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January 16, 2009

Open thread 118
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:30 PM *

In the UK, the monopoly on the provision of directory enquiries was removed in August of 2003. Rather than the old numbers, 192 (domestic) and 153 (foreign), British people can now choose from a variety of services with the format 118 nnn. British Telecom’s service, for instance, is reachable via 118 500.

The various services advertise, of course. The most entertaining adverts come from 118 118, which personifies its service with a couple of 70’s mustachioed runners*.

In addition to fairly twee informative adverts, they have spoofed a number of popular films, music videos and car ads.


* David Bedford sued The Number, the owners of the 118 118 service, for using his likeness without his permission. They claimed that their inspiration was actually Steve Prefontaine.

Comments on Open thread 118:
#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 03:35 PM:

Stefan @1:

Now you must be eighteenth as well, or a horrible fate will befall you. Unspeakable*.

-----
* Which means, of course, that I can't tell you what it will be.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 03:38 PM:

I like the handlebar moustaches. And what is Tom Doherty doing in there?

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 03:41 PM:

I have a meeting in a few minutes, so I guess I'm unspeakabled.

* * *

Open threadishness:

I'm listening to an audiobook about Cod.

Called Cod.

Now I have a horrible hankering for baccala and polenta. I'm thinking of hunting up some of the hard-as-a-board salty stuff and un-curing it myself. (The cod, not the polenta.)

That was my mother's job at Fugazzi's sixty or more years ago.

#5 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 03:52 PM:

I just now realized what kind of a schedule conflict I was committing when I agreed yesterday that the gutters should be cleaned at 10 am CST next Tuesday. Jeez.

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 03:55 PM:

Joann @ 5... Actually, that task at that time is very appropriately symbolic.

#7 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Serge #:

No doubt, but I think there were other things I wanted to be watching just then.

#8 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 04:30 PM:

joann #7:

That should be "Serge #6". Really, there are days when I ought not to be allowed near a keyboard.

#9 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 04:33 PM:

Hey, here's an idea: at 11:59 EST, we all flush our toilets!

It's all because you guys were discussing gutters and timeliness and such; I had no choice but to end up with my mind in the gutter and thinking about next Tuesday.

I just might do it too.

#10 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 04:39 PM:

I happen to really like the humorous conversational quality of some of Geico's advertising. I liked the artistic quality of the Absolut print advertising and a few of the Hagen Daas video ones. I like the salacious men's underwear advertising, especially when it's in a place that makes the odd juxtaposition of public with private so painfully clear (i.e. when it's on the NYC streets). I like Banksy's subversion of advertising when I see it (there was a billboard here in NYC that I never got a picture of that I suspected might be his).

I like movie trailers as well. Some trailers are works of art themselves. Pixar, for example, is quite good at them. Some of the other ones that I've seen that really impressed me are for Donnie Darko, the Watchmen, and Everything is Illuminated.

I hate it when the first chapter of an upcoming sequel is included in a book. It gives me a false sense of how much longer I have to read, and if I do read it, it forces me to suddenly drop out of a world that I've established a connection too. If I was going to buy the sequel, I will buy it. If not, then that chapter isn't going to be as convincing to me as the book that I just read.

#11 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 04:39 PM:

And in news from NASA, Mars may not be so dead after all.

Looking at the intersection of ununoctianity and Mars, on the other hand, we have Geoffrey Chaucer warning us about the upcoming invasion. "Wherfor, herselven for to hyde and save".

#12 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 04:43 PM:

Joann @ 7: No doubt, but I think there were other things I wanted to be watching just then.

I'm glad I didn't have any fixed plans. I wasn't planning on going, but then my boyfriend bought tickets to the parade (don't ask me how! His internet-fu is strong like that) so we're going to be on the mall, at sitting at the parade later. It'll be a lot of fun, albeit totally insane packed-like-sardines-into-a-city-not-meant-to-accommodate-so-many fun.

