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November 23, 2008

Open thread 116
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:15 PM *

Dhammapada chapter 9, on evil, verse 116:

Be quick in doing
what is admirable.
Restrain your mind
from what is evil.
When you’re slow
in making merit,
evil delights the mind.

Commentary by Buddhaghosa:

In Savatthi there lived a poor brahmin with his wife. They had only one piece of outer garment, so only one of them could go out at one time. They were lay disciple of the Buddha and wanted to hear as many of his discourses as possible. So the brahmin would go to the monastery at night and his wife during the day. Once the brahmin was listening to the Buddha and he felt very strong wish to perform meritorious deeds. He wanted to offer his only piece of cloth to the Buddha. But he realized that he and his wife would have nothing to wear then. So his mind wavered and he hesitated. Finally during the last hours of the night he offered his cloth to the Buddha, saying, “I win!”

The king of Kosala, Pasenadi, was also present, and when he heard the brahmin he sent messengers to ask why he shouted, “I win!” When he learned the brahmin’s story, he was very much impressed and decided to give him a reward. He ordered the brahmin be offered a new piece of cloth. The brahmin gave that piece also to the Buddha. The king gave him two pieces of cloth, which were again offered to the Buddha. Pasenadi again doubled the number of clothes; the brahmin again gave them to the Buddha. So at the end the king gave him thirty-two pieces of cloth, the brahmin kept one for himself, one for his wife, and remaining thirty he again offered to the Buddha.

The king was so much impressed that he decided to reward the brahmin further. He gave him two pieces of very expensive velvet cloth. The brahmin made two canopies out of them, kept one for himself and his wife and the second one he offered to the Buddha. The king then saw the canopy in the monastery and realized that the brahmin has done a meritorious deed again. So he decided to reward him even more.

Some monks wondered how it was possible that in this case a good deed brings good results so quickly. The Buddha replied, that had the brahmin offered his garment immediately when the idea occurred to him, his reward would have been much greater. He then added this verse, saying that if one wants to perform meritorious deeds, one should do so quickly, without hesitation. If one thinks about it too long, then maybe it becomes impossible to do anything at all, because the mind delights in evil.

Translations of the Dhammapada here, here, here for language learners and here, in rhyme.

More detailed version of the commentary here.

Although the story bears superficial resemblance to that of Saint Martin of Tours, the details and meanings of the two stories are sufficiently different that there is probably no cross-cultural influence.

Now go forth and do good, quickly.

Comments on Open thread 116:
#1 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:39 PM:

No 116 connection, but there are some numbers here:

My body has changed shape enough that it seems that pants marketed as "men's" are more likely to fit me than pants marketed as "women's". What I know so far is that a tape measure says I have a 37-inch waist, 42-inch hips, and a 28-inch inseam; size 36/30 of Levi's 505s fits me except that I'll need to shorten them; and Levi's 501s have too short a rise, and thus are tight in the crotch.

Based on that, what else seems likely to fit? I expect to do a bunch of trying on, of course, but am trying to minimize the frustration and wasted time.

Broadly speaking, I'm looking for reasonably solid and not particularly flashy clothes that I can wear to an office whose idea of "business casual" sometimes includes jeans. I want at least one pair in basic black. I have almost no pants suited for winter, so that's a priority (also, it's already November, so I need to get warm pants before they vanish from stores).

#2 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:54 PM:

Vicki, I'd say try the Cherokee brand of men's casual pants found at Target. Black, khaki, and navy, and my housemate of similar proportions (she's maybe one size down from you) finds them comfortable and well suited for her "business casual" call center job.

They're a year-round weight of twill, not especially warm for winter, but not horrible either.

#3 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 06:05 PM:

I'm sitting at my desk, waiting for my partner to bring emergency pants. I carried a patient* from the ICU to the OR and got peed on, and the lab coat does what lab coats always do in such situations: totally ignore their job description and allow external forces to act upon my clothing. At least it wasn't blood or something less pleasant than urine.

Let me just say that these scrub pants don't fit me the way they used to, and that is not a good thing. This is another reason for the requested delivery. Also, I have been promised a delivery of dinner, which although unexpected, is entirely appreciated.

*Not doing well, which is why he remains in the OR on a ventilator. We may be here all night.

#4 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 06:38 PM:

Abi, I'm always impressed by the detail and eloquence of your Open Thread posts. Especially since your audience would be off and running if you only wrote "Oh dear, I seemed to have dropped my hat".

#5 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 06:48 PM:

John @ #4, for me it's even more than what you said. I'm always educated. I've never heard that tale or read that verse (despite two years in Japan I've never talked Buddhism with any practitioners).

#6 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 06:57 PM:

Vicki - I've found that the Tommy Hilfigger clothing lines seem to be designed for women with minimal differences in their waist and hip measurements. I can't wear them at all - I'm very hourglass shaped, and it's ridiculous looking to have your pants stand out an inch and a half from your waist all the way around. But they may be perfectly cut for you.

#7 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 07:03 PM:

Oh, good! An open thread!

Now if I can only remember what it was I wanted to say, earlier today. Darn.

#8 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 07:23 PM:

Vicki, if men's sizes fit you well, for business casual try the men's Calvin Klein twill jeans; Costco carries them sometimes. I know, I know, Calvin Klein, but they're jeans-cut yet look like dress slacks, and are super-comfortable.

#9 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 07:32 PM:

Vicki: These days, I can't even find a 28-inch inseam (in men's pants) in the stores. The closest I've seen were Dockers', at 29 inches. (And I'm not that short, dammit!)

I haven't checked out the manufacturer sites, though -- they may well have more range.

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 07:51 PM:

Ginger @ 3... these scrub pants don't fit me the way they used to

Amazingly, my pants still fit and haven't reached the 'snug' setting yet, in spite of my not going to the gym due to my wife's surgery, and in spite of my mom-in-law being here for over one week, thus causing me to ingest more and richer food than I'm used to.

#11 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 08:48 PM:

I tend to buy my trousers at the better local used-clothing stores. Because with the variety of styles on the rack, and by searching through a range of nominal waist sizes within a few inches of my real measurement, I can usually find a couple of pairs that don't require more alteration than shortening the legs. Trying to buy trousers at a regular clothing store is usually merely an exercise in frustration, of which there is already too much in my life.

#12 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 08:48 PM:

This article is about Tor books and libertarians, and quotes Patrick:

http://www.reason.com/news/show/129996.html

I saw it on Neil Gaiman's blog, and since no one has linked it here as far as I know, I mention in case anyone is interested.

#13 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 08:51 PM:

One has to wonder how the brahmin of the story squandered his educational and caste advantages to become so extremely poor, and how he could rationalize indulging his charity addiction to the exclusion of properly caring for his family's needs.

#14 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 09:20 PM:

re: the "Somebody send these guys a liturgical calendar" Particle, that really looks like a flaming cross to me, which I don't think is quite the message it's intended to send.

::sigh::

#15 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 09:25 PM:

Earl, above, beat me to the punch - although I don't think educational and social class advantages always trump. If they did, I'd be a lot richer. In fact, I think it's quite interesting that ancient India evidently had downward mobility and/or some lack of overlap between social class and material wealth, to the extent, at least, that this story can just begin with "In Savatthi there lived a poor brahmin with his wife..." and not with the explication of how exactly a brahmin gets to be poor.

#16 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 09:34 PM:

So Wyatt Mason of Harpers is "disturbingly attracted to" the first sentence of A Canticle for Leibowitz by "the purity of its awfulness... coupled with its naked, flailing whorish ambition to seduce."

The sentence is this: "Brother Francis Gerard of Utah might never have discovered the blessed documents, had it not been for the pilgrim with girded loins who appeared during that young novice’s Lenten fast in the desert."

Mason compares it unfavorably with the first sentence of Moll Flanders: "My true name is so well known in the records or registers at Newgate, and in the Old Bailey, and there are some things of such consequence still depending there, relating to my particular conduct, that it is not be expected I should set my name or the account of my family to this work; perhaps, after my death, it may be better known; at present it would not be proper, no not though a general pardon should be issued, even without exceptions and reserve of persons or crimes."

He prefers the flourishes of the latter to the "bald details" of the former, for reasons he doesn't think it necessary to give.

I like them both, myself. But then I like the actual opening sentence of The Dispossessed and Samuel Delaney's de-flourished version. I am baffled as to why Mason thinks the Canticle sentence is inarguably bad -- perhaps because A Canticle for Leibowitz is disreputable literature that hasn't aged the 250 years necessary to be appreciated by respectable folks? (Mason makes sure we know he didn't buy or borrow it, but found it on a gas pump as he was filling his tank. He doesn't tell us what effort, if any, he made to find the owner.)

#17 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 09:39 PM:

Magenta Griffith at #12 writes:

> This article is about Tor books and libertarians, > and quotes Patrick:
>
> http://www.reason.com/news/show/129996.html

That's an interesting article, but one I'm not too comfortable with - it seems to be trying to grab a lot of things I wouldn't define as libertarian, and appropriate their virtues and reputation in the name of libertarianism.

It maybe that my definition of libertarianism doesn't match other people's, but I wouldn't take simple anti-authoritarianism as proof of libertarian sympathies.

Still, humans are a bad lot, and they're always trying this sort of trick.

People on all sides of politics try to affiliate the most basic of virtues with their party. Science fiction readers point to anything from Animal Farm to Lucien of Samosata to beef up the cred of SF. I remember doing something or other admirable back in my teens and having a christian friend say how christian of me that was - I took it,as intended, as a compliment, and it wasn't until much later that I thought how insulting it really was.


#18 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 09:40 PM:

#12: Being vewy vewy quiet so as not to touch the Libertarian Flamewar Powder Keg, but I've never understood the supposed connection between SF and libertarianism. Certainly between SF and political belief - the tendency when imagining a future is to imagine a utopia or dystopia, and if you're telling people about either you're showing your political colours - and I understand that a lot of people's word-association with SF is "Heinlein", not without reason, but I don't think there's anything necessarily libertarian about the genre. Maybe it's what you're used to; my own associations with SF are Iain M. Banks and Alan Moore.

#19 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 09:56 PM:

This is an excellent reminder to pause and refresh the mind, before going back to grading papers; it's not that english is a second language for the majority of the authors, it's that logic and clear thought appear to be dimly conceived of languages to most of them.

#20 ::: ms ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 10:05 PM:

Earl@#13: The default state for brahmins has generally been poverty, at least until the rise of the industrial society increased the monetary value of education. If you're forbidden by your birth or avocation from being anything other than a priest or a teacher, and you don't happen to be lucky enough to teach or minister to a very rich man, great wealth is likely not in your future.

#21 ::: sara_k ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 10:13 PM:

Perhaps there is a correlation to the verse. It seems rare these days (for me) that the quick thought is to anything good. Instead it seems that my quick thoughts are to sharpness, aggravation, and hurt. It is probably a sign of maturation that if I hold off and discuss the ideas with myself I find there is no positive outcome in the long term and I can do good (or at least no damage) by holding my tongue or giving a different response.

#22 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 10:38 PM:

sara_k, I'm trying to find balance. For a long time I extolled the virtue of holding one's tongue and keeping one's peace, so as to keep the larger peace. I'm finding these days that doing it too much breeds resentment. Obviously the solution is not to indulge one's immediate impulse to say something nasty, but to find an assertive but polite way to express what one needs to express -- to be honest enough for self-respect, but also civil enough for self-respect and the respect of others.

This is not easy. For me, anyway.

#23 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 10:46 PM:

My pants are too big, and since I am still a very large person, I'm having to try a lot of pants from different supersize stores. I think Decent Exposures will do best, but I'm having to ask for a larger size to fit my hips and then have them hemmed up four inches. Oh, and part of my problem is that I like colorful pants. I don't want to wear brown, blue, or black every day.

#24 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 11:00 PM:

My complaint (and I don't really expect much sympathy) is that I am too small.

I have a 27 waist, and a 29-30 inseam.

When I can find them 501s in 28 are tolerable. Preshrunk let me find the smallest 28s in the store, because Levi's shrink in the wash, so some are smaller than others.

For shirts... forget it. A 15 neck a 35 chest, and a 32/33 sleeve means even fitted shirts are too large (that 27 waist again).

Thirft stores, and small men who go to tailors, are my friend. This is also why I want bespoke.

#25 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 11:02 PM:

#18: "I don't think there's anything necessarily libertarian about the genre."

Ah, but perhaps there is something science fictional about libertarianism?

SF -- often being about the future, about wanting the future to be different from an often crappy present -- tends to be anti-authoritarian.

What passes for anti-authoritarian can vary from person to person and time to time. I can easily see authority = government regulation, suppression of creative ubermench, etnauseum.

#26 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 11:03 PM:

I've taken to buying men's pants because women's pants have crap pockets, and I carry a lot in my pockets.

#27 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 11:28 PM:

Lisa Padol, 26
I've taken to buying men's pants because women's pants have crap pockets, and I carry a lot in my pockets.

Why is that? It always bothered my sense of order as a child.

#28 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 11:34 PM:

Don Delny: I think it's to avoid creating an, "unfeminine" line, when things are in the pockets.

#29 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 11:34 PM:

Terry, sounds to me like the boys' department, or the "young men's," might be worth looking at.

#30 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 11:56 PM:

#1 & #2 Vicki and Rikabeth:

I have some Cherokee pants and they fit reasonable well. They're generally relatively heavy cotton though, not e.g. woolen.

I don't know what their sizing is like in the larger women's sizes, I tend to get petites or "short" length miss sized pants. (And hate going clothes shopping.... hourglass figures haven't been what clothing was made for in my lifetime with an hourglass shape.... and the short part of it makes it worse.)

#31 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 11:58 PM:

Steve @17
I posted the link since our host Patrick is quoted, and it's about Tor. I don't know that I agree with the article; for one thing, I don't think Heinlein identified himself as a libertarian. He was too independent-minded for that.

#32 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:01 AM:

Rikibeth: The rise is wrong. Really wrong.

Which, quite apart from making the trousers uncomfortable, means the inseams are all wrong too.

Much more hassle than it's worth.

Shirts, similar problems. The vertical dimension (waist to shoulder) isn't the same.

Tailoring.

#33 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:09 AM:

I shall add to the pants frustration, because I have been reminded that my good jeans, the ones that fit and are comfortable three days in a row, are showing just a tiny bit of wear at one point where they usually crease. They don't make this kind any more.
In the past week, I've retired two pairs of second-best jeans for unpatchable/disguisable holes.

I have a waist (meaning it is small) and I have hips (meaning that they are big). I am frustrated.

#34 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:13 AM:

don delny @ 27 ...
Why is that? It always bothered my sense of order as a child.

I'm told that would be because a lady has a gentleman to carry things for her...

Terry Karney @ 24 ...
I don't know if there's a chinatown near you, but the physical characteristics should be about right for you to be able to find jeans that fit correctly.

#35 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:21 AM:

David Harmon @ #9, I sympathize. I need a 28" inseam and can't find one. 34"x29" is the closest I can get these days (I'm 5'10", for reference). It's only really a pain with jeans, since I have to roll up the cuffs. Dress slacks seem to break at the shoe without dragging the hems behind.

Once I learned what libertarianism was, I came to the conclusion that Heinlein was pretty militant about it, at least up through Time Enough for Love or thereabouts. After that it seemed to me that he switched from political libertarianism to sexual libertarianism.

#36 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:23 AM:

Paula @ 30, I was actually talking about the Cherokee men's pants -- since Vicki has been buying men's Levis, and since the men's pants are what my housemate wears.

#37 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:34 AM:

Diatryma @33: I have a waist (meaning it is small) and I have hips (meaning that they are big).

For years I've been scanning eBay and local thrift stores for the Gap's "reverse fit" jeans, whose cut has a high rise that accommodates that sort of anatomy. Fashionistas have slagged that style for years as unthinkably hideous, perhaps because it's nearly the diametric opposite to the low-rise, narrow-hipped, flare-legged style that's been dominating the racks (the reverse fit style has slighty tapered legs), and I suppose it's true that the high waist does some weird things to the overall visual proportions, esp. for people like me whose calves are somewhat shorter than my thighs. But dammit, I don't like having my waistband gap outward whenever I bend over, which is what happens in straight-hipped styles regardless of rise height, and the visual proportions can be somewhat corrected by wearing untucked tops whose hems are farther down.

#38 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:42 AM:

David, #9: You may have to go to online shopping. Land's End offers custom hemming on men's pants (and women's) at no extra charge, starting at a 27" inseam.

Kevin, #14: Yeah, that was my first thought as well. And I know at least one other person said the same thing on the last open thread. What were they thinking?

Stefan, #25: One thing I find very fictional (but not necessarily science-fictional) about Libertarianism is that it requires an author to make everything work the way it's supposed to.

#39 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:42 AM:

When I am picky about pants, I veto them according to my fists: if I can put one fist atop the other and shove both down the back of the jeans, then I am not buying them.
When I am out of pants, as is becoming the case, I ignore that and try to deal.

Land's End has a custom jeans order form. I am tempted. They made my good jeans, though they stopped before I realized I wanted more of them. I have very little idea of my measurements-- last time I was measured anywhere near properly, I was fifteen-- but oh, tempted.

#40 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:08 AM:

Diatryma: "I have a waist (meaning it is small) and I have hips (meaning that they are big). I am frustrated."

My jeans of choice are Eddie Bauer Loose Fit jeans; technically (meaning not post-maternity) I have something like a 30" waist and 44" hips. Yes, that's pretty extreme and yes, I usually have problems with the waist. I also have the crazy combination of a petite rise and tall legs, which has an upshot of making normal-rise pants looking like highwaters. I really like the fashion of having untucked shirts as that disguises the problem neatly. If they're tall-cut shirts.

I like Eddie Bauer. They actually acknowledge that women come in sizes other than Regular and Petite.

Right now (post-maternity of sorts; Gareth is six months old) the jeans are fitting better than they ever have because my waist still has a few inches to lose. This means no belt and no paperbagging. Yay! Anyway, they don't always have Loose Fit in the stores but it may be worth checking out.

#41 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:17 AM:

Magenta Griffith at #31 writes:

> Steve @17
> I posted the link since our host Patrick is
> quoted, and it's about Tor.

And it was a good read - there's no doubt that libertarianism is always hiding somewhere in the background in SF - or at least in American SF.

#42 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:57 AM:

Steve Taylor @17: That's an interesting article, but one I'm not too comfortable with - it seems to be trying to grab a lot of things I wouldn't define as libertarian, and appropriate their virtues and reputation in the name of libertarianism.

Kind of reminds me of the Prometheus Award winner lists.

#43 ::: dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:18 AM:

xeger @ 34: Not unless she is actually proportioned like a Chinese woman, which appears to mean long waist, flat butt, and thin legs.

Disclaimer: My observations are based on Taiwan, both the women and the clothing for sale; I would assume that women's average proportions do vary some across a country the size of China.

I just did a metric crapload of shopping on a 1-week trip back to the US. Not a few people thought that was odd, to come back from Taiwan to the US to shop, especially as I am small, overall. But women's clothing here doesn't fit me well; even at a US size 4-6 and small-boned, my sholders, ribcage, arms and legs are all too big for clothes here to fit well.

I am *not* curvy by US standards; I'm short-waisted and so my waist is wide compared to my hips. Gap and J. Crew work well for me and Eddie Bauer petites aren't too bad. In Lands End, I can only wear their lowest-waisted cuts if I want to be able to both button the fly and breathe.

I can wear men's 501s (in a 30/30) but Vicki said somewhere that the rise on those is too small for her.

Oh, and I have a slight allergy to religious parables that extoll the virtues of imposing hardships on one's dependents to foster one's own spiritual gains.

#44 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:22 AM:

The alternating discussion of pants and libertarianism is revealing. We all long to live our lives free of pants that reveal socks! drag at the hems! bind at the crotch! throttle the waist! gape - strain - crumple!
And just as libertarianism is an idealistic vision at odds with the reality of human nature, the attempt to mass produce pants that fit our myriad variations of form shall fail. Sigh.

#45 ::: m.k. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:59 AM:

I bought two pairs of Diesel jeans a few years ago. The 'Zathan' cut are mens jeans but they do not look like mens jeans when I have them on, and they are very comfortable (and have button flys, which I am personally very fond of). Reportedly the staff in the denim department at Diesel will ignore the intended gender of the garment in favor of a good fit. The two pairs I bought are still my favorite jeans and I should replace them soon but I have to admit that spending $150 - $230 on a single pair of jeans is difficult for me, even knowing that over time the per-wear cost would be in pennies. FWIW, the jeans are reportedly made in clean, modern Italian factories by well-paid unionized workers (but the t-shirts are not).

#46 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 06:50 AM:

It seems a long time ago that I fixed the dates for the Google Earth coverage of northern Lincolnshire to late June of 2003, from a combination of specific farming knowledge, and the County Agricultural Show in progress.

While checking some local details, and measuring distances, I noticed that the coverage had been changed. At the moment, there's a definite change in overall colour, and the northern chunk has been updated. Based on the specific vehicles parked in a few locations, I'm certain that it is this year, early afternoon in Barnetby by the shadows, with the shadows switching to an early morning direction a mile or so south.

Move south of Market Rasen, and the predominantly green look shifts to a browner tone, the boundary passing through the old RAF Faldingworth. And the County Show is still running, by the A15 north of Lincoln.

Fields of oilseed rape are in flower, patches of bright yellow, not always the whole field. Trees are in blossom. I'd put this some time in May.

There are market stalls in Brigg Market Place, but not along Wrawby Street. Early morning on Thursday, setting up the stalls? Maybe Saturday. Scunthorpe is in the pictures with mid-afternoon, and that doesn't look busy enough for a Saturday, but it might not be the same day. The stall layout in Brigg just doesn't look right for the Thursday market.

Also, not a trace of Stennett's auction being set up.

My best guess is 26th April or 24th May: the stall layout does look like to the monthly Farmers' Market.

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 07:11 AM:

Too easy it is these days to be hip
but one can be a fool at any age:
just move towards the door at a fast clip.

You think that you are wise and not a dip,
yet all of us will boo you off the stage;
too easy it is these days to be hip.

So simple to load wisdom on a chip;
no effort then to read the weather-gauge,
just move towards the door at a fast clip.

It is no crime to give your elders lip,
you have to laugh at their most earnest rage;
too easy it is these days to be hip.

A normal matter to let anger rip
the walls of cities, and unbar the cage;
just move towards the door at a fast clip

until the moment you too lose your grip
and learn your story has a closing page.
Too easy is it these days to be hip,
just move towards the door at a fast clip.

#48 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 07:36 AM:

janetl @ 44... We all long to live our lives free of pants

Donald Duck is a Libertarian?

#49 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 09:26 AM:

I commend unto those of you with smallish waists and largish hips and shortish legs, the "stretch bootcut jeans" from L.L. Bean.

My mother, sister, and I can all wear them off the rack.

We still discuss this in hushed and solemn tones, as it is clearly a miracle.

#50 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 09:55 AM:

Monday morning doggerel:

I’m wearing Libertarian jeans
Courtesy of free-market machines
Market forces make them rise
Market forces make them fall
Oh the market makes me wise
My pants are blessed by Ron Paul

#51 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 09:59 AM:

dichroic @ 43 ...
xeger @ 34: Not unless she is actually proportioned like a Chinese woman, which appears to mean long waist, flat butt, and thin legs.

He seems to have proportions that might meet that general description, yes ;)

Beyond that, I've found that the proportions for "chinese" clothing vary according to the region, which isn't all that surprising.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:05 AM:

Steve C @ 50... Market forces make them rise

"They'll ride up with wear."
(from Are You Being Served?)

#53 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:11 AM:

Back when I was in high school, the musical costumer measured me at 31-23-41. Between that and my mother's unspoken rule, "Buy jeans at Kohl's no matter what," I have... well, I don't so much as go into Kohl's these days because I learned to hate almost every aspect of the store, but especially the juniors section jeans shelves.

It's probably going to be an heirloom resentment. My mother could never find shoes that fit except at one shoe store when she was a child, so she hates shoe shopping and passed that on to us when we were young. Any child I have the raising of will growl softly at the words 'low-rise flare'. It's like cutting off the ends of the roast, only with the possibility of actual bloodshed.

#54 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:19 AM:

Dave Bell: I've noticed that Coventry was updated recently, too. It's definitely after I built my shed (which was in Jan 07) but before I sold the old Escort (which was in Feb 08). Looks like summer; the neighbour's kids had their trampoline out.

But then last year around the end of summer I saw people doing what, at the time, I assumed was a new batch of pictures. They had what appeared to be infra-red beacons they were placing by the side of the roads, presumably so that the resulting pictures could be easily placed into the appropriate mosaic.

#55 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:23 AM:

John Houghton & Linkmeister:
Thank you; you're very kind.

I really enjoy doing these, actually. They remind me of the standard essay topic for my Latin reading courses at university ("Pick something from the class, research it to appropriate depth, and write about it to appropriate length.")

I always come back to the thought that we are lucky to live in such an interesting, richly detailed world that you can peer closely at any number and find some complex story behind it. Neat.

Linkmeister @5:
I've never heard that tale or read that verse (despite two years in Japan I've never talked Buddhism with any practitioners).

You probably won't hear much about the Dhammapada (part of the Pali Canon) in Japan; it's associated chiefly with the Theravada school, which is generally to be found in Sri Lanka, Burma, and southeast Asia. Japanese Buddhism more commonly follows the Mahayana school. It has its own sutras (thought to be composed later than the Pali canon). Mahayana Buddhism does have the Agama, which overlaps some of the Pali Canon, but not the Dhammapada.

I knew none of that before I started researching this post. (I didn't add any of these details about the history of Buddhism into the main post because I know just enough to get it really wrong. It's a complex area of religious history, sociology and theology, and I haven't put the time in to get it straight in my head.)

obTrousers:
Buying trousers is much easier now that I live in the Netherlands. My body shape comes from my ancestors in south Germany; in Britain I was a pear in an apple orchard.

I still have to take in the waists of pretty much everything I buy*, but at least I can get clothes where I can fit into the hips and only take 4 or 5 centimeters off the waist.

----
* Techniques, in order of preference, determined by pocket placement:
1. Dart the back
2. Dart the front
3. Take in the back seam

#56 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:41 AM:

That story bothers me on several levels, starting with the fact that The Buddha didn't _need_ material gifts -- especially from poor people who needed such things themselves.
(Well... actually starting from the fact that, upon first hearing, I instantly Appreciated the remark "Never trust anyone whose first name is 'The'.")

It sometimes has seemed to me that King Pasenadi comes off best of all, by virtue of making gifts to reward the Brahmin's generosity (no matter how misguided) -- and that isn't saying much, considering that the King still had immense wealth after making these trivial (to him) gifts.

And now it's about time for the /K/i/n/g/ President of the United States to issue a Pardon to a symbolic turkey. Soon after which, I suppose, he'll tuck into a hearty turkey dinner, and perhaps draw up a list of other, figurative, turkeys to pardon.


#57 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:49 AM:

Sarah S. @ 49, I will keep it in mind.

I have come to believe that most places really do make clothes for models, and simply scale them linearly upwards. I have a body shape and size that would best be described as "average," but apparently most pants are cut with an extremely narrow range of waist/hip ratio, and my hips are apparently too large for that range. I would have said up to now that people with waist and hip measurements closer to one another would be better off, but Vicki has enlightened me that no, this is not the case either. I wonder who in the world can actually fit into these pants off the rack. (I used to be able to wear juniors' jeans off the rack, but I was considerably thinner, definitely on the "thin" side of average then. So I am suspecting it is people with the proportions of fashion models. Not that I was a fashion model or anywhere near it, but I was closer to that body type then than I am now.)

I would buy pants immediately from a shop that sold them according to measurements: waist, hips, and inseam. It would have to be very boutiquey -- people to measure you and bring you pants -- but good heavens, to be able to buy pants that actually fit?

#58 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:09 AM:

Vaguely remembered: a poem by Phyllis Mcginley about a woman who first gave away all her own stuff, then started in on her family's. The tag lines were something like:

...then who the saint[s] here?
St. [Agnes?]?
Or her near and dear?

#59 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:10 AM:

Re the story and some of the discussion about acting quickly vs. holding back, with the risk of building resentment:

I was at a leadership conference over the summer (don't know why I go to these things all the time, but I do) and mirabile dictu, one of the presenters actually had something very useful to say. He pointed out that there is always a gap between stimulus and response, no matter how small, and the wise person will deliberately seek out and own this gap and use it -- to think, reflect, gather information, de-fuse, etc. The trick is finding the ideal length of time for this gap, as this story illustrates. Nasty email in the in-box? Ponder on it overnight before answering. Sudden charitable impulse? Don't over-think it, but don't react without spending a moment in the gap thinking about what you are doing.

#60 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:27 AM:

57: My personal theory; the clothes are actually designed to look good on the hangers. Once you have gone as far as taking the clothes off the hangers and over to the dressing room to try them on, the battle (from the shop's point of view) is almost won - you are almost certainly going to end up buying something.

It's a bit like book cover art - the objective is to get you, the browser/impulse buyer, to pick up the book and take a look.

Therefore, clothes are designed, not to look good on customers, nor even to look good on models, but to look good on hangers. And, since the clothes also have to look good on models, models are selected to be shaped as much like coathangers as possible.

#61 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:29 AM:

ms #20: The default state for brahmins has generally been poverty, at least until the rise of the industrial society increased the monetary value of education.

Poverty relative to the standards of Lexus-driving Americans, perhaps, but not relative to the more unfortunate situation of most of the other castes of the time period of the story. If retold today, the story might as well be about a penniless yuppie. I think perhaps the story was told about a brahmin for the same reason that advertising today uses supermodels to peddle laundry detergent.

#62 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:35 AM:

I think the virtue in the story is in the act of giving rather than the benefit of the gift to the recipient. There is also (within the context of Buddhism) the detachment from material possessions.

To be honest, though, it was the verse that attracted me to this one; I found the rubric later and only included it out of a kind of painful intellectual honesty.

I find it too easy to see myself in his wife's situation, suffering the consequences of his generosity without getting any of the credit. It seems one of those deeply unfair stories, like the Prodigal Son or the rebuke to Martha over Mary. The steady, stable people who keep the world ticking over, feeding the guests, managing the farm for Dad, or staying at home while her husband sits at the feet of the Master... they seem to get a raw deal.

But I think that Janet Croft @59 has captured a lot of the heart of this sutra. I would only add that if we set things up so that we are more likely to do good things than bad, we fall into the habit of doing good, and it becomes easier and easier.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Abi @ 62... the rebuke to Martha over Mary

I personally prefer Mary Stuart Masterson to Martha Stewart.

#64 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:43 AM:

Tying the threads together:

In Boston there lived a woman not shaped like a supermodel. She only had one pair of pants that fit, so she could only go out when they were clean...

#65 ::: Rosa ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:56 AM:

The thing is that each store or brand has its own shape (or small collection of shapes; Lane Bryant recently started offering their pants in three shapes).

So the way to find pants that fit is not to go to one store and try many sizes; it is to try one or two sizes from many sources.

That is half the reason why thrift store pants shopping is so much more satisfying (the other half is low expectations; if you find one pair of pants that fit at the thrift store, you win. If you go to the entire Mall of America and only find one pair that fits, you lose.)

#66 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:58 AM:

Touring around Manhattan (virtually from Boulder), Google Maps gives a wrong location for the Flatiron Building (unless there's more than one) on the south end of Central Park. However, if you search on Tor Books, up comes that rilly rilly skinny triangular building at the intersection of 5th Ave & Broadway. Which I assume is the correct location?

#67 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:04 PM:

Hush, don't let on, Tom Docherty was down in the basement testing the Bergenholms.

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Abi @ 64... And, since she doesn't have a washing machine, she never can get out - if this is a conundrum like the one about the country where there's only one barber, who apparently doesn't own a mirror.

#69 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Magenta @12: Oh, that's what www.reason.com is! I bought a t-shirt at a thrift store with that URL on it, and have been sort of vaguely wondering about it ever since. 'Course, I never actually see the URL to remind me to look it up when I'm sitting at a computer, because it's, like, on the back of the shirt.

#70 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:22 PM:

I have similar pant issues. What makes it even more frustrating is that most of the brands that tend to hold up well (Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor, LL Bean, etc.) don't fit me at all, while the brands where I can find things to fit (Target, H&M) last only a season, if that, before spontaneously turning themselves into dustcloths. Bah.

I found a pair of cords that fit at Old Navy yesterday, which is deeply weird; their pants have never fit me. And since the same size of the same model pant *didn't* fit in a different color, I've come to the conclusion that the pants that fit were unmarked irregulars, made to the wrong measurements.

They're comfortable, I just wish they'd screwed up the measurements for me in a color other than dark gray.

#71 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:27 PM:

Diatryma @33: My solution to this problem was to take the favorite jeans (when they finally resolutely bit the dust), disassemble them, make a pattern, and make new from scratch. Works (mostly, aside from an odd bug in the waist-button which I've never been able to figure out) but is labor-intensive and a raging pain in the behind. Also, one must needs be a willing seamster. Feh. Just goes to show how much I passionately loath clothes shopping.

(Howard Davidson took a similar approach when he finally found a pair of painter's pants he really liked. One of the primary criteria: the thigh pockets were each big enough to hold a 1K-page sf paperback.)

#72 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Just goes to show how much I passionately loath clothes shopping.

I make a lot of my own clothes these days, and I'm going to start on a new round now that I have a sewing machine that works. Another winter wool skirt is definitely in the offing.

I use Vogue patterns mostly, because as far as I can tell their slopers (metapatterns) were fit to someone built exactly like me.

#73 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:40 PM:

Carol Kimball, at 58: It was St. Bridget in Phyllis McGinley's poem "The Giveaway."

#74 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:37 PM:

I have trouble finding work pants for John that blow out in the crotch.

Serge, don't go there!

He needs something durable with a gusset, as he climbs utility poles all day long, and he puts his clothes through quite a workout. Carhartt's are the worst. He has some older Eddie Bauer that have held up, but they don't make that style anymore. John's 6'3" and fairly lanky. He's kinda built like Serge - tall and lean.

Any ideas?

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:41 PM:

Tania @ 74... Serge, don't go there!

What's that you said about pants and a blowtorch?

#76 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:01 PM:

My three most recent problems with pants were MEC electing to use organic cotton that is, indeed, lovely and organic and has a nap like a lint brush, the usual problem with what fits my waist not fitting my thighs, and the difficulty in not fainting dead away buying dress pants.

For dress pants, fit, pfft, not a problem. Kingsport (a Toronto large-and-tall shop) has gone upscale and now does fully bespoke, as well as the 'measure, measure, that pair or that pair, perhaps the other pair, sir' stuff. Reminding myself that this is like shoes and I don't get to be fussy about the price, now, that was a trick. But I did remember the right pair of shoes to have for marking the hem.

Regular pants I get at Mark's Work Warehouse, mostly; they want to sell to everybody from business casual through the guys working on oil rigs, but have a general emphasis on utility and durability.

#77 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:02 PM:

Tania @ 74 ...
I have trouble finding work pants for John that blow out in the crotch.

I'm surely confused here... but wouldn't the goal be to find pants that -don't- routinely fail in the crotch area?!?

(more usefully: Verve's Belikos Pant is based on a paratrooper pant, and works fine for climbing)

#78 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:16 PM:

Tania @74: I have never ordered from them so can't speak to their quality or service, but Duluth Trading Co carries jeans and workpants with crotch gussets that might be just what you are looking for. Also long shirts for preventing the dreaded Plumber's Butt. http://www.duluthtrading.com/home/home.aspx?src=G014009&admkt=

#79 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:24 PM:

xeger @ 77 Oops! Thanks for the correction and the link. Work intruded while I was typing and revising. This is YET ANOTHER example of why one should:

1) never edit their own work!
2) actually read the preview instead of just clicking it so you remember to post in a timely manner!
3) not abuse the exclamation point, even if one does tend to think using them and/or ellipses.

Janet Croft @ 78 Thanks, I'll check that out. I was overwhelmingly domestic this weekend, and kept shaking my head at the torn seams in 6 pair of John's work pants. I don't like sewing on Carhartt's.

#80 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:26 PM:

if this is a conundrum like the one about the country where there's only one barber, who apparently doesn't own a mirror.

Ah, yes.

"The barber in Athens shaves every man who does not shave himself. Who shaves the barber?"

Not a paradox: the answer is "no one shaves her".

#81 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:36 PM:

Actually it's not a paradox even with a male barber, because it's not stated as an "all and only." The male barber could shave himself, because it doesn't say he DOESN'T shave ones who DO shave themselves, only that he shaves ALL the ones who DON'T.

Also, barbers could be boys, or eunuchs (hey, it's ancient times in that so-called paradox, right?).

#82 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:46 PM:

Dave @67: Oh, and here I was speculating about spindizzies. Well, okay, maybe that would be ridiculously overpowered for the application.

#83 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:49 PM:

To people looking for jeans and pants that fit -- I've read positive recommendations for zafu. The database seems pretty large, for many different body types and a wide price range. If nothing else, it might help make shopping a more focused experience -- I find it discouraging to face acres of clothing departments these days.

#84 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:50 PM:

So whatever happened to that tech they were promising us back in the 70s-80s where you step into a booth, the stereolith lasers measure you, and some robotic factory somewhere spits out the style you chose in the fabric you picked? Huh? Huh? Whyzit tech never comes up with anything usefull?

#85 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:11 PM:

Carol, 58: pat greene beat me to the ID, but here is the text of McGinley's poem "The Giveaway." McGinley is a bit underrated these days, I think.

#86 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:18 PM:

Something to play with, and/or mock: This Gender Analyzer purports to deduce the gender of an author from the text of their webpage.

#87 ::: affreca ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:27 PM:

I think I might have finally solved my jeans fitting issue.

Every pair of jeans I tried on was to tight in the thighs, even when the hip and waist were fine. I kept going to Goodwill and trying on jeans. I finally was down to one pair that fit (a pair of irregular Levis of unknown size and style, so I couldn't just buy more of them).

I think the problem is that I prefer the look of low waisted flared jeans. And despite what size the waist is, the thighs are tiny. I'll just buy regular jeans and add gores to flare them.

#88 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:27 PM:

ajay, #80: I love koans like that! They're great for illustrating unexpressed cultural assumptions. One which was common when I was in college, but probably wouldn't catch many people any more:

A boy and his father are victims of a bad auto wreck, and the boy is badly hurt. They are rushed to the hospital; the doctor on duty takes one look and says, "I can't operate on this boy, he's my son!" What has happened?

Of course, these days there are actually two possible answers...

#89 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:28 PM:

That gender analyzer thinks my livejournal is written by a man. Except when I'm enthusing about a David Weber novel, then it knows I'm female.

It only claims to be right 53% of the time, however, which is hardly better than chance.

#90 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Lee @88

I can think of at least three solutions to that one.

#91 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:44 PM:

Jaque, #84: I see the laser booths advertised regularly in _Threads_, which is aimed (mostly) at custom seamstresses and amateurs who would like to be that good. I think the problem is that the laser booths are A-OK, but the robot factories aren't up to it. Maybe even sweatshop factories aren't up to it; you can't change `just a few measurements' in most patterns, and sweatshops may need a couple (dozen) runs through a pattern before they work out the order of operations.

#92 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 04:01 PM:

G Jules, I have heard that different colors of the same pattern often fit differently. Something to do with darker colors shrinking, maybe.

I have been meaning to embark on a grand sewing adventure, but this first means getting a machine or access to one. I like reading about sewing, certainly, but beyond a certain point none of it makes sense because I have no actual tools.

I mentioned this last time I was home visiting family, and Dad pulled out the sewing machine we inherited from some matriarch or other. Mom wanted the newish Brother? from, oh, 1970ish, probably, and Dad talked her into the old one.
1926 Singer. If I'm lucky, I get to play with it after Thanksgiving.

#93 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 04:09 PM:

The gender analyzer thinks my blogspot blog is 90% likely to be written by a man, and my livejournal 75% likely (of course, that's public posts).

Previous incarnations of such things have pegged me as female, and I was always slightly disappointed without being able to analyze why. I think it was just wanting to be not so easily read.

#94 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 04:11 PM:

Eric Raymond (on his webpage)has his opinions on how libertarianism is the natural direction for SF to move in and any movement in a different direction is a countermovement that is likely not to last.

#95 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 04:16 PM:

clew @91: Ah, syntax. Without which, not. I made a toroidal purse for Worldcon (which was pleasingly successful: could carry a remarkable amount of crap in reasonable comfort). Getting the sequences right was ... well, let's just say this was the first time I had to do four drafts before the final.

Okay, for you topologist out there: what do you get when you cut a circular hole out of an innertube and then turn it inside out? I'm pretty good at visualizing 3-D shapes, but I had to actually try this one out.

#96 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Ron Paul is the true, honest hero,
while government is good for zero
say some whose addiction
(like mine's) science fiction;
but this novel's really 'bout Nero.

#97 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 05:52 PM:

Accidentally discovered while clicking on something I had not intended to click on:

Become an undercover agent for the AARP, and eat free lunch too.

#98 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 06:19 PM:

dichroic: I am the person to whom xeger made the reccomendation. I am male. Sadly the trousers I've tried don't have the right rise; or are short in the inseam, or something. The cut just doesn't flatter me (jeans I can deal with, it just means I wait until the pairs I have are past re-patching; and none are still fit for times I can't wear patched jeans, and then go poking about until I've amasssed 3-5 pair; repeat cycle in a couple of years).

Xeger: My butt is small, but I am told, not particularly flat. This has, I confess, come from people who might be biased to praise it.

#99 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 06:24 PM:

Caroline @ 93...

"Captain, the gender analyzer cannae take it anymore!"
"Scotty, I need that gender analyzer now!"

#100 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 06:25 PM:

I have had good luck buying pants at Chico's. You have to get a saleswoman (they're all women) who understands the different styles, however. I tried on a pair that I thought fit well enough (i.e., no worse than anything else I own), and the attendant helping me insisted that I try a different size of a different style, which fit perfectly.

They're pricy on normal days, but there are frequent sales, and also a pretty steady supply of "new with tags" items available on eBay.

#101 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 06:50 PM:

Terry 98: My butt is small, but I am told, not particularly flat. This has, I confess, come from people who might be biased to praise it.

Elegantly phrased. I have to admit "small but not flat" does sound nice.

#102 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 07:58 PM:

B. Durbin @40: I have something like a 30" waist and 44" hips.

why in the world is that such a problem??? that's how i'm built also, and commercial pants are just hopeless. i wore drawstring pants and elastic-waist skirts for a very long time. back in the dot-com bubble, i had a pair of pants made exactly for me, and i took the pattern. what with the economy and all, i've got a sewing machine again, and the local fabulous fabric store says they'll teach me all the tricky stuff (like zippers). i guess i'll make a pair in pajama flannel for around the house, for practice, and then some for out in the world.

next up: oxford shirts with two pockets. can't seem to find those any more either, in colors i like.

#103 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 08:23 PM:

Rosa @ 65: Agreed.

I love thrift store shopping.

Among other things, it teaches one that sizes are changing all the time. I seem to wear a size smaller in this year's sizes than I do in last year's, despite having the same measurements. Who'd'a'thunk?

Lately I ran short of money and clothes at the same time, and my family sent me $200 to replace falling-apart bits of my wardrobe. I went across town to the better (as in best variety for prices, not posher) thrift store, and managed a haul of six pairs of pants, several shirts, a leather trenchcoat and a hat for just under $100.

The hat now goes with my Fourth Doctor scarf, and I can walk around the neighborhood looking Time Lord-y.

Indeed thrift stores are bounteous.

#104 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 09:23 PM:

Terry,

You certainly have my sympathy, and additional sympathy that, because you're small, people tend not take your problems of having trouble finding things that fit seriously. (Alas, this will not get you clothes that fit.)

Tangentially, I wonder what, if any, size people do get sympathy from those who would dismiss your complaints because they don't consider "too small" a valid complaint. Fat people also get little respect in this regard, and while I haven't quite had people tell me it's my own fault and I should grow five inches rather than complain about the clothing industry, it sometimes feels as though they're thinking that.

#105 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 09:27 PM:

I'm another thrift store junkie. I get nearly all my clothes from Goodwill, which is why I can afford to own my Vera Wang scarves and Banana Republic t-shirts.

#106 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:19 PM:

Erik Nelson @94 re Eric Raymond: just read it, and it's interesting, but I think he's cherrypicking by attributing all the good stuff (his def) to the "essential nature" of SF. Sidelining the militarism and power-worship particularly seems overly selective.

#107 ::: ms ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:19 PM:

Earl@61: I meant poor relative to, say, a shop-owner or the average farmer: "poor brahman" is as much a cliche in tales of the period as "poor soldier, home from the wars"; there are several communities of poor brahmans today, and I don't see that their situation is significantly changed from 2500 years back. (If anything, they're likely to be relatively better off now.)

Caste is one way people are segmented, and income level is another; one doesn't necessarily follow from the other.

#108 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:24 PM:

Vicki: I don't know who gets sympathy, but I do know there are "full-figured" shops, and (for men), "big and tall".

What really bites is that some things (t-shirts, sweaters, etc.) aren't too bad, if they were carried in "small", but I'm lucky if I can find them in medium, but the selections are almost always all available in XXL.

One learns to cope. I do recall that when on prednisone, I had a small increase in my gut, thus making some of my close fitted clothing (esp. my renassaince faire garb) not fit (the garb had two buttons which would not stay shut).

I knew better than to complain in general. The few people I was comfortable enough to make passing reference to my difficulty were teasingly less than sympathetic, but the undertone was that I really had nothing to complain of (which was, in the grander sense, true, as it was a temporary problem).

#109 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:06 PM:

#97 - "free lunch seminar" is a noun string that can be misconstrued in a few ways; including as a libertarian indoctrination event.

#110 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:24 PM:

Rosa, #65, thrift stores never have sizes as large as I need. I can wear these pants in an F now, but notice the ugly colors (I have the spruce and black). So I spent some time debating whether I should try to dye the white pants or try getting pants elsewhere and decided on the latter.

Jacque, #84, they're using them in airports.

I actually already know how to sew and make patterns, but I'm too disabled to do it anymore.

#111 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:55 AM:

Steve C. @ 50: If you really want to be radical, you can have your pants blessed by Ru Paul.

#112 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 01:08 AM:

That gender analyzer, like many, considers me androgynous. I must be doing something right.

#113 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 01:14 AM:

For what it's worth, there are a number of internet custom clothing shops which will instruct you in how to take your measurements. When you send them those measurements, perhaps with a photograph and comments to illustrate fitting problems, they'll produce pretty good clothes, delivered in a few weeks. The prices are not much above, and sometimes considerably below, what the shops charge for clothes that don't fit. The primary difficulty we've had is that fabric selection over the internet is tough, though you can order swatches. The exemplar we've used is: Ravis Tailor.

On another note, Brooks Brothers was offering the laser measurement thing at their main Manhattan store as of a year or so ago. I haven't tried it, though.

#114 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 01:18 AM:

Not talking about pants, me.

I received in the mail today a notice from Citibank informing me that they are changing my Card Agreement. (I love their use of that word, agreement. Right. If you don't agree, they take away your card.) My purchase APR is going from 14.75 to 18.99%. Actually, the letter said it already had gone to 18.99%, as of September 17th, but they just got around to telling me today.

At the beginning of 2008 the rate was under 10%. It's been rising all year. As it happens, I never carry a balance on this card, I always pay it in full each month, so the rate has no practical significance. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I have never paid this or any other credit card bill late, nor failed to make a payment. 18.99%? Nuh-uh. I immediately paid the $30 owing on the card and stuck it in a drawer. I will not use it again.

Anyone else gotten a letter like this -- card rates zooming up? I'm sure it's not just me, but I'm curious; is it just Citibank, or are other card issuers doing the same thing?

#115 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 01:36 AM:

Lizzy @114 Yes, I've heard several other mentions of this problem lately -- most recently on NPR this morning (Talk of the Nation, I think), someone talking about a sudden increase in his Citibank card's rate. But I've heard of other banks doing it too.

I also pay off my card every month, so I don't generally notice the interest rate. But I do always check the payment due date as soon as I get my statement, because I got caught once when they moved it up a week -- it had always been due on the 21st or 22nd of the month, and then one month without warning it changed to the 14th or 15th, which I didn't notice until too late to get my payment in on time. Grrr. I guess the card company got tired of my not racking up any interest....

"Card agreement," indeed.

#116 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 01:53 AM:

Nobody's ever even offered me a credit card, not that I blame them. My one half-hearted attempt to get one was met with what seemed to me great suspicion from my bank, and I decided I didn't need one badly enough to sit down with some suit and fabricate a monthly budget. I've heard stories of credit card companies pushing their cards onto people, mailing pre-filled applications, taking advantage of the debt-prone - do I smell or something?

#117 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 01:59 AM:

WANT

#118 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:14 AM:

Serge @ 99

"Scotty, I need that gender analyzer now!"

"Damn it, Chekov, is the Captain hot for an Andorran again? Is he never going to fall for someone with external secondary sexual characteristics?"

#119 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:18 AM:

Bruce Cohen: clearly you had some kind of bad experience on a skiing trip...

#120 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 05:04 AM:

Erik Nelson @94, I think I've read that once. If I remember correctly, he basically claims that whenever some trend in SF that he doesn't like fades out (as trends inevitably do), this means that a non-libertarian rebellion against the inherent libertarianism of SF has failed, and whenever a more or less succesful libertarian-themed novel gets published, this means that yet another uprising against libertarianism in SF has failed. For instance, he seems to claim that cyberpunk was a (naturally doomed) non-libertarian rebellion, and then Snow Crash was published, and that meant that the rebellion had been put down.

I think with that methodology, you could still claim that SF is inherently libertarian even if we would live in a world where only a tiny fraction of the published SF would be libertarian.

#121 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 06:05 AM:

I guess that a lot of the bad guys in SF are initiating force, which is anti-Libertarian, and the inevitable defeat of bad guys must therefore be Libertarian.

I think there's an excluded middle somewhere.

And smashing the bad-guy's planet with pairs of dirigible planets having intrinsic velocities greater than c seems a trifle excessive a response to the use of force.

#122 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 07:10 AM:

US government question for all the smart politically knowledgeable Americans here: Who, exactly, runs the departments and agencies of the US government from the inauguration of a new president to the time when the Senate is done with the confirmation hearings?

#123 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 07:56 AM:

Raphael@122

Generally when a supervisory (whether high-level or several levels below) position is vacant, someone (for things that aren't cabinet-level or near cabinet-level it sometimes is a rotating group of someones) is temporarily chosen to be "acting" in that position until it can be permanently refilled.

#124 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:23 AM:

#85 ::: Chris Quinones

Carol, 58: pat greene beat me to the ID, but here is the text of McGinley's poem "The Giveaway." McGinley is a bit underrated these days, I think.

Thanks, both of you!

#125 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:27 AM:

#91 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:44 PM:
Jaque, #84: I see the laser booths advertised regularly in _Threads_, which is aimed (mostly) at custom seamstresses and amateurs who would like to be that good. I think the problem is that the laser booths are A-OK, but the robot factories aren't up to it. Maybe even sweatshop factories aren't up to it; you can't change `just a few measurements' in most patterns, and sweatshops may need a couple (dozen) runs through a pattern before they work out the order of operations.

The problem is that efficient and therefore cost-effective cutting and assembly deals with substantial numbers of garments, which move step-by-step through the construction process (which is the same for each garment regardless of how the pattern pieces may have been resized). A custom-cut pair of jeans must be walked through by itself. You can't rely on "take fifty custom cuts and build them in order" due to the almost certainty of getting them scrambled.

This is the bottleneck in manufacturing them.

#126 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:42 AM:

I'm much amused by this project on getacoder.com, noting especially the submitter and certain bids. It's got me thinking of an alphabet of notables, but unfortunately my inspiration is stuttering at:

A is for Ada, Lady and Language
B is for Babbage...

T is for Turing, halted forever

... so I'm hoping folk here have inspiration as well.

#127 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:47 AM:

Dave Bell @ 121

I have a real problem calling a government that can field armadas of millions of ships, has hundreds of millions of entities "under arms" (tentacles?, pseudopods?) and has the remit for enforcing drug laws all over two galaxies, "libertarian".

OT: I find it interesting (for some values of interesting that others may not care about) that one of the linchpins of the background of the Lensman series was that 2 billion years ago our Galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy passed through each other. Latest information is that they are approaching each other, and will collide in a billion years or so. Does this mean we are the Arisians, who evolved before the collision? That somehow doesn't fit my visualization of the Cosmic All.

#128 ::: Lola Raincoat ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:13 AM:

The teaching story Abi started us off with - is it, strictly speaking, a koan? - reminded me of the plot of Sense and Sensibility, which is set in motion by the eldest son's failure to act on his generous impulse toward his widowed stepmother and half-sisters immediately, so that his rich wife arrives in time to persuade him to keep his inheritance entirely for them. Then the Dashwood sisters and their mother have to move to Devonshire or where-ever, and wacky hijinks ensue.

Jane Austen, secret Buddhist?

#129 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:21 AM:

Xeger -
A is for Ada, Lady and Language
B is for Babbage...

J is for Jobs, Apple of i

T is for Turing, halted forever

... so I'm hoping folk here have inspiration as well.

#130 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:28 AM:

@ #115: Credit-card companies moving up their due dates: one of my card companies did that to me a few years back. I paid the card one day late as a result of their sleight-of-date and got smacked with a $29 late fee.

I called to complain and they took the late fee off. Fees are a major source of revenue for them, but they do back down in individual cases if they're afraid they'll lose your business. (They won't take fees off if you make late payments on a regular basis, of course.)

I also got my bank to refund two $5 monthly account maintenance fees they charged me because my savings account balance went below the arbitrary $500 limit (which didn't exist when I opened the account) for two days which just happened to be October 31 and November 1. It's worth making a call.

#131 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:35 AM:

Scott Taylor @ 129 ...

Added to here, dreadful html and all.

#132 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:57 AM:

GJules #130:

Yep. I've had the experience several times of legitimate businesses (with whom I've done business for many years) obviously trying to slip something in on me. You can call and get the charge taken off, but it takes time and hassle.

What I don't understand is when this became an acceptable part of doing business. I mean, there are some businesses that try to cheat their customers as a matter of course, but you usually do your best not to mess with them. (Up until recently, car dealerships were an exception, since you had to buy a car sometimes. Now, you can do no-haggle prices, or come in with enough online research not to get screwed over easily.) How is it that Citibank or Sprint finds it in their financial interests to announce to their customers that they're small-time crooks looking to do the equivalent of occasionally stealing a couple dollars you leave lying around?

Some companies I do business with don't seem to do this. Some do. Some whole industries (medical billing, for example) seem optimized for fraud. There must be a pattern there, but I don't see it.

#133 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 11:05 AM:

One bit of credit card billing trivia is that the "amount due" number matters a lot: if you pay your bills at the same time each month, but the "amount due" on a card shows as $0 on their billing website, if you pay on that card, the money does not count towards meeting your minimum payment when (likely a few days later) their system gets around to telling you that, for example, $22 is due at a date later in the month. There's such a thing as paying too early then.

#134 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 11:21 AM:

albatross @ 132
I'm wondering if the pattern is really two: bills you pay every month and so might not look at closely, and bills that you may be paying while under stress, and so not checking closely. (Remembering here the medical bill which showed up shortly after an uncle died, claiming to be for treatment from a doctor he'd never seen. If his widow hadn't been keeping track of everything, that might have been paid without question.)

#135 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 11:32 AM:

Express has a line of pants they call Editor Pants.

Now, my idea of "Editor Pants" would include cargo pockets big enough to hold a paperback or tpb, a pen/pencil pocket, and a number of general purpose pockets as well. Basically, an office on your hips.

But somehow Express seems to conflate the idea of "Editor" with skinny, close-fitting, pocketless pants worn by underweight models. Huh?

#136 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 11:37 AM:

For the programming alphabet:

H is for Hopper, COBOL from Grace

#137 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 11:40 AM:

I knew there was a reason I never had a credit card.
I have often found that pants designed for someone of my circumference and leg length have the waist so high as to make me envision someone with same leg length and butt size but a foot taller than me--or with the waist right under the ampits (I'm having visualization problems.) And when I needed a bathrobe, I had to do some hunting before I could find one on which the belt wasn't partway up my ribs.
Continuing problem with the inner seams just under the crotch wearing thin. Being a cyclist doesn't help. Trying to envision some reinforcement that won't look lame. I thought of trying sarongs, but I don't think that'd work well on a bike. Someday, if I can afford a sewing machine...
Still, thrift stores rule. I just don't go to Salvation Army bec/ of their reported discrimination against gays.
Don't know enough about libertarianism to comment there.
A.J. Luxton, you mentioned manufacturers changing their sizes. I think I read that this is to make customers think they aren't gaining weight, which will cheer them up and put them in a mood to buy pants that seem to bring good news.

#138 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 11:46 AM:

Thanks for #16, Yarrow. There are so many writers in the world, and so many good critics, that it is a relief to my weary bones to know that whoever "Wyatt Mason of Harpers" might be, I am unlikely to be missing anything.

#139 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:08 PM:

Lizzy @114, I've had a similar credit card experience -- always pay my balance on time and in full, had a rate hike earlier this month. It's all tied up in the credit crunch; the market for consumer debt of all kinds has evaporated. The banks were doing the same slicing and dicing and re-selling with credit card debt that they were with mortgages; suddenly they have no buyers, so if they have to have the debt on their own books at least they want to make a lot of money on it.

#140 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:27 PM:

xeger @126

K is for Knuth, who someday will finish.

... and since you didn't finish the Babbage line,
B is for Babbage, who saw quite a difference.

If you really get stuck, you can start throwing in every language designer you can think of:

M, John McCarthy, who wrote with a LISP
S is for Stroustroup, who added to C
etc.

Note: I am not a programmer, but I live with one.

#141 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Express has a line of pants they call Editor Pants.

I thought they existed merely as a figure of speech among dilatory authors.

"Yeah, I'm three months late with the manuscript, but I reckon..."

"Look out, dude! It's Patrick! And it looks like he's got his editor pants on!"

#142 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:38 PM:

lorax at 139, I thought it was something like that. As for credit card companies making money: I've got no objection to a reasonable rate of return, but 19% is ugly and possibly immoral. My 2009 New Year's resolution is twofold: 1) pay off the outstanding balance on the two cards I currently use as quickly as I can manage to do so, and 2) stop using them. #2 is actually pretty easy, barring some serious emergency; #1 is going to take a little while, but it will be done.

#143 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Xeger incipit:

Xeger -
A is for Ada, Lady and Language
B is for Babbage...

A is for Ada, Lady and Tongue;
B is for Babbage, too long unsung.
C is for counter, most useful tool;
D is for Dunce, elementary fool.

L is for Latin, a speech of some worth,
M is for Microsoft, owner of Earth.
N is for number, a symbol a sign,
O stands for nothing, at least in this line.
P is for Pascal, now long forgotten,
Q is for query most misbegotten.
R is for Racter, a program most merry;
S...

#144 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:43 PM:

I see editor pants as being in a style that matches David Hartwell's jackets.

#145 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:52 PM:

#27 don delny: I was told it was because of the line of the clothing, or something like that. But, good pants with deep pockets don't mess up the clothing line. Clearly, women aren't supposed to be able to carry useful stuff in pockets.

#146 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:57 PM:

@#132: that they're small-time crooks looking to do the equivalent of occasionally stealing a couple dollars you leave lying around?

No need to add the "equivalent" in that sentence, actually. Citigroup recently made a $18 million settlement in California for sweeping customers' positive account balances into their general fund. They reportedly took over $14 million, which puts them a few steps above small-time.

On buying cars: Remar Sutton's book Don't Get Taken Every Time was tremendously helpful when I bought a car earlier this year, and I highly recommend it.

#147 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Citibank did the same thing to me. I do carry a balance, and rather a large one, thanks to the expense of getting an instrument rating that we hadn't worked into the student loan. In any case, we'd applied for a 0% interest credit card the day before we got the notification so that we could transfer our balance off of that card, since it was already our highest interest balance. Serendipitous timing, and hopefully we can close the Citibank account soon. They've been the worst in my experience for lowering your rate if you call to ask, and then hiking it up again two months later when they think you've stopped paying attention.

And don't get me started on the way trousers fit. My body is too bootylicious for the standard cut, and I actually started sewing purely so I can eventually make my own trousers. Admittedly, I haven't made any yet, but it's early days. I also hate shirts that either strain across the bodice or are cut square - I am NOT an APPLE! Hourglass is supposed to be fashionable, right? Why don't they make any clothes that fit? So now we have small - nothing fits; large - nothing fits; have a waist - nothing fits; don't have a waist - nothing fits. I'm noticing a trend. Ooh! And tall and thin? Nothing fits. That's Graeme's problem. Try to find something long enough in the arms for a guy that's 6'4" and it swims around the chest. Big and Tall only works if you're Big AND Tall.

#148 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:59 PM:

(Ack. Actual settlement size in CA was $3.5 million; potential total settlement size is $18 mill. Just to clarify.)

#149 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 01:21 PM:

waitwaitwait... Citibank stole $14m from people, and then had to pay $3.5m back in a settlement? At that rate, I'd do it every month. Well, I would, if I were the CEO of Citibank, and an immoral bastard. (Yes, yes, "But I repeat myself..." Shut up, Zombie Mark Twain.)

#150 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 01:37 PM:

$14M total. $3.5M paid back in California alone. Total may run to $18M.

At least that's how I read it.

#151 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:07 PM:

Yes. The total amount reportedly taken was $14 million, of which $1.5 or 1.6 million was taken from California residents; California's settlement is $3.5 million, which is larger than the amount taken because it includes fines and penalties.

There's a clearer article at Consumer Affairs.

#152 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Lizzy @ 142:

Re 19% being ugly and immoral, I'm pretty sure it stops there only because more than that is barred by legal statute. So yes.

I couldn't find a reference though. Most loan shark references seem to be in reference to 'payday loan' places, where the caps are around 35% (see also excessive fees). I expect credit cards are regulated separately.

#153 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:18 PM:

Terry Karney @108: Ah, Prednisone. You have my deepest sympathies. I was on it for a couple of years, and the resulting 30 lb weight gain made me feel like I was wearing a sand-filled parka. Gah!!! Once I finally got that weight off (compliments of the Hacker's Diet, recommended by someone on rasseff), I swore I would never ever EVER complain about neck wattle again.

#154 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:23 PM:

Marilee @110: But not for anything useful (snipe snark). I stand by my complaint. ::pout::

Say, now there's a thought to make the whole airport security thing more appealing:

Get your free custom tailor measurements here!
Step right up! ABSOLUTLEY FREE!!

#155 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:35 PM:

xeger @126: C is for Cray ...

#156 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:38 PM:

H is for Hopper, Grace to us all ...

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:43 PM:

About finding clothes that fit... Earlier this month, my wife and I drove to Santa Fe where a museum was having an exhibit of movie costumes. There was one that had been made for Helena Bonham Carter, which made me realize how short and tiny she is. I was quite pleased to see that Alan Rickman's military unform from Sense and Sensibility would fit me - although it probably doen't fit Rickman anymore.

#158 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 03:04 PM:

Raphael @ 122, Michael I @ 123:

Within a U.S. federal government department or agency, when one (or more) of the top slots is vacant, interim administrative responsibility is normally assigned to whoever holds the next senior non-vacant position.

For larger agencies, this seniority sequence may be specified by statutory law (U.S. Code), or by agency regulations having the force of law (Code of Federal Regulations). For smaller agencies, a standard "delegation order" or equivalent typically specifies the sequence of who gets stuck with the top job, pending designation and confirmation of the next political appointee to head that agency.

When the political appointee(s) heading an agency resign or get fired upon a change of administration, the individual who becomes acting agency head is typically whichever career civil service employee currently holds the highest non-political slot in that agency's T/O. (ObSF: Mr. Kiku in Heinlein's The Star Beast.)

#159 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 03:07 PM:

# Alphabet v0.02 (pre-alpha)

A is for Ada, Lady and Tongue;
B is for Babbage, too long unsung.
C is for Cray, blinding of speed,
D is for ... da da da need?
E for Eliza,
F is for ...
G is for green bar, coolest of paper,
H is for
I is where I realize Fragano's legacy code has an off-by one error.
J is for ...
K is for Kernighan, co-builder of C.
L is for Latin, a speech of some worth,
M is for Microsoft, owner of Earth.
N is for number, a symbol a sign,
O stands for nothing, at least in this line.
P is for Pascal, now long forgotten,
Q is for query most misbegotten.
R is for Racter, a program most merry;
S...

#160 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 03:14 PM:

R equals RPG II, of cycle most odd . . .

#161 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 03:30 PM:

I'm really not as old as this makes me sound, but I think it should be:

A is in APL, legacy language...

#162 ::: FennelGiraffe ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 03:36 PM:

[delurk]

H is for Hollerith, cards most holey

[relurk]

#163 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 03:49 PM:

H is for Hopper, the first to debug!

#164 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:05 PM:

I am as old as some of these make me sound ...

F is Fortran, with extensions through V

K is for Alan, who creates the future

M is for Minsky, Perceptron denier,

Q is for Quux, an original hacker

R is for regexp, with brain-bending syntax

S is for Stanford, West Coast of AI

T is for tuple, container for Linda

U is for Univac, child of Eckert and Mauchly

V is for Voronoi, diagrams for neighbors.

X is for X-windows, MIT's brainchild

Y is for Yourdon, selling snake-oil solutions

Z is for Zed, used to specify programs

... and on beyond Zebra in trochaic tetrameter.

#165 ::: Shinydan Howells ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:10 PM:

xeger @126:

I live in Manchester, which is where Turing was "halted forever". To my knowledge, there are only three memorials to Turing in the whole city: Alan Turing Way, which links the city centre to City of Manchester Stadium, where the Commonwealth Games were staged in 2002; a bridge which carries that road; a 3/4 size bronze statue sat in a park between the university and our Gay Village.

The statue has it's nails done, typically in red, every year during Manchester Pride, but it's not really enough in my opinion. Take a peek if you're in Manchester.

#166 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:11 PM:

Serge @ 156 -

Have worked with movie wardrobe before, I can tell you that most costumes tailored to actresses must be displayed on custom built mannequins; child sized mannequins are too big.

#167 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:15 PM:

Speaking of programming:

A SQL query walks into a bar and walks up to two tables. He asks, "Can I join you?"

#168 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:33 PM:

Another cooking question from me...

For Thanksgiving, I have decided to make grandma's roll recipe (like parkerhouse, except with massive amounts of butter) and a crock-pot potato soup as the roommate's not a big turkey & fixin's fan, and the apartment kitchen is pitifully small.

I'm finding lots of cream/potato/leek soup recipes, but I'd like to add a bit of garlic. Would this work better if I roasted a head of garlic and then added to the soup at the last minute, or should I add a few cloves at the beginning of the cooking process?

#169 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:41 PM:

nerdycellist @167:

It depends on how "garlic-y" you want the soup to be. Raw garlic added at the beginning of the cooking process will give a harsher flavor. Roasted garlic will give a sweeter, smoother result (less garlic-y).

So which do you consider to be the most desirable result for the dish?

#170 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:46 PM:

I'm flying elsewhere for Thanksgiving. My only contribution to the dinner: A box of See's chocolates.

The host has assured me that this is sufficient as well as necessary.

#171 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:50 PM:

Let us know if you get them through the TSA theft-barrier successfully. Bright blessings for that!

#172 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:55 PM:

Lori @ 168 -

I prefer the mellow roasted garlic flavor, but I'm not sure at which point it should go into the pot!

I'm looking for a rather stress-free mode of preparation, as we will be spending Thanksgiving watching the 4th season of Doctor Who. Everything going into the pot and doing it's thing until it's time to add the cream/roasted garlic would be ideal.

#173 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 05:08 PM:

nerdycellist @ 165... I can well believe it. By the way, one of the costumes was for something that Elizabeth Taylor did in the mid-1997s, and she too was quite tiny.

#174 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 05:16 PM:

Marilee @110, the lack of non-horrible clothing for larger women at thrift stores is a crying shame; I'm pretty sure that it's a matter of how generally difficult it is to find comfortable, well-fit and non-ugly clothing in any size above a 14 or so, and how women, therefore, hang on to what they have. There are some consignment shops that specialize in large women's sizes- the one in Seattle is called Two Big Blondes- but the clothing is often the same stuff I don't buy at Macy's, Lane Bryant or *shudder* Carol's: trendy, light weight, overly ornamented and not up to the wear my lifestyle subjects it to. If I were a bank teller or a teacher (and if acrylic didn't cut the skin on my elbows down to the bone) it'd be a good resource, I expect.

The best pants I've ever owned were a pair of men's bespoke suit pants from Goodwill, originally made for someone who apparently had the approximate build of a grizzly bear. Good tailored pants are constructed to have the waist adjusted, if you know where to rip the seam; I took ten inches in, and they fit wonderfully. Then someone other than me stuck them in a load of Dockers and washed them with hot water and bleach, but they'd lasted ten years by then, so I guess it was a good run.

#175 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 06:16 PM:

Coder's Alphabet Collated with continued apologies for my html.

#176 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 06:45 PM:

NaNoWriMo

Hit the target this evening.

Still writing.

#177 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 06:47 PM:

Baked potato soup with garlic in: http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2008/01/12/hearty-baked-potato-soup-a-quick-and-frugal-recipe-for-january/

I keep meaning to make it, but I have not been into cooking lately. Maybe after Thanksgiving, when I've remembered what realfood tastes like.

#178 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 06:57 PM:

Florida's ban on gay adoptions was ruled unconstitutional today.

You lose some, you win some.

#179 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 07:26 PM:

xeger @ #174, V is for Vista, an OS quite blurry.

(I was given a copy of Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies for my birthday a few weeks back, or I would hesitate to try my luck at these.)

#181 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 08:06 PM:

Lizzy #177:

Unfortunately, the victories seem to mostly be in court, while the defeats are at the ballot box. This is probably unsustainable.

The good news is demographic--attitudes toward gay rights/marriage/etc. are extremely age-dependent, and assuming the folks in the under-30 set don't change their views as they age, victories at the ballot box are likely in the future.

#182 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 08:18 PM:

mjf/Xopher:

You know, if I stole a few million dollars from Citibank, I'd probably have to pay it back and still go to jail. Oddly, when Citibank does it, they may have to pay some of it back, and even pay a bit of a fine, but nobody will ever see the inside of a jail cell. It's almost like there's a different sort of justice system for really large companies than for normal people.

It's interesting to work out the incentives, here. Suppose each time you get caught in some scam like this, you have to pay twice as much as you made on the scam. As long as fewer than half of your scams get caught, you have an incentive to keep on carrying out scams. I'll bet a lot less than 1/2 of the scams get caught.

The right way to prevent this kind of crap is to make getting caught horribly painful. Not "we'll make you pay a little extra" painful, but "damn, your CEO looks funny in an orange jumpsuit" painful.

#183 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 08:32 PM:

albatross @ 181

Painful? You want painful? I say we put the whole board of directors in prison, and not Club Fed, either. That might even break the "We're all just rich people together" attitude of the board towards the corporate officers. Let's put some accountability into "fiduciary responsibility".

#184 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 08:37 PM:

xeger @ 164

Rats, I left out W.

W is for window, a porthole on programs

#185 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 08:40 PM:

re: Citibank. That makes me... angry. I feel a soylent greenback rant coming on; I'll try to internalize it into a cold hard lump of class envy instead of letting it out, though. It's for the best really, since I am powerless to do anything (at least that won't get me jailed) to deal with the depredations of the executive class.

#186 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:05 PM:

Leno's opening joke in his monologue last night (after a one-liner about bailing out Citi but not the car companies):

"I say they work together. The union guys can make cars, and the Wall Street guys can make the license plates."

#187 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:18 PM:

Lizzy L, #114, I heard about credit card companies doing that on the news tonight.

EClaire, #147, Oh, arm length is something I've given up worrying about. I just don't buy things with cuffs. Under all this fat, I'm long-armed and long-legged. The pants aren't such a problem since people with my size butt are supposed to have much larger thighs and I get length that way. But I don't have any tops where the sleeves end at my wrist.

JESR, #173, I wear mine to the point where a thrift shop wouldn't take them, and I assume other large women do that, too. Then they go to the textile recycling the city does twice a year.

Re: Citibank -- not quite the same, but last night Jay Leno said something very close to this: "I think we need to get the car people and the Wall Street people together to work things out: The car people make cars; the Wall Street people make licenses."

#188 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:18 PM:

Along these same lines, some of you may remember my long and complicated tale of phone service woe, in which it turned out that I, a dozen tech support and sales droids, and three multinational telecommunications companies simply could not cause phone service to be turned on at our house in less than a month. The most incompetent of the three companies, Verizon, has impressed us with its mix of evil and incompetence yet again--they not only demand to be paid for the time when they weren't providing us phone service, they've sent the bill to a collections agency. The two-digit-IQ tech-support/billing droids we managed to talk to seemed to all agree that there was simply nothing to be done but to pay the fraudulent bill. Lacking several more hours to fight it, they'll get the check, too.

I suppose it's unnecessary to point out that hell will freeze over before we become involved in any business whatsoever with these Verizon clowns in the future.

#189 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:21 PM:

There's another band doing a charity gig for Soren tomorrow.

#190 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:28 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 183 ...
Rats, I left out W.

Wouldn't that be "Whoops I wibbled on W"? ;)

(and duely added, with much thanks!)

#191 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:28 PM:

Marilee, my winter church suit (which makes me look like Edith Wilson) is eleven years old; on the other hand, I go through jeans like a buzz-saw. But, yeah- things get worn until they're pretty much unmendable, as much because my taste and the marketplace are almost always at odds as because I'm too broke to buy the really good stuff with any frequency.

#192 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:30 PM:

Jacque @95: I think you get an inside-out inner tube with a hole in it. Let's see... Here's a not very clear animation, which is embedded in this page.

#193 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:51 PM:

albatross, #187: Do you have documentation that service was not in fact being provided during the period for which they're trying to bill you? If so, I strongly suggest filing an official complaint of fraud with your state AG's office. This is one of the things government is supposed to do, to keep big companies from pulling that kind of shit on people who can't fight back.

#194 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 11:11 PM:

nerdycellist: For mellow: Roast the garlic for a long time (in a slow-medium oven, for at least an hour. Take the whole head, slice the top off and roast as is. When the thing is done, squeeze the cloves and the garlic will mush out). Take some of the soup, add the garlic mash, whisk, and return to the pot, not less than ten minutes before serving, and not more than an hour.

jaqcue: re prednisone. Thankfully I wasn't on it more than 3 weeks (well, there were some response uses to brief flares, but at 5mg it wasn't big deal). What got me was how quickly I put those 10 lbs on; which was a lot, I was at 110, and the new pounds were in odd, for me, places).

#195 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 11:13 PM:

We're writing them a written, polite nastygram with a CC to the FCC's slamming office (Verizon didn't provide service at our new house, but apparently did hold onto the number and try to refuse a transfer of service), as well as the Attorney General's office.

But the reason this kind of fraud works, financially, is that the bill is only about $50. It's honestly not worth two or three hours of my time to fight it out over $50. I assume that billing policies which make it a lot of hassle to get out of paying relatively small amounts are generally profitable in the short term. In the long term, probably not--I can't imagine doing business with these guys again. But a lot of managers' bonuses, stock prices, CEOs keeping their jobs, etc., are driven by short-term concerns.

I would love to see government make this kind of fraudulent behavior not pay, but its record on that is pretty mixed. A better solution, IMO, is to find ways to avoid being screwed around in this kind of way. I'm not sure how to do that in general, but I expect that the tanking economy will bring a lot of interesting forces to bear on the problem as:

a. More people who formerly had enough money to just ignore this stuff find themselves tight enough not to be willing to ignore it anymore.

b. More companies get into financial trouble, and have a history of getting a little extra money into the pot right now by running small-time fraud on the customers.

c. More voters (and thus politicians) having a very dim view of a lot of business, especially ones that act dishonestly to make a profit.

#196 ::: Rosa ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 12:07 AM:

A few years ago my New Years resolution was not to pay any service or interest charges I could avoid (that is, nothing except the mortgage).

It was kind of a pain, but it made me *really* good about keeping cash on hand and paying *everything* on time. I made a whole 12 months of no ATM or service charges, and the good habits carried me through another year or two before I let my schedule get too tight for trips to the bank during daylight hours.

#197 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:13 AM:

Open threadiness: The Man from Earth is a good movie. Not much to it - just watching people grapple with the impossible - but I feel better for having seen it.
I think it would be very successful as a play, even more so than as a film. Stylistically, the dialogue, staging, and lighting are very theatrical already; it would be a very easy adaptation.

#198 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:41 AM:

My wife has found that there's someone on the island who has expensive taste in jeans, is exactly her size, and donates to the thrift store quite regularly. The best find was a $150 pair of 7 for all Mankind jeans bought in a $5 sack, but there have also been $100 Guess and a few others in there.

Myself, I could buy by the numbers, and have for a long while. (levis 560, 34x36) Though, I tend to the tall skinny end of the spectrum, and the last couple of times I've looked, I've wound up buying all three pairs that were the right size and style.

#199 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:04 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 127: The Second Galaxy was not Andromeda -- though you're not the only person I've seen make that mistake recently. It was Lundmark's Nebula.

#200 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:08 AM:

xeger @174

Cool. Now to make it rhyme.

Meanwhile, may I suggest "L is for Linux, and open source penguins." (Matt insisted on the penguins.)

#201 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:37 AM:

re credit card fraud- wow. I knew that there's a lot of fraud in financial matters, but I wouldn't have expected something as obvious as that from businesses that might have some kind of reputation to loose. Wow.

albatross @187 Along these same lines, some of you may remember my long and complicated tale of phone service woe, in which it turned out that I, a dozen tech support and sales droids, and three multinational telecommunications companies simply could not cause phone service to be turned on at our house in less than a month.

Something a bit like that was what made me finally get a cellphone years after it had become the norm for everyone else, allthough, as far as I can remember, I wasn't actually screwed over by being made to pay for services I didn't get. Oddly enough, the red tape involved in that was worse than anything I ever had to put up with from any government agency so far.

#202 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:40 AM:

If the computer-related alphabet is nearing completion, how about a domestic/familial one?

Since the established response in this household, when one or other of the teenage sons balks at their allocated share of hoovering/washing-up/emptying bins/whatever, is to remind them that M is for Mother, not Maid.

Every so often I do have occasion to remind my husband that W is for Wife, not Waitress.

And when necessary, we are united vs the sons on the basis that P is for Parent, not Pushover.

(unless this has already been done somewhere, in which case I'm guessing someone here will know)

#203 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 08:34 AM:

Michael I @ 123, Leroy F. Berven @ 157, thanks a lot. Does anyone have any estimates on how long the confirmation hearings are likely to take?

#204 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 08:50 AM:

Libertarianism and SF share a demographic of clever, introverted teenagers.

#205 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:47 AM:

xeger, you've attributed L through R to me when I just copied Fragano's list.

#206 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:55 AM:

#175, Dave Bell -

And with five days to spare! Well done! I found it absolutely impossible the year I tried. I'm still trying to get up the nerve to make a second attempt, so I'm quite impressed.

#207 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:01 AM:

Marilee @ 186, your city does textile recycling? That's fantastic. I always feel so guilty about throwing away worn-out clothes, even though they're so ragged and ratty and full of holes that they're truly unwearable and unmendable. I need to find out about textile recycling and see if I can get my city to do it.

#208 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:15 AM:

Caroline:

Do textiles biodegrade in landfills? I'd assume natural fibers would and manmade fibers mostly wouldn't, but I really don't know.

I wonder if textile recycling pays off. ISTR from reading some articles a few years ago that many kinds of recycling (plastic, frex) actually didn't pay--it cost more money (and maybe energy) to recycle than to just throw the plastic away and make new plastic. (I'm not sure if that's inherent in the process, or specific to one particular city/situation.) On the other hand, I think aluminum and paper recycling pay off immediately. (Aluminum is basically stored energy, because it takes a lot of energy to get the aluminum from the ore. It's pretty-much nuts to throw aluminum cans away.)

The economics don't affect the desire to avoid filling up landfills, but then landfills are a political/economic problem, not anything inherent in the way the world works. It's hard to site a new landfill anywhere because nobody wants it close to their house, but it's not like there's some shortage of land into which holes can be dug and trash buried.

#209 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:18 AM:

#205 R.M., sometimes it went surprisingly well. I'm not saying the fast bits were the good bits, but there were some big chunks where I hit just the right voice.

The MC is former Indian Army, and escaping a circusful of Ninja clowns with Lady Helen. I was tempted to have him hot-wire an elephant, but some other time, perhaps.

Not quite finished, yet.

#210 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:23 AM:

Albatross @ 207 -

I used to work for a Major Waste Management company (in IT, but you can't help picking up a few things about the business). Landfills preserve almost anything that isn't attacked by anaerobic bacteria. They've pulled 40-year old newspapers out of landfills that are perfectly readable.

One thing odd about the waste business -- Nothing becomes a fixed asset. When a landfill is built, the airspace available for waste disposal is considered an asset, and the more garbage a landfill accumulates, the more valuable the remaining airspace becomes.

#211 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:27 AM:

Albatross @207 - I've heard the same thing about some recycling, but I've always assumed that was because of lack of economies of scale, and initial startup costs which haven't been depreciated yet.

Not to mention that those statistics probably assume oil prices well south of our current and foreseeable prices.

I always figured that even if recycling of some things doesn't pay yet, eventually it has to -- and if we work out the technology now, we're going to congratulate ourselves later.

Plus there are some things (like iridium) which way pay off. Mined iridium was like $60 a pound in 2002, and over $2000 in 2006, because we already done mined it all. So recycling is all we've got, essentially. Oil will have to do the same thing.

Although I'll bet that our future plastic recycling process will be bacterial in nature -- digest the old plastic, biosynthesize new plastic. So probably everything we're doing now will be looked at as primitive stick-and-bone Dark Ages tech.

#212 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:32 AM:

I buy pants -- almost exclusively jeans -- at the local thrift store, partly because I find things that fit more easily, partly because of cost. I also buy most of my shirts at this place. I do, very occasionally, order stuff from L. L. Bean. My jackets come from the men's dept at K-Mart.

I am very unhappy with the demise of Shoe Pavilion; I've been buying shoes there for years.

#213 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:35 AM:

There's something I've been hearing on the news that I don't understand, and I'm hoping someone here can explain:

Today the Iraqi Parliment is supposed to vote on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the US. IF they don't approve it the US forces will have to be out of Iraq on or before January 2nd.

My question is, "Can we get all of our troops out of Iraq by 1/2/2009 if the Iraqis don't approve the SOFA?"

#214 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 12:45 PM:

Anybody need a paperback copy of John M. Ford's Star Trek novel The Final Reflection? Pretty good condition, a few bookstore stamps inside the front cover. Good reading!

#215 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 01:03 PM:

Re TNH's Particles, five scams:

Hey, there's that free lunch again! (See comment #97.)

#216 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Re: textile recycling: I've read that Goodwill and other thrift shops send clothes that are too tattered for selling in the shops to "rag sorters" that re-use and recycle them in various ways. So I'd say, go ahead and take the ratty clothes to Goodwill if your community doesn't have textile recycling.

#217 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 01:57 PM:

Lori Coulson #212: I have a slightly different question: Is the Iraqi cabinet called the 'Divan', and if so, will the Divan approve or disapprove the SOFA?

#218 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:13 PM:

Rewoven cloth goes by many names, including "shoddy". These days, though, I think a lot of it winds up as stuffing and in things like car insulation, wiping cloth, etc. Waste Online page on textile recycling.

#219 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:26 PM:

I've called around the thrift shops and recyclers around Ottawa. Most are willing to take clothing that's worn down to rags only if it's natural-fibre only. I seem to recall finding one place that would take all textiles, but it was a long way out of my way, so I've been bagging things until I had transportation. (I've also been converting a few old pairs of pants into shopping bags.)

#220 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:27 PM:

204 ::: Michael Roberts @ 204...
xeger, you've attributed L through R to me when I just copied Fragano's list.

Whoops! Corrected!

#221 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:28 PM:

Raphael @ 202:

For positions requiring Senate confirmation, the time periods from vacancy to appointment, and from appointment to confirmation, are both highly variable.

Since an incoming President has about two and a half months during which he can select his appointees, before actually being able to formally nominate them, most of the new administration's slots for political appointees tend to get filled within a very short period after Inauguration Day. When some of those slots open up again, due to resignations / deaths / promotions, the speed of replacement appointments tends to be a function of: (a) the perceived importance of "having our person in there to set policy the way we want it done" and (b) the number and severity of other distractions the President and his senior advisers are dealing with at the time.

Senate confirmation of non-controversial appointees typically happens fairly quickly (i.e., within weeks rather than months), but is still subject to delays from Congressional recess periods, displays of Senatorial peevishness toward the White House, territorial conflicts between individual senators or committees, and all the usual varieties of grit in the gears of the legislative process. More controversial appointments can be stalled indefinitely, or at least until one side or the other gives up. This often leads to interim appointments, extended vacancies in policy-level positions, or both.

#222 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:37 PM:

Henry Troup @ 217 ...
These days, though, I think a lot of it winds up as stuffing and in things like car insulation, wiping cloth, etc. Waste Online page on textile recycling.

... which just drags us back to rags being used to plug chinks in walls to keep out the weather, and insulating with newspaper...

#223 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:45 PM:

Some denim is recycled into home insulation that is (I've heard) quite pricy. Go figure.

#224 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:10 PM:

I'd imagine nothing truly biodegrades in a landfill, since even newspapers don't.

Jen Roth @ 215, I feel a bit guilty causing Goodwill to have to pay to transport the stuff, but if I actually can't do it myself, then I guess it's not too bad.

I always think, "I could grind it up and make paper out of it!" but realistically, I am not going to do that. I also think I could make patchwork quilts, but this would require me to 1) buy a sewing machine; 2) buy other quilting supplies; 3) learn to quilt.

#225 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:18 PM:

I used to not like thrift shopping for clothing because their habit of putting sort of alike (all women's blouses/shirts) together by color, not size or anything else that makes sense just upset me.

However, there is thrift store chain, Savers, that came to KC that makes shopping for clothing really easy. Things are sorted specifically (long-sleeved blouses, short-sleeved blouses, etc.) and SIZE. Dr-Paisley often finds outrageous shirts too.

They are nationwide.

#226 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 04:05 PM:

Even in non-landfill conditions, some textiles persist for a very long time; archaeologically, very dry (cave and desert sites too numerous and well known to mention), very cold (permafrost, glaciers, high mountain caves) or entirely wet situations preserve both wool and cotton for a long time (not to mention cedar basketry: the Ozette site being the most famous of the new world wet sites where wood and baskets have been preserved). Even in sites which are bad for preservation, textiles persist for a long time; I've found the remains of dish rags that belonged to one of my female ancestors while planting shrubs here on my familial midden.

Fibers which break down quickly when exposed to normal environmental conditions just aren't very useful for clothing or containers.

#227 ::: Diana Rowland ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 04:16 PM:

Re the Five Scams particles:

Has anyone noticed that the Google Ads to the left of the linked article are advertising for various foreclosure rescue scams?

#228 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Just heard about the people killed in Mumbai. Don't know what to say, though.

(Unrelated: Thanks, Leroy F. Berven.)

#229 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 04:54 PM:

Raphael, I just saw it too. I don't know what to say either. All I did say was "Oh, my God."

Justice for the criminals; healing for the survivors and the victims' families and friends.

#230 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 05:15 PM:

I took the day off from work. Actually signed up for it months ago, before my travel plans had firmed up. Since I'm not heading off to Dinner Site until tomorrow morning, it's a catch-up day.

One thing I did was tackle the pile of charity-solicitation envelopes I've been making at one end of the couch. Except for disaster response stuff, I do all my giving and donating around this time of year.

A few minutes after returning from the mailbox, I got a call from a guy calling on behalf of the ACLU.

"I just today donated $100 by mail." I said.

"Oh." he said after of a moment of silence, "thanks." And hung up himself.

I'm almost hoping more folks call so I can blow them off like that.

#231 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 05:18 PM:

What the HELL is up in Mumbai? Any clue as WHO would do this? They seem to be targeting western stuff. There are reports of British & American hostages being taken.

#232 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 05:36 PM:

For those wondering what's being referred to, The Times of India article is probably one of the better sources for information about the multiple shootings/bombings/chaos in Mumbai (Bombay).

#233 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 05:43 PM:

Our county does textile recycling, but in any case, whatever is flammable in the trash gets turned into KWHs.

#234 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 05:58 PM:

janet,

Anybody need a paperback copy of John M. Ford's Star Trek novel The Final Reflection?

i'll take it! i haven't read any of his books yet, shamefully.

#235 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Clothing which doesn't sell at thrift stores, but isn't shabby enough to recycle, is often put into compressed bales shipped for sales in poor countries.

The bad part of this: Local textile industries just can't compete with shirts and pants sold for under a buck.

#236 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 06:54 PM:

Some cheering bookish news: there's just been a $AU5,000 bid in the local ABC radio station's charity book auction! It's for a library of books assembled from the authors interviewed over the year – when they heard of the project, several donated sets of signed books. They're raising funds for the Indigenous Literacy Project.

In deeply non-cheering news, among other outrages, the historic (PDF) Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai (Bombay) was reportedly burnt. It is right now still under seige. (1300 555 13 Aussie DFAT info line) Two top anti-terrorist police officers have been killed. The group claiming responsibility for these attacks calls itself the Deccan Mujahideen.

#237 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 07:00 PM:

Lori Drew, the subject of The Myspace Suicide thread, has been found guilty:

Lori Drew guilty over Megan Meier death (from news.com.au)

A 49-YEAR-old Missouri mother has been found guilty in a landmark "cyber-bullying" case stemming from the suicide of a teenager who killed herself after being sent taunting emails.

Lori Drew was convicted on three misdemeanour counts of illegally accessing computers without authorisation but jurors at federal court in Los Angeles could not reach a verdict on a more serious charge of conspiracy.

Prosecutors say Drew faces up to three years in prison and a $US300,000 ($459,000) fine although no sentencing date has yet been set.

#238 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 07:13 PM:

… and the news from India distracted me from adding this amuse-bouche: 'Is your cat plotting to kill you?' (with quiz).

#239 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 08:53 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 216:

Would they be descendants of the Ottoman Empire?

#240 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:19 PM:

Sylvie G @ 238: I like how you couched that so delicately.

#241 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:36 PM:

I recline to participate in this punfest.

#242 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:36 PM:

Sylvie G #238: Indeed so, they are the successors or, as would be said in Nigeria, they are on seat.

#243 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:40 PM:

Xopher #240: But I thought you would chair the discussion.

#244 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:56 PM:

I move we table this discussion before someone commits settee.

#245 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:06 PM:

Stop it now! Before somebody has to get dressered down. Although now, I bed it'll be me.

#246 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:10 PM:

I expect that there will be a ruling from the throne on this matter. But I suspect that the issue might fall between two stools.

#247 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 12:13 AM:

The pouf is in the pudding.

#248 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 12:22 AM:

That's pudding it mildly. And also, it's not very sanitary. Upholstered furniture has no place in the kitchen.

#249 ::: Ron Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 12:30 AM:

I was going to chime in on the parable up there, with "Whose cloth?", but albatross in #207 made the top of my head fly off and mar the ceiling with this:

... it's not like there's some shortage of land into which holes can be dug and trash buried.

Holy crap, and I thought I was cynical. I've been places and et in hotels, but I have never in my life seen a piece of land that needed filling.

Dang. Lots of unroasted protein running around in kindergartens, too.

I'll assume that was addressing "political realities" but if we're actually talking about doing good vis-a-vis our leavings, then just keeping stuff out of "landfills" is quite enough all by itself.

#250 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 12:52 AM:

Ron Sullivan @ #248, enough people thought Glen Canyon and Hetch Hetchy needed filling (or, at least, that they wouldn't be missed if they were filled) that we got Lake Powell in the first instance and the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the second.

I wouldn't want to try to promote the idea and I'm not advocating it, but driving between Phoenix and Yuma, for example, one sees a lot of space which doesn't seem to have a lot of potential, is not ceded to Native American tribes, and thus could be used as a landfill. It probably wouldn't annoy as many people as Fresh Kills did, either.

#251 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 12:56 AM:

linkmeister @ 249... we got Lake Powell

#252 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 01:40 AM:

Ron:

There is a lot of land in the US which can be used for burying our trash in. In any conceivable future with us in it, some of that land will be so used. The question is, how much? The best answer to that can't really be "the least possible," unless you're willing to, say, double CO2 production to halve landfill use. Or halve life expectancy to do so.

So, we have to decide what to recycle and what to dump. Some stuff is really obvious--burying aluminum cans is like burning $100 bills in your fireplace to keep warm. Other stuff isn't--if recycling plastic soda bottles costs more than the recycled product is worth, that's less money for a city or county to do useful things with.

#253 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 05:56 AM:

One more for the coder's alphabet:

D is for Dijkstra, who's ever so formal.

#254 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 06:29 AM:

Is anyone up for some Marian iconography?

I've been annotating the stained glass windows in a local church (virtually, I mean!), and some of the imagery in the BVM window is pretty obscure. These windows are from the 1930s, pre-Vatican 2 Irish Catholicism in full swing.

A blue Unicorn? A crown over a sword dripping gold?

The index photo with notes and links to detail shots is here.

#255 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 07:46 AM:

Blue is traditionally associated with the BVM; unicorns also, since they could only be trapped by a virgin.

As for your sybils:

11. The Sybils are here named Cumaa, Delphica, Samla, Libica, Tyburina and Persica.

Those aren't really their names, but their workplaces: the Delphic Sybil (aka the Oracle), the Cumaean Sybil, the Libyan Sybil, and so on. These were the prophetesses of classical mythology, who ended up in Christian mediaeval mythology as well, as in the Dies Irae:

Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saecum in favilla
Teste David cum Sybilla.

The crown over the gold-dripping sword is a bit of a puzzler.

I wonder if your "Tower of Ivory" might refer to St Barbara? There are three windows very clearly marked in the top floor.
ObChesterton: http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/Ballad_of_St_Barbara.html

#256 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 08:29 AM:

'Tower of Ivory' is one of the epithets of Mary in the Litany of Loretto (from which a lot of the symbolism here seems to come); it originally comes from the Song of Solomon, 'Your neck is like a tower of ivory'.

The crown over the sword may perhaps represent 'Queen of Martyrs', since the window seems to contain parallel titles like 'Queen of Confessors'. (I would guess the sword is actually dripping blood, but it is coloured gold because it is holy blood.)

#257 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 11:08 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 247... If sanitation is a concern of yours, I suppose you won't be interested in some banc-mange.

#258 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 11:23 AM:

The sybils are part of Christian symbolism because the "Sybbilline Oracles" of late Antiquity, accepted during the Middle Ages, were Christian pseudepigraphical works which made them predict the coming of Christ (along lines reminiscent of the Fourth Eclogue, but rather more circumstantial).

A couple of notes on terminology: the "bleeding heart" is normally referred to as the "Immaculate Heart of Mary", and the litany from which much of this comes is normally called the "Litany of Loretto". (The "golden house" could very well be the Holy House of Loretto.)

#259 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Serge #256: Banc-mange... so that's the source of the current crisis.

#260 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 12:33 PM:

Re: Particle, "You want it when?"

I have always liked the sign one sometimes sees in certain stores: You can have it good, you can have it cheap, you can have it fast: pick two.

I've meditated on this aphorism a lot and it seems to me a brilliant summary of actual economic principles.
If it's good and fast, it won't be cheap.
If it's cheap and good, it won't be fast.
If it's fast and cheap, it won't be good.

Elegant and true, yes?
Happy Thanksgiving to all.

#261 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 12:55 PM:

259: a little like the military maxim: "You can recover lost ground. You cannot recover lost time or lost men."

#262 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 02:16 PM:

No W is for Woz...?

#263 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 02:18 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 261 ... suggest a complete one and it'll be in there :)

#264 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 03:40 PM:

Landfill, well, to quote a rather ranty young person overheard on the subway "you can't throw things away because there is no away".

We do not, and cannot, live in an open cycle ecology. (The energy inputs are open for the time frames of interest, but the water and live dirt parts aren't.)

Note that pricing is highly distorted in the case of recycling; it's hard to figure out what the heavy subsidies of the price of oil do to plastic prices, for example. Nor is it at all straightforward to get whole system life cycle costs.

Mountain Equipment Coop takes worn polyester garments and recycles them; some of the poly fiber stuff they sell has 70% recycled content. And while they really are a Co-Op they're very much not allowed to lose money, either, so I'm pretty sure there's an economical way to do it.

In general, we as a species need to recognize that cities have ecologies and we'd do very well to make them richer and as closed-loop as we can possibly manage.

#265 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 03:41 PM:

#253 Niall:

A bit more iconography:

That is indeed God the Father. The dove in that same picture is the Paraclete, God the Holy Spirit, descending on Mary. The triangle is the Trinity. God's right hand is raised in benediction. In His left hand He holds the orb of empire.

The crown over the sword dripping gold is Our Lady Queen of Martyrs.

#266 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 03:47 PM:

I strongly suspect that the crown over the scroll-and-pen is Queen of Wisdom.

#267 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 03:53 PM:

Dove over an altar.

That isn't just any dove. That's the Paraclete again.

#268 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 04:03 PM:

Fast, good, cheap - pick two.

I've always felt that street food is the delightful exception to that rule.

On a related rhetorical note, I've heard 'smart, sexy, sane - pick any two' applied to potential girlfriends (and the variant 'smart, sexy, solvent' applied to men).

#269 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 05:07 PM:

On a related rhetorical note, I've heard 'smart, sexy, sane - pick any two' applied to potential girlfriends

That's not enough information for a pick. In what way is the sanity lacking?

#270 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 08:28 PM:

Final result for ABC 702 Sydney's 'library' auction (see #235) on behalf of the Indigenous Literacy Project. A literally last-minute bid brought the final total up from $5,500 to $8,000!

Latest update on DFAT (www.dfat.gov.au) contacts for Mumbai/Bombay concerns (& other problems)

Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade hotline for Australians with concerns for family or friends in Mumbai is 1800 002 214 (local call charge from anywhere in Australia).

Australians overseas requiring consular assistance should contact DFAT on +61 2 6261 3305

I hope we hear more about the main train station, where most were killed. Not hard to imagine the damage one nutter with an automatic weapon could do there.

We've heard interviews via mobile phone of people hiding in their hotel rooms while attackers hold hostages in the same building. A very strange feeling, hearing this across the far side of the Indian Ocean.

#271 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 09:21 PM:

Raphael @ 268 ...
On a related rhetorical note, I've heard 'smart, sexy, sane - pick any two' applied to potential girlfriends

That's not enough information for a pick. In what way is the sanity lacking?

Oh dear. Er... if you have to ask, you've probably been lucky :)

#272 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 09:30 PM:

xeger:

The question is, are we talking Faye-level crazy or Hannalore-level crazy?

#273 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 09:58 PM:

albatross @ 271 ...
The question is, are we talking Faye-level crazy or Hannalore-level crazy?

We're talking "stories that get drinks bought for you for years ... presuming you survive the experience relatively intact" crazy.

#274 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 12:54 AM:

Raphael (#268): That's not enough information for a pick. In what way is the sanity lacking?

Judging by the experiences of my friends who opted for the first two at the expense of the third, I'd have to say 'potentially, in any conceivable way.'

(this seems like a good time to point out that many of my friends are smart, sexy and sane or are dating women who are - I am in no way endorsing 'pick two' as a universal metric)

#275 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 06:02 AM:

Thanks guys, for the pointers on iconography. The virgin/unicorn connection had occurred to me, but my initial googling didn't turn up anything. I also didn't think that unicorns were a particularly Catholic symbol, but ajay prompted me to search again. Here's a nice image: The Hunt of the Unicorn Annunciation, in which Gabriel as the hunter drives the Unicorn (Jesus) into the arms of Mary.

Thanks to Andrew and Jim for identifying the Queen of Martyrs and Queen of Wisdom (though it might also be Queen of Blog Commenters!). I searched for quite a while to try and figure out what God was doing with that green ball, and the term "orb of empire" unlocks a lot of references.

So, I think the only detail I'm still unsure about is the dove over altar image.

Jim, as the resident Paraclete-fancier, can you guess why the Spirit over an Altar is in this particular window? Nearly all those little details are from one of the Litanies of Mary. Spiritual Vessel, perhaps?

#276 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 06:39 AM:

#274 [Holy] Spirit over an Altar

If I were guessing, I'd say that's the Immaculate Conception (Mary herself being born without sin, to become the Mother of God).

#277 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 07:51 AM:

267: optimistic. My experience would be "pick up to one"...

#278 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 07:59 AM:

"Well, I thought that since the Science Fair is open to everyone... I could submit my gingerbread steam engine... Or the hurdy-gurdy that grinds out sausages and political analysis..."

That's what you get when the Foglio Family takes on Cinderella. It starts here - with a Prologue the day before.

#279 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 09:37 AM:

Because no one else has mentioned it, and because there might be someone else who doesn't watch TV on Thanksgiving: there was a surprise at the Macy's Parade.

#280 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Just in case some of you aren't convinced yet that parts of the American Right have lost contact with reality.

(Warning: Links goes to the National Review. Hat tip Thers at Eschaton.)

(To be fair, this modern thing where we occassionally have a crisis allthough there's nothing physically wrong is kind of weird when you think about it, and someone who seems to know more about Ancient Greece than about the present might really be unable to grasp it.)

Lee @278, nice, allthough perhaps whoever posted that to Youtube shouldn't have given it away in the title.

#281 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 01:54 PM:

Hey! London tunnel for sale!

The tunnels were built in 1940 during the blitz, when Britain came under sustained air attacks from Nazi Germany. The government decided to create eight underground bomb shelters in London, as the city’s subway stations were not big enough to accommodate all those seeking refuge.
Now that's a Black Friday buy if I ever saw one.

#282 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 03:57 PM:

One for Abi, perhaps.

Book purchased yesterday, new, one remarkably screwed copy of Neal Asher's _The Engineer Reconditioned_, 320-page US 2006 paperback printing by Wildside Press. Good things first: the binding is as good as any cheap paperback can be expected to be, the cover illo is nicely surreal, the typesetting is reasonable, there aren't many typos, the page numbers are consecutive, and the stories are probably pretty good.

However, something has gone terribly wrong. Firstly, the table of contents doesn't entirely match: _Proctors_ isn't listed in the TOC but starts on p185, and most other entries are a page or two off. This is just a sign of the terrible mess to follow.

Most of the stories contain a... *discontinuity* at some point, at which the plot, characters, locale, and to some extent even the writing style change. There are no textual references across this gap, and are many dangling references to events you didn't read about. Each story is preceded by a blurb about it, and those blurbs frequency reference other works which have no entries in the TOC, but which from textual context match up with the latter side of those discontinuities. The discontinuities are *not* on page boundaries, but are always at paragraph breaks.

The book ends with the story 'Tiger Tiger', with the text:

"I will win", he said and he knew it to be true. So ma
people do
The sugar dog howled

which is obvious textual corruption (the only outright corruption of individual words I've spotted).

I suspect that, somewhere, there are a bunch of proof pages that got lost from this anthology (unthology?), following which the typesetters merrily set it and copies were printed and distributed with nobody noticing that the former half of most of the stories had been chopped out and glued to the latter half of completely different stories that were missing their front ends. (For all I know, some stories are missing completely.)

I think this book would have been better titled 'The Engineer, Deconditioned'.

I wonder if the whole print run is screwed? What about any other editions? Anyone know? (Anyone know what Neal thinks of this? One hopes he knows and that it doesn't remain forever a mystery to him why sales of this book are so low / high...)

#284 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 05:42 PM:

Nix @281:

I am not sure what I could do to help, of course, but I am strongly curious...can you determine on what pages the discontinuities occur? Page numbers?

Just wondering if there's a consistency to the spacing of the oddities.

(Funny it should be Neal Asher, of whom my husband has been a fan for some time, to the extent of arranging an online interview on his blog.)

#285 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 07:55 PM:

Epacris #269, thanks for updating the charity auction, and such. I've not been able to get a lot done lately, and am behindhand in much. The final bid was a happy surprise indeed for everyone. The sort of good thing that helps balance out all the bad so prominent in the last couple of days' news.

Niall #274 and replies and updates: in my experience, the Paraclete is usually called the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, and almost always shown as a dove. Another little unexpectedly obscure image is the orb. Perhaps because thru my childhood one of the common pictures of HM, QEII seen in many places around was in her Coronation outfit, holding sceptre & orb, its symbolism of power and authority seemed obvious.

Nix #281, fascinating, and frustrating.

And I'll spare us all my rave about clothes sizes and my problems with them. Except to add that pockets are a big bugbear for me. I once worked through a whole women's clothing floor of a department store looking for a blouse or top and couldn't find a single one in any size with any pocket at all. It's one reason I still wear a bra

#286 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 08:03 PM:

I wasn't expecting help: I just thought you might be interested in a bizarre not-exactly-binding error, and maybe have some ideas about what on earth might have happened :)

It's quite hard to determine all the discontinuity locations, because I haven't read any of the stories before (it's a collection of mostly old and otherwise-unpublished stuff). Let's see... a minimum list, working largely by isolation of character naming shifts and thus capable of missing chunks chopped out of the middle of a story, is:

... p114, line 6 (before: Jain, _The Engineer_; after: hornets, possibly _Snairls_)
... p151, line 5 (before: the Skinner, _Spatterjay: after, Pallister, the Barrelman, Hinks, title unknown)
... p165, line 0 (a page break! I just spotted this one) (before: Pallister et al; after: Carmen Smith, Mark Christian, the Orbonnai)
... p319, textual corruption and abrupt ending of last story, _The Gurnard_, which is also missing its title page (but apparently only its title page) so I mistook it for a continuation of _Tiger Tiger_ in the post above. I suspect this is near the actual ending, so maybe this story lost its first and last page.

I somehow pity the story glimpsed between p151 and p165, an isolated middle without beginning or end. No story should have this done to it.

One thing this forced conflation of unrelated plots has done is to bring to light Asher's apparent obsession with names patterned after 'Jane'. In one half-book he has the Jain, Janer, Jan, Cheyne, and Jamie. I don't think any would share stories were it not for this, though.)

#287 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 08:47 PM:

Sorry, I have to disagree with,"smart, sexy, sane" I have dated a number of smart and sane women. That combination usually ends up with sexy, because sexy isn't an innate aspect, but an attributed one.

#288 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 11:58 PM:

Terry Karney @ 286 ...
I've always interpreted the sexy in that aphorism as meaning considered notably attractive according to the standards of their community rather than notably attractive to me.

#289 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 12:29 AM:

Terry @286, xerger @287 --

There are also the -- often idiosyncratic -- precursors for sexy, which do not guarantee that someone will be found sexy but may well guarantee that they are not so regarded by a particular individual.

#290 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 01:07 AM:

I was startled setting eyes on someone in FULL head to toe Islamic female modesty attire in a local store, black drape in the form of a cone forming a cone with the only break in the black fabric, being a horizontal band about an inch high and five inches wide, showing a pair of eyes and the bridge of a nose--no veil of fabric over the eyes,, but other than the eyes and nose bridge, COMPLETE coverage, forming, again, a cone of black fabric all around.

#291 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 02:07 AM:

Terry, #286: I think "sexy" in that construction is supposed to refer to what I call "arm candy" -- someone whose presence in your company will cause other people to notice and envy you. This has very little to do with what you may actually find sexually attractive.

#292 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 03:29 AM:

Merging both 'sexy' and 'full Muslim attire' - this cartoon by fuffer, aka Mitra Farmand, makes me laugh very hard.

#293 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 08:21 AM:

Another "not in Kansas any more" moment today at my daughter's dance lesson.

The students are all little girls from the ages of about 4 to 10. They tend to wear tights and leotards. Obviously, for the younger students, going to the toilet is a logistical challenge.

There's not much of a parents' waiting area in the building where the lessons are held, so most parents go elsewhere for the duration of the lesson and come back at the end to pick the kids up. (I went to the grocery store, but came back early.)

The result, today, was three little girls who needed to pee, one after another, just before the end of class. The first one sought out her father, who was in the parents' area, and he took her to the toilet.

The first kid left the toilet to go back to the class, and the next little girl (not related to him, remember) just walked in. He helped all three girls in the toilet, getting their dance clothes off and on again. The toilet door was closed at the usual times in the process.

Nobody blinked an eye.

#294 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 09:05 AM:

Abi @ 292... Does that say something about America, or about Holland?

#295 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 10:34 AM:

Serge #293: Both, I'd say.

I can recall my cousin Aida, automatically heading towards the men's room in a restaurant in Spain in 1968 because her father normally took her to the bathroom in a public place. This was in a repressive Roman Catholic dictatorship forty years ago, when she was a little girl.

#296 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 11:46 AM:

Fragano, is your cousin a coloratura?

#297 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 01:05 PM:

Fragano @ 294... I expect that she was left feeling greatly embarassed, at best.

#298 ::: Strata ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 01:05 PM:

Raphael@268, Xeger@270: the definitive rant on 'smart, sexy, sane' (girlfriends), albeit slightly reframed, is in the lovely graphic novel "Why I Hate Saturn" by Kyle Baker. http://www.kylebaker.com/www/book/wihs.htm

Anne's friend has lost his GF, and says now he has to decide whether or not he wants his new GF to be stupid, ugly, or crazy. As she plies him for details, the rationale emerges. (Parenthetical aside to any linguistic razor feministas-- I am summarizing the author's ironic statements, not presenting my own views.)

a) If the girl (he says girl) is pretty, she learns in life that she doesn't need to develop her mind.

b) If she is not pretty, she develops her mind in order to compensate.

c) What about pretty girls with great minds? Ah, they have developed their minds to compensate for their neurotic beliefs, including the belief that they are not pretty. They are the crazies.

It's an... interesting... viewpoint. Not entirely without a few kernels of wheat amongst the chaff.

BTW, even tho I've previewed this vignette, the actual presentation thereof is much more entertaining, and the description of riding the bus in California is alone worth the book. At least, if one has ever come from a Northeastern city like Boston and attempted to use the buses outside SF. ;-)

#299 ::: SR Chalup ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Niall@274: The pigeon or turtle-dove was the burnt offering (for purity and obligation) that the poor could bring in lieu of the more expensive animals.

#300 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 01:43 PM:

Niall, Ajay, Jim --

Paraclete, Trinity, yes on all points. When you've got an older guy, a triangle, and a bird in close proximity, it's the Holy Trinity.

Let us consider also that burning shrubbery under the feet of the central figure. If you look way up close at it, it's a fruit-bearing tree. Usually in iconography that's the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. However, it's also burning without being consumed, which is the property of the Burning Bush encountered by Moses.

(For a while I wondered whether there wasn't an implicit Tree of Jesse in it as well, since one of the figures in the group to the left of the tree is King David (note the harp); but on the other hand, he could just be there as a prophetic figure. On the other other hand, making him more prominent -- he does stand out -- could be seen as making a gesture in that direction without adding more complications to an already densely symbolic design.)

In the meantime, we definitely have a fruit-bearing tree (i.e., the Fall) combined with non-consuming fire (i.e., God's presence). My guess is that it signifies the traditional formulation, "Through woman came sin into the world; through woman came also the means of sin's redemption."

As I say, I'm guessing; but if I'm right about the significance, that combined image is an elegant encapsulation of it.

Moving on to the two towers in the emblems around the edges of the window, neither one of them looks to me like any of the traditional representations of St. Barbara's tower, and Barbara isn't a particularly Marian saint. Identifying the larger tower on the right side with Loreto seems like a good bet. The smaller, hazily-seen tower on the left side of the window is a minor puzzle. It might be an emblem of Mary as hortus conclusus, the walled garden that's an image of virginity, seen from outside the walls for simplicity of design.

It might mean something else -- this window is a dense pottage of Marian imagery -- but that would be my guess.

And one more question, brought on by staring at closeup shots of that burning tree: what is going on with those two cyan-blue figures flanking the tree? The one on the right is holding a lily -- very traditional -- but the top of its halo has a pointy extension the likes of which I've never seen before. The figure on the left is holding a sword in one hand, but has some kind of device in the other hand, and appears to be drawing a polyhedral figure around its head, which, if continued to form a closed figure, would have four points not three.

This isn't the square halo you see on people depicted during their lifetimes. For one thing, the figure already has a circular halo. For another, the polyhedron is rotated 45 degrees from the usual orientation of square haloes. For a third, whoever heard of someone drawing in their own halo?

Jim, any ideas? Could this be someone trying to sneak in a very discreet reference to the idea of Mary as Co-Redemptrix?

#301 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 02:35 PM:

He Allah, Strata, c) describes me exactly. I am totally serious.

#302 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 02:46 PM:

I knew, he said parenthetically, that I was smart to stay away from WalMart on Friday morning.

#303 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 03:44 PM:

Sajia #295: Not so far as I know.

#304 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Serge #296: I don't think so. She was only a little girl -- about six or seven at the time.

We were, at that time, more entranced by the sight of her younger brother and my youngest brother nattering away to each other nine to the dozen -- even though neither spoke a word of the other's language.

#305 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 07:08 PM:

Strata, #297: b) If she is not pretty, she develops her mind in order to compensate.

Why is this is a problem, exactly...?

#306 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 07:41 PM:

I have a question about Montreal's worldcon... I went to their memberhip registration page today and it looks like they can be paid for by checks isued in the US, but I'm not quite sure. I'd register online, but they're not set up for that.

#307 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 08:08 PM:

Serge, why are you asking about it here instead of contacting the convention directly?

From what I can see on their website, the only payment restriction is that if you're using Euros, British pounds or Australian Dollars, you need to contact the various convention agents for those currencies.

After you download and print out the registration form, you just fill it out and mail it in with your check.

They also have a contact email address for Paypal.

#308 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 08:12 PM:

I'd expect doves anyway, as a reference to the Annunciation; there's any number of Renaissance pictures of that which have not only Gabriel, but also the dove, sometimes sending a ray of light (or is it divine essence, so we're seeing the impregnation?) right toward Mary.

#309 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 08:26 PM:

Serge: I'll make an enquiry, ought to have an answer by Monday, latest, if you've not gotten one sooner.

#310 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 08:28 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 306... Oh, I did think of asking them directly, but I wasn't sure I'd hear back before the membership costs go up. As for PayPal, it seems like we can use that only if we print the membership form, fill it up manually, scan it and email the attachment to them. Wha the heck. I'll send them an email and ask. Qui ne risque rien n'a rien.

#311 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 08:49 PM:

Terry Karney @ 308... I just wrote to them, but let me know if you hear back first.

#312 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 09:14 PM:

Things discovered while channel-surfing department:

There is an episode of Route 66 which guest-stars Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney Jr., and Boris Karloff. Playing themselves.


#313 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 11:06 PM:

Strata @ 297, I've tried to parse it but can't: What is a "linguistic razor feminista?"

I also think that quote says a lot more about gender roles and expectations of women than it does about women themselves -- and it continues to imply the impossible perfect woman, who exceeds every societal expectation without showing the slightest awareness of them or putting forth any apparent effort.

#314 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 11:34 PM:

Saw the new Disney CGI movie BOLT yesterday, while visiting friends in the Bay Area. We watched the 3D version, which was interesting but I don't think is a necessity.

This is not a Pixar film, but John Lasseter did have a hand in it, and the main Disney studio has definitely learned or thing or two from their masterful subsidiary.

Bolt is a dog, a little white shepherd who is the star of a action-adventure TV series. Only, he doesn't know it. The studio carefully arranges shoots, sets, and props to make him think he actually has super powers and is actually defending his tweener mistress against a sinister mastermind.

After a particularly stressful shot, in which mistress Penny is kidnapped, Bolt bolts and get stuck in a crate bound for Manhattan. There he meets up with a stray cat who he bullies into helping him return to Hollywood.

In a word . . . sweet.

The characters -- visuals and voice -- are great. The plot moves along briskly and there are some truely hilarious slapstick bits.

Like the best Pixar movies, this is as enjoyable for grownups as kids.

When it was over my college buddy and I both wanted to go home and hug our dogs

#315 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 12:05 AM:

Nix @285:
Sounds like someone dropped the deck to me....

#316 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 12:42 AM:

#280, Linkmeister, London Tunnel For Sale

I have heard of someone who had a mushroom farm inside the Maginot line.

#317 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 01:15 AM:

Erik @ #315, in furtherance of globalization, I hope the crop was Shiitake.

#318 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 06:52 AM:

Strata @297 c) What about pretty girls with great minds? Ah, they have developed their minds to compensate for their neurotic beliefs, including the belief that they are not pretty. They are the crazies.

But how many pretty girls don't have a neurotic belief that they aren't pretty? The world messes young women (not to mention older ones) up a lot on those matters. As the Crib Notes for the Turing Test put it, "Males really like their own penises, but not anyone else's. Women don't like anything about their bodies. In neither case should you warmly agree." I once heard a long conversation between two pretty attractive teenage girls about how ugly they thought they were (no, they weren't calling each other ugly, they complained to each other about their own ugliness). Was quite an eye-opener.

#319 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 11:12 AM:

IMO, reading that joke either literally or as a statement about gender roles is missing the point[1]. When you're in the dating market, you routinely run into people who seem to hit all of your "attractive" buttons except that they max out one or two negatives, too--the very pretty and nice and smart girl you start dating, only to discover the vast storehouse of crazy that is her inner life; the guy who seems really nice, looks great, seems to be quite solid, till you learn about his awful temper and his drinking problem. And so on. Think of the common complaint from single women that all the men they know are either unattractive, married, or gay. It's the same phenomenon.

[1] Unless the point is finding outrage in random comments by strangers.

#320 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 11:38 AM:

Teresa: I don't think the two towers are particularly puzzling. The Litany of Loretto includes the epithets 'Tower of David' and 'Tower of Ivory', and that seems to me a sufficient explanation.

Regarding the two angels flanking the tree: I think they are Cherubim or Seraphim. These traditionally have six wings; the two they fly with, and also two to cover their face and two to cover their feet. So the pointy things over their heads are pairs of head-wings; and there are similar pointy things under their feet.

The one on the left may be the cherub with the fiery sword who guarded the way to the tree of life - though his fiery sword seems to have been divided into a straightforward sword in one hand and a torch in the other. The one on the right then holds a lily, the symbol of Mary, another reference to the idea that what is lost through Eve is restored through Mary.

#321 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 12:20 PM:

albatross @ 318, if that was directed at me, I wasn't particularly "outraged," but saw stuff between the lines that I thought was interesting. The question about what a linguistic razor feminista was was an honest one. I really can't parse it.

And I don't exactly think it's the same as "unattractive, married, or gay" because there's not the commentary about how men learn to be one way or another. Unattractive men can't find anyone, attractive ones get snapped up by women, and what, the ones who are attractive but can't find a woman turn to men?

Like it or not, gender roles are involved in that joke. I don't find it particularly outrage-inducing, but they're there.

#322 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 12:22 PM:

Regarding the two cyan angels, I do believe they are Michael and Gabriel. Here they are again in the Jesus window, with their sword and lily, flanking the angel Raphael and Tobiah with his fish. Here is Michael with his sword again, and Gabriel with his lily, both in the Joseph window.

I don't know what's with their halos in the Mary window.

#323 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Serge (#305): They cashed my US-drawn check (mailed in with a printed reg form), so I'd say the answer is most likely "yes".

#324 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 12:51 PM:

Christopher Davis @ 322... Thanks!

#325 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 01:03 PM:

I've come up with my own theory as to why all the attractive straight men are gone by the time straight women hit their late twenties. A lot of girls go for the Alpha Male types when they're in their late teens, early twenties, even though they don't have a chance with them. The smart ordinary girls pick up all the nice but shy guys who need a bit of "molding". So by the time women are in their late twenties, all the nice shy guys are taken, and all the Alpha Males are either taken or are revealed to be Alpha Arseholes.

#326 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 01:56 PM:

"Girls flirt with the dangerous guy, they don't bring him home; they marry the good guy."
"I can be the good guy."
"Logan, the good guy sticks around."

#327 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 02:14 PM:

For your holiday listening pleasure:

Linus and Lucifer

#328 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 03:25 PM:

Andrew, Niall --

Of course you're right, it's Gabriel with a lily, as in Ecce Ancilla Domini. Jim did suggest to me in chat that the one with a sword might be Michael, but I balked at imagining Michael with his hair pulled up in a chignon. I was forgetting that angels are genderless, and that Michael's usual armor and mini-skirt are merely traditional.

Meanwhile, further evidence that the right-wing base has lost its mind. I'm going to complain about this one to YouTube.

#329 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 03:44 PM:

TNH @327, is that second link right? It goes to an obvious parody news site, with videos hosted on Blip.tv, not YouTube.

#330 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 05:00 PM:

Artist Craig Russell has taken on the task of adapting Neil Gaiman’s novella The Dream Hunters into a 4-issue comic book. To say the least, it is a pleasure to read and to look at.

#331 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 07:28 PM:

Dr. Horrible is now available for pre-order at amazon.com. Not yet available at amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk, etc.

Printed on demand on recordable media, hmm. I prefer something that won't be damaged by light exposure.

#332 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Early college memory during Freshman Orientation week:

A male classmate was looking me. What's wrong with him, he's looking at me as if I were female!, I thought.

The treatment I'd gotten for all my previous alleged education by alleged peers was that of an It and not the Bel Thorne type, which grew in size to that of a cube that was five feet by five feet by five feet. I didn't have a female identity.... I wasn't girly, wasn't interested in girly stuff, was academically way too talented in stuff that only boys were supposed to be allowed to be and acknowledged to be interested and competent in (expect that a classmate transferred in in junior high or high school who was very sexually alluring and fast and somehow she was socially acceptable despite being talented in math and science, somehow she was all of desired and approved of and appreciately and socially values and academically allowed by the same classmates who treated me like shit to be talented and not abused and socially ostracized.... and somehow avoided being labeled "tramp."

It was definitely a double standard era... on second thought, she occupied a positon similar to that that the female lead character of that surpassing piece of hypocritical shit Saturday Night Fever occupied--in that movie there were two categories of females--"good girls" who became honored wives and mothers, and "whores" -- the exception being the female lead that the male lead was lusting after, and him sleeping with her somehow didn;t turn her into a whore, because he was In Love with her... but any OTHER non-virgin female was a "whore."

As for most of the males who were contemporaries of mine in public school -- they were far far FAR below "mercy fuck" level as regards worth.

There are reasons I've never gone to a high school reunion... at a minimum there are several people whom I regard castration with a dull rusty spoon as entirely too kind a fate for.... I would not maintain my civility unless someone paid me, and even then.... what they did to me, saints might cry at. No, there wasn't any rape involved, or knives used, but the constant verbal and physical abuse of insults, occasional innuendo, and what today would get charges of pernicious assault and battery....

Meanwhile... I think I'm one of the few unattached women whom Bob Asprin never made a pass at. Perhaps I intimidated him, thinking back. I never regarded myself as intimidating, but in retrospect....

I had brains and beauty, and wasn't able to intentionally exploit them/didn't regard exploiting people as fair....

I did notice that males tended to get attached before the age of 30, if they were worthwhile sorts.... around the age of 29 those who weren't married, suddenly started looking in earnest, even if they were lying to themselves about it. I saw a lot of hunting pack behavior in my Air Force days, and a lot of posing for the associates, and a lot of self-deluding. The Social Proper Behavior was that someone who was unmarried and unattached was supposed to be attachment-averse and not want to be attached, that they were supposed to be bachelors with roving eye and fancy-free and footloose etc. playing the field and not being tied down etc. egc. etc. -- and the reality was that most of them wanted an attachment, but that wasn't anything anyone was supposed to be allowed to admit. So they didn't, and they lied to themselves, and they gave off the worst damned sets of mixed signals, and were, again, busily lying to themselves about what they were doing and what they wanted. Graphic example "If you are not trying to get into my pants, then WHY is your hand down in my shirt?!" The fellow seemed GENUINELY surprised that his hand was down my shirt....

Socially, the culture DEMANDED maturity of girls that it demanded boys NOT have. "Boys will be boys" was merely one expression of it. "You are a Young Lady, Young Ladies Do Not..." was another.

Females who took too long to grow up/notice things/were socially clueless, were SOL regarding the premium males.... the culture inculculates values about what a good partner is, for both males, and females. Way back when girls were suppposed to play dumb and never show up boys, never have grades that were too good, never do anything to be accused of being a show off or be obviously better at things than the boys, and not be interested in things mathematical, engineering, scientific, mechanical... safe were being good in art and English and nurturing stuff, and to have ambition to be an artist, or teacher of public school, or nurse, or secretary, or run a boutique store, or be a future homemaker, all those were socially acceptable and approved choices.... oh, and girls were supposed to be socially gracious and graceful and socially ept.

Girls and boys were taught to value different things... girls were supposed to live vicariously through other people, and pick mates who would be good providers with good incomes and perhaps good manners. Boys were taught to aspire, and to want males who pandered to them and weren't competition intellectually.... the girls were to grow up to handle Social Stuff and the boys would be men in the work force with positions and earnings. It was okay for girls to aspire to positions in art, or work as teachers, or nurses, or fashion business workers, or bank tellers, things where there no threat to male aspirations or pretensions of supremacy relevant to those areas at those levels.

The concept of a partnership of equals.... wasn't there.

And I'm appalled at the infestation of paranormal romances with "traditional" values of ill-behaved Alpha Male tamed by falling in love. Ugh.

(Ironically, traditional shtetl values appear to have been the women working and earning income, and the men studying all day, as the ideal.... the American Nuclear Family is a nasty pernicious myth perpetrated by greedy capitalists and by the distortion of values where a non-working wife was a status symbol...)

PAH

Oh, continuing on with the rant, girls were supposed to be the keepers of the social side of things, always correctly dressed, always properly demure to other's faces for public perception.

Additional socially acceptable aspirations--hostess, fashionista (though that term wasn't around then), and ENJOYING girly stuff--baby focus (I was one of those people who was aghast at the baby-centricity/baby focus of "oh look at the cute baby!" stuff... helplessness has never been something appealing/a virtue in my view... the idea that because I was female my brain should turn to mush about babies... euwwww!), fashion, hairstyling, makeup, trendiness.... the idea that the only things that counted were appearances... particularly because the "Oh how CUTE!" little girl cute clothing was stuff I hated.... being scratched by nylon lace that abraded my skin the to the point of bleeding from it, clothing that impeded movement... these were things I hated.... the idea that clothing was for other people's pleasure for viewing and that my comfort was a total non-issue.... I have decades of hatred for the fashion industry and the mindset that appearance is paramount. It;s the whole "you exist for OTHER people's pleasure and convenience!/You are an APPLIANCE!" thing.

#333 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 12:52 AM:

Paula

Ironically, traditional shtetl values appear to have been the women working and earning income, and the men studying all day, as the ideal.

OK, your rant got me going too. That traditional shtetl attitude (the man is too busy being Talmudic to do anything practical) always struck me as just another way for the men to take advantage of gender stereotypes to get out of doing an honest day's work. I think a lot of Jewish women feel the same way; I've met many Jewish women, including several female rabbis, and one female cantor married to a rabbi, who were very definite about not allowing those stereotypes to stand.

All of the gender stereotypes, male and female, depend on seeing one gender or the other as, well, Other, not us, less than human, don't feel things the way we do, etc. And in most societies, anyone who's even the least bit subhuman doesn't get to complain about being exploited. It's only "natural", after all, for values of natural containing large amounts of artifice.

#334 ::: Strata ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:10 AM:

debcha@304: good question! If I could lay hands on my copy of the book, I'd try to get some direct quotes.

Caroline@312: an adjective weapon noun tuple. :-) Srsly, didn't want to imply that the wording was being preserved from the original author to a point requiring dissection.

#335 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:11 AM:

For an additional image of Mary as the burning bush -
http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=1851

And, does anyone know the date on this piece? Harry Clarke was a well-known Irish artist, but his studio continued after his death (c. 1931) until the early 1970s. I can't find this church in a list of glass he personally oversaw or worked on, so I'm curious as to the date. His studio did continue work in his style - but I'm betting this is a later piece, for no other reason than that the drawing isn't as tight as the pieces I'm familiar with.

The Life and Work of Harry Clarke, by Nicola Gordon Bowe, published by the Irish Academic Press in 1984 is a good biography of Clarke.

The guess (somewhere) that the item at the foot of the window is the Ark of the Covenant is correct - it answers the description of the Ark, and the Ark is a Marian symbol inasmuch as both contained the Word of God. That ties it in with the Burning Bush and the manger as well.

My best guess for the five bearded heads surmounted by a crown would be Queen of Prophets. That's a guess, based on considering the number five to be significant. If it is, there are five major Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Ezekiel and Daniel and that's the only group of five that Mary is Queen of according to the Litany of Loretto. I also like this interpretation because they're in the same tier as the Sibyls and Prophets - although the repeating of the prophets theme is something I don't like about it.

The other picture on this tier, the dove over the altar is the Holy Ghost, the inspirer of prophecy, as I read it.

One of the things that bothers me somewhat is that I am having trouble deriving a strict reading of the Litany from this window. If I were working on this project, I would ask to see the Parish archives, especially documentation relating to the commissioning of the windows. Patrons have been known to dictate a work's schema, without close adherence to a particular theme or literary work.

#336 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 04:46 AM:

Margaret, the church was completed in 1937, and these windows were not designed by Harry Clarke himself, they were designed by Richard King after Clarke's death. The windows were commissioned by Dean Crowe, the parish priest, who had very firm ideas about what he wanted to see in each window, which King was happy to execute.

The commissioning of the windows is described in the book by Murray I referenced, who goes into the personalities involved in rather more detail than he discusses the actual images in the windows.

#337 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 04:52 AM:

I'm rather glad that the female lead in my NaNoWriMo book, while doing some of the cliched romantic stuff, leaves the guy, for most of the book, to train as a commercial pilot, and has to tell him how to sabotage a generator set.

#338 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 05:20 AM:

Well, that's NaNoWriMo over and done wilh. Now I have to do an editing pass, flesh out character descriptions, add a few names, all sorts of stuff.

52,909 words, and I might have had a couple of hundred more if I hadn't fallen asleep. There's a plot hole needs patching, and I want to check over the timeline. But, on the whole, I consider it a readable tale.

I'm sure an editor would point at a lot of bad stuff. Point-of-view is a bit erratic at times. Some passages are so terse as to be laconic, some incredibly padded.

And, at the end of the day, it's not the hero or the super-professionals of the Army Union Landing Forces who deal with the bad guys: it's a bunch of the local militia with a Lewis gun and a few rifles.

They should have used thinner buttons.

#339 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 09:02 AM:

Since it's not yet a sidelight or particle, I figure this hasn't been dropped here yet:

Dinosaur Sodomy on Ebay

via Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

#340 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 09:25 AM:

For those with a clear southwest horizon, there will be a pretty triple conjunction this evening (Dec. 1) of the moon, Jupiter, and Venus.

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/35217944.html

Triple conjuction

#341 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 11:03 AM:

Paula, there is a *certain* amount of truth about 'ill-behaved Alpha Male tamed by falling in love', although it could more accurately be described as 'bachelor moves in with assertive human being of opposite sex and is forced to learn to keep the place clean, learn to cook non-disgusting crud, and generally think someone other than himself'. 'Domesticated' might be a better word, and it certainly doesn't just happen to Alpha Males. (It also doesn't require love, just cohabitation and the desire not to piss off your cohabitee. This is doubly important if your cohabitee is good at martial arts. ;} )

I'm somewhat amused by your age banding: my dad's the most courteous and charming fellow you could ever hope to meet, and he was 32 before he met anyone, largely because he couldn't read whatever signals they were sending him and because he was just too shy to dare ask anyone out. (He's still with her, 34 years later. I think he'd fall to pieces without her, and vice versa.)

(It is highly likely that the same will be true of me, although I can only dream of being as courteous as my dad.)

I too have never gone to a high-school reunion. I fairly often have nightmares about secondary school (roughly = US high school). Nothing bad happens in them, but the memory of the stew of horrible emotions I lived in 24 hours a day is more than enough to call the result a nightmare.

I venture to suggest that schools are bad for geeks and in general quietish people who might appear 'different'. (This was even true for me although I went to a school where academic achievement was prized: it wasn't prized by the nastier pupils, and it's them who made my life hell.)

#342 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 11:04 AM:

Hey, you're a bit late to the party regarding the BT Kingsway exchange. I blogged it on the 26th of October, especially the fact there are NO RATS down there.

#343 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 11:14 AM:

Re: sexy, smart and sane - statistical analysis has revealed that contrary to popular belief, physical beauty, intelligence and athleticism all positively correlate. No data on relative sanity.

#344 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 11:23 AM:

It occurs to me that too many Westerners appear to think that Muslim women live lives similar to that of a Gorean slave. Whereas the lives of middle-class Muslim women, at least, are more likely to resemble Paula's; except it is the men's female relatives who choose the brides based on their conformity to femininity.

#345 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 12:09 PM:

I think I shall take the safer course of slowly, carefully backing away from this thread, for now....

#346 ::: Andy Wilton ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 12:57 PM:

Steve @ 339: Big wow! I read the linked piece 45 mins ago, ran downstairs and spotted Jupiter/the moon straight off. (I'm in W France, so it was sunset at the time.) I checked again just now, and Venus is out from behind the moon, very bright, very impressive. Thanks!

#347 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 01:45 PM:

Nix @340:
I venture to suggest that schools are bad for geeks and in general quietish people who might appear 'different'.

For my part, I would agree with that statement. I was bullied at school, because I was quiet and weird. It didn't get better till halfway through high school, and I only really became comfortable in a social group in college.

Now I'm worried about my son, who is quiet right now (his Dutch isn't quite up to supporting his usual level of talkativeness) and, as a foreigner, very weird. There have been little nastinesses for a while in his class—often his bike key goes missing for a day or two, meaning that we have to fetch the spare from home (inconvenient but not a disaster). The teacher has generally assumed these were just forgetfulness on his part, though it was getting a little over-frequent for that explanation to hold water.

On Friday it became unambiguous. The entire lanyard onto which his key clicks was removed from the loop on his backpack and put in the bin in the gym dressing room. I was upset, and we had a frank talk with his teacher. She asked his permission to use him as an example of the matter today.

Frankly, I didn't expect that it would come to much. Confronting bullies in my school certainly never did. But I am heartened.

Apparently she brought up the specific incident, naming no names, in front of the whole class. Afterward, the two miscreants came to her privately, confessed, and apologized; they had thought it a joke (and, probably, hadn't really recognized the degree to which the nastiness was part of the fun.)

Then, later on, in kring ("circle time", or classwide discussion), she read a poem written from the point of view of a bullied kid and solicited reactions from each of the children in the class. How did that make them feel? At the end, after everyone had spent some time thinking and talking it through, she asked my son if that was how it felt in real life.

I thought it was very subtly done, building empathy like that. The school sets a certain amount of class time aside for social development, so this fit right in. I don't expect that it will eliminate original sin from the denizens of Groep 4B, but I think it was a good way of building empathy and shaping the consensus of the class against the idea that bullying is cool.

I am also hopeful because the two kids who did it had the honesty to admit to it. The hardened bullies that put me through it when I was five years earlier than my son is now wouldn't have done so.

#348 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Caroline #320: Fair enough. My comment was snarkier than it should have been, and I apologize.

heresiarch #342: Also a bunch of other stuff, like life expectancy. I gather one theory for why it works out this way is that either genetic or environmental problems can sometimes affect development in all sorts of ways, from development of intelligence to health to appearance[1]. Though it also seems like it's the exceptions (brilliant but ugly, beautiful and dumb as a stick, pretty and smart but unhealthy and dying way too young, etc.) that stick in your mind.

[1] For an example of some of this connection, see The Wikipedia article on the 1944 Dutch Famine.

#349 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 01:57 PM:

Andy Wilton @ 345 -

Way cool! Occultations are fascinating to see.

#350 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:07 PM:

Random related link:

The Dutch Famine Study.

#351 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:10 PM:

albatross @ 347, no apology necessary!

abi @ 346, that is truly awesome. Building empathy pretty much has to be subtly done.

A friend of mine pointed me to Don't Laugh at Me, an anti-bullying curriculum available in the U.S. (I can't currently find the sample lesson PDFs I looked at before -- maybe they took them down. If I do find them, I'll post the link.) I wanted so badly to like it, but reading over the sample lessons, I could all too easily imagine how it would be used as a springboard for further bullying. Many of the lessons ask for vulnerability -- non-anonymous discussion of how being bullied makes you feel, for example. Teachers are supposed to lay down "safe space" rules, but I know too well that those wouldn't be respected or enforced. It would be a joke to the "cool kids" and extra ammo against the bullying targets.

#352 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:14 PM:

Unfortunately, I'm very pessimistic about the chances of stopping bullying by telling bullies that they shouldn't bully, or that their bullying hurts people. In my esperience, they'll simply build the stuff they were told along those lines into their mockery.

#353 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:16 PM:

Sample PDFs are here.

#354 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:18 PM:

Brava to your son's teacher, abi!

#355 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:30 PM:

Abi @ 346... I was quiet and weird

"I'm still quiet and weird, BUT... I now have the abiveld!"

I'm glad that the teacher took care of matters for your son. It's very different from the culture we grew in, when the proper response was for us to tough it out and if we didn't, we were made to pay for it by the authorities, not the bullies.

#356 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:47 PM:

Raphael @351:
Unfortunately, I'm very pessimistic about the chances of stopping bullying by telling bullies that they shouldn't bully, or that their bullying hurts people. In my experience, they'll simply build the stuff they were told along those lines into their mockery.

The way to stop bullying is to stop kids from becoming bullies, in my opinion. No one is marked from birth with the destiny to be a bully. The behavior comes from a particular combination of rewards (popularity, a feeling of superiority) that fill specific needs (insecurity, the hunger for certain kinds of power).

If you can either remove the reward (by creating a school culture where bullying is not cool, for instance) or meet those needs another way (create another means of establishing self-worth), then you can stop bullying.

It's hard to do. It's probably impossible to do perfectly enough that no one bullies anyone else. But punishment creates martyrs and rebels, which is less effective.

Certainly, reducing the problem is better than giving up and reckoning that, as they say, "boys will be boys"†

It helps that I am living in a strongly collective culture, and any behavior that threatens social cohesion and collaboration is frowned upon*. More than frowned upon: it's treated with disgust.

-----
† Not to downplay the particular ways that girls bully.
* There are ways that that's a bad thing, too. For instance, taking a walk alone at lunchtime is almost impossible to arrange. And the Dutch say it's harder to excel here than in the States.

#357 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:51 PM:

abi--

I hope this solves the problem for your son.

As for me, I'd rather have left school forever than to have been made the focus of a discussion about bullying and how damaging it is. And as for telling my bullying classmates how it felt?!!

27 years after the bullying more or less stopped, I still feel ill at the thought of being asked to do this.

#358 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:52 PM:

Serge @354:
"I'm still quiet and weird, BUT... I now have the abiveld!"

My revenge in middle and high school was to break the grade curve in any classes I shared with the bullies. The community was heavily academically oriented, and those B's and C's on their transcripts weighed heavily upon the miscreants.

#359 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 02:57 PM:

Abi @ 357... "They laughed at me in high school, but I showed them! Bwahahah!!!"

#360 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 03:08 PM:

Sarah S @356:

The way the teacher did it was to make the whole class enter into the experience of someone being bullied before bringing it down to specific people. Only after everyone had got their head into that space did she mention who it was who was currently in it in real life, and she didn't ask him to expand on it once he was visible.

This wasn't just aimed at the kids who had been misbehaving (they're not necessarily bullies; at 7 and 8 they're trying things out and seeing what gets rewards and what does not. Call them potential bullies. But they did come to the teacher and confess; don't write them off.). It was aimed at the other students, the ones who admire or despise and thus create the atmosphere that permits or smothers this behavior.

Those are the kids that need to identify with the victims, so they can act in solidarity.

And this is part of a wider program within the school, from what I understand, that also includes creating mediators within the peer group (it's a sought-after role and includes special training).

My son didn't feel put on the spot. He felt less isolated after the other students had spent some time in his mental space. And the other kids were surprised that he was unhappy, sorry to see it, and resolved to be more watchful to make sure he doesn't feel that way again.

#361 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 03:17 PM:

abi

I'm really glad that it worked that way.

#362 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 03:36 PM:

abi @355, you're right, doing something is still better than doing nothing, and everything else I can think of that could be done would probably be even worse, and I'm glad that it seems to work out well for your son- it's just that I wish I could be more optimistic that anything can work at all. I hope I'm wrong.

#363 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 03:36 PM:

Memories of bullying makes me wish I had a time machine and a taser.

Or better yet, one of the bowel disruptors that Spider Jerusalem uses to great effect in Transmetropolitan.

#364 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 03:41 PM:

Has anyone else seen this document linked to by The Agitator. The claim seems to be that intelligence and military agencies and technology were used in the surveillance of the RNC protesters (I assume including the ones who got pre-emptively arrested or got their heads busted).

#365 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 03:55 PM:

My visceral response to Paula is that while the fashion industry may be crap (and it is!), looking "good" and well presented is not. I'm going to take a page from Misty Lackey here and state that well-fitted, clean, and fashionable clothing is like armor - people only truly notice and snipe when you don't have it and it protects you by giving you self-confidence when you do. All clothing makes a statement about the person. We have choices in materials, colors, patterns, styles, just as we have in word choice and phrasing. We can make our clothing or buy it. From what you've said, Paula, you don't like the "exist for others" mindset that seems to go along with this - but you usually choose your words with care, and I assume that is not only because you want to get your point across, but because you value the opinion of people in this forum of you and your wordsmithing cabibilities.

My job is a job based on appearances. I need to present as competent, professional, and successful while still being both "with it" in terms of fashion and an individual. If I fail on any of these points, in demeanor or in appearance, I lose customers. People do judge you by what you're wearing, and we all know it. They also judge you by your hobbies, your preferences, all of it. I'm a reader of sf and a geek, as are most of us in this forum. I'm an academic, a medievalist specializing in textiles and domestic material culture. And none of that matters to my customers, except in terms of how it lets me relate to them. I need to hit those subliminal cues that they can trust me with their largest investment and often the purchase that matters most emotionally. I need to be someone who understands all those domestic, feminine things to help them find a home for their family. I also need to be the hard, successful professional who is competent to advise them on how to spend that much money and will fight to get them the best price. I need to establish myself as both those things in 3 min. That's what they tell us we've got to convince a buyer or seller to trust us. If I look slovenly or ill-kept, I have to fight harder in that fleeting time frame. Appearances are everything.

As a dovetail from the discussion about uses of clothing and my comment of clothing as armor, one of the best things about properly chosen clothing is the subliminal category it puts me in. We've gotten enlightened men past responding with "Oh, that professional woman must need a man to provide for her!", but there is still a fine line between clothing that flatters and clothing that makes me attractive. I need clothing that flatters *without* making me hit the "attractive and available" buttons for these nice young men that I'm helping to buy their first home, or those same buttons that make me a threat to their girlfriends or wives. Demure and socially acceptable is good. Unthreatening is very good. I'll happily take that pigeonhole in my professional life because it means I am out of reach as anything more than a friend.

Combine these things and it means tall boots, ankle-length skirts, short jackets and blazers, high-necked blouses, and my hair in a braid or bun. My clothing tells a story about me and who I am, what I do. I need to be happy with that story before I set out in the morning, otherwise the goals of my day just became a lot harder, both in terms of my self-confidence, and in the perception of my customer base who must have confidence in me.

#366 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 04:14 PM:

Raphael, #351: Unfortunately, that is all too true. Part of the reason for this is that acceptance of bullying is heavily loaded into our culture; we pay lip service to the notion that it's bad, but there are rarely if ever any real-life consequences. And on the rare occasions when a group of children does start to ostracize a bully for bullying, the most common response for adults in positions of authority to insist that they stop!

In adult society, bullies are frequently very successful; their behavior is framed in positive words like "go-getter" and "hard-hitting". They achieve that success by virtue of being willing to run over anything and anyone who gets in their way.

Changing this paradigm is going to be a long, hard slog. And it's not enough to discourage bullying in general (though that desperately needs to be done); children also need to be taught active, effective defenses against it -- not the conventional wisdom of "they're just jealous" and "ignore them and they'll stop", but things that ACTUALLY WORK. John Barnes' Orbital Resonance includes a chilling illustration of what happens when someone from a bullying culture is introduced into a bunch of kids who have been taught not to be bullies but have never been taught any defenses.

Part of the problem is that we don't really know what actually works, because not enough study has been done, and it's hard to get the studies done because most people don't think it's that big a deal. These things all feed into each other.

#367 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 04:22 PM:

Serge, I must know....

Have you put up your holiday decorations yet? I'm not seeing anything on your LJ...

#368 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 04:39 PM:

Paula, #331: Unfortunately, you exist in a world filled with other people. The connection that you don't seem to have made is that there's a difference between "dressing for other people's pleasure" and "dressing in a way that will not bring you into negative focus". By conflating the two, you bring yourself a lot of unnecessary misery.

sisuile, #364: You seem to be doing just a little of that yourself when you say that well-fitted, clean, and fashionable clothing is like armor. What I'm seeing here is that both of you are using a binary mode when a trinary would be more suitable. There is "fashionable", there is "dowdy", and then there is the wide range in between, which is where I try to fit.

I don't follow fashion trends, because I have no interest in replacing my entire wardrobe every 2 years. I find well-made clothes in a cut and style that's not going to be "SO last season" a year from now, and which suit my build and coloring, and then I wear the hell out of them. Yes, that makes buying clothes (even underwear, which is my own business and no one else's!) more of a challenge, and I do my share of grumping about it. Sometimes I can't buy a specific item because the current style is severely wrong in one way or another. (I'm thinking about the time I was looking for boots and could only find them with a style of heel that I knew was going to be outdated in 6 months; I just waited out the trend.) In a pinch, I shop in thrift stores, where I may be able to find an item that's not currently in style but is exactly what I want.

In the long run, I dress for ME, not for anyone else -- but I also have to live in the world, and the world is full of other people. My goal is for their reaction to me to be effectively neutral, neither "Wow, she's fashion-forward!" nor "Eew, she looks like something the dog dragged in." And it is possible to hit that sweet spot with reasonable consistency, once you realize what you're looking for.

#369 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 04:42 PM:

Ah, here's my favorite news story of the day. The Beeb have apologized for John Barrowman exposing himself - during a radio interview.

#370 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 04:49 PM:

Terry Karney...

I just received an email from Montreal's worldcon about memberships:

We're working on getting an interactive version of the form up on the website in the next week or so. That way, you wouldn't have to download or scan the form -- if you want to wait a few more days, that may be easier for you.
#371 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 05:04 PM:

Tania @ 366...

Did I decorate our home as soon as Turkey Day was over? I didn't. I did it two weeks before. Here are the results. I had decided this was the best time because my wife was still in the hospital, recovering from her knee-replacement surgery, and filled with happy juice, so there was no way she could object. Bwahahahah!!!

#372 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 05:12 PM:

Serge @370 - My apologies! My RSS feeds are have piled up, and I've been working backwards, but keeping an eye out for your decorations. I'm back to "Something the Lord made" for you.

Thanks for sharing the Montreal information. John and I are trying to decide if we should go. I'm voting yes, of course...

#373 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 05:31 PM:

Tania @ 371... I highly recommend that movie, and your going to the worldcon. Maybe you should lie to your hubby and tell him that next year's worlcon, just like this year, will share its location with a tractor con.

#374 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Am I the only one who finds it distressing that when kids are bullied for so long that they finally go nuts and start shooting, everyone acts as if their behavior was just one of those inexplicable acts of madness? The Columbine shooters asked the "jocks" to stand up, remember? I'm not trying to excuse them (or any other suicide terrorist), but bullying leads (in some cases) to mental illness, and mental illness (in a few cases) leads to school shootings.

I readily admit that when I was in high school, there were certain other kids without whom I thought the world would be a better place. The most I ever did, though, was plunge a three-inch thorn into the calf of one of my tormentors as he stood over me amid my scattered books. I feel absolutely no shame for having done so—but what if I'd had access to a gun?

Am I the only one who thinks it might be worthwhile to impress upon bullies that they shouldn't bully, not only because "it's wrong" but because "someone might fucking shoot your loser ass"?

#375 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 05:48 PM:

Patrick... Thanks for the Particle that links to Frank M Robinson's post about being in Milk. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie.

#376 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Sidelight, Serge.

#377 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 05:58 PM:

I stand corrected, Xopher.

#378 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 06:18 PM:

Conjunction my hole, that was an occultation!

Xopher, I don't think that telling bullies that their victims might turn on them will work, because they are usually good at picking on people who won't. Bullies who aren't good at that get the snot beaten out of them.

I agree with abi that it has to be a social thing: it has to be "not ok" to be a bully. Most kids aren't bullies, and bullies only thrive where most kids look the other way.

The boys schools I attended were all places where bullying and even fighting were not OK, despite a certain amount of "Rugby Player = Not as Uncool As His IQ Would Suggest" attitude from the authorities.

#379 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 06:38 PM:

I have a feeling, based on my childhood experiences and those of my kids, that a lot of schoolyard bullies end up as school counselors and administrators. At least, the counselors and administrators I've had to deal with all sided with the bullies, no matter what the school's written policy was.

#380 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 06:50 PM:

Lila, habitual bullies are like habitual criminals: they've dealt with the system for so long that they know well what they can get away with.

This doesn't mean that the schools or indeed the police are all sympathetic ex-bullies and criminals, it just means it's harder for decent people to deal with them.

#381 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 08:16 PM:

abi, that's wonderful news about your son's teacher. I wish I'd had teachers like that when I was being seriously bullied (in comparison to the many years when I was not seriously bullied, just ostracized).

When I was in the 7th grade (and I was 10 going on 11, when my classmates were mostly 11 and 12 years old), I was assigned to two classes with someone who hated me, and those two periods were gym and lunch, perfect times to attack. My mother figured out something was wrong, and called the principal. He came down and talked to me in public, during gym class. You perceive the problem, I'm sure.

In the long run, my stoicism lent me some strength, and all of the girls who joined my attacker ended up being suspended/expelled from the public school. They were doing other things that helped the administration do this, like smoking (against the rules for middle schoolers), and so on. I suppose the school had a weak anti-bullying culture, of sorts, that helped minimize the problems. Certainly my attackers felt the need to be mostly sneaky, and I learned not to go out of sight of teachers.

I don't know how I'd react if I ever saw her again. Considering that I carried scars on the back of my hand for many years, from her fingernails digging in, I just might react physically. Then again, studying martial arts left me with some skills that I might not want to waste on such garbage. With that thought in mind, I might just smile at her.

Anyway, I digress. Bullying is a serious social issue, and it takes socialization to reduce it. My son's middle school is doing some intensive socialization to reduce and prevent bullying, although you have to wonder if they're also preventing some normal boy-v-boy behaviors (depending on the teacher). Still, I support their efforts, because it's about time a school system took this seriously and worked hard before the problem became entrenched in the student population.

#382 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 10:13 PM:

albatross @ 347: "Though it also seems like it's the exceptions (brilliant but ugly, beautiful and dumb as a stick, pretty and smart but unhealthy and dying way too young, etc.) that stick in your mind."

I think it's also self-(mis)representation that causes our skewed perceptions--someone who is crap at everything but math will work a lot harder at it and value that skill a lot more than someone just as smart but who is also a great athlete and has to fight off eager paramours with a stick.

Lee @ 365: "In adult society, bullies are frequently very successful; their behavior is framed in positive words like "go-getter" and "hard-hitting". They achieve that success by virtue of being willing to run over anything and anyone who gets in their way."

I would like to draw a distinction between people who are willing to run over anyone who gets in their way and actual bullies: for a bully, running over other people is how they succeed, not a side effect. I agree that the two types of people are often deliberately confused, but I think it gives bullies a false sheen of utilitarian purpose to credit them with dedication to any goal but making themselves feel better. In truth, bullies are worse than useless; insensitive jerks who just don't give damn are at least occasionally useful.

Xopher @ 373: "Am I the only one who finds it distressing that when kids are bullied for so long that they finally go nuts and start shooting, everyone acts as if their behavior was just one of those inexplicable acts of madness?"

No, you aren't. But that would require coming to grips with the ways that America is a bully nation and fetishizes power and humiliation. In the current American psychology, admitting to any mistake or making any changes in response to an attack is a sign of weakness. It just invites further attacks.

#383 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 11:21 PM:

Paula @ 331:

traditional shtetl values appear to have been the women working and earning income, and the men studying all day, as the ideal.

So that's why Yentl wanted to pose as a boy.

#384 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2008, 11:24 PM:

The triple conjunction was beautiful, and I had perfect conditions in which to image it.

Jupiter-Moon-Venus

#385 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 12:27 AM:

heresiarch #381:

Yeah, I think there's been quite a bit of research showing that bullies in an office (think toxic boss) do horrible things for productivity. The bullying goes on because it's fun, intrinsically rewarding. Any successful motivation through fear is a bonus. And those folks often keep some level of power for years, despite the fact that they're pure poison for their organizations.

I suspect a lot of the world is run on similar kinds of doing systemically dumb things to get a personal reward. For example, in the US, we've seen this huge, scary increase in SWAT teams and basically militarized police forces, even in small towns. I suspect a lot of the drive for this is that the policemen involved get to play with some really cool toys, and get to dress up is some badass-looking outfits. (If we passed a law requiring all SWAT teams to be outfitted in hot pink with white polka dots, I wonder if we'd see a reversal of that trend.)

#386 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 01:02 AM:

Dave Bell, re Mauldin: Been there, thought that.

#387 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 01:09 AM:

Ginger @ 380... I don't know how I'd react if I ever saw her again

I've asked myself that question. I'd probably do nothing because I'd find that those who had power over me wound up living a life of failure and/or I'd find they had completely forgotten about me and they'd consider me a loser because I still remember.

There are some people I would like to meet again if only to thank them because they were the few bright spots in my high-school life.

#388 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 01:10 AM:

Steve C., #339, I saw that coming home with the groceries in the dusk. It was wonderful!

#389 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 01:12 AM:

Huh. Triple conjunction - that's what I saw tonight? I had no idea. About a week ago, I noticed "those two very bright, non-twinkly lights forming a line at a slant towards the horizon--don't remember seeing that before--what are they?--ok, they're not moving, so, not airplanes..." and then tonight I noticed them very close to the moon in a striking display. Probably too late to go out and look at them again, now that I know what they are. But very cool!

#390 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 01:46 AM:

God's own light show -- saw it last night. Tonight it's too cloudy to see anything.

#391 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 02:12 AM:

heresiarch @ 381

the ways that America is a bully nation and fetishizes power and humiliation

America is a conqueror culture that tries to believe that it isn't; the conflict between the reality and the belief causes the normal lessons of conqueror "morality"* to become fetishized and fantasizied. In straight conquest, power and humiliation are tools to be used to bring the conquered low. When fetishized, they become ends in themselves. The teachers and counselors whose job it would be in a "healthy" conqueror culture to infuse the notions of power and conquest into the young try to do the same with the notions of bullying using the rationalizations we've all heard: "all children do it", "they're only establishing a pecking order", "we shouldn't get involved in it, it will work itself out", and that old standby, "children need to face their fears and overcome them".

* Stomp on them hard and they'll bow down to you; if they try to resist kick them even harder; a conqueror who isn't prepared to do anything, no matter how immoral, for conquest, is called "conquered".

albatross @ 384

Though I've not known any SWAT officers well enough to ask them about it, I get the impression that many such suffer from a fetishism of the tools of the trade, especially the BDUs with the armor vests, and the scope-mounted rifles with laser designators. Being so fascinated by their equipment would surely make them far less effective than if they had used it for enough time that the sheen had worn off, and they became really just tools and not objects of desire.

#392 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 04:14 AM:

Re the Schneier Sidelight -- reading the comments was a lot like re-reading the Keep Your Head Down thread, only with more Ramboland wingnuts and fewer people offering counter-evidence. Someone even hauled out Lott again, as if he hadn't been debunked a dozen times already.

#393 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 04:42 AM:

I've been watching Venus and Jupiter move towards each other for a couple of months now. I didn't know there was going to be an occultation...very cool. Like Lizzy L (not, of course, coincidentally) I couldn't see anything tonight for the clouds.

#394 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 06:20 AM:

albatross @ 384: "The bullying goes on because it's fun, intrinsically rewarding."

That's part of it, but I think it does have some practical function: if you make everyone else around you dysfunctional and miserable, you will look much better by comparison. It's work played as a negative-sum game.

Also, the same manipulative skills that make for an effective bully also make for an effective yes-man--if you can figure out how to make someone utterly miserable, doing just the opposite to suck up to your boss is pretty easy.

Bruce Cohen @ 390: "Stomp on them hard and they'll bow down to you; if they try to resist kick them even harder; a conqueror who isn't prepared to do anything, no matter how immoral, for conquest, is called "conquered"."

It's an interesting view of the universe: strike at us and we'll only attack back twice as hard, but when we kick you around a little bit, you'll surrender right away. That they are some Other, fundamentally unlike us, is built into their worldview at a very basic level.

#396 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 07:50 AM:

Awesome picture, Lizzy. Ganbatte!

#397 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 10:27 AM:

Re bullies at work -- "The No Asshole Rule" by Robert I. Sutton is an excelent book on identifying, surviving, and preventing workplaces ruled by bullies. I recommend it highly, and it looks like it will be out in paperback soon. One of the most enlightening things about it is the self-test to see if YOU are being an asshole at work.

#398 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 10:27 AM:

Re bullies at work -- "The No Asshole Rule" by Robert I. Sutton is an excelent book on identifying, surviving, and preventing workplaces ruled by bullies. I recommend it highly, and it looks like it will be out in paperback soon. One of the most enlightening things about it is the self-test to see if YOU are being an asshole at work.

#399 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 10:38 AM:

re 339: I stepped out the office door and looked straight at it, then dashed back inside to call home and have my wife push the kids outside so they could see it. Very cool. I'm a little disappointed that it isn't today's APOD.

#400 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 10:39 AM:

The triplet I usually is sexy, sane and single; sexy is presumed to include smart in my set. But the really desirable people are already snapped up by someone more assertive than the speaker. I think this works rearsonably well for geeky complainers of any sex, gender or orientation.

A slightly less frequent one is "smart, sensible, sane", but I don't think that's about dateability, it's more about the prevalence of people who are highly intelligent but lack any practical common sense (myself included). Or who have major social difficulties and self-esteem problems, probably as a result of intelligent people getting bullied so much in our culture. I've met just a few people who have deliberately picked partners less intelligent than themselves because they manage both sensible and sane at the same time.

#401 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 10:45 AM:

Okay, surely someone in the fluorosphere wants to get in on this: Tan Dun, Michael Tilson Thomas, Carnegie Hall and YouTube collaborate to assemble the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Winners participate in a 3-day workshop with Thomas and perform at Carnegie Hall.

#402 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 10:47 AM:

I had a really nice view of the conjunction on the way out of the train station, then got out the camera when I got home.

#403 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 11:16 AM:

Albatross @384, (If we passed a law requiring all SWAT teams to be outfitted in hot pink with white polka dots, I wonder if we'd see a reversal of that trend.)

Does the fact that torero costumes tend to look, err, not all that macho, stop people from becoming toreros?

Bruce Cohen @390,
heresiarch @ 381

the ways that America is a bully nation and fetishizes power and humiliation

America is a conqueror culture that tries to believe that it isn't; the conflict between the reality and the belief causes the normal lessons of conqueror "morality"* to become fetishized and fantasizied. In straight conquest, power and humiliation are tools to be used to bring the conquered low. When fetishized, they become ends in themselves. The teachers and counselors whose job it would be in a "healthy" conqueror culture to infuse the notions of power and conquest into the young try to do the same with the notions of bullying using the rationalizations we've all heard: "all children do it", "they're only establishing a pecking order", "we shouldn't get involved in it, it will work itself out", and that old standby, "children need to face their fears and overcome them".

I don't see what's particularly American about that. Those rationalisations are common pretty much everywhere, and so are jerks who like humiliating others.

#404 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 12:03 PM:

albatross 384: If we passed a law requiring all SWAT teams to be outfitted in hot pink with white polka dots, I wonder if we'd see a reversal of that trend.

That would make them too visible for their tactics.

Make them wear camoflage tights and tutus.

#405 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Raphael-

Torero costumes not macho?

Really?

I just googled a few images and now I need a nice cool drink and a quiet lie down.

#406 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Yeah, torero costumes are sexy as all get-out. Not to mention that even if they'd worn granny dresses starting 100 years ago, granny dresses would be considered macho by association with toreros today.

Which probably means you'd have to keep femming up the SWAT uniforms every few years for the albatross effect to keep working.

#407 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 01:12 PM:

Lila @ 395... It is indeed.

#408 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 01:27 PM:

Apropos of nothing in particular, my first glance at the title of what is at present the first on the list of Teresa's Particles made me wonder...

"50 worst cats of all time? I bet they forgot the pair hissing and spitting at each other in my living room right now!"

(Not cats. Cars.)

Oh. Never mind...

#409 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 01:59 PM:

The "50 worst cars of all time" particle is very silly.

The Model T, Airflow, Trabant, EV1, Multipla and BMW 7 series would probably make my Best 50 Cars Ever list.

The author condemns the Ford Excession for being wasteful in order to appeal to consumers, and then condemns the EV1 for being small and light, which consumers don't like. The Airflow is attacked for being 10 years ahead of its time. What? The Prowler is condemned for being an ordinary car beautifully styled, while the Multipla gets it for being an extraordinary car which looks it.

Very, very silly.

#410 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 02:11 PM:

Lee @ 367

In my view, "Fashionable" is not the same as "fashion-forward". Most of my clothing is on very classic lines and so is never out of fashion - the problem with not including fashionable as a criterion, as I see it, is that you can have clean, well-fitting clothing that is so out of style that it becomes as much of an issue as ill-fitting clothing. I have an issue with this because I tend towards victorian aesthetics even in my modern clothing, but I have to be careful not to take it over the top. Classic is good, quirky individualism perfectly acceptable, but dated clothing or costuming off the rack isn't good for professional wear.

#411 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 02:43 PM:

I found the phrase 'Victorian aesthetics' oxymoronic at first, then went "Wait: clothing." Victorian clothing wasn't so bad, except that there was way too much of it.

I like the styling of their machines, too (FGRNZCHAX!). Other things...not so much.

#412 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 03:48 PM:

WRT fashion, a few months ago I browsed through a book written in the (iirc) early 1980s called "How to Dress Rich"; the two routes it suggested were a.) aggressively keeping up with current fashions or b.) maintaining a neutrally "classic" look. The pictures for the former now looked very, very dated, but the pictures for the latter really did seem like outfits that would still look reasonable today, even if their hair was sometimes a bit odd.

#413 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 03:55 PM:

Serge @394: Oh, kewl! Faces to go with the names!! Hi, everybody! Please to meet you! ::wave, wave::

#414 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 04:06 PM:

The best bit of the Science Museum in London is the first hall, full of steam engines. And the fact that in the third hall, the exhibit about Stephenson's Rocket consists of Stephenson's actual Rocket with a sign that says "Stephenson's Rocket".

The Difference Engine is very cool.

The hall of rockets (which are not early steam locomotives), while cool, is not as good as the one in the Smithsonian.

But in the basement they have a working Pong machine hooked up to a black and white TV, and you can relive your misspent youth, if you are of a certain age. Only takes about five seconds.

#415 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Wait, I forgot the actual Foucault's pendulum in the stairwell!

#416 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 04:15 PM:

I see Jacque has found Serge's photo album. I would say something nerdy and geological to go with my mugshot, but I've spoilt it by being a big nerdy engineer before I saw Jacque's comment.

Oh well, erm, Namuria!

#417 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 04:17 PM:

abi@#346: wow, that school is a gem. They only got so far as discussing the bullying that happened around me when two of the alpha males decided that punching me in the eye and throwing a beaker of sulphuric acid at me in quick succession would be a fun thing to do. (This was punishment for not giving them the contents of my bag for them to tip the acid over.)

And they did it with the teacher in the room.

*That* got a response (and not a discussion, either: things had gone too far. An on-the-spot pair of suspensions. Yep, instilling some nice fear is much better than a reasoned discussion). Nothing smaller triggered a response, ever, except to castigate me for being insufficiently stiff-upper-lippy about this 'minor' problem which led to me coming home with new bruises more often than not.

The bullying finally stopped about five years in when my mother initiated legal action against the school. Then they moved *fast* and the bullying cut off dead. In the next assembly after the legal action started, not naming names *of course* or mentioning the legal action, the headmaster gave a new rule: 'bully anyone, ever, and get expelled immediately'. (It would have been nice if they'd said something like that earlier, instead of just having pro forma largely unenforced please-don't-be-nasty platitudes that the student body completely ignored.)

This too was not ideal because it was unjust in the other direction: being a panic response little things like appeal procedures were, um, forgotten about. Still, I suspect the stratospheric fees would have caused parents to complain if unjust expulsions were triggered.

(But of course this was in the distant savage past when British schools were *quite different*, i.e. 1991.)

(Amazingly, no permanent damage from the acid incident, but there were visible burns for months.)

The teachers didn't like me, either, because e.g. my handwriting was awful which must be 'laziness'. We thought about switching schools more than once, but it really was academically excellent.

#418 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 04:26 PM:

Jacque... Glad you enjoyed it. The gallery is always open for new entries, updated ones and, yes, Niall, that does include captions that say something nerdy and geological.

#419 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 05:02 PM:

I just went rooting in the archives, looking for what some ingrate said when Serge first put my Namurian mugshot up, but I found this from 2003 instead, by John M. Ford:

And besides, a gallon bucket of double cream would be like, oh, four hundred pounds of Thermite: a whole lot of fun while it lasted but a heck of an aftershock.

Wherever you walk, Mike, may the road rise with you.

#421 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 06:00 PM:

I'm honoured.

#422 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 06:04 PM:

"Namuria," Gracie? Isn't that one of those lost civilizations that sank in teh oceans?

No? C.S. Lewis, perhaps? Oh. Um...well...

Generally, I am of the opinion that being nerdy and geological requires no excuse....

#423 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 06:06 PM:

Interested in making light in the Bay Area?

There’ll be a gathering of Fluorospherians and other bloggers in Oakland on Saturday, December 20, starting at 5pm. So far, the group includes Lizzy L, Kathryn from Sunnyvale, David Goldfarb, Tim Walters and yours truly. Alas Dawno would have liked to come, but her son will be back from Iraq at about that time. (My best wishes to you and your family, Dawno!)

The gathering will be held at the Pacific Coast Brewing Company, which was the site of a similar encounter year. As you can see from the directions, it’s a short walk from BART. (Possibly a longer one back to BART, if libations wind up being too liberal.)

Should you be interested, just drop a note HERE (or write directly to me). Let us know whether or not you'll be accompanied - by an orchestra or otherwise. If you can’t make it until after dinner, that’s OK. We’ll probably stay until they throw us out.

#424 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 06:19 PM:

re 381: I don't think America is a bully nation in that sense. The USA is more like Mr. Incredible at the beginning of the movie: proud about having the strength to clean up the world, but really frustrated that it doesn't stay cleaned up.

#425 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 06:30 PM:

The rocks in the cliffs behind my mugshot are Namurian sandstone, which is obviously named after the Magic Kingdom of Namuria, rather than Namur, seat of the Rather Interesting Walloon Parliament in Belgium, Europe's most Exciting Member State.

Similarly the whole Devonian period is named after Devonia, the Mermaid Queendom, not county Devon, and the Carboniferous period is named after the time those supposedly smart Velociraptors released all that CO2 into the atmosphere, and not after the Yorkshire town of Carbon Ifer, which isn't really that interesting, apart from its odd name and its Johnny Cash Museum.

#426 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 07:32 PM:

I like the Lizzy Picture, someone about to fall down and go "Thump"

#427 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 07:42 PM:

Terry Karney @ 424...

Dare I say that Lizzy is a sensei sans pareil?
(Thump!)
I guess not.

#428 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 07:55 PM:

Niall McAuley @ 377 ...
Xopher, I don't think that telling bullies that their victims might turn on them will work, because they are usually good at picking on people who won't. Bullies who aren't good at that get the snot beaten out of them.

I disagree. Bullies can be 'fine' picking on people that do react, but react by shouting or crying or running away, rather than trying to fight. What bullies need to learn (IMNSHO) is two things:

(1) There's always somebody bigger/meaner/in a better position than you are, that can do the same nasty things to you.
(2) If you leave somebody with no other options (perceived or real), the odds that they will fight, and will do so with disproportionate intent are high[0].

In an ideal world, we'd catch bullies before they form, and are set in their ways, of course -- but modulo that, some tactics do appear to be effective.

[0] If you prefer, you could consider this to be an aspect of "crazier than me, and hence dangerous".

#429 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 09:06 PM:

sisuile, #409: By my definitions, you're stretching "fashionable" to cover "not dowdy", which IMO is not quite the same thing. But this isn't the sort of issue where there's a Right and a Wrong; as long as I remember how you use the term and you remember how I use it, we can still communicate.

C. Wingate, #422: I disagree. During the first half of the 20th century alone we mounted some ungodly number of military interventions in Central and South America for the specific purpose of making sure that no government, whether democratically elected or not, would interfere with the business interests of Dole and other US companies. We overthrew elected governments and installed our own tyrant puppets in aid of this. If that's not a bully nation, I'd hate to see what it would actually take to get that description from you.

xeger, #426: People who reach that point frequently believe that they are literally fighting for their lives; therefore they fight much more desperately than the bully who is only out for a little fun.

#430 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 09:29 PM:

Patrick... Thanks for taking my post @ 422 out of limbo.

Ladies and gents who might be around the Bay Area on December 20, might you be interested?

#431 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 09:48 PM:

Hmm... I've no idea what my travel schedule will be yet, but if I was hypothetically to detour through either SFO or OAK at the appropriate time, is there any chance I'd be able to arrange a lift thatta way?

#432 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 10:23 PM:

On bullying, and class reunions...

I thought about posting some of my own experiences here, but on further reflection, I'm still not comfortable posting them in a public forum. No one is completely anonymous, after all.

Let it be said instead that I'm unlikely to go to any class reunions for a long time. I have doubts of my own ability to face some of my former tormentors, and still behave like a mature and reasonable adult.

I embarassed myself once at a con, when my response to an old schoolmate* who asked if I knew his brother** was "Oh, that a******". His brother had been one of those who habitually picked on me from about fifth through tenth grades. Before fifth grade, we'd gone to different schools. After tenth grade, we had no classes together. These days, see the above mentioned doubts on maturity and reasonableness.

Schoolmate was understanding once I explained his brother's behavior toward me, but still, not the best re-introduction to someone you haven't seen in years, and secretly wished you'd known better back when you were in school together.

*He was two grades above me, so not a classmate.
**His younger brother was in my grade

#433 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 11:24 PM:

xeger @ 430... Write to me and we'll see what we could work out. I will be driving my trusty minivan - pay no attention to the bumper dents. There is also a BART station near the Oakland Airport.

#434 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 11:43 PM:

Nix #416: academically excellent British private school with a laissez-faire, social-Darwinism attitude toward bullying and nasty and violent alpha male types... reading your comment, I was wondering if I went to the same school as you, until I got to the part where an actual anti-bullying policy was instituted. Bancroft's School had yet to do so when I left it in 2003.

#435 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 12:08 AM:

And since on other ML threads we're discussing parliamentary systems and constitutional matters, there's a bit of a barney going on in the UK, though less interesting than the one in Canada: MP Damian Green has been arrested in connection with leaks of confidential information from the Home Office. This is unprecedented in recent memory; not only is it almost unheard of for anybody to be arrested in connection with leaks[1], but for an MP to be arrested, and for police to enter Parliament in connection with this matter and to search his office and seize his computer, is quite shocking.

Conservatives in Parliament are waiting for the Speaker to explain himself after the Queen's Speech today, and are considering a protest, and possibly a vote of no confidence in him, over his permitting the police to enter Parliament. By convention he probably should have kept them out, although for them to attempt it anyway is very unusual.

[1]of information which embarasses the government, but does not threaten security

#436 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 01:02 AM:

Niall, #418, I traded a custom necklace for a friend hauling books back and forth so I can catalog them, and tonight I got to Mike. She's gonna borrow How Much for Just the Planet? when she gives me Dreamweaver's Dilemma back.

#437 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 01:50 AM:

For those of us old enough to have lived during the civil rights marches of the 1960s, here's some sad news: Odetta has died of heart disease at 77.

Half the folk singers who performed at Newport in those years sang her songs; the other half didn't think they could do justice to them.

#438 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 05:06 AM:

I've been trying to figure out a Greek translation of the phrase "first among equals", and what I've come up with so far (from diving into some online dictionaries) is "prota agametaxy omotimi".

Am I close?

#439 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 06:02 AM:

SeanH at #434: The thing I find interesting about Green's arrest is that it involved something like 20 counterterrorism police.

Granted, our sockpuppet Speaker (seriously - you can practically see the seams) has been spectacularly useless.

He's got a plausible public-interest defense, I think, unless they shout "national security!" loudly enough. Unity writes about the issue in his usual style.

#440 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 06:55 AM:

Serge@432: Actually, SFO is much more convenient to BART nowadays.

Earl Cooley III@437: Νο, I'm afraid not. "Prota" is a neuter form, which doesn't sound like it's what you want. The preposition should probably be "en" or "meta"; I have no idea what "agametaxy" is. (Can you give a dictionary reference for that one? I'm curious.) "Homotimos" means specifically "equal in esteem"; the dictionaries I've looked at seem to suggest that "equal in rank" takes the simpler "isos". So something like "protos meta isous".

...Er, that's assuming you want Classical Greek. If you're looking for a translation into the modern language, then never mind, and I fear I can't help you.

#441 ::: Andrew Woode ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 08:02 AM:

# 437, 439

'Protos metaxy ison' (πρώτος μεταξύ ίσων) seems to be the common expression in Modern Greek; however it appears to be a set expression using Ancient Greek syntax.

#442 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 09:55 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 439... You're right. San Francisco now has a BART station right there, but I wasn't sure how frequently trains show up. It'd actually be easier for xeger because the pub is only a few block from a BART station.

#443 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 09:59 AM:

I love TV show Fringe. There aren't many shows where a bona fide mad scientist (played by LoTR's Denethor) can tell his son that he once built a time machine, and his son, who has seen plenty of weirdness, only responds:

"Did it work?"
#444 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 10:01 AM:

Linkmeister @ 436

Odetta was not only a great singer, she was a great person. She had a presence and gravitas that she gave freely to the Civil Rights movement; when she spoke it was clear that she was talking about issues of great moment and urgency. I'm very saddened by this news.

#445 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 10:09 AM:

Raphael @ 402

I'm not saying this is a particularly American trait, I'm saying it's an accepted part of American culture because of the legacy of the conqueror culture here. Yes, it's quite common in some other parts of the world; Britain and Russia come to mind, both of them conquerors in the not too distant past, one of them attempting a resurgence. And no, it's not as common or accepted in some other places. Consider what the treatment of abi's son says about how such behavior is accepted in the Netherlands, which got out of the conqueror business a few hundred years ago, and was never as deep into it as many other colonial powers.

#446 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 11:16 AM:

Sarah S @404, Xopher @ 405, I was more thinking about wether they look "tough" in the eyes of men who are constantly worried their penises might fall off if they don't point out that they have them all the time, not about wether they make their wearer look sexy.

Not to mention that even if they'd worn granny dresses starting 100 years ago, granny dresses would be considered macho by association with toreros today.

Which probably means you'd have to keep femming up the SWAT uniforms every few years for the albatross effect to keep working.

That was basically my point in response to albatross- even something that IMO doesn't look all that "tough" and "manly" on its own, like a torero costume, can easily get seen as that by association.

Bruce Cohen @444, point taken.

#447 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 11:38 AM:

On bullying: I was really scrawny in secondary school and was bullied (physically) often. On one occasion when I returned home with a bloody nose my father asked if I was OK, sat me down, and said "Next time, single out the leader, then hit him as hard as you can." Needless to say I was shocked. However, I took his advise and got the biggest beating of my life. It did stop the bullying though. In my case the bullies moved on to kids that didn't fight back, but I know that is not always the case. At the time I felt I had nothing to lose, but with hindsight I'm not sure I would make the same suggestion to my own son.

I commend abi's son's teacher on their subtle intervention and wish that all teachers, administrators, and counselors took the time and effort to address bullying in such a thoughtful way.

Serge @442: It's on network TV too! I thought FOX was taking a huge leap of faith, but it seems to be paying off.

#448 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 11:57 AM:

Stevey-Boy @ 446... It did indeed pay off. Alas, yesterday night was 2008's last episode and we'll have to wait until some time in January for the story to resume. Will Agent Dunham get her dead boyfriend out of her head? Will we find what Blair Brown is up to? Will the cow finally leave the lab?

#449 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 12:57 PM:

And what about Naomi?

#450 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 01:30 PM:

re 428: On reflection, I'll somewhat concede the point. But then again I'm not sure I'd characterize our banana republic period as bullying, exactly. High-handed, crass, and politically dubious, yes; but sending in the Marines to protect the interests of the United Fruit Company isn't quite analogous to hurting other children for the thrill of it. It's not that UFC's influence wasn't in the end malevolent (and I must say "in the end" because in the beginning the interaction was more mutually beneficial), but that even when a corporation is doing wrong, it is nonetheless natural for it to react strongly to threats like expropriation. UFC's actions all led back to its need to make money selling bananas, after all.

#451 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 01:47 PM:

Niall McAuley @424: Thanks for the (Shakes head. Hears rattle. Works loose piece out of left ear.) explanation.

#452 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 01:49 PM:

#448: You know you're getting old when you use that line with co-workers and every stares at you dumbfounded.

#453 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 02:12 PM:

Xopher and Stefan... I must not be as old as I think because that one went over my head. (Meanwhile, today, a clerk at the grocery store, probably hoping to allow me some discount, asked if I was 55. Imagine my disappointment that I look older than my actual 53.)

#454 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 02:19 PM:

Serge, it refers to this.

(Wow, I didn't know she was Jake Gyllenhaal's mom!)

#455 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 02:19 PM:

Getting old?

Q: What's Whitesnake?
A: That's the music mommies and daddies listen to.

#456 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 02:30 PM:

#453, Xopher -

I had to go look it up, too. Oddly, I remember the "...and other questions" bit, but nothing else from the sketch.

I can't tell from Wikipedia - which came first, the Burnett sketch, or the Electric Company sketch? It seems likely that Burnett would have been first, but then what about Naomi?

#457 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 02:32 PM:

Got it, Xopher. There was also the Muppet Show's kit about Doctor Bob, which, after terrible puns that make me blanche, would end with the narrator asking silly questions.

Earl, getting old is realizing that, when I was young, the radio would play new songs by the Beatles. Getting old is realizing that Abi was born during my second year of high-school. Getting old is realizing that I'm older now than my parents-in-law were when I first met my wife-to-be.

#458 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Splurging for knitters, hand-machined needles, with a tree-ornament version.

#459 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 03:22 PM:

Serge @ 452 I was asked by someone known for her complete lack of social skills if I'd noticed I was slowing down since I'd hit 50.

I'm 36. I laughed. It was a consider the source moment.

I agreed to help out with my 20 year HS reunion for a school I only went to for 2 years, where I socialized with the drama and science geeks. But, they need the help and they asked, so I'm going to do it. I have no idea who most of my "classmates" are, but I recognize names from the police blotter. Sigh.

#460 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 03:23 PM:

Getting old is knowing that I'm older than Serge. And anyone older than me is probably fossilized in the Burgess shale.

#461 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 03:28 PM:

SeanH@#433, hah, no, not that school. 'Largely London Jewish intake, segregated, goes on about its age but fails to note that until the 20th century it was a guild-backed home for indigents and not any kind of school at all' is sufficient to isolate mine unambiguously while being Google-proof, I think.

But I suspect most UK private schools are pretty much of a piece in this area: the only thing that's likely to have changed is that they probably now insist on homework being wordprocessed rather than fighting tooth and nail against it. I was just lucky enough to have an iron-willed mother who you do *not* cross and who was (and still is) substantially more rational, forceful, and capable than the senior staff. Most people don't have Miriam to fight their corner (and don't go saying other mothers are as good, this one's special because she's *mine*, so there).

(Perhaps they've got better, but some of the older teachers when I was there joined during or even before the 1960s and apparently became teachers because they hated children, and acted like it. The student body of course was acting like adolescent boys always do, dammit.)

#462 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Tania @ 458... He thought you were 50? I agree that this implies quite a lack of social skills. When we met at Denvention, I was sure you were 49 at most.

Zzzippppppp!

Whoa. That frying pan almost hit me.

#463 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 03:36 PM:

Tania @ 458... I agreed to help out with my 20 year HS reunion for a school I only went to for 2 years(..)I recognize names from the police blotter

They let you out of Reform School after 2 years? For good behavior?

#464 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 03:38 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 459...

Humph.

anyone older than me is probably fossilized in the Burgess shale

Or the Burgess Meredith?

#465 ::: glinda, not necessarily good ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 03:43 PM:

Bruce @ 459:

I may be one of those fossils (born in 1950).

The retrospectives on the Kennedy assassination made me realize that many of my friends weren't even born when JFK was shot.

#466 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 03:49 PM:

Serge 461 snort

And a pretty frisky 49 at that, eh?

Having been bumped a grade I was always younger than my classmates. When I turned 30 I proudly announced that I was now older than lots of people, and would no longer have to deal with being the youngest person in the room/office/group/etc. Getting older is better than the alternative option.

#467 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 04:03 PM:

Tania @ 465... Getting older is better than the alternative option.

"I'm too old for this sort of thing. Just wake me up when the planet's destroyed."
- Avatar the wizard

#468 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 04:06 PM:

Raphael, #445: men who are constantly worried their penises might fall off if they don't point out that they have them all the time

What a perfect description of the "manly-man" type!

C. Wingate, #449: That's if you look at it from our POV. From the POV of the nations we kept invading, I'm not sure the difference would be noticeable. And bullies almost always have some plausible rationalization for what they do.

#469 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 04:18 PM:

Serge @ 462: I didn't realize Tania was Jewish. Or was it just her school?

(Carefully avoids comparisons with Nix's mom)

#470 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 04:28 PM:

Ginger #468: Serge, on the other hand, had a thoroughly orthodox education.

#471 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 05:17 PM:

Fragano @ 469...I protest. I have catholic tastes.

#472 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 05:21 PM:

Ginger @ 468... I didn't realize Tania was Jewish

And since she lives in the North Pole, that would explain the menorah on top of Santa's home, as was shown in Olive the Other Reindeer. (Hey, that's Ed Asner as Santa.)

#473 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 05:39 PM:

glinda @ 464

No fossil you; good or not, you're still younger than I am (b. 1946).

#474 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 06:09 PM:

One thing I would point out is that most of the comparison here has been between a Dutch school within the last year and our own experiences forty or even more years ago. I wouldn't say my son's experience of a couple of years back was ideal, but his public middle school did make efforts to deal with what was a pretty bad situation.

re 444: To put my "Mr. Incredible" remark in perhaps better terms: there is a strong paternalistic note in American foreign policy, which has been reinforced by both world wars.

re 467: What's this "our"? In the countries we kept invading, one of the big problems there was a huge disparity in points-of-view. UFC's dominance of Honduras, for instance, was in no small part due to the way the country sold itself to the company early on in order to get railways built. The degree to which any of these governments-- including our own-- can be said to represent those of the populace is quite questionable. Also, I don't think reaction to the threat of confiscation is a rationalization, particularly since such programs have a history of getting out of hand. When righting past wrongs is to be solved by a sort of lawlessness, defensiveness is entirely reasonable, even for the "guilty". I'm not trying to defend UFC's position as a whole, but merely to understand and explain a part of it.

I think part of my problem here is that this is tending to come down to the depiction of any use of superior power as bullying. Was it bullying, for example, for the Brits to take back the Falklands?

#475 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 06:57 PM:

C. Wingate @ 473

There are large number of examples other than Nicaragua. How about the US fostering of the coup that put the late Shah of Iran on the throne? Or the deposing of the Allende government in Argentina, replacing it with a very brutal military dictatorship? Or, going back a little further, the US intervention in the civil war against the Huks in the Phillipines early in the 20th century?

Much of the US foreign policy in the second half of the 20th century was about starting or reacting to proxy wars, many of them civil wars, with the Soviet Union; in very few cases did this have anything to do with the welfare of the proxies. Sounds like bullying to me.

#476 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 07:01 PM:

even when a corporation is doing wrong, it is nonetheless natural for it to react strongly to threats like expropriation

I wonder if Antebellum slaveowners felt similarly about having their human property taken away from them.

#477 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 07:10 PM:

weighting with baited breath to hear about today's shakeout in the publishing world...

#478 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 07:15 PM:

Serge #470: Protestant and catholic at the same time? That's mighty suspicious. Next you'll be telling me all about the judicious hooker in your neighbourhood.

#479 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 07:18 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #474: That's the Allende government in Chile (not Argentina), on 11 September, 1973.

#480 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 07:53 PM:

Also, er, the Falklands was a case of Argentine aggression, and the people who lived in the Falklands wanted to stay British (roughly).

When righting past wrongs is to be solved by a sort of lawlessness, defensiveness is entirely reasonable, even for the "guilty"

This is offensive nonsense. `a sort of lawlessness' is a value judgement you have no standing to make. It is arguably incorrect, and, further, even if it were correct, it isn't any of your business, especially if the people of the country involved disagree with you, further provided there aren't any crimes against humanity occurring, and even then still.

That is one reason why the US is seen as bullying -- the intervention in other countries' internal affairs purely because you can. The rights and wrongs don't really come into it. Rather, it is the utter disregard for self-governance of other countries.

It is the use of force to make other countries obey that stinks to high heaven, and it certainly seems like bullying to me.

#481 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 08:08 PM:

C. Wingate @ 463 What's this "our"? In the countries we kept invading

What's this past tense? You are still invading and occupying countries today.

#482 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 08:20 PM:

Tania @465:

To quote a well-known mathematician: "After all, when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years."

(I'm somewhat older than that, but fond of that quote; the mathematician in question made the comparison a few decades ago.)

#483 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 08:23 PM:

In posting the previous, I happened to look up at the location bar in the browser at just the right time to notice that the comment-posting script is spqr.cgi.

It's the little things you do…

(having earwormed myself with Sondheim, I will exit, backstage right)

#484 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 08:26 PM:

SFO is more convenient to BART than OAK is, but I would bet that OAK is more convenient to the Oakland, 12th St. Station. That ride through SF and under the bay is long.

#485 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 08:31 PM:

Fragano @ 477... you'll be telling me all about the judicious hooker in your neighbourhood

Only if I'm priest to admit it. Besides, I enjoyed the experience purely vicariously.

#486 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 10:02 PM:

Serge, Fragano: Be careful, or folks will think we're rabbi punsters, when we're just serious in our methodists.

#487 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 10:22 PM:

C. Wingate @ 449: "But then again I'm not sure I'd characterize our banana republic period as bullying, exactly."

It was based on the idea that, if you hurt someone bad enough, they will do what you want. Shock and Awe and all that. It's true it wasn't entirely done just to make American imperialists feel all tingly and powerful, but bullying to reach a goal is still bullying.

"...even when a corporation is doing wrong, it is nonetheless natural for it to react strongly to threats like expropriation. UFC's actions all led back to its need to make money selling bananas, after all."

It's weird, but I get the sense you find this somehow exculpatory. Me, I think it's a pretty good argument against having corporations at all.

@ 473: "One thing I would point out is that most of the comparison here has been between a Dutch school within the last year and our own experiences forty or even more years ago."

Correction: You have been talking about experiences of forty years ago. Mine, and others', happened quite a bit more recently.

"I think part of my problem here is that this is tending to come down to the depiction of any use of superior power as bullying."

Bullying is using fear and intimidation to get what one wants. Superior power often figures into that.

#488 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 10:33 PM:

to various, but especially to Keir in 479: This is rapidly devolving into a stake upon a claim of objective morality which I for one have plenty of standing to object to. I reject the claim that corporate sins justify confiscation-- not because I think that property rights are absolute, but because (a) I don't accept that inequity is a strong enough justification, and (b) because transfer from the corporation to the government is transfer from one group of privilege and power to another. I am also enough of a cynic to believe that such confiscations only benefit the new elite, in the end.

That's all rather beside the point. What bothers me is that I am still not seeing the analogy with playground dynamics. I don't think the USA is using its military power, however illegitimate you may feel that use is (and I'm largely for the view that it was all too often illegitimate), to hurt other nations for the pleasure of doing so.

And while we're in Chile: once again, we come to expropriation. Before the 1970 election, there was already a program towards the nationalization of the Anaconda and Kennecott copper holdings, based on a set of negotiated agreements with the two companies. But this was politically unpopular, and Allende went ahead with a substitute plan of simple confiscation. We sent the CIA instead of the marines, maybe or maybe not at the instigation of the copper barons; I tend to think not since, after all, Pinochet kept the mines. None of this goes towards justifying the coup or what Pinochet did once in power; but I have to think that the CEO of Anaconda surely must have felt at least a twinge of righteous indignation at Allende's reneging on the agreements which had just been made. And I think US intervention could be more accurately condemned as paternalistic meddling than as bullying.

#489 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 10:34 PM:

Jon, #476, I read about it on Andy Wheeler's blog.

#490 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 10:37 PM:

Ginger @ 485... Be careful, or folks will think we're...

Naves?

#491 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2008, 11:00 PM:

I reject the claim that corporate sins justify confiscation-

But the people of Chile in their full sovereignty as a nation, in their full right to self-determination, disagreed with you, and you (or more exactly, the US) have no standing to object.

That's the point; all this talk about the decision made is pointless. The fact is the decision was made, and the US didn't like it, so the US used physical force as a substitute for legitimacy. That seems close enough to bullying to me; if you disagree, then we can say that the US merely engaged in colonialism.

#492 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 12:16 AM:

C. Wingate, #487: You would be hard-pressed to find a playground bully who would say that they hurt other kids just for fun. It's always because "he didn't respect me" or "he's a sissy" or "she was asking for it" -- in the mind of the bully, there's something that provides justification. I submit that "protecting our economic interests" is, at root, exactly the same kind of rationalization when we go in with military force instead of diplomacy. Or, to be more explicit about it, both types of bullying have a strong "because I can, and who's going to stop me?" component.

#493 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 12:30 AM:

C. Wingate @ 487: "What bothers me is that I am still not seeing the analogy with playground dynamics. I don't think the USA is using its military power, however illegitimate you may feel that use is (and I'm largely for the view that it was all too often illegitimate), to hurt other nations for the pleasure of doing so."

Michael Ledeen: "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business."

Richard Cohen: "In a post-Sept. 11 world, I thought the prudent use of violence could be therapeutic."

Power, used to intimidate and self-validate. Is there another definition of bullying you're using that doesn't include those purposes? Yes, realpolitik goals were served by the same actions, but it is not a precondition of bullying that the action be otherwise pointless. American-backed regimes from Iran to Argentina, from Chile to South Korea were created and perpetuated through not just the use of violence, but the use of terror and intimidation. The suffering and abuse suffered by those people ultimately served no other purpose than the self-interest of American corporations and government. A nation that takes whatever it wants from whoever it wants, at any price it chooses to inflict; a nation that in fact glories in that power--you really can't see how that is bullying?

#494 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 12:52 AM:

Keir: But surely the Chilean government also used force as a substitute for legitimacy. There's not some magical moral rightness pixie dust sprinkled on actions of governments, even democratic ones, that makes their actions morally justified. That's exactly as true for the Chilean government's nationalizations as for the US government's help in the coup. (That help was given by people acting under the authority of a duly elected government, who I suppose didn't think the people of Chile had any standing to disagree with their choices, either.)


#495 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 01:44 AM:

Serge, Ginger, Fragano: Surely you have better things to do than spend all your time talking about sects?

#496 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 01:49 AM:

About the "Nativity with many angels" particle:

For some reason the thing that gets me about that painting is the dog, looking in a puzzled fashion at the throng of angels none of the humans seems to be able to see.

#497 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 02:24 AM:

Raphael @445:

I was more thinking about wether they look "tough" in the eyes of men who are constantly worried their penises might fall off if they don't point out that they have them all the time, not about wether they make their wearer look sexy.
I keep misreading that as "...if they don't point them at (*) all the time..." — which also works.

(*) the middle actually "blurs" as if unimportant, when it's really an Escher-like impossible point. Or the Blind Spot.

#498 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 05:38 AM:


Keir: But surely the Chilean government also used force as a substitute for legitimacy.

No. This is exactly wrong. The Chilean government, being democratic, derived legitimacy from the people, the people being generally accepted as the source of legitimacy in a free and democratic society. See, for instance, the French Revolution. (Arguably there are other sources of legitimacy, but a democratically elected government is normally seen as very good.) They then used force to make the legitimately made decisions stick, but it was legitimate use of force, as opposed to the substitution of force for legitimacy.

To bring in the morality of the decisions made merely muddies the waters. They may have been right or wrong, but that is a matter for the Chileans to decide, not you or I. When I say decide, I don't mean we can't discuss it; I mean we have no right to impose our views upon the Chilean people, outside a very small number of exceptional events.

This is something that really annoys me. People discuss the economic policies of Allende -- or which ever leftist government is involved -- like the fact that Allende was driving the country over a cliff should matter. The point of democracy is that if the Chileans chose to jump off a cliff that is their right.

I don't like John Key's government, and I think this current Parliament will make some bad laws, but that is their right. Discussing the morality of those laws doesn't really come into it, except in some utterly outrageous cases.

Talking about the democratic nature of the USA is exactly as specious as discussing the democratic nature of the 1945 British House of Commons with reference to India -- the wrong demos is involved. No matter what the CIA thought, it is generally accepted that democratic self-government is better than the imposition of fascist juntas.

#499 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 06:14 AM:

albatross @ 493: "But surely the Chilean government also used force as a substitute for legitimacy. There's not some magical moral rightness pixie dust sprinkled on actions of governments, even democratic ones, that makes their actions morally justified."

To echo Keir, you're conflating morality and legality. The magic pixie dust of democratic government doesn't confer morality on every action, but it does confer legality. Whatever the actions of the Chilean government are regarding businesses within their borders, they are legitimate in a way that the US's actions regarding businesses within Chile's borders fundamentally are not--the Chilean people have not given the US government any purview within their country. The force exercised by the Chilean government has been given sanction by the Chilean people.

#500 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 06:58 AM:

Paul A @ 494... Sects? What's wrong with the joy of sects, when a frau, especially a belfroy, is involved?

#501 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 07:03 AM:

re 490: That's simply raising self-determination to the level of a moral absolute, with a huge question begged as to who this "self" is. In the case of Chile, it can hardly be claimed that Anaconda could be in any way be considered part of the Chilean political "self", so they had more right than even the Chileans to consider Allende's confiscation tyrannical.

#502 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 09:03 AM:

C. Wingate--this leaves aside the point that Anaconda was doing business in Chile on the sufference of the Chileans, and not because they had an absolute moral right to do so. While Anaconda had reason to be unhappy with the Allende government, that did not give them the right to ask or expect the US government to engage in violent subversion to overthrow Allende. (Let me put in a plug here for the suggestion on another thread that we stop treating corporations as artificial people, and start treating them like domestic animals instead.)

While I have no more desire to carry coals for Bob Barr than anyone else here, he got the point when he objected to the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq on the grounds that we would say people had no right to do that to us, so we really didn't have a right to do it to anyone else.

Tangentially, the claim of many neoconservatives that America has a positive duty to continue bringing democracy to the world either ignores, or is determinedly ignorant of, the extent to which the US had either preferred or else outright enabled dictatorships for many years; democracies have a nasty tendency to do what their constituents prefer them to do, while a helpful strongman who needs our help staying on his two-legged stool can be relied upon to place our interests first.

#503 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 10:00 AM:

re 502: That was addressed earlier: the Chilean government had already negotiated the gradual transfer of the mines in question to the Chilean government. I would say that represents a level of commitment that is more restrictive than simple sufferance. Beyond that, I would be quite surprised if the copper companies would agree to risk of arbitrary confiscation as a condition for doing business. Indeed, at the time I expect that they thought of the US military as a police force to be employed to resist such theft.

re 499: I think you're trying to make "legitimate" cover more than it can, because you've made it subjective. It's the problem of self-determination again; the foreign companies are not part of the "self" here, so they aren't participants in that legitimizing process, but rather in a different, transnational process: abstract contract law. It's entirely reasonable to say that the latter trumps the former, and that governments are bound to keep their agreements with foreigners regardless of what the populace wills.

#504 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 10:12 AM:

C. Wingate @ 501: "That's simply raising self-determination to the level of a moral absolute, with a huge question begged as to who this "self" is. In the case of Chile, it can hardly be claimed that Anaconda could be in any way be considered part of the Chilean political "self", so they had more right than even the Chileans to consider Allende's confiscation tyrannical."

Well, no. Self-determination can be a moral value ranking far, far above the moral value of corporate ownership without becoming an absolute.

I balance the scales between Anaconda having their mines nationalized and Chile being overthrown. Legally, there's no question--Anaconda knew the risks of operating in a foreign country, knew they had no input into the government's actions, and chose to do it anyway. Their rights in the situation were exactly what Chile chose to give them and no more. Morally, things are a bit more ambiguous--I don't think that governments should freely take (artificial) people's property, no matter how enthusiastic the people are. However, balanced against the violent overthrow of a democratic government, it seems like a pretty paltry evil. Do you disagree?

#505 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 10:15 AM:

Fragano @ 479

Argh! Stupid brain! Brain farts so bad even a zombie wouldn't eat me!

#506 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 10:19 AM:

C Wingate @503:
Sorry, but your argument is simply not connected to reality.

I would be quite surprised if the copper companies would agree to risk of arbitrary confiscation as a condition for doing business.

Companies that do business in countries must accept the sovereignty of those countries. There is a risk that those sovereign countries will change government to the detriment of the companies; that's part of the risk of doing business.

Could, say, a Chinese company invade the US if the US implemented punitive tax rates on its profits? Not so much. So why does Anaconda get a different deal?

Indeed, at the time I expect that they thought of the US military as a police force to be employed to resist such theft.

They were wrong. The US cannot invade another country to protect the financial interests of its companies. See Chinese example above.

It's the problem of self-determination again; the foreign companies are not part of the "self" here, so they aren't participants in that legitimizing process,

No, they're subject to the whims of the populace. Like I said, part of the risks of doing business; countries evaluate that as part of their decision whether or not to invest in a certain area.

If the government is too confiscation-prone, companies don't invest, and the country gets poorer. Then a more stable government may be elected, and companies may find the risk/reward ratio improved.

but rather in a different, transnational process: abstract contract law.

Ain't no such animal. Every contract includes a specification of what country's laws will be used to enforce it. There is no international contract law, partly because the nature of contract differs from legal tradition to legal tradition*. The fact that you even think so means you're out of your area of knowledge.

It's entirely reasonable to say that the latter trumps the former, and that governments are bound to keep their agreements with foreigners regardless of what the populace wills.

No, it's entirely reasonable to say that governments have sovereignty over their territory, including the right to make damn fool decisions that cause no one in their right minds to invest in them.

The governments derive their legitimacy from the consent of the citizens they govern, not from the consent of the companies that invest in them. It is the place of the citizens of that country, and only the citizens of that country, to choose the government (barring cases of invasion, etc, but not cases of confiscation).

All that companies can legitimately do is to withhold their capital. If the government is unfavorable to investment, don't do business with it.

-----
* I've studied contract law in two countries. I was taught contract law, off and on, from the age of 4. I do know a thing or two in this area.

#507 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 10:22 AM:

albatross, #494: That argument only makes sense to a Libertarian, and only to one of a certain bent at that. I've observed in discussions elsewhere that some Libertarians have a tendency to assume that only force brought to bear by a government is illegitimate; use of precisely the same kind of force by a private entity is perfectly all right. That may not be what you meant in this case, but that's what it sounded like.

heresiarch, #499: The force exercised by the Chilean government has been given sanction by the Chilean people.

ITYM "by the democratically-elected Chilean government". It's a fine distinction, but I don't believe the puppet government we installed there had the sanction of the Chilean people in the same way.

#508 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 10:36 AM:

C. Wingate: abi said what I was going to say, but with like, actual knowledge and stuff.

Lee: yes, what you said--I was hoping context made the "democratically-elected" part clear.

#509 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 10:43 AM:

Ginger #486: I take a purely Scottish approach to it, which gives me rabbi burns. On the other hand, unlike Serge, I don't just pope off.

#510 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 10:45 AM:

Serge #490: I want a transept of your remarks.

#511 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 10:49 AM:

Fragano @510:
Serge #490: I want a transept of your remarks.

What, in case he altars the record? That's a monstrance accusation. Alb-elieve his word alone; he wouldn't cross you.

#512 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 11:01 AM:

abi @ 511 ...

Yeah, yeah... you're preaching to the choir...

#513 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 11:25 AM:

On YouTube... Presidential Bolero, or Change can happen.

#514 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 11:27 AM:

Abi @ 511... I shall suffer nun of these accusations.

#515 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 12:23 PM:

These puns are just thurible. Aren't you afraid our hosts will get incensed?

#516 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 12:27 PM:

Xopher... They just launched the ballistic missels.

#517 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 12:38 PM:

Doesn't that seem a bit of an overreaction? All they had to do was ask the punsters to censer themselves.

#518 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 12:51 PM:

Or just taken Serge aside...you know, to talk to hymnal that.

#519 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 12:52 PM:

Serge, #513: I like that! But I'd have liked it even better if they'd done slightly slower morphs, so that we got to Obama just at the key-change.

#520 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 12:53 PM:

Xopher, perh-apse Serge would listen to you?

#521 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 01:07 PM:

Nancy, he mitre he might not. Not that he's a crook, but the puns are his car and the thread is the thurifer down which he speeds, without regard for us ordainery* folk. We'll only see him in our episcopes as he speeds down the rood; screening at him like he stole something will avail us nothing. 'Epistles me off sometimes, but what can you do?

*There I gospelling things wrong again.

#522 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 01:08 PM:

Is it getting this hot in here? Maybe my thermo-miter is broken.

#523 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 01:10 PM:

Lee @ 519... Yeah. I wish they had done some cut-and-paste so that the discordant notes would have accompanied Dubya, and the triumphant final notes Obama.

#524 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 01:32 PM:

re 506: Abi, it makes no sense to even use the phrase "which country's contract law" if there is no abstraction of contracts under which they can be grouped. A contract is not a contract if it may be arbitrarily and unilaterally changed against the will of the other party. And heck, I don't even agree that within a sovereignty a government has unlimited rights of confiscation, so I don't see why I would admit such a right on a larger basis.

I do have a right, a natural right, to pass judgement on foreign governments, whether or not I have a right to do anything about it. And I do not admit that governments can be legitimately willful without limit. Bills of rights are realizations of exactly that sentiment. Tyranny is delegitimizing, regardless of how it is supported in law.

re 504: My big problem with what you're saying here is your unwillingness to step up to an admission that there was something wrong with the Chilean government reneging on an agreement they'd just made. Even if there is some schema in which that can be legitimized, it's still immoral. And I'm not compelled by criticism of the USA's bullying without morality, if for no other reason than that without morality, claims about legitimacy are unmotivating.

#525 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 01:37 PM:

Time for the abi-solution?

#526 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 01:47 PM:

C. Wingate:

Perhaps looking at it the other way around (per Kant) would help establish whether you consider this a desirable general moral principle as you appear to be arguing.

It seems to me, then, that you are arguing that when the US seized Iranian corporate and government assets or Iraqi corporate and government assets held in US banks, this was morally illegitimate - representing confiscation of assets legitimately held by corporations headquartered elsewhere - and thus a proper and moral thing to do would have been for the countries in question to invade the USA, overthrow the elected government, and set up a puppet government run by a dictator answerable to them rather than to American citizens?

It strikes me that this is probably not what you would approve of, but it's the consequence that seems to follow from the rather confusing principles you are now enunciating as moral standards.

#527 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 02:10 PM:

C. Wingate @ #524:

"He did something immoral first!" is not an excuse. Most people learn that before they even go to school.

#528 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 02:12 PM:

re 526: Iranian corporate assets? Yes, I would say that was wrong. Iranian government assets? Well, was seizing the embassy legitimate? How do you gauge such a tit-for-tat response? The failed rescue attempt? Well, I can criticize its execution, of course, but I cannot criticize its intent.

#529 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 02:30 PM:

Niall @ 527... Time for a remake of The Mouse That Roared?

#530 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 02:51 PM:

C. Wingate @ 524:
Abi, it makes no sense to even use the phrase "which country's contract law" if there is no abstraction of contracts under which they can be grouped.

There is no internationally recognized abstraction of contract law.

The fact that the majority of legal systems have some concept of a contract is because that is a common way that legal systems start, a common need they fill.

Analogy: many (but not all) cultures in the world have developed forms of writing. Writing fulfills certain cultural requirements: accurate transmission of information over great distances of space and time, the recording of more information than a single person can retain at once, the spread of knowledge beyond one's circle of acquaintance.

The various forms of writing developed independently, and the fact that they can be classed into particular groups (phonetic vs character alphabets, for instance) comes about because there are specific ways of solving the problem of recording information. There are way-out versions as well: knots of string for the Incas, for instance.

But the fact that many cultures developed writing, and that some forms of writing are similar to others, doesn't mean that there is an international abstraction of writing that is in any way binding across writing systems.

When I say I'm going to write you a letter, we have to agree on a writing system if it's to be a successful act of communication. In the same way, if you and I form a contract, then we must agree the legal system whose rules we are going to use. That will determine the formality of documentation (a verbal promise is binding in some circumstances in the Netherlands but not in the US), whether there is compensation (required in American contract law but not in all circumstances in Scotland). The tests of who is fit and entitled to form a contract change across years and borders (in many cultures, past and present, I am incapable of forming a contract by virtue(?) of my gender).

In Scots law, a contract to perform an illegal act is unenforceable. So the government, there, regulates whether some contracts are valid or not. It is perfectly plausible that a country could legislate that all contracts dictating the sale of mining land are invalid.

The point is that there is no overriding binding international law of contract. There are merely scattered, coequal implementations of a common idea.

A contract is not a contract if it may be arbitrarily and unilaterally changed against the will of the other party.

This is pretty well universal, but governments have a way of fiddling with that. (For instance: marriage can be described as a specialized form of contract. Do I need to unpack the history of governmental interference in those contracts?)

And heck, I don't even agree that within a sovereignty a government has unlimited rights of confiscation, so I don't see why I would admit such a right on a larger basis.

You have the right to that opinion. Within the sovereignty of which you are a citizen, you are entirely entitled to act on that view. However, outwith the government(s) that represent you, you do not have the right to enforce that view.

That, unlike contract, is an aspect of international law.

#531 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 03:00 PM:

An embassy is, legally (international law, mind you) the territory of the foreign country rather than the host country. Seizure of an embassy is the legal equivalent of invasion.

That is different than the seizure of assets, in form, nature, and impact.

I would also note, while staring abstractly in the air, that a nation which seems to value its money more than its principles (such as the importance of democracy) is not an admirable entity.

#532 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 03:01 PM:

My only complaint about the inflatable-breasts-lost-at-sea Sidelight is that they (presumably) weren't shipped in inflated form, so they wouldn't have been inflated already when they went overboard. If they went overboard. How fabulous would it be to have those washing up on beaches around the world?

#533 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 03:29 PM:

#532: Not to mention being a boon to sailors who fall overboard without a life preserver.

("Mickey, we washed up on this desert island two weeks ago. Isn't it time for you to take those off?")

#534 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 03:32 PM:

Andrew Willett @ 532... This sounds like the premise for an episode of Gilligan's Island.

Meanwhile, in the seaport city of Brest...

#535 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Costumers living in seaside villages would appreciate them too.

"Hey, don't be a hog! Do you really need four pair?"

"Uh . . . I'm making a female tiger fursuit."

#536 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 03:47 PM:

abi #511: Hmm. I get the sense that you and Serge are getting crozier. I just want to make sure that there is no pew about but it seems that the crucifix is in.

#537 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 03:53 PM:

C. Wingate @524, And I do not admit that governments can be legitimately willful without limit. Bills of rights are realizations of exactly that sentiment. Tyranny is delegitimizing, regardless of how it is supported in law.

Confiscation of mines does not mean a government action that is "willful without limit", nor is it "tyranny". Tyranny is when you say that whoever is in charge in your place did something stupid, or you don't look to the ground quickly enough when people in uniforms walk by, and the next thing you know, you're hanging upside down from the ceiling in some rat-infested basement and hooded people beat you with large clubs. Bills of Rights are there to prevent that sort of thing. If you think that losing your ownership of a mine has anything to do with that, then, frankly, you have trouble putting things in perspective.

#538 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 04:00 PM:

Fragano @ 536... Don't worry. As in all traditional westerns, the Calvary will come in before too much blood is spilled.

#539 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Generally, I tend to think of invading another country as bullying behavior. I am sure Mexico, for example, could come up with jusitfiable reasons to annex chunks of the US, to protect those citizens we have treated in contravention of treaties (ignoring completely how we deal with undocumented workers, and the exploitation thereof, much of which seems to be; at least, wink and nod-collusion on the part of employers. That's quite apart from those employers who travel to Mexico with the express intent of inducing peope to come north and employ them without the proper legalities being fulfilled).

I somehow doubt we would say it was justified. Such justifications are always, at best, suspect, and usually just a rationalisation to cover up blatant wrongdoing.

As to the claims on the question of confiscation. What makes a corporation somehow more sacrosanct than a person? If a person commits such crimes and abuses as a corporations do we take away their liberty, deny them access to their property, and often reduce them to penury. Why is United Fruit somehow entitled to keep, not only the fruit of their ill-gotten gains, but the means to keep ill-getting such gains?

If a bully steals from someone else, we don't say... "Oh, well you have it now, and we dare not infringe your property rights by taking it back."

A corporation not a soveriegn nation. Their use of a piece of land does not remove it from the territory of the state in which it rests. Those states have every right to change the laws; which may cost the corporations which chose to do business there to lose money. It may also cause other businesses to choose to go elsewhere. This is called a free market.
When the response to a corporation losing something is to confiscate the right of the state which did the takings right to act as an independant state... that's more over the top than the simple nationalising/confiscating/resdistributing/whatever word you want to use to make it sound unfair, and wrong you care to use.

There are other means to attempt recompense (sanctions are the most easily managed, and we've even managed to be bullying with those, e.g Cuba).

Your later claims about the "abstract ideal" of contract law fails even in the United States. The Supreme Court has, on several occaisions, changed the principles by which contracts are exectuted, who can enter into them, etc. When they have done that, all previous models are changed. One can plead with the Legislative Branch to pass laws which will restore the present system, but unless they do, that's the way it goes.

The Congress has done the same thing. We happen to have a clause which prevents them from making such changes retroactive (mostly; and it could be removed), but such changes mean any such plans based on being able to enforce previous contract models are null and void.

Sometimes (as with baseball and free agency) such changes completey invalidate the extant system, and businesses have to practice new models.

One might argue, from the moral standpoint that were the businesses in question acting responsibly, in relation to the local population, such risks would be greatly reduced, perhaps even nonexistant.

#540 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 04:44 PM:

re 530: I'm plowing through a bunch of international law stuff, and right now, I'm not convinced that it is international law. In the first place, such law is (again) not objective. But I'm also finding reference to cases like Barcelona Traction which admit that nations do have rights to defend corporations against the depredations of other nations.

#541 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 04:50 PM:

I don't see the history of an invading army or an overthrow of a government in that summary of Barcelona Traction. Is there a fuller description that demonstrates a move from legal to military action, as approved by any competent court?

#542 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 05:32 PM:

abi @530: Oo! Oo!! Clear and knowledgeable spcificity! ::wiggles happily:: Do that some more!

#543 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 05:51 PM:

Jacque @542:

Thanks, but I did cheat a little in one place.

There is actually not even any such thing as US contract law. There are 50 (? 51? 52? thereabouts.) laws of contract in the US, at least one for each state. The law of contract governing the sale of goods has been (pretty much) regularized under the Uniform Commercial Code, but there are still variations among the states for other types of contract. (As, indeed, for all types of state law, which is why you have to pass the bar in each state in which you wish to practice as an attorney.)

Rule of thumb: never assume universality of any legal concept. Even if the next jurisdiction over has something with the same name, it may vary in subtle, interesting and expensive ways from what you already know.

This goes particularly for something as deep-rooted and foundational as the contract. Remember, for instance, that Scotland and England have had a unified Parliament for 300 years, but still have different contract law.

IAN,BTW,AL, but I was raised among them.

#544 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 06:06 PM:

C. Wingate @ #540 writes:
I'm plowing through a bunch of international law stuff

... and its all wrong!

#545 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 06:08 PM:

Andrew Willet writes in #532:
My only complaint about the inflatable-breasts-lost-at-sea Sidelight is that they (presumably) weren't shipped in inflated form, so they wouldn't have been inflated already when they went overboard. If they went overboard. How fabulous would it be to have those washing up on beaches around the world?

I trust Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer has been alerted.

#546 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 06:13 PM:

keir #498:

Sorry this is kind of long--I don't quite understand your argument, so I don't want to cut much from your comments, lest I construct a strawman by accident.

You said:

No. This is exactly wrong. The Chilean government, being democratic, derived legitimacy from the people, the people being generally accepted as the source of legitimacy in a free and democratic society. See, for instance, the French Revolution. (Arguably there are other sources of legitimacy, but a democratically elected government is normally seen as very good.) They then used force to make the legitimately made decisions stick, but it was legitimate use of force, as opposed to the substitution of force for legitimacy.

I don't understand how you're using the word "legitimacy" here. What I think you're saying is that when a democratically elected government does X, that in general they have some moral right to do X, and to use such force as is necessary to achieve X. But that seems like magical democratic-government pixie dust, making whatever choice is made morally acceptable. What am I missing?


To bring in the morality of the decisions made merely muddies the waters. They may have been right or wrong, but that is a matter for the Chileans to decide, not you or I. When I say decide, I don't mean we can't discuss it; I mean we have no right to impose our views upon the Chilean people, outside a very small number of exceptional events.

When you talk about our rights to impose our views on the Chilean people, isn't this also bringing in the morality of the decisions?

We have two different decisions here: The Chilean government nationalized some property owned by a politically-connected company in the US. Encouraged by Anaconda, the US government supported a coup that ended up killing Allende and putting Pinochet into power. There seems to me to be no question that the second decision was wrong, and its consequences (torture chambers, mass graves, and a generation living under a police state) were awful. I'm inclined to say that the first decision was also wrong, though obviously not on the same level, and I don't really know enough details to be sure.

You seem to be saying that the decisions of the Chilean government, being democratically elected, are outside the scope of my moral judgement, or at least my right to take any action about them. But that position seems nonsensical, so I must be missing something[1].

This is something that really annoys me. People discuss the economic policies of Allende -- or which ever leftist government is involved -- like the fact that Allende was driving the country over a cliff should matter. The point of democracy is that if the Chileans chose to jump off a cliff that is their right.

First, I wasn't concerned with whether Allende's policies were good or bad. I don't know enough to have an opinion, beyond the obvious observation that it turned out pretty badly for both Allende and Chile to nationalize the property of a big, politically connected company in the US.

Second, would you apply the same statement about the US? If the American people want to drive themselves off the cliff into a Neamiah Scudder style theocracy, it's their right, so long as it's done democratically? If what you mean is "it would be immoral for other countries to intervene," I disagee, but I can see where you're coming from. If you mean that Americans who are in the minority are morally obliged to accept and obey the theocracy, should it be elected, I suspect we're far enough apart in basic assumptions that we're never going to come to a meeting of the minds on this issue.

[1] Suppose the nation of Horriblistan forbids its women to learn to read, and their evil government is democratically elected. Would it then be wrong for the US government, or US individuals, to take part in smuggling in educational materials and supporting covert schools for girls and women?

If this isn't a fair example of the principle you're espousing, can you explain what's wrong with it?

#547 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 06:27 PM:

heresiarch #499:

Assuming all actions by US officials took place on US territory (giving briefcases full of cash to shady Chilean generals, providing military training and arms to same, etc.), and were legal by US law at the time, would your view of the morality[1] of the coup change? After all, all those actions were legal under the legitimate authority of the democratic government ruling the territory on which they took place with the consent of the governed.

Again, I have no disagreement with the idea that the coup was a bad thing to do, with awful consequences for Chile. But what made it wrong? I have a hard time seeing the legitimacy of the Allende government as a huge part of what made it wrong.

[1] We're really talking about morality here, right?

#548 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 06:39 PM:

Albatros: I think your footnote sums up the problem.

Would it be wrong for you, a person, to attempt to make such changes as sumuggling in books? No, I don't think so.

Would it be wrong for you to hire Blackwater to go in and kick the bastards out, and install someone you liked better? Yes, I think so.

Would it be wrong for the US gov't to use the Army to kick the bastards out and install someone they liked better? Yes, I think so.

To make an Heileinian argument, just as one cannot take someone freedom away; it must be surrendered, so to can it not be given to people, they must take it for themselves.

Showing them the options they have is one thing.

Barging in and saying, "here, we have freed you from your opressors" is something quite different.

In fact, a lot of the rhetoric of the Cold Wars more heated exchanges was us accusing the Russians of trying to force their forms of gov't on people.

We don't get a pass on forcing our ideas on people. We like it, that doesn't make it right.

And forcing bad systems on them, so some rich people here will be able to keep getting richer (which was the aim in Nicaragua, and Chile; even if it didn't work out that way) is straight up not right.

#549 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 06:42 PM:

A more general question involves the whole idea of bullying and a bullying culture. I agree with C Wingate that the actions of the US don't quite follow the "bully" model (I'd say "gangster" is more appropriate--using violence and threats to turn a profit rather than for the sheer joy of making people squirm), but the interesting part of the earlier comment was about the American bullying culture.

Is there any good measure of how much bullying goes on in different cultures? I have the impression that certain kinds of bullying are very common in Japan, frex, but I don't know how you'd compare it with the US. I'm curious if American culture is really strongly encouraging bullying. It's plausible (especially with our artistic love affair with heroes who abandon morality and rob/torture/kill as needed to beat the bad guys), but I don't have any good way of seeing whether it's really there or not. (Or at least, whether it's stronger than the bullying culture in other countries.)

#550 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 07:03 PM:

albatross @ #549 writes: the actions of the US don't quite follow the "bully" model (I'd say "gangster" is more appropriate--using violence and threats to turn a profit rather than for the sheer joy of making people squirm

The current war in Iraq is not about making money for America or American companies, unless it's about stealing US taxpayers money and giving it to contractors.

Maybe it's about Dubya outdoing his Dad. Maybe some deranged people who thought you could spread democracy at the point of a gun got some decision-makers ear.

But I don't think so. I think the USA was hurt, and lashed out at an easy target. Classic bully behaviour.

#551 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 08:14 PM:

Niall #550:

Okay, fair point. Rereading herersiarch's #493 nails the same message. I'm not sure how common that is as a motive, but it's clearly there.

It seems like political decisions are usually made by coalitions which may have radically different goals. For example, I think the invasion of Iraq would never have happened without the widespread desire to go clobber someone in response to our having been hurt. But there were also plainly several other groups with their own motives and arguments--one reason why the reasons given for the invasion were always shifting. There were people who wanted to depose Saddam on human rights grounds, people who wanted a crack at oil contracts in a post-Saddam Iraq, people who wanted a stable base in Iraq, people who believed they could remake Iraq as a democracy and have a huge positive impact on the world, people who believed Saddam posed a threat to the US or Israel, people who viewed the post-Gulf-War Iraq as a continuing problem that needed to be resolved and an invasion as the cheapest way to do it, and probably many others I'm not thinking of. That makes working out specific motivations harder.

But then, the same is true for people--people often have many different conflicting motivations and desires that drive them in interesting and often fairly nutty directions.

How much of a bully mindset was there in our older international interventions? How much of the "our troops are the best, smartest, strongest, bravest, most-ass-kickingest folks ever" line feeds into that, or supports it, or is required by it?

#552 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 08:48 PM:

Zombie Haiku as written by William Carlos Williams

Will you forgive me
For eating your brain
So delicious and cold?

#554 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 12:22 AM:

Niall @ 550: I think the USA was hurt, and lashed out at an easy target.

Well, no, mostly. I suppose you could make the case that's why the public could be conned into it, but that's certainly not the inception of the war. By this point, any number of former administration insiders have documented in excruciating detail that Bush and Cheney came into office in January 2001 already determined to go to war with Iraq, and were simply hunting around for any excuse.

I don't know if we'll ever really know why. Given that we've had years worth of lies about the reasons, it would probably be unwise to believe anything we're eventually told about the real reason, but certainly 9/11/2001 was nothing more than a marketing hook for the desired war.

#555 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 12:22 AM:

albatross, #551: I think it's more accurate to say that Certain People were determined to invade Iraq, and the stated reasons for the invasion kept changing because other people kept pointing out the holes in the reasons currently on the board. It's already known that the invasion was under discussion almost a year prior to 9/11, so that was just another convenient excuse.

#556 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 01:37 AM:

Running a little behind; I need to keep more abreast of the Particles ...

In my mind's eye I see an animated short that starts with those inflatable breasts going over the side in a storm, to wild classical music (maybe a bit of Mendelsohn?); visual style is late '30s, like the early Superman cartoons, or perhaps early sort-of '50s, like "Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow".

Pull back to show the breasts spreading out on the heaving sea (you think that's too torrid? Wait 'til you hear the throbbing engines) and then discover coming over the horizon a flock of rubber ducks, the vanguard of the annual Rubber Duckie Race, in hot pursuit of the boobs. The two groups of rubber items coalesce in a milling battle — or is it a love-in? Pornography ensues. Fade to pink.

#557 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 03:58 AM:

albatross @547:
Again, I have no disagreement with the idea that the coup was a bad thing to do, with awful consequences for Chile. But what made it wrong? I have a hard time seeing the legitimacy of the Allende government as a huge part of what made it wrong.

Back to first principles for a moment. Nations have leaders. Fact of life. Those leaders tend to claim some sort of legitimacy or other. The base version of that legitimacy, the (to cross threads a bit) 1.0 version, is Might Makes Right. I have a bigger army, therefore I am king. But that leaves the leader open to a lot of challenges, and the ensuing civil wars are tough on the populace.

A later historical development was the Divine Right of Kings (aka the Throne of Heaven), which we'll call legitimacy 2.0. That fixes the civil war exploit quite handily, but includes a progressive quality leak: not everyone who has the Divine Right is any good at the job.

Consent of the governed is legitimacy 3.0, which generally thought to be the best standard. Some cultures still have, or have fallen back to, 2.0 or 1.0, but a higher proportion of citizens are happy, free and wealthy in 3.0 cultures than in any other kind.

So we like the standard of "consent of the governed" as a test for governments. It beats the hell out of any alternative system. It allows for peaceful change of government over time, and (correctly implemented), it improves the average of competence in government.

Consent of the governed also has one side effect: it allows us to take the actions of the government as the will of the people*. That's the "magical pixie dust" you refer to. It's not a legitimizing force for all actions, but it sets up a presumption of rightness in what a government does. It's a finger on the scales.

Now, the [will of the people/actions of the government] may be singularly awful. Examples do come to mind. But regime change is still not a legitimate goal of war in international law. Removing a democratically elected government is an intrinsic evil, because installing another one is going all the way back to might makes right law. And a government that is put in place with force will use it to stay in place. Again, examples come to mind.

Of course there is always the temptation to do evil so good will come of it. Sometimes it even works out that way in the end, though that is extremely rare. (Germany and Japan, post 1945; no other examples spring to mind). But even then, we have eroded one of the key defenses that shields us from thuggishness. Germany, though necessary, put us on the slippery slope to Vietnam, and thence Iraq.

So no, arranging the overthrow of the Chilean government on US soil would not be right (even, assuming arguendo that it were legal...I seem to recall some laws about bribery of foreign officials). Because the actual overthrow of the government would still be the replacement of an elected government with one put in place by force.

And that erosion of our best system of governmental legitimacy damages us all, far more than the loss of corporate wealth.

-----
* This, in recent years, has been wearing a bit thin in the US. Both Bush vs Gore and ACORN represent a certain discomfort; I don't know what to do about it. There is no legitimacy 4.0† on the horizon; 3.0 is the best we have.
† It's tempting to consider plutocracy as legitimacy 4.0, but really it's just a genteel version of 1.0

#558 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 05:28 AM:

C. Wingate @ 524: "My big problem with what you're saying here is your unwillingness to step up to an admission that there was something wrong with the Chilean government reneging on an agreement they'd just made."

This is patently untrue. In my post @ 504, the very post you say you are replying to, I wrote: "I don't think that governments should freely take (artificial) people's property, no matter how enthusiastic the people are." I've never claimed that there isn't something morally dodgy about Chile's actions. My points are simple: there is no legal framework within which to judge Allende's actions other than the legal framework of Chile, and that overthrowing a democratic government for nationalizing foriegn-owned mines is morally equivalent to hiring someone to torture and kill your neighbor's entire family because he stole your lawnmower.

albatross @ 547: "Assuming all actions by US officials took place on US territory (giving briefcases full of cash to shady Chilean generals, providing military training and arms to same, etc.), and were legal by US law at the time, would your view of the morality[1] of the coup change?"

I'm deeply confused how you can read a post where I very definitely place morality on one side, place legality quite a distance away on the other side, and then draw a really thick line between them, and still come to the conclusion that I think the relative legality of an action can affect its morality.

"I have a hard time seeing the legitimacy of the Allende government as a huge part of what made it wrong."

What made the American Revolution right?

#559 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 05:34 AM:

albatross @ 549: "(I'd say "gangster" is more appropriate--using violence and threats to turn a profit rather than for the sheer joy of making people squirm)"

One can enjoy doing something that nonetheless brings financial gain.

#560 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 06:41 AM:

Do you know what today is?

#561 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 06:41 AM:

Do you know what today is?

#562 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 06:42 AM:

Do you know what today is?

#563 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 06:43 AM:

Today marks the first anniversary of Abi Sutherland’s becoming one of Making Light’s moderators. My many thanks to Abi for doing such a wonderful job.

By the way, I recently discovered that, before Abi was thus transfigured, she had to endure a grueling rite of passage. Its nature was kept secret, but that didn’t stop some young people of a very inquisitive nature. Here is what they found.

#564 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 06:45 AM:

What made the American Revolution right?

Overthrow of the legitimate government by a group of wealthy businessmen under the leadership of a charismatic general, with support from organised crime and an ambitious and imperialistic foreign power? I suppose there is a distant parallel to Chile, but I think in terms of generals-turned presidents Pinochet was probably more unpleasant than Washington...

#565 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 07:09 AM:

Thank you, Serge. It's been a fun year.

The video is just something we use to scare the kiddies.

Actually, what happened is that I put my shoe by the fireplace and sang a little song. Then I went to bed.

During the night, Teresa came dressed in a red cloak and a high mitre, carrying a crooked staff. With her were Patrick, Jim and Avram, all with their faces blacked. They wore bright velvets, with feathers in their caps.

Patrick was carrying a great book, in which the names of all the good and bad Fluorospherians were written. Jim had a burlap sack, much tossed about with the struggles of someone inside. Avram had a bundle of sticks with which he would occasionally hit the sack to quiet the occupant, when the shouts of FCK Y! THS S CNSRSHP! grew too loud.

In the morning, I found they keys to the back room in my shoes, along with sundry pepernoten and a chocolate A*.

-----
* Note that, if you're going to be naughty at Sinterklaas on Making Light, you'd best have a name that begins with a consonant. Or you'll miss out.

#566 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 08:34 AM:

Bush and Cheney came into office in January 2001 already determined to go to war with Iraq...I don't know if we'll ever really know why.

The current theory in my house is "Because Saddam Hussein called Bush Sr nasty names".

#567 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 09:21 AM:

Apropos of Nothing:

hermit crab housing + poetry. what’s not to love?

Leads to a discussion of a project to make synthetic homes for the crabs.

(via Via Negativa

#568 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 09:25 AM:

Patrick was carrying a great book, in which the names of all the good and bad Fluorospherians were written. Jim had a burlap sack, much tossed about with the struggles of someone inside. Avram had a bundle of sticks with which he would occasionally hit the sack to quiet the occupant, when the shouts of FCK Y! THS S CNSRSHP! grew too loud.

This sounds rather as though you are preparing a list of characteristic attributes for the Fluorosphere (along the lines of St Peter's keys, Samson's jawbone, Hercules' lionskin and club etc...)

#569 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 09:49 AM:

Serge @ 653

Yay, abi! Lots more years!


* watches video *

Isn't it amazing how thin Hollywood heathens are? Doesn't it make you want to chuck all the latest fad diets and run out to worship idols? I can just see the Midnight Sun headline now:

"Amazing new diet does require sacrifice!"

#570 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 09:54 AM:

abi @ 557

It's tempting to consider plutocracy as legitimacy 4.0, but really it's just a genteelsurreptitious version of 1.0

FTFY

#571 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 10:08 AM:

Congratulations, Abi!

(I was thinking of a different origin.)

#572 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 10:09 AM:

abi @ 558

overthrowing a democratic government for nationalizing foriegn-owned mines is morally equivalent to hiring someone to torture and kill your neighbor's entire family because he stole your lawnmower.

One complication of this discussion is that we're talking about three different types of entities here, and somewhat conflating both their levels of moral agency and their "natural" and legal rights. We have 2 kinds of artificial beings: corporations and governments, which I'd argue are not very similar in aims or in moral philosophy; one obvious difference is that governments (at least in Legitimacy 3.0) have an obligation to consider the rights and needs of all people within their jurisdiction, whether those people are part of the government or not; that same principle does not appear to hold for corporations, at least in Western society. Maybe it's time for Corporation 2.0?

The third kind of entity is people themselves. Note that when a government confiscates a corporation's property it does not (or not necessarily) harm people directly; when a corporation or another government brings down a democratic government by force it usually involves deliberate harm to some people, and almost always replaces the removed government with something that does less good and more harm to the populace (Germany and Japan after WWII being the only exceptions I can think of, either).

The comparison shows a greater moral balance for the democratic government than for the regime-changing corporation whether you measure by the greatest good, the least harm, or minimum integral of harm over time.

#573 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 12:08 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 569...

What do you have against Heather Locklear?
("Serge, it's heathens.")
Oh.
Nevermind.
I guess I won't be using my Goat Dance outfit after all.

#574 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 12:12 PM:

Abi @ 565... I prefer your version of the Rites much more. It's got a heart-warming finale along with a message against moral turpitude and bad language. Better than the extreme waxing of the version I had found.

#575 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 12:25 PM:

Congratulations, abi!

#576 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 12:27 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @ 572 ...
Maybe it's time for Corporation 2.0?

Corporation 2.0? The massively distributed multi-node multi-name international megacorp? Oh, wait... we've already got those...

#577 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 01:03 PM:

Related to absolutely nothing here (as far as I can see), is there any post for listing scam warning posts similar to the list of first aid/disaster posts and the list of recipe posts?

#578 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 01:14 PM:

Bruce #572:

This is just a nitpick, but doing harm to a corporation certainly also does harm to humans, at least if there are any human stockholders, creditors, employees, suppliers, or customers doing business with the company. Isn't that at least 95% of the public justification for the proposed bailout of the big 3 automakers? (There are presumably many other justifications or reasons which aren't as good for political posturing, both good and bad.) And this sort of thing definitely leads to political tensions between countries, as with disputes over trade barriers, violating patents, dumping, subsidies, etc.

The non-nitpicky stuff:

First, let's be clear about one thing: I agree that toppling Allende was a very bad thing to do, and that Anaconda shouldn't have pushed to have it done, and the US government shouldn't have done it. This is not relevant to the question of whether the nationalization was also a bad thing.

Second: I don't know for sure whether it was a bad thing in this case--I can imagine special cases where nationalizing foreign stuff might be perfectly reasonable, though my suspicion is that most of the time, it's much more of a way to use state power to steal stuff. That's also an extremely common pattern--politicians who either want to enrich themselves/their cronies or want to have more resources with which to pursue their goals, who use the power of the state to just flat steal what they want.

My objection here is to the idea that nationalization is justified by the fact that it was done by a democratically elected government.

For example, laws that forced blacks off of property they owned (sunset laws, but maybe others as well) were imposed by democratically elected governments, and involved the state taking property from some people to further its goals and the values of its voters. This was, at the time, entirely within the law. It was just evil, is all. The fact that it was only taking property and was done by a democratically elected government does not wash away the fact that it was legalized theft. Similarly, that awful supreme court case regarding eminent domain a few years back decided that it was legally acceptable for a local government to take property from one person and give it to another, based on an expectation of higher tax revenues from the recipient. Perfectly legal, but also wrong.

#579 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 03:41 PM:

abi #557:

As I understand it, this quote summarizes a lot of our disagreement:

Consent of the governed also has one side effect: it allows us to take the actions of the government as the will of the people*. That's the "magical pixie dust" you refer to. It's not a legitimizing force for all actions, but it sets up a presumption of rightness in what a government does. It's a finger on the scales.

There are two places where I think this paragraph is just wrong:

First, I don't buy the idea of a "finger on the scales." The only way I can parse that idea is to say that there are actions which are wrong when done by a monarchy, but right when done by a democracy. That seems to me to amount to a kind of special pleading for governments like our own, when they do bad or questionable stuff. In particular, imagine two cases:

Case A: The king decides to take a bunch of property owned by unpopular foreigners to raise money for the treasury.

Case B: The president decides to take a bunch of property owned by unpopular foreigners to raise money for the treasury.

Perhaps this is simply an irreconcilable difference in our beliefs, but I don't see how the morality of those two cases differs. Yes, in one case, it's the king who has decided to take the property, and in the other it's the president, elected by a majority. But what made the majority, or even the unanimous agreement of the citizens, enough to justify taking property that belongs to those unpopular foreigners? It seems like that action has to be weighed on its own merits, without regard to who was doing it[0].

In practice, there are democracies that are rotten places to live because the government does a lot of lousy stuff, and there are non-democracies that are much nicer places to live, because the government does better stuff. That's not the way to bet[1], but it does happen. Given the choice, a sensible person may very well prefer to live in a well-run autocratic state than in a poorly-run democracy.

The only relevance I can see to the government being a democracy is that its actions in some very noisy and imperfect sense reflect the will of the people, and so it's possible to make some kind of consent argument saying that when the government does something nasty to some of its citizens, it has their consent[2]. And that leads to my second disagreement with your paragraph, above.

You can take election outcomes to broadly represent the will of the people, but it really represents, at best, the expressed will of the majority. If the majority of people vote to do something nasty to a minority, the idea that it's the will of the people doesn't seem to change the nastiness of what's being done. Indeed, it seems like one of the biggest moral failure modes of democracies involves mistreatment of unpopular minorities, and the closest thing to a justification for that is that it's the will of the people.

[0] You clearly care about the history and surrounding situation--if the unpopular foreigners stole that stuff originally, the situation looks quite different than if the unpopular foreigners brought their own wealth from outside to invest. But here, we're only talking about whether the moral situation is different for democracies vs monarchies or whatever.

[1] This is the only strong reason I see to support democracy over other forms of government--because it seems to produce better results, year in and year out, across different cultures and peoples and situations. If democracy mostly produced bad outcomes, and monarchy mostly produced good ones, I'd prefer monarcy.

[2] Note, though, that the same argument is made for other government types, as well. And whether or not you get a vote never seems to change whether the laws apply to you, as with all the people who used to be drafted at 18 and allowed to vote at 21, or felons in many states today who aren't permitted to vote, or illegal immigrants who certainly can be sent to jail or have their property taken by the state despite being ineligible for a vote.

#580 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 04:15 PM:

xeger @ 576

Corporation 2.0? The massively distributed multi-node multi-name international megacorp? Oh, wait... we've already got those...

You're thinking of the online version of Resident Evil.

#581 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 04:59 PM:

albatross:
You seemed to think that an act could be judged either absolutely good or absolutely bad based on a single factor. I can't see what else would lead you to even come up with the idea that anything is "magical pixie dust"*.

"Finger on the scales" is my attempt to introduce some subtlety and nuance to this black and white phrasing you brought up. Because, you know, it's complicated. To be honest, I've had a hard time arguing against such a rampant oversimplification, so I'm not surprised you've found a hole in the way I've tried to tackle it.

Let me try again. It is better for a government to act in accordance with the will of its people than otherwise. This is not just because we (heart) representative government, but also because this (when well implemented) allows the government's actions to be tested, questioned and refined by a larger pool of people.

So a hypothesis that has two governments do the same thing, and one be better than the other, is of course flawed. One interesting case is where the two rulers want to do something (spend the country's resources on a vanity project, for instance), and the monarch does it while the representative government does not. Another is when both governments do the same thing, but the democratic leader does it in a better fashion because the plans have been tested.

That can work the other way, when the monarch is more enlightened than the populace. And both large populations and single rulers can be stupid, biased, and evil. But I find the decisions of a democracy are generally better than those of a smaller group of people.

-----
* Or maybe you think that other people think this? You know we're smarter and more subtle than that.

#582 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 05:30 PM:

albatross:

Look, I'm sorry. I'm tired and ill-tempered with the winter. I can't explain things clearly right now.

I'd prefer if you didn't assume that I hold some kind of irrational and inexplicable view because I've not explained myself clearly. But since I can't address your points in a way that seems to make sense (even to me), I suppose I can't stop you from so doing.

So, sorry, but I think I'm dropping out of this discussion before I become all noise and no signal. Sometimes we have to acknowledge our disabilities and bow out.

#584 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 07:16 PM:

For real this time :-(

R.I.P. 4E. A real mensch.

"In recent decades, according to a 2003 Times story, Ackerman slowly sold pieces of his massive collection in order to survive. Because of health problems and his still-unresolved legal battle, he put up all but about 100 of his favorite objects for sale in 2002."

OK. That answers the question that had been nagging me since the scare a few weeks ago.

It was probably hard to have to sell the stuff off . . . but if it were me I'd rather have it that way. Leave the minimum amount of stuff for others to have to worry about.

#585 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 09:53 PM:

Vale Forrest J Ackerman. We were lucky & happy to have you & your works for as long as we did.

#586 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 10:09 PM:

May 4E rest in peace.

#587 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 10:17 PM:

Ah... Forry, gonna be an interesting night at the club next week, maybe I'll find a way to go.

I'd posit that oligarchy/aristocracy counts as V 3.0, in that it places a group the holder of the final power has to keep happy. That gives the people some recourse for appeals which doesn't require a complete reset of the system.

albatross: The difference between the "will of the people" pixie dust and the, "mandate of heaven" pixie dust is that the people can do something about what the representives do; without breaking the system.

As to mistreating minorities: that's one of the huge failures in majority rules systems. It's what we have a legal system, and the idea of irreducible rights to defend. On the up side, in a any of the other systems being discussed, there is nothing to prevent the gov't from using the powers they have to do whatever they want to anyone not in the class protected by the "divine" right in question. Pogroms in Europe are a classic example of using the outgroup (or the persecution of Gypsies, and other, "tolerated strangers").

Part of the problem in Kelo v New London is that it allows the sorts of thing Ananconda protested in Chile to be done to anyone (just wait until some township decides it needs to do something to improve public life which calls for seizing some corporations parcel... heck, there are places in Calif. might want to do it, so they could auction it off, and get the land reappraised for the first time in 30+ years). But, to bring it back to the point which was originally made, that wouldn't justify a coporation asking the Gov to activate the national guard to oust the mayor, evict the citizens, and restore the property.

To address the question of Germany and Japan: The situation is not the same. No one was (so far as I can recall) advocating an invasion to change their gov'ts. They, in fact, invaded other countries. At the end of the war they had no functional gov't. The victors, rather than just allow chaos to ensue, chose rather to install a mode of gov't which was seen to be less prone to the excesses the previous had practiced, and sat on them until the people saw it was at least as good as the system they had before.

That's an important disctinction, IMO.

#588 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2008, 11:58 PM:

#sisuile and # 368 Lee

Would/does it make a difference to you, that there was a time in my life when I had had several skirt suits made for by by Hong Kong tailors? I was rather more formally dressed than most of my coworkers who were mostly dressed in typical defense engineer clothing, which differs from non-defense engineer attire with a lack of worn-through-into-holes pants around, much rarer cases of bare feet and/or sandals, and no dog hair.... (one place that a headhunter called me about a few months ago has a policy of no more than two dogs per day in the workplace...).

I'm much more casual these days as a result of all the years of unemployment, underemployment, and sporadic employment, and for a considerable amount of those years living off the home equity line of credit and watching the red ink grow on credit cards.... the current unemployment situation of the country I look at from the perspective of someone who watched the defense industry collapse at the end of the 1980s with the same level of national interest and support as has happened twenty years earlier--that is, none. For all but a a month of nine years I was without employment with benefits, and at the end of that nine years, I had a salary that was 80% non-inflation adjusted of what I'd been making when I was laid off in a sixth round of layoffs, along with a few people shy of the number of people that would have triggered enforcement of the plant closure act. And then 41 months after having transitioned over into doing software testing and become employed fulltime, I was unemployed again from the telecom industry crash and didn't get another job with benefits until 54 months later. Again, nobody gave a damn about the people thrown out of work with the telecom bust--venture capitalists were loaning money to high tech companies with the requirement that the research and development and production be done over in Asia or Eastern Europe and not North America--the fact that the industry average was that the Indan programmers tended to cost a quarter of what a US programmer would cost and deliver one-sixth as much code, and with a lor more managerial effort and test complications involved and slower turnaround time, was irrelevant to those making the funding and work location demand decisions.... and nobody was interested in bailing out companies that went under that actually have revenue streams, some of them on target for profitability with their business plans proceeding--the funding had dried up, and funds that had been assured would be available and promises of funding, got reneged on. EMC (a survivor of the collapse, I should note) shut down one of its business units so fast and so completely, it left several hundred thousands of dollars of equipment at InfoLibria (I had been working testing a product that was in development that was a joint effort of the two companies--which never got to market, because....), where I had worked until I got laid off (75% of the company had already been laid off before me, and the company was out of existence before the year was over) without instructions/interest in getting the equipment back.

I suddenly realized today at work that I have a minor wardrobe crisis--I can't easily locate appropriate clothing for one of the Seasonal Hazards, the Offsite Company Party which is 18 hours away, because all I've been wearing since last year at this time, is pants and shirts and no dress-up clothing....

Meanwhile, at the current time I am employed, the company I work for has a growing revenue stream and a steady, increasing stream of orders coming in, has actually been hiring people, and is going to be moving to larger quarters next year (alas, it's going to be further away from where I live, right now I have a commute of about 12 minutes each way.... on the other hand years ago for four years I had a 40 miles each way commute, though most of it was on a high speed road which at the time wasn't congested ).

Of course, I could get laid off or fired tomorrow--there is no such thing as job security, or rather, there may be some people who have it, but they're the exception in the contemporary USA--even government employees have little security that way, in the wake of eight years of the worst President in the history of the country and the associated looting smug marauding fascists who make Teapot Dome look like petty thievery and Harding look like a capable efficient competent beneficial to the world genius administrator in comparison....

I hope the incoming administration does a purge of the people put in by the US Executive Branch and those appointed and/or promoted on the basis of partisan political favoritism and litmus tests and favors, the purge the likes of which makes preparing for a colon exam look like instead of colon cleansing, fine dining... I want the appartchiks flushed out with maximum efficiency and no sticking around, and everything they've efected regarding data collection termination, censorship, rewriting reports to fit political goals and religious dogma, termination of programs based on dogma, faith-based awards of federal money to agencies which base hiring decisions on e.g. the job applicant's religion and not their credentials for the work, blasted out of existence and whatever is reversible, reversed as immediately as possible.

Basically, I want the influence of the past eight years exterminated and swept away as if it were downstead of Lake Mead, is it, and Hoover Dam blew up....

#589 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 12:11 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 588... at the current time I am employed, the company I work for has a growing revenue stream

I'm glad to hear things have improved, Paula. My best wishes that this state of affairs will continue.

#590 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 12:21 AM:

abi, congratulations on your first year!

Paula, it's good to hear you're working again!

Vera Nazarian is losing her house and fandom is rallying here. I once again offered a custom beadwoven necklace.

#591 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 12:42 AM:

#368 Lee

Not only does one size not fit all, but the same clothing which is highly proper and appropriate in Market A, is completely inappropriate in Market B (using "Market" in this case to denote entities such as particular business segments, geographic regional/locations, social grouping, etc.) The clothing appropriate for someone who is a Wealth Management Specialist in the financial district in New York City, gets instant suspicious and distrust at engineering tradeshows in New England, as regards having a fraction of a technical clue. Wearing a suit in the software industry outside of SOME financial institutions in Massachusetts and northern New England (I was overdressed it turned out when I interviewed at VISA in southern Maine and had a jacket on over a skirt and blouse) gets one asked, "Are you going to a funeral or a job interview?" generally, except for executive managers who get asked if they're going to e.g. a meeting with customers or a board of directors meeting or some such.

It gets more confusing with women's clothing, because the administrative side and the technical side are so disjunct in the case of women generally. (When I was at GTE Government Systems I didn't answer any telephone except my own unless I was the ONLY person within at least fifty feet of the ringing phone (this was before voice mail hell....) because female voice was almost synonymous with administrative non-technical support staff. And even today--there are five or six women who work for my employer three are in admin roles--the person in charge of HR, the receptionist, another person who's on the admin side at a program support, and maybe someone else at a high level program support position. The other two are the release engineer, and me--all the rest of the engineering/technical staff types, are male. Being a female defense business engineer, means almost never having to stand in line in the ladies' room....

Or... years ago I got a phone call from my sister, who was going with her fiance on an San Francisco Bay IEEE dinner cruise. She wanted to know what she should wear. I told it that depended on whether she wanted to be viewed as her fiance's date or as someone who was eligible to join IEEE in her own right....

That sort of situation is still in force today. Going to a company party for, isn't quite the same thing, because the people one works with every day know what one's professional area is. But going to some random event otherwise, it's not known.

===
Being very short, curvy, and being technical, means almost by definition that the fashion world and I are at war with one another. The memo that came out when I was at GTE about "do not wear shoes with high, narrow heels, wear winter weather boots with [waffle stomper low soles]" is stereotypical of the engineering view of women's fashions... and doesn't allow for "but that's not what the stores SELL!!" Finding anything that fits is a problem, finding anything that both fits and is work-appropriate is even worse, and finding something that is "fashionable" additionally.... is more effort than I consider worth bothering with. When I was at InfoLibria there were two or three very sharp dressers--one a male test engineer, and one a female local area administrator. However, generally, crawling around changing out cables between racks of computers and/or yanking rackmount computers out of racks and changing out their guts, are things that does not go along well with fashionable clothing....

#592 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 12:56 AM:

albatross @ 578: "My objection here is to the idea that nationalization is justified by the fact that it was done by a democratically elected government."

I don't think that's quite what anyone is claiming. First of all, let's dispense with the idea that what we're evaluating here is in fact a particular action executed by a particular government at a particular point in time. Truth is, we--or at least I--have essentially no detailed knowledge of Chile's nationalizations of Anaconda's holdings in the 70s. I know only the vaguest outlines. Within those outlines, any number of actual situations could be true. My understanding isn't of a particular event, but of a set of possible events. My overall judgement of the relative fairness or unfairness of the situation is a composite of all those potential situations, not a judgement on the event-as-it-happened.*

Because my judgement is a composite of all possible events within the set, my judgement can be affected not only by my knowledge of what did happen, but my knowledge of what didn't. This is where the difference between a monarchy and a democracy becomes important. As you yourself have said, democracies overall tend to yield better outcomes than non-democracies. If I know that the government involved is a democratic one, then that changes the contents of my set of possible outcomes. The set [democratic_outcomes] has a substantially higher proportion of fair outcomes than the set [monarchic_outcomes].

This isn't to say that any particular action is better for having been done by a democracy--had we that sort of certainty, the actor's past history would have little relevance. But we aren't talking about a single, defined action. We don't really know all that much about Chile's nationalizations: what was the historical relationship between Anaconda and the Chilean government, how had Anaconda been treating its workers, had the original contracts been honestly agreed upon, and so forth. Knowing that the Chilean government at the time of the nationalization was democratic still leaves the deal looking very dodgy, as I have said. If it had been done by a military dictatorship, like say Pinochet's, my analysis would be considerably more negative, as my set of probable outcomes would contain a much higher number of bad outcomes.

This is what I think abi meant by "a finger on the scales"--in the absence of certainty, democratic governments get a statistical assumption of good faith that other governments don't. In a democracy, maximum tyranny is constrained to (population/2-1); in dictatorships, it's a lot closer to (population-1). With democracies, the odds are much better.

*This is a situation which is true to a greater and lesser extent about everything we "know."

#593 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 01:12 AM:

#587 Terry

It's been more than two generations, now, since the end of WWII, and while there were extreme unpleasantness and abominations occurring in ex-Yugoslavia in the wake of Tito's death and Yugoslavia dissociating, and the resumption of ethnic and other hostilities that Tito had managed to mostly suppress for his tenure, there hasn't been any outbreak of general warfare in central Europe since WWII.

I don't know if that's a record, but the changes wrought following the end of WWII meant the next generations grew up in at least western Europe without general nostaglia for the perceived past of their country's domination of the region and how other countries had defamed and demeaned them and defeated them and demanded unreasonable demeaning war reparations and restrictions, growing up feeling angry and wanting national revenge....

The situation in Eastern Europe was different, the Soviet Union wanted governments friendly to the USSR in Eastern Europe--which almose by definion mean ones that the USSR dominated. On the other hand, the USSR had the point that every time there was a big war in central Europe, Russia wound up becoming a target and got invaded from parts further west, not matter HOW many times the invaders experienced, "You can't win a win which involves invading Russia."

Modern Japan, the average citizen is much better off than the average citizen was under warmongering militaristic Japan. Modern Germany the citizens of at least the western part, haven't grown up with grudges against the rest of the region and a burning desire for revenge.

Contemporary USA, however.... I have resisted the urge to deface the surfeit in a local supermarket (one is a surfeit, but there isn;t just one, there are at least eight copies on display and there were more showing at least a few days ago) of books with the carajou from Alaska's smirking noxious face on it promoting her as acme of direction for the country.

Cthulu is a lesser horror than she... Cthulu didn't charge rape victims for rape evidence collection procedures....

#594 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 09:09 AM:

Open Threadiness, with respect to the season: are any of the Fluorospherians in and around DC interested in meeting up for a weekend lunch? I know I missed Marilee's invitation a few months ago, when someone else was "in town" for a business reason, and I haven't seen any other opportunities lately.

I -- like several other people here -- live in Montgomery County, Maryland. I know my way around some of the Northern VA area, so I can easily get to Manassas, for example. I'm also near the Red Line and can get into DC quickly.

Anyone interested? We can email each other (my address is linked in my name).

#595 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 11:06 AM:

heresiarch #592:

Okay, that makes much more sense to me. I suspect I was just misunderstanding what you and abi and several other people intended.

abi: Fair enough.

#596 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 01:15 PM:

Ginger @ 594... I wish. Say, why don't you fly to the Bay Area on Dec 21 for that "making light by the Bay" thing? Right. Well, one can dream.

#597 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 02:14 PM:

Serge @ 596: At the risk of imitating you, I wish! I'd love to visit CA this time of year, only I have no time do to it. I'm on call for the Christmas holiday.

#598 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 03:09 PM:

Ginger @ 597... Curses!

#599 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 03:12 PM:

Open thread digression for those still following the financial crisis: (Even though it's not at the top of the headlines every day anymore, things are seriously grim.)

The NYT economics ("economix") blog has an interesting comment on the most recent employment numbers (I found a ref to this on Felix Salmon's blog). Here's a quote I found truly stunning:

The share of all men ages 16 and over who are working is now at its lowest level since the government began keeping statistics in the 1940s.

Let that sink in, and think what it means. Yikes!

#600 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 04:03 PM:

A friend of mine, who is an animal control officer, had a unique metric for how bad the economic crisis is: "In the past two weeks, every house I have visited on a call has had the electricity shut off."

#601 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 05:12 PM:

The UK is apparently beta testing their Great Firewall project on wikipedia. For example, this page is returning 404 through several major ISPs, but not for the rest of the world.

Worse, since the entire country is effectively behind a single NAT, the normal amount of vandalism has locked large sections of the population out of their edit permissions.

#602 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 07:09 PM:

Idle observation about the monarchy vs. democracy "legitimacy" question: it strikes me that people are conflating correctness with accuracy. Democracy in some sense encourages the latter, but this guarantees precisely nothing about the former.

#603 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 08:17 PM:

Paula, #591, when I worked at SAIC (83-86, the job I'm on long-term disability from), women were required to wear skirts, hose, and heels. I was the first woman on the tech staff in that office and it was fun playing with giant computer guts in heels. Then I broke my ankle and couldn't wear heels anymore, so they gave me an exception for pants and flat shoes, just like the guys.

Also there, sometimes guys from other defense contractors would ask to borrow our conference room because they didn't have offices in the area. An employee had to sponsor them and was responsible for all their needs. One day I was in the hallway and a guy from LockMart came out of the conference room, shoved a big stack of paper in my stomach and said "These need to be copied now." I shoved them in his stomach and said "You should ask [employee]'s secretary for that." He handed them back more forcefully, but not in my stomach, and said "I need them now." I said "Oh well" and dropped them on the floor. I don't know what happened afterward, but nobody talked to me about it.

#604 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2008, 10:52 PM:

Shameless commerce (Teresa, feel free to pitch) commercial message

One bottle of Dr. Paisley's Reasonably Hot and Dr. Paisley's Unreasonable Chili Powder is on sale on eBay. My handle is dragonet2. It will go off sale tomorrow evening (12-7).

Home mixed, proportions Dr. P's proprietary formula, with raw materials procured from Penzy's Spice emporium.

#605 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 09:30 AM:

As hamsters feature here occasionally, here's an indulgent festive gift for your favorite animal:
Critter Cruiser and Hamtrack
Only available from the UK. Maybe USian hamsters are too smart to pedal round a track in a tiny car.

#606 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 11:43 AM:

Marilee, #603: Oh, the temptation to say, "The copier is over there. You don't look too stupid to run it."... but that probably wouldn't have been politic.

John, #605: Either it's too early in the morning or my Michigan background is showing -- it took me three readings not to parse that as "Critter Cruiser and Hamtramck," which made no sense at all.

#607 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 04:22 PM:

#603 Marilee

Wow! I was at GTE Government Systems in Massachusetts in 1983 - 1989, and to the best of my knowledge there was no such dress code imposed. There were lots of people in shirts and pants and technical women wore whatever they work, shirt and pants, dresses, me for a while in skirt suits but not because anyone was requiring me to. Managers when being Official might have worn suits. There were some people from SAIC who might have showed up on subcontracts if I recall correctly, and it's even possible that when I was at MITRE 1981 - 1983 I might have visited some SAIC facility out in Southern California (long time ago and I don't remember... I do remember having been at Mcdonnell Douglas Astronautic Corporation for two weeks working on proposals between 1983 and 1987 and that was a shirt-sleeve environment... but I don't remember really running into any female tech staff out there, either...)

Hmm, I suddenly thought of another factor--winter. I don't remember if I've mentioned it here or not--the GTE facility that was in Westborough (the site's now an UGH! University of Phoenix site... the building was designed and built as a secure building, it's got front and back doors with reception/security desks, a loading overhead door on the west end of the building and a door next to that one, and on the east end where the cafeteria was there were a door going out from a stairwell to serve as fire escape that was locked from the outside, and either it or another door to the patio that was outside of the cafeteria--that was it for doors in the building as far as I remember, and of course everything was alarmed. Everyone had an ID badge which also was a door pass for getting in and out of the building and for access to areas the person was authorized to be in. (For years, I had a reflex of right hand to left shoulder, doing badge presence check....)

The building's built into the side of a hill--the back door is on the 3rd floor, the front door on the ground floor. The rear door opened in from a bridge to the parking lot, the parking lot was terraced into the hillside, with concrete steps from terrace down to terrace down to the bridge.

Some of the admin support staff were wont to wear spike heel shoes, and complained about the ice and snow on the bridge and steps (the rear down faced south, meaning that the hillside going up, faced north, and the bridge was often in shadow from the hill). A memo came out specifically addressing the situation, and it basically said, in completely unsympathetic language, to wear boots with sturdy soles in the winter, that high heels were completely inappropriate and implied totally stupid and wrong, to wear outside in the winter....

Hmm, what I recall of SAIC at the time, was that each office was run as its own business unit? I don't think that those may have been corporate-wide. I have vague recollections of a group of people who left GTE when GTE Government Systems was shrinking* and formed a new SAIC office where they were free from oversight of layers of corporate managers above them.

* EMC and Staples just announced they are going to be laying people off. Nobody is bailing THEM out, nobody bailed out the defense workers and the people at defense contractor suppliers tossed out the door and the businesses that went out of existence when the Cold War ended, or the telecom and computer and related companies and their employed from the businesses that either went completely out of business or downsized majorly in 2001 and beyond... why the hell are three of the least socially responsible worst actor auto companies on the planet getting a sweetheart deal bilking the US taxpayers who have shown with their wallets that the products and attitudes of the Bad Actor car companies, don't DESERVE patronage and continued existence?!

I am not sympathetic--government actions put me into two decades of marginal living. Why the hell should I get gouged to bail out GM and Chrysler and Ford who steadfastly failed to make products that have any value for -me-?! I have a Hyundai.... why not let "private enterprise" deal with the situation private enterprise created.... for that matter, the US Government bailed out Chrysler some years back, for which gift Chrysler sold the tank manufacturing to GM and sold itself to a European company--which eventually sold Chrysler to an funds/investment group busieness.

#608 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 05:00 PM:

Paula @ 591/607: what would management have done, if the female admin staff had taken the advice in the memo, and turned up in the winter in their usual feminine clothing, only with Herman's Survivors or other clunky work boots substituted for the high heels? Would the admins have gotten "counseled" for Not Presenting A Professional Image?

IIRC, 1983-1989 coincided with the beginning of the trend for women wearing sneakers with their professional clothes to travel to and from work, only switching into their high heels once they got to the office. (I was in high school at the time.)

I have to come down mostly on the side of management here -- if there's a steep, northern exposure parking lot in New England in the winter, it's only reasonable to wear sturdy boots outside, and change into dressy shoes indoors if that's what your outfit requires.

#609 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 05:18 PM:

(Staples and EMC are two of the largest employers in Masschusetts. There are NO car assembly plants in this part of the USA. There might be a handful of plants supplying components to GM, Ford, and/or Chrysler in the state--last time I was paying attention, long ago, there was a manufacturing plant in Gardner, which wasn't large enough to be noticeable in state employment statistics.... when the furniture businesses got bought out by companies in Canada and North Carolina and the equipment and jobs moved to Canada and North Carolina, nobody from the US Government gave a damn and did anything to prevent Gardner, Athol, Orange, and Westminster from becoming areas of chronic unemployment and poverty and dropping population... Fitchburg, east of Gardner and Westminter, has been a pit for decades, with successive waves of manufacturing departing--the textile mills to the south in the 1960s then the shoe and handbag and clothing manufacturers in the 1960s, Independent Lock moving out, the paper companies moving out, the plastics companies that had been in Fitchburg

(most had been in Leominster; Borden shut down a facility that in the 1960s had had an evaluaton of $100 million, there had been the Doyle Works of Dupont, Solar Chemical, Foster Grant's complex which was where the first injection molding machine to come to the USA from pre-insane Germany (Samuel Foster, who was a cofounder of the company, was Jewish...)in the first third of the 29th century, a couple decades ago turned into what the last time I was up there years ago, was the site of one of those retail malls with the parking in the middle and the stores surrounding the parking lot--once the site of one of the biggest plastics manufacturing facility in the USA, with manufacturing jobs, and a major employer, turned into a place with a Marshall's store (merchandise dumped by chains, and cheap crap from China) and associated retailers, with lousy pay and such retail jobs and selling products made elsewhere... What a basis for an economy.... even Union Products, original home of the Pink Flamingo, is gone now, and the injection molds designed and engraved Don Mr Featherstone, who invented the lawn ornament, who also did the engraving on all the Apollo suit fittings--so that tacky lawn ornament got invented by someone whose work was worn on the Moon by every astronaut who set foot there, and the astronauts who only orbited it-- are in New York at the company which bought out bankrupt Union Products...)

General Electric's small engines business which had been in Fitchburg.... Fitchbug turned into dump, the low cost housing area of central Masschusetts (as opposed to Brockon, which slid down the economic ladder became the worst pit in eastern Massachusetts.... Brockton too was an industrial city whose industry all went South (or west, or off to Europe... by the time that everything started moving to China, the factories were long gone from Fitchburg and Brockton, and the places that the jobs and work had gone to from Massachusetts, had in some cases moved from where they had originally migrated to (the shoe business moved to Italy, and the factories popped up in Spain undercutting the Italian shoe companies, and then the shoe factories started popping up Asian countries....)

A couple of my coworkers were once part of AT&T/Bell Labs/Western Electric, which had had manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts (Bell was originally in Boston). Lucent's gone, which was what the AT&T/Western Electric stuff got spun out into, its corpse bought up by a Euro telecom hardware company and what design and manufacturing was left work, all shipped to Europe....

And the US Government never gave a damn about any of that happening.

So, I have no sympathy for Company Town USA Car Business.... where I grew up got sold out to go to hell in a handbasket and the US South played a huge role in relocating industry down to Red States which helped put and keep the evil of the past eight years into office. Yes, I know, the US auto industry mostly is not Deep South, the South is where the non-US-owned car companies put their facilities, because of the work situation there of low wages and anti-union attitudes and fascist outlook (what lured northern busienss down there were the low wage and lack of protection for workers that translated to lower costs and fatter profits and better "competitiveness" for companies doing business in low cost areas. Of course, the textiles and textile-based products industry mostly move OUT of the Deep South over the past 20 years.... but that one is a big case of turnabout is fair play, they gave huge tax breaks to relocating businesses and built infrastructure for them, and have found out just how long Business cares about -past- favors or about current workers....

Detroit etc. had their opportunities for "diversifying" over the years, and the people took the course of least effort as regards developing new businesses, or playing company town.

They chose company town.
Don't look at me for sympathy, or willing financial sacrifice or appreciative involuntary gouging...

(As for what the government did to me--it cut defense contracts and provided no support for the dumped workers. It had a Southern and Western strategy--Massachusetts gets 78 or 80 cents in federal spending for every dollar in taxes that goes to DC, while Alabama etc. get rather more than a dollar each... and then along rolled the telecom meltdown, and once again, there was NOTHING for the people who got dumped--as opposed to the damned savings and loan bailout which rewarded that piece of shit Neil Bush and his buddies... nobody';s bailed out the Enron employees. Nobody gave a break to the taxpayers of California who got fucked over by the US Government and by Enron in collusion.

Why the hell should the auto workers get special privileged support? Who the hell needs the number of SUVs and the crap cars, which drove out mass transit? The more mass transit gets used, the less value private cars have and the fewer of them there is any RELEVANCE for....

Measuring US productivity based on environment-destroying product production, is on the side of evil....

But getting back to me--the company I worked for was producing stuff, and selling it, and when 9/11 happened, the customers stopped buying, those with money to loan, stopped loaning it to companies in the telecom/computer networking/Internet services and equipment business--and only companies which were having the development and production done in ASIA were getting any funding, or biotech was getting funded. The US Government was perfectly happy to see millions of high tech workers jobless and the companies they had worked for fail to hire anyone, even for the few that were making money and needed more people but were refusing to HIRE anybody to fill vacancies --I went to a tradeshow where a couple of major photonic companies were, which show had been grossly downsized because the industry had imploded (ask Jeff Hecht what happened, he;s the world expert journalist and researcher in that area) and some of the poeple there were telling me that they needed to hire people but that upper management had imposed unbreakable hiring freezes....

The US Government did nothing whatsoever to push the financial services industry to loan money for work IN the USA instead of loaning money for offshoring. The US Government gave financila INCENTIVES to offshore the jobs, instead. The US Government did nothing whatsoever positive for the dumped workers....

But now I see pressure to do for the auto industry, what didn't get done for everyone I've known who's gotten reamed by economic meltdowns....

#610 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 06:05 PM:

#608 Rikibeth

GTE Government Systems was an engineering company which actually built equipment along with doing software, and had hardware engineer aesthetics. There wasn't a dress code about "professional" appearance that I can remember, and the attitude toward high heels of Strategic Systems' management was that they were dysfunctional/stupidly designed and bad equipment from the get go. The aesthetics of places that required women in stiletto heels and nylons and such were completely absent, and regarded more in the nature of anathema and unprofessional because they were unsafe....

There was an executive recruiter, Kathy DeTillio, a statuesque six foot tall redhead with the presence of an Imperial Sardauker, who worked with the division doing recruiting. She wore the most amazing outfits--the one I remember was a Celtic goddess outfit, her hair coiled high on her head contained within a gold tiara, a gold single-shouldered gold lame sheath knee-length dress, and gold sandals laced to nearly her knees. Nobody said a -word- in her presence, and after she had gone past, there was quiet, awed, "Wow!"s expressed.

She had the aplomb to carry off wearing attire like that. That was the most extreme example of what she was wont to wear.

But getting back to "dress code," GTE was one of the places that looked at job performance... one of my coworkers could charitably be described as a slob, his particular noxious habit was getting a cup of coffee, drinking some of it, and leaving the partially full cup in his large cubicle (he had I think a ten by ten foot one). His cubicle had them all over, complete with mold in some of them.... but he was brilliant at his work. He got twitted by people about the coffee cups, but no one forced him to do anything about them.

Meanwhile.... there was a place a recruiter talked to me about, a software company or some such, which has a limit of "two dogs per day" on-site.... anyone who works there, had been not be allergic! And the attire at InfoLibria, some of the software developers had pants the holes in got so large, they barely needed a pair of scissors to make shorts out of it....

(Some of the situation may be MIT geek/gnerd descent culture.... MIT is local, and a lot of the companies have MIT in the ancestry from founders, and/or MIT matriculates who work at them. There are occasional people who matriculated there with active, in use snappy dresser senses.... as opposed to e.g. the classmate who exclaimed in horror one day when I was wearing a shirt and skit on campus, "You're in a skirt! That's horrible, get back in your jeans!" (Hmm, for that matter, the windtunnel around Building 54 is a major strike against wearing a skirt which isn't a tight one anywhere in that vicinity....)

#611 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 08:18 PM:

Lee, #606, not possible, either. The conference room was two steps from the foyer and they weren't allowed further into the office, so they weren't allowed to be near the copier. If he'd lost the phone number of the secretary for his sponsor, he could have asked in reception. He just assumed any woman should do his bidding.

Paula, #607, I'm sure it's because we were in Crystal City, next door to our clients at the Pentagon, and since they had to wear uniforms, so did we. We had to get there in the morning at the same time they did, too.

#612 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 08:42 PM:

Paula @ 610 - I'm surprised that, in such a corporate culture, the admins didn't take advantage of the situation to come to work in jeans, and to wear practical footwear in the winter.

This may reflect my growing up within geek/tech culture; my dad worked at BBN before I was born, and Atex for most of my childhood, and he only wore ties on rare occasions for Important Meetings (and he had a particular tie with a small embroidered Mickey Mouse where it would be covered by a jacket that he wore especially when he wanted to express an opinion on the Mickey Mouse nature of certain meetings). My mom re-entered the workforce when I was nine or ten, (C. 1980) working as a paralegal, and she wore "business casual," mostly, and definitely embraced the concept of snow boots for outside and dress shoes for inside.

I went to MIT for the 1987-88 academic year (I flunked out of the freshman program) and by then, the sartorial culture was a good bit more flexible (in my memory) than what you describe; certainly I frequently wore skirts (of the "hippie chick" variety) and I wasn't the only one, nor did anybody give me any static for it. Mostly people didn't seem to pay any attention to what anyone else was wearing, unless your T-shirt said something particularly clever.

I've got to agree with the engineering viewpoint on high heels; they're a TERRIBLE piece of design for anything beyond sexual signalling.

I'm kind of astonished at the story of the woman who got away with the gold lame goddess get-up at work, but I suppose that attitude persists in tech environments even today -- there's a woman at Microsoft, Jillian Venters, who wears charmingly eccentric Victorian Gothic clothing on a daily basis, and has never had any trouble with it.

I've been working as a baker for the past five years, so "fashion" hasn't come into my work clothing at all, but I'm going to have to figure it out again soon, because I've shifted my job search over to admin and other office jobs due to the severe lack of baking jobs I can live on in my area. Luckily, I'm not a severe fitting problem -- my inseam is close to the industry standard, and I can usually find SOME standard size that'll work with my hips, as long as I'm not deeply attached to the number. I may look fairly boring for a while, but I'll manage.

#613 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 08:50 PM:

OK, all knowledge is contained in the Fluorosphere.

My dad, it appears, has pancreatic cancer. A 5-6 cm* tumor, well developed (i.e. they did NOT "catch it early").

My brother is doing all kinds of web research. We're not sure how to go about the "second opinion" process (and yes, we know multiple people have probably looked at the results, and a second opinion will likely confirm the results, but the stakes are too high not to at least check).

Can anyone point me to resources not easily found on the web, or offer any knowledge on operability, speed of decline etc.? I do know that pancreatic cancer has an appallingly high kill rate, so he's unlikely to survive it...of course anything that might improve his chances would be appreciated.

*yeah, cm, not mm. It's pretty fucking grim.

#614 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 08:57 PM:

Xopher, I have no advice for you, but you have my sympathy, and my fervent wishes for the best outcome possible.

#615 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 09:03 PM:

Xopher:

I'm so sorry. You and your father are in my prayers. I wish I had useful knowledge to offer, but other than "pancreatic cancer is bad to have," I'm fresh out.

#616 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 09:07 PM:

Xopher, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. Pancreatic cancer is really rough. Have you thought about asking your insurance company for a referral to a second opinion?

#617 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 09:13 PM:

Xopher: I am sorry. Not only for the news, but because all I know is that, even caught early, the prognosis is poor.

All good thoughts.

#618 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 09:34 PM:

I'm sorry to hear that, Xopher. I wish I could recommend someone.

#619 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 09:48 PM:

Xopher, I'm so sorry to hear of your dad's diagnosis. I'll point you to the NCI website for leads on finding support groups (as well as clinical trials, and general information). Those people often have good doctors they can point your dad to, along with very specific support and information. In which city is your dad going to be looking for treatment? If he's near NYC, check with Memorial-Sloan Kettering for the referral process; my cousin is currently undergoing chemo (colon cancer) at their hospital and says they are all very nice people, which is important in the treatment phase.

#620 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 09:54 PM:

Ralph Giles writes: "Worse, since the entire country is effectively behind a single NAT..."

For reasons too tedious to explain, I feel compelled to correct this analogy with a simplification that happens to be true: it's not a NAT; it's a web proxy.

My apologies. It's my problem, not yours. I'm getting better, but progress is slow.

#621 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 09:59 PM:

j h woodyatt @ 620 ...
... and functionally, web proxy isn't a completely accurate descriptive either -- but makinglight almost certainly doesn't need our pedantry here...

#622 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 11:29 PM:

Xopher - Very sorry to hear of your dad's diagnosis. There seems to be far too much of that going around these days -- only this morning, at church, I learned that a former neighbor (we used to live in the same building 20 years ago) is currently undergoing chemo for pancreatic cancer. Most of what I know about pancreatic cancer I learned from following the story of the late Dr. Randy Pausch, of Carnegie-Mellon, who was diagnosed in Sept. 2006 and died this past July. He more or less blogged his experiences at

http://download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/news/index.html

I'll keep you and your family in my prayers.

Harriet

#623 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2008, 11:47 PM:

I had a horrible experience, and since this is an open thread, you all get to share it.

Friday evening, I was driving a friend's daughters home from Brownies, and a pedestrian ran in front of my car and I hit him.

By the time I stopped the car, calmed the girls down and made it to the curb, someone else was already on the phone to 911. The victim was lying on the sidewalk, and I was running through Jim's checklists and telling him not to move when the bus stopped at the corner. One of the alighting passengers was a nurse and took over the first aid part.

Many police vehicles and phone calls and the ambulance guys later, we got things straightened out. Two different police officers and the clerk at the corner liquor store told me that the gentleman is a known quantity, who does this whenever he wants a warm bed for the night.

When I hit him, the first thought I had was that my insurance company was going to hate me. (Not considerate or kind, but true.) Then I was glad that he was talking (he was yelling at the gentleman talking to 911, who told the dispatcher "some idiot walked right in front of a car." "Are you saying it's my fault? Are you blaming me?" "Yes, I'm saying it's your fault. Don't move!"). Then I was glad that no one was seriously hurt.

When I got back in the car to drive away, I told the two frightened 7-year-olds in the back (in a very stern tone of voice) "This is why you never, ever cross the street without looking both ways!" They nodded, very seriously. (The police officer was great with them. They were crying until he came to chat with them, and he calmed them right down.)

I'm still thankful that no one was seriously hurt. I'm thankful that I have never in my life been so cold that stepping in front of a moving car seemed like a viable solution. But the more I think about it, the more appalled I am that we live in a society where stepping in front of a moving car is a viable solution.

(On preview - Xopher, I'm sorry about your father. Best wishes for your family in this hard time.)

#624 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 12:27 AM:

Xopher: There's a lot of good resources out there . . . and a lot of dodgy stuff. Needless to say, double-check.

Juli: It sounds like you kept your cool and did the right things. And if you have to hit someone, be glad that he was a "known quantity."

A relative worked in a Methadone clinic, and was exposed (in addition to folks earnestly cleaning up their lives) to people who scammed and cheated in ways that put themselves and others in danger. Getting whacked by a slow moving car was part of the repertoire.

#625 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 01:04 AM:

#623 Juli

That's the stuff of nightmares, and I hope that your dreams are kind to you. The situation reminds me a bit of the dissolution of a huge insurance fraud ring in Lawrence, Massachusetts--that statistics in that city for automobile collisions, injury claims, etc., was statistically way way way high. The insurance companies assumed fraud but their reaction wasn't to investigate with an intent of reducing claims and rooting out fraud, it was to raise rates for Lawrence particularly and the rest of the state generally, with the strategy of passing the costs to the customers and ensuring continuing desired profit margins.

Then one day a woman died in one of the incidents, and pass-on-the-costs-not-worth-fraud- investigation-effort-just-pay-the-claims-business -as-usual turned into a vehicular homicide criminal investigation... a whole bunch of people in all sorts of different professions got charged and convicted, including auto body shops, people who got paid for staging accidents, healthcare workers, and suddenly Lawrence's accident rate and insurance claims plummeted, and the insurance rates dropped majoryly. But the insurance companies of their own volition, hadn't been bothering to investigate with an eye towards prosecution, until the vehicular homicide occurred.

(The common thread is staging accidents for a benefit, though the benefits aren;t the same... Lawrence has been cleaning up significantly in recent years, back in 1989-1990 it was the pit of eastern Masschusetts, with one of it not the highest unemployment rate in the state, the highest or among the highest crime rates, the highest arson rate, tenants who ripped the plumbing out of the rental units, insurance fraud, car theft, etc. What clobbered Lawrence in the first place was the out migration of manufacturing and nothing coming in to replace it. What's happened in the past decade, thogh, is that the big empty mill buildings around the Merrimack River were among the last large properties available for rehabbing that were large inviting-for-turning-into=relatively-cheap-space housing/artist lofts/business incubators/etc. and a lot less expense than around Boston, but relatively convenient to Boston, with train service to Boston, too, and high speed highway (I-93 going north-south, and 495 circumferentially) for transportation.

And of course once gentrification starts, it tends to snowball.

But, I've always wondered.... gentrification make areas unaffordable for the marginal income types who had been inhabitants--where do they go? Or, even more of an issue, what about the "undesirables--the tenants from hell who strip apartments of anything salable as salvage, who torch buildings for a fee or insurance money, the folks who commit insurance fraud etc. for profit, the muggers, the thieves.... they don't disappear, what is society supposed to do about two-footed parasites and vermins, and for that matter, those who are in marginal situations who given opportunity would be gainfully employed and producing were there work with a livable wage for them/national effective healthcare allowing them to work/other marginal situations such as healthcare issues of their own or household members precluding standard work attendance and scheduling.

I have never seen anything really address, "what do you do with social parasites who are unregenerate in their outlook on life that others exist to be their (unwilling) hosts and prey?"

#626 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 01:07 AM:

Xopher, I've nothing useful to offer but I do have sympathy. I was fortunately too young to appreciate anything when family members were going through cancer.

Juli: argh, that sounds unpleasant to say the least. I thought the appropriate emergency bed-for-the-night solution was to throw a beer bottle at a police station.

#627 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 01:17 AM:

Xopher:

That is very sad news you are reporting.
I remember hearing that some MD diagnosed with cancer, went and locked himself in for a weekend watching humorous movies, and that that helped put his cancer into remission. NPR played a segment a week ago about Mony Python, and a woman called in who said her brother, with terminal cancer, insisted on seeing Life of Brian Twice, and went around singing "Always look on the bright side of life," -- the woman said that she had fond memories that Monty Python helped her brother cope, and the family cope, and gave her cherished memories of her brother.

Regarding diet, black raspberries are very high-higher than blueberries and some of the other fruits suggested--in some stuff claimed to have anti-cancer properties.

#628 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 01:24 AM:

Xopher, I'm so sorry about your dad's condition. He'll be in my prayers, and you too, and all the family.

#629 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 03:39 AM:

j h woodyatt @ 620: 's alright. I have occasional problems with other people's 'effectively' myself. :)

Condolences to Xopher and Juli. :(

#630 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 04:37 AM:

My own weekend was tangled up with medical stuff. Normally on Thursday nights Katie and I meet at my local comic book store; but this week she called me saying that she was at home, in pain, resting. Friday night she called me to say that she was in a hospital, diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism.

(I'd heard the term, and knew it was serious, but somehow never knew exactly what it was. In case there's anyone else in the same situation: it's a blood clot that gets into the blood vessels in the lungs and blocks circulation -- same basic idea as a stroke, but in the lungs instead of the brain.)

She was discharged today. She's going to be taking rat poison, and will be checking in with doctors at the UC Berkeley medical clinic daily for at least the next week. She seems to be doing OK; it was mild as embolisms go. Which is somewhat like saying "mild for a heart attack". It's still very worrisome and unhappy-making.

(Which is not to say that it's within an order of magnitude of Juli or Xopher's situations, of course; my sympathies to the both of them.)

#631 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 05:14 AM:

Xopher: I am sorry.

You may find the relevant emedicine article useful (it is very jargon-heavy). If the link results in a registration request (registration is free), you may be able to bypass it by Googling "pancreatic cancer emedicine" instead.

#632 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 06:50 AM:

Juli... David... My best wishes to both of you and yours.

#633 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 08:32 AM:

Xopher #613: All I can offer is my sympathy, which you have.

#634 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 08:34 AM:

Juli #623: That has to have been a really gut-wrenching experience for you, and for the girls.

I agree, there is something seriously wrong with a society in which it is an acceptable option to step in front of a moving car as the only reasonable to get a warm bed for a few nights.

#635 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 09:56 AM:

I'll add to the voices of sympathy here. These are already tough times, and we don't need the fates to step in and make them worse! (My husband just found out that his stepfather had fallen and broken a bone in his spine, requiring hospitalization. Not fatal, but still painful.)

In news completely unrelated to anything being discussed here, Science Daily has an article on liquid wood that I found fascinating, even if the substance required some tweaking and may not be all *that* ecofriendly. The photo example is quite striking.

#636 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 09:58 AM:

Juli @ 623: What a way to end the day! Kudos to the passersby and the homeward bound nurse for stopping to help, and to the police officer for talking to the girls. I hope you are recovered from the shock of the accident.

One thing you might consider is having those two girls create a poster on "safe crossing" for their Brownie Troop. This will help them reinforce the lesson for their peers, and give them a chance to talk about how scary it is to see it happen. It might even qualify for a badge or whatever the Brownies have these days.

#637 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 10:28 AM:

David #630: My best wishes to Katie. I hope the warfarin works.

#638 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Xopher, Juli -

I'm sending healing thoughts to you and yours. My sympathies for you both.

#639 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 11:28 AM:

Xopher, Juli, and David: May you and yours be comforted and healed.

#640 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 12:44 PM:

Xopher: I am so sorry and wish you and your dad well.

Juli: Yikes, that's horrible. Hugs to you and the girls and fervent thanksgiving that it wasn't worse.

#641 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 01:00 PM:

Serge @563 - until I saw that video I hadn't realised that it wasn't abi's relationship to her children that her mummy-fication* referred to.

* This pun may not work in your dialect of English. See terma and conditions for details.

#642 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 01:01 PM:

Everyone: Thanks.

Juli: You did the right thing, and I'm very glad you weren't moving faster than that guy thought you were. Don't worry about your first-panicky-moment thoughts. They're never rational and seldom sensible. You acted properly and even extracted a great "mom moment" from it! Congratulations on passing a very difficult and unpleasant test.

David: My sympathies and best wishes.

#643 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 01:15 PM:

Xopher, all I can offer is my best thoughts and a reminder that there are different kinds of pancreatic cancer, and new treatments, and there may therefore be room for home.

Juli Thompson, argh. What a horrible thing to go through, and how very miserable that this is a choice some people feel the need to make.

I came here with a question; was it here that there was a reasonably recent discussion of men telling women to smile, and why that's a really really bad idea? I had someone tell me that yesterday when I was out wandering the halls at church because it hurt too much to sit down; I'd just put my weight wrong on my bad knee and it was so very not the time I needed instructed on how to feel or look.

Also, just so we don't forget it: December is a rough month for many of us humans, in general. "Can I help?" is infinitely more helpful than "Smile!"

#644 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 01:30 PM:

JESR @ 643: The "smile" discussion happened, I think tangentially, to Nicole LeBoeuf-Little (please forgive any infelicities of spelling or capitalization there, Nicole) 's question about a possibly gendered interaction on a train -- and is probably on "The sky isn't evil, try looking up" thread. There was also a similar discussion at Pandagon at one point. Give me a minute and I'll see if I can get you links.

#645 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 01:38 PM:

xopher, juli, David, my sympathies as well.

#646 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Nicole's gendered interaction, discussion follows.

Comment #845 in the same thread mentions the "smile" situation directly, in a list of male privilege.

Discussion of the "smile" issue then commences at #853.

The Pandagon post may still be around, but my bookmark to it no longer works, and a quick search of the site didn't turn it up.

#647 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 02:06 PM:

Neil Willcox @ 641... What a silly idea. Here's a photo from Abi's mummy-fication. And here's one from her wedding.

#648 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 02:50 PM:

Rikkibeth, thanks; I apparently dumped a previous reply, running as I am on not a whole lot of sleep and inadequate pain control today.

Also, reading conversations about this weekend's Wikipedia vs IWF brouhaha and the "Cartoon Characters are protected people" court decission in Australia makes me feel as if I should find my copy of John Brunner's The Stone That Never Came Down and read it aloud in the public square.

#649 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 03:10 PM:

JESR #643:
Also, just so we don't forget it: December is a rough month for many of us humans, in general. "Can I help?" is infinitely more helpful than "Smile!"

Definitely a better response, and apparently memorable:
A couple of years ago while leaving the Ski Resort I teach at (off the clock and out of uniform) I witnessed a bit of a Mommy meltdown, and offered to help. I was turned down, and I didn't think any more about it.
Last year, while helping check young children into ski school, the woman remembered me and thanked me (to my astonishment, I barely remembered the event). Apparently just having someone offer to help had improved the situation immensely.

#650 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Xopher: I am sorry.

abi et al:

I propose that there is a government 4.0.

Government 3.0 is democracy--consent of the governed.

Government 4.0 is democracy with an enforceable floor on how badly minorities may be treated: the Bill of Rights is an early form, the European Charter of Human Rights is a more-recent form.

#651 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 03:40 PM:

Wow, I go away for a few days and trouble and sorrow come in and make themselves at home!

Xopher:
Please keep us posted on your father's condition, and if you need a virtual shoulder to cry on or worry at, mine (among many) is available.

David Goldfarb:
Please give my best to Katie; I've only met her once, but I liked her when I did. I'll be thinking of you both. Again, please tell us how things go with her.

Juli Thompson:
Well managed. A potential disaster (particularly for the girls) turned into a lesson in coping with the unexpected. We can't prevent bad things from happening to our kids; all we can do is teach them how to cope with them.

JESR:
I hope that circumstances permit you to deal with both the pain and the sleeplessness very soon.

#652 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 03:45 PM:

Sympathies to Xopher, Juli, David!

#653 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 03:56 PM:

Nice Terry Pratchett inverview at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/terry-pratchett-if-id-known-what-a-progressive-brain-disease-could-do-for-your-pr-profile-i-may-have-had-one-earlier-1036584.html (ML eats my links. *pout*)

#654 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 04:08 PM:

My wife's therapist just told her that her new knee is doing so well that she can ditch the crutches and switch to a cane. I'm sure that our three wolves are happy at this new state of affairs: one cane is less likely to fall over than two crutches, and its lower mass is less likely to hurt them when it hits their canine noggins.

#655 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 04:32 PM:


Xopher, Juli, and David my sympathies. You're in my thoughts.

#656 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 04:33 PM:

Breaking news: F-18 crashed in a residential neighborhood in San Diego. Reports say pilot ejected. (I thought the F-18 was a two-seater?)

Not sure how many houses involved in resulting fire. No reports yet as to casualties and/or cause of crash.

#657 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 04:44 PM:

#656
Two houses, apparently no fatalities, according to the LA Times:
Neighbors said they heard sputtering, saw the jet wobbling, and then it crashed, creating a ball of fire. Afterward, neighbors said they saw the pilot wandering around in a daze. He had parachuted out of the jet and landed in the baseball field of nearby University City High School.

Marine officials told The Times that the pilot was part of a training squadron and that he was trying to aim the plane at a deserted canyon to avoid slamming into homes or the nearby 805 Freeway.

#658 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 04:45 PM:

Lori Coulson (656): The San Diego Union Tribune reports that two pilots ejected, although all the other sites I've checked only mention one.

My brother lives in San Diego, but it seems to be a long way from his neighborhood.

#659 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 04:48 PM:

Jacque #653: ML eats my links. *pout*

Try this.

#660 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 05:22 PM:

The F-18 is a single seater. There are (I am certain) some training models Yes, found it, the F-18B/D models are two-seaters.

The F-18B is used as a chase plane for NASA, as well as in training.

The D model is like the F-15E models, converted to a primarily ground attack role, and seems (from some quick googling) to be primarily an export model, with references to Finland and Australia.

#661 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 06:06 PM:

Sorry for the late response here; life over the weekend made it impossible to keep up with the discussion. Anyway....

first re 558: My apologies for the misrepresentation. By that point I had been skimming too much and simply missed your statement.

I'm not going to absolve the Nixon government of wanting Allende overthrown and maybe/probably having some agency in its accomplishment. Go back further in time, and legitimacy is going to be more of a problem. In the 1920s there was no legal framework preventing the kind of interventions the USA made. But there's also the problem in this that the mess was not made unilaterally. On top of whatever influence the USMC exerted on the behalf of the corporations, there's also the issue that the states in question, to some degree, got themselves into the messes that they then tried to fiat themselves out of. (UFC is a particularly interesting example, as they actually started out as a railroad, with the fruit being a side line.) What they did was to resort to strongarm tactics. In the 1920 examples, the US responded in kind-- a bigger bully on a smaller, or a bigger gangster on a lesser, perhaps, but in the end, a taking by force. In 1970 the USA could no longer "get away" with such overt action, but and therefore the Allende government could get away with it. And the Pinochet government could, by some standard of "legitimacy", get away with what it did. I don't think one justify imposing an external standard about how governments are formed while insisting on no external standards on how governments act, because one is a type of the other.

Which brings me to 550. I'm not much moved by your earlier rejoinder about my reading up on international law. I'm getting my material from a law firm, complete with case law. I'm not particularly moved by your "all wrong". But also, even as much as I would consider the current occupation to be something of an act of bullying (on top of whatever other rationalizations it had), it's a poor analogue for these other cases, except (going way back in the discussion) as an outlet for the US government's ill-conceived notions about policing the globe. The arguments against the earlier cases are relying (however poorly) on some notion of legitimacy as a defense against the US acting as an agent against some injustice (depending on your viewpoint, of course) done to its citizens (corporations having something of that nature). The problem as far as the Iraq occupation is concerned is that there's no such injustice to be corrected. That is also the real problem with the Allende case, as by all accounts the real problem the Nixon government had with him was his communism, not his urges toward nationalization. Even as far as I would grant the acceptability (never mind legitimacy) of US banana republic interventions, the same principles don't work for Iraq.

#662 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 06:09 PM:

And Xopher, I'm truly sorry about your father.

#663 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 06:16 PM:

I stopped by a supermarket today. Dead quiet; lunch hour was over and it was hours before offices let out work.

On the way toward the front I ran into a mob of post-toddler children. A dozen or more, shepherded by a few young, loud, enthusiastic teachers or teacher's aides.

"AND WHAT DO YOU THINK IS IN THIS AISLE?"

"Shampoo! Soap!

It was a field trip. To the supermarket.

I once bought a "this is what kindergarten is like" picture-book for a friend's daughter; it features an anthropomorphic border collie as the teacher. After seeing those kids bouncing around the aisles, that strikes me as a laudable goal of the genetic engineering industry.

#664 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 06:54 PM:

For the amusing transitions: Shell Oil started out by selling... shells.

They'd buy them from the sailors and sell them on the shore. From there they got into boats, and from boats to tankers and from tankers to drilling.

#665 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 06:57 PM:

Shell sells sea shells by the sea shore?

#666 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 10:36 PM:

Xopher, #613, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. I hope his treatment goes well.

Juli, #623, that had to have been scary. I'm glad the kids were calmed and I wish the man had a better place to sleep.

David Goldfarb, #630, please tell Katie I hope she's better soon, and to carefully think through what will happen while she's on warfarin. I used to bleed like crazy on Plavix.

#667 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 11:20 PM:

Xopher, I'm so sorry about your dad.

Juli, how horrible! My sympathies.

David, I hope Katie gets better soon.

#668 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 11:32 PM:

Can I share something cool that's happened to me? Week before last, I found out that a beaded Christmas tree I made is featured in a full-page ad for Fire Mountain Gems on the back cover of the December 2008/January 2009 Beadwork magazine. I'm really psyched. Whenever I feel depressed these days, I remind myself of it. Or tell other people about it.

Doesn't make up for being laid off a couple of weeks ago, but it's still cool.

I'll probably stop talking about it, oh, 2012.

I hope this does not qualify as spam.

#669 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 11:59 PM:

pat greene @ 668... Congratulations!

#670 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 12:24 AM:

I see that Montreal's worldcon is now set up for online registration.

#671 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 12:45 AM:

Thanks for the good wishes and sympathies. I'm fine, the girls are fine, and as far as I know, the man is, well, fine might be pushing it, but not seriously hurt.

David Goldfarb, I'm sorry about Katie, glad she had the good sense to go to the hospital.

Pat Greene - That is cool! Congratulations!

Paula Lieberman - That reminds me of a story I read about the real life Eliot Ness. One of his first big cases in Cleveland involved a ring that insured derelicts, got them drunk, and pushed them out in front of moving cars. I don't remember the details, but it seems like in that case the insurance companies got very suspicious and demanded an investigation.

#672 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 01:22 AM:

Xopher, Juli, David -- Yikes! GoodThoughts going out for all of you.

Mary Aileen, #665: I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought of that. :-)

Pat, #668: How absolutely cool! I don't normally buy Beadwork because it's primarily for seed-beaders, but I may just snag this one. Or see if the same ad is on the back of Bead & Button...

#673 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 01:47 AM:

So it's 22:30 PDT, and I know where my code is; I'm making it work even as I type. I wasn't planning to stay at work so late today, but there's a production release tomorrow, and I'm going to be out most of tomorrow at doctor appointments, and picking up my new (to me) car, so I need to get things tested. It would have been OK, but somehow when I made the production copy of the virtual machine for installation tomorrow, the network configuration broke, and the webserver couldn't talk to the application server. Took me four hours to figure out I wasn't going to figure out how to fix that, and rebuild the VM instead of copying it. But because this stuff goes so slowly, and is mostly automated, I've had lots of time to catch up on the blogs and online comics I've been falling behind on (be sure to catch up on Freak Angels, things are getting tense just now). In case you're wondering, I can't just VPN into our intranet, because our sysadmins died well before the turn of the 20th Century; they're zombies without a clue about how to set up a VPN, or even allow ssh login properly, and I can't do what I need to do without at least VNC or an X-windows tunnel through ssh.

Juli

Congratulations on doing both right and good in a scary situation. I suggest that if you haven't already done so, you sit down with the girls who were with you, and talk the event over. It may help both you and them put it in perspective.

Xopher

Damn, man, that's nasty. My condolences to you and good wishes to your father.

David

Glad to hear the problem was relatively mild; my best to you and Katie.

JESR

My advice? Forget smiling; SNARL at anybody who insists you smile for their benefit rather than yours. I hope your knee feels better very soon.

#674 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 01:52 AM:

Stefan (663), I can't find a useful clip online, but Sandra Boynton has a song on _Blue Moo--Jukebox Hits From Way Back Never_ that may be relevant. It's performed by The Uninvited Loud Precision Band. (They show up 4 times in the album.) The only clip I could find seems to miss what makes it so funny, other than the line about the synthetic meats department.

Brass band:
We are marching up row A!
We are marching down row B!
We are marching up row C!
We are marching down row D!

Voice over PA system calls simultaneously:
Security...Security!

#675 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 02:02 AM:

pat greene @ 668L

Not spam at all; every cheerful message helps. I'll be joining you in the redundant bin in a couple of weeks, so I need some good news, and I thank you for it.

And I've got good news too: I just bought a car, and I'm going to pick it up in the morning. This is the first car I've bought in 14 years; I've been thinking about buying one for a couple of years, but it took a tailgater with reflexes of molasses to finally push me to the point. I'd make lemonade, but crushing up the car for it would just result in a big pitcher full of oil and transmission fluid and such.

#676 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 02:35 AM:

Xopher, I can only tell you that my ex-partner (known to a few of you as the OAFB) has a similar-but-not-identical cancer and has had months to live for nigh on six years now.

It's an awful diagnosis, yes, and I am horribly horribly sorry. But do keep in mind that life expectancy, when a doctor is quoting it to you, is a best-guess, based on averages. Your father's life is a unique event, not yet over, and he may yet get to tease his oncologist about the dangers of pessimism.

As far as directly stretching his chances ... I wish I knew of a trick, but mostly it's:

Get the best doctors possible and trust them until you have solid reason not to.

Listen to your father's concerns and preferences about how aggressively he wants to treat the cancer given the inevitable trade-offs.

Help him make sure his choices are respected, even when you don't like them.

Do everything you can to support his general physical and emotional health. I'm not saying that a positive attitude and clean living will produce miracles, or anything like that, but basic happiness, a strong will to live, and good nutrition and regular gentle exercise *may* help, *can't* hurt, and will improve the life he has while he has it.

And you're both in my prayers.

#677 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 02:49 AM:

Ralph,

...no, I have a special relationship with NAT that's too tedious to go into here.

The "effectively"ness is different between NAT and a web proxy, in light of what you have to do to work around the borkeness of the network, if you're so inclined. Nobody here cares about that, but I feel a sick compulsion to point it out anyway. Sorry about that. I'm getting better. Slowly.

#678 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 05:35 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 675... My wishes to you that you'll remain among the redundant ranks for a very short period of time. (That's a strange expression, or is there such a thing as a period of space?)

#679 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 05:44 AM:

I see that San Francisco's Castro Theater is showing Milk most of this month, followed by, on Dec 24, the Gay Men Chorus's "Home for the Holidays" concert. On Dec 26-30, the Theater will be having its traditional Sound of Music singalong - I presume that attendees will be expected to hiss at every appearance of the Countess.

#680 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 09:26 AM:

Serge @ 678

Thank you.

(That's a strange expression, or is there such a thing as a period of space?)

There is if you're on the surface of a cylinder or a sphere*.

* Or a conical helix; maybe that's what "End of Days" means? We're almost at the apex? Nah, the fundies would never get the point.

#681 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 10:01 AM:

Turns out the late Rear Admiral George (Stephen) Morrison not only outlived his eldest son, James, by many years, but had quite a remarkable career. Several alternative histories could be based on small changes in his behaviour.

Sympathy & additions to my roster of positive healing thoughts for Xopher's father, David's Katie (pulmonary embolism is not an unserious situation at all (sorry George O)), and JESR.

Congratulations Juli. You're probably still shaking occasionally, but it sounds like things went as well as they could.

#682 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 10:23 AM:

… and in Mapleleaf Land: Signs that things are going really seriously bad for politicians (No. 1)

Bruce @680 – Perhaps the fundies are frustrated frustums (aka frustrums)?

Serge @654 – Grand news re knee!

And yes, there are irregularly timed discussions of whether we should really be buying the F-18 or a different model from someone else, or not so many of them, or, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Rotten several days, it's past 2am & I'm not about to try & explain.

Also leaving a link for Stephen Jay Gould's The Median Isn't the Message. Recommended here before. Excellent thoughts about cancer & life expectancy. Goodnight & good wishes to all.

#683 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Juli, Xopher, David & Katie, JESR -- my sympathies.

Juli -- I'm not sure it'll help, but you might take a look at the M*A*S*H Season 2 episode "Deal Me Out", in which a poor Korean local (nick)named "'Whiplash' Hwang" pulls the same stunt.

#684 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 675 -- Will It Blend? (I am imagining the Will It Blend guy carefully feeding a car into the blender.)

Good thoughts to all who are needing them; internet hugs to any who want them.

I have a good news too: My grandfather's lung tumor has shrunk by 50%. He has been taken off radiation treatments, which means his throat is no longer irritated and swollen, so that he can eat and gain back some weight. The chemo is also on hold for the time being. I am going to be able to see him for the first time in months, at Christmas. (This reminds me that I need to buy him a Duke fleece and hat. He's a huge Duke basketball fan. He's self-conscious about the hair loss, and I think he might like a good warm Duke hat.)

(I am not sure if I mentioned it here before. At least not in so many words -- this is what was upsetting me the day Biden was announced as Obama's VP pick.)

#685 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 10:50 AM:

My thoughts are with the Fluorospherans whose sorrows seem to be coming not single spies but in batallions these days. What a lot of dreadful crap to have to deal with right at the holidays.

Xopher, I seem to recall that your relationship with your parents was at one point more strained than it currently is, which has got to be making this even more difficult in some ways. I know that, for me, when people I love who are suffering are also people I've been hurt by, there's a whole new layer of complication to the emotional minefield. (I am a scion of a Great House of emotionally abusive narcissists, and know more about this than I'd like to.) Om Srivigneswaraya namah.

David Goldfarb, I'm not sure there's such a thing as "order of magnitude" when you're worried about someone you love. Best wishes to you and yours.

On other subjects entirely: Serge @679, I'm now wondering if there's an appropriate place during "Sixteen Going On Seventeen" to shout out "Slut!" and "Asshole!" Probably not, alas.

#686 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 10:52 AM:

This will complicate matters:

Illinois governor Blagejovich has been indicted on a variety of federal charges, including trying to sell the appointment to Obama's Senate seat.

(I suspect this will get its own thread when our hosts get a chance.)

#687 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 10:58 AM:

Xopher, Caroline, my best wishes.

#688 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 11:28 AM:

That fantasy genre slush particle was pretty painful to watch, but I'm pretty sure I've seen more than one example of commercially successful fantasy genre fiction that conforms to that model. Sadly, I don't think I'm allowed to say that out loud at home anymore.

While I was watching the movie this morning, the spouse looked over my shoulder and said, "I don't think you can really be a swashbuckler when you're wearing pink lipstick, can you?"

I said, "Think of it as a misdirective tactic, an attempt to throw your opponent off his psychological balance. 'For real, how can someone with such demonstrably bad taste in cosmetics pose a serious threat to me with that sword-like object? Ow, my eye!'"

She didn't buy it. Clearly, she just can't suspend her disbelief long enough to enjoy the sense of wonder.

#689 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 12:03 PM:

Vicki @ 686, I'm way too interested in that story right now. I am needing to ignore it and do my real work!

(I'm really glad to find out that Obama wouldn't play ball with him. Not that I'm surprised, but it's just cheerful to see it totally confirmed.)

(OMG GUESS WHAT BARACK OBAMA IS TOTALLY GOING TO BE THE PRESIDENT! Sorry, I'm still having that moment on a daily basis. Still afraid I'm dreaming.)

#690 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 12:16 PM:

Caroline #689:
I've been known to re-watch the long version (with crowd scenes and all) of President-Elect Obama's acceptance speech when depression has dragged me low. It cheers me up that at least something is going right in the Universe.

#691 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 12:45 PM:

Senate seat for sale or rent,
I'm asking about a billion cents,
No dough, no deal for you,
I ain't got no common sense,
Ah, but ...six years of governing,
Won't get me that big brass ring,
I'll be a man of means by any means,
Governor Rod.

#692 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Thanks again to everyone who's sending good wishes. The news continues grim, unfortunately. Tumor is not operable, not clear what other possibilities exist.

However, in the spirit of Not Thinking About It, here are some ideas for Worst Christmas Specials Ever (yeah, I posted these on Scalzi's blog, but thought I'd share them with you all too):

An Inconvenient Christmas: Santa's North Pole workshop becomes a floating factory, he has to shave his reindeer, and the sleigh becomes a pontoon boat. On Christmas Eve the workship and sleigh are destroyed in the Worldwide Permanent Hurricane, and Santa, the elves, and the reindeer are all killed.

Al Gore comes on at the end and urges the children of the world not to let this happen, and to denounce their parents for failing to recycle. Scheduled for broadcast in December 2009.

A Musical Chthulhu Christmas includes production numbers like "Rudolph the Headless Reindeer" and "O Hapless Town of Arkham, Mass." Broadcast was cancelled when the executive who greenlit it was devoured by toads.

Christmas of the Dead: Russians drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean trigger the Zombocalypse. Zombie Santa, flying a sleigh pulled by undead reindeer, delivers the Ancient Zombie Curse to all the world's children in a single night.

Best moment: Hordes of zombie children besieging toystores, moaning "Braaaaaaatz!" When the stores open, they trample the hapless employees to death. Cancelled when WalMart withdrew sponsorship.

#693 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 01:29 PM:

Xopher @ 692... You remind me that it's time to watch Santa Claus conquers the Martians.

#694 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 01:32 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers)@ 673: That's a great comic. I just wish it was side-by-side for easy online viewing.

#695 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 01:32 PM:

Epacris @ 682... Thanks. I think she overdid the walking-with-cane today, but she is definitely improving.

#696 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 01:49 PM:

John Houghton @ 690: That is an excellent idea and one I may do myself. (I was crying too hard on Election Night to take in every word of that speech when it was being shown live.)

Xopher @ 692, I would personally like to see A Very Scary Solstice made into a Christmas special.

#697 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 02:28 PM:

Epacris, #682: Would that be translated as, "He can't be a bad person! He likes cute little kittens!"?

John, #691: Hee! Not bad at all, though I'd have preferred retaining the original rhyme scheme in line 4. Sings pretty well too, even with the extra syllable in the penultimate line.

Xopher, #692: You are aware that there are not one but TWO CDs of Cthulhu Carols available, n'est-ce pas?

#698 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 02:56 PM:

Here's one view of the automotive bailout.

Getting your money anyway

#699 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 03:08 PM:

Arrrrg! The video in the "It's like genre fantasy slush set to music" link is killing me. Not because it's awesomely badly awesome, no no.

It's killing me because I know I saw it before... some time in the last week or three, when I had a computer that couldn't do audio. I saw the video embedded somewhere with a tiny bit of commentary, now I can't find it again. It's driving me crazy.

Can anyone think of anywhere on the internets they've seen it circulated?

#700 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 03:31 PM:

The genre slush video is awesome! OMG so bad. And, I'm not biased against white people or anything, but it was kindof hard to tell some of those ladies apart... ;)

There were actually a couple of images that I really liked, like the ice chasm with narrow arched bridges across it.

Thinking about the dreadful makeup in terms of slush, it's interesting to think that when books are written, the main characters are, in the author's head, probably vaguely in the style of the times: so frex, Cordelia in _Shards of Honor_ may have been envisioned at the time of her writing with huge 80s hair. Current accepted writing style, though, seems to be that "good" is not describing hairstyles, unless specifically describing them as other than the current norm.

#701 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 03:36 PM:

Vicki @686: And of course, we know the liberal media will not cover this story at all.

#702 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 04:06 PM:

Serge, Juli, Lee, Bruce: Thanks for the congratulations.

Bruce, condolences. Here's hoping we'll find gainful employment shortly.

A friend and I will be attending the Castro Sound of Music singalong. It sounds like fun.

Serge -- two words: Pia Zadora. Oh boy.

#703 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 04:10 PM:

pat greene @ 702... I think the Castro had a Wizard of Oz singalong a couple of years, and people were in costume. (Very few Glindas, for some reason.)

Yes, Pia Zadora...

#704 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 04:39 PM:

Serge, I'll tel you why very few Glindas: tulle is No Fun At All to sew into giant gathered ruffles. I attempted to make a tulle crinoline once. Horrors.

Plus, it's got PANNIERS under it.

When I vowed that I would make sure my daughter got to be whatever she wanted for Halloween (without putting a parka over it, either) I strongly hoped she'd never request Glinda. I got lucky.

#705 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 04:49 PM:

Rikibeth @ 704... There is that. And I can imagine the horror of a Munchkin if a becrowned-Glinda were to sit in front of him/her - assuming that she could sit, with a dress like that.

#706 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 05:00 PM:

A reminder that some of us will be making light by the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday, December 20. See post #423 in this thread for details.

#707 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 05:11 PM:

In some perverse world in a parallel universe, someone has crossed The Wizard of Oz with The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Scarecrow is wearing fishnet stockings and high heels, and the Flying Monkeys are doing a wild Time Warp.

#708 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 05:15 PM:

I realize I'm gravely insulting Tom Petty here, but the singer in the genre slush video looks disturbingly like him to me.

#709 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 05:21 PM:

Heh. Honolulu had its own version of the inflatable breasts sidelight this morning: Here's a video.

#710 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 05:28 PM:

It's a shame that Mr Owens wants to be a good guy*. He'd make a great Elric.

But dude, bleach the hair, bleach the tache. Please. For all our sakes.

-----
* Assuming this video is not actually some dastardly plot

#711 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 06:36 PM:

Leah at 699, I'd bet Bitch PhD.

#712 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 06:36 PM:

abi@710: Do you mean that the 'stache isn't drawn on with eyeliner? It *looks* like eyeliner, and he's obviously got some lying around.

#713 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 06:46 PM:

Rikibeth (#608): I have to come down mostly on the side of management here -- if there's a steep, northern exposure parking lot in New England in the winter, it's only reasonable to wear sturdy boots outside, and change into dressy shoes indoors if that's what your outfit requires.

I actually think it's reasonable that companies provide a safe environment for their employees.

And it's not like a hillside that's slippery and icy in heels is going to be like Velcro if you're in boots; it's likely that proper winter maintenance of those paths will reduce the risk of falls for everyone.

#714 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 06:51 PM:

Oh dear. I saw in the Particles section that video from Chris. He was the producer on a movie I did props for. Great guy, if a little cheesy. And the son of Gary "Space Ghost" Owens.

#715 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 09:47 PM:

Lee (#697), re Stephen Harper, kitty-hero = good, trustworthy, strong-but-with-a-heart, &c, O yes. Maybe even more than picture with young child, that's a bit clichéd these days.

Ken MacLeod (#78), on the midday news here, Sark (one of the States of Guernsey) is now also abandoning feudalism and having a General Election [by the residents] for the office of Conseillers of the Chief Pleas. Lucky for them there were no reports of WMD.

#716 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 10:33 PM:

Juli #671
That reminds me of a story I read about the real life Eliot Ness. One of his first big cases in Cleveland involved a ring that insured derelicts, got them drunk, and pushed them out in front of moving cars. I don't remember the details, but it seems like in that case the insurance companies got very suspicious and demanded an investigation.

That was back before the vast majority of adults in the US were drivers with most of them (us..) having a car, and insurance being essentially a commodity, AND before the huge investment in computers and all those actuarial tables and programs and code and analysis, and the ability to very quickly revise insurance rate tables and figure out who to hit with the biggest rate hikes and most effectively pass expenses onto customer. Holding the expenses down matters more when it's less easy to simply pass the expense onto someone else....

#717 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 10:33 PM:

Juli #671
That reminds me of a story I read about the real life Eliot Ness. One of his first big cases in Cleveland involved a ring that insured derelicts, got them drunk, and pushed them out in front of moving cars. I don't remember the details, but it seems like in that case the insurance companies got very suspicious and demanded an investigation.

That was back before the vast majority of adults in the US were drivers with most of them (us..) having a car, and insurance being essentially a commodity, AND before the huge investment in computers and all those actuarial tables and programs and code and analysis, and the ability to very quickly revise insurance rate tables and figure out who to hit with the biggest rate hikes and most effectively pass expenses onto customer. Holding the expenses down matters more when it's less easy to simply pass the expense onto someone else....

#718 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 11:01 PM:

I mentioned the auction to help Vera Nazarian earlier and you have to read this auction and the resulting comments.

#719 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 11:23 PM:

Amazing what missing a night's sleep can do to your mind. Please let me know if I've left anyone unoffended.

"Against Earworms, Even The Gods Strive In Vain"
sung to the tune of Billy Joe's "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"

What's the matter with the faith I believe in?
Can't you tell that it's out of style?
Should I find another ministry to give to?
Maybe look farther up the dial.
You haven't thought about the Problem of Evil;
and your doctrine on Pain is medieval,
Hell fears, bash queers, give atheists the loud sneers,
It's just another god's decree.

What's the matter with the way I treat a woman?
Can't you tell that she's a human being?
But I went and let her out of the kitchen
You're gonna hafta do a lot more freeing.
You gotta know you care too much about gender,
your privileged status is bound to offend her,
chaste lives, young wives, living in your own hives,
It's just another god's decree.

It doesn't matter what they shout from pulpit
'cause the rules are made behind the scenes.
If the doctrine is sound
they'll just have to come round
to knowing that it's a god's own plan,
and that's how it all began.

Why follow him to the jungle unthinking?
'Cause it acts as a test of faith
Should I give my kid the Kool-aid we're drinking?
Are you sure it will be quite safe?
Paranoia makes a priest temperamental,
Pretty soon he'll go completely mental,
Most dead, rest fled, leaving all the faith shred,
It's just another god's decree.

What's the matter with blood sacrifices?
Can't you tell that they go too far?
Do you think that torture suffices?
If you do, we know what you are.
Aztec rites will get the hormones a'pumpin'
Whole lotta violence, and a whole lotta humpin'
Axe raise, priest prays, blood sprays, crowd bays
It's just another god's decree.

Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new faith
Baby, but it's just another god's decree.

#720 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 01:24 AM:

Rikibeth @ 704 ...
Serge, I'll tel you why very few Glindas: tulle is No Fun At All to sew into giant gathered ruffles. I attempted to make a tulle crinoline once. Horrors.

It's much easier if you sew tape onto the tulle while flat, and then gather the tape...

Serge @ 706 ...
A reminder that some of us will be making light by the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday, December 20. See post #423 in this thread for details.

I'm still awaiting the whim of the customer for travel plans *sigh*

#721 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 02:37 AM:

A holiday gift* for the budding steampunk prodigy in your life??

A Young Mad Scientist's First Alphabet Blocks

*must.resist. I want to buy some for the niece. I think Charlie Dell needs a set. I want to get them for any other number of younguns I know/know of. D is for Dirgible! T is for Tentacle! They're so cute! I'm gushing again, as usual, etc... Oh, and it looks like they hit BoingBoing on Sunday, and I missed them there...

#722 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 03:06 AM:

Here's a thought I had recently: If there's anyone out there who can give blood but doesn't, please do. Katie won't be able to for the foreseeable future, and I'm sure it would please her if someone did so on her behalf.

#723 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 08:24 AM:

#720, xeger -

Do you mean sew on some sort of pre-made gathering tape, or just plain bias/twill tape that you run a gathering line on later?

One day I'll need that trick, and I want to be sure I've got it right.

#724 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 08:36 AM:

xeger @ 720... Drat. Let's hope your customer's whim (he/she has but one whim?) will allow you to make light with the (so far) six of us. Should you find out on Dec 17-18 and yours truly doesn't repond right away, it'll be because we'll be driving to the Bay Area. (Hopefully, that'll be the only reason. Before we get to spend the night in Bakersfield, we'll have to go over the mountain pass in Tehachapi, which can be quite unnerving when it's dark and snow is falling abundantly.)

#725 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 08:36 AM:

Bruce (STM) @719: Thunderous applause.

#726 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 09:00 AM:

R.M. Koske @ 723 ...
Do you mean sew on some sort of pre-made gathering tape, or just plain bias/twill tape that you run a gathering line on later?

Either/or -- I've used curtain tape before, to give a bit of a cartridge pleating effect/standoff, but it's also rather stiff. The main idea is just to attach something more easily manipulated than the tulle.

Serge @ 724 ...
If the customer would be kind enough to communicate better, I'd have some idea what their whim(s) are ;)

#727 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 09:20 AM:

Open-threadiness found on Marginal Revoltion:

Austenbook

I am sitting in a Panera Bread, laughing my a-- off and drawing stares from reading this.

#728 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 09:36 AM:

For those following the inflatable-breasts-lost-at-sea story, I'm not sure whether this is good news or not. They've been found.

Bruce @719 – Wow.

Tania @721, ah, the Boing Boing bit explains what happened to the goodies in Wood Bee while I was off Getting Stuff Done. Dinna realise.

#729 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 09:43 AM:

xeger @ 726... Let's hope that your customer's whimsical nature will lead you to making light by the Bay.

#730 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 10:06 AM:

It's that time of the semester again. Yes, it's finals week, and I am reading the immoral, er, immortal prose of fine young people who think that the best way to get an A on a take-home examination is to dash off any old thing at the last minute. Or, perhaps, they believe the English language is a device for preventing communication. Herewith, some examples:

Technically these are not measurable concepts but they can be measured in a sense.

Plato was a Greek philosopher, who was taught by his mentor Socrates. Plato also had a student of his own student, Aristotle who helped lay the foundations of Western Philosophy. Plato was also a mathematician, writer of philosophical dialogues.

These philosophers have never mention anything regarding another walk of life.

For people consider his teaching to be immoralist or anomalism.

Machiavelli believe that the greatest moral good is a virtuous state and actions to protect the country are therefore justified even if they are curl.

Thinkers such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Locke are all examples of thinkers who equivocated ideals that attempted to solve societal problems consequently causing their ideals to be universal and practical, sustaining a relevant message.

Much is to be learned from the thinking of philosophers such as Aristotle, among other ancient Greek philosophers, because has helped to discern certain characteristics of human nature.

#731 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 10:46 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 730

Is it called a "take-home" exam because of the kung-pao stains on the paper?

Commenting on the radio soap-operas of her youth, my mother used to use the phrase "lifeless prose".

And, you know, I think the young person who wrote "thinkers who equivocated ideals" has something there. That sounds like a standard technique for philosophers who find themselves in debate with their rivals. The eternal argument about Searle's "Chinese Room" is a good example.

#732 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 11:14 AM:

re 730: I was proofreading a paper of my wife's the other night. The syntax was remarkably disjointed, including a few LOLcat-worthy expressions, until about halfway through, when it suddenly became normally coherent. We deduced this was the point at which the kids were finally made to go to bed.

#733 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 11:42 AM:

732 reminds me of the Sherlock Holmes story in which Holmes looks at a handwritten document and deduces from the handwriting not only that it was written in a moving train but also what sort of train. (Good writing at the start = train in station, bad in the middle = train moving, very bad = going over points... IIRC he worked out it was a suburban commuter train.)

"At this point the author's tone changes to being far more generous and optimistic. We deduce, Watson, that not only had the kids gone to bed but she had just started to get into the gin."

#734 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 11:45 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #731: 'Undead prose' might be closer to the mark.

#735 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 11:47 AM:

C. Wingate #731: If I see that happen, I run a Google check for plagiarism.

#736 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Thinkers such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Locke are all examples of thinkers who equivocated ideals that attempted to solve societal problems consequently causing their ideals to be universal and practical, sustaining a relevant message.

This child right here is going to end up in academia, writing turgid essays on incomprehensible topics, and in general, being an insufferable bore to everyone around him/her. Or, this one will become a critic.

You almost need to sell tickets for watching this student. There's a potential niche to be exploited here.

#737 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Anomalism. That's a word I'm going to have to work into my everyday conversations.

"Well, Russ, what we have here is a fine example of the deleterious effects of anomalism."

#738 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 01:06 PM:

More scent of the lamp:

Aristotle maintained that both monarchy and aristocracy were ideal forms of government, in the sense that they were practically impossible to achieve in reality.

This shows you that even though time has passed, our history still exist.

And it was also a lot of deceitful things that went on as well.

Our country is founded on democracy stemming from ancient Greece.

It is of disbelief that men would not want their daughters or vies to become educated because of the way that society shaped their thoughts.

It was a feeling she wanted other females to feel.
To have to be controlled by someone that didn’t even care if you were alive or dead.

To have to follow rules that were uncanny and be forced to do so.

I don’t believe that they are the least relevant to the people of their day because these political thinkers were subjected to their own thoughts and beliefs.

#740 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 01:51 PM:

It was a feeling she wanted other females to feel.
To have to be controlled by someone that didn’t even care if you were alive or dead.

I watched this exchange. Truly, I believed the plant would be watered. It was plant, and on Gor it had no rights. Perhaps on Earth, in its permissive society, which distorts the true roles of all beings, which forces both plant and waterer to go unhappy and constrained, which forbids the fulfillment of owner and houseplant, such might not happen. Perhaps there, it would not be watered. But it was on Gor now, and would undoubtedly feel its true place, that of houseplant. It was plant. It would be watered at will. Such is the way with plants.

-- from "Houseplants of Gor"

#741 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Ginger @ #736, or become Robert Hughes.

#742 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 02:40 PM:

David Goldfarb @722 -- there's a blood drive coming up on Monday. I was planning to go anyway, but will be glad to keep Katie in my thoughts. (Odd factoid in the newspaper today: only 4% of Germans donate blood. I wonder if that's similar in other Western countries? No wonder there are always shortages.)

I'm hopelessly behind on threads at the moment, but Xopher, I caught the news about your dad, and I hope everything goes as well as it possibly can.

#743 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 03:57 PM:

fragano,

And it was also a lot of deceitful things that went on as well.

though in "job creation" & a couple of dropped final "g"s, & i'd swear you had sarah palin in your class.

#744 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 05:05 PM:

Fragano Legister at #738: "Aristotle maintained that both monarchy and aristocracy were ideal forms of government, in the sense that they were practically impossible to achieve in reality."

This one actually makes sense to me, so it is hard for me to see why it's being held up as a "scent of the lamp" example.

The tricky part is that both "ideal" and "practically" don't mean what they usually mean in ordinary conversation.

I read it as "you can imagine a perfect monarchy, but there is no such thing in reality.(says Aristotle)" and it does not seem garbled to me as such.

#745 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 05:14 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 74, I'd argue that "practically impossible to achieve in reality" is redundant and could have been better expressed by "impossible to achieve in practice." Otherwise I would tend to agree with you.

#746 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 05:15 PM:

Fragano: If the prose is undead, it's the reader who ends up hungering for brains....

#747 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 05:21 PM:

Erik Nelson #744: *snort*

#748 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Someone is using Making LIght emails to distribute their online poetry links, etc., a Rebecca Tacosa Gray.

They appear to have most of their materials at Wetpaint.com, reply is to sterlingparker9@yahoo.com. I got it twice. And it has a list of all email addresses that could probably be grabbed by others..

Just an FYI.

#749 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 05:57 PM:

Yes, I got that, too. Those of you who have more connections to publishing than occassionally posting comments on Making Light get a lot of stuff like that, right?

#750 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 06:09 PM:

paula,

i got that, too. i threw it in spam without looking at it. interesting that it might be someone's self-marketing strategy...

#751 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 06:37 PM:

Think of it as another cost of the vanity-press industry: it turns clueless author-wannabees into spammers.

#752 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 06:40 PM:

I got that poetry spam too, twice. Now that I know it's mined from here, I'll have my spaminator-droid nuke it with extreme prejudice.

#753 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 06:45 PM:

Et tu, Paula?

#754 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 06:57 PM:

I got that spam e-mail too, and was wondering why 'Rebecca Tacosa Gray' was also 'Sterling Parker'. Looked like a serious case of cross-dressing to me.

#755 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Yeah, I got it too. Delete before reading.

Zombie prose. BRAAAAAINS!!!

#756 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 08:16 PM:

I just want to run something by the keen eyes of ML:

I have a lot of cherries, and a large bottle of rather ordinary brandy (that I won in a raffle!). If I take a large bottle, and half fill it with cherries, and then fill up the bottle with the cherries and leave it for a while, agitating occasionally, will I end up with something delicious to drink? Should I stone the cherries? Add some sugar?

#757 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 08:31 PM:

Thinkers who equivocated ideals that attempted to solve societal problems consequently causing their ideals to be universal and practical, sustaining a relevant message.

With a slight change in vocabulary, this one could have a future in the business world as well -- perhaps investor relations, or motivational seminars.

#758 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 08:48 PM:

Raphael, actually no. I very seldom get spam that comes from people mining this list. That's why I commented.

Then again, my email's spam filter is set on kill.

#759 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 09:03 PM:

flowery 756: If the cherries are fresh, pit them, and you don't have to fill the bottle half full, because they won't expand much (but you're more interested in flavoring the brandy, so maybe half full is better). If they're dried, it's a different story.

With fresh cherries it will take a long time for anything much to happen. The end of the process might be some delicious liquid, but more importantly you'll have soused cherries, which will be very tasty indeed!

#760 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 09:24 PM:

The most gloriously incoherent sentence I ever read was in a standards document at the office concerning the avoidance of screen clutter: This is to be avoided for reasons of avoid clarity to promote.

#761 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 09:25 PM:

Noooooooooooo! Not fair!

I live 30 miles south of San Francisco, and on the twentieth....

I will be in St. Petersburg, Florida, where my brother will be finally marrying his girlfriend after many years together.

#762 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 09:40 PM:

Media company layoffs, as referred to in Particle article. I am in one. Waaah.

They (the big conglomerate of local newspapers I am working for for just a short while longer) think that it will be cost-effective to have fewer layout and page building people consolidated in one site and have the editors view their corrections remotely.

Consequently I am one of several who are leaving when the department I work for is dissolved.

False economy? Maybe. But I am not the one who will be around to find out.

#763 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 10:02 PM:

I come seeking the advice of the Fluorosphere.

For Christmas, my brother has requested a shaving brush. Badger, not boar, as he says boar is poor quality, and besides, he already has a boar bristle brush.

I've seen a huge range of prices when browsing on Amazon. The most expensive ones are well out of my price range (especially as I would also like to include a safety razor with his gift). But I worry that the least expensive ones will be of overall low quality.

Can anyone provide me with any advice or suggestions on things to look for when shopping for a shaving brush? Desirable traits and things to avoid would both be helpful to know at this point.

#764 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 10:04 PM:

Tania @ #737

"Well, Russ, what we have here is a fine example of the deleterious effects of anomalism."

I always hear that word in my head Lena Lamont style. (Billions is voiced by Carl Sagan. There are others. Is that weird?) Hey look - it plays instantly at Netflix! Well, there's the rest of the evening shot. Thanks!

#765 ::: affreca ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 10:06 PM:

flowery at 756: Sounds like a tasty idea. Most of the recipes I found recommend piercing or halving the cherries, and making sure to include the pits. I would add sugar, probably an equal weight as the cherries. Finally, it will take a while to soak - 1 to 3 months.

#766 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 10:08 PM:

debbie@742: I once heard that the U.S. figure is 3%; that was a while ago, so the Germans could be ahead of us or behind. (Other countries may be further ahead in contributory medicine; I read of a Danish bumper sticker that translated as "Pass by all means -- we can use your kidney.")

flowertop@752: I'd be wary of what might dissolve out of the stones in alcohol. A friend used to cover a full jar of grapes with 9 parts of brandy and 1 part of powdered sugar (IIRC -- don't know whether the cornstarch was relevant or just meant less stirring), once substituting slivovitz (~110 proof) for brandy; they would have been seriously dangerous if not for being served in the jar, which meant our consumption went down with our fine motor coordination.

#767 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Boozy cherry idea contributors, one and all:

Thankyou for your help!

I remembered I also have a bottle of calvados I don't like, so I put up one bottle this afternoon, and I'll do another when I pick some more on the weekend. Into a 1.5l capacity bottle, I half filled with whole fresh cherries (not pierced, pits intact), added 1/3 cup sugar, and added the calvados, a smidge under 700ml. It's on the top shelf of my linen cupboard, and I'll slosh it around when I remember, and try it on my birthday, in April.

The next one, I'll jab the cherries, and cover with the plain old brandy, and compare the two. I read one recipe that called for half a cup of sugar, so I thought best to stick near that sort of amount, equal sugar sounds like jam (of which I have a pot simmering away as well).

CHip: what might come out of the stones? I vaguely recall that the pits are used for almond flavour, if so that's a plus (and if it's toxic, I know what my ex is getting for Christmas next year).

Xopher: Yes, I wondered how'd they be, soused. I heard a nice recipe on the radio the other day for prunes steeped in port, with a vanilla bean added, that I think I want to do, too.

#768 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 11:42 PM:

The spammer just sent out a second batch, this time as "S.P. Ming" (s_p_ming@yahoo.com) but from the same IP address: 68.116.85.105, AKA 68-116-85-105.dhcp.trlk.ca.charter.com .

Relevant complaint addresses:

abuse@yahoo.com for the sender / reply-to and for advertised flickr.com site
abuse@charter.net, spamalert@charter.net for the spam source
info@wetpaint.com, abuse@forest.net, abuse@easydns.com for the host of the advertised pages (on wetpaint.com)

#769 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 01:22 AM:

Singing Wren @ #763, funny you should ask, as there's a story in tomorrow's NYT about those who try to use straight razors. It looks to be painful.

#770 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 01:27 AM:

Addendum to my #769, the barber shop is F.S.C. Its Village location is at 5 Horatio Street (the original is at 8 Rivington Street on the Lower East Side). Phone: (212-929-3917)

It sells badger-hair brushes.

#771 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 02:31 AM:

Serge @ 729 ...
xeger @ 726... Let's hope that your customer's whimsical nature will lead you to making light by the Bay.

Barring still more whimsey (I'm starting to feel like they're setting up for a restoration comedy here, and haven't figured out what role I've been cast in), the magic eight ball is optimistic.

#772 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 03:37 AM:

This one was bugging me:

Machiavelli believe that the greatest moral good is a virtuous state and actions to protect the country are therefore justified even if they are curl.

until I realised that it was someone misreading evil as curl: that implies they were reading handwriting. How cute, plagerising a hand-written essay. Is it a comment on how long it is since people wrote their own essays, or an effective defence against google?

#773 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 04:37 AM:

Singing Wren @ #763:

Make sure that the badger bristles are not from the rear of the animal, as they may not have the smooth feel desirable in a shaving brush.

#774 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 04:47 AM:

debbie @ 742:
(Odd factoid in the newspaper today: only 4% of Germans donate blood. I wonder if that's similar in other Western countries? No wonder there are always shortages.)

I know it's low enough in Spain, or used to be, that hospitals resort to an odd sort of deception in order to replenish their blood supplies: When someone goes into the hospital for surgery, they urge that person's relative to come donate blood, with the implication that this will be the source for whatever transfusions that person may need.

This WHO fact sheet claims that "If 1% to 3% of a country's population donate blood, it would be sufficient for the country's needs. But in 73 countries, donation rates are less than 1% of the population. Seventy of these nations are either developing or transitional countries." (No naming of names, though.) Which implies that Germans are on the high side of donation rates...

#775 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 06:21 AM:

At the ARC office where I donate, there's a flyer up in the canteen which says that the rate for the US is 5%. They could be rounding, of course.

#776 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 07:23 AM:

pat greene @ 761... Well, you could ask your brother to change dates. Right. I don't know about the others who will be making light, but the next day is my wife's 50th birthday, which I wouldn't even think of rescheduling even if I were Martin Scorsese. As for the following weekend, we will alas already be back on the road.

#777 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 07:27 AM:

xeger @ 771... I'm starting to feel like they're setting up for a restoration comedy here, and haven't figured out what role I've been cast in

Ah, what the Monty Python people would do with the premise of a Restoration comedy skit... Who would play King Charles II? Terry Jones? Graham Chapman?

#778 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 08:27 AM:

#772, Andy -

I parsed that as someone who spells cruel "crul" and then made a typo that spellcheck didn't catch. The misreading of a handwritten word makes a lot of sense too. Hm.

#779 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 08:52 AM:

flowery tops @ 767--that almond flavor comes from cyanide. I'm just sayin', is all.

Others here may know where a couple of handfuls of cherries would produce enough cyanide to be dangerous, or if the cyanide would be volatile enough to evaporate if the container's contents are exposed to the air and decanted. But fruit pits do produce cyanide, some more than others.

#780 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 09:22 AM:

Erik Nelson #762: False economy? Maybe. But I am not the one who will be around to find out.

I was once in a layoff that (apparently accidentally) included everyone in the company who understood MS Access; the company's solution: get rid of the customers whose database solutions included MS Access. A few years later, that company's location now hosts a Lowe's Home Improvement superduperstore.

#781 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 09:38 AM:

If you google the name of the spammer, you get a blog which theoretically contains her contact information. "abuse" email addresses may be the better choice, but I almost wonder if this was just a clueless breach of etiquette that could be corrected with a personal note from a Making Light mod. "Hey, in case you didn't realize, harvesting email addresses of strangers from this forum and spamming them with your self-promotion is rude and not okay."

If fruit pits contain cyanide, then why were fruit pits saved to make gas masks during World War II? Google implies that it was just to make charcoal. I guess burning them would probably get rid of the cyanide (but I'm not a chemist).

#782 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 09:43 AM:

I have made brandied cherries for years, and have never pitted them.

My recommendation is to add the sugar to the cherries, shake vigorously, and let it sit overnight. Then add the brandy. This way, the cherries juice a little, and the sugar dissolves some. It speeds things up.

OTOH, I have some blackberry brandy that I made 10 years ago. It was much better after 4 years of aging.

#783 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Synchronicity: after hearing about blood here, I realized that it's been a while since I last donated. I looked in my Livejournal for the blood triumph post (low hematocrit for months on end) and could not find it-- usually I post a reaction to blood. I just felt like I'm due.
So I called this morning to set up an appointment, apologized that I don't remember when I'm eligible, and hey, I'm eligible today! Whoo!
Except I haven't been taking my iron, so I'll donate in a week, when I actually have some hemoglobin.

#784 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 10:02 AM:

Cache juggling with BlagoGate. Looks like the start of a new phase of the witch hunt.

#785 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 11:24 AM:

#772
I read 'curl' as intended for 'cruel'.

#786 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 12:40 PM:

Earl Cooley III @659 Preeze: which this is that? The anchor code or the url?

#787 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 12:59 PM:

Wow, every time I see more trailer for The Day the Earth Stood Still it looks stupider. That's quite in addition to the fact that Keanu Reeves is no Michael Rennie.

Looks kinda like the orginal crossed with Independence Day. This is like crossing a thoroughbred horse with a nematode, but it's apparently the only way to update the movie for today's special-effects-obsessed audiences.

Why can't they leave the classics ALONE?!?! Stupid assholes.

I mean, what's next, Casablanca with Keanu as Rick and Reese Witherspoon (but There Is No Spoon To Wither) as Inga? Will the Marseillaise scene become a full-scale riot with much gunfire and bloodshed? Will Matthew Lillard (as Victor Laszlo) have to drag himself bleeding to the plane to Lisbon, after having used Hollywood Tae Kwon Krav Majitsu to kill the 45 Nazis who were trying to take him prisoner?

No doubt a spectacular air battle will ensue, during which the plane will lose both wings and its tail, but somehow continue to fly (but only for 42 seconds, shown on a countdown clock), and Keanu will string a wire between it and another nearby plane, and tightrope-walk to it, carrying Matthew and Reese in his arms, getting there 10 minutes later at second 41, after which the original plane will plunge to Earth with much fire and explosion.

But there will be Nazi sleeper agents aboard the new plane! They kill the pilot and copilot and take control of the plane (perhaps yelling at each other in Arabic while they do)! It's going to Berlin O noes! Keanu and Matthew must outwit them and get the plane back on course to Lisbon, with much gory fighting, including a fistfight on the wing of the speeding plane, where Keanu finally knocks one of the Nazis into the propeller, getting spattered with Aryan blood in the process. The other one gets the drop on Keanu, but Reese blows his brains out from behind with a gun she could not possibly have had in any preceding scene, or found on the plane.

Keanu parachutes into Paris to join the resistance, Reese and Matthew fly on to Lisbon, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Until, that is, the aliens destroy Paris, Lisbon, Casablanca, and Berlin with their super-destructive Destruckto-rays™.

#788 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 01:25 PM:

Xopher, are you taking any sort of over-the-counter decongestant right now? You're not normally so... manic. Or it may just be righteous fury. In which case I apologise. (And agree.)

Reese Witherspoon (but There Is No Spoon To Wither)

...is particularly inspired.

#789 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 01:27 PM:

Xopher, I think it's safe to assume that your lawn is now well and thoroughly kid-free.

#790 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 01:47 PM:

Xopher @ 787... Keanu Reeves is no Michael Rennie

It could have been worse. They could have gotten Adam Sandler. That being said, I have no intention of seeing the remake. Never did.

Klaatu barada nikto, as Bruce Campbell would say.

#791 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 02:24 PM:

Andy Brazil #772: It's simpler than that, 'curl' is a typo for 'cruel'.

#792 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 02:32 PM:

More samples from the slush pile cases of last-minute 'inspiration' I'm currently reading:


For instance, in the United States many people cannot be trusted but that is true everywhere you are.

This period was written after the French were overtaken by the Agincourt.

History is built on the great minds of political thinkers such as Plato and Rousseau and they have left their everlasting mark on modern thoughts of politics.

Plato, who lived from 427 to 347 BCE, clearly conducted his teachings before the time of slavery.

Their re kingdoms that consist of black empires where we are governed by our own ideals.

The Penalties for being disobedience to the laws that have been set should be strictly enforced, and should never be reduced or rescinded.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a philosopher from Geneva, was a writer, and the composer of the Enlightenment.

#793 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 02:37 PM:

ajay, just righteous fury (I'm taking all and only the usual stuff), and thanks, I liked that line too.

#794 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 03:04 PM:

Caroline, #781: You're a better man than I am. Even if she's merely clueless, I would prefer that the clue be delivered in unmistakable fashion, in the form of a notice about TOS violation from her service provider. Also, I am fairly well convinced that anyone with enough snap to be able to harvest addresses from a forum like this is smart enough to understand that it's unethical to do so.

Dan, #789: Seconded. :-)
(And Xopher, could you use a virtual hug?)

#795 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 03:09 PM:

Lee: Oh yeah. Thanks.

#796 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 03:55 PM:

Fragano, your gems of student writing make me very grateful I teach engineering (and even more grateful that I'm on sabbatical). At least engineering students are hardly ever trying for florid prose.

#797 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @792: History is built on the great minds of political thinkers such as Plato and Rousseau and they have left their everlasting mark on modern thoughts of politics.

Please don't take this personally, but I tend to think that one of the problems with politics is that while the first part of that sentence is wrong, the second is right. With some political commentators I have the impression that whenever they can't argue for some idea they have (or against some idea they don't like) on policy grounds, they resort to vague references to dead philosophers instead ("sure, based on mere facts, you might say that there's a quagmire in Iraq, but when you look at it as part of a grand struggle between different models of society in the context of the intellectual history of the different Worldviews involved...").

#798 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 04:13 PM:

Iraq is NOT a quagmire.

Too dry for that.

It's a tar pit.

#799 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 04:24 PM:

Caroline @ 781: She's been very busy flogging her books and her, um, church, all over the net. If she hasn't picked up that spamming is bad -- and her second message was all "And to those that might view this email as spam, please don't. This is part of my work, and I love my work." -- she needs to be thwacked hard anyway.

(That page reminds me a great deal of the SkyTentacles mode of XScreenSaver. You can draw your own conclusions.)

I think that cherry pits, like other fruit pits, contain not cyanide but cyanogenic glycosides -- cyanide is released when the material is broken down during digestion. This would be mostly in the inner part, rather than in the dense shell which was used to make the activated charcoal for gas masks.

#800 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 04:37 PM:

Early reviews of TDTESS indicate that it's spectacularly sucky.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1193610-day_the_earth_stood_still/

#801 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 05:45 PM:

Hmm, I just figured out what's wrong with this:

The other one gets the drop on Keanu, but Reese blows his brains out...
...which is that the subtleties of pronoun reference imply that Reese blows Keanu's brains out. The fact that it's impossible for her to do so doesn't make my sentence correct. Should have been something like
Keanu is briefly held at gunpoint by the other one, but Reese blows his brains out...
...but I expect you all knew what I meant anyway.

#802 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 06:02 PM:

Jacque #786: Earl Cooley III @659 Preeze: which this is that? The anchor code or the url?

The anchor code. I just used the extra step of shortening the URL by using the tinyurl.com service. The rel="nofollow" is automatically added by the site's weblog software, to prevent commenters from casually squandering Making Light's valuable googlejuice.

#803 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 06:13 PM:

Oh, and Sam (played by Snoop Dog) has two hip-hop numbers. One has the refrain

"Nazi Major Strasser, he a major wanka,
Better watch yo' ass 'cuz you in Casablanca!"

and the other, of course, is

"As time goes by, remember this bitches:
A kiss is still a kiss, but a (bleep) will scratch yo' itches!"

#804 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 07:04 PM:

debcha #796: I keep telling students that plain and simple is the way to go. And they keep not listening.

#805 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 07:41 PM:

Xopher, why aren't you working in Hollywood?

#806 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 08:01 PM:

I think I know what happens to Frangano's students after they graduate. They're hired by my alma mater.

On my college mailing list there's an ongoing discussion about a copy of a Matisse "Blue Nude" painting done by a student as a dorm wall mural around 1980. Somehow the Dean of Students office has gotten the idea that the mural is a real Matisse, and are saying so to prospective applicants! No one even bothered to think that it would be highly unlikely that the aged and wheelchair-bound Matisse would travel out to upstate New York to paint a dorm wall. And to ask the history of art department about it? Inconceivable!

What does one do about idiocy like that?

#807 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 08:05 PM:

Allan: a milder case of the same reason I'm not working for the Westboro Baptist Church: deep hatred.

#808 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 09:37 PM:

Plug, plug, plug:

Steve Jackson Games' PDF pay-to-download wing has published:

GURPS Alphabet Arcane

Twenty-six items, characters, and adventure seeds for fantasy role-playing games.

#809 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 10:01 PM:

Singing Wren@763: I've used a badger bristle brush for years, and the only problem I have with it is the occasional bristle falling out. I'd suggest getting one that's 100% badger. I have no idea how to look at one online to find out what makes one more expensive than another; mine was a present, too. Its handle is plastic; it's quite possible that folks are asking large amounts of money for wood. My old wood-handled shaving brush died when the wood split. Wish I could be more help -- I really like the feel of the badger bristles though (and it does allow for you to make jokes about badgering and bristling).

#810 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 10:18 PM:

Singing Wren: As one who has used such brushes for both shaving, and weapons maintenence, let me say:

You want to feel the bristles. They should be longish, resilient, soft to the face, but not flabby (a gentle springiness is the trait you want).

Much of the variable cost is the handle/mounting. You want something which is rubber for the seat in which the bristles are mounted. I prefer something which is more, or less, flush with the base, so crud doesn't collect in the cup.

Linkmeister: Straight razors aren't much less comfortable than single edged safety razors. As for the article, he suffers from a lack of care. I've used straight razors, off and on, for a bit more than 20 years. It probably helps that my beard wasn't as stiff (nor dense) as it is now.

The super critical angle issues he raises... are nonsense. I make two passes, about 20 degrees, and then one much closer to 10. The first pass is with the grain, the second against.

I don't find myself in the strange positions he advocates either. The only reason for the wierdness he engages in is to see his own face in the mirror. There are other postures which allow it.

I have never cut myself. The closest I came was when I slit the callus of the ball of my thumb in a distracted moment. I didn't get to so much as the capillary layer. I, in fact, didn't feel it; just saw the gap. The next day I saw the dirty line where dust had gotten into the cut.

It was straight as anything.

I am told razor cuts don't hurt. This presupposes the user keeps his razor sharp.

Using it on someone else is much easier, though legs are tricky because of the edge of the shin. A good razor gets as smooth as a double edged blade, on the face. It does as well as any other razor on legs and arms, because the hair is much less resistant.

But... legs are something one shouldn't shave by oneself. I've seen a couple of people with nasty scars from the attempt. There are some strange angles which cause odd leverage in the wrist, and losing one's grip = lots of blood.

re pits: Cherrystones are fine. The gas masks of WW1 were, by and large, treated walnut shells, crushed small and rolled in charcoal.

#811 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2008, 10:37 PM:

With regard to blood donation, someone elsenet (I think on a livejournal community, but I misremember where) was asked for advice on getting one's hemoglobin levels up in order to donate blood. Her advice included not using Tums or similar antacids for a few days beforehand, especially if you're taking iron supplements (including multivitamins), because "they cancel each other out," and cooking in a cast-iron pan. The part about the cast-iron pan came with a note that she realized it sounded weird, but it helped. I haven't tested the idea myself, but the worst that happens on that is you've had to lift a heavier pan (and yes, I realize that's a show-stopper for some people, including at least one I love, but if you're one of them, you probably either already know it or will realize it quickly if you try). Food cooked in cast iron is not going to have unwanted side effects in someone with marginally low iron levels. Someone who needs antacids is not going to enjoy doing without them for a few days.

When I was giving blood, one of the questions on the forms, along with foreign travel, recent surgery, sexual and drug history, and malaria, was "Are you feeling well today?" I'm not sure if "No" was an automatic disqualification, or if it led to further questions, but it was a significant part of what they were checking. I don't, for example, know what they'd think of "I've been having heartburn, because someone told me I shouldn't take antacids before giving blood."

[Like Jim, I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice; I hope you find it entertaining.]

#812 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 12:04 AM:

Fragano (#804): I keep telling students that plain and simple is the way to go. And they keep not listening.

I'm fortunate that my classes are small enough that I can get my students to hand in a first draft of their reports, which I edit and return prior to the final draft (I have an aversion to summative feedback, but formative feedback? That I like). My two most frequently used comments are 'R4C' (rewrite for clarity) and 'SIS!'(say it simply!)

Vicki (#811): They ask if you're feeling well, because they don't want to take blood if you are sick - checking your temperature is a routine precursor to giving blood.

I think I've only managed to give blood once or twice - the first time I was too young, at least once I've had a cold, usually my iron levels are too low, and now I'm within a year of a getting a new tattoo, again, which is an immediate disqualification (which is a little frustrating - it's not like they're prison tattoos, made with India ink and a rusty safety pin).

#813 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 01:32 AM:

I had that spam too. Thought about emailing her back and explaining that literary agents were usually not interested in representing poets, and that any who were (NYLA, anyone?) were to be avoided.
Was the poem that began 'Dripping' intended to be funny?
-Barbara

#814 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 02:23 AM:

Xopher - I'm terribly sorry about your father. My uncle had pancreatic cancer, and unfortunately, it was initially diagnosed as liver cancer, based on where it was found. Stage 4, already metatatisized. He was way on the wrong side of the percentages.

This year has been a real trial here (irl, and in the fluorosphere). One of my kids' best friends just had a massive (5x3.5x2cm) brain tumor removed. She's 3. Another kiddo friend is nearly done beating his second round of cancer. Another family we know lost a baby to a chromosomal anormality. And my sister's death.

(ob symptoms to watch for that may mean brain tumor: Neck pain. Morning Vomiting. Difficulty walking. Progressively getting worse )

I'm ready for 2009.

#815 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 06:12 AM:

From Salon.com

Maybe the real secret agenda of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is to make the Bush administration look like a pack of cool-headed, deep-thinking geniuses in comparison. The fictional president and vice president of this movie are never seen; they've been chained up and shipped away to separate faraway bunkers, leaving Defense Secretary Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) behind the desk. Jackson dresses like Madeleine Albright but thinks like Don Rumsfeld, and the only reason she doesn't have Klaatu subcontracted out to Egyptian or Bulgarian torturers is because he's a superpowerful alien who can bring down helicopters with his hands, raise New Jersey state troopers from the dead and extract tuna-salad sandwiches from train-station vending machines without paying.

So, Klaatu takes our earthly sndwiches without paying for them? By the way, the review makes the movie sound like it stole some plot elements from Star Trek's "Voyage Home". Is that true, Xopher?

#816 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 09:34 AM:

I'm really looking forward to Keanu Reeves' "The Day the Earth Stood Still"; I'm hoping to like it at least as much as I liked Liv Tyler's "Armageddon" (which many people don't like for reasons I recalcitrantly fail to appreciate).

#817 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 12:26 PM:

As my pile of grading lessens, I continue to find, ahem, 'gems':

In my opinion, I agree.

The result of this discussion will determine that Han, which has been sometimes called “the Chinese Machiavelli”, is a reasonable statement. Due to there similarities and differences expressed throughout the paper.


There are political thinkers between the times of Plato to Rousseau that could be considered significant to a certain group of people.

Research is exactly what it states.

Not everything has a pay off. A person just needs to be blind sighted and actually just give back to the community without expecting applause.

To conclude, being able to have a hypothesis is being able not to wonder why it takes so long to write a paper.

After I spoke to Dr. Ledgister I realized that this topic was more sociable.

It is important for a researcher when doing research to make a decision whether in his/her research that they want to maintain objective and neutral or to serve the interest of his/her community.

It is important to serve in the interest of community because serving your community is your responsibility, it has an impact on your people, and makes the research more detailed.

There are many steps involved in most research where developing a hypothesis is not need is the beginning, with some research you do not need a hypothesis at all.

Also, it is important for the researcher to allow the concepts they are studying to be highly subjective.

Post college and even through college I have written many research designs, however I have never written a research design.

Apartheid represents a mordant period in the history of South Africa, when the policy of segregation and political and economic discriminating against non-European groups in South Africa.

These “pass books” hinder the colours from being average citizens of the United States of America.

Without voting this would be a country where one ruler makes the decisions for everyone in it but, fortunately we are not.

In my thesis, I will attempt to determine if America has come a long way for equal opportunity.
Simple scientific method is the primary way of solving ones questions to the universe, that as juveniles, and we were exposed to that system in our classrooms.

#818 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 12:51 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 816... I do not fail to appreciate Liv Tyler.

#819 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 12:55 PM:

Fragano (817): Post college and even through college I have written many research designs, however I have never written a research design.

Ow! You just broke my brain.

#820 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 01:11 PM:

People who write research designs are liars.

Norman, coordinate.

#821 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 02:53 PM:

Fragano (#817): In my opinion, I agree.

I think I'm going to have to teach this one to all the toddlers I know...

#822 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 03:12 PM:

Xopher @ #787 writes: I mean, what's next, Casablanca with Keanu as Rick and Reese Witherspoon (but There Is No Spoon To Wither) as Inga?

Not that I've seen it, but I understand that the Pamela Anderson vehicle Barb Wire from 1996 is a remake of Casablanca, in which Pammy plays Rick, her left boob plays Ilsa and the right one, Victor.

#823 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 03:57 PM:

Niall McAuley @ 822

I have seen Barb Wire, and Pammy doesn't play Rick, exactly, it's more like she grits her teeth (a truly astounding sight) and tries to get through the movie without forgetting her lines. That, plus all the truck traffic through the holes in the plot, makes this a must-miss. I want my 2 hours back, plus punitive damages.

#824 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 04:44 PM:

Fragano @ 817:
To conclude, being able to have a hypothesis is being able not to wonder why it takes so long to write a paper.

This explains a lot about my scientific productivity...

#825 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 05:00 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 823... I just went over to YouTube and, while I've seen worse works of cinéma, I understand why not paying to see the movie would be a good investment.

"Did you wash your hands?"
"No... I was bad."
#826 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 05:35 PM:

Serge @ 729 ... Let's hope that your customer's whimsical nature will lead you to making light by the Bay.

... and indeed, it currently appears as though I'll be stopping through for a bit :)

#827 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 05:43 PM:

xeger @ 826... That's great! Make sure to print the directions, and the place's phone nbr.

#828 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 06:07 PM:

Serge 815: I was basing my rant on the trailer. I have no intention of actually watching the movie, or any such trash.

#829 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 06:08 PM:

News: My dad's tumor may be operable after all. This would be good.

#830 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 06:09 PM:

Peter Erwin #824: Hypotheses non fingo.

#831 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 06:16 PM:

Xopher @ 828... The coming attraction was enough to make decide this oeuvre of cinema was to be avoided.

Glad to hear the news about your dad.

#832 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 07:24 PM:

What makes news of TDTESS's suckitude is that a movie of that general theme, if well done, might be a good thing culturally. An Anti-Independence Day.

#829: Excellent news!

#833 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 07:48 PM:

Okay, I'm lazy and haven't read all 832 comments, but I wanted to send Teresa a link to this rundown(!) of the Twilight series by a young ex-Mormon, "LDS Sparkledammerung."

She points out the aspects of Mormon theology and culture woven into the books with silliness and bad Photoshopping like a cruder version of The Editors's "Keyboard Kommandos" series.

It kept me up giggling way past my bedtime.

#834 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 07:56 PM:

Xopher @829, W00t, for good news!
Here's hoping it continues to improve.

#835 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 07:57 PM:

There are many steps involved in most research where developing a hypothesis is not need is the beginning, with some research you do not need a hypothesis at all.

And this is one of them.

#836 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Xopher #829: That's very good news.

#837 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 12:35 AM:

Serge, #818, so that's why you put her picture on your LJ!

Xopher, #829, I hope so!

#838 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 12:40 AM:

Marilee @ 837... I confess.

#839 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 12:40 AM:

Ex-NASDAQ chair arrested for $50 billion fraud.

Market opening on Monday should be interesting.

#840 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 07:27 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @817: Wish I could find it for you, but about 20 years ago I recall reading a bit of 'comic relief' in a language journal[1]. A poor, suffering teacher much like yourself put together a more-or-less coherent essay composed entirely of similar lines[2] he lifted from his students' essays.


[1] Not the sort of thing I'd normally be browsing, but a friend was doing the typesetting. I'm pretty sure I have a copy of the issue in one of the boxes in the attic.

[2] That is, lines similar to the examples you have been showing us.

#841 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 09:15 AM:

Xopher: That does sound like good news.

Lee: There's a saying I've read/heard around, something like "recessions discover fraud that auditors never find." If he was really running some variant of a pyramid scheme (that's the claim, but neither the FBI nor the media are all that reliable sources of information about stuff like this), I wonder if the downturns in the market was making it impossible to keep growing at the rate necessary to keep the pyramid scheme going.

The irony here is that the housing bubble was just a much bigger version of a pyramid scheme, looked at the right way. The original homeowners and early buyers cleaned up, the last ones in before the bubble burst got cleaned out instead.

#842 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 10:44 AM:

Recently saw the original Day the Earth Stood Still on cable, which makes me all the more incredulous that the Einsteinian role first played by Sam Jaffee has been given (according to the reviews) to John Cleese! [Clever readers, insert your own Pythonesque parody here.]

I've had a crush on Michael Rennie since childhood, and another look did nothing to dispel it. Incidentally, when he and the kid visit the Lincoln Memorial, he looks remarkably Lincolnesque -- those cheekbones.

On an entirely different topic, check out this Wash. Post article for a review of a book that's more or less about Jewish pirates, including mentions of Amsterdam.

#843 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 11:36 AM:

When I was at InfoLibria and the layoffs were starting (the company went from 210 employees in December 2000 to sold off in bankruptcy auction before 2002 was over... but it only got listed on fuckedcompany once because in the interim so many OTHER dotcom related businesses were failing and/or went away... but for quite a while www.fuckecompany.com got watched daily by most of the (remaining) employees....) someone who had been an EMC employee, said that when the Cold War ended and EMC's business base shrank, and the computer industry got clobbered, EMC had deep employee cuts--too deep. EMC had to immediately try to hire back some of the people it had cut--and had to offer them considerably higher salaries than they had been making, to persuade any of the axed employees it was trying to rehire, to come back to work for EMC....

(Note--EMC bought what was left of Data General, which the storage division of Data General, had competed with EMC... once there were lots of computers companies, that was once upon a time. In the storage business, Digital and IBM used to make their own hard drives and optical drives, IBM completely shutdown its optical drive busienss, and eventually sold its hard drive business to a Japanese company. Digital went out of existence, it sold itself to Compaq, and Compaq to HP, and HP hollowed out under that Sales and Marketing slimeweasel into a US marketing and sales operation with manufacturing and what was left of R&D offshored and much of that outsourced to the eastern hemisphere, and the old HP instruments business spun off into Agilent, and the chip design and manufacturing dispensed with in some fashion or other....)

(Another reason why I'm opposed to bailing out US car manufacturers... I remember the downturn of the end of the Cold War and the Massachusetts economy tank and the rest of the USA be not even politely disinterested... I knew one couple who walked away from a house worth less than the mortgage on it, letting the bank have the house, and someone who after a divorce stayed in the house because the house was worth less than the mortgage was... house values dropped by a third in much of the state. My parents could have gotten 50% more for their house had they sold it a few years earlier than they sold it.... and of course they wound up selling it at the bottom of the market.... Apollo Computer and the HP workstation division and Stellar Computer and Ardent Computer and Stardent and Prime and Data General and Digital Equipment etc. etc. are all gone and evaporated and their suppliers and the companies that made add-on stuff for their systems.... replaced by retail schlock stores and jobs. pah... )

#844 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 12:38 PM:

Xopher

Good news about your father. I'm rooting for him and for you.

albatross @ 841

Isn't every bubble essentially a pyramid scheme? Maybe not one with a single con artist at the helm, but there's always a bunch of people in front making out like, well, bandits, and a large crowd of people in the tail slavering for their non-existent huge profits. The greed of the crowd rapidly inflates the price of the object of the bubble, whether it's mortgage debt instruments or startup companies with one-sentence business plans. Certainly the tech bubble was like that, and from what I've read, the exemplar of the class, the tulip bubble was exactly like that. It's like a game of musical chairs played to really frenetic music (a rap arrangement of a Scriabin piece?) with most of the players left standing at the end, and the penalty for not having a chair being that you have all your possessions taken from you.

Paula @ 843

You're right, no one seemed to be interested in dealing with the consequences of the tech bubble, and the results were pretty dire for a lot of employees and residents of areas with a lot of hi-tech investment. Of all the companies I've ever worked for in the industry (not counting work as an IT serf for non-tech companies), only 4 still exist, and of those, one is pretty healthy (Intel), one has been running flat for at least a decade now (Mentor), one has about one-fifth of the number of employees it had at its peak (Tektronix, and it was at peak the week I was first hired, by chance), and the last is a small company that doesn't want to be big; they're quite happy doing neat engineering and getting paid to do it.

But still, it really pisses me off that some of our elected "representatives" are trying to use the current economic mess as an excuse and a tool to kill of the labor unions. I've never been a union member myself, since whenever I had the chance I've worked in R&D, where the unions have never really understood the labor problems*, but I've known a lot of factory workers and such who would basically be sharecroppers in terms of economic status and rights if it weren't for the unions. They're not perfect, some of them have been more a part of the problem than the solution, but in a lot of times and places the unions have been the only force opposing the greed of the managers of the corporations.


* And there are problems: consider the very common prohibition against discussing compensation among employees.

#845 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 12:40 PM:

I just found out more about the remake of TDTESS. Apparently the aliens are going to destroy humanity in order to save "the Earth."

While that makes it somewhat parallel to the original, which an allegory about the Cold War destroying us all, by being an allegory about climate change and pollution destroying us all, it's also STOOPYDD!!!

"The Earth" isn't in danger from these things. LIFE AS WE KNOW IT is, and certainly THE HUMAN RACE will have to adapt drastically and may not survive, nor will many other species. But the change we're about to experience is not really more drastic than the one that killed off the archaic dinosaurs*, and "the Earth" survived that just fine. Not so good for the dinosaurs, but so what?

And while the original had aliens with reason to step in (i.e. they would not tolerate warlike humans with nuclear weapons coming to space), why the FUCK would they care what we do on this little planet wayyy out here on the wispy edge of a fairly minor galaxy?

Maybe they explain that in the movie. I don't know, and I never will unless someone tells me. Life is too short to lose two hours of my life to this kind of garbage.

____
*I have to say "archaic" dinosaurs or some jackhole will jump in to point out that "birds are dinosaurs" and that they weren't exactly wiped out.

#846 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 01:41 PM:

And your outrage justifies the posting, not of spoilers, but hearsay of spoilers? I suggest, as penance, that you actually see the movie. Then, if you are mortally offended, you can vent your outrage with your customary eloquence backed by first hand experiences. You'll still be posting spoilers, but then again, there's nothing I can do to stop that anyway.

#847 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 02:44 PM:

Earl, reviews and previews and "making of" leadins on SciFi and so on make everything I've said clear. If any of those are spoilers for the movie, I apologize, but I didn't think they were.

In fact, the trailers show the aliens destroying human tech (and killing humans in the process), and feature Keanu telling the human race that they have to go. While spoiler trailers are not unknown, it's hardly fair to castigate me for saying things that have been put out there by the filmmakers.

And if you're going to the movie for the plot, I daresay you'll be disappointed, but that's just my opinion.

#848 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 02:52 PM:

Good Luck, Xopher.

Serge @ 825
"Did you wash your hands?"

"No... I was bad."

The movie time-travelled to our time from a future in which the main traditional religion is no longer Christianity, but something founded by Jim instead?

#849 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 03:02 PM:

TDTESS: The reviews I've seen make some of these plot points clear to the reader. They also make it clear that this isn't a good remake.

#850 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 04:51 PM:

Ah, well, it wouldn't be the first time I got into trouble for complaining about spoilers; on a fannish email list I was piled on for complaining that a character death in an Aubrey-Maturin novel had been spoiled by another correspondent and was lectured that fannishness trumped netiquette.

#851 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 05:33 PM:

I don't think fannishness trumps netiquette. I just don't think the plot points I've talked about are spoilers.

#852 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 07:47 PM:

Sometimes, a comign attraction makes a movie look better than it really is. Sometimes the movie turns out to be exactly as the coming attraction suggested. I presume it's the same thing with the film's title. Tonight, on the SciFi Channel...

"Sharks in Venice"

Mantas are from Mars, sharks are from Venice.

I think I'll stick with my original plan to watch Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby in drag in White Christmas tonight.

#853 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 07:56 PM:

Xopher@851: I just don't think the plot points I've talked about are spoilers.

I am not myself an anti-spoiler purist, but I can attest that for the true-blue spoilerphobe, discussion of plot points -- even of classic works -- counts. (After all, one never knows who in the audience might still be unaware of who, exactly, killed Roger Ackroyd, or of the true nature of soylent green. Heck, one of the grad students I took the Beowulf seminar with at Penn admitted to having wept while translating the ending, because -- never having read the whole thing before, just the Grendel and Grendel's Mom parts -- she hadn't known that Orbjhys trgf xvyyrq ol gur qentba va gur raq.)

#854 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 08:54 PM:

# 853 Debra

But, but, but....
The audience they were written for not only knew what was going to happen, they expected the ending to include, and demanded that it include, depending on the particular known story:

o Oedipus gouges out his eyes (after having killed his father and married his mother and fathered three kids who he doesn;t know are his siblings
o Oedipus dies
o Antigone dies
o Clytemnestra cuckolds her husband (who's been going at it with other women for years....) and she and her lover die, killed by her son Orestes
o the Furies chase after Orestes the matricide but eventually get bought off
o Prometheus gets chained to a rock and each day gets eviserated
o Everyman goes through trials and tribulations'
o Punch beats up Judy...
o Arthurs dies/gets hauled away to Avalon
o Julius Caesar gets off by a group that includes his dear friend Brutus
o Jonah gets tossed overboard, swallowed by a whale, goes and preaches doom and gloom in Nineveh, Nineveh cleans up its act, Jonah complains that the doom and gloome didn;t come to Nineveh, Jonah gets Explained to that mercy matter....
o Abraham ties Isaac to an altar, then an goat or ram shows up and that gets sacrifices instead
o Moses lead the Jews out of Egypt after the ten plagues and Pharoah changing his mind about letting them go back and forth, the Egyptian Army chases after them, the waters part letting the Jews through, then come back again and drown the army...
o Lot's wife turns into a pillar of salt, Sodom and Gomorrah get destroyed
o Altantis gets destroyed
o David offs Goliath
o Jesus gets betrayed and crucified
Etc.

#855 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 09:12 PM:

I haven't seen the original TDTESS yet. (Yes, shoot me.)

I was sorta looking forward to the remake. I often find ways to enjoy really bad movies— even [especially] ones that many reviewers declare "bad, and not even in that way where the badness is interesting in and of itself... no really, just don't bother... it's that bad."

I find that movies with particularly bad internal logic are sometimes interesting puzzles: to find the least intrusive rewrite possible to make the internal logic somehow make sense. This often leads to some really out-there ideas, and that's why I make the time to watch what others are so quick to deride.

Then, I read the reviews of the new remake. Whoa. That's a lot of deprecation. It's really rare when something that gets that level of approbation turns out to have any redeeming quality that makes it worth my time.

Sadly, it now turns out I have a reason to watch it. And a deadline, too. Sometime, before some point in 2016 I'm too lazy to compute right now, I need to make the time to see the new TDTESS remake. Why?

They're beaming it into space.

#856 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 09:38 PM:

NPR had an interview with a scientist who was a short-term adviser to the apparent turkey, I heard part of the interview tonight... they canned him when he expressed a lack of credibility about the plot "Fox approved it and we aren't goign to go ask for a change in the plot" and plunked him. He said that his contributions were seeing things like "there is ... coming at [speed]" is not what scientists would say, a scientist would say, "there is a big big rock coming this way"....

(I remember when Alcator I got turned on, and Prof. Peter Politzer was standing at the vacuum system his hands on a valve, saying, "Don't tell me we're going to get zapped again."

#857 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 10:21 PM:

Debra 853: I can attest that for the true-blue spoilerphobe, discussion of plot points -- even of classic works -- counts.

Oh. Well. Then let me say this: the true-blue spoilerphobe can bite me. Though I must admit, I wouldn't reveal the ending of Roger Ackroyd to someone about to read it, or say "Ebfrohq jnf uvf fyrq" to someone about to watch Citizen Kane for the first time, but among adults discussing these things...well. Reminds me of "The ship sinks?!?! Gee, thanks for ruining it for us!"

Paula 854: Abraham ties Isaac to an altar, then an goat or ram shows up and that gets sacrifices instead

Not in Wilfred Owen's version*, which I like better. The ram caught in the thicket is called "the Ram of Pride," and the angel bids Abe sacrifice it; the last two lines are

But the old man would not so, but slew his son
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
Sometimes a relevant update isn't entirely bad.

Paula 854: I heard that this morning, but he said they'd say "there's a big goddam rock headed right for us!"

____
*Actually, not in the Moslem version either: same story, but it's Ishmael, not Isaac.

#858 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 10:28 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 854 ...
o Julius Caesar gets off by a group that includes his dear friend Brutus

That seems like a very Roman thing to do, but rather more like Caligula...

#859 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 10:44 PM:

Nah, xeger, JC was known as "every woman's husband, and every man's wife." Besides, Caligula wouldn't have been satisfied unless he was getting off in a room full of headless corpses.

#860 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2008, 11:36 PM:

If you are averse to spoilers, I won't tell you that Qe. Wrxxly naq Ze. Ulqr ner ernyyl gur fnzr crefba.

#861 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 12:42 AM:

Xopher @ 859

I've been told he liked little boys and girls too. An equal opportunity pederast by all reports.

j h woodyat @ 855

Are you Sirius?

#862 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 12:51 AM:

Well, I wimped out and saw Bolt instead of TDTESS. I'm pretty sure at this point that I'm a better person for having done so.

#863 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 01:30 AM:

I took the week off from work. I had no plans . . . I just didn't want to lose the vacation hours I had banked.

I had trouble flopping down on the couch and reading. (This has actually been a problem since getting a dog . . . it's that guilt-inducing stare.)

So. I spent a good chunk of the time making fudge. For gifts, and an apartment complex party, and to leave around the office. I kind of lost track, but at least 21 bags of chocolate chips and something like 10 cans of condensed milk and 2 cans of evaporated milk (tried a new recipe) was involved.

At one point this week I was using a broiler to caramelize a shmear of coffee liquor / powdered sugar glop on top of a sheet of fudge.

My place smells GREAT.

Tomorrow I'm making cookies.

#864 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 01:59 AM:

#858, 859, Xopher & Xeger

Oops, that was a typo.
(Laughing, partially in embarrassment!)
Perhaps Gaius Julius Caesar got reincarnated as the "he-she-shit-abed" James I of England/James II of Scotland>!

#865 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 02:04 AM:

Time to find out if Jim Macdonald is monitoring this thread--do you think G. Julius Caesar would have liked Dolly?!

#866 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 02:28 AM:

Stefan Jones @ #863: I make fudge with chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk, too, and love the resulting smooth, creamy, chocolate goodness. I remember my Mom discovering this approach in about the 1970s. Prior to that, there was a process involving a candy thermometer, unsweetened chocolate, sugar, butter and heavy labor. It usually worked, but sometimes the result didn't set up as fudge, so it became delicious ice cream topping instead.
Does anyone still make old fashioned fudge? Is it any tastier?

#867 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 03:35 AM:

The SpeakerToManagers asks me, "Are you Sirius?"

Sadly, yes. I'll probably end up watching it sooner or later. I'm in no hurry, tho... our extraterrestrial movie critics will not be publishing their reviews where we can read them for another nine years, at least, give or take.

And, yes, I fully admit to having a weird taste in bad movies.

Keep in mind that I kinda liked Paul Verhoeven's take on Starship Troopers* because it allowed me to sympathize with the bugs, to cheer their early victories against their jacked-up domesticated plains-ape enemies, and to cry for them when their efforts turn out to be tragically doomed. Yes, the hoomans are cardboard cut-out villains, but that kind of story problem didn't stop me from enjoying the Indiana Jones movies...

I understand that sequels were made, but I suspect they just show the hoomans finally bringing the bugs to the defeat that was so clearly telegraphed in the first movie. Where's the joy in watching that? Show me an uplifting come-from-behind story where the bugs eventually win against seemingly overwhelming odds, and I might be interested in watching that.

* Starship Troopers is one of the Heinlein novels that I haven't read.

#868 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 04:21 AM:

Paula @864:

James I of England was the secret identity of James VI of Scotland, not James II.

It's James VI/I who was reputed to be gay. James II was most known for:
- having a red facial birthmark
- being, at 10 and already king, present at the "Black Dinner" where two young guests were summarily beheaded
- stabbing another political rival to death over treason charges
- dying at 30 when one of his cannon exploded in the siege of Roxburgh Castle*

There are no rumors that he was gay.

-----
* Sancta Barbara, ora pro nobis

#869 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 07:46 AM:

Debra Doyle @ 853... one never knows who in the audience might still be unaware of who, exactly, killed Roger Ackroyd, or of the true nature of soylent green

On the other hand, it's not unreasonable to expect from people who hang around here to already know what Soylent Green is made of.

#870 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 09:38 AM:

janetl (866): I tried making old-fashioned fudge last weekend (because my mother can't eat the soy lecithin that's in most other chocolate, including the chips). Delicious, but it didn't set right. I'm thinking I didn't beat it enough at the end; is that plausible?

#871 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 09:58 AM:

Turner Classic Movies remembers 2008 and includes Forrest Ackerman.

#872 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 10:04 AM:

abi #866: James II of Scotland was described as "a grete legister of lawe positive, and canone, and civille bothe." Which is, in my eyes at least, a commendation.

#873 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 11:09 AM:

Faren Miller @ 842... I've had a crush on Michael Rennie since childhood, and another look did nothing to dispel it.

One thing that seems to be absent from the remake is the sense of quiet strength in Klaatu, or in his methods. By the way, did you know that, in the original, Klaatu was going to be played by Spencer Tracy? I think he'd have been wrong for the part. As for John Cleese, I'd be curious to see him in a dramatic role. There is danger in typecasting after all. For example, Gene Kelly wanted to make a movie from Something This Way Comes in the 1950s,with himself as Mister Dark, and he could have pulled it off. Another typecast actor I very much liked was Danny Kaye, who played quite a different kind of character in Paladin of the Lost Hour.

#874 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 11:25 AM:

Paula L at 856

"scientist who was a short-term adviser to the apparent turkey"

for a minute I misunderstood that as meaning the President.

(Or perhaps someone who is being pardoned by him?)

#875 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Mary Aileen #870:

Usually what happened when it didn't set up right was that I hadn't let it cool down totally first. I found that I occasionally could induce cooling by putting the saucepan in a shallow bath of cold water while I was beating. Things started working much better when I stopped using RevereWare to cook it in.

(It also seems, just seems, mind you, that it's less likely to set up properly on a rainy day. FWIW.)

#876 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 12:11 PM:

Serge (#873): Speaking of an actor playing against type, Glen Ford was a great mix of charming and distasteful as the villain in 3:10 to Yuma, which I and the hubbie watched last night on TCM-- though some plot points were absurd, and the mix of AZ photo sites (Sedona, and much further south) jarring. At least the cinematography was as good as advertised.

But the weirder movie followed: Count Three and Pray, again with Van Heflin as the hero, but with a young Joanne Woodward as a remarkable cussin', shootin', cigar-smokin' hoyden of indeterminate age (till the end) and Raymond Burr as a deep-dyed villain. Silly at times, very off-beat!

#877 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 12:28 PM:

On Roger Ackroyd, I will admit that I only read it for the first time last month. I did read a fair amount of Agatha Christie in my youth, but developed a dislike for Hercule Poirot on first exposure back in the day. I decided that it was probably time to revisit that judgement, so have been slowly working through some of the Poirot mysteries. So, I didn't actually KNOW who killed Roger Ackroyd, but had a pretty good presumption given all the discussion I'd seen mentioning it and the art of fiction, specifically gur ceboyrz bs gur haeryvnoyr aneengbe. My presumption was correct.

On the completely unrelated topic of fudge, my grandmother had a receipe that included the melting in of marshmellows (mini ones were much easier to include). It made a lighter-colored, more crispy product, I guess due to the gelatin. I have the receipe somewhere, I think, will have to dig it out.

#878 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 12:34 PM:

"Used BlackBerrys sold for $20 at McCain-Palin blowout, contacts and emails included"

Unfortunately, it seems that Fox employees were the buyers, and not actual muckrakers.... The US voting system squeeked by not bringing in people who wouldn't have been less negative than the outgoing incompetent vile nightmare evil overlord slime.... (that is, there are people who might be even more horrific to head up the US Government the Executive Branch of the past eight years....fanatics on active religious fervor crusades are among the set.)

#879 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 12:55 PM:

Xopher, #857: Re spoilers, if it's been out for more than a year and I haven't seen/read it, I figure it's my own damn fault if I get spoiled. People who say that any discussion of details of a work of significant age are spoilery are being unrealistic IMO. ("They crucify him at the end!")

I also don't generally mind spoilers about something I have no intention of reading/seeing; in fact, I often find them helpful, since a lot of my friends will have read or seen the works in question and this helps me keep up with the conversation. But that's just me, not something I'd put forth as a general principle.

janetl, #866: I make something that I call "no-bake fudge". It uses 1 package of semi-sweet chips, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, and 1 package of Chocolate Teddy Grahams (or equivalent) per batch. Pulverize the cookies in a food processor; melt the chips in the microwave; stir the condensed milk into the chips, then add the crushed cookies a little at a time to make a thick, doughy mass. When all is well-mixed, press the result into a container of suitable size and refrigerate until hard; cut into squares and serve. It doesn't have to be kept cold once it's set up.

This sounds like a variation on the recipe you're discussing; it wouldn't be as smooth because of the crushed cookies, but I like it a lot.

Oliviacw, #877: So are you liking Poirot any better on further exposure? And do you prefer the stories with Hastings, or the ones without?

#880 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 01:02 PM:

Serge @ 871: Unfortunately, 2008 isn't over. Van Johnson, who died Friday, isn't included.

#881 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 01:09 PM:

Carol Witt @ 880... Actually, Van Johnson is in there. They must have added him literally at the last minute. By the way, did you ever see TCM's montage for 2003? Heart-breaking, especially at the very end, with Katharine Hepburn.

#882 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 01:14 PM:

Faren Miller @ 876... Glen Ford was a great mix of charming and distasteful as the villain in 3:10 to Yuma

The best scene, for me anyway, probably is when Van Heflin's wife tries to convince him not to go thru with this and Ford's character just looks on and he knows that this 'loser' is way richer than he'll ever be.

#883 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Serge @ 881: When does he show up? I've watched the video at that link twice and didn't see him.

I hadn't seen 2003. TCM didn't arrive in Canada until two years ago (much to my utter joy and dismay: I had wanted it here for years, but between it and the TiVo, I've gone from watching very little television to more than I have time for), and I tend to ignore YouTube.

#884 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 01:35 PM:

Carol Witt @ 883... You're right. I just went thru the memorial posted on YouTube, paying close attention this time, and Van Johnson isn't there. But he definitely appears in the memorial that TCM is now showing. (As for TCM being a time sink, I couldn't agree more and I'm glad for its existence too.)

#885 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 01:39 PM:

Serge @ 873:

Another typecast actor I very much liked was Danny Kaye, who played quite a different kind of character in Paladin of the Lost Hour.

Have you seen The Madwoman of Chaillot, with Katherine Hepburn, and with Danny Kaye in a very non-comedic role?

#886 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 01:49 PM:

janetl (875): Thanks for the tips. I'll have to try it again sometime.

Lee (879): The batch of fudge I made did get hard when I put it in the fridge, but I assumed that it would soften again if I let it warm back up. That's what the chocolates I made from the same cookbook did, anyway. Maybe I should have tried taking it back out.

Hmmmm. I think I need to experiment a little more. (And not eat all of my failures by myself!)

#887 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 02:42 PM:

As far as spoilers go, it's hard when things become multigenerational. I recommend Dorothy Dunnett, but I don't talk about anything beyond the first fifty pages.

This is the first time I've heard the name Roger Ackroyd, as far as I know.

Which is really the thing. I was never surprised at "The Gift of the Magi" because I'd already seen the Muppet Babies and Rugrats versions. I saw the Tiny Toons Citizen Kane without realizing it was a parody of anything, and read the Howliday Inn version with only the vaguest idea that 'Rosebud' was significant to more than parody. I'm not as upset as I may seem-- it's a hazard of not being my grandparents' age-- but I try not to... hm.

You know when there's a moment of clarity, and it redefines the previously good work? PNH posted the last line of a book like that... and because the moment of clarity was excised, it lost any meaning, and I lost my slight inclination to read the book. I think that's a bigger spoiler than discussion of plot. If you know the basic plot of a movie, it doesn't change the way you view it the same way that knowing the twist/revelation/redefining moment does.

#888 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 03:20 PM:

Diatryma @#887: For me, those excised gems tend to interest me, drawing to the book or movie to see how they got there. On the other hand, I'm more tolerant of spoilers than most.

I'd say it's a mark of skill, to extract something representing the work's "essence", without it being a "spoiler". For example: "long enough to reach the heart" for Jrypbzr Gb Gur Qbyyubhfr.

#889 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 03:41 PM:

Things are a bit less fraught here, but I am so very unready for Christmas Eve or 2009 or possibly anything. Church, at least, passed without disaster, which I count as a major improvement. The Montana offspring is home safe, but our shopping hours yesterday were spent at Uwajimaya and Pike Place, so I'm about to get out the goad and push people out the door to the normal grocery shopping path.

I want to make a free-floating reading/gift recommendation appropriate to the economic ski-jump we're sliding on: if you can get a copy of Betty MacDonald's Anybody Can Do Anything for your favorite recently unemployed person, it's a good read and a testimony to the powers of sheer bloody-minded persistance and born or made family in surviving bad times. Entirely out of print, of course.

#890 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 04:03 PM:

David Harmon at 888, I think I would be more okay with it if, sometime before graduating college, I had known more about Citizen Kane than 'Rosebud'. If the only thing you can say about a work is the redefining moment, what's the point of the rest of it?

#891 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Serge @852 I think I'll stick with my original plan to watch Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby in drag in White Christmas tonight.

I'm both disappointed and intrigued by the fact that [spoiler!*] gurl nera'g npghnyyl va qent, ohg gur fpevcg frrzf gb guvax gurl ner.

abi @868 There are no rumors that he was gay.

But when I google "James I of England/James II of Scotland" the only result is a rumour that he's gay!

* I'm ambivalent on this subject, having both previously declared that anything that happens in the Bible is not a spoiler, but barred discussion on legends of Völund, at least until after I told my own version around the campfire that evening.

#892 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 05:31 PM:

48 lavender bags tied up in floral fabric. Each has an inner bag of muslin, sewn shut, so that if the ribbon closing the outer bag comes off, no one's drawers are full of dried blossoms.

Tired.

#893 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Have you seen the predecessor to White Christmas, Holiday Inn (1942, for which "White Christmas" was written originally, and had the Bingster and Fred Astair -- Danny Kaye took Astair's spot in the White Christmas remake of HI.

HI is essentially a revue, of American holidays, bracketed by Christmases. The plot, such as it is, isthe crooner vs the hoofer -- which one gets the girl(s)? Astaire swipes 'em both, but one of them, the second one, comes back to Bing. This is a decidedly strange little movie, particularly since includes three Irving Berlin classics, "White Christmas," "Happy Holidays" and "Easter Parade," recycled from the Astaire / Garland vehicle Easter Parade – which song is recycled here, sung with all those specific references in the lyrics to Manhattan and Fifth Avenue – in the country.

That there are two girls creates more confusion, though not of the venerable dramatic slapstick or comedy of manners kind, though both are in play throughout, just not successfully. My personal favorite is Valentine's Day. Bing sings to Linda, a song he wrote about her, he says, though he looses himself in his own voice and performance in the piano and doesn't even look at Linda. Behind his back, instead of having to stare goo-goo at the guy singing while the girl has nothing to do, Linda starts dancing, by herself. Then Fred shows up, sweeps her off her feet into a dance. This is the second time they dance, a reversal of the first, during which Fred is deeply inebriated and always threatening to go off his feet. Never have seen Astaire pretend to drunkeness before. It isn't really pretty or nice – I mean there's no heart in it from him, it seems. It feels – odd, wrong.

The weirdest part is Washington and Lincoln's birthday revues, but most particularly "Abraham," Lincoln's (evidently that one got cut for television, except on Turner Classics). Both the Bingster and the second girl go all blackface, and reverently, lovingly sing of how Lincoln freed "us darkies," while in the kitchen the black Jemima cook and her two black pickaninnies, sing too of the good Lincoln who "who freed us darkies."

Love, C.

#894 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 05:40 PM:

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I had lunch with Ginger, Janet, and albatross today and they gave me the subnotebook you guys got for me. I don't think I've been doing enough good to get a reward, but I'm not turning it down! I really appreciate it! My desktop computer is about to fall apart and I can use a hub to connect this little one (with about 15X more RAM & space) to my monitor, etc., and then when I want to go away, I can just unplug it. Many thanks to all!

#895 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 06:12 PM:

#894: I think it is well deserved, for the off-board organizing you've been doing. And you can use it to do more!

#866: Most of the fudge I made was the condensed milk and chocolate chip variety.

I made . . . two? Three? . . . batches of another, slightly more difficult but very good variety. You heat up and boil butter (5 tbs.), sugar (4 cups), and a can (12 oz.) of evaporated milk for four minutes. Hot, messy, and lots of work; it needs constant stirring. Then you add chips (2 bags, about 4 cups) and and marshmallows (mini, 5 cups) and various flavorings until everything is melted and consistent. Then you pour it into foil lined pans and refrigerate.

I also tried a composite. I made the condensed milk variety, and poured on top a batch of the evaporated milk variety made with green mint chips. Came out pretty good . . . like a layer cake.

Here is MOST of the result:

Fudge tins

There are four more small tins in the refrigerator. It is 28 F out so there is no danger of these tins melting.

Made 6 batches of pouch cookies and two boxes of brownies as well.

I'm wondering if my subconscious is telling me I need a career change. Or maybe this baking is just a good excuse to hang out around a hot stove. It is COLD out.

#896 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 06:51 PM:

Marilee at #894: It was lovely to see you again and to meet Ginger and Albatross.

I represented the lurkers of Making Light. :-)

#897 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Ginger, Marilee, Janet K:

It was great meeting you all. Though as soon as I saw your comment, I somehow morphed it into


We represent the Lurkalot League
The Lurkalot League,
The Lurkalot League.
And in the name of the Lurkalot League,
We wish to welcome you

(Now if I can just figure out what to do about the poor Wiccan lady with the red shoes I seem to have landed on with my house. Maybe Jim has written a post about this somewhere....)


#898 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 08:23 PM:

albatross@897:

(Now if I can just figure out what to do about the poor Wiccan lady with the red shoes I seem to have landed on with my house. Maybe Jim has written a post about this somewhere....)

According to my bumper sticker (acquired from Lee and Russ!): "You'd be like this too if they dropped a house on your sister!"

In other words, very very cranky. *grin*

#899 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 08:56 PM:

Slightly different direction, a license plate I saw this afternoon:
MUP BCEM

(Hint: Think non-Roman alphabets here.)

#900 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 09:09 PM:

Stefan Jones @ #895: Thanks for the fudge recipe. It sounds difficult enough that I'll stick to the simpler variety. I might try a combo flavor again. I once mixed up an "8x8 inch pan" batch using bittersweet chocolate, and one using white chocolate, then poured* them both into a 9x13 pan. I got a more-or-less two layer thing going on. I liked the way the dark and creamy flavors combined in each bite.

*"poured" really being more of a "smooshed", of course. My idea was to swirl them together, but it was much too thick for that. I suppose if I'd used parchment paper, instead of aluminum foil, to line the pyrex pan, I could have put it in the microwave for a moment and gotten it to a consistency that could be swirled to a pretty marbleized look. Hmmmm.

#901 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 09:16 PM:

Neil Wilcox: Since James II of England would have been James VII of Scotland, I am not surprised that the only reference to James I of England and James II of Scotland being the same person might have some other errors.

Has anyone seen this travesty of good sense? Flying .45

#902 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 09:25 PM:

albatross 897: the poor Wiccan lady with the red shoes

*somehow manages not to scream at albatross for using 'Wiccan' as a generic euphemism for any kind of witch*

P J 899: MUP BCEM

The world is for everyone?

#903 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 09:28 PM:

Pj Evans: that's a great license plate.

In more of the sad news of demise, Betty Page died today.

Marilee, you more than deserve it. Even if you didn't, to quote from Hamlet:

POLONIUS: My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

HAMLET: God's bodikin, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who shall 'scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity:

So, if you aren't deserving, it's to our benefit that good things be done.

#904 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 09:40 PM:

Xopher: Peace to all.

#905 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 10:11 PM:

Serge @ 884: It's nice to confirm that I'm not *totally* insane. :) I figured the explanation must be that TCM had added him after this video went up.

#906 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 10:22 PM:

Xopher @902: His problem is, he's using the now-discredited Malleus Maleficarum, where modern professionals recommend: Witches: A Spotter's Guide.

#907 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 10:49 PM:

Serge@873: if you liked seeing Kaye against type, see Me and the Colonel; he's a quiet, late-middle-aged Jew getting out of France just ahead of the Nazi forces.

#908 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 11:03 PM:

Although we did not have a keg party (pun intended, Janet), we did have a great time. It was a real pleasure to meet Marilee, Janet and albatross. McGinty's Public House is a good place to meet folks, in case anyone else needs a spot like that.

I had to leave before anyone else did, and got home late-ish (the concert, then had to run to the store, then had to run back to work), so I am only now getting to the internets.

The rest of youse in the DC/VA/MD area need to speak up and we'll get together again. I cannot believe that there are only 4 of us in this geographic area on Making Light.

#909 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 11:11 PM:

Terry Karney #903: In more of the sad news of demise, Betty Page died today.

Bettie Page passed away on the 11th; her (private) funeral is scheduled for the 16th.

#910 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Earl: Well, that's what I get for not reading closely. I did know she'd had a heart attack on the 2nd.

#911 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2008, 11:40 PM:

#900: Actual original-scale recipe: Carnation Famous Fudge

#912 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 12:05 AM:

Carol Witt @ 905... It's nice to confirm that I'm not *totally* insane.

That's the part where you quote William Shatner in Nightmare at 30,000 Feet:

"Do I look insane?"
#913 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 12:12 AM:

CHip @ 907... if you liked seeing Kaye against type

Thanks for the recommendation. I loved Kaye, against type and otherwise. If memory serves me right, he also played against type in The Five Pennies.

#914 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 12:13 AM:

Marilee @ 894... You deserved it. And my thanks to Ginger for making this happen.

#915 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 12:35 AM:

Xopher: If I just look innocently clueless, I'm hoping your annoyance will eventually pass, and you'll tell me what would be a better word. For some reason, just now, I'm finding it unusually easy to look clueless....

#916 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 01:21 AM:

#887 Diatryma

However, there are people who read the end of a work before making a read and/or buy decision about the work!
For that matter, there are readers who are so adamant about HEA -- Happily Ever After-- endings, that they read the end of the book, and if it doesn't have the HEA, back on the shelf at the bookstore, or library, or wherever, it goes, with no further interest on the part of the person....

#917 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 03:24 AM:

Stefan, #911, that recipe sure looked familiar and indeed, it's my gram's "Million Dollar Fudge" with some very small changes! I always wondered if she got the recipe somewhere because she wasn't much of a cook.

It's late, so this is the only part of ML I'm reading tonight. I'll catch up tomorrow.

#918 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 11:13 AM:

Stefan Jones @911, that's the copyrighted version of an earlier folk recipe from the thirties that Mom called Million Dollar Fudge. It's a standard bad-for-all-of-us Christmas treat, and is what my mouth and brain consider proper fudge.

Marilee @917- as I look up and my brain kicks in- has the same answer. I know Mom had a grease-stained mimeographed sheet with the recipe which dated from WW2, when her Home Ec class was making candy for Christmas boxes for the boys in uniform (she graduated in 1944). My mother was a confectioner the way I am a photographer: I stole her Brownie when I was two and took pictures of "my fumb, and the SEE-ling, and the light;" she made something her brothers called "sweetened sand" before she was old enough to read a recipe.

#919 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 11:16 AM:

Also: put me down as another Danny Kaye fan, not least because he was part of the ownership (Kaye-Smith Partnership) which brought baseball back to Seattle for good, and because he threw out the first pitch at the first-ever Mariner's game.

#920 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 12:06 PM:

abi #892:

And just which sort of drawers did you have in mind?

(Substituting for Serge, who seems to have skipped either the opportunity or reading ML in general.)

#921 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 12:40 PM:

joann @ 920... I bow my head in shame that I had not seen the opportunity.

#922 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 01:32 PM:

serge #921:

My work here is done.

#923 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 01:38 PM:

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I found an omnibus edition of Zenna Henderson's The People stories at my library and am reading them to see if they're as interesting as they once were. The verdict so far: yes, but as a tale read in gulps; not so much individually.

#924 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 01:41 PM:

Serge @ 912:

That's the part where you quote William Shatner in Nightmare at 30,000 Feet: "Do I look insane?"

I fear too many people would be tempted to agree. :)

#925 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 02:26 PM:

Carol Witt @ 924... Why don't you email a photo of you that I'd post on "making light and faces"? We could then do a survey.

#926 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 02:26 PM:

Eee!! Here are a few snapshots taken at yesterday's lunch with Marilee.

Alas, Ginger had already left by the time I pulled out my camera.

#927 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 03:11 PM:

Serge @ 925: There's a picture of me at a friend's Flickr site.

I'd ask her if it could be used for your page, but I don't feel I contribute enough to be included as part of the community. I'll have to think about it. Thanks for the offer!

#928 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 03:20 PM:

Janet K @ 926... Ginger may have gingerly eluded that photo session, but here is one picture of her.

#929 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 03:23 PM:

Carol Witt @ 927... Do think about it.

#930 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 04:21 PM:

Spoilers: surely it's not only a matter of how old or well-known the work is, but also of what kind of information is being given away. For me, a spoiler is something which gives away what is meant to be a surprise or the solution of a mystery. So who killed Roger Ackroyd, or the siginficance of 'Rosebud', is a spoiler. If it's information which the writer or producer wants us to have - which seems to be the case with Xopher's example - it's not a spoiler.

However, a lot of people seem to find that their enjoyment of a story always turns on not knowing what is going to happen, whether or not it's meant to be a surprise. They get upset when authors themselves give away information about future plot developments. There are constant kerfuffles about this in the Doctor Who fandom because the BBC makes announcements about future casting which give away what will happen next. I find this odd; it seems to me that it's not a spoiler if the BBC wants us to know.

#931 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 04:35 PM:

Serge @818 "I do not fail to appreciate Liv Tyler."

I do. Her primary acting skill seems to be one of staring vacuously past (or into) the camera.

I'm sorry, I Just Don't Get It.

(I was vastly relieved when I finally watched LOTR, and found that she mostly actually behaved in a conscious and lucid fashion.)

(Reeeooooowwwwrrrr, phht! phht!)

#932 ::: Gwen ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 04:55 PM:

If it's information which the writer or producer wants us to have - which seems to be the case with Xopher's example - it's not a spoiler.

But a lot of writers and producers fall into the "spoilers? Who cares?" crowd, so they disseminate information which really should be considered spoiler-y. There are people who avoid watching trailers, "on the next episode" teasers, &c. just for this reason. Sometimes the only, or best, "hook" for the audience is a major plot point. (The dog dies, the lovers are doomed, somebody's a Cylon, these two kiss, One of These People Will Die....)

I don't really care about spoilers; I figure that if a book or movie or whatever is exactly and only the sum of its plot points it's probably not worth watching/reading the first time, either. And while I don't think the things Xopher's been talking about fall into the "ZOMG! Spoilers! Hide behind a cut/ROT-13 it!" category, I'm not convinced that anything the producers and writers feel comfortable releasing is automatically spoiler-free.

#933 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 05:01 PM:

janetl @866: "Does anyone still make old fashioned fudge? Is it any tastier?"

Oh, yes. Nummy. Best part is licking the pan, though.

My dad's recipe called for the following proportions: 1 sq. unsweetend Baker's chocolate, 1 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup milk (whole!). Lump of butter & splash of vanilla go in after the cooking process (which I won't bother to describe as it's entirely tactile, visual, and auditory; only cowardly wimps use candy thermometers).

When you get it just right, it pours out of the pan and forms a nice, lazy ribbon that stacks like a wave-form, and has a smooth, even texture.

Note: if it fails to set, you can go back, melt it again, and cook some more it until it's the right consistency.

If it sets too hard, ur skrood.

I got a lot better at it once I learned about nucleation and crystalization and supercooling/heating and all that.

#934 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 05:12 PM:

Neil Willcox @ 891...

"Uh, I don't seem to have any cash."
"Where'd you leave that? In your snood?"

#935 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 05:17 PM:

But a lot of writers and producers fall into the "spoilers? Who cares?" crowd, so they disseminate information which really should be considered spoiler-y.

But in that case what is the criterion for considering it spoilery? If the authors are happy to let the audience know it in advance, they presumably don't see it as a surprise or the answer to a puzzle. So in what way are we spoiled by knowing it is going to happen? Some works depend on surprise and revelation for their effects; but others don't. I suppose there might be a work whose entire effect turned on a surprise, and yet the author hadn't noticed this; but I can't imagine this happens very often.

#936 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 05:24 PM:

I once had Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless take a fanarticle of mine, really an extended joke with a punch line, and use the punchline as the title when he published it. He apparently thought the text was funny even without the surprise. It was his ish, not mine, and my only fanzine publication (ever), so I haven't carried a grudge or anything! :-)

#937 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 05:37 PM:

Mary Aileen @870:

"I tried making old-fashioned fudge last weekend ... Delicious, but it didn't set right. I'm thinking I didn't beat it enough at the end; is that plausible?"

Nope; it's a function (IME) of cooking time; it'll fail to set if it's still got too much water in it (which would explain the weather connection). The function of the beating (and the butter, aside from taste) is basically to keep the crystal size small while it cools. And to give you strong pects. Ahem.

The tests for "doneness" (in our house) during the cooking phase are:

Listen to the bubbles while it's boiling: when they start to snap, you're very close.

Have a row of bowls filled with ice-water lined up: drop a drip of fudge in the first one.

Test every second until you reach soft-ball stage. Then you're there; take the pot off and set in a bath of cold water to cool before beating (otherwise you're stuck stirring during the entire cooling phase–ow ow ow).

(Fudge-making was a big deal in our family; lots of High Drama and suspense. Not to be entered into lightly.)

Oh yeah, and the way you know it's ready to pour (you keep stirring even as it comes out of the pan) is that it starts to lose it's sheen.

If you're brave and very confident of your timing, you pour it onto a sheet of aluminum foil laid flat on the counter.

#938 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 05:39 PM:

re 893: My youngest is watching a Disney sing-along tape in his usual "when the oxide falls off, I'll stop" manner, and I'm slightly weirded out by the extreme likelihood that the two clips from Song of the South are the only bits of that movie I'll ever see again. My kids, on the other hand, see blackface as just incomprehensibly bizarre.

#939 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 06:07 PM:

We're sneaking up on the magic fourth digit, so I've started Open Thread 117.

#940 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 07:18 PM:

Jacque (937): Hrrm. The recipe I have did not say to stir it during the cooling phase. Exactly the opposite in fact. Hrrm. I know I failed on the "beat until it loses its sheen" part, though.

#941 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 07:49 PM:

Mary Aileen: Couple of crucial distinctions: first, one wants to hand-stir, rather than "beat" (e.g., spoon rather than egg-beater or, quelle fromage, electric mixer) and one stirs until it starts to lose it's sheen. If it turns completely matte, You're In Deep Trouble. Or at least you have to be content with cutting hardening chunks out of the pan.

Altogether, the student best practices The Art under the sharp-eyed tutelage of a wizened master. Preferably with several minions ready to swap out ice-water bowls and spell the stirrer.

#942 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 11:03 PM:

Keeping the original conversation in this thread:

The person who posted the TCM Remembers 2008 on YouTube has posted the updated version with Van Johnson. I hope no more updates will be needed.

#943 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2008, 11:14 PM:

Carol Witt @ 942... Thanks.

#944 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2008, 01:52 AM:

JESR, #918, so it's sort of like "the original Chex Mix" you can buy in bags now, which is nothing like the original "folk" Chex Mix! The bags have bagel slices and I didn't even know what bagels were when I was routinely making Chex Mix for parties as a kid.

Linkmeister, #923, that's the NESFA edition. It has two previously unpublished stories (not her best, you can see why they weren't published). I wish NESFA would do an omnibus of her other two books -- Holding Wonder and The Anything Box -- because my mmpbs are falling apart. Actually, I wish anybody would do an omnibus of those.

#945 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2008, 11:16 AM:

Jacque (941): The recipe I had said "beat with a wooden spoon." So I did. Just not very well. (Why wooden in particular?) I was going to try a mixer next time; now I won't. So thanks.

#946 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Marillee, it's a lot like the NPR show this morning where Monsanto was demanding the records of a farmer (in Iowa, I think?) who they suspected of saving "their" seed. Or possibly the utter futility of trying to eradicate marijuana, poppies, or home brewing. Copyright, plant patents, and drug laws all run against old and ingrained human behaviors; putting a trademark on something you can make cheaper in your own kitchen is perhaps the most futile attempt at control that exists.

#947 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2008, 10:19 PM:

Serge@913: I know I saw 5 Pennies when it was first out, but that was so long ago I don't remember detail. I'd say that as a bandmaster he was at least playing a public person, where Jakubowski is \very/ retiring.

#948 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2008, 02:27 AM:

More the subject of fudge (see Stefan Jones, Lee, Mary Aileen and Jacque above)

I am too much of a wimp to to the "pect-building stirring and soft ball in ice water drama". I go in for the kind where the basic recipe is to melt 18 oz of chocolate chips in 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (SCM). Add dash of salt and some vanilla. That recipe is for an 8x8 pan. I made two batches, and used a rectangular pan. Judging by the taste while cleaning up, it'll be good. It's a two-layer, marbleized chocolate orange creamsicle thing.

For the "cream" -- 1 can of SCM with 18 oz of Callebaut white chocolate melted into it. Added 1/2 teaspoon orange extract and 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier. Dash of salt.

For the dark chocolate -- 1 can of SCM. Two Terry's dark chocolate oranges (the ones you slam down to break into little orange sections). That's about 10.5 oz. I made up the difference to 18 oz with a 3oz bar of Scharffen Berger Semisweet, and then Guittard Bittersweet couverture chocolate. Added 1 teaspoon of Grand Marnier. Dash of salt.

Poured the dark chocolate into the pan first, smoothed it, added the white chocolate, smoothed, then swirled about with a thin spatula.

My Kitchen Aid Food Chopper is key to this sort of thing. It reduced all that chocolate to a size suitable for melting in no time.

Now, if I can just ignore it in the fridge until about 30 people show up on Sunday afternoon!

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