 AM:

#359: May I suggest that a link specifically to “today's post on Tania's blog” will remain useful longer?

#362 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 09:30 AM:

Thanks for the warning - I got the Microsoft Windows XP update today in my "There are updates ready for you" notification. I unchecked the box for KB1whatsis.

#363 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 10:00 AM:

The stupid Windows update problem (which may or may not affect me - I did the shutdown to install it as I left for work, so I don't know yet) is well-timed from my point of view, because I'm roundly cursing the Mac I use at work, and it is a sharp reminder that all the OSes do stupid things, and Windows more than most. Just because a Mac is driving me crazy, that doesn't make Windows better.

#364 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 10:20 AM:

Kevin Reid @ 361... I blame coffee, or rather the lack of it.

#365 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 10:38 AM: have a modem plugged in?

Gods, man, why?

More Open-Threadedness: I finished Jhegaala this morning, and it was delicious, but I noticed a typo/copyedit error. I know it's been mentioned before, here, but I can't recall who at Tor I'm supposed to send those to...

#366 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 11:09 AM:

Sqwid, I have a dialup modem and DSL. Because DSL can go down (the phone company owns the lines), and then how do you get your ML fix?

But the dialup modem had better not try calling out on its own ....

#367 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 11:30 AM:

Jules @ 357: By the sounds of it, you can fix the problem by reinstalling Zone Alarm.

From what Linkmeister says, that seems not to be the case. I'd be rather surprised if the installation management system didn't keep track of software versions, and would ignore a later attempt to re-install an earlier-version file. Assuming backward compatibility, one would always want to have the most recent file version.

Skwid @ 365: have a modem plugged in?

Gods, man, why?

Well, it doesn't work if it isn't plugged in. Leaving it plugged in shouldn't be a problem unless something activates the modem inappropriately.

Or was that "why a modem"? Well, see, a number of months ago I decided that I was overdue to upgrade to a higher-speed connection, which would also not tie up my phone line. Ideally, it would just be a matter of upgrading the service from my current provider, so I wouldn't have to go through the hassle of changing addresses, moving my website, etc. Unfortunately, the published terms of service for my current connection specify that the service includes hosting my webspace, and the published terms of service for the higher-speed connections don't mention it. And I have spent hours and hours trying to get someone from Sympatico to send me some kind of official document (or link to same) which specifies that the higher-speed service includes the site hosting. A couple of their North American droids -- when I managed to talk with someone in North America -- told me that they were pretty sure that the higher-speed service included the site hosting, but they were honest enough to admit that they couldn't find an official document. I've had about eight of their droids in India (judging from the names and accents) assure me that the hosting was included, but despite my requests for documentation of that -- phrased as clearly as possible, in as many ways as I've been able to think of -- they haven't sent documentation, and I'm unwilling to accept the mere word of a semi-illiterate flunky with no authority. (Maybe in Hindi or something, he's a lit major and poet. This is not relevant to my getting useful information in English.) I've been pointed to non-existent web pages, and to web pages that don't actually say anything about terms of service, and to the general Sympatico help system. I've been told that "this email is a document".

And this nonsense hasn't been quite enough to push me to the hassle of finding another ISP. But it has come pretty close.

#368 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 12:29 PM:

Serge @ 359 & Kevin Reid @ 361: Tania's blog isn't especially useful for very long. Or very interesting unless you like pictures of moose wandering through my back yard.

Anyway, I was surprised to learn that there's such a thing as a Gay Chamber of Commerce*, and pleasantly surprised to find out that McD has a seat on it.

*my "friends" have been known to pronounce my last name as "Clue-less", ok?

#369 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 12:39 PM:

Tania @ 368... Who said that pictures of a moose in one's backyard aren't interesting, especially when the backyard is in the North Pole?

As for Ronald McDonald, good for him.

If your 'friends' pronounce your family name 'Cluless', I'd hate to hear what your ennemies do to your name.

#370 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 01:44 PM:

Jules, see my #341. After the update was installed and the problem occurred, I downloaded and installed a new version of ZoneAlarm. It still didn't work. ZA knows about the problem and will probably have to issue a patch of its own.

#371 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Serge, since you asked about the "enemy" I will share. Cluck-ass. Yeah, that wasn't really funny when I was a kid. Do you get much Male-lowcks/Male-lox attempts on your name?

#372 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 01:57 PM:

Tania @ 371... 'Cluck-ass'? Ouch. It makes the 'Mallet' of my youth seem not so bad after all.

#373 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 02:40 PM:

Graydon @342 talks about wood finishes. In my furniture building phases, I've found that Citrus Shield, which is carnauba and orange oil, is wonderful stuff for flat surfaces; I've used it on pine and alder and red oak and cedar, and especially like to tint it with standard pigment or oil paints for effect. There's a pine shelf behind me that was done with four layers of that stuff colored with American Vermillion that's hard and dust-proof ten years on. The alder table in my bedroom is even older, and has a finish that's layers of ultramarine and viridian.

It will make a firm bond with an oil treated surface; I've got a quarter-sawn white oak table top that needs refinished again after an unfortunate incident with acrylic lacquer and bad reflexes, and am going the carnauba route this time because part of the table top has a tung oil finish but the leaf is unfinished. (Cheap antiques with flood water damage, what can I say?)

#374 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 05:54 PM:

Fux "News" quacking-doctoring images of detractors....

...Mr. Steinberg's boss, Steven Reddicliffe, was a former employee of the Fox media empire and reportedly had “an axe to grind” with the company.

...Fox ran modified pictures of both men. Mr. Steinberg's teeth had been yellowed, his nose and chin made more bulbous, and his ears jugged. Mr. Reddicliffe was given black bags under his eyes....

#375 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 06:27 PM:

Another crypto remark in passing: ccrypt is a pretty good general crypto program

#376 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 06:32 PM:

After installing KB951748, my laptop wireless connection accesses servers, but won't transmit or receive information. According to the ZoneAlarm thread, I'm not the only one with this problem.

#377 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 06:38 PM:

The ZoneAlarm thread also recommends that you uninstall update KB951978.

Me, I'm doing a system restore of last night.

#378 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 06:42 PM:

I'm looking forward to seeing The Dark Knight.

It struck me that a villain could pull an epic sadistic stunt by sneaking into the movie theater, scurrying up to the projection room, and substituting a reel of a certain 1966 movie for the Christian Bale film. Imagine the audience seeing this pop up:


#379 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 08:09 PM:

albatross @ 181: Has anyone else followed the news lately? It appears that our torture techniques were actually derived, probably unintentionally, from Chinese torture techniques used to elicit false confessions from American captives in Korea.

Deliberately, as later documented. Now if only we could have learned this from China instead:

A Chinese court has jailed a former anti-graft prosecutor for life for torturing a suspect to death, while his superior was sentenced to seven years in prison for trying to cover up the case....

#380 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 08:09 PM:

Steve #378: If that were to happen when I go to see it, I would* probably revise my expectations, stay in the theater, enjoy the hell out of it, and then go back later to see the new movie for real.

*Dear god this sentence is a horrific mash of verb tenses. I don't know what I'm doing.

#381 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 09:31 PM:

Out in the Open Thread:

Assorted photos of varied quality of large roses.

There are other photos of roses from this year in other posts in my journal.

#382 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 09:35 PM:

JESR: getting to, say, the Huntington, or Descansos Garden without a car is pretty much impossible, and unless things have changed a lot, the Zoo and Hollywood Bowl are off the RTD map.

The Gold Line will get you to within a mile and a half of the Huntington (I used to walk there from my house, unawares it was a 6 mile trip; but I like to walk). For decades the RTD (now the MTA) has had busses which go to the Bowl. You have to get to one of the hubs they depart from, but it's on the map. I don't know about the Zoo.

P.J. Evans. The Getty are both pretty easy. The Malibu Getty (what I think of at, The Getty) has a bus from Ocean and Santa Monica, and there is one to the train from the parking lot which runs around Westwood. Both of those areas are something of a pain to Mass Trans to, but the endpoint is doable.

#383 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 09:40 PM:

James @ 351: One of the things that Security Update KB951748 apparently does is inform Microsoft every time you start MS Word

What's the source of this information? I've been looking around, and can't find it.

#384 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 09:45 PM:

Joel @ #383, Yeah. I posted the overview above @ #356 in part because I didn't see anything in the MS bulletin that approached what James said.

#385 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 09:46 PM:

Oh, and the "Alternative rugby commentary." sideparticle thingy. I just keep watching it over and over. It's some weird form of masochism going on, cause it feels like getting verbally kicked around by the guy talking. But I like it.

#386 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 09:52 PM:

Pyre@379, woah, that's some link

A Chinese court has jailed a former anti-graft prosecutor for life for torturing a suspect to death, while his superior was sentenced to seven years in prison for trying to cover up the case. Another two law enforcement officials involved in the torture were sentenced to 15 and 10 years in jail respectively, the newspaper said.

Are we seriously getting our asses kicked by the Chinese in who has better human rights around not torturing people?

Not to be cynical about it, but I wonder how much of this reflects an internal state change, and how much of it is PR for the olympics.

No, that was cynical.

gads, I'm depressed by the whole thing.

#387 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2008, 10:13 PM:

Greg London @ 386: Are we seriously getting our asses kicked by the Chinese in who has better human rights around not torturing people?

Well... best ask the Tibetans, and whoever survived Tiananmen Square. On the other hand, the Uighurs might declare it a tie.

#388 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 12:11 AM:

Thank you, everyone who posted about the Windows update --> ZoneAlarm problem. I'm a Mac user, so I just vaguely registered it and passed it by, but my roommate is a Windows user (at least when she's not borrowing my Macbook), and tonight her Internet connection stopped working. I was able to come back to the Open Thread and find the necessary info in almost no time, and it looks like her connection is restored and her sanity saved.

#389 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 01:07 AM:

Watch out for Windows Automatic Updates

#391 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 08:35 AM:

(I overlooked #337 and #360 before posting #390!)

#393 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 09:47 AM:

On ZoneAlarm.

An updated version is avialable fomr the Zonelabs site.

So far, two download attempts have failed to produce a usable copy.

#394 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 10:58 AM:

What is the current climate bringing us to? I spent the 4th watching fireworks and reading the Bill of Rights to my kid, who was then put to bed with a selection of Bible stories. (Us? Not Christian. Ok, it was coincidence, and she's just as likely to ask for her Greek Myths or Hindu Gods books, but it still - I felt like I'd fallen through into some 50's fantasy alt-world.)

Now she asks for the Bill of Rights every day when I get home from work, and I think we might start on the Constitution too - at least she thinks we should, and I can't really come up with a reason not to. It's been instructive. (And for anyone else with small children (or who needs to win bar bets), I heartily recommend The Constitution Translated for Kids by Cathy Travis. I actually need a second copy now, since the kid seems to think that "for kids" means she gets to keep it, but it's a perfect size for tossing in a bag and carrying everywhere with you - you never know when you'll need to prove that "America shall be a Christian Nation, founded on the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ" isn't actually in the text anywhere.)

#395 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 11:39 AM:

Cat Meaders @ 394...

Your kid might like to see something that Tania posted on her own blog on the Fourth. It's a YouTube of
Muppets sort-of singing "Stars & Stripes" while Sam the Eagle interprets the Constitution as designed to protect the Nation from weirdos.

#396 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 11:52 AM:

(I just swung over here from another thread where a bunch of the usuals are working with a new poster)

Reason #10782 why ML is Like Callahan's.

Do you know what I love about you guys? That you have the patience, empathy and fierce desire to nurture the kindred souls who stumble in here. In the spirit of paying it forward you take the time to help them shed their bad intellectual and emotional habits they've built as defenses through years of dealing with the willfully, blissfully ignorant who don't like "smart people".

I just wanted to tell you that it takes a special kind of wonderful to do that, and you should take a moment today to acknowledge that truth and accept that you have "some wonderful goin' on."

That is all, carry on.

#397 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 01:26 PM:

This isn't on any possible topic, but I'm enjoying it so very much that I want to share:

Anyone with even a slightly passing interest in soul music who hasn't heard Al Green's The Belle Album (from 1977; his first album without Willie Mitchell producing, and one of his last secular albums for quite a while) should track it down and listen, right now. It's beautiful. I think some sort of supernatural deity, master of all that is lovely, plays bass.

#398 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 02:08 PM:

Lance Weber @ 396:

Hate to rain on your parade, but I think the folks here are motivated entirely by the selfish desire to have the world they live in be the way they want it to be, combined with the disillusioned realization that it won't get that way on its own.

On the other hand, this is not incompatible with your rendering of the matter, either.

#399 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 02:15 PM:

(Add smileys as needed to #398 above.)

#400 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Dave Bell #393:

Got it downloaded the first time. Not bragging, just saying it can be done. Transatlantic connection may be at fault?

(Managed to figure out the basics of the problem yesterday from first principles: I could, from the cmd line, ping . Housenet was working fine. Attempting to fiddle with my dns stufff didn't work. Other applications besides browser were also busted. What have all those applications got that dos-box does not? Oh. Firewall. Turn off ZoneAlarm, which is mildly OK for a few minutes because housenet also has a firewall. Gee, everything works. Turn on the much-maligned Windows firewall as a temporary measure. Google for problem; I could have done this last bit from spouse's computer, but I thought I'd see if I could debug it myself.)

#401 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 04:13 PM:

I got rid of ZoneAlarm in favor of AVG back when ZA changed their resident executable shield so that it took over five minutes from click to execution to run things on my PC. It's been smooth sailing since then for me.

#402 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 04:18 PM:

I have a massive headache and will be napping soon, so I thought I'd put this up now, hours before I read here.

The WashPost had an article on a young boy who is now a teen who developed gluten-free recipes for his sister and has a cookie, bread, etc. cookbook out.

#403 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 06:24 PM:

Lance: Assuming I know the thread of which you speak; we are doing ok; NOW. At first we were more than a little short, and the amount of nurturing wasn't great.

Had that person left, never to return, I would not have been surprised.

To our credit we backpedaled from the hostilty and snippiness of our replies, but we could have been better.

Not to say we can't be as good as you see us; but we aren't what we ought to be (which is ever the way of the good people in the world)

#404 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 09:25 PM:

Terry Karney @ 403:

There's a place we really should be
If we really could be
(Even though we couldn't);
And a place we really shouldn't.

All of us are seen
Stuck somewhere between,
Running hither, thither,
Or sitting in a dither.

I think it means a lot
Which way we're going, not
How far we just now seem
From the distant dream.


(And in case #398 was too clumsily put to be funny, it was meant to be a sour-faced rephrasing of "compassion is enlightened self-interest".)

#405 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 06:11 AM:

HellBoy II: The Golden Army premieres today.
I won't be able to go tody because of the local SF club's monthly meeting, but tomorrow night...

"There are things that go bump in the night. We bump back."

#406 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 08:29 AM:

There have been many spoofs/homages to Discovery Channel's ad "I love the world". Yesterday I found one on Kouredios's blog that reminds me how much the Doctor loves our world.

#407 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 08:56 AM:


HellBoy II: The Golden Army premieres today.

Also Yay!

I won't be able to go tody because of the local SF club's monthly meeting, but tomorrow night...

My wife and I will be going out Saturday night as well, thanks to an AMC gift card from my sister and my Mom's willingness to watch our daughter for the night.

"There are things that go bump in the night. We bump back."

"You woke up the Baby!"


We loved the first one, and with Del Toro in on this one we just have to see it on the big screen. (Still haven't worked through the NetFlix queueueueue far enough to see Pan's Labyrinth, more's the pity.)

#408 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:13 AM:

cajunfj40 @ 407... It's Lovecraft with a gun.

I remember a 2004 interview with del Toro where he talked about how the studios wanted the Rock to play HellBoy, but del Toro held firm and went for Perlman even though he's not a box-office draw. Mind you, the original movie didn't do well and the studio execs probably went nyah nyah. So, why is there a big-screen sequel out now? The sequel was originally going to be a direct-to-video release with the same cast, and pretty much the same story. What happened? Pan's Labyrinth happened.

#409 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:40 AM:

Serge @ 408

the original movie didn't do well

More proof that we live in decadent and debased times.

#410 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:47 AM:

Putting on my optimist's chapeau, it occurs to me that if Hellboy II does well at the box office, some bright person in Hollowood, looking for something brand new but just like it, might discover The Atrocity Archives, and decide to get Del Toro to do it. Nom nom nom ...

#411 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:53 AM:

408: "Lovecraft with a gun" was the sadly-unavailable-on-DVD-at-least-so-my-hire-service-would-have-me-believe-the-useless-blighters-still-i-suppose-they-did-come-up-with-call-of-cthulhu-pretty-fast-so-maybe-they're-ok "Cast a Deadly Spell", with Fred Ward as LA gumshoe Phil Lovecraft in a Cthulhified remake of "The Big Sleep".

410: Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) needs to get involved with "The Atrocity Archives". I can think of no better Bob Howard. And Edward Fox as Angleton. Oh yes.

#412 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 10:03 AM:

ajay @ 411... I remember Cast A Deadly Spell, with Ward as gumshoe Lovecraft. And with David Warner as his client.

Hackshaw: Do you realize how long they've waited for me? Centuries! Millennia!
Lovecraft: How long is that in dog years?

#413 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 10:07 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 409... We do indeed. By the way, HERE is a photo I once took of a small theater that was showing the original HellBoy. Notice on the marquee what other movie they were showing?

#414 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 10:46 AM:

Obviously the theater manager's formative years were spent listening to William Shatner's The Transformed Man album.

#415 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 11:15 AM:

Pyre @ 414...

Shatner began his musical career with the spoken word 1968 album The Transformed Man. Delivered with orchestral backings with the odd "psychedelic" flourish, his exaggerated, interpretive recitations of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" became instant camp classics.

The latter can be heard and seen in YouTube with a montage mashing up Star Trek and I Love Lucy.

#416 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 02:08 PM:

FYI for all the ZoneAlarm Free Firewall users in the fluorosphere, the company issued a new edition yesterday which resolves the problem with MS Update KB951748. I installed the MS update overnight and the new version of ZA had no trouble accessing the tubes and my ISP mail provider this a.m.

Be sure you get the download labeled:
ZoneAlarm version:7.0.483.000
TrueVector version:7.0.483.000
Driver version:7.0.483.000

#417 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 03:27 PM:

"Duck lovers will be relieved to know that the 3-D adventure "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is not a remake of the 1959 picture starring Pat Boone and James Mason, in which Gertrude the duck meets an unfortunate end. There is no Gertrude in this "Journey," which makes no attempt to be an adaptation of the Jules Verne novel, anyway."

Stephanie Zacharek in

#418 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 05:41 PM:

Does anyone understand why these lob bombs are US forces in Iraq's greatest threat? Rocket assisted mortars? Obviously, it's not the technology but something about the way they're applying it. I just don't understand what they're doing that makes it so much better than a regular mortar or a regular RPG or a regular roadside IED.

#419 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 07:30 PM:

Good Grief. Has anyone here seen the monumental comment-singularity forming over at PZ Myer's Pharyngula?

#420 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 07:55 PM:

Epacris #419: Yes, I have. It is something to behold.

#421 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 08:27 PM:

That lob bomb thing sounds like a vehicle-mounted mortar array with a remotely-attached propagandist accessory which projects delta-force fear rays.

#422 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 08:35 PM:

(goes and looks at Pharyngula).

Ye cats; talk about taking trolling to a new level. While I in no way condone the threats of violence against him, I have to say that my respect for PZ Myers has now dropped below what I had for William Sanders.

#423 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 08:42 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ 422: Why?

#424 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 08:52 PM:

When they're not getting into what I describe as 'evangelical atheism', most of the stuff over there is fairly intelligent.

(Besides, I like the Friday cephalopod pictures.)

#425 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:30 PM:


Basically, because Myers seems to see no problem in gratuitously going out of his way to stomp on the feelings of millions of his fellow citizens by stealing and desecrating something they hold extremely dear.

I don't have a problem in principle with Myers speaking his mind about religion, including him arguing vehemently that my beliefs are nonsensical or harmful. (I'll disagree with him, but respect that people have differences in belief, and should feel free to express those differences.) But he's going well beyond that.

Here's an analogy that might give some idea of the sort of thing he's doing: Suppose I have an item I cherish-- like, say, a doodled self-portrait left behind to me by a sister who died. It has no economic value, but it means the world to me. I take it with me frequently to remind me of her. One day I leave it on a bench for a moment, and someone who's been waiting for me to do this takes her drawing, and announces loudly that he is now going to slowly stab her, scrawl over it, draw someone raping her, and eventually destroy it, all in public so that I and anyone else who cares to watch can get a good look. If I complain, I'm told haughtily that my attachment to my dead sister is misplaced, and it's only a drawing anyway, so I should just grow up already.

Now imagine it's not just me he's doing this to, but millions of other people who feel the same way.

Putting aside for a moment the problem of him swiping the drawing (which has an analogue in the present situation), does he have a first amendment right to do this? Yes. Can I still consider it a thoroughly contemptible thing to do? You bet.

(It's actually worse from a Catholic point of view, since for us the Eucharist is not merely a beloved symbol but the very body and blood of Christ. But I also have a low opinion of US personnel intentionally and flagrantly desecrating a Koran in front of a Muslim, or the Taliban seizing and destroying Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.)

#426 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:45 PM:

I believe you're blaming the wrong person on that - PZ is defending the guy that took the wafer; he didn't take it himself ... although I think he might, if the occasion arose, and I don't agree with it. I think he should respect other people's views, even if he doesn't agree with them. But I'm not an atheist, either.

#427 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 09:47 PM:

John Mark Ockerboom @ 425: Stealing? I thought they gave the wafers away.

Aside from that, I do that your point, but destroying a transient object meant to be eaten isn't, for me, in the same class of outrage as destroying a statue meant to exist for centuries.

I also thought giving the guy who burned the Burning Man ahead of schedule all that time in jail was excessive.

#428 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 10:13 PM:

PJE@426: At the point I came in, PZ Myers was specifically asking someone to purloin a consecrated host and deliver it to him for desecration. (It sounds like he had also talked about a previous incident involving someone else several posts back as well, but I'm specifically referring to Myers' own solicitation.)

John@427: "I thought they gave the wafers away."

Not unconditionally. Communion is reserved for Catholics with proper disposition (in part to try to avoid desecrations), and there are guidelines printed in the mass books of Catholic churches that state this explicitly. Such Catholics in turn, are expected to know and respect what the Eucharist is, and what recipients are supposed to do with it. ("Take this... and eat it," to quote the liturgy, not "Take this and do what you like with it.")

Intent matters, as you yourself note with respect to the Buddhist statues "meant to exist for centuries". And the intent here is pretty clear.

#429 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 10:35 PM:

re Lob Bombs: One, the "threat" seems overrated.

Two... they are more dangerous (in theory) because they, unlike a mortar, can be fired remotely. When one fires a mortar, one has to be present. If counterbattery radar is up, then the track back to the mortar can be read; and someone sent to deal with it.

This set-up, not so much.

For all that I like PZ Meyers when the subject is biology/evolution, the place is toxic when religion comes up. The disdain diplayed, and the bigotted stereotyping which so often appears is the main reason I only read it occaisionally.

#430 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 10:38 PM:

Pyre: That was beautiful. It sums up so many things, and so well.

Thank you.

#431 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 11:03 PM:

At the point where I was seeing the thread, they were mostly still on the first incident, which was a college student who had palmed the wafer and taken it out. From there, it ballooned. (Mind, I think that was a stupid thing to do - I know that the guy shouldn't have accepted it in the first place, because he wasn't qualified.)

If PZ wants someone to steal a wafer so he can descerate it, although it shouldn't cause the level of threats he's getting, that's into the 'evangelical atheist' stuff that they get into over there... and which does keep me from visiting as often as I otherwise might.

(I got raised Methodist; it's looser, but that sort of thing isn't done there either. Cubes of peasant-type bread and tiny glasses of grape juice, passed along the rows for each person who wants to, to partake.)

#432 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 11:21 PM:

Basically, because Myers seems to see no problem in gratuitously going out of his way to stomp on the feelings of millions of his fellow citizens by stealing and desecrating something they hold extremely dear

Uh, I think the initial post was more pointing out the reaction to stealing a communion wafer was that the guy got a bunch of death threats. I don't think the bible or catholic church authorizes execution of communion wafer thieves.

But since he was aware of what reaction one person got for stealing a communion wafer, I'm not exactly sure what he thought would happen if he suggested someone steal a communion wafer for him. Science being based on observation and repeatability, you'd think he could have seen it coming.

Not that it makes the death threats OK, but it does make me wonder what he thought would happen.

#433 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 11:30 PM:

Terry@429: they, unlike a mortar, can be fired remotely.

Ah. That's odd. That's not new technology, and it's not a new tactics. It's just "new" to Iraq. We use unmanned predators to remote launch hellfire missiles at targets, and we're surprised when they use remote launched dumb rockets?

Are we talking about line of sight RPG kind of thingy or indirect fire rocket artillery thingy?

#434 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2008, 11:33 PM:

And PZ Myers only reported on it, he did not instigate the whatever kerfluffle.

After all, you can buy the wafers by the caseload if you want to.

#436 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 12:07 AM:

Paula Helm Murray at 434: no, you cannot buy consecrated wafers. You can buy unconsecrated wafers and do whatever you like with them, no one should care, they're just matzoh crackers cooked by nuns. But for millions of people around the world, a consecrated wafer partakes of the divine and should at least not be deliberately demeaned, if not for its own sake, then for the sake of people who believe it to be holy. My understanding is that Muslims believe that the Koran is in some special sense God's Word -- different from the way Christians believe that the Bible is God's Word and closer to the way Catholics venerate the Host. (Catholics also refer to Jesus as the Word of God.)

I don't condone death threats, of course, and Bill Donohue of the Catholic League or whatever it is (makes me think of The League of Red-Headed Gentlemen) is a narcissistic self-promoting idiot.

I've enjoyed PZ Meyer's blog but AFAIAC he's just crossed a line.

#437 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 12:16 AM:

Open threadedness: There's a new ... clip about the Watchmen movie. It's not a preview, it's sort of a "making of" or "behind the scenes" thing that's about 3 minutes long

Around 2:20, you see a glimpse of Rorschach.

#438 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 12:26 AM:

John@427: I also thought giving the guy who burned the Burning Man ahead of schedule all that time in jail was excessive.

Given that the rules for Burning man says "There are no rules about how one must behave or express oneself at this event", I'd agree.

Apparently, there's a "Well, everything but that" attached as a footnote somewhere.

#439 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 12:51 AM:

I think the best comment on the whole wafer kerfluffle (only people don't get killed over kerfluffles) comes from some Buddhist or other: "You spit, I bow." Yet there's a real risk of violence: the miracle of transubstantiation (my word, the spellchecker has it) has been an enormous focus of conflict over the years. Why, you'd think it was the devil was involved, or something.

#440 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 01:09 AM:

Greg London: Indirect. That's the real reason they've done so little damage. A mortar (60mm, the sort most commonly used in such attacks) has a range of about half a mile, at most. Without too much trouble (a guy on a cell phone) adjustments can be made, and the target actually hit. With rockets... not so much, at least not until you get to complex things like MLRS. So less a couple of dozen, and some good guesstimations (or really precise machining/fueling) they are going to be not more useful than the Congreve Rockets of the Napoleonic Wars.

My cynical self says this is an adminstration attempt to make Iran look more active, and so ratchet the rhetoric and make McCain more effective a candidate.

Paula: One cannot buy consecrated host. The whole thing is purely provocative. P.Z. Meyers has to know that it's something catholics feel strongly about (hell, I am recusant, and more than a trifle lapsed, but this bothers me; at a gut level it pisses me off), and with idiots like Donohue more than willing to stoke the flames (and a huge streak of religious intolerance/persecution complex in this country) it's not surprising some of them are going to go way beyond reasonable in their responses.

To then hold them up, and have the entirety of the faithful treated as if they are cut of the same cloth which certainly seems the tenor of a lot of the comments), well it's a cheap shot, and dirty pool.

Greg: re burning man. I thought the "premature" attempt to burn the man was perfectly in keeping with the core idea of getting rid of attachments to things (which was, it seems, the purpose of the whole thing).

#441 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 01:31 AM:

My cynical self says this is an adminstration attempt to make Iran look more active, and so ratchet the rhetoric and make McCain more effective a candidate.

Yeah, I read that article, and it sounded like some super high tech stuff that couldn't possibly come from insurgents with surplus weapons, and they said that the guys who were using them were extremely well trained to the point that one military official compared them to our delta force, and my bullshit detector set off flags. So, then I tried to figure out what the hell kind of weapon they were actually talking about, and damned if they didn't say anything specific about it.

Based on the title "lob bombs", I guessed dumb, unguided, indirect weapons, and I was thinking what in hell is so special about that that it's suddenly the biggest threat US troops face in Iraq?

The whole thing smells like Niger yellowcake.

#442 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 01:43 AM:

I loved Cast a Deadly Spell. IIRC, the writer was even hip enough to put in some references to Heinlein's "Magic, Inc." near the beginning.

By the way, Cthullu, squid in the desert? Not a good idea.

#443 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 02:41 AM:

Greg... they may be well trained... no way to know (and leaving not enough trace to be caught, and setting them up so they aren't spotted before launch isn't trivial. Not D-boy material, but better than amateur.

#444 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 03:39 AM:

OK, the Lob Bomb article mentions a 107mm rocket, a size which is made by Iran and China. It's a standard multiple-launch rocket, nothing special in itself.

What seems to be a little more ingenious is that the guerillas involved are copying the IRA, and putting their rocket launcher inside a small truck, fired on a timer, so all they have to do is park in the right place, pointing in the right direction, and walk away.

The IRA managed this in Whitehall, though they had to build their own missiles, which didn't work very well.

And a range of 8000 metres. Against a target the size of one of the American bases you should be able to keep the bangage inside the perimeter, though park-and-shoot probably doesn't give enough pointing accuracy for a long-range shot.

Really, this is nothing new, and the way it's being painted, with the Lob Gun label, looks damned suspicious.

#445 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 03:42 AM:

So the Iraqi guerillas are getting good enough to make it hard work for the US Army to catch them.

Think of it as evolution in action.

#446 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 04:21 AM:

Marilee@435: Whoa! Funky.

#447 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 07:54 AM:

Dave Bell @ 444:
OK, the Lob Bomb article mentions a 107mm rocket, a size which is made by Iran and China. It's a standard multiple-launch rocket, nothing special in itself.

Indeed, this article mentions that

A U.S. explosives expert, Maj. Marty Weber, confirmed in April 2007 that most 107mm rockets found in Iraq were Chinese-made.
and that
Chinese, Yugoslav and Pakistani 107mm rockets have also been the weapon of choice of Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan, according to U.S. military officers there.

There are several examples in that article of US officials making statements about Iranian origins for insurgent weapons in Iraq, which they are later unable to back up.

#448 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 08:15 AM:

RE the Host incident at Pharyngula--the whole thing started because the international Catholic reaction to a college kid palming some Host was absolutely insane. There were people calling it a hate crime, asking his Uni administrators to kick him out, making death threats. Even Fox news ran a story that said "he's not in trouble now, but if you complain to his college administrators he will be."

Myers picked up on this incredibly violent reaction as a measure of how the Catholic church retains a lot of the good ol' fashioned Inquisitionary spirit.

As the man said, Traditiooooooon!

#449 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 08:39 AM:

I occasionally click through a few pages of Pharyngula for interesting biology bits, but mostly it's angry atheism. I don't like spite and bile. I really don't like people offering to desecrate holy things.

After a certain point, I expect biologists to have something more interesting to talk about.

#450 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 09:46 AM:

Serge @ #417:

Having now seen a trailer for the film, I feel moved to relate a remarkable discovery that the characters make (and which the Salon review neglects to mention, perhaps because the characters themselves take it entirely in their stride): apparently it's possible to travel hundreds of miles into the earth's crust and still get pretty good mobile phone reception...

#451 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 10:11 AM:

Paul A @ 450... I think I'll stick with Gertrude the Duck. And with Pat Boone covering his naughty bits by holding a sheep in front of said naughty bits.

#452 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 10:52 AM:

Myers picked up on this incredibly violent reaction as a measure of how the Catholic church retains a lot of the good ol' fashioned Inquisitionary spirit.

JimR at 448: so this foolish college student received death threats from bishops? The College of Cardinals? The Jesuits? The Pope? Opus Dei?

No. He got threats from stupid people who happen to be Catholic, and from Donohue, who in NO way represents the Church, except in his own mind. AFAIK, the institutional church has stayed out of this whole thing. As Myers should have.

#453 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 11:14 AM:

"He got threats from stupid people who happen to be Catholic"

He got threats from people who were taught that the wafer was *human* by the Catholic Church. I don't think this is one of the Church's better teachings, personally.

#454 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 11:32 AM:

May I humbly suggest staying away from discussions of religion or of lack thereof?

#455 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 11:35 AM:

Reading the discussion about artillary, I had occassion to reflect that, although I've heard thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of artillary rounds explode, the only unexploded round I've seen was the one my little sister and a bunch of Brownie Scouts picked out of the gravel at the edge of the Nisqually River and carried back to our campfire as a trophy of the day. The leaders all freaked and got us away from it at a quick march, and when the ordinance guys saw it they evacuated a half-mile circle and blew it up in place.

That one was big (more than knee-high to my fourth grade self) and apparently WW1 vintage. I've always wondered what its official description was.

(It's also the #1 situation in my youth when a cell phone would have been good to have, given that we were two miles from the trail head and five from the nearest phone).

#456 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 11:36 AM:

Randolph, I am not going to explain/debate/defend the doctrine of transubstantiation on this thread. (*Loud cheers*) The college student who began this was foolish, the people who threatened him are also foolish and need to Be Quiet, and PZ Myers is in no way helping resolve this overheated situation sensibly.

However, civilization will survive. By this time next year no one will remember any of it.

Pat Boone starred in a 1959 version of "Journey to the Center of the Earth"? Oh wow....

#457 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 11:51 AM:

Lizzy L @ 456... Yup. Pat Boone was in the 1959 version that starred James Mason. Pat got to play his small accordeon a lot and eventually the Earth's magnetic field couldn't take it anymore and yanked his musical instrument away,

#458 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 12:23 PM:

Peter Erwin @ 447:

Indeed, this article mentions that
A U.S. explosives expert, Maj. Marty Weber, confirmed in April 2007 that most 107mm rockets found in Iraq were Chinese-made.
and that
Chinese, Yugoslav and Pakistani 107mm rockets have also been the weapon of choice of Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan, according to U.S. military officers there.
[emphases added]
.... Which makes it ironic that our Anti-Terrorist-In-Chief has been at such pains to buddy up to the Chinese in preparations for the Beijing Olympics, and that the recent great battle in the Supreme Court was about the habeas corpus rights of a prisoner at Guantanamo who is a Uighur rebel against China and who had no history of activity against American interests.

#459 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Lizzy L, add to that, that Donohue keeps claiming he speaks for the church, when he's not even in the hierarchy. I kind of hope someone from Rome calls him in for a little talk.

#460 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 12:34 PM:

Lizzy, then let the Church guide its flock, and the atheists guide their own. But of course that isn't what's being done; Donohue is busy trying to create a stampede.

#461 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 12:38 PM:

Terry Karney @ 430: Thank you. It was a poor cousin to Piet Hein's Grooks (which you may enjoy, if you haven't seen them yet). The bit about it mattering which direction you're going came up from memory of something George MacDonald said in his Princess-and-the-Goblins books.

#462 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 01:02 PM:

Just a passing thought: how many people here write fan-fiction, or other sorts of amateur fiction?

#463 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 01:08 PM:

PJE, #459: I don't think that's real likely; it's one of these doctrinal things that the church has just about married (one would think the Husband would object but, oh, well). There's probably a significant faction in Rome who agrees with him. Bleh.

#464 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 01:11 PM:

Dave @ 462
I've tried it. I have a bunch of friends who also have. Some even have turned pro.

#465 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 01:26 PM:

Pyre @458:
In much the same way that our Anti-Terrorist In Chief is cozy with the Saudis, when most of the 9/11 crew were Saudi and the Al-Wahhabi doctrine of the Taleban etc. originated with and is promulgated primarily by the Saudis.

#466 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 02:46 PM:

Dave Bell @462: Used to, though these days I get paid for, for my scribblings. Torchwood's been tempting me, though.

#467 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 03:30 PM:

I tried to write up the lob bomb story on warhw. I hope I got all the facts right.

#468 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Hmm, Readercon is next week.
Are there any semi-official Fluorospherian activities?

(Barring catastrophe, etc., I expect to be there. I also have next Friday off, I'm on a alternating Fridays off work schedule now, my employer implemented that this week.)

#469 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 03:44 PM:

Doyle and I will be arriving late (around 2300?) on Friday.

How do y'all feel about an expedition over the weekend to the new Batman flick?

#470 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 03:54 PM:

Dave Bell @ 462, I've done it, and might again if I find another fandom with All The Right Factors, but these days most of my writing's in an original setting that grew up alongside the fanfic.

All The Right Factors: characters I love and can identify strongly with, a compelling setting, and things that I perceive as holes, gaps, or unanswered questions that I'm not content to just let sit there until the author gets around to it. This often means that I get the urge to write fanfic about stories that aren't as well-constructed as stories I enjoy more!

#471 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 05:25 PM:

Randolph at 460, Donohue is not "the Church," no matter what he says. He's a blowhard narcissist with an agenda; he's a media creation. He's a Catholic, sure -- but he's in no way a spokesperson for the institutional church, any more than I am. He really isn't. And while what he says is wacko and rude and even offensive, it isn't (I think; I'll admit I haven't read most of his comments) doctrinally unsound, and even if it is doctrinally unsound -- there's no way for the Church to shut him up, nor should it. It's a free country. He can say stupid stuff about his own religion if he likes.

#472 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 05:37 PM:

#469 Jim/James/Mac/Macdonald

Sounds good to me!

Oh, as regarding dining near the hotel--there are three restaurants on the other side of 128 that are about half a mile away (back of hotel driveway head west, turn left onto the street and go under 128, take the second left after going under the highway, into the center-of-area-is-parking-shops-are-around-the parking, and there's a Not Your Average Joe's, a restaurant with the name "Ginger" in it, and a Fresh City, on the southwest corner of the parking lot. (the east side of the parking lot has a two story Borders. There's another restaurant, which I think may be an expensive one, The Capital Grill, on the other side of another parking lot which is on the east side of the Border's. )

The nearest cinemaplexes, of course, are the one in Woburn three exits east (2-3 miles) of the hotel off 128 on the southwest corner of 128 & route 38, and the one in Burlington, a mile or so east, up the hill on the west side of Middlesex Turnpike (Mall Road, which is the street the hotel is one, is parallel to route 128 and extends from Cambridge Street (3A north of 128, route 3 south of 128)on the east side and intersects with the Middlesex Turnpike, heading west, with the Burlington Mall bordered by 128, the Middlesex Turnpike, and Mall Road).

I haven't eaten at any of the restaurants near the Borders, but at least one of them in the southwest corner of the parking lot, smells wonderful. (I got out of the habit of going to restaurants during my long bouts of red ink cashflow due to employment (or lack thereof) status).

#473 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 05:44 PM:

geekosaur @ 465:
In much the same way that our Anti-Terrorist In Chief is cozy with the Saudis, when most of the 9/11 crew were Saudi and the Al-Wahhabi doctrine of the Taleban etc. originated with and is promulgated primarily by the Saudis.

To be slightly picky: the Taliban's theology -- such as it is -- derives from the Deobandi movement, which originated in British colonial India and isn't directly related to Wahhabism. (Though in practice there end up being some similarities.)

Of course, the Saudis did provide the Taliban with significant financial (and possibly military) aid during the late 1990s, before they got fed up with the Taliban's hosting of bin Laden.

#474 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 05:49 PM:

Nearest package store to Readercon:

Busa Liquors, a mile or two north on Cambridge Street (go onto Mall Road east from the hotel, turn left (north) onto Cambridge Street at the light (the other two choices are turn right, or illegally go straight and hit the cars coming off the exit from 128....) and drive past the Burlington High School football field on the left, drive past the town green on the right, drive past Building 19 on the right, at the bottom of the hill there's a traffic light and either turn right then turn left into the parking lot for the Shaw's with Busa on the western side of the Shaw's.

Busa generally has wine tasting on Fridays from 4 PM to 7 PM.

In the running for second nearest is a package store at 128 & route 38 in the sort of strip mall (has a Stop & Shop which regrettably is no longer a 24 hour store, an AC Moore, a small branch bank, remnants of the Middlesex Canal, and a statue of Col Baldwin, father of the founder of civil engineering. His house is still standing, across the street, by a Middlesex Canal remnant--he had a private landing on it for visitors--with a Chinese restaurant occupying the building. Nope, never eaten there, either) at the northwest corner of the intersection (there's also a traffic circle aka rotary involved...)

#475 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 06:30 PM:

More toe-tapping?

Caveat: I can't find any confirmation of this in a mainstream news outlet. But if the facts are substantially as described... how tacky.

#476 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 06:53 PM:

Paula @ 474, I went to elementary school with one of the Busa kids.

#477 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 08:30 PM:

Wanted to share this snark sent by a friend during an IM convo on Hugo voting:

They need to make 30 second tv ads so I can make an informed decision

#479 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 10:09 PM:

Dave @462: I write fanfic, though under a pseudonym.

#480 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 11:34 PM:

geekosaur @ 465, Peter Erwin @ 473:

Right, it was the Taliban's strange bedfellow, Osama bin Laden himself, who was the Wahhabi.

That distinction made, geekosaur's point remains: more 9/11 hijackers were Saudi than any other nationality (none were Iraqi), yet GWB's Saudi ties are prominent; the Bush family and bin Laden family both had common financial interests (Carlyle Group); GWB gave the Taliban a substantial financial boost early in his term; the bin Laden family were quickly and discreetly flown out of the USA while all other flights were grounded after the 9/11 attack; and note the inexplicable diversions of US efforts away from tracking down the bin Laden network, both before and after 9/11.

#481 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Dave @ 462: I guess it depends on what one counts as fanfic. Prose: occasional small bits, mostly satire-as-dialogue. Filk, image oddities ("The Adventure of Agatha Heterodyne and the Acting Ensign", frex), plush toys, etc.; whatever catches my attention, really.

#482 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2008, 11:39 PM:

Dave @462, I write fanfic, or at least I have written fanfic and might continue doing so assuming I can just... get past the first paragraph of the twentieth part of what I was writing before I stopped writing it.

#483 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 01:09 AM:

Lizzy L, #471: "Donohue is not 'the Church,' no matter what he says." Of course. I'm glad that the Church's word is not law in the USA, but the as a communicant he's committed to accepting the Church's guidance, and the Church, equally, is morally obligated to offer that guidance, as the representative of God on Earth. Seriously, if Donohue got a note from his bishop, don't you think he'd obey? And if Donohue is preaching false doctrine, isn't the Church obliged to send that note?

Not going to happen, more's the pity. Sigh.

#484 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 04:28 AM:

#471, Lizzy.
Donahue is the duly appointed (elected? I don't know the selection process) "President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization". ( source ) It is an organization with an estimated 350,000 members (More? Less? That number's from the Wikipedia article--not available on the website, as far as I can tell, and fairly out of date)--all of whom, presumably, are catholic. It has quotes of approval and support of the Archbishops of New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Baltimore and Denver on its webpage.

He may not represent the Church, but he isn't a lone nutcase. He's a nutcase with tons of clout, lots of supporters, and clear connections to the Catholic Church in the US.

#485 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 07:28 AM:

Marilee @ 478...

she said the animals roost anywhere that appears dark and safe
#486 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 07:33 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale is organizing a Making Light party at Denvention. She'll be away for the next few days so she asked me to handle the signup, just to get an idea of how many people may show up. If you don't have an LJ account, just post anonymously and put your signature within the post.

HERE is the signup.

Here is her LJ entry, reproduced at her request:

The Making Light party shall be on Friday [the best date according to the calculometermancy]

--starting at around 9 or 9:30ish.

--going on until ?? unless there's the rare event of the Masquerade starting and ending Late, and then it would end at ??+Late.

--It will be in a regular room at the Denvention Party Hotel.

--It will be announced on ML, but not postered and announced much at Denvention itself. Subtle pointers, there.

--Abi can be at the party through the magic of technologies.

#487 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 10:05 AM:

Greg@438: that's a quote out of context; it's immediately followed by
(save the rules that serve to protect the health, safety, and experience of the community at large);
I haven't tried digging to find what rules they admit to, but not spoiling the party by burning the central symbol beforehand sounds like a plausible reading.

Lizzy L @471ff: The reactionaries in this country are all over anyone liberal who doesn't immediately disavow anyone making radical noises (see: Obama & Wright). It seems appropriate to me to chastise organized Catholicism for not speaking clearly about Donohue's errors. "The Church" has slapped down its own members when they get too far off the beam (usually on the liberal side (cf VotF), but IIRC also on the severely-reactionary side). I wonder whether they find him too useful an idiot to counter?

#488 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 11:10 AM:

Dave (462): I've only committed one piece of fanfic to paper (or electrons), almost 25 years ago, but I usually have fanfic scenarios running in my head.

#489 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 11:34 AM:

@487: not spoiling the party by burning the central symbol beforehand sounds like a plausible reading

Yeah, and 14 months in prison for "spoiling a party" seems pretty harsh.

#490 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 01:58 PM:

Greg @489

1 day of the sentence might be for changing the party.

99 percent is for lighting the roof of a complicated tent that has people in it constantly. Even if he was certain no people were in--and you can't be, people can be asleep in hidden corners--the *firefighters* had to go in to check. That's always risky.

The pyrofolks do lots of prep to set a burn up right, removing all the tents, art, machines making algae generated hydrogen, mazes, etc. before the Burn.

i.e. What's the harm of lighting off a fireworks display early-they're going to be burned anyways...? preparation, competence, making sure there's a safety boundary to keep out the drunk or tired...

Setting a structural fire is always going to be treated harshly vs mere malicious vandalism and laziness--heck, why didn't he bring his own man to burn?

If he isn't compos, then he should get medical help. But his action did include some callous disregard.

#491 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 03:03 PM:

CHip at 487: I am not sure it's fair to continue this discussion: we've already had one request that it be dropped. However, I really question what you mean when you talk about "organized Catholicism." The U. S. Council of Catholic Bishops? The bishop of the diocese Donohue lives in? Who?

Also, do you really want the Church (whatever you might mean by that) to "admonish" Donohue for engaging in right wing political speech? Because I absolutely do not, any more than I want the Church to admonish me for left wing political speech. IMO Donohue is engaging in idiotic public discourse which is bringing the name of the Church into disrepute, I suppose he could be privately admonished by his pastor for that -- but that's not my business, or yours.

Please feel free to click on my name to contact me by e-mail if you are interested enough to take the topic off-thread.

#492 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 03:39 PM:

Lizzy L @ 491... I am not sure it's fair to continue this discussion: we've already had one request that it be dropped.

I was out of line for that one, Lizzy.

#493 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 04:28 PM:

Serge, thank you for saying that, but I don't know that you were out of line. As we all know, discussions of religious issues can be very dull for those who have no interest in them, and I have no desire to hijack the thread. If there are just 2 of us who want to have this conversation we can have it privately, no harm done.

#494 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 06:16 PM:

Lizzy L, #493: "Also, do you really want the Church (whatever you might mean by that) to "admonish" Donohue for engaging in right wing political speech?"

Hunh? Myers has received death threats because Donohue is out there trolling for violent psychotics. It's not the political speech that I'm concerned with, it's the encouragement of violence. That's something I wish the Church would stand against.

#495 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 06:18 PM:

Re Donohue & Myers, I think one post will exhaust my opinionating. Fair enough for all the outraged shrieking to fill the blogosphere and the newspapers and the airwaves; opinion's free. Anyone who utters death threats in either directions should cool their heels in a jail cell until they realize it's not such a good idea. Anyone who seriously and publicly advocates such attacks should be seriously and publicly shunned, held in such revulsion that they change their names and move away for shame. Violence ought to be the bright red line. My own personal opinion. No-one's dogma. Out.

#496 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 07:14 PM:

Your new (post-apocalyptic) home team: The Outquisition.

#497 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 08:28 PM:

I agree with Pyre: people who make death threats should be arrested and charged. People who incite other people to make death threats should be charged if what they have done is a chargeable offense.

Bill Donohue's relationship with his pastor -- who might admonish him in a spiritual context -- is none of anyone else's business.

Randolph, you want "the Catholic Church" to make a statement against the encouragement of violence with specific reference to Bill Donohue and PZ Myers? I truly don't know who could or would make such a statement. I suppose it would be the bishop of whatever diocese Bill Donohue belongs to, or perhaps the bishop of the Minnesota diocese where Myers lives. But why make the whole sorry incident even bigger than it is? According to Myers, about 10 of the supposed individuals who sent him ugly comments are in fact all the same person. Lots of sock-puppetry going on over there. So there are a few somewhat wacko Catholics out there. Not a surprise.

#499 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 09:44 PM:

Is stealing a communion wafer really comparable to stealing a Torah?

#500 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 09:49 PM:

Is stealing a communion wafer really comparable to stealing a Torah?

#501 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 09:56 PM:

The Torah is considered the Word of God in Judaism. Christ is the Word of God according to the Gospel of Luke. A consecrated communion wafer is considered to be literally the Body of Christ in Roman Catholicism.

So maybe.

#502 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 10:25 PM:

John Arkansawyer at 499, comparable in what sense? A communion wafer has no monetary or historic value whatsoever: it's a piece of unleavened bread. If it's an unconsecrated wafer, it has no value. A consecrated wafer only has "value" if you believe, as Catholics do, that through the action of God within the liturgy of the Mass, the spiritual "essence" or "substance" of the bread is changed in a mysterious fashion into the Body and Blood of the Risen Christ. Catholics call this the Eucharist: it's a Greek word that translates variously as the Gift, the Blessing, or the Thanksgiving. The sacrament of the Eucharist is the center of Catholic life. The consecrated wafer and wine are treated with great reverence by Catholics, since we believe that Christ is truly present in them.

To a non-Catholic, this must seem like complete nonsense.

If someone were to "steal" a consecrated wafer it would not trouble me at all. It is, after all, a piece of bread. But I don't appreciate PZ Myers' rather ugly contempt for my faith, and I don't have to feed it by continuing to read his blog.

#503 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 10:31 PM:

Xopher has a point. But on the other hand, churches with communion wafers have lots of them, while ceremonial Torahs are (AFAIK) one per location.

#504 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 10:33 PM:

But a Torah takes a year of skilled labor to produce. Communion wafers are bought by the case.

#505 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 10:36 PM:

I think, though, there's an important and significant difference between stealing or destroying a Torah and stealing and desecrating a communion wafer (setting aside the difference in time and effort to create the object-in-itself, which is a honking big deal when you think of it): taking the Torah from a temple has been a key act of antisemitic oppression for as long as such have existed. There's not the same continuing historic significance for the host, as far as I know.

I'm sort of bemused by the whole thing. When my Father-in-Law, an Episcopal priest, was hospitalized after a heart attack, one of the things he was most worried about was disposing of the consecrated wine and wafers he kept at the rectory for giving communion to the sick and dying. Just destroying them was a neutral act; he was afraid they'd be stolen and used in a Black Mass. As it was explained to me, the key to desecration was a belief in the spiritual "charge" given by consecration and that where there was no belief, there was no desecration. So I don't know if there's anything that P.Z. Myers could do to a wafer that would desecrate it, under that line of thinking.

#506 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 10:47 PM:

JESR 504: But if someone were going to use them for a Black Mass, wouldn't they have to believe...oh, never mind. Satanists are really Christians who've decided to be bad. I keep forgetting that.

#507 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 10:47 PM:

Yes, communion wafers are bought by the case, and have no -- or very little monetary value. If you wish to compare a Torah to a consecrated wafer as a thing to be bought or sold, a Torah is surely more valuable. As for their value within their respective spiritual doctrines: they are utterly different, and cannot be compared.

The Real Presence is a mystery. The Council of Trent named the change that occurs during Mass "transubstantiation." ASAIK, this word is never used for any other kind of change or transformation that occurs on the face of this earth, except metaphorically. We truly don't understand how it happens, we simply believe and trust that it does.

#508 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 10:53 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 499: As a non-religious Jew, your question made me think this:"It would be very difficult to put a Torah under your tongue or in your pocket".

Torahs can be rescued and reconsecrated, as I read recently about Torahs that survived the Holocaust. IIRC, they are cleaned and rededicated for a temple to use again. So I would expect that someone who steals a Torah (as the Nazis did, in large quantities) would be left to the civil and, er, higher authorities; the main focus of the congregation would be the rescue of the Torah.

#509 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 10:53 PM:

Lizzy L @ 501: I wouldn't say I think it sounds like "total nonsense". I think it's a great story, and I believe in stories. They don't have to be real to be true, in some sense.

As for PZ Myers, I find him to be an optimistic and humane writer, as evidenced by this little children's story waiting to be drawn.

#510 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 11:05 PM:

Lizzie L @ 506: I wasn't thinking of the cash value so much as the human labor that goes into them. One is a mass produced item; the other takes a year of painstaking labor.

By the way, I would have sworn I saw that comparison made earlier in the thread before we left on a family trip yesterday morning. I saw the wire story I linked to this morning, and thought it an appropriate reply to that argument, so I hunted down a copy and linked it when we got home tonight. On looking back through the thread, I don't find that reference.

I think I answered an argument no one had made. Straw man or burning man? You be the judge.

#511 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 11:13 PM:

John Arkansawyer at 509, I have no problems with the story you linked to, and I like squid. But I stand by what I said about contempt. It pushes my buttons. I will stay away from his website until I get my sense of proportion back.

Straw man, I think.

#512 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 11:13 PM:

Here's a wonderful review of American Nerd: Story of My People. I have no idea how good the book it, but the review is really great. I found the reviewer's edress and asked him to join us here.

In fact, I just checked email and he's answered. He thought it's a great website (although I thought I made it clear it was Patrick and Teresa's) and that he would try to come by when his kids let him.

#513 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 11:16 PM:

Speaking of burning men, I was once at a ritual where there was a Wicker Man (with nobody inside...we attached pieces of paper with our wishes for the future to it, that's all) burned. Unfortunately, they build it on a cruciform frame.

That's right. As it burned, the outer shell fell away to reveal the inner mystery of a burning cross. NOT well thought out. Especially since we were all prostrated before it, and there were pictures. Greaaaat. It was very upsetting.

I didn't walk out of that one. I did walk out of a ritual where the fire was so huge it bade fair to light the tree canopy on fire...also they started it with GASOLINE. Idiots.

#514 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 11:53 PM:

Xopher @505, exactly. At least for the values of Satanists of whom my FIL was fearful.

Me, as an avowed Christian, there are still aspects of ritual and belief which firmly fall on the side of magic rather than spirit in my mind. Transubstantiation is high on that list.

#515 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2008, 11:54 PM:

Marilee @ 511: His two books are rapidly working their way up my to-be-read list (especially the second - can't wait to find out how it ends).

#516 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 12:13 AM:

Lizzy L, #497. "So there are a few somewhat wacko Catholics out there. Not a surprise."

Of course. And there's a whacko Catholic leader named William Donohue who encourages and directs them. He isn't just attacking Myers, though. He's spewing hate, and encouraging other people to express their hatred and he's doing it to a wide audience, thereby with a good chance of reaching the whackos and encouraging them to commit the mortal sin of murder and various lesser sins of violence. I would very much like to see the Church speak against this practice.

You write, "the Catholic Church" as though the Church is a democracy, containing multiple views. As I hope you know very well, the Catholic Church is an absolute monarchy, with Christ at its head and the Pope as His agent ("vicar").

#517 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 12:21 AM:

On the Host; in Catholic doctrine, once the Host is consecrated it is believed to be in some sense alive, part of the literal body of Christ in the way that your finger is part of your hand. If you believe this, an attack on the Host is a literal assault on Christ. In like manner, a Torah scroll is said contain the living word of god, and when a Torah wears out highly-observant Jews will bury it with the rituals appropriate to a person, and say the mourner's Kaddish for it. So that's the connection there.

#518 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 12:54 AM:

Dave Bell #462: Just a passing thought: how many people here write fan-fiction, or other sorts of amateur fiction?

I never have, but I keep wanting to write a story about the wretched and horrible life of Yeoman Rand, and another about the fishing trip Audrey and Pete go on, but that we don't see, towards the end of Twin Peaks. Like everything else I keep wanting to write,'t.

#519 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 01:07 AM:

Randolph, I read the Media Matters post you linked to, but it cannot convey what most Catholics would tell you: there may be some few people who consider Donohue their "leader," but he has no authority or institutional power of any sort. He does not speak for the Church at all.

It is true, the Catholic Church is not a democracy, but it is an extremely complex and delicately balanced hierarchical institution functioning within a democratic secular society, and even within itself it has multiple points of view.

#520 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 01:28 AM:

Lizzy L, #518: When did I every say that Donohue has a place in the Church hierarchy above that of layperson? Why do you treat this argument as a defense of the Church in this matter? As a Catholic Donohue is morally obliged to defer to Church authority and as a conservative he claims to feel this obligation especially keenly. Since he is Catholic, the Church claims both the right and the responsibility of his spiritual guidance. The Church, in fact, claims that right and that responsibility for all of humanity. So why not act here, where there is an actual risk of violence and an actual possibility of reducing that risk?

#521 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 01:45 AM:

There's not the same continuing historic significance for the host, as far as I know.

There is, however, a very historic mirror-image significance to the Host. A traditional Catholic anti-semitic claim in the Middle Ages was that the local Jewish community were involved in the theft and desecration of the Host, using them in Black Masses etc. I think this allegation was often involved with blood-libels against the local Jewish community, but there must be people who know more than me about this here.

See Uccelo's Miracle of the Host for a well painted version of this disgusting little fable. There's also a particularly biting response by R B Kitaj.

#522 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 02:22 AM:

Xopher @512: The exact same thing happened when my rather eccentric college was celebrating Guy Fawkes Day. There we were in the quad, all in black robes with the Bishop of the Un-Anglican Activities Committee in full regalia, front of a burning cross. Yeaaaaah.

#523 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 08:45 AM:

geekosaur, #498: The mind boggles. In what kind of universe could that possibly have been considered appropriate?

Xopher, #505: That's my favorite rebuttal to people who conflate paganism and Satanism: "No, Satanism is a Christian sect, and I'm not Christian."

#524 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 10:46 AM:

geekosaur, #498: of course my first thought was "ah, I suppose they decided rifles should only be given away manually."

Seriously, though, there are places where a hunting rifle is an appropriate gift for a teen, but semi-auto guns are usually for hunting humans.

#525 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 11:34 AM:

Randolph, how do you know that "the Church" (in the person of William Donohue's pastor, pastoral associate, or even his bishop) has not been burning up the phone lines providing Donohue with spiritual guidance, ( as in, "Bill, STFU") which he is ignoring? You want him to be excommunicated on national TV? A radio announcement? Sorry for the sarcasm, but I just don't see a way for it to happen. The Catholic League has a right to exist just as Call to Action does. There are some bishops who would ban Call to Action and some who would probably want to banish The Catholic League.

I don't mean to minimize the issue of violence, however. How serious is it, really? (I am not worried about PZ losing his job: the U of Minn is not going to be intimidated by Bill Donohue and his six friends.)

#526 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 11:51 AM:

ethan, if you ever write that story about Audrey and Pete's fishing trip, I do hope you'll let us know.

#527 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 12:13 PM:

Good political satire might be trickier than The New Yorker thinks it is.

#528 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 12:46 PM:

A raft of centuries beneath the gun,
enough, we'd think, to leave us without name,
or make us all the sort you'd want to shun
eager to suffer, not ones who would claim
to seize our places in the rolls of fame.
Not by ambition, far less by design,
we stand in place and go not out of line;
your thought of us is as a plain mistake
and agents of a slow painful decline;
but when we stand the world itself will shake.

You think of us as merely made for fun,
beings whose nature is lacking in shame,
mere creatures of the torrid tropic sun;
you do not want to give us too much blame.
Our greatest actions don't deserve acclaim,
that's what you say, and slavery was fine.
To liberty we should not yet incline
and in the servile tasks a while partake,
to be in bondage for our sort is fine;
but when we stand the world itself will shake.

Of gentle qualities you say we have none
and your desire is to make us all tame;
a worthy task, you think, and easy done
if you could only teach us proper shame
and learn to douse our anger's ready flame
so that our strength would with your wit combine
and you could rise above us all divine
the universe in your image to make,
all of the stars in your name to align;
but when we stand the world itself will shake.

Prince, you have looked above us for a sign
that you could our natures with your chains confine
but hearts and bodies do not simply break.
You think us just another sort of swine,
but when we stand the world itself will shake.

#529 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 01:18 PM:

Dave Bell @ #462, I used to write fanfic, back in the 90's, and can claim the distinction of having contributed to a fanfic series by Jennifer Pelland, who has since turned pro (and been nominated for a Nebula!).

#530 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Jen #525: I will, but if I'm realistic, it's pretty unlikely that it'll ever happen.

#531 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 03:01 PM:

the Book Salon at Firedoglake next Sunday (5pm Eastern) will be Little Brother, with Cory.

#532 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 03:09 PM:

Just finished reading Little Brother.

Now I'm trying to think of people to wave my copy tantalizing in front of.

#533 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 06:13 PM:

A quick note: in an attempt to reduce the flood of spam I'm receiving these days, I'm abandoning the address I've been using here (it attracts something like 200 messages per day). Future messages will be posted from (here's a link to the "view all by" page for this address).

#534 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 06:15 PM:

This is my first post from Previous posts were by (here's a link to the "view all by" page for that address).

#535 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 09:13 PM:

Jules, do you think that Making Light is being harvested for email addresses by spammers?

#536 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 10:03 PM:

Lizzy, #524, I don't really think the issue is PZ Myers. It's the college student who originally took the Host. Just taking it out of the church garnered him death threats, and Donahue , and the local Diocese, was asking his University to expel him.
Did you read the original article?

This is the issue that sparked Myers to call for someone to bring him the Host to desecrate.

#537 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2008, 11:16 PM:

JimR, thanks. I had not read that.

Someone needs to have a talk with that young man...

Otherwise, quite honestly, I think way, way too much attention is being paid to this whole thing, and I'm way way bored with it. Let's talk about some other mishegas.

#538 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 12:07 AM:

Lizzy L, a few closing remarks on this:

1. When there are death threats and, probably, actual assault, I think discussion and reflection are appropriate.

2. The Catholic Church can speak out against violence without taking a political stand.

3. Someone needs to have a talk with that priest.

I think there's more to be said; I also think that there's no way to say it. So, then, enough.

#539 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 12:10 AM:

One more thing I can say; Myers himself is telling his readers not to harass his harassers. Would that the Church did likewise!

#540 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:03 AM:

Randolph, I also agree someone needs to have a talk with that priest. If the account I read is correct, he mishandled the whole incident.

I hope there has been no actual assault, that would be very much too bad.


#541 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:49 AM:

Earl @534 -- My address here is tagged specific to making light, and it's used a lot in spams. It's been harvested early and often, as far as I can tell.

#542 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:56 AM:

Earl Cooley III @534:
I'm quite certain of it, I'm afraid: they web-scrape addresses, and the scraper never handles plussed addresses correctly. So my "" proceeded to net me an increasing number of messages to "" when I started posting here.

Unfortunately there is little you can do to prevent scraping without making life difficult for real users.

#543 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 02:46 AM:

Holy crap. Has anyone been following the financial news these last couple days? Is it just my sleep-deprived state and grumpiness, or does this look kind of ominous?

#544 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 02:58 AM:

Looks bad to me, albatross.

Way too many eggs in a couple of badly mis-managed baskets.

And this is way different from the assumed spherical free market of unit radius and uniform density which is going to save us all, hallelujah!

#545 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 03:15 AM:

But once again a whole bunch of golden parachutes will sail freely away, while many ordinary crew and passengers will go down with the planes.

#546 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 04:14 AM:

albatross: Yes, while it comes as no surprise, it looks pretty bad.

Some ending like this was pretty much a given from back around 2000-2001, when Greenspan decided the way to deal with the collapse of the stock bubble was to slash interest rates and try to pump up investment further, for political reasons. Result - housing and real-estate bubble, reinflation of stocks with no fundamentals behind them, ridiculous investment banking decisions, etc. The Fed can't pump things up forever, and now the pterodactyls have come home to roost.

#547 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 06:35 AM:

542: I have, intimately. Yes, it is all a bit ominous. What would you like to know?

#548 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 07:54 AM:

I forget--did Harlan Ellison like or dislike Les Crane? In any event, I enjoyed this paragraph from the obituary more than I should have:

Mr. Crane married five times. His fourth wife was the actress Tina Louise whom he met and married while she was at the height of her popularity as the glamorous sexpot on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island.” They divorced in 1971 after a five-year marriage. Besides his daughter, a television writer who lives in Los Angeles, he is survived by his wife of 20 years, Ginger Crane.
#549 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 09:04 AM:

542ff: yes, this is the problem with a society which uses risk-benefit analysis in situations where the person assuming the risk is not the person reaping the benefits.

#550 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 10:30 AM:

Albatross @542: Yes -- I'm shaking my head at the guy who had $500K in an Indymac account and thought all of it would be insured by having other 4 family member's names on the account....

Talk about wishful thinking, or maybe he just wasn't paying attention to the rules!

#551 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 10:35 AM:

What is the definition of "rich"?

With the failure of IndyBank and losses from uninsured deposits greater than one hundred thousand dollars, is this aspect of the admittedly complicated situation a (minor) defeat for the rich in the current class war?

Anyone who has more than one hundred thousand dollars available to put in a bank fits my definition of "rich". As a non-rich person, may I indulge in a bit of schadenfreude, then apologize to myself later?

#552 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 11:54 AM:

Early Cooley III...Yeah, I think that qualifies as Rich in the US. Savings is a luxury for most, I think, and to have that much? Yeah, I think they were wealthy.
Of course, for more than a few people, that money was the result of years of blood, sweat, and tears, and now they have very little to show for it. 100K isn't so much to retire on, actually. So it might be a bit inappropriate to feel too much Schadenfreude.

Shit's going to get a lot worse for a lot of people before it gets better, I fear.
Good luck to us all.

#553 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 12:01 PM:

I expecting I'll be programming till I drop.

They didn’t call it execution though, they called it ‘retirement’
#554 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 12:40 PM:

The Onion's A/V Club posts its moderation policy, open for comments.

#555 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 12:48 PM:

If your household income is > $75K, then you're in the top 27%. If it's > $100K, you're in the top 15%. Granted, that's not liquid assets, but while $100K in the bank (or investment account) may make you comfortable, I don't think it's "rich" in the classic sense of mansions and servants.

#556 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 12:52 PM:

Steve C. @554: The person under discussion had $500K in his Indymac account.

I agree $100K doesn't make you rich, but I also have to point out that I don't know anyone who has $100k on deposit in a bank or invested elsewhere.

#557 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:11 PM:

Earl #550:

I'm pretty sure that cheering for bank runs because they wipe out rich people is in the same league with cheering for onrushing tidal waves because on their way to wash your house and village out to sea, they'll also kill a bunch of those irritating rich westerners at the resort on the beach.

#558 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:18 PM:

Anyone who is actually rich doesn't keep their money in a savings account with a bunch of family members' names on it. When you think "rich" in the US, you should be thinking about those poor poor people the NY Times keeps wringing its hands about, who can't get into the Right Co-op apartment building in Manhattan because their annual bonuses have dropped from $10 million to $5 million, or from $20 million to $10 million. They're on the low end of rich.

#559 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:22 PM:

Steve C #554:

ISTR that most millionaires don't live like the media images of very rich people. I gather that they're mostly successful business owners who've put a fair bit of their money back for retirement over the years, and have a lot of equity in their house.

I know some quite wealthy folks (guys who prospered in the dot-com bubble, people that inherited a lot of money in middle-age[1], people that worked good professional jobs their whole lives and lived very frugally), but they generally don't live all that differently from folks at the high end of middle-class--nice house that's not a mansion, nice things in the house, nice cars (but not jags or mercedes or hummers), plus a lot fewer financial worries about retirement and paying for their kids' college, the ability to take nice vacations, fear of health crises that's almost entirely based on the health part, rather than the money part, etc. I'm sure there's a tipping point, where that normal kind of life becomes either impossible or impractical, but I'm not sure where it is. It's probably not in the single-digit-millions.

Also, I gather than trying to live that high-end lifestyle is a pretty good way to burn through whatever money you've accumulated. (Though in our case, simple inattention and poor budgeting has often helped us to the same result.)

[1] I also know a guy who inherited a lot of money about when he graduated from college. He's 40, and as far as I can tell, he's never done anything useful with his first-rate mind and very good education. There's probably a lesson here somewhere.

#560 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:31 PM:

"Rich" and "poor" aren't the words we need any more. There's also "I make $X a month but spend $X-1 a month," which is not poor for certain values of X but is not a sustainable wealth-- there's no flexibility. That's where a lot of people trying to become frugal are. They make all this money, so where does it go? Surely the solution is to make more money somehow.

Right now, I am... okay, I make damned good money for a grad student, I put a couple hundred dollars in savings each month for tuition, I do not expect to have this good of health insurance ever for the rest of my life (University of Iowa's grad student health insurance beats both my parents' teacher plans), so... do I count as rich?

#561 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:39 PM:

Albatross #558 -

Good points. "Rich" is a word that brings to mind images of Richie Rich from the comics, or Scrooge McDuck taking a treasure bath.

Millionaire is another term where the word conjures up images that don't correspond with the reality. Which isn't to say if you have a net work of $1 million that you're feeling any pain; but in North America, we have 3 million millionaires.

#562 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:41 PM:

John McCain recently said that Obama is offering "misguided military plans".

The actuality of military plans around invading Iraq in march 2003 say McCain was misguided and Obama was actually proven right in every point.

#563 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:41 PM:

John McCain recently said that Obama is offering "misguided military plans".

The actuality of military plans around invading Iraq in march 2003 say McCain was misguided and Obama was actually proven right in every point.

#564 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 01:47 PM:

albatross #556:

Ah, well, you're right about the collateral damage associated with bank failures. Sometimes I wish that P.J. O'Rourke hadn't co-opted the slogan "eat the rich". heh.

#565 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 02:00 PM:

It's possible to be a millionaire on paper, and not have anything like that in reality. (Something like farming comes to mind.)

#566 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 02:03 PM:

On "rich":

Not long ago, I saw a wonderful short student film called "Enough: A Kid's Perspective". The filmmaker talks to kids from various backgrounds about things like what they consider "rich" to mean, what it means to have "enough", and other issues of money and class. (One notable but not-very-surprising theme: when asked what "class" they're in, every single kid-- and there's a wide range of economic backgrounds-- calls themselves "middle class".)

We live in the same area (and our daughter goes to the same school) as the filmmaker, and like her we often have the experience of going back and forth between communities where we're high-income, and ones where we're low-income, relatively speaking. It can be an educational experience in social norms and assumptions.

There's an article on the film, and info on buying it, at the Class Action website.

#567 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 02:26 PM:

PJ @ #564, does the phrase "House rich, cash poor" resonate with you?

Even with the collapse in home prices (not so much here, so far), people in Hawai'i who bought their homes in the 60s-80s still have a ton of equity, particularly if the mortgage(s) are paid off. Unless they tap into it, though, they may not be rich at all in the usual sense of "not worrying about money."

#568 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 02:29 PM:

Here's a useful metric for defining "the rich": the tax break, due to expire soon unless Congress extends it, which McCain insists MUST be extended lest it "devastate the middle class"... that tax break affects only people with annual income of $250,000 or more. According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, households reporting annual income of $250,000 or more comprised one-half of one percent of American households in 2006 (the last year for which I can find the figures).

Middle class, my ass. THOSE are "the rich".

#569 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 03:02 PM:

Linkmeister, there are people who own houses in Laguna Beach who can't afford to move, because they've lived there for so long. (The other way to be a millionaire on paper is to own stocks and bonds.)

So, yeah, I do understand it. (Actually, I understand it was pretty common a couple of hundred years ago: most people didn't usually need actual cash. When the government (at whatever level) decided it wanted taxes paid in real money, it caused riots.)

#570 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 03:19 PM:

As an RPG designer, I tend to make scales for things. Or steal them. As I recall GURPS has this scale for character wealth:


It's a nice scale. Secure means you don't have to worry, much, about a home and food and health care. Comfortable means that, plus enough extra to do fun things.

Of course, it's all about what you come to expect as normal: "A vacation home? A new car every five years? Disneyworld as a treat for the kid's 8th grade graduation? No question of college for the kids? Why, everyone we know has those, so it must be normal."

#571 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 05:20 PM:

How time flies.... It's been a long time since I said I planned to blog about my nonparametric Caring Scale. Ah, well....

I also like the Marvel Super Heroes RPG ability scale (Feeble, Poor, Typical, Good, Excellent, Remarkable, Incredible, Amazing, Monstrous, Unearthly).

#572 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 07:29 PM:

Lee @ 567: Yep, that's about where I'd draw the line.

When I was a student, having $100k in the bank seemed like something only a rich person could do. Now, after a few years in a 'real job' it doesn't seem so ridiculous.

But saving and spending are a cultural thing. When I was a student I didn't save an money, telling myself, "This is as poor as I'll ever be," with the expectation of a professional job later. And many people in my family and among my peers spent a lot of their money on restaurants, toys, and so on.

My partner is from a much more frugal background, and that's been rubbing off. Now that I'm working 'for a living', the hope of eventually retiring is also motivating where saving is concerned. But it still feels like swimming upstream sometimes. Against my own desires.

We probably could afford a house in the city we live in. A detached, 3 or more bedroom house with a garden. The kind of house we grew up in. The kind of house we feel our daughter is entitled to. But only by devoting most of the next 25 years to the project, which so far we haven't been willing to do. And we're sad when we hear children refer to the condos we all live in as 'houses' because their parents do, and they aren't. She will never be able to afford one and it will be normal, as it's been normal in many older cities for centuries.

Which is to say, I'm very happy to be in a place where, as a friend of mine put it, I can just buy a book if I want to. That's certainly comfortable, unbelievably so compared to a decade ago. But it's not rich.

#573 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 08:22 PM:

The problem with judging wealth based on net worth (all assets such as investments, real property equity, etc.) minus debt, is that, in the US, up to some fairly high threshold, you are one catastrophic illness away from bankruptcy. That threshold is probably higher than $1 million, since a severe chronic illness can cost that much.

Eva's and my net worth is high enough to keep us secure into our 90's (necessary, as both our families have a history of long life spans), but major health problems could eat all that up. That's one of the reasons I'm postponing retirement: I'm hoping I can save a bit more so as to have just that much more cushion in case of a bad outcome. But by the same token, we've written living wills that we hope will prevent our bodies being held hostage by a health system we can't afford, but that won't let us refuse treatment.

#574 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 09:05 PM:

Lee@567: which tax break? The two most talked about are the reductions in percentages in each brackets (e.g. the dollar that was taxed @ ~28% in 2001 is now taxed @ ~26%), and the substantial reduction in the inheritance tax. The former reaches a long way into the middle class (but IIRC is not under threat), and the latter has nothing to do with annual income -- it used to kick in for estates valued over ~$650K.

#575 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 09:09 PM:

Stefan at 569, I like your scale but I'd like another category between Secure and Struggling.

Frugal? Thrifty? Parsimonious? Economizing?

What do you think?

#576 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 09:58 PM:

#559, Diatryma,
In general, when I was a grad student at UI, I felt pretty darn comfortable. Of course, I lived in Coralville, where housing costs are much lower than in central Iowa City, but living together with my girlfriend, pooling our resources, with that fantastic health insurance? Yeah, we had no worries.

But not having saved a cent of it? Bad was a pretty false sense of financial security.

When I think about it, savings, liquid assets, are far more important a measure of financial security than quality of life, which is where I think a lot of Americans go wrong. I know my father always felt happier when we had a couple of new cars in the driveway, and could show his coworkers that he had the money to pay for that kind of thing--but he didn't have a cent of savings to show for his years of backbreaking work. We lived a very comfortable lifestyle, but one without any solid base--and I don't think my family is that unusual, in that respect.

I guess my point is, in rural Kansas most people probably thought we were rich, because we drove new cars and had new clothes and took trips to Branson, Mo. But that's all we had...

#577 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 11:18 PM:

OT even for an open thread, but thanks to whoever here clued me in to the existence of the Wayback Machine. It enabled me to find a page that disappeared between the time I recommended it to a friend and the time he clicked on the link in my email.

#578 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2008, 11:53 PM:

#574: Oh, there could be all sorts of graduations. Like low income off-the-grid people who send their kids to top colleges. Where do they fit?

Me, I earn what most folks would consider a very comfortable salary, have no debts and lots of savings, but I do things like . . . um . . . the last two "new" pairs of sneakers I got were left out in "take me" bags by the dumpsters. I washed them in color-safe bleach, dried them in the sun, and put them to work.

#579 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 02:24 AM:

Let me implore people to buy enough life insurance that their spouse can live close to the way he or she did before the death of the loved one. My dad thought he had plenty of it; $100K must have sounded like a lot to him, growing up during the Depression.

As you can imagine, trying to maximize monthly income from that didn't come close to what he and Mom were living on when he was alive with a Navy pension.

#580 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 02:36 AM:

Someone mentioned Fan Fiction. (No, I don't write it, at least, not so that you could read it.)

Someone else mentioned being tempted in that direction by Torchwood.

I just happen to have open in another tab, thanks to my good friend and housemate, a most excellent example of the breed.

Torchwood meets... the LOLcat.

No, it's good.

#581 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 02:37 AM:

Clarification: "Thanks to my good friend and housemate" indicates the person who called my attention to this particular fanfic, and is not meant to indicate the person who wrote the fanfic. I do not know the author, never heard of 'm until today.

#582 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 02:59 AM:

Teresa posted a link to that fanfic a week or two ago. As I write this, it's the bottommost Particle on the main page.

#583 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 06:57 AM:

Lordy! When all the fuss erupted about the William Sanders rejection letter, I stayed out of the fight, partly on the grounds that I didn't know enough about the people involved to make a clear judgement.

I've just read the Particle "Exciting new business models in the e-publishing realm!" though, and it certainly does sound like William Sanders... has his own personal style. Yes, that's it - his own personal style.

Oh my.

#584 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 06:57 AM:

JimR at 575, it's the Clarion West laptop thing. A couple people over at BoingBoing said that oh, why should we pay for new laptops-- Clarion West is really expensive and these people can afford one laptop, so why not another? You can't have savings and spend them too.

#585 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 08:21 AM:

Speaking of good fanfic, I recently discovered dwseason4 on LJ--a complete alternate season 4 Doctor Who written last summer, and she's in the middle of doing it again right now. Here's season 5. They're both amazing.

As a Complit student, I have a deep love of really good fanfic, and a deep fear of really bad fanfic. I don't read a lot of it, but once I find a good author I'll keep reading.

Oh, and also: someone put the XKCD comic to its music and slapped it up on YouTube.

#586 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 09:13 AM:

"Montreal-Philippines cutlery controversy" particle:

OK. it's official. There is no parody of human behaviour that you can write that hasn't been surpassed somewhere by real life events.

#587 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 09:23 AM:

#584 ::: kouredios ::: someone put the XKCD comic to its music and slapped it up on YouTube.

That's pretty fricken cool. There's at least one more on the youtube sidebar, a woman playing a ukelele and singing the xkcd words to that comic.

#588 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 09:24 AM:

kouredios @ 584... Thanks for the XKCD link. And again my many thanks for telling me about the Doctor Who version.

#589 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 10:30 AM:

Off Thread Goodness:
For the kitchen inclined, I have a nifty, easy recipe for you.

Japanese Spicy "Dry Pickles".
1 Kilo Cucumbers
100g sugar
50g Salt
30g Karashi Powder (Hot Japanese Mustard-handle with care. Seriously, wash well before you touch anything place on your body after handling. I know this now.)

Cut the Cukes into your favorite size/shape. In Japan, people prefer to deseed the larger ones-cut lengthwise, and scoop the soft flesh around the seed out with a spoon. Do what you feel.

Mix the sugar, salt and karashi well, then pour over the cukes.
Mix well with your hands, giving the cuke bits a nice massage so the powders work into the flesh and start to draw out a little moisture. You should end up with a gritty yellow paste covering everything.
Seal tightly and pop in the fridge for three days or so. The paste should mostly disappear, if it's too excessive, slight washing should make for a nicer product.

The results are scads of a very, very nice summertime pickle with no brine. Very good with beer. Sweet and spicy and sour, but not overwhelmingly so.


My wife's coworker's mother made some, and we ended up with a bunch. I begged for the recipe, and my batch is in the Fridge as I type.

#590 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 11:56 AM:

Lizzy L @574: Stefan at 569, I like your scale but I'd like another category between Secure and Struggling.

A phrase I've used is 'Necessarily Frugal'.

#591 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 12:01 PM:

Oh, I love me some Dr. Horrible!

It's Joss Whedon's new webthing.

Singing Dougie Houser and Nate Fillion. Cowboys. Freeze Rays.

As the kids say, it's made of awesome. Or win. Or w00t. Or whatever the kids say.

#592 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 12:05 PM:

I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area and having a good time, but I can't pass the chance to point out that Susan's latest column has, near the end of it, a link to a photo of Susan in drag. Oh, and she also reviews Naomi Novik's Victory of Eagles.

#593 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Random thought I must blurt:
I think we have enough empirical evidence to prove there is a 9/11 Corollary to Godwin's Law.

#594 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 01:02 PM:

Sarah S @590: Yup, just saw that myself today. Awesome covered in awesomesauce, for sure.

#595 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 01:32 PM:

Sarah @590 - Yikes! I nearly missed this! And it's only up until Sunday Night!

I've put that right by blogging about it under my ridiculous bad sci-fi reviewing pseudonym. Sadly I have no idea what the kids say or I would have used that in the review.

#596 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 01:34 PM:

Lance @592:

I think it's more a generalization of the basic principle than a corollary. If you can codify a variation that approaches the meme from a new direction, though, I'd certainly like to hear about it.

#597 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 02:12 PM:

Nicole at 579, if you'll check the front page of ML, you'll see the alien lolcat link is one of Teresa's particles.

I loved it too -- I use it as a pick me up. It makes a lovely antidote to the occasional moments of depression that occur when I listen to NPR. O HAI. PEACEFUL CAT COMES IN PEACE.

#598 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 02:36 PM:

Me @593 - and I've done a second post, that's less OMG and more about how superhero stories work and what I expect from Act II. (Two posts on a 14 minute webisode? I seem to have been turned into some kind of crazed Dr Horrible fan)

#599 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 03:32 PM:

Speaking of nonparametric scales, I've been trying to work out an alphabetic awfulness scale (G is for Grotesque, H is for Hideous, etc.) Various online thesauri are probably feeling a bit rumpled as a result....

#600 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 03:43 PM:

kouredios: oooh, another dwseason5 fan!

I didn't know about dwseason4 at the time, but now I'm thinking I'll need to go back and read that, too.

#601 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 04:02 PM:

David #581 - Aw, man, I'm the last one to know everything! Whaddaya wanna bet my friend actually found that fic via the Particle listing in the first place?

#602 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 04:14 PM:

...and Lizzy as well. :-) My observational ability is made of fail!

For anyone who wants to know, apparently Rush will be performing on Stephen Colbert's show tonight at 11:30 PM Eastern. Supposedly it's their first performance on U.S. TV in 30 years. And it's the Colbert Report.


#603 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 04:37 PM:

Jen Roth @599: Oh, yes! Especially if you're a fan of Doctor/Master relationship angst. It's just a *little* bit slashy--okay, no, it's pretty slashy, but in a totally believable way (IMHO), especially after The Sounds of Drums' phone scene...

#604 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 04:40 PM:

A strange note on the discovery channel song, xkcd comic and all the resultant videos...

So far, I am the only person of my age group who was aware that the melody is from a traditional camp song. (I haven't done extensive surveys or anything, but none of the ten or so people I've mentioned it to have been aware of it). Apparently the boy scouts don't sing anymore, and haven't for some time, because it's seen as cheesy and un-guy-like. But I, with my lackluster girl scout camping experience, remember it clearly and strongly.

There are currently three... no... at least six covers on youtube. So far I might guess that only the ukulele player had any great familiarity with the song beforehand... as she concludes her piece with the satisfying final chord...(Boom)!

To me that finishes it off so much more satisfyingly than the fadeout. It could be that they're just trying to follow the discovery channel's orchestration, but most of them have extended repetition and then a fadeout. I didn't miss the concluding chord when watching the Discovery channel version - I think I just added it in mentally. Still, after hearing the ukulele girl... I wanted that chord!

Anyway. I've been having a lot of odd encounters lately wherein I think that something is in the public collective consciousness when it actually isn't, and everyone else is seeing something entirely different.

#605 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 05:04 PM:

kouredios: I'm mostly wired the wrong way for antagonist slash; I keep thinking "But how can Mulder forgive Krycek for killing his father and helping abduct Scully?" or "How can the Doctor forget what the Master did to his friends for a year?" That said, the phone scene certainly made an impression.

#606 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 05:17 PM:

Jen Roth #604: But how can Mulder forgive Krycek for killing his father and helping abduct Scully?

I don't read any slash at all, but the answer to this question is obvious to me: it's because Krycek is hot.

#607 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 05:25 PM:

ethan 605: To take up an old meme here, I agree. Everyone was calling him Ratboy, and I just wanted to [really obscene lust-thing omitted] him until we were both panting, damp, and slightly confused.

#608 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 05:29 PM:

Leah, yep, every now and then I smack up against what my daughter missed out on by me being too lazy to ferry her to Girl Scouts. She never heard of Boom-de-ya-da... though I did make sure to teach her about picking up baby bumblebees and the delights of greasy grimy gopher guts.

#609 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 06:08 PM:

Can anyone with a better memory of TV commercials or better YouTube-fu than I have help me out?

I have wanted a Bug-Eyed Sprite since, I believe, I was 10 years old. That would make it 1980.

I always believed that the first place I ever saw one was in a Mountain Dew commercial, that year. (Why the Mountain Dew people would use a car called Sprite in their commercial was not mine to say.) I know I was watching TV with my dad, saw one in a commercial, said "What's THAT car? I WANT one," and my dad, who'd owned a TR-3 and a Sunbeam Alpine before I was born, and took his California driver's test in a borrowed Jaguar, explained that it was a Bug-Eyed Sprite, and that I had good taste in cars.

Eh. I just wanted it because it looked like a Muppet.

Anyway, I THOUGHT I remembered it as part of a Mountain Dew commercial where people were swinging on a rope swing into a lake. But some poking on YouTube suggests that that commercial was part of the "Doin' It Country Cool" campaign, and that it didn't air until 1988, although there are other ads from that campaign labeled 1985.

Does anyone remember a soft drink commercial that featured people having fun outdoors, including a grassy green hillside, that also featured a red Bug-Eyed Sprite? I guess it could have been any time from about 1978-1987, but I really think it was somewhere between 1980 and 1983, no later.

I would like to think I'm not losing ALL my marbles.

#610 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 06:25 PM:

Xopher, I was twelve when Krycek was introduced, so I didn't know what I wanted to do with him, but I was sure there was something. Later on I figured it out.

#611 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 06:27 PM:

Oh, wow, and wikipedia tells me that the role of Krycek was originally offered to dreamy Callum Keith Rennie. If I wrote slash I think I'd definitely start working on some incredibly implausible Leoben/Krycek/Mulder crossover fic.

#612 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 06:33 PM:

ethan @609: Considering we're talking about John Simm's Master here, I think the answer to this question is essentially the same. *grin*

Of course, there's also the fact that they used to be friends in their school days, no? I haven't watched enough Classic Who to know that myself, but I've gleaned it from elsewhere.

#613 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 06:42 PM:

I have, in my time, written some pretty steamy slash-like fanfic scenes. Intense M/M physicality.

A couple of female net-aquaintances, one the author of one of the more verbose furry kinky-sex sci-fi things out there, seem to think it works.

I'm not sure that I ever want to risk it being read by somebody who knows the reality.

Twenty or so years ago, I'm not sure I would have even wanted to read a scene like that, but if this is being corrupted by the gayz, what's the big deal?

#614 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 07:19 PM:

Rikibeth @ 608

I haven't seen your marbles, but I have to agree that you have excellent taste in cars. So does your Dad, for that matter.

#615 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 07:37 PM:

ethan 609: In that case, I'm afraid I must encourage you to snap your whip elsewhere than my lawn. Here, let me encourage this by shaking my cane at you.

Nicholas Lea is nearly three years YOUNGER than me. Alex Krycek was even younger than that, I feel certain.

Dave 612: I once read some SM DS9 slash that described Bashir's genitalia as 'pert'. WORNG! I really doubt the author was playing for giggles there, but that is what she (yes, definitely she) got.

I don't really understand why a straight guy (basing this on your contrasting yourself with "somebody who knows the reality") would write M/M slash. Could you explain what led to your doing so?

#616 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 08:00 PM:

Xopher, it's funny you should mention Bashir, because he was another of my early TV crushes. And while I haven't seen DS9 since it originally aired, judging from his role in Doomsday, I'm still an Alexander Siddig fan.

"Pert" is hilarious.

#617 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 08:02 PM:

Xopher @ 614:

I don't really understand why a straight guy (basing this on your contrasting yourself with "somebody who knows the reality") would write M/M slash. Could you explain what led to your doing so?

That's simple, and even I know the answer. It's the same as why did the chicken cross the road?

A: Because it wanted to have hot, steamy sex with Pepe Le Pew.

Um, wait. Wrong answer. I'll think this over some more.

#618 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 09:04 PM:

JimR @ 588, I have cucumbers (and will soon have more) and I will probably try that recipe. Sounds awesome.

#619 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 10:23 PM:

Re: the cutlery controversy particle.

In general, my view is to go with what's appropriate for that setting; when in Rome... After all, table manners are many and varied.

I grew up with the fork & spoon approach. Having a knife at the dinner table was considered rude, the implication being that knives at the dinner table leads to blood-letting. It's about context: knife & fork in European dining, chopsticks for Chinese, etc. Seems to me that the whole thing could have been avoided if the situation had been explained in a non-abusive manner.

#620 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 10:50 PM:

Soon Lee @618: I grew up mostly using chopsticks at home except for stuff that obviously required a spoon (breakfast cereal, ice cream, jello etc.); the school cafeteria was always a free-for-all with sporks and finger food (or rather stuff-you-pick-up-with-hands food)

After high school, I had no idea whatsoever how to eat "properly" with a knife and fork, which led to some amusing interludes such as stabbing a fork into a large piece of meat and taking bites out of it as if it were a giant meatsicle, or surreptitiously glancing around to see what the person next to me was doing (which led to further complications when said person was left-handed and/or eating in the Continental fashion instead of USAn).

#621 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2008, 10:58 PM:

I'm left-handed & according to the Wiki article on table manners, I'd been run out of a number of towns if I tried eating with my left hand.

#622 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 03:31 AM:

All right, so I was off by three hours. Don't care. I got it on tape and life is good.

#623 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:14 AM:

Xopher @614...

I suspect I'm not quite as straight as I thought I was, half a lifetime ago. Wind the clock back 25 years or so, and I think you could easily find a bit of fear and ignorance in my thinking. Heck, a lot of ignorance.

As for why I wrote the scene, specifically when I did, it's a few years ago now. I've got a fuzzy sense of the old "I can write better than that" thing, and a dash of self-exploration.

And there was a bit of a challenge to it. No way was my friend writing from life. "If I can fake it, why can't you?"

Long, long, time ago, I can still remember...

Well, not really. It's bye-bye, spooge and creampie...

#624 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 08:34 AM:

The juxtaposition of xopher and ethan's discussion of slash involving Krycek with caroline's post on cucumbers was snort-inducing. Or was that just me?

#625 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 08:38 AM:

#606, Xopher -

Thank you. You made my morning a good bit better. I'm particularly fond of "slightly confused." *big grin*

#610, ethan -

Callum Keith Rennie is an actor who confused me for a long, long time. I'm one of the sad, sad individuals who didn't know there was more than one season of due South. I actually thought "Victoria's Secret" was the end of the series. So I first encountered CKR reading DS fanfic and in fandom discussion. When I found photos of him, I was kinda confused, because the fandom generally seemed to find him quite attractive, and I couldn't see it. It wasn't until I actually got my hands on a video* that it made sense. He's absolutely mesmerizing in motion, but he doesn't do a damn thing for me in most stills.** It's very weird.

*This was all in the days before YouTube, hard as that is to recall/imagine.

**Any attempts to offer stills where he does knock my socks off are most welcome, of course.

#626 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 08:46 AM:

#623, Ginger -

It wasn't just you.

#619, #620 -

I don't actually get what the problem is with left-handed/Continental eating. I'm a left-handed American, so I effectively eat in a Continental fashion, and no one has ever said a word to me about it. Other than places where the left hand is used for toileting, I can't imagine why anyone would *care*. Besides which, pointing out that I'm "doing it wrong" is way, way ruder than "doing it wrong" in the first place.

Why is it an issue? Julie - it caused problems because you were awkward using the "wrong hand" from your preferences, or for some other reason? Soon Lee, were you speaking about those places where the left hand is for toileting? (I don't actually want to go to Wikipedia and see because rudeness in the name of manners makes me crazy.)

#627 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 09:04 AM:

A question about usage and propriety: A paper ran a paid obituary for a young man dead in Iraq. Would it be wrong to write a letter to the editor about the phrase "enlisted in Wackenhut Corporation"?

Making such a complaint as the family mourns feels petty, if not cruel. The wife points out that one does enlist in a mercenary army, so I have to agree the usage is acceptable.

The usage also normalizes the idea that we have a mercenary army in Wackenhut and its ilk and implicitly puts mercenaries on the same level as members of the armed forces.

I really don't know the right answer to this. Any advice?

#628 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 09:10 AM:

#617, Caroline (and any others thinking of trying the recipe) I think you'll want to shake the container up real well, or stir the cukes up, once a day or so to respread the mixture around a bit. It settles. Also, YES on the washing.
Lightly rinse the cucumbers to remove the remaining mustard/sugar/salt paste before serving. You don't want to eat that. It makes things cry. Like your throat.

#630 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 09:46 AM:

Soon Lee posted a link to Chinese table manners in Wikipedia on another thread, and reading it brings up a question for me:

"In general, the more conservative Chinese frown upon the practice of picking more than one or two bites of food in your bowl or serving plate as if you were eating in the Western way. Most Chinese would understand the practice during infectious disease epidemics, or if the person is from the West."

I can't parse this. You don't...what, put more than two bites of food from the serving plate into your bowl? Instead you should...what? Can anyone shed some light on this?

And it looks like I'll have to re-learn how to use chopsticks with the other hand. Dammit. (Funny how I have no problem bowing to Chinese cultural expectations on that point, but any American who says something about me using my utensils left-handed will be completely ignored.)

#631 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 09:51 AM:

R. M. Koske, I'm a second-generation lefty, and, as a result, everyone in my family eats Continental/left-handed style. Nobody has ever told me I'm doing it wrong!

One thing that I WAS taught at an early age was that right-handed people were apt to use their right hand more in eating, and that it was a considerate move on my part to take the left-most chair at a long table, just to minimize the elbow-bumpung.

I never really understood that there WAS another way to handle silverware until I was in my late teens, and read the description of "American" or right-handed style in Miss Manners. After all, the fork goes on the left, the knife on the right of the plate -- why wouldn't you pick them up with the respective hands?

When I learned about the customs against left-handed chopstick use, I took it as a challenge. I'd been using chopsticks left-handed from the time I was six. I'm still not AS good with my right hand, but I can definitely do it.

#632 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 10:09 AM:

R.M. Koske, we cross-posted...

so, on the same thread, I don't think it's that funny that you're willing to accept Chinese custom about which hand to use the chopsticks in, but not an American insisting you use your fork in your right hand.

"American style" and "Continental style" are both established traditions about the same set of utensils, existing within an overall framework of one culture with regional variations. You'd expect to find largely the same foods, the same tables and chairs, and the same progression through a meal. So you can make a perfectly reasonable claim that you're using an accepted subset of the tradition.

Traditional Chinese (as opposed to Western Chinese restaurant Chinese) doesn't appear to have the same variations -- "left-handed" doesn't map to, say, "Shanghai-style" or whatever. You're not coming from inside the tradition, you're coming from outside it, so you're making an effort to play by the rules as you learn them.

As for the not putting lots of food in your bowl/on your plate? I'm not Chinese, so I might have this wrong, but what I've learned from cookbooks, novels and so on suggests that the original custom was that everyone had their own rice bowl, and transferred stuff from the communal meat/vegetable dish(es) to their own bowl a bite or two at a time, and that there was a definite idea of how much of your own rice you were supposed to eat with those couple of bites before you took more from the central dish, if you didn't want to look greedy.

#633 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 10:16 AM:

Regarding eating with the left hand--in some cultures, particularly ones with heritages and/or geographical situations that don't have stores of clean water for washing and don't do much hand washing or other hygenic stuff, the left hand is supposed to be the one used for unhygenic self-handling regarding elimination.

Or, the coarse but more succint line, "Don't eat where you shit" applies.

#634 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 10:21 AM:

#630 & 631, Rikibeth -

I'm not as conscious of elbow-bumping as I should be, though I'm aware of it as both an issue and as something that is part of my responsibility as a polite lefty. I tend to remember it after we've all chosen our seats and then offer to move and be refused. (One of the many ways my right-handed father charms me is that he *always* remembers it and makes sure we won't conflict when we're eating on the same side of the table.)

I think you've exactly hit on why I'd refuse an American but am willing to switch for Chinese custom. I didn't really understand it myself when it first occurred to me. Thanks for that and also for your explanation of the wikipedia quote. I thought it might be something like that, but it's so badly worded I couldn't tell.

#635 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 10:31 AM:

626: I'd be inclined to welcome someone talking about "enlisting with Wackenhut Corporation" - at least it's better than mealy-mouthed nonsense about "contractors" and makes clear that Wackenhut is a mercenary army. The juxtaposition is likely to do some good, in as much as people will think "what? enlisted with a private company? of course, yes, we have massive corporate mercenary armies now... how do i feel about that? not great, actually."
By contrast, "contractor" sounds like the guy who installs your plumbing, and "security contractor" sounds like a rentacop at the front door of a building - both essentially harmless.

#636 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 10:31 AM:

#632, Paula Lieberman -

Yes. That's what I was calling "toileting." Once you know that background, it's pretty easy to acquiesce to the norm in those cultures!

I've been into one or two middle-eastern restaurants where eating with your hands was acceptable, and it was very interesting. It took some very strict effort to use my right hand on the bread (I sat on my left) but once the main course arrived and my fingers started to get a little messy from sauce, the effort vanished because at that point I had a "clean hand" for the drinking glass and scratching my nose and such, a "dirty hand" for the food. There was no way I was going to get sauce all over my left hand if all I had to clean it off with was a napkin. Staying "right handed" for the meal was unexpectedly easy after that.

If I'm using a fork in a middle eastern restaurant, I stay left-handed, though.

(Ack, now I'm wondering if we were rude in the Ethiopian restaurant, using our left hands. I don't know which cultures beyond the "middle eastern" ones practice that bit of politeness.)

#637 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 11:20 AM:

I noted from British Table Manners in that Wikipedia this gem:

Never disparage HM The Queen, even in jest.

Surely a good rule, even when not at the table?

I'm also pleased to note that my predictions for Act II of Dr Horrible were completely wrong.

#638 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 11:41 AM:

#633, R. M. Koske, cf. Rikibeth #630/631
I think you've exactly hit on why I'd refuse an American but am willing to switch for Chinese custom.

Really? That explanation would never have occurred to me, as I wasn't even aware that there was a "continental style" until I'd been there. And then, when I was there, I took on that style as an accession to cultural differences. When I read your post, R. M., I just imagined that, as in my case, the assumption is that for non-American ways it qualifies as "Culture" and for American ways, it's just habit. So, another American asking you to do something is butting in, but a Chinese person is asking you to respect their ancient traditions.

I've found that culturally sensitive people will tolerate all kinds of behavior from other cultures that they would never, ever tolerate from their own; mostly because, you can never tell when you're facing an actual cultural difference, or an individual peccadillo--and you certainly don't want to be culturally intolerant. I'm in no way saying it's a bad thing, mind you, just amusing in little ways like this.

#639 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 12:07 PM:

Glad to know I wasn't the only one who wandered off to read a bunch of table manners articles after that particle yesterday...

I was raised to eat in the Continental fashion, because my Grandmother is a Euro-phile. Frankly, American fashion always baffled me...why would you switch your utensils around between your hands like that? Bizarro.

It's hilarious to me how many people react negatively when you pick up sushi with your fingers and drink your miso from the bowl...

#640 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 12:10 PM:

I know I'm behind, but still. I had to scroll, like, forever to find this open thread and read the recent comments. Isn't it time for a new one?

#641 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 12:13 PM:

I remember going to a Chinese restaurant in Anaheim, at the misnamed LA Con in 1984. Our server was astonished when we (two white people) asked for chopsticks, and asked if we wanted rice bowls as well. We declined that, and ate off American-style plates with chopsticks.

The restaurant staff kept coming out to watch. They were visibly astonished. At the time we put this down to Anaheim being so touristy that they'd never seen "roundeyes" eat with chopsticks before, but now I think it was more than that—they'd never seen anyone combine Western and Chinese eating styles in that way at all, and were astonished that we didn't coat ourselves with food!

That's even more fun.

#642 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 01:05 PM:

#637, JimR -

Thinking about it more, I realized that a big part of it for me is not really understanding the extent of the rudeness. I don't have any idea how offensive it is or isn't to use chopsticks left-handed, but I know exactly how offensive it isn't to use my western utensils that way. So that's part of it, too.

Which I think is pretty much what your second paragraph said. *grins*

#640, Xopher -

I've never noticed anyone taking notice, but that's definitely how both my husband and I eat Chinese food - with chopsticks, but the plate is firmly on the table for all but the last few scrapes of rice. (I pick up the plate at that point to get a better angle for scraping the rice together.) All of the non-native chopstick-users of my acquaintance do it that way.

#643 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 01:07 PM:

Skwid@638: I was raised to eat switching my utensils back and forth, and never thought anything of it until someone (a fellow American, no less) told me I was eating the wrong way and tried to get me to stop.

#644 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Does Making Light have an outpost/group/forum on Ravelry? I attempted a search and found nothing, but I might not be looking in the wrong place.

#645 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 02:43 PM:

Or even the right place.

#646 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 02:43 PM:

Or even the right place.

#647 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 03:09 PM:

Having gone to a Benihana-style place last night, I notice that I use my chopsticks in my right, though I'm a lefty. With western utensils I'm a definite half-breed: if I'm not using my knife, I eat American/left, but if I am, I switch to continental/right.

In a similar matter, I once led someone to the mistaken conclusion that that Anglicans cross themselves in the same way as Orthodox rather than as Catholics. The truth is that I happened to pick it up with reverse parity and (polite Episcopalians that we are) nobody saw fit to correct me.

#649 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 03:42 PM:

mary #639:

Alas, SOP is to wait until the posting count gets somewhere over 900; this is basically because threads with posts over 1000 have been known to break both the database and Faren's computer; otherwise open threads just might go on forever?

#650 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 03:49 PM:

The thread goes ever on and on,
Far from the date when it began,
Now far below the thread has gone
And I must find it if I can.

Pursuing it to its current end
Until it finds some newer theme
Where many thoughts and posters blend
And whither then? Perchance to dream...

#651 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 03:54 PM:

mary #639: I find that the easiest way to keep track of active threads is the recent comments sidebar on the left of the main page. Much easier than scrolling down to find the original post.

#652 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:02 PM:

Cory Doctorow is on (KUOW 94.9 FM Seattle) right now, or at least in four minutes, being interviewed on online copyright.

#653 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:09 PM:

Xopher @640:

I remember going to a Chinese restaurant in Anaheim, at the misnamed LA Con in 1984. Our server was astonished when we (two white people) asked for chopsticks, and asked if we wanted rice bowls as well. We declined that, and ate off American-style plates with chopsticks.

The restaurant staff kept coming out to watch. They were visibly astonished.

Out with a bunch of friends for dim sum in Chinatown. We've just ordered and someone asks for a fork. The waiter arrives, bearing fork, and scans the table: brown girl, Middle Eastern girl, a bunch of white people, a couple of half-Asians...and then the only Asian person at the table reaches over and takes the fork.

(She's Filipina and never learned chopsticks.)

#654 ::: Benedict Leigh ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:11 PM:

mary@639 If you use firefox and install greasemonkey there is a really good script written by Todd Larason that greys out the comments you've already read - I find it really useful for keeping track of what I've read.

#655 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:13 PM:

Or at last that's what the website says, and the promo on the hour, but now they're interviewing an electrician.

Oh, summer on live radio, how you are unpredictable. The original guest scheduled for this hour was Barbara Ehrenreich, but he plane was turned around.

#656 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:21 PM:

Now, finally.

#657 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:24 PM:

Posting this on the Open Thread rather than in the gnats & camels thread because I don't want to get it entangled. I just want some sympathy.

I had a really crap afternoon, and sadly, I find myself blaming a well-meaning colleague.

One of the guys at my office has either a crush on me or an awkward demeanor with women in general (mostly male office = too small a sample size to differentiate). He goes through phases where he uses what I can only call bedroom glances, stands too close to me, and fails to make eye contact to an excessive degree.

He appears to be troubled right now, and it's affecting his work. He's not putting in the hours, and management is beginning to notice. So my well-meaning (male, late 20's) colleague suggested I talk to him, find out what the problem is, and gently warn him that he needs to improve his timekeeping. After all, he reasoned, I do have the guy's attention.

Unfortunately, like a drowning man, the awkward colleague is flailing about in many ways, including the usual pattern of interactions with me. I've already been avoiding him a little more because of a few comments this week.

On the one hand, I really don't want him to get into trouble. If he needs someone to talk to, I want him to find someone and talk. But on the other hand, I can't deal with the particularity that that would give our relationship.

But my well-meaning colleague didn't see that this was a problem. He simply couldn't see how stressful even the thought of getting into the conversation was. He's never dealt with unwanted attention over and over again, to the point where even contemplating it makes him deathly tired and anxious. He just doesn't see.

I explained that it was like spam. The first thousand pieces of spam you get, you just hit delete and it's gone. But after a while, the constant stream of the stuff begins to take its toll. Eventually the advice to JHD becomes as big an irritant as the spam itself.

I think my well meaning colleague got it, briefly, on an intellectual level. Sadly, though, I do not expect that it is a revelation that will stick.

#658 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:31 PM:

Oh, abi, if you take internet hugs, have one. No, have two.


It sucks when you want to help someone, but can't, because to do so would just make the situation worse.

And it sucks that the world is not yet a feminist paradise, and that gender matters so much in our interactions with the world at large, and that dealing with it so damn tiring.

#659 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:39 PM:

abi, you have my sympathies. And an Internet cup of your favorite tea, besides.

Did your well-meaning colleague give any reason why he couldn't talk to the awkward fellow himself?

It sucks on so many levels -- the creepiness, the colleague not-getting-it, and the awkwardness of pitting your wish not to be bothered against your lack of malice for the guy.

#660 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:45 PM:

Nancy, Rikibeth, thank you.

My well meaning colleague was tired today, and a little unwell, and so not quite up to the effort of broaching the other guy's reserve. He didn't really see when he made the suggestion how much more of a problem I would have.

What blissful ignorance. He's a friend too, and I hate resenting him, hate being the one who has to do all the work, hate the whole situation.

It's a good thing I don't work Fridays. It'll all be easier by Monday.

#661 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:45 PM:

abi @ 656: Wow. I am be-croggled that someone would still think to ask the lone (or rare) female in the office to deal with a troubled colleague -- that is a huge burden to put on someone who is not that person's manager/supervisor. Add in the trouble that includes you, and it's just entirely the Wrong Thing to Ask.

If there were some way to apply a judicious Haddock of Enlightenment through the internets, I would so be doing, and thus saving you the bother of exerting yourself.

Well. You've got some hugs, so I'll make tea.

#662 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:49 PM:

abi... Like Rikibeth, I'd like to know why the WMC can't approach the other man himself. Is this one of those situations where a man being thus approached would see this as an attack if from a man? (Do I hear antler racks crashing into each other?) Tell the WMC it's not your responsibility.

Like Nancy said... A hug to you. And two. And three.

#663 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 04:50 PM:

abi, you've definitely got my sympathy. And hugs, if you want 'em.

As far as the revelation not sticking -- maybe not this time, but now he's heard it from a credible source, which may mean that he'll be more open in the future. As many (guys) here have attested, encounters like the one you had today made a difference in their worldviews and behavior.

But it should have been enough to just say, "No, I don't think I'm the right person for this." Period.

#664 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 05:01 PM:


#665 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 05:11 PM:

#663: Cripes, man, not so hard! You're going to break her ribs! ;-)

#666 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 05:14 PM:


(hug with floofy pillows)

#667 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 05:15 PM:


(Hug of the Beast)

#668 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 05:18 PM:

abi, so unfortunate that you would be picked for that kind of duty with that person- not to mention that any approach to an unhappy worker is likely to blow up in the face of anyone, and the Big Boss is the only one with the tools to deal with the aftermath.

#669 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 05:23 PM:

abi #656:

I think you're being asked because you're the only woman in the office and your friend thinks that women are better than men at communicating in awkward situations (or something like that). That, of course, makes the situation even more awkward.

Other than that observation, all I can do is offer a further virtual *hug*.

#670 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 05:30 PM:

Xopher @ 665: Are you sure that's right way to picture the big floofy pillows being used to hug abi, and not an attempt to smother her with kindness?

#671 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 05:30 PM:

Xopher @ 666, is it Disney's Beast, with the marvelous blue coat? Or the one from the TV series?

Those would be some pretty excellent hugs (if a little furry for the current weather).

#672 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 05:46 PM:

It's chilly here, so furry hugs are welcome.

I don't think WMC asked me because I'm a Gurl and Gurlz R Gud at these things. He and I are very close; I am simply the logical person he would ask. Plus, as I said, he knows I have AC's attention.

#673 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 05:46 PM:

Rikibeth @ 670... Let's not forget Cocteau's Bête.

#675 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 06:22 PM:

Ginger @ #623: No. Indeed, I'm relieved to find it wasn't just me.

abi, flowers and a foot massage from me, since it looks like the hugs and tea are taken care of.

#676 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 06:51 PM:

Oh sheesh, abi, my vast sympathies.

Of all the wrong people to ask to deal with that... I am really sorry that your colleague plainly Doesn't Get It.

(I used to manage an office full of nerds, and oh boy did we ever have problems with some of them developing inappropriate and inappropriately expressed crushes on their female coworkers.)

#677 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 07:07 PM:

abi: Sorry, following up to myself. You wrote
... he knows I have AC's attention.

Yes, but... assuming he knows in what form and style you have AC's attention, he really deserves a quick Haddock Slap for that. I would bet if the same person were showing warning signs of an inappropriate crush on a male colleague, who did not care for the attention, the latter would not be the one asked to deal with it!

#678 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 07:08 PM:

abi # 671: Oops, wrong again. Oh, well. Here's another *hug*.

#679 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 07:25 PM:

I am being indiscreet to someone who can help sort matters out, hopefully.

The support is deeply appreciated, and the hugs are reciprocated with great affection.

#680 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 07:51 PM:

abi: I just want some sympathy.

Sending some now.

#681 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 08:29 PM:


man, they'd probably say you "gout yourself into it" (being the one whom everyone thinks should go fix this, & maybe even being the object of coworker's threatening fixation) by being the empathetic, considerate... well, moderator you are here, & i assume, offline as well.

another great sexist catch-22, how women are both responsible for making sure everyone's happy & "not leading on" these poor hapless lonely men. grrrrrr. makes me glad sometimes i'm an unemployed hermit.

.....sorry. what i meant to say was [hug]

#682 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 08:30 PM:


got yourself into it, i meant! teach me for relying on quick scans & spellcheck.

#683 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 08:46 PM:

Just discovered that T hadn't heard about Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and realized that others here might not have either.

Joss Whedon does a supervillain musical with Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day.

First two parts are up now, the last goes up Sat; they all vanish at midnight PDT on Sunday, until they get a DVD of it together.

Check it out. Fillion makes a lovely villainous superhero.

#684 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 10:08 PM:

P.S. Also, [[abi]]

(Although at the moment I have a hard time not seeing those as incorrectly nested array indices. Must Fix Bug!)

#685 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 10:17 PM:

Let me add my sympathies, abi. That's a tough spot.

Good luck with it.

#686 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 10:33 PM:

We had just watched Dr. Horrible a couple of hours ago, and I believe I have a new catch phrase: Gur unzzre vf zl cravf. It's right up there with Bu Wbua Evatb Ab

#687 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 11:07 PM:

R.M. Koske #629, Rikkibeth #631 has it right. It's about not being greedy when dining from communal dishes.

R.M. Koske #635:
It's mainly about not using one's 'toilet hand' to eat with, but it's also because we left-handers are sinister devil-spawn, doncha know?

Xopher #640:
But, but, but. That's just making life difficult for yourselves. The chopsticks/ricebowl combination works because you lift the bowl up to your mouth & shovel rice in with chopsticks. Trying to eat rice off flat plates... it's unnecessarily difficult.

abi #656:
You have my sympathies.

#688 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 11:50 PM:

Oh, Abi.

More hugs. I'll send the energy, and you can make them whatever kind you need, since they're of necessity virtual.

I'm looking forward to partying with you at Denvention, via the aether.

#689 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 11:52 PM:

Soon Lee 686: Yep. Exactly. But I've mastered it. Bwahahah.

#690 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 11:55 PM:


A barrel of sympathy is wending its way through the intertubes towards you at this very moment. I hope that on Monday your colleagues have realized the inappropriateness of asking you to deal with these problems.

#691 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 11:59 PM:

abi, #656: First and foremost, my sympathy. Secondly, I think my response to your well-meaning colleague, in that situation, would be along the lines of, "Why don't you talk to him? He's more likely to hear advice coming from another man, and more likely to open up to one about whatever the problem is, because men don't like looking weak in front of women." That puts the ball neatly back into his court, because you're rebutting with well-known facts instead of personal reluctance.

(Yes, we'll just gloss over the fact that men don't like looking weak in front of other men either. *g*)

#692 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2008, 11:59 PM:

Benedict Leigh @653 -

Since that comment was posted, I have acquired Firefox and GreaseMonkey, but the link is dead and I can't sort out how to get the download. If you have ideas, please share! I'd love to get that installed.

#693 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:01 AM:

You know, all this talk of table manners reminds me of a story my friend told me when we were studying abroad in Germany, I guess it must have been around 1998.

There was a group of 8 or so students from my Uni all doing an exchange program in this nasty little town called Siegen (I'm sorry, but Siegen is NASTY. Ask anyone who's been there, they'll agree. Ugh.) My friend's guest family decided to help him feel at home, so they made a big fried chicken dinner. He, being the good Oklahoma boy he was, delightedly picked up a piece of chick and started chowing down. The parents, primly holding their knives and forks, watched in horrified fascination until the father put down his utensils and calmly said,
"Du isst nicht, du frisst."*
Ah, Germany....

*Essentially, "You don't eat like a human, you eat like an animal."

#694 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:02 AM:

I just sent this guy a $25 campaign donation -- and I'm not even in his state. But dude... Kansas! and a progressive! and an XKCD fan! That's just too damned cool not to support.

#695 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:13 AM:

Abi, you have my psychic hugs and best wishes, that sucks.

There is nothing more gratifying at eating at a Japanese restaurant and totally discommoding another of the other diners at the table. (who is at that restaurant under duress of a loved one's desires.)

One time Jim and I decided to treat ourselves to one of our local Teppan Yakki table places. We were only a party of two so we were seated with several different groups of folks.

The couple closest to us, the man was wearing a cowboy shirt and appeared to be resentful of dining there (I suspect wife of picking place and ignoring hubby's protests as she did).

He made a huge point of being an asshole while he ordered, etc. and kept trying to goad Jim into responding, which Jim did not, in fact we both did our best to ignore the annoying noisebag. (LOUD complaints were on the level of" why are we eating this annoying foreign food," "why do you want to eat so many strange things," etc.).

The asshole shut up when they delivered our little bowls of steamed rice. Jim picked up his chopsticks and started eating the rice. As did I. Bigmouth frog turned into silent frog.

#696 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:32 AM:

#693, lee
That is awesome. As a Kansas son, let me wholeheartedly support him. (Though Johnson county is not my favorite place in Kansas, being full of wealthy uppercrust snobs. grrr grumble snarf.)
Go Sean Tevis!

#697 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:38 AM:

Well, I came here to say that Joss Whedon is really and truly unfairly talented, because Dr. Horrible rocks in ways that are easy to forget between Whedon events. (Although Hulu sucks because -- unlike any other video service -- you can't preload enough of the video to play well with spotty bandwidth.)

But I'm staying to wish abi hugs. Also to say that people correcting your cutlery usage in public are really rude. Also in saying, "Ah Germany" -- although I really miss Germany, I also have a few anecdotes of unbelievable rudeness. (Like correcting my German in a smirky way when they were fricking monolingual hacks, but I digress.)

Hugs, abi.

#698 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:48 AM:

Paula #694: One of the only situations where I allow myself to be actively rude in public is when other people try to involve me in their rudeness. I particularly like it when people waiting in line ahead of or behind me try to huff and puff and make loud sarcastic comments to me about slow service when it's very obvious that the people working are doing the best they can. I look them dead in the eye and say, very, very loud, "YOU'RE NOT THE ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD. STOP ACTING LIKE IT."

I'm also reminded of when I briefly worked at a teensy little vet's office (the practice was teensy, not the vet--she was actually drastically pregnant while I was there), where of the four people who worked there I was the only man. Men, primarily older men, would frequently come in and assume I was the knowledgeable one, because they were assholes, and I would dramatically play up the fact that I had just started and didn't actually know anything, while my coworkers were 1) an actual veterinarian, 2) a biologist currently back to school in a pre-med program, and 3) a woman who had been passionately dedicated to her work as a vet tech for over fifteen years. If that didn't work, I had special dispensation from the boss to abandon good customer service. That was fun.

When I was a smoker and people would tell me it was bad for my health, I would say "You know what else is bad for your health? Making rude personal comments to strangers," which was a form of evil I enjoyed greatly, and is the only part of smoking I still miss. (It was even better when the original comment was "You know that can kill you, right?" Answer: "Really? You know what else can kill you?...")

#699 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 01:12 AM:

abi, #656, I'm so sorry. Telling him to cut it out is probably not helpful.

Soon Lee, #686, I use a fork and lift the rice bowl to my mouth. I grew up in the Ring of Fire and used chopsticks regularly, but after the stroke, I wasn't able to control them as well and got tired of flinging food at strangers, so I use a fork. I do try to be careful at places that have a right/left hand fetish because I'm still ambidextrous (just not quite as strong) and I've been known to use both hands at different times during a meal.

#700 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 02:23 AM:

**hug** for abi. I'm so sorry. When you spend a good deal of time at work, in a small group, comfortable interaction is crucial.

I want to come and cook for you. You know how it is, we can't tell people we care about them, we have to feed them as a surrogate form of expression. In my family, that is.

#701 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 03:28 AM:

JimR @692 -- aah, Germany, indeed. When I met my (now) husband, he was an exchange student at my university in the States. We hadn't been dating long, and I was still on my Mission to acquaint him and his friends with the US. I invited a few of them over for tacos and chili, which he'd never tried. He had to eat the tacos with his hands, but it went against every grain of his identity to have to. (Schadenfreude much? You bet.)

#702 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 05:21 AM:

On the other hand, "Du isst nicht, du frisst" is a very euphonious thing to say, and I think I will add it to my lexicon.

656: it's quite possible that WMC doesn't know what's going on with AC and you, and simply thinks "ah, I'll ask her to look into this because she seems to be closest to AC." Which would be somewhat gormless of him, but many of us (male and female) mislay our gorms on occasion. Howbeit, it sounds like an unpleasant situation and I hope it all works out.

#703 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 05:27 AM:

Okay, I've been waiting the best part of a year to pimp this book, and having just finally bought a copy, I figure it's officially OUT. So: Scott McCloud's Zot!.

The title character is Zachary T. Paleozogt, a boy from another world; one that is a glorious mashup of everything good from our history with all the gleaming shiny Utopian SF futures ever conceived. The story is really about Jenny Weaver, a girl from a world much more like our own. It has adventure, it has emotional depth, it has Jenny's brother who turns into a monkey (long story); it has a man who can possess machines and make them kill, it has a crazed artist-cyborg with the Chrysler Building spire on his head. It rocks like something that rocks very hard indeed, and everyone on this site who doesn't hate comics just owes it to themselves to check it out.

#704 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 05:36 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @685 in particular and Dr Horrible in general - thanks to our movie night I can inform you that entering a room by bursting in and exclaiming

Stand back everyone, nothing here to see
Just imminent danger and in the middle of it ME!

is only funny the first dozen or so times. However getting up to leave the room, pausing at the door, retunring and saying Gur unzzre vf zl cravf has yet to pass that barrier.

#705 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 05:39 AM:

Sadly, WMC is well aware of the dynamic between AC and me. I've done things like asked him to swap seats with me on long journeys to take the pressure off.

WMC just needs a firmer application of the clue stick, but sometimes that feels like kicking a puppy.

#706 ::: Benedict Leigh ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 07:21 AM:

Juli @ 691

I'm not an expert (by any stretch of the imagination). I just clicked on the link and it installed itself. If I poke around greasemonkey I can get the text of the script but have no idea what to do next.

I could email you the text of the script, if that was helpful. It's highly likely someone here knows more about this so if anyone has better ideas I'll do that.

#707 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 10:33 AM:

My computer's translator gizmo translates "Du isst nicht, du frisst" as "You does not eat, you eats." Which is pretty funny.

#708 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:10 PM:

How about "you're not eating, you're feeding"?

#709 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Tim: Yep, that's it. But computers are lousy at translation.

BTW, it's a pretty stiff insult. Makes me wanna find me a German and give them food that CANNOT be eaten with a knife and fork. Dunno how I'd do that.

#710 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:17 PM:

Tacos. Srsly.

Or do you mean finding the German?

#711 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Yes, a German I can give food to without them freaking out for reasons unrelated to the food itself.

#712 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:33 PM:

Xopher #708: But computers are lousy at translation.

Which is exactly why I like to make them do it.

#713 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:37 PM:

More hugs from me, abi. What an uncomfortable situation. Has anything changed since you first described it here?

To go back to the slash and nemeses conversation, dwseason 5's most recent installment is up and quite slashy. And pointy. They're fencing, you see--at least, they are at first...

#714 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Xopher @#710:
Yes, a German I can give food to without them freaking out for reasons unrelated to the food itself.

I'm not sure exactly why that comment caused me to convulse in painful mostly silent laughter, but it did! Ouch, in a good way! Thanks, I needed that.

Ye flipping gods, I need to laugh more...

(ref: User Friendly web-comic techie characters for origin of "ye flipping gods" phrase.)

Unfortunately, I've got a Road Trip to Chicago scheduled for this afternoon (Mother in law's Mother's Sister (would that be Aunt In Law or Great Aunt In Law?) is celebrating her 102nd birthday, is still "with it" mentally, and only looks to be in her late 80's/early 90's.) so playing George Carlin or Zilch the Torysteller would be inadvisable due to the high probability of tearful convulsing laughter. The result of that - impaired vision - isn't a good thing at speed on the Interstate!

Hmm. Anyone else notice having or seeing in others what I call my "stress-induced basic humor reflex"? It seems that when I am under stress, otherwise neutral or only minorly funny things get a lot funnier, seemingly as an emotional survival reflex. It can be disconcerting when it happens - especially to bystanders who aren't expecting my reaction - but I sure do feel better crying tears of laughter than tears of despair/frustration/anger...

I feel the need for a disclaimer: Xopher, I don't mean to pick on you here (or anyone else here for that matter) - I still don't know exactly what triggered the "that's funny!" response to your post - I'm just publicly recognizing that I'm apparently under more stress than I realize, and my "base humor reflex" is trying to keep me from performing a CLM.

#715 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 12:51 PM:

Whoops, forgot: abi, hope that situation gets better for you (and all involved) soon.

#716 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 01:00 PM:

Silly uptight Germans who don't seem to appreciate the joys of fressen -- Yiddish, "to stuff one's face." Doesn't necessarily imply eating without utensils, although I tend to associate it with overstuffed deli sandwiches.

#717 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 01:08 PM:

cajunfj40, I certainly didn't feel picked on! I didn't think that was THAT funny, but if it made you laugh, I'm happy. Laughter is a good, good thing.

#718 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 01:09 PM:

Re: Dr. Horrible: I finally got to see it. Lovely stuff. And I'm guessing that Ubeevoyr jvyy raq hc fnivat Unzzre sebz Craal.

#719 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 01:19 PM:

Joel: I hope not. So far V ernyyl ungr Unzzre.

Also, 'Ubeevoyr' is one of those great ROT-13 words. It sounds like what a lolcat would say when it catches someone peeking in the window.

#720 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 01:40 PM:

Xopher: V ernyyl ungr Unzzre -- jryy, bs pbhefr; ur'f n gbgny perrc.

Ohg ba gur trareny cevapvcyr bs "jung jbhyq gung punenpgre ungr zber guna nalguvat ryfr", Unzzre jbhyq ungr bjvat Ubeevoyr (naq orvat orng hc ol n tvey). Naq sebz jung V'ir frra, Jurqba'f lbhat urycyrff-frrzvat srznyr punenpgref graq gb or n ybg zber guna gurl frrz.

Hmm. Put "peerrc" down as another interesting rot13.

#721 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 01:58 PM:

cajunfj40 #714: Hmm. Anyone else notice having or seeing in others what I call my "stress-induced basic humor reflex"? It seems that when I am under stress, otherwise neutral or only minorly funny things get a lot funnier

Theatre tech people I hung out with many years ago described it as "getting punchy". Of course, their stress was aggravated by way too many late nights and calls from the director of "once more, please. From the top."

Otherwise, I think there's some kind of scale shift going on, involving a Conservation of Humor. In order for there to be a constant amount, in cases where there's a lot of Bad Stuff, good funnyish things get amplified.

#722 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 02:03 PM:

I note Greg linked to a Watchmen making-of upthread, but has anyone seen the trailer yet?

#723 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 02:07 PM:

Yeah, you definitely get more perspective on Hammer by reading the online dark horse comic written by Joss's Brother, linked subtly from the front page.

My feelings about hammer are the same as Xopher's. I love Nathan Fillion for his portrayal (I also hadn't realized he played Vigilante in the JLU animated series... until now). All the actors in this are totally superb, especially Fillion and NPH.

And I have to say the idea of Fhcreureb nf gur ohyyl gb gur frafvgvir trrx ivyynva is freaking brilliant, and something I'm rather surprised hasn't been done before. They've gotten really CLOSE to it before, but it's always ended up with the hero... being forced to regrettably blah blah blah... after the villain went too far, blah blah.

I often have this problem with Batman villains, especially Catwoman and the Riddler. Both of them were reasonable people with motivations that weren't really terrible... feminist environmentalist and wronged nerd, respectively (Note: I was introduced to them by the batman animated series, so I have a slightly different perspective.)

I've actually heard something about the Riddler in the current run of the Detective Comics batman title, and it makes me very curious. Apparently, he npghnyyl QVQ tb fgenvtug, naq bcrarq hc n cevingr qrgrpgvir ohfvarff - juvpu bppnfvbanyyl yrnqf gb uvz pbyynobengvat jvgu ongzna. Gur Evqqyre'f znal nggrzcgf naq pbafgnag snvyher gb tb fgenvtug jrer qrrcyl sehfgengvat gb zr.

So, In Horrible, the way they portray Hammer really helps me not have that "aw, why can't they all just get along" impulse. I can't immediately think of ANY superhero series that has effectively achieved that previously. So... good on you, Joss.

#724 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 02:11 PM:

Joel 720: I see what you mean, in both parts. And yeah, it's a near-cnyvaqebzr.

#725 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 02:31 PM:

A further thought re: Dr. Horrible: Craal nyfb unf orra jngpuvat Ubeevoyr'f oybt (nf Unzzre unf orra), naq vf hfvat uvz nf n zrnaf bs yhevat Unzzre gb uvf qbbz, gbjneqf ure wbvavat gur Rivy Yrnthr bs Rivy.

#726 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 02:32 PM:

abi, you have my sympathy--buckets of it. And if it helps, you're not alone in having to work with guys who are blind to your discomfort and just "don't get it". I work in a heavily male-dominated field and have almost always been the lone woman in my group. For ten years I worked for a guy who used to ruffle my hair, put his arm around my shoulder, lean into me and put his elbow on the arm of my chair, and even put his hand on my thigh while staring at my computer screen. I finally confronted him one day, saying "I don't remember giving you permission to touch me." From then on, "Mary doesn't like to be touched," was one of his mantras, as though I don't like to be touched by anyone, ever. As annoying as that was, it was a relief that he kept his hands to himself after that.

In my current job I work with a bunch of retired military guys. Oh. My. God. I'm one of the oldest members of the division (I'm 56), and I'm the chief scientist of the division, and yet I'm frequently addressed as "young lady", or even "dear". These guys will swear there's no lack of respect implied. A former coworker constantly commented on the color of my eyes, my clothing, etc. When I finally asked him one day "Would you say that to Brian?" it became a joke between them: Ooh Brian, I love your shirt *guffaw*. There is no cure. You just have to grow callouses against the constant irritation. Keep your chin up; don't let the jerks get you down, and all that. You're not alone.

#727 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 02:35 PM:

computer translation: once I translated Poe's The Raven into German and back via Babelfish and it turned a "volume of forgotten lore" into a "forgotten truck-pond".

#729 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 02:49 PM:

kouredios #722: I'm very skeptical about Zack Snyder's directorial abilities, and I'm partly wishing that he wasn't trying to be so slavishly faithful to the book, and I'm usually entirely unconvinced by CG, but goddamn if my eyes don't get misty when they show the crystal palace on Mars.

#730 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 02:59 PM:

Re the Situation:

Late last night, I had a longish Skype chat with someone who is simultaneously (a) a manager in the company, and (b) a friend. I was substantially indiscreet, having got heartily sick of all the sneaking about that caused this.

He said he'd have a word with AC about his manner. And he had some thoughtful feedback about WMC; more moral support than anything else.

So I feel better; the stress is back under my acceptable threshold for coping.

The support here has been much, much appreciated. I really needed it, and there you all were for me. Thank you very much indeed.

#731 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 03:01 PM:

ethan @729: I hear you. I'm incredibly prone to misting up when I see trailers for movies whose source text I love. The movies rarely live up to that upswell of emotion, but in that perfect moment of wonder and hope, I get so excited.

I loved the Smashing Pumpkins song that went along with the trailer, too. Lovely atmosphere-setting.

#732 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 03:07 PM:

Glad to see things are improving abi.

re: Watchmen trailer. I found a better quality version here.

#733 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 03:26 PM:

Joel Polowin @725, About Penny and Horrible:

Lbh xabj jung’f shaal? Abeznyyl, n fgbel jvgu Cbjrerq zra naq Aba-Cbjrerq jbzra obguref zr ernyyl qrrcyl. Ohg vs gung raqf hc orvat gur pnfr jvgu Craal, V’yy npghnyyl or bx jvgu vg. Wbff unf rnearq zl gehfg nf sne nf erfcrpgvat jbzra tbrf, naq guvf fgbel zvtug npghnyyl jbex jryy jvgubhg ure orvat cbjrerq. V’z nyfb abg fbyq ba gur vqrn gung fur vf/pbhyq or frpergyl n ivyynva gur jubyr gvzr. V’z abg fnlvat gurer’f ab jnl vg pbhyq or unaqyrq jryy, ohg ng gur zbzrag V pna’g vzntvar n jnl gb qb vg gung jbhyqa’g or n orgenlny bs zl vzcerffvbaf (naq Qnl’f cbegenlny) fb sne.

#734 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 03:26 PM:

cajunfj40 @ #717, ohhh yes. That's why you often hear a lot of laughter before and after (and sometimes during) funerals, hospital-bedside-watches, etc. At least in my family.

Xopher @ #719, me too, though "Purrfl ba gur Bhgfvqr" is the Best Epithet Ever.

Xopher and Joel: I have a simpler theory. Craal vf Onq Ubefr.

#735 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 03:29 PM:

kouredios @ 715

Reminds me of the duel between the black preacher and the white preacher in "Pinktoes". Hilarious.

Come to think of it, this post would be appropriate on the Gnat and Camel thread: that book is all about breathing while black.

#736 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 03:35 PM:

The only thing I'm willing to predict about Dr Horrible is Ubeevoyr'f nggrzcg gb xvyy Unzzre jvyy tb uvynevbhfyl jebat.

An evil thought to riff off some of Joel Polowin's ideas; Jung vs Craal vf Onq Ubefr?*
(On preview, Lila beat me to it, but I wanted to bring up the rot-13 of What)

Looking at the Watchmen trailer, I can't help thinking that Snyder has some interesting ideas (The Comedian makes me immediately think anti-Captain America) and puts some fantastic stuff up on screen. A Watchmen film ought to play with the ideas of films and superhero films in the same way as the comic played with the ideas of comics and superheroes. He's probably just putting the book up on screen. (This from me who said something like "If they'd just taken the artwork from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, put it on the screen and put a soundtrack over it it would be a better film")

* Is Jung REALLY the ROT-13 for "What"?

#737 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Lila @ 734

I like that one; it's got a minimalist quality that appeals. And if anyone else wishes to post a suggestion as to how it all turns out, I think Whedon ought to subtitle the show "Three Things Taken Two At a Time".

I just thought of another ending: Penny turns out to be Shrödinger's Catwoman, in a superposition of Good and Evil; then she can have both of them.

#738 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 03:52 PM:

Lila @ 734

I like that one; it's got a minimalist quality that appeals. And if anyone else wishes to post a suggestion as to how it all turns out, I think Whedon ought to subtitle the show "Three Things Taken Two At a Time".

I just thought of another ending: Penny turns out to be Shrödinger's Catwoman, in a superposition of Good and Evil; then she can have both of them.

#739 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 03:59 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 737
"Schrodinger's Catwoman."

That is one of those truly brilliant, "how did I never think of that before?" phrases.

Also, your alternate title intrigues... though I don't feel like I fully grok it.

#740 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Hmm. It also seems that Schrodinger's Catwoman was a googlewhack... or at least those two words directly together were. I'm not sure how words in quotes like that work in that game. Still, it's pretty Amazing.

Can I steal that phrase? It's so embedded in my head now, I don't know if I can dislodge it.

#741 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 04:22 PM:

Oh abi, good to hear that a bit of the stress is off. It sounds like a very difficult situation.

Regarding Watchmen, I am boycotting it, and refuse to take in any of the hype. It's one of my favourite graphic novels ever and, weird as it sounds, got me through a really dark time. I can't imagine someone who directed a movie as brainless and awful as 300 could possibly do justice to Moore and Gibbons. It'll probably have real good special effects, though. [insufferable purist mode OFF]

Only today discovered Dr. Horrible. I don't really like the "nice guy" and "he touched my stuff!!" themes running through it and I hope Whedon turns it around in Act III. Znlor Unzzre naq Ubeevoyr'f evinyel unf whfg orra haerfbyirq frkhny grafvba nyy nybat (gurl'q znxr fhpu n phgr pbhcyr), naq gura Craal jvyy orpbzr srq-hc jvgu orvat n qb-tbbqre naq wbva Onq Ubefr. Nygubhtu V guvax gur "Craal vf Onq Ubefr" gurbel vf zber pbaivapvat.

#742 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 04:31 PM:

Mark Hurst on the pros and cons of writing a nonfiction book and having it published. Coming soon: a followup on self-publishing. Thoughts? Seems to me he doesn't think much of the distribution/gatekeeping role.

#743 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 05:46 PM:

The name "Bad Horse" niggles at me, as though it should be telling me something. It's probably just by association with "Bad Wolf" from Doctor Who.

Vs "Onq Ubefr" vf fbzrbar jr'ir frra, vg'f nyzbfg pregnvayl Zbvfg.

#744 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 05:58 PM:

OTOH, and contrary to my previous prediction, vs Craal grnzrq hc jvgu Qe. Ubeevoyr, fur pbhyq pnyy urefrys "Craal Qernqshy."

#745 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Neil @ 736: It took reading your footnote several times before I realized that I should have started highlighting at "Jung" to rot13 it back, and not at "Craal." And before that, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what were trying to say about Jungian analysis versus Joss's possible ultimate definition of Penny's character. Glad to know I'm not quite as confused as I thought.

#746 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 06:24 PM:

cajunfj40 #714: Hmm. Anyone else notice having or seeing in others what I call my "stress-induced basic humor reflex"? It seems that when I am under stress, otherwise neutral or only minorly funny things get a lot funnier

People who conduct funerals usually have horror stories about the times when the bereaved were vainly trying to suppress hysterical laughter. The worst is when they themselves got infected (whoops, cross-posting with Jim's threads).

Miss Manners points out that this is one of the advantages of wearing mourning, as it lets people know you're in a fragile state and may react unusually strongly to stimuli of any kind.

#747 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 06:37 PM:

About Dr. Horrible...

Vg qbrf bpphe gb zr gung, pbafvqrevat Wbff'f sbaqarff sbe natfg, jr'er cebonoyl yhpxl vs jr qba'g raq hc jvgu Craal cebpynvzvat ure ybir sbe Qe. Ubeevoyr gur zbzrag orsber fur'f nppvqragnyyl xvyyrq ol jungrire Qe U vf hfvat gb gel gb xvyy gur Pncgnva.

Nygubhtu gung jbhyq avpryl frg hc na Nylfba Unaavtna nccrnenapr va gur frdhry nf Qe. Ubeevoyr qrfcrengryl gevrf gb erfheerpg uvf ybfg ybir...

I will note, incidentally, that Doctor Horrible's sidekick is all wet...

(One minor note. The sidekick is played by one of the regulars on "The Big Bang Theory". The lead female character on that show is also called Penny.)

#748 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 06:57 PM:

Taking advantage of the Open Threaded Goodness to hurl myself on the kindhearted nature of the Fluorosphere.

Long story short, I have a show to hang in Ottawa. That takes money, so I'm having something which one might nearly call a sale.

The details are over in the post 1,000 Fans on my Lj.

#749 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 06:59 PM:

cajunfj40 @714

Well, hey, you try to keep it together at the funeral of the clown in the peanut suit who was eaten by an elephant.

#750 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 07:15 PM:

Terry, if you're going to be in Ottawa and would be interested in getting together, drop me a line. There are at least a couple of other Fluorosphereans living in the city and environs.

#751 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 07:35 PM:

Last night, I think during part one, I told the dear wife I thought Craal vf Onq Ubefr.

She laughed.

I plan to have the last laugh.

Or maybe...Craal vfa'g Onq Ubefr, ohg fur vf gelvat gb trg Qe. Ubeevoyr'f fybg va gur Rivy Yrnthr bs Rivy. "Abguvat crefbany. Jr pna fgvyy or sevraqf, evtug?" Oh, I like this!

By the way...what time on July 19th?

#752 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 10:03 PM:

abi: Glad things are sounding so much better. Hurray for tactical indiscretion!

#753 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 10:41 PM:

Jon @296:

No, I never knew Degler, and have no specific interest in him (Joshua Norton seems to have that place in my mythology). I haven't even read anything he wrote (though some here probably have), but people read histories, we tell each other stories, and I'm sure there are people who you never met whose names are alive and fresh in your mind or heart.

#755 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 11:16 PM:

abi (at 657) Hugs, (as needed/wanted) and support. I have no good avice, but if there is anything which talk can do, you know how to get ahold of me.

Earl Cooley: yes, ML has been harvested. I have a smarmy employment agency which has headers pointing back to Making Light.

re Table habits. I am a, mostly, continental eater. I don't do the British thing of using a knife to push things onto the back of a fork. I am also very fond of chopsticks. I used to get a chopped chicken and rice dish at a local fast food joint, and walk next door to the mongolian BBQ place to get chopsticks, with which to eat it.

What I tend to do is eat with the knife in my left. When I have no need for the knife, I'll put it down, at which point my more dominant (i.e. right) hand wants to be doing the work. So when cutting an eating I use my left to bring the bite to my mouth. When just eating, the fork/spoon, is in my right.

Skwid: I drink miso from the bowl, but sushi I use hashi to pick up (esp. my beloved unagi)

Xopher: I use rice bowls. Seems odd to be piling rice on the place, not least because it's harder to get the rice to the mouth.

What I find amusing is that, at that same convention, I went to a walking distance Chinese restaurant and they didn't hesitate to offer us chopsticks and bring us rice bowls. It's what I think of as default behavior. Perhaps you looked like out of town folks.

re Germany: I can squeak by with a smattering more than mere polite noises. I made the "mistake" of wishing some "gut Morgen," He looked at his watch, saw the time was a few minutes past 10, and said,"nien, Guten Tag."

cajunfishj40: When I was in theater is was getting punchy. In the army it just is. My mother refers to it as, "the 2 a.m. simples".

#756 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 11:31 PM:

Joel: At some point I will be in Ottawa... this show ain't gonna be it. (assuming everything sells, and some cards go, and I get some orders, I might clear a grand off of it).

But when I do make the trip (maybe I can parlay a gallery opening)

Sumana Harihareswara: Looking at it, it sounds like most rants about how the evil publishsers aren't in it to publish books. There's not the same sense of, you will never get published but there is a lot of the publishers are evil by nature.

#757 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2008, 11:33 PM:

"Craal and the Onq Ubefrs" would be a great name for a rock band.

#758 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 12:02 AM:

Okay, now I know--midnight, July 19th, EDT!

#759 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 12:25 AM:

Ah--what the hell? That was great, but--huh?

#760 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 12:31 AM:

Yeah, the ending was a little...abrupt. I'll have to process it for a bit, I think.

#761 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 12:31 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 738: "Schrodinger's Catwoman"

ouch. the bind moggles.

trying to reply wittily but you just took the cake.

Perhaps we need an Inscrutability Principle to go with the Uncertainty Principle?

(But thinking that women have an untestable probability of being villianous will put you, not them, into an unstable quantum state of mind.)

#762 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 12:39 AM:

Recommendations for an open thread:

I saw an incredibly great band called Mirthkon last night. ethan, in particular, should check them out, as they have a strong Canterbury influence, albeit crossed with metal and the complexity revved up several notches.

My video recommendation can be sung to the tune of Camptown Races:

Netflix has Ascent of Man, doo dah, doo dah,
Netflix has Ascent of Man, oh de doo dah day.

(I've been waiting for this for years...)

#763 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 12:57 AM:

(pause Wire's Pink Flag, which normally never gets paused)
(click Tim's link, worried by the word "metal" which usually, but not always, means "ethan won't like this", but intrigued by the Canterbury)

Damn, this is good! Must've been amazing live. I especially like "Kharms Way" (named after Daniil Kharms?), which has long stretches that I would almost call comedy. I have to remember to check them out more in-depth...sometime when I'm not listening to Wire already. I like that they have a song called "Johnny Yen". Here he comes again, with the liquor and drugs and the flesh machine. I know he's gonna do another striptease.

(back to Pink Flag)

#764 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 12:57 AM:

(oh, and PS, since I just got a saxophone and am in the process of learning to play it and do interesting things with it, I like that miRthkon use it heavily)

#765 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 01:59 AM:

#747: Very prescient!

#766 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 04:18 AM:

Kate Baker, who has a really great singing voice, posted her video response to Dr. Horrible on her blog.

#767 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 05:28 AM:

Wow, that was abrupt. I was amused to see that Onq Ubefr vf npghnyyl...n ubefr.

#768 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 06:03 AM:

Neil Willcox@704: Actually, that bit points up what for me is Joss Whedon's main weakness: he will compromise his world and his characters for the sake of a cute moment. "Gur unzzre vf zl cravf" was a cute moment...but there is just no way that someone like Hammer would ever say that. Once he thought of the innuendo, it wouldn't even occur to him that someone might not get it; that would require way more empathy than is in his character.

Michael I@747: Wow, big-time Moxana points for you.

I have to say I'm a little disappointed by Penny's ending -- I was hoping that she'd erwrpg obgu bs gurz sbe orvat perrcf naq gel gb znxr ure bja jnl va gur jbeyq. Nf vg jnf fur fgnegrq frrzvat engure zber yvxr n cybg gbxra guna yvxr n crefba jvgu ntrapl.

#769 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 07:09 AM:

Re: #765, #768

Jvgu Wbff vg'f hfhnyyl orfg gb org ba natfg...

(Fb qbrf guvf zrna jr ernyyl trg gur Nylfba Unaavtna thrfg nccrnenapr?)

(Ubcr... Ubcr... Ubcr...)

#770 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 07:32 AM:

David Goldfarb @768 - Well, the dumb, self-centred, "every problem is a nail" Captain Hammer we see in Act I might say "Gur unzzre vf zl cravf" because he thinks it's clever, but when he gets to the door thinks it's too clever; the hawk-eyed, manipulative, vindictive Hammer he turns out to be in Act II wouldn't.

Kouredious @745 - well Horrible says that Penny is the girl of his dreams; he sees her in the laundry which by some stretch is a body of water so Joss is clearly trying to tell us that she's an archetype from our collective unconcious... no? To make this joke I should probably have paid more attention to that chapter of the philosophy textbook (or better yet read some primary source - so many great thinkers, so little time to make fun out of their thoughts...)

To sum up: gentvp bevtva fgbel. Va fbat.

Which is just fine.

(Last thought: V jnf cyrnfrq gung Onq Ubefr jnf n ubefr, ohg V jnf ubcvat sbe fbzr yvarf ebz uvz. Maybe next time)

#771 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 07:40 AM:

And after hitting post I thought:

Dr Horrible - the movie
"You'll believe a horse can sing!"

#772 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 07:49 AM:

Coming in belatedly: I'm surprised that no-one has yet mentioned the fact that this is a Nelson of an open thread. Quick, everyone on one leg!

#773 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 08:56 AM:

Vs Onq Ubefr vf ernyyl n ubefr, gura fheryl fbzrbar ng gung gnoyr pna oevat Craal onpx gb yvsr. Be fur jnf n pybar. Bs Orireyl Fjvgmre. Who, speaking of injustice, doesn't have her own Wikipedia entry.

#774 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 12:46 PM:

All Things Considered had a piece on Dr. Horrible.

'Buffy' Creator Proves Doogie Howser Can Sing

#775 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Terry Karney #755:

Yesterday's Peculiar Experience, Asia/Gringo division, involved a normally very good sushi place in town. We went for lunch, ordered food, and asked for hot tea. When it came (and it was particularly hot), the waitress wanted to know if we wanted sugar in it! OK, we're in Texas, and everyone (except me) puts sugar in their iced tea, but I have never in my life had sugar suggested for hot green tea before. We just looked totally befuddled and said "No!"

#776 ::: Chris W ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 02:23 PM:


Am I the only one who finds that headline a little bizarre? I'm sure as a broadway buff I've followed Neil Patrick Harris' turns on the stage a little more closely than most, but it seems odd that some online movie "proves" that he can sing in a way that several runs in acclaimed Broadway musicals doesn't.

#777 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Not being a Broadway buff myself, it actually did come as a shock to find out that he could sing.

#778 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 02:50 PM:

I just feel a bit sorry for the guy still being called "Doogie Howser." (I didn't know he'd been on Broadway, either.)

#779 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 03:11 PM:

It's not enough to bash in heads
You've got to bash in minds

#780 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 03:14 PM:

I believe he did Rent on the West Coast. I'm not sure he's been in an actual Broadway theatre; he's been in Broadway shows, but as far as I know out of town.

#781 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 03:28 PM:

When the movie version of Starship Troopers was released, I saw a few online comments along the lines of "Doogie Howser, Storm Trooper" because of the SS-like coat he wore.

Just think, however, if he had been best known for his cameo in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. The headline might have read "Buffy Creater Proves Love Stain can sing".

#782 ::: Chris W ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 03:51 PM:

Xopher @ 780

In addition to touring with Rent, he was in the concert version of Sweeney Todd with George Hearn and Patti Lupone.

On Broadway he did a turn at Studio 54 as the MC in Cabaret and then returned as the Balladeer in the 2004 revival of Assassins. (Which was where I caught him, and he was amazing.)

So it's not like this was some hidden talent that no one knew about. He's been performing musicals with some of the best in the business and holding his own for 8 years now.

#783 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 03:55 PM:

Random Mr. Harris sighting: He turned up on one of the first episodes of the new (well, updated version of an old) game show "Million Dollar Password," hosted by the ubiquitous Regis Philbin.

#784 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 04:02 PM:

cajunfj40 @714:
there is a biological "laughing" reflex; it's intended to safely use up excess adrenaline. Unsurprisingly, it gets triggered at times of high stress (== excess adrenaline).

Jakob @772:
so, creating a fluorescent world while standing on one foot? (to mix metaphors...)

#785 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 04:13 PM:

Who is Doogie Howser?

And why should I care anyway?

#786 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 04:43 PM:

Dave Bell: Neil Patrick Harris did a TV show when he was very young called Doogie Howser, MD. He played a genius kid who became a doctor at age 14 (or something). So he had to deal with adolescent crap and a medical career.

It was trash, but it made NPH famous. But it was years ago; calling him Doogie Howser today is a way of belittling his accomplishments as an actor and singer, which are considerable. I suspect that the malevolence associated with this is due to the fact that he's openly gay and still has an acting career, which is a Dire Threat to the Family™.

#787 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 05:29 PM:

It seems likely to me the headline has most to do with the newspaper assuming the likelihood that there are tens of millions of people in the US who saw him in 'Doogie Howser' (and many more who at least heard of the show, as I did back then) and who have no clue what he's done since then.

As the adage has it, "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

#788 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 05:38 PM:

Xopher, I don't think it's malicious. Hell, even in Harold and Kumar they keep calling him "Doogie Howser". As in, "You're Doogie Howser!" and "Did Doogie Howser just steal your car?"

#789 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 05:58 PM:

Perhaps I'm overanalyzing but...

Vg frrzrq gb zr gung va Cneg VVV gur Pncgnva jnf fgnegvat gb fubj fbzr tyvzzref bs uhznavgl haqrearngu gur neebtnapr. Fgvyy n uhtr wrex, bs pbhefr, ohg jvgu fbzr snvag ubcr bs gur cbffvovyvgl bs fbzr punatr.

Cebonoyl nyy fahssrq bhg abj, ubjrire...

Carrying this thought a little further (and following up on #770) in some ways one could call it a QBHOYR bevtva fgbel.

#790 ::: Chris W ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 06:21 PM:

Xopher @786:

I don't think calling him Doogie Howser is such a slur as all that. For one thing, the series was far from universally panned. Harris even got a Golden Globe nomination for it. My (admittedly fuzzy) recollection is that the premise was hopelessly precious, but the acting and writing were at least workmanlike. And they even managed to stand out in what was otherwise a relatively fallow time for network television.

And secondly, as ethan points out, he seems to have a good sense of humor about it. It rather takes the sting out of a slur when the actual target seems more amused than offended.

As for how much of it has to do with his homosexuality, I don't think that people necessarily think of him as gay, given the pointed heterosexuality of his most visible roles. He's rightly a hero to the gay community for the nonchalance with which he came out, but I don't think his sexuality, one way or another, is deeply impressed in the public mind. I think it has more to do with general fascination with child stars and in particular Neil Patrick Harris' taking of roles that go directly against the grain of his "Doogie Howser" image.

Clifton @ 787

I, for one, certainly wasn't ascribing malice, although the idea of an evil cabal of NPR reporters bent upon destroying Neil Patrick Harris' career has a certain campy appeal. (Maybe that could be the subject of Mr. Whedon's next foray into the online musical genre.)

I just think there are a half a dozen interesting ways to approach this story, and I'm disappointed in whatever editor wrote the headline for choosing one which was the most tabloidy and at the same time made little sense to those already familiar with career of one of the principals.

It struck me a little like saying "NEWSFLASH! In addition to her singing career, Madonna has aspirations to be a film actress!"

#791 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 08:26 PM:

Xopher @ 711

Well, I'll bite.

I'm curious: What kind of food would you serve if I accepted your invitation?

#792 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 08:26 PM:

the idea of an evil cabal of NPR reporters bent upon destroying Neil Patrick Harris' career has a certain campy appeal.

My goodness, yes it does. Especially if the evil cabal is gur fnzr bar sebz gur raq bs Qe. Ubeevoyr, jvgu Snxr Gubznf Wrssrefba naq Onq Ubefr naq Qrnq Objvr.

(P.S. Wow, leetkey knows to leave html tags alone? Cool.)

#793 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 09:14 PM:

Jörg 791: Tacos. Corn on the cob. Artichoke with garlic butter.

#794 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 10:46 PM:

pizza. ice cream in cones. sushi?

In my family, waffles are finger food. With jam or jelly.

#795 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2008, 11:02 PM:

I've heard a story about when Pizza Hut opened its first franchises in Germany... and neglected to provide utensils.

Customers come in, order pizza, are served...and then wait expectantly for utensils. Hilarity ensues.

#796 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 12:12 AM:

Xopher - corn on the cob is eaten with utensils, if you're civilized. Or don't you use those little corn-ear-shaped handles? I swear by those thingies. (My wife, the European, laughs at me and picks them up by hand -- but Hungary isn't Germany.)

Also, why wouldn't one eat artichoke with a fork? Sorry, I've never actually eaten an artichoke; I actually think it's a mythical species, like Atlantean or Barsoomian.

Also: oh, Doogie Howser. That's why he looked familiar. (I guess that ruins my latte-swilling elite street cred.)

Bob @795 - Back when there were only a few Pizza Huts in Germany, I used to drive up from Stuttgart to Heidelberg to eat there -- then I'd get an extra and bring it back to eat cold for breakfast. I'd drive back along the Neckartal for added scenicity. Man, I wish they'd had digital cameras then. I'd have gigabytes.

Anyway, so one time I had a box from Pizza Hut, you see, and showed it to a friend. Recall that "Hut" is "hat" in German, and that the Pizza Hut logo looks like a little hat. Her reaction was ... well, in the dictionary for "puzzlement", her picture now appears. "Pizza ... Hut?" she said. Hahaha. Even now, more than twenty years later, I laugh about that.

#797 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:06 AM:

Michael: May the gods stand between me and that kind of civilization! Those corn-ear-shaped handle thingies: tacky. Vulgar. Kitsch. Sorry, your latte-swilling elite street cred vanishes in a puff of snooty superiority issuing from my upturned nose! :-)

And the way artichokes are generally served, there's no possible way to eat one with a fork. Chopsticks might work, if you're not hungry and don't mind taking all night.

An artichoke is a cluster of spiny leaves. The edible part is where they attach to the heart at the center. To eat an artichoke, you pull off a leaf, dip it in butter, and place the buttery artichoke leaf between your teeth; you then pull the leaf out with your fingers, scraping the yummy bits off with your teeth in the process. Then you discard the rest of the leaf.

Anyone who tries this with a fork is gonna get stuck with little spines a lot, eat a lot more of the tough leaf part than necessary, and really not have a good time.

#798 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:37 AM:

xopher @ #797, I'm not going to comment about your elitist attitude toward corncob-holders. You forgot to mention the best part of the artichoke, though.

When you get through enough leaves that they become very flimsy, pull them off. Then use a fork and scrape off the thistle which remains above the bottom of the thing. Now quarter the heart (which is what's left), dip that into the garlic butter, and pop it into your mouth (using that maligned fork). Ambrosia.

#799 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 02:52 AM:


One other thing about artichokes--they contain a chemical (cynarin) that will make everything taste sweeter for a while after eating it*.

For the people who don't react to this chemical and don't know about this effect, artichoke leaves are probably baffling--there are easier ways to eat butter.

* not like "sprinkle extra sugar on everything" sweet, more like a heightened sense of sweet.

#800 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 03:38 AM:

Eeek! According to a commenter on the on Dr Horrible thread at Pharyngula [Yes, there is so!]: "a group … got together to do the entire thing LIVE at Dragon*Con as a[n] event.
It will be in the Podcasting Track room, RIGHT next door to Skeptrack, across from the Space and Science rooms."
Sounds fun.

I had a good time watching it; lots of fun lines; cameo appearances by writers; silly and serious too.

[In other news: Come 4am Monday AEST we'll have our city (such as it is) back! The World Youth 'Day' helicopters weren't quite as bad as APEC, but the road closures and bus route diversions, etc, were worse — also made worse by my physical meltdown in the last few weeks. Ah, Sydney! What a grubby melange you are. Dirt, lust and corruption, sloppy sentimentalism and deep political cynicism; stunning beauty, sterility, filth; a crowded loneliness and wonderful communities brought together from a world of cultures. Love/Hate indeed.]

#801 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 03:59 AM:

Let's just say that the particular format, as with several other internet streaming video sites I've encountered, requires considerabel bandwidth.

You can see what the ISPs in the UK, who notoriously over-sell available bandwidth, started screaming over the BBC's service.

I have, by divers means, obtained the complete .flv files. The lack of stutter makes a huge difference.

Incidentally, the quality of video camera needed for a production such as this is affordable. Some things (there are tracking shots, there must be lighting) are semi-pro at least, but you might be able to work around the limits of what you have.

This is something the amateur movie maker, or the student at film school, can aspire to. But it shows how much good movies need good writers.

Way back when I first went to conventions, there were a few fan-movies floating around--Super-8 cine and top-grade scenery chewing by the cast--and maybe this will spark a few creative talents.

#802 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 04:36 AM:

Xopher @797:
May the gods stand between me and that kind of civilization! Those corn-ear-shaped handle thingies: tacky. Vulgar. Kitsch.

Spot the childless commenter. Not wanting my entire house coated in a thin smear of butter to waist height, nor yet the floor greased with the skittering cobs that drop to the cries of "This is hot!"*, I, too, use the little corn-ear shaped handle thingies.

* Well, duh. Butter melts on it and you expect it to be cold? But sarcasm just beads up and slides off the back of a four year old.

#803 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 04:59 AM:

Interesting piece here.

The British government should not rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, a report by MPs says.

This is, technically, about whether waterboarding is legally defined as torture. It is in the UK, but not in the US. So any prisoners liable to be subjected to it cannot be extradited to the US.*

Still, what a shabby and dreadful pass we have come to.

* This is not the first such restriction between the UK and the US; since Britain has banned the death penalty, no prisoner at risk of the death sentence can be extradited to America. The usual workaround is for the prosecution to ensure that the death penalty is not available for sentencing.

#804 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 05:43 AM:

Well, pizza is eaten with fork and knife here - *if* served as a big, round pie, that is, if you eat it in a restaurant.
(Does that term "pizza pie" even exist outside the lyrics of "It's a moray"?)

OTOH, if you order a pizza as take away food, it will be usually partioned into six or eight slices with that circular-blade-thingie.

OT3H, if you have a pizza delivered to your address, usually it won't be sliced, since they assume you have the necessary utensils at heand to make it into the shape you want.

(As an aside: Recently, I had to realize my favorite mexican had closed. Badly wanting something in that style, I had a "Pizza Mexiko" delivered; meat sauce, onions, kidney beans, maize kernels, peppers, tomato slices, cheese. Surprisingly close to the aim, given that it was, after all, still a pizza.)

I know these corn-cob holders exist, but the place a German will most likely encounter cobs (KFC) simply serves them with two wooden tothpicks. And yes, when they had forgotten them, I just just the much sturdier metal fork in the broad end of the cob (but no knife, I grant you).

(Aside two: Yes, in a KFC in Germany, they keep "real" cutlery under the counter if a customer asks for it, and if you order a largish meal, they give them out anyway.)

Artichoke with fork and knife would be, um, messy.
Sushi would by silly, but far from impossible, I think.

But in any way, my original statement that all non-liquid foods could be eaten with cutlery was wrong.

Plus, while at first I thought that the opinion Germans had some kind of cutlery fetish was just the result of a too small and anecdotal sample. But thinking about the way even the franchisers do it has convinced me that there is something with (many) Germans, forks and knifes - just not everyone.

#805 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:18 AM:

Tlönista @ 741: I can't imagine someone who directed a movie as brainless and awful as 300 could possibly do justice to Moore and Gibbons.

300, no matter how brainless and awful you found it, was a very faithful translation to the screen of the comic. If the parts of Watchmen that survive the cutting that will be needed to fit it in less than three hours are treated that faithfully, it might not be an awful film. The trailer gives me hope that the look will be as right as it can be.

It's going to come down to the skill of the writers. Their resumes are not exactly filled with glowing goodness but one of them was involved with the first two X-Men movies which were far better than we had much cause to expect.

#806 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:42 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale: I suppose I am an odd person, becuase I do get the cyanin reaction, don't enjoy eating them and am (because of the secondary effects) baffled at why anyone wants to eay them because they ruin the rest of my meal, and what the do to wine is a travesty.

#807 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:54 AM:

abi: Looking at that, it might be used to, de facto void of any extradition treaties with the US; because the recent decision on the detention of anyone the President decides to declare an enemy combatant is then subject; at whim of the president allowed to be waterboarding... anyone who gets extradited might be tortured.

#808 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 07:20 AM:

abi @ 802... Butter melts on it and you expect it to be cold?

There isn't much of a margerine for error.

#809 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 07:28 AM:

Abi @ 803.... This is the kind of thing that, when I watch Bridge of the River Kwai, makes me nostalgic for the days when we had the moral high ground.

#810 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 07:29 AM:

The whole shocking truth is revealed in the Making Light and Faces gallery!

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little is River Tam!!!

#811 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 07:39 AM:

Terry Karney @ 806

I guess it is just a typo, but the stuff in artichokes in cynarin. Not cyanin. The latter, I believe, would ruin your dining experience even more.

#812 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 08:49 AM:

Hey, reading the thread at the end of my weekend, I get the feeling I might have instigated a bit of Anti-German sentiment.
Tut mir Leid, Joerg.
I didn't mean to imply that all Germans were cutlery fetishists. Just, you know, generally a bit more serious about it than some countries.

And, for those of you wanting to see Germans eating with their hands, just look for the doener.
God, how I miss doener...

#813 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 09:48 AM:

I eat pizza with a knife and fork. It's not the German influence (my father), but the fact that I don't burn the roof of my mouth that way. The neatness is just a bonus.

I use the tacky little corn-cob thingies, too, because I don't burn my fingers that way.

Anyone noticing a trend?

#814 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 10:09 AM:

You mean your corn doesn't come with that built-in green handle?

#815 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Kathryn #799: there are easier ways to eat butter.

That's exactly what I said the first time I ate artichokes, and exactly what I say any time anyone suggests it.

#816 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 10:37 AM:

JimR @ 812

No offense taken. After all, you did not mention the war. ;P

Regarding doener(not a turkish dish originally, but invented by a Turkish cook in Berlin): Recently I have read that it is currently introduced in Anatolia. First, doener shops opened in the tourist centers along the coast and slowly it is gaining ground, replacing the traditional cuisine.

Almost like the roundabout way pizza came to northern Italy - or even a bit like the story of Chop Suey.

#817 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 11:26 AM:

Any other fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender here?

(ROT-13'd for the convenience of anyone who hasn't seen the finale):


Hmph. Sneaky way to make us buy the DVDs (yes, I have the last one on order and we own all the rest of them).

By the way, if you haven't seen it, now would be a good time to start. Nearly the entire series is available on DVD (last few episodes come out 7/29) and it's got a great deal going for it. Lovely martial arts flavor, good characterization, great storytelling, humor a kid can appreciate but laudably short of fart jokes, considerable visual beauty and a magnificent soundtrack. Also, WAY more good female and elderly characters than pretty much anything I can name. The fact that I am deeply in love with General Iroh is neither here nor there.

#818 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 11:39 AM:

Kathryn @799 & ethan @815: "there are easier ways to eat butter."

That's what I tend to say about lobster. Artichokes, at least, have a definite taste to them...

#819 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 11:40 AM:

Artichokes? Yum! I may be kicked out of the Gourmet Guild, but I've always eaten them with lite dabs of mayo. (If I didn't like them at all, somebody might revoke my credentials as a 4th-generation Northern Californian -- a title I proudly cling to even after moving to AZ.)

A friend of mine since Jr. High has renamed herself Cynara, so now I send her the occasional gift or card with artichokes on it. She accepts this with good humor.

#820 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 12:01 PM:

P J Evans #814:

The green handles only come on one end, though, right? Or do you get Seriously Mutant corn where you are?

#821 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 12:08 PM:

Linkmeister 798: You realize my elitist attitude is if nothing else self-aware, don't you? I am often a snob on food things. A tendency I fight...sometimes. Sometimes I positively glory in it. Since the snobbery has the same relationship to my meticulous attention to making things just right that sickle-cell anemia has to malaria resistance, there are benefits to me and my friends.

Oh, and forks are a pretty good way to eat the heart. Just not the leaves.

Kathryn 799: Hmm, I actually like the flavor of artichokes, and I'm not sure I knew about that chemical. No wonder my dessert was too sweet! But I even like artichoke leaves without butter, just, you know, not as much.

abi 802: Well, we never had those things in my house! I don't remember getting burned. But can we agree that the handle thingies are like milk chocolate, that is, for children?

And btw, butter will melt in your mouth, but you don't burn your kids* when you kiss them.

Jörg 804: that circular-blade-thingie

It's called a pizza cutter. Yeah, I think it should have a more sophisticated name too.

if you have a pizza delivered to your address, usually it won't be sliced, since they assume you have the necessary utensils at hand to make it into the shape you want.

Appalling. How many German homes have a pizza cutter? But " make it into the shape you want" make me think of my fancifully-shaped praline cutters...imagine pizza shaped like ♠, ♥, ♦, or ♣!

Mary Aileen 813: I've burned the roof of my mouth on pizza, but never my hands on corn. How odd. And I've burned my mouth on things that arrived there by fork too. I do see your point regarding pizza, though it's much less likely to be a problem if the pizza is properly crispy on the bottom (because soggy pizza has too much sauce for the amount of crust, and sauce holds heat much longer than cheese or bread).

And oops, I guess my solution to the disagreement with abi won't work after all! OK, OK: use whatever implements you find practical. It's mostly the shape I find tacky, not the function. But I'm pretty sure you can't get them any other shape, because no one would know what the heck they were for!

*Your husband is another matter, of course.

#822 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 12:09 PM:

There are easier ways to eat butter

Like a shame stick?

A stick of butter rolled in sugar. I've hear about these as urban apocrypha, never seen one actually prepared and consumed tho. Not sure I ever want to.

#823 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 12:25 PM:

Lance, that actually sounds delicious to, but I can hear my heart rate going up just thinking about it.

#824 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 12:26 PM:

And by "delicious to" I mean "delicious to me". Obviously.

#825 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 12:31 PM:

I've never seen or eaten a stick of butter covered in sugar, but I've actually seen similar things...

I've stolen tastes of cookie dough batter when it is just brown and white sugar creamed into butter, right before the flour or egg are added. In fact, that's when I always used to steal the most tastes... because I was afraid of raw eggs. Having got used to the sweet butter-sugar, I'm not too fond of end-stage-cookie-dough... I find the flour introduces a strange bitterness that isn't present in the early stage dough or the end product.

Having stolen early-stage cookie dough as a kid, my brother has once or twice asked for that as a desert... a teaspoon or two of butter with a teaspoon or two of brown sugar, creamed together. While it's very strange, I'm not sure how it's noticeably worse for you than most candy.

The idea of eating a whole stick, and just rolling it in butter, though? Makes me a bit sick.

#826 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 12:32 PM:


...just rolling it in sugar... not butter.

#827 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 12:50 PM:

Xopher @821 - I had heart-shaped pizza in a restaurant in Trastevere in Rome. There were four of us - three men and one woman. Bella and I got heart-shaped pizzas first. "Maybe they think we're a couple" I said. Dean and Stan then got their heart-shaped pizzas. "Maybe they think you're a couple" I said. None of us were though.

#828 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Maybe they cut them by rolling a ring shaped-cutter on them. Cardioid pizza!

But my praline cutters are about an inch wide. Imagine a whole plateful of little hearts!

#829 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:14 PM:

Deep fried butter. You could extrude cold butter like a churro, then deep-fry it and roll it in sugar. I bet it's actually a common Scottish snack food.

The best thing I discovered in Krakow was bacon schmaltz, or "smolletz" as my Polish-speaking host called it, eaten on bread with a sprinkling of salt. It exceeds one's recommended daily allowance of pure heart attack but damn, is it good. Pictured here.

#830 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:19 PM:

P J Evans (814)/joann (820): Green, no. Occasionally I'll get a piece with a whitish bit sticking out at one end, but, as joann says, there's still the other end (and the sticking-out bit is hot, too).

Xopher (821): When I bite into pizza, the hot cheese burns the soft tissue immediately behind my two front teeth. Very painful. (The first time I ate pizza with a knife and fork, I had just been hit in the mouth with a golf ball, so there was no way I was going to bite into anything! Not burning myself was a nice, unforeseen side-effect.)

I don't technically burn my fingers on the corn, it's just too hot to hold comfortably.

#831 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:26 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 830... I had just been hit in the mouth with a golf ball

"You shall go to the ball."

#832 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:49 PM:

Xopher at 821:: It's called a pizza cutter. Yeah, I think it should have a more sophisticated name too.
Of course the more traditional "rocking knife" cutter does have a cool name: mezzaluna

And aren't you grateful Ron Popeil didn't invent the pizza wheel first? Cause then you'd be calling it your Pocket Pizza Wheelie.

#833 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 02:01 PM:

Jörg Raddatz: Yes, it was a typo, but there are lots of foods with cYanins in them. Lima beans and apple seeds are two examples.

The latter causes the occaisional death because someone will decide t use them as a food source (the usual way is to decide to make them into a flour) and ends up with so much of the cyanin it kills them.

Regarding "pizza pie" When I worked in a pizza shop we termed them, "pies" and I still do. Combining to make "pizza pie" is painfully redundant to the ear. Alliterative, but not euphonious.

Xopher: We use scissors to cut pizza.

#834 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 02:27 PM:

xopher @ #821, please take my "elitist" remark in the gently sarcastic tone I intended.

Faren @ #819, I've been told for years that mayo works with artichokes, but I've always felt it needs nothing more than butter. I like my mayo on turkey sandwiches and with tuna fish.

#835 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 02:32 PM:

Oh, and xopher: I actually have eight corn-holders which are round white porcelain. They look like miniature drawer-pulls with a two-tined fork extruding.

#836 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 02:43 PM:

I'm trying to remember what we used as corn holders when I was a kid. It wasn't the tacky corn-shaped things. I think it was something designed for a different use pressed into service. Not forks, not toothpicks...

#837 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 03:06 PM:

Terry @ 833 - when I was still living at home my dad used surgical scissors (blunt wedge on the tip of the bottom blade, the handles angled up from the blades) for cutting pizza. After use, drop in dishwasher for cleaning. They didn't rust shut, nor did the drying cycle melt the handles, as they were made of surgical steel and not plastic like most scissors now. I still think they were the best pizza cutters.

#838 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 03:48 PM:

Linkmeister 835: Now that sounds elegant. I'm afraid my reverse snobbery would kick in, however!

#839 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 03:50 PM:

Xopher @ 828: Imagine a whole plateful of little hearts!

It's the Muppet Show! With our special guest star, Mr. Robert Bloch! Yaaaahhhhh!!

#840 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 03:55 PM:

Joel, I meant the kind of stylized-scrotum* hearts that are associated with Valentine's Day, you know: ♥. Not the anatomical kind. Though if I could find a two-part chocolate mold for those, I'd happily make them!

*Yes, that's what they are. Remember THAT next February!

#841 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 03:59 PM:

Xopher @ 828
At a local flea market I saw a lot of very unusual cookie cutters: unicorns, fairies, vintage cars, orchids and lots of other shapes. Dragon-shaped pizza would be allowed to burn the top of the mouth, I guess.

Terry Karney @ 833
Ha! Now I have the opportunity to connect the cutlery part of this thread to the Agatha Christie part!
IIRC, there is a short story about Poirot solving an apparent crime, where a host opened an old bottle of Italian amaretto (or a similar almond liqueur) he once had received as a gift. The guest takes a sip and dies because the cyanin from the almonds and apricot pits has risen to the top in a now deadly concentration.
I have no inkling if this is technically sound.

Dawno @ 837
Regarding unusual pizza-cutting implements: A few months ago I saw a thing looking like a spatula crossed with a scissors: You had to put the flat side under the pizza and pressed the angled edge down. I don't know if it was practical, but it made me think of the jaws of a cow.

#842 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 04:07 PM:

xopher @ #838, "I'm afraid my reverse snobbery would kick in, however!"

Sheesh, man, you're a veritable bundle of conflicts, aren't you?

#843 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 04:09 PM:

Linkmeister 842: Yes and no.

#844 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 04:18 PM:

Jörg Raddatz: It is sound. There are a number of liquers which can't be imported because they allow (or even use by intent) bitter almonds (of which every tree has some, though we've bred them to be less so).

The oil will rise, so it's best to shake the bottle to avoid that. That said, the amound of bitter almond oils in most bottles, even when concentrated at the top of the bottle, isn't enough to kill a healthy adult.

What, BTW, would happen (and I believe, IIRC, that's in the collection, "The Labours of Hercules") is the last person to drink from the bottle would get the dose, because the alcohol/water portion will pour out from under the poisonous oils.

#845 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 05:11 PM:

xopher @ #843, Grins. Ok, you win.

#846 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 05:15 PM:

#884: One of Sayers' Montague Egg stories turns on the first glass from an old bottle of Noyau, but in that case my recollection is that the trick is showing that a particular death is accident rather than suicide.

#847 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 05:45 PM:


my corn-holders look like this. i don't use 'em for holding corn, though, i use them for dipping buckeyes. (that's close to my recipe, although i use milk chocolate.)

#848 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:28 PM:

Xopher at #840:

It is a peculiarity of our language that hearts are not heart-shaped. Also,

diamonds are not (usually) diamond-shaped
lozenges are not (usually) lozenge-shaped
stars are not star-shaped.

#849 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 07:02 PM:

Erik Nelson: Diamonds are diamond shaped, at least as the diamond looks before cutting.

#850 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 07:32 PM:

I was amazed at the savagely pointed satire of the Buy n Large website ("Anti-Consumer groups are 'Opportunities'", "Buy n Large to Brand Direction 'North'"). How could Disney let that go?

Only, HOLY CRAP, if you go to, you are now directed to a innocuous Disney-flavored Wall-E promotional website. ("Tour the AXIOM!")

But the guts of the old site are still there:

Of course, you can't see the Privacy Policy page which notes that Buy n Large corporation owns your soul if you look at the site.

See what's left before it goes in the memory hole.

#851 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 09:01 PM:

#848 ::: Erik Nelson
...lozenges are not (usually) lozenge-shaped...

The Smith Brothers Wild Cherry Cough Drops of my childhood ("cough lozenges") were lozenge-shaped. Oops, now that I think of it, they were spandrels (rectangles with the corners rounded). Lozenges are elongated hexagons?

...squashing down the part of my brain that wants to run with "lozenge lizards".

We had yellow plastic corn cobs as holders when I was a kid. Now it's the same white enameled drawer-pull ones Linkmeister mentioned. They are lovely little widgets.

#852 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 09:12 PM:

Xopher @ 840: I'd heard that it was a stylized BOTTOM of someone bent over ready to receive doggy-style. And the red color goes back to things like... is it baboons or orangutans who have the bare red butt? Anyway, that.

#853 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 09:17 PM:

Rikibeth @ 852: It's most of the Old World monkeys, and some of the apes (like chimps and bonobos) who have the impressively shaped ischial prominences. New World monkeys have ischial callosities, but don't appear so vivid.

#854 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 09:36 PM:

kouredios @818:
Oh, lobster has a flavor. To me it's somewhat bitter, has an unfortunate texture, and altogether is not something I would choose to eat. (Of course, now that I keep kosher, it's not an issue.)

Then again, I also dislike large amounts of fat/oil, so eating it in the usual dipped-in-butter way is doubly nauseating.

#855 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 09:42 PM:

Bah. The Wayback Machine doesn't have the old Buy n Large site (it has two saved pages, neither of which are useful; I did see a brief flash on the second which might have said it was pulled).

#856 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 09:56 PM:

I read somewhere recently that the stylized heart shape might be our cultural fossil of the shape of the seeds of silphium. Silphium was famous in the ancient world as a natural oral contraceptive, before it went extinct from overharvesting.

#857 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 10:53 PM:

Whole ears, silk removed. Soak in water and grill. The husk gets pulled back for use as a handle around what's left of the stem. It's good without butter.

#858 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 11:16 PM:

On the subject of Dr. Horrible: Bu, Wbff, jul qvq lbh unir gb tb sbe gur Jbzra va Ersevtrengbef raqvat?

Also, it literally never occurred to me that Onq Ubefr jbhyq or nalguvat bgure guna n erny ubefr. I think I've been watching too much Venture Brothers.

#859 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 11:59 PM:

Mary Aileen, #813: I will eat pizza with a knife and fork (1) if the crust is too droopy to retain its integrity when picked up, (2) by bites off the tip of the slice until I can pick it up without the remainder of the slice collapsing.

The corncob-holder-thingies don't have to be shaped like little ears of corn; I've seen nice elegant ones, and they do make it much easier to pick up a hot, buttery, slippery corncob. But normally I don't bother with them anyhow.

Jorg, #841: Do you happen to recall the title of that Poirot story? I thought I'd read most of them, but that plot detail isn't ringing any bells.

Terry, #844: That's odd, because I know I have that collection. Maybe it's just been too long since I re-read it...

#860 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:07 AM:

I read that Valentine hearts are stylized labia. That was too long ago to recall my original source, but Betty Dodson is quoted as observing the same thing. (The block-quote is the relevant quotation.)

This makes the most sense to me. I can't speak to silphium, but the bottoms and scrotums I've seen haven't had points; they've been sort of blobby. An adult woman's labia do form a long heart shape with a V-point at the bottom.

#861 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:13 AM:

This page cites Eve Ensler as saying that the stylized heart was "a remnant of the Nordic representation for female genitalia."

#862 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:15 AM:

I'm watching the whole Dr. Horrible set again. It's even better the second time around.

I can picture an older Dr. Horrible as a minor Marvel comics villain, kidnapping the hero's girlfriend because she resembles Penny.

#863 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:28 AM:

Yesterday I bought some Mexican snack cakes. Not authentic Mexican pastry, but packaged items, from an outfit called the Bimbo Bakery. A south of the border Drakes Cakes kind of operation.

Two of them weren't too bad. They'd go nice with a cup of gas station coffee on a road trip.

The third -- "Gansitos" -- was a sort of chocolate covered twinkie with a driblet of "strawberry jelly."

They (two to a package!) were awesomely bad. The chocolately coating was a sort of waxy plaque that tasted a bit like carob and burned toast.

I gave half of the second one to my dog. She dropped it, sniffed it, picked it up again, and let it drop. Food so bad that a dog won't eat it! That has to be some kind of feat right there.

I submitted a review to McSweeney's "New Foods" column. Fingers crossed.

#864 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 01:38 AM:

Xopher, #797, there are plenty of non-corn-shaped corn holders.

PJ, #857, since I'm not safe at a grill, I do something similar with the microwave. Silks come off very easily after the cob is cooked, so I just wrap the cob, leaves on, with a bit of waxed paper (keep moisture in), zap for three minutes, then take out carefully with potholder and, also carefully, pull leaves back for handle and brush silks off. Then eat.

#865 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 04:27 AM:

diamonds are not (usually) diamond-shaped
lozenges are not (usually) lozenge-shaped
stars are not star-shaped.

Clubs are not really club-shaped, nor are spades spade-shaped (though, as you know, Bob, "spade" is an Anglicised version of "spada", a sword, after the old suits, which you still find on tarot packs, of coins, wands, swords and cups; but spades aren't sword-shaped either).

#866 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:36 AM:

North takes the bid with 3 Major Arcana, doubled.

North plays Dummy's Two of Cups, finessing the King from West, and lays down the Ace, but East unexpectedly trumps with the Lovers. After the fondling and kissing dies down, East plays the Eight of Swords, hoping to lead into West's strong suit, but this time North trumps with Death, and things change rather drastically.

Now it's a duel of trumps, as North plays the Emperor, hoping to rule, and East replies with the Tower, making a new table necessary. South's hand supplies the Chariot, and West takes the trick with Judgement, resulting in a minor flamewar as North protests the unfairness of it all. The next trick is delayed until the Chariot's leavings can be cleaned up.

#867 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 07:48 AM:

Having been pointed at this article about the ICD code for being injured by a spacecraft, I'm now browsing through the ICD 10 and being amazed/amused at the classifications.

I wonder if work'd give me the day off for F99*... (*although I'm really complaining of G47.0 today...)

#868 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:16 AM:

Bruce @#866: You jest, but in college we used to play contract bridge with a Tarot deck; I forget which two of the Majors we used to discard to make it come out even. The bidding part went as usual, but the Major Arcana were a sort of super-trump; even in a no-trump contract, Majors could be used as trump under a set of fairly arcane (no pun intended) rules. Otherwise they were null cards that could be played on any trick, but if you played one and your partner won the trick, that trick was only worth half in the scoring.

#869 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:19 AM:

Corn cob holders: Pack-rat that I am, I have a box full of hardwood dowels pointed on one end, which were designed as cheap corn cob skewers. IIRC, these originally came from some carnival supply company. These have occasionally been useful for various projects (never actually used them with corn on the cob); and over thirty years, I don't think I've gone through as much as a quarter of the box.

#870 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 09:45 AM:

Saw "Dark Knight" last night. Loong movie. Probably shouldn't have gotten the supersized MtDew before going in.

Anyway, wow. Probably goes into the "full evening price" category. Good movie, pretty good plot, good characters, pretty much good everything.

I'm not sure what the war handwavium score is, but it must be pretty low. The movie portrays a couple of moral dillemmas around violence that are brutally realistic and pretty damning of America's recent infatuation with war and violence. It's definitely a positive handwavium score cause, well, it's a comic book vigilante story, but I was impressed.

Also, had a preview for "The Watchmen". Smashing Pumpkins was the soundtrack, I think. I'm pretty sure it was Billy Corgan's doing the vocals. Friggen song mixed with the visuals put goosebumps all over my body. Looks pretty fricken good.

Anyway, does anyone know what that song was?

#871 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 09:52 AM:

I have a box full of hardwood dowels pointed on one end... These have occasionally been useful for various projects

Ladies and gentlemen: Rob Rusick, Vampire Slayer.

#872 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:07 AM:

All right, I'll confess. Last summer I actually bought a set of corn-shaped corn holders (although Linkmeister's sound much nicer). Mom lives in Iowa, childhood nostalgia, yadayada.

Xopher, don't read the next part.

Growing up, my mom also had a set of green plastic corn holders, shaped to resemble a corn husk. You could put a pat of butter on the corn, and roll the corn around in the melting butter. Functional? Yes. Kitschy? Oy!

#873 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:16 AM:

Greg London @ 870... Saw "Dark Knight" last night. Loong movie.

Best part of that movie experience were the coming attractions for Watchmen and Quantum of Solace. Now those two are movies I expect I won't regret having given 2.5 hours of my life to.

#874 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:49 AM:

I'm seeing Dark Knight in IMAX tonight and fully expect to pee myself. And I knew the Watchmen trailer was attached, but didn't know about Quantum of Solace...I hope they're there in IMAX, too, because I expect to pee myself when I see those, too.

#875 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:06 PM:

Rozasharn 860-861: It's a scrotum pushed up with the testes at the top. The point is where it merges into the "taint" or tucks between the legs, depending.

I was told the shape was made of sugar and given to lust-objects at Saturnalia.

I think I probably will give Dark Knight a miss. I've heard it's good, but in my book the only thing worse than comic-book violence is realistic violence. Sorry to miss Heath Ledger's final performance (and crowning achievement, if my sources are to be believed), but I think the movie might be too much for me. I'll watch it on DVD when it comes out, so I can pause it if I need a break.

Also, going to movies alone sucks.

#876 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:14 PM:

Hmmph. No Daniel Craig as Bond preview in my theater.

Xopher, I'm not sure how *realistic* any of the violence in _The Dark Knight_ was--very little blood, for instance--but it was definitely a very intense movie and there were points where I thought I might want a pause button. So probably a good call.

(Here are my spoiler-filled thoughts. Non-spoiler version: intense, gets a lot of points for engaging with difficult questions, did better than I expected with a couple plot elements.)

#877 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:34 PM:

ethan @ 874... didn't know about Quantum of Solace...I hope they're there in IMAX, too, because I expect to pee myself

James Bond will be back in Live and Let Diaper.

#878 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:42 PM:


The movie is PG-13. This doesn't make it any less horrifying, however if I'd been consciously aware of the rating throughout I might have been less stressed while watching it.

There were many moments where I was very afraid of what they were going to do or show, and unfocused my eyes or latticed my hands in front of my face... so I could partially obscure the potential horror, but also still follow the action. Every time, the anticipation was far worse than what was actually shown, and it was later pointed out to me that they could not have shown any of the stuff I was worried about having to see while retaining their PG-13 rating.

While this movie should viscerally be rated R, knowing that it is rated PG-13 might save you some tense "Oh my god are they going to show THAT?" moments. How much it might bother you is probably based on your specific fear triggers, I know it tapdanced over all mine.

While it was upsetting at times, I wouldn't go back and unsee it. So there is that.

#879 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:55 PM:

Leah @ 723: It's a jock-vs.-nerd story.

#880 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 01:17 PM:

Rob, #869: Your dowels intrigue me. About how long and thick are they, and are they smoothly finished on the sides? If they run 4-8" long and no more than 3/8" thick, and they're smooth, I might be tempted to make you an offer for some to use as hairstick findings.

#881 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 02:03 PM:

Hooray, more Big Meow!

#882 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 02:05 PM:

Lance Weber #822: Like a shame stick? A stick of butter rolled in sugar.

Well, if you can't bring yourself to partake of that much concentrated tasty shame, there's always deep-fried butter balls, wherein the pureness of the butter is adulterated with cream cheese. If you like fried ice cream, but like butter more, this is a crucial indulgence.

#883 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 03:54 PM:

This is not germaine to anything being discussed right now, but:

This is a NY Times article on means testing for Medicare. See how many errors you can find!

#884 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:24 PM:

The conversation has moved on, but I have to put in a vote for Garlic Aioli as the perfect dipping sauce for Artichokes. We have an amazingly prolific bush in the back yard, and got probably 30 chokes this spring (yippee! It almost made up for our lousy pea year), and 90% of them were simply boiled and eaten with garlic aioli. (For my sins, it's actually vegan aioli (Xopher, hide your eyes) with no egg at all, but wow is it yummy.)

#885 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:52 PM:

Non-egg aioli/mayonnaise?

A friend has limited tolerance for eggs (stomach upset). "No-fat" mayo is FULL of sugar and icky stuff. She does prefer limited-fat stuff when possible, though a previous post had me wondering about making a dip of garlic/sour cream...

#886 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:03 PM:

Carol, the brand is Wildwood. I live with a vegetarian, and am very hard to please as far as fake meats and whatnot, but Wildwood garlic aioli has replaced all other cold white gooey substances in our fridge. Yum.

#887 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:23 PM:

Lee @ 859
I might be misremembering it - especially as I just read a short review of the "Labors of Hercules" stories and apparently it does not belong there. But I am still rather sure it is a Christie story, and very sure it is featuring neither Miss Marple nor Tommy and Tuppence.

I read in in an anthology about twenty years ago, so my memory is quite blurry now.

#888 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 07:12 PM:

Greg London @ 870: re: Watchmen trailer

The song in the trailer is The Beginning is the End is the Beginning by Smashing Pumpkins but somewhat reordered to better match the action and characters on screen.

Yeah... goosebumpy just from seeing it on a 20 inch monitor. I can't imagine the impact that would have had on a big screen without warning. I still doubt the story can be done justice in under 3 hours (somewhere, there's a world where, when Gilliam said he would like to do it as a 5-hour miniseries, someone with money said OK) but I don't doubt that it will look like a hundred million bucks of Watchmen.

#889 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 07:22 PM:

xeger @ 867 - I'm giggling over the Sfnal possibilities of W49 (includes abnormal gravitational forces) and of course the variation, X52 (prolonged weightlessness).

Everyone here at the hospital tells me coding is dull. I say they have no imagination!

#890 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:32 PM:

Xopher @ 875: I don't see that your evidence is any stronger than mine. Shall we drop it?

#891 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:54 AM:

Jörg Raddatz: I recall the story, and I am not sure that I recall it correctly for place (and you seem to have proved that :). I am sure it was a Poirot.

re the particle on Search Engines. I just got access to a Beta version of a really intersting one (for me; we are talkig special purpose) Tiny Eye.

It's a way to find people who have "borrowed" an image. It has Firefox extensions (which allow a right click context menue function), and is compatible with the most recent version of FF 3.0.X

#892 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:26 AM:

Jörg, Terry: The bitter almond liqueur mystery I know of is a Dorothy Sayers 'Montague Egg' story; I think it came up here a year or so ago. I somewhat doubt that there's a Poirot with the same premise; once Sayers had used it, I doubt Christie would have touched it, and vice versa.

#893 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:06 AM:

Ok... then we are misrecalling it. I can, now, almost see it as a Whimsy.

Memory is so fungible.

#894 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:38 AM:

That's what fan fiction is for. heh.

#895 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 06:04 AM:

One more new visage on the Making Light and Faces gallery - the non-Euclidian being known as skwid. And remember that the gallery now also includes Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.

#896 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:42 AM:

Xopher, just to say--out of pure curiosity I looked at more than a dozen descriptions of the origins of the heart, and none of them mentions the testes. There was mention of aspects of the female body, and of a vague resemblance to the bovine heart, and the silphium seed (a picture of which is identical to the heart symbol) but no testicles.
Do you have a source? I'm just wondering.

Also, as Saturnalia wasn't a fertility related festival, it seems odd to be distributing sex-organs to lust objects. Are you sure you don't mean Lupercalia?

#897 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:43 AM:

I just read the first bit of the "Too Weird for The Wire" particle. One of the defendants' crazy right-wing "defenses" (called the "flesh and blood defense") makes a distinction between the name listed on the indictment and the actual person referred to.

I was sure I'd seen this logic before somewhere. And then I remembered:

'The name of the song is called "HADDOCKS' EYES."'
'Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?' Alice said, trying to feel interested.
'No, you don't understand,' the Knight said, looking a little vexed. 'That's what the name is CALLED. The name really IS "THE AGED AGED MAN."'
'Then I ought to have said "That's what the SONG is called"?' Alice corrected herself.
'No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The SONG is called "WAYS AND MEANS": but that's only what it's CALLED, you know!'
'Well, what IS the song, then?' said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
'I was coming to that,' the Knight said. 'The song really IS "A-SITTING ON A GATE": and the tune's my own invention.'
#898 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:58 AM:

Lee @880: The dowels are smooth on the sides. The one I have in front of me is about 4 7/8" from base to point, and a little more than 3/16" in diameter (ok, 7/32"; I'm using a graphic arts 'Schaedler Precision Rule' to take the measurements).

I wouldn't want to sell the entire box (leaving me defenseless against the vampires), but I could probably manage 20, 30... if that were 'some' enough.

#899 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:06 AM:

Paul@888: The song in the trailer is The Beginning is the End is the Beginning by Smashing Pumpkins

Oh cool, and it's on Rhapsody! New playlist for today.

Yeah... goosebumpy just from seeing it on a 20 inch monitor. I can't imagine the impact that would have had on a big screen without warning.

I wasn't sure how they were going to package it. Watchmen isn't an action/adventure story, it's more like a slow death march of inevitability. That song seems about perfect.

I still doubt the story can be done justice in under 3 hours

After seeing the preview, my wife leans over and whispers, "Are they supposed to be the good guys or bad guys?" And I said something like, "yeah, that's an interesting question". So, if they can do that in a one minute preview, and my wife knows nothing about the comic book, then I think they have a possibility of making something that makes sense and is true to the original story in under three hours.

#900 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:12 AM:

Greg London @ 899... I think they have a possibility of making something that makes sense and is true to the original story in under three hours

My understanding is that the DVD will have some extra stuff, for example Gerald Butler in an expanded tale of the Black Freighter.

#901 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 11:31 AM:

No opinion on the whole silphium/testes/whatever controversy, but this is what the seed of Cardiospermum halicacabum looks like. It's the only thing I've ever seen in nature that maps almost perfectly to a playing-card heart. (I've grown this plant, btw, and the ones in the photo haven't been selected for their weird appearance; they all look like that. The white marking is the scar from where the seed was attached to the balloon-shaped seed capsule.) Alas, it's considered a noxious weed in several Southern states.

#902 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Rob, #898: Yes, let's talk. At this point we can take it off-group; I'll drop you an e-mail.

#903 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:14 PM:

A Send Karl Rove to Jail website, with 20,000 signers so far....


#904 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Well, here's a charming quote from radio host Michael Savage.

I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, "Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot."
(Via the "Say What?" section of the Doonesbury Daily Dose page.)

I'm narrowly avoiding violent rhetoric here (thanks again, heresiarch), but I will say this: deep within me there is a powerful urge to hurt this man as much as I can, for as long as it takes. I do not feel good about this.

I do feel good about saying that it's sure too bad no one ever told him those things. Or at least he didn't listen, since he's clearly a moron, a putz, and a screaming idiot.

Rozasharn 890: Well, since I can't find or remember my source, it would appear that I'm simply wrong. So yes, dropping it works for me! :-) But actually, sorry for pontificating without facts. I'm stupid that way sometimes.

Terry 893: Memory is so fungible.

Yes, and I need to treat mine with fungicide, clearly.

JimR 896: Not a source I can remember. It would appear that I'm simply wrong. It may have been wishful thinking, or outright invention, on the part of someone who told me that. Why I believed it isn't clear, except that I really like it. :-) And you're right, I meant Lupercalia. *sprays brain with fungicide*

Wesley 897: The Annotated Alice points out that when the Knight says "The song is" he really should burst into the song itself, to be consistent with his previous logic (if that is the correct term).

#905 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Oops. Gabriele Campbell already mentioned this jackhole in the other thread.

#906 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Xopher #904: Did you see the part of the same rant where he says that black children have asthma more often than white children because their parents tell them to fake it for profit?

#907 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:43 PM:

Ethan, no, actually I didn't read any more than I quoted. I don't think knowing more would contribute to my peace of mind, however. Is there any reasonably ethical action I can take to improve, however slightly, the chances that he'll end up living in a cardboard box, drinking Night Train, and yelling psychotically at passersby?

I don't think an outraged letter would mean much. I'm sure his radio station(s) think(s) he's just grand. Mailing him piles of dogshit would not be ethical. Organizing a campaign of people to communally gaslight him would be both unethical AND illegal.

In the absense of useful action, rage is wasted. I think I'll avoid it for now.

#908 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 12:57 PM:

Xopher@907 - generally, it seems the best way to show your disapproval of a radio host is to look up their sponsors and organize a boycot, letting them know that this is why you're boycotting. The problem comes from when all the advertisers are corporations that you would never actually support to begin with... which is often the case with conservative radio hosts, I would think. It's worth a try, anyway. You can at the very least pledge not to buy the things yourself, and send the sponsors a letter. You're right about the radio station itself not caring.

#909 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:21 PM:

Xopher #907: living in a cardboard box, drinking Night Train, and yelling psychotically at passersby

I was saddened to discover that Ripple is no longer produced. As I cannot bring myself to accept any substitute, I guess I'm going to have to come up with some other retirement strategy.

#910 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:27 PM:

Posting here in reference to the thread that shall not be opened. I am not trying to carry the discussion over here, so if you feel the need to talk about this, do it over at their site.

Here's a timely and relevant piece over at Freakonomics today: What is the Most Racist City in America? by Sudhir Venkatesh.

#911 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 01:56 PM:

Xopher, #907: ISTR a Wiccan friend, many years ago, talking about a "mirror spell" which would reflect negative energy back to the person sending it out. It seems to me that casting such a spell would be ethical, because in order for any harm to be done to the subject, he himself has to be attempting to do harm to others.

#912 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:20 PM:

Lee, yes, that's true, but I don't think it's ethical* to surround the person with one, which means I'd have to have permission from the people I'm trying to protect from him: an impossible task.

*For values of 'ethical' equivalent to 'in accordance with my oath', which oath prohibits targeting another person without their consent, unless they cannot communicate (in which case there are other means of including the subject's true will to accept or reject the magic in the working).

More generally, it's not ethical to interfere in someone's karma magically without their permission, or so I believe. Some think it's ethical to make someone get all their karma at once: I utterly reject this notion, because people work through their karma at their own pace, and it's a judgement of them to make them get it all at once.

Besides, it may be his karma to offend a psychopath and be murdered as a result. While this would not be a good outcome at all, it's also not one I want to interfere with (unless I know the psychopath's plans, in which case I would certainly interfere to the best of my ability).

#913 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:25 PM:

Debbie @ 872: In one of my kitchen cupboards, I have a set of the shaped-like-cornhusks corn-on-the-cob-butter-delivery-devices. Which I think my mom just called corn holders, but not with the same meaning as the yellow plastic metal-pronged corn holders, of which I still have a few in a drawer.

It's a wonder my childhood wasn't more confused...

#914 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Xopher @ 904: I'm narrowly avoiding violent rhetoric here

Thanks. I appreciate it, for what it's worth.

#915 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:46 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 813: [on corn holders]

Sadly, I must report that using the little corn stick things does not in fact prevent one from burning the roof of one's mouth. Drawback of the microwave method?

...but the corn, it was so tasty, I just couldn't wait!

Syd @ 913:

We had those two! Except they were ceramic, not plastic like Debbie's. Hee. Of course, I didn't know from kitsch. But as a childful commenter I have come to understand my tacky, vulgar place in the world. One can only accept one's destiny. :)

#916 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 02:51 PM:

ethan #906: My younger brother suffered from asthma during his childhood and early teens. I'd love to apply a clue-by-four to Mr Savage. Unfortunately, as my father used to say 'if you put a fool in a mortar and pound him, him come out di same fool'.

#917 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 03:08 PM:

Ralph Giles (915): Yeah, the corn holder thingies only prevent one from burning one's fingers. The roof of the mouth is still vulnerable. But I refuse to eat corn on the cob with a knife and fork. (I do have *some* standards. :)

#918 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 03:38 PM:

Xopher@840: This page on making an anatomically correct heart dessert (of gelatin, mostly) contains a pointer to a supplier of anatomically-correct molds. FWIW.

#919 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 03:44 PM:

Xopher @ 904

Oh, damn, shades of Bruno Bettelheim's Refrigerator Mother theory of autism. My partner had the bad luck to be a Special Ed teacher to classes of emotionally disturbed and developmentally delayed children (including several severe autism cases) back when Bettelheim's "ideas" were received wisdom in the clinical community. May his non-existent soul rot in non-existent hell.

#920 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 03:49 PM:

AFLAC pulls its ads from Savage's radio program.

#921 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 03:57 PM:

Syd #913:

We always called the pronged gadgets "corn stickers", which is at least descriptive. Our corn stickers are little lathe-turned-looking pieces of wood with what I can only describe as flat sporks.

#922 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:00 PM:

Hmmm . . . Savage's bleats are stirring up memories.

In Niven & Pournelle's "Inferno," the characters run into a teacher condemned to hell (false advisors . . . the circle where crap comes from your mouth) for diagnosing students as dyslexic.

Because, uh, there's no such thing as dyslexia I guess, just teachers being lazy. And come to think of it, the same book suggests that insane people will snap out of it if you torture them enough.

Do a lot of conservatives think like that?

Is it curable?

#923 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:11 PM:

In a just world, doctors would be so insulted by Mr. Savage (since he thinks anyone can get them to diagnose autism or asthma by simply screaming or faking a cough) that he would be unable to obtain medical care. Alas, there is a medical code of ethics that forbids denying treatment to assholes. (Similarly, I have heard it suggested that people who don't believe in evolution should be ineligible for the flu shot, since if the virus doesn't evolve they have nothing to worry about.)

#924 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:12 PM:

Stefan Jones@922

Was there an actual suggestion that dyslexia didn't exist or was it simply that the teacher was diagnosing (because it was more convenient) some students as dyslexic who really weren't?

(I definitely recall the diagnosing non-dyslexic students as dyslexic part, don't remember well enough to say whether there was an actual suggestion of the non-existence of dyslexia.)

#925 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:16 PM:

Stefan Jones: Do a lot of conservatives think like that? Is it curable?

Only with a strict vegan diet, accompanied by aura cleansing, homeopathic tinctures and meditations led by Gaiattuned Channelers.

Can we dial back the stereotyping just a bit?

#926 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:24 PM:

#925: What stereotyping? I was asking a question.

#927 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 04:45 PM:

Stefan - sorry, I took that as the opening volley in the perennial all conservatives are evil vs all liberals are stupid battle cries. Apologies if that wasn't the intent.

#928 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 05:07 PM:

Lila @ 923

(Similarly, I have heard it suggested that people who don't believe in evolution should be ineligible for the flu shot, since if the virus doesn't evolve they have nothing to worry about.)

I imagine you were just bringing this up rather than specifically putting it forward, but that argument makes my brain itch.

I'm not a ID person or anything... but this is one of those 'lol' ideas that IDers themselves actually pull out all the time to show how 'ignorant' evolutionists are. Most IDers believe in "microevolution" as they put it (slight changes over time within a species) which account for things like people becoming able to digest milk or the flu virus changing from year to year. They just don't buy the idea that many of the earth's species evolved from a common ancestor through natural selection.

I've never actually met or even seen on the internet an ID-er who didn't hedge his bets with the 'microevolution' thing. So I wish people would drop the no flu shot argument... it's outdated, and prevents us focusing on better-targeted tactics. Know your enemy, or something like that.

Bah. Sorry to rant.

#929 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 05:07 PM:

Ambar 918: Bwahahah! I mean, thank you very much! I can see both that and the brain having a million uses...

Linkmeister 920: Bwahahah! I mean...actually I think I mean Bwahahah!

Stefan 922: Wow, yet another reason not to read Niven and Pournelle. Kinda like dropping weights on Titanic though.

the same book suggests that insane people will snap out of it if you torture them enough...Is it curable?

No, but I'm having a nasty violent "karma fantasy" right now.

#930 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 05:12 PM:

#925 Lance
You forgot the neti pot!

#931 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 06:53 PM:

Linkmeister, #920: The page now has an update. Super Talk FM has announced that it has canceled Savage's radio show on all of its Mississippi stations because of his comments on autism.

Who's got the pool for how quickly he starts bleating about "censorship" and "political correctness"? Because I want in for within 24 hours.

#932 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:17 PM:

Fragano #916: My younger brother suffered from asthma during his childhood and early teens.

So did I. Clearly mine was real and your brother's was faked. Um...right?

if you put a fool in a mortar and pound him, him come out di same fool

This I like.

Lila #923: Alas, there is a medical code of ethics that forbids denying treatment to assholes.

[Insert proctologist joke here. On second though, don't insert it there.]

#933 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:19 PM:

Oh, by the way, the new Batman movie? Completely brilliant. Blew me away.

#934 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:56 PM:

Lee @ #931, That's kind of fascinating. Both AFLAC and the radio stations have worked on behalf of autistic children and are using that work to explain their decisions. Good for them.

Now I wonder how many other stations that carry Savage have held fundraisers for various causes and how soon it will be before he says something to belittle those causes too.

Maybe soon he'll have offended every potential group of station owners and advertisers there are, and he'll have to close up shop!

#935 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 07:59 PM:

Paula @ 930, what's so flaky about a neti pot? They're great for people with pollen and dust allergies -- rinsing the allergens out mechanically is a pretty good ameliorative measure.

#936 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 08:12 PM:

ethan #932: Somehow I doubt it!

#937 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 08:23 PM:

#933 ethan: I, er, found the new Batman movie tedious. Not bad, or anything, but not something I'd recommend people see on the big screen. But then, despite my love of Batman and action flicks in general, I didn't much care for the first one, either.

Only mentioning it because everyone else on the internet is singing its praises and without black there is no white, surely someone must be thinking "Nothing can be all good, when does the other shoe drop" so voila I'm the other shoe, go forth ye fluorospherians and rejoice in Bat-y-ness.

#938 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 08:38 PM:

Madeline F @ 937

You give me the courage to admit that I don't plan on seeing The Dark Knight because after seeing Batman Begins I had no idea if it was a good movie or not. The subsonics in the soundtrack had given me such a headache by halfway into the movie that none of it got out of short-term memory. Too bad; I usually like Christopher Nolan's work, but I'm staying away from the Batman movies for my health's sake.

#939 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 08:40 PM:

Fragano @ 917

I like the Iraqi version: "If you put a fool in a mortar and fire him at the Green Zone, they'll call you a terrorist, but he's still a fool."

#940 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) #939: Not a bad rewrite!

#941 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:33 PM:

Xopher @ somewhere up there - you blowing snootiness out your nose onto my latte-swilling street cred had me in stitches. Hahaha. But I don't care if they're kitsch; they're practical and I find it neat that they're corn-shaped, so there. (And K-Mart don't suck, neither.)

In re Avatar fannishness -- big fans here in our house; I love the writing on that show. I haven't seen most of seasons 2 and 3, because we eschewed cable for about a year, but nf sne nf V xabj, Mhxb'f zbgure jnf onavfurq ol uvf sngure -- zvffvat naq cebonoyl qrnq; Nmhyn unyyhpvangrf ure. I figure it's reason for a hypothetical season 4, which I hope they'll go for. (But I hoped they'd somehow continue Teen Titans, too. And No Soap Radio. And Max Headroom. They never listen to me.)

In re the Dark Knight -- damn you all; it doesn't open here in Puerto Rico until this coming weekend, for some reason. (Lack of theater capacity, I believe; there have simply been too many blockbusters this year.) Ditto Space Chimps, which my son really wanted to see last week.

In re Savage and autism/asthma - Xopher, I second your inner violent rhetorician. Given that I regard both diseases as signs of the same autoimmune epidemic that affects my son's kidneys and expressed in my daughter as Crohn's Disease, I really wish ... well. Let's just leave it at that. He's definitely part of the problem, though.

Also, in general: yay ICD-10! Anybody here heard of AGFA's ORBIS software for hospitals? I'm translating a lot of their documentation. This week it was coding.

#942 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:45 PM:

There is a certain irony in using your cell phone in place of a lighter at a concert when the song in question is "Amish Paradise".

Even if it is a Weird Al concert.

That is all.

#943 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 09:53 PM:

FWIW, today's APoD was Matt's Dancing.
Sometimes their definition of 'astronomy' is ... strange.

#944 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 10:06 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 916:

Unfortunately, as my father used to say 'if you put a fool in a mortar and pound him, him come out di same fool'.

Yeah, but if you pound him hard enough, you can soak him up with a sponge and squeeze him down the drain.

Oh, wait--your father was speaking figuratively, wasn't he?

#945 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 10:45 PM:

We use those corncob skewers with corn on the cob too.

But we sprinkle the corn with lime and chili -- no butter or salt allowed. Ah, the memories of childhood and our grown in the garden, pulled off the stalks, and cooked within minutes corn on the cob.

Did anyone else have one of the those plunger corn on the cob butter spreaders that have the top scooped to slide nicely over and around the cob, with little holes through which the butter is pushed by the plunger? They were always yellow, of course. In summers it was so warm the butter was always soft enough to just slide through like little bitty worms. We kids loved them.

Love, C.

#949 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:30 AM:

Singing Wren #942: using your cell phone in place of a lighter at a concert

That same technique works for flagging down taxis at night, and also for navigating in the dark during a power failure.

#950 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:46 AM:

'Abi Versary to you,
'Abi Versary to you,
'Abi Versary dear [assume a sonnet here ending with "Abi" that references moderation, moving, abivelds, zombies, libraries, and a hidden 'This is just to Say' anagram]
'Abi Versary to you!

#951 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:51 AM:


I had Jamaican BBQ chicken with sweet sauce, cole slaw, bread roll, and Ting for lunch today -- a fabulous hole-in-the-wall place near my new job. I anticipate many return visits, and a moment of thanksgiving at each one for all of the good people I've met, online and off, from that part of the world.

Which is to say, thanks for being such a consistently gentle and humane part of what makes Making Light so extraordinary.

(Now, if only I could find a decent poutine in the SF Bay Area. I'm sure Serge could make many puns about it.)

#952 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:59 AM:

I see PJ Evans @ #943 has beaten me to it - Dancing Matt is today's APOD selection.

I've always like APOD's oddball mix of links in their captions, and for this oddball video they've outdone themselves!

#953 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:49 AM:

## 922 and 924:

My father worked in education, including some years in the seventies with what might be called a high school class where special supervision was needed (I'm not quite sure what to call it in English - sort of extra care and extra discipline simultaneously). He later claimed that in his opinion there was for a while a disposition in education to diagnose all kinds of student problems as dyslexia, even when the student's problems might have other causes. I do not know if such might have been the trend in other countries as well.

(I hope I'm not sticking my head out, by the way (education debates sometimes bring out a lot of emotion), because when I mentioned this at a fan gathering in my country I got yelled at for giving a reactionary comment, since it was better that the kids in question got extra attention for the wrong reasons than no extra attention at all. Well, I can se the logic of that, but I still think it is even better to give the right special attention for the right reasons. Anyway, my father was in general respected by his former pupils, so I guess he did some things right.)


#954 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:00 AM:

Karl T @ 951... It never o-curd to me that poutine, even an indecent one, could be found in the Bay Area. This is a gravy assumption I must fry to remedy next time I go.

Poutine (Quebec French pronunciation putsɪn (help·info)) is a dish consisting of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy and sometimes other additional ingredients. [1] The freshness of the curds is important as it makes them soft in the warm fries, without completely melting. It is a quintessential Canadian comfort food, especially but not exclusively among Québécois.
#955 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:24 AM:

Per Chr. J. @953--
It's been a good many years since I did my teacher's training, but between that and the work I've done since in a government disability program, I have to agree with your father. It's a sign of either lazy, sloppy work, or else diagnosis-by-fad, neither of which does the child in question any good. Calling all learning problems "dyslexia" is as non-helpful as diagnosing all childhood behavior problems as ADHD.

Of course, that still leaves us with those who are determined to believe that all of these problems are simply the result of laziness, poor discipline and bad attitude. One could, alas, wear out a gross of clue-bats on them, and still not make a dent.

#956 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:06 AM:

Per Chr. J. and fidelio

I agree with both of you and with Per Chr. J.'s father (and especially with fidelio about the cluebat). One of the reasons for overdiagnosis like that is that when you've just invented the hammer, even things you're not going to be pounding on look like nails (cats, fireplugs, your Grandmother). It's like faddism, only even more persistent and pernicious. So for a while there, autism was "obviously" a form of schizophrenia, and. somewhat earlier, PTSD in women as a result of sexual abuse was "hysteria" (there were of course, other, and more sinister, reasons for that last one, as well).

#957 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:13 AM:

Gelukkige Verjaardag, abi !!!

#958 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:23 AM:

Joyeux quinzième anniversaire de mariage, Abi!

#959 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:33 AM:

People seem to be comforted by labels, including diagnoses. Of course it's a fallacy to believe that if you have a diagnosis, you automatically have a solution, but that's what people often hope.

Before there was ADD there was "Minimal Brain Dysfunction", a label my clin psych supervisors were very reluctant to assign. At best, it was descriptive, without clarifying anything, including suggesting useful interventions.

Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum fünfzehnten Hochzeitstag, abi!

#960 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:38 AM:

Leah Miller @ #928, noted. I wasn't actually "putting it forward", as you say. But I frequently meet people whose opinions on evolution don't reach even ID levels of sophistication. (And who also believe, for example, that "the weather hasn't been right since we sent those people to the moon.")

Fortunately, they're mostly abandoning the public schools rather than trying to keep the rest of us from learning anything.

#961 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:28 AM:

Bruce, #956: I hate hate HATE disease fads with a passion. Not only does the backlash make it harder on people who really do have the disorder in question, but the practice feeds into the trend of labeling behavior that's well within the human-normal range as some "syndrome" or other, and from there into intolerance for any kind of normal diversity.

#962 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:31 AM:

Happy anniversary, Abi!

Serge @954: Oh, God. It is verging on ten months since last I ate poutine, and the spirit grows weak. There is a Canadian pub in London, the Maple Leaf, that purports to serve poutine, but they make it with cheese, not cheese curds. Accursed heathens.

Oh, for the squeaking of fresh curds!

#963 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:34 AM:

Re 962: Quick! We need an emergency airlift from Wisconsin!

#964 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:52 AM:

Tlönista @ 962... It is verging on ten months since last I ate poutine

And it's been four years for me. Maybe Ginger's Wisconsin airlift can make a detour to Albuquoique.

#965 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:07 PM:

Lila @ 960

My grandmother's line - she was, I think, joking - was 'We never had weather like this before Nixon went to China'.

#966 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Serge @964: For several years I ran a cheese curds for roasted hatch chiles exchange program with my relatives in Wisconsin. Then my wife declared them off-limits after my daughters devoured an entire bag of fresh curds in one sitting...*sigh*

#967 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Lance Weber @ 966... my wife declared them off-limits after my daughters devoured an entire bag of fresh curds in one sitting

That sounds like something I too would have a hard time resisting. You can well imagine how I felt in the early 1990s when I drove thru Tillamook and visiting a place that was making cheese curds in large metal containers.

Oh, the humanity!

#968 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:40 PM:

Ralph Giles @ 881

"Hooray, more Big Meow!"

Thanks for the heads-up - I've been checking periodically, but at longer and longer intervals. Now I need to subscribe (I'd mentally decided to do so when the next chapter came up - just before it went into its loooooong hiatus).

Saltation, on the other hand, is still moving along quite nicely (although there was no chapter this Monday). It's going to be good to compare original drafts to finished volumes when these are published.

#969 ::: Trip the Space Parasite ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 01:24 PM:

If any of the people longing for (or dreading) cheese curds is in the San Francisco Bay area, the Milk Pail market in Mountain View (corner of California and San Antonio, roughly) sells them. I presume they're real cheese curds, since they do squeak.

#970 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 01:29 PM:

I also want to say thanks to Ralph Giles for post #881, because I didn't know about the Big Meow, or the cat-based spinoff novels of the Young Wizards Series.

My to-read list just got a LOT longer. (And no, that isn't remotely a complaint!)

#971 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 01:37 PM:

For all my disagreements with Jerry's politics, and my different disagreements with Larry's, I think that's a misreading of the text.

Because I know that Larry does believe in dyslexia. So I find it hard to believe he'd say it doesn't exist. As I recall the passage it was for using a convenient diagnosis to shoehhorn students away from real help which was being condemned.

As I recall things (being in middle school when Inferno came out) that was happening.

#972 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Wow, 15 years. Obviously het abiveld has no effect on marriages!

Happy Anniversary, abi!

On poutine: I have never eaten it. Is there such a thing as vegetarian poutine, or would that be a travesty? I'm asking only because I was astonished to be told there was vegetarian haggis.

#973 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:13 PM:

Xopher: Depends on whether your vegetarianism excludes cheese. Vegetarian gravy is vaguely possible, but tofu curds would miss a lot of the point. :)

#974 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:17 PM:

Mazel tov to abi and her spouse!

#975 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:22 PM:

Xopher @ 972: For what it's worth, I regularly make a vegetarian poutine-like dinner. Microwave-cooked potatoes (instead of fries), gravy made from vegetarian stock, part-skim mozzarella instead of curds (no squeak, but some texture nevertheless). It's not the "real thing", but it's tasty and reasonably nutritious, and has a lot less fat than real poutine.

#976 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:27 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer #944: YOMANK

#977 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:32 PM:

R. M. Koske @ 970: You're welcome. I haven't read the main Young Wizards series, but the cat novels are great fun.

#978 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:43 PM:

The ad on the captive audience screen, for which I saw only the last screen:
'... Warren Buffett is NOT Jimmy's brother!'

#979 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 02:52 PM:

Trader Joe's sometimes carries cheese curds too.

Meanwhile, fluorospheres.

#980 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:25 PM:

I just ran across a piece of information that I'm not sure I trust, and I'm not sure how to investigate.

My coping habits for dealing with my gluten intolerance are not working as well as I'd like, so I was surfing for information about hidden gluten. I ran across an article that includes tea as an unexpected source of gluten. According to this, the glue in tea bags is often wheat-based.

I just sent an email to Celestial Seasonings asking about it, but now I'm wondering if I'm being too credible. Being gluten-intolerant seems to be an exercise in paranoia - how much is enough without falling over the edge into craziness?

I'm feeling especially paranoid today because I'm freshly glutened and I have no idea what did it to me. The most suspicious meal I ate was on Monday at lunch, but my symptoms usually take less than 24 hours to show up. Everything else I've eaten in the last day has been familiar (though that's no guarantee regarding a restaurant meal, and I did have one yesterday.)

Help me, guys. If nothing else, I'd love some sympathy, but any solid suggestions on what to do with this new and horrifying info would be really welcome, too.

#981 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Ugh, gluten intolerance is a real pain. I completely understand how it would make one paranoid.

I have no idea about tea bags. All I can think is: wheat starch glue is water soluable, so (a) you'd get some very small amount of gluten that way but (b) it would come apart pretty quickly. Maybe cut one open, dump out the tea, and leave one in water for an hour or two to see what happens?

#982 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:43 PM:

P J Evans @ 965

I think the trouble with the weather started because he didn't stay there.

#983 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Buon anniversario, abi!

#984 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 03:59 PM:

Xopher #904:

The problem isn't that he's an a--hole, the problem is, being an a--hole is his job . Saying outrageous crap is what he gets paid for, why he isn't stocking shelves at the local Wal-Mart. His job is to keep the outrage and offense at a fever pitch, without quite triggering either advertiser pullouts or mob violence.

I suspect that it would be very hard to have that kind of job, and remain a nice or decent person. If your job is to be offensive and hurtful, and "success" is causing more outrage and outcry, it seems like you're going to develop a great deal of intuition on how to upset people, how to get the radio version of a big flamewar going. You're going to get good at hurting people and upsetting people. This pretty much can't be good for you, as a person.

I also suspect that if this guy gets his plug pulled, he will be replaced with another just like him. Maybe that will have some good effect, but it sure won't cure the disease.

abi: Happy anniversary!

#985 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:05 PM:

Lee @ 961

I agree completely. Unfortunately, there's yet another bad consequence of fad diagnosis: any symptom that doesn't fit into either a previously recognized disorder, or a current fad, is ignored (usually by labelling it as "idiosyncratic", or pretending it just isn't there), so people with real problems go undiagnosed, or get a different diagnosis per diagnostician. This is what happened to clinical depression for a long time; doctors wanted to give people who presented with depression the "Lucy van Pelt diagnosis": "It's all in your head, so snap out of it. Five cents, please." Now, of course, it's a fad, because diagnosing it sells huge quantities of antidepressants.

Note: I'm not saying that depression shouldn't be diagnosed in many cases; I suffered from it myself for years and didn't even know it until I was prescribed a drug that is also a mild antidepressant for something else altogether. It's just that I think that antidepressants are way oversold as a magic bullet against all kinds of mental and emotional problems. And in fact, there are some cases of depression for which antidepressants are very definitely contra-indicated; those are the ones most at risk for suicidal ideation induced, or at least enhanced, by the drugs.

#986 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:29 PM:

R Koske @ 979:

I would be surprised if all tea bags used the same glue (even if we ignore Mighty Leaf, whose tea bags are sewn closed). I see two options, and am not sure whether one is more work than the other. The first is to write to all the companies that make tea you either like, or are likely to be served (if you drink caffeinated teas in diners or many other restaurants in the U.S., include Lipton). The other is to give up on tea bags altogether, buy loose tea, and brew it in a pot or in one of those little metal or plastic holders.

Doing the latter all the time will complicate your life, certainly. I mostly use loose tea at home. A good Assam, bought loose in bulk, works out cheaper per cup than any tolerable tea in bags, because with tea bags you're paying for the convenience. This is why I'm mostly using tea bags at the office.

Carrying my own tea bags can also be a bit of a nuisance, but it gives me more control over what I drink when I travel, and it's easier to slip a couple of Irish breakfast tea bags into a coat pocket than to travel with loose tea and a strainer, and then to deal with the strainer full of warm damp leaves on a bus or train.

#987 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Lifeis going pear-shaped again, with my mother being rushed to hospital this evening (US readers should note that I'm British, and we have the NHS, and no families are about to be bankrupted).

There is a possibility that much can be sorted by an adjustment of her medications. There is also a possibility of more serious problems.

It doesn't help my current mood that a planned urgent admission was so delayed that it turned into an emergency. Jim, however, gave me many clues what to watch for. Thanks.

My mother is 82. This means even minor problems can be majorly awkward. But isn't medical oxygen wonderful.

#988 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:44 PM:

#980, Ralph -

Hey, that's a good idea!

#985, Vicki -

I do think I'd have to write to all the companies I plan to buy from, you're right. I think that's my biggest frustration with being gluten-intolerant. I have to investigate and ask about *everything*, but I'm mostly asking people who don't have the foggiest idea what I'm talking about. I don't like that this is something I can't do on my own. I need the goodwill and intelligence of other people, and even when I get that, I can't trust them because most people simply have no reason to know all the intricacies of the situation.

I was planning to branch out to loose teas soon as my palate advanced, but I suppose I'll do it sooner rather than later. It also occurs to me that I can vet a few companies for safe tea bags and then carry those bags with me.

#986, Dave Bell -

I'll be thinking good thoughts for you and your family.

#989 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:46 PM:

Dave Bell

Good luck to you and your mother; I hope this turns out to be easily treatable, and that she comes home soon.

It's true that a lot of the medical treatment we require as we get older involves fiddling with the dosages and combinations of the medicines we have to take. The last time my blood pressure medication stopped working without warning it took 2 months and 4 visits to the doctor just to get a combination that worked right, then adjusting dosage took another 2 months. So maybe that's all it is.

#990 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 04:49 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ #984: interesting recent research tags at least some depression as being due to a misplaced inflammatory response; this may explain why antidepressants work for some people and not for others.

#991 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:00 PM:

Dave Bell @986:
Best of luck to your mother. I know people run the NHS down rather a lot, but they do provide very good care. Please keep us posted on how it goes, because we're thinking of you.

#992 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:35 PM:

Dave, best wishes to your mom. I hope the problem turns out to be readily fixable.

#993 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:36 PM:

Dave Bell #982: Best of luck to your mother.

#994 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:38 PM:

abi: Happy anniversary!

#995 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:42 PM:

R.M. Koske: Perhaps, instead of making tea with teabags, you could make your tea from loose-leaf tea in a tea-ball. You can find tea-balls in supermarkets or at specialty shops like Teavana (in Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza and Perimeter Mall -- you are in Smyrna, if I recall correctly) or online at You can obtain an array of herbal teas from Teavana as well, I recommend them highly.

#996 ::: Alberto ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:07 PM:

abi: ¡Feliz aniversario!

Dave Bell @ 986: Good luck and a swift recovery to your mother.

#997 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:43 PM:

Abi: Cothrom an lae shona duit!

Dave Bell: Best wishes to your mom for a rapid recovery, and to your family for good news "Real Soon Now".

#998 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 07:03 PM:

abi: Herzliche Glückwünsche!

Dave Bell: My best wishes that a readjustment of her medication will lead to a speedy recovery. Try to make sure that she is kept properly hydrated (my mother-in-law, roughly the same age, always became a bit dehydrated when in hospital, because she drank far too little in the unfamiliar surroundings).

Regarding the poutine: I am not sure what cheese curd is, but wikipedia tells me that cottage cheese is a kind of curd. It does "squeak", but then I cannot imagine cottage cheese being hard to find anywhere - so is real curd something much different?

#999 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 07:49 PM:

Dave Bell, best wishes to your mother and all your family.

abi, many-many-many happy returns of the day.

A brief sort of highjack; occasional ML poster JD 'Dusty' Rhoades' fourth novel, BREAKING COVER, has been released today. The Virtual Release Party is spinning wildly at

All in the Lumosphere are invited. Bring friends, enemies and complete strangers.

Virtual delicacies, literati and glitterati abound. Be sure to try the (heh, heh, heh) 'habanero chicken chili.' At least, everyone says the monitor lizards taste like chicken . . .

#1000 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:48 PM:

Dave Bell, all bright blessings for a speedy recovery for your mom.

#1001 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:19 PM:

Jörg Raddatz @997: This kind of cheese curd is firmer than cottage cheese -- think of the way good cheddar crumbles into rounded pieces. That's curd shape. It squeaks because it's firmer.

#1002 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:49 AM:

abi Happy Anniversary!

Dave Bell, I hope things work out well for your mom.

Lila, #989, and all the meds suggested to deal with it would kill me.

#1003 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:53 PM:

Re: tea bags - You can buy boxes of empty tea bags. The brand I have is called "T-Sac" and appears to be all one piece of paper, with no glue. There are also reuseable ones - nylon, I think? - with perforations so you can thread it on a stick and balance it over the top of your cup.

#1004 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Batting 1000, I see...

Ralph Giles @915:
eat the corn raw. Works for me... of course I generally consider butter to be "ew, loose fat".

Terry Karney @971:
as someone who was originally declared retarded by lazy teachers (kindergarten got it right: I was bored to tears by what the other kids were doing — but give me a newspaper and I'd happily read instead of disrupting the class), I can certainly understand that.

In fact, since I don't recall being utterly incensed with that part of Inferno, I have to guess it was reasonably obvious or at least easily understood in that way.

#1005 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 12:23 AM:

Re: Inferno:

"You were a good teacher! You taught Hal more in a year than he learned in five!"

"I was a good teacher with good pupils. But I could not be bothered with the ones who weren't so bright. If they had trouble learning to read, I said they had dyslexia."

"Are you here because of bad diagnoses?" This was monstrous!

"Dyslexia is not a diagnosis, Mr. Carpentier. It is a prediction. It is a prediction that says that this child can never learn to read. And with that prediction on his record -- why, strangely enough, none of them ever do. Unless they happen on a teacher who doesn't believe in educationese witchcraft."

#1006 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 08:05 AM:

Shadowsong -

Thanks for your suggestion I knew about those kinds of things, and had forgotten they existed.

My current plan is to buy some caffeinated loose tea (all I have that is loose right now is decaf and I know I'll go back to bags if I don't get something with a higher octane) and drink that while I investigate the stuff I have in bags to see if I can confirm it as gluten-free.

And to everyone else who commented on it, if I didn't say so, thanks. I appreciate you taking the time to think about my troubles and offer me help.

#1007 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 08:21 AM:

Bah. Wrong open thread.

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