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 04:51 PM:

I think I'll celebrate January 20 by rereading Alex Ross & Steve Darnall's graphic novel U.S., in which a man who think he's Uncle Sam dukes it out with his Dark Half for the soul of America.

#14 ::: anthony ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 05:08 PM:

thanks for all the fantasy recommendations, i have been enjoying john ford (esp his story about kafka), kelly link, and some other works, including a story i read a couple of months ago, and cannot find again, about a group of witches mentoring a child in a library--i loved that story. (i also found myself adoring smax, by alan moore)

so thank you for hearing me, and thank you for the recommendations, and more like them?

#15 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 05:16 PM:

It looks like it's going to rain here Tuesday.

Fortunately, the Flag Code appears to have been updated to take account of the rain-resistance of most modern flags. So I can still fly my flag then.

w00t!

#16 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 05:19 PM:

Spherical Time, I wasn't aware there were tickets to the parade for sale -- I thought it was just come and stake out a spot for free, if you could. I thought tickets were just for the actual ceremony, and could only be gotten through your elected representatives (for free).

This guide to inauguration events seems to bear that out.

I might be totally off base, but I'm worried that someone was selling tickets that aren't actually real....

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 05:26 PM:

joann #8: I expect that Serge #6 will say 'Be seeing you'. (Abi #2 will do a Leo McKern impression.)

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 05:27 PM:

Stefan Jones #4: In view of the fact that abi started this open thread you should ask for kabeljau.

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 05:29 PM:

Fragano @19:
you should ask for kabeljau

You anticipate matters by about 4 days. It's kabeljauw.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 05:32 PM:

abi #20: Paardon, ik heb de spelling al verkeerd.

#22 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 05:34 PM:

Fragano @21:

Actually, after the 20th, I think it should be kabeljauo.

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 05:47 PM:

abi #22: The letter double-u should not be punished for its relationship to that bloody idiot.

#24 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 06:11 PM:

I've done something I hope I won't regret: I set up a FaceBook account. Anyone who would like me to add them as a friend can drop me an e-mail at the mailto attached to my name. Is there a ML group on FaceBook?

#25 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 06:11 PM:

There's this word I know. It is some variation on "Aldibarantiphoskiphorniostikos". I don't know how it was originally spelled. I think it is someone's name, from a story for very young children (less than three, probably). Because I don't know how to spell it, I have had no luck finding the actual story. Does anyone else recognize it?

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 06:12 PM:

joann @ 8... FRagano @ 17... Be seeing you! As for Abi being Leo McKern... Due to her gender, she really should be Georgina Cookson.

#27 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 06:42 PM:

Zack at 25 - I suspect it's the Tragedy of Chrononhotonthologos you're after?

#28 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 06:52 PM:

Fragano@17

If Serge #6 is going to say "Be seeing you" then what will the first five Serges be doing?

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 06:58 PM:

Michael I @ 28... If I'm going to be #6, do I have to wear that skimpy red dress? And I'd rather not be one of Baltar's delusions.

#30 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 06:59 PM:

It's been that sort of a week... I'm sure to be eaten by a grue, given the amount of time I've spent with mazes of twisty processes, all alike...

#31 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 07:01 PM:

Serge #26:

Isn't there an Abigail McKern?

#32 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 07:01 PM:

anthony@14 - I believe the story about witches and a child in a library is from either Analog or Azimov's sometime last summer. I remember reading it myself, although I can't pinpoint it closer than that. Azimov's doesn't have past Tables of Content online, and I can't identify a likely title in the Analog 2008 Analytical Laboratory listing, so I'm not sure where or when exactly it might have been.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 07:05 PM:

Michael I #28: A good question. I'd have to ask if it would apply during your first or second kingship?

#35 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 07:13 PM:

The story that pings me as 'witches raise a child in a library' is "In the House of the Seven Librarians" by Ellen Klages, which lacks witches but has the other elements.

I too started a Facebook recently. So far it's intimidating yet frustrating.

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 07:15 PM:

Hmmm. I just posted a link to Abigail McKern and ML threw it into limbo. Maybe the link was too long. Or her cat-eye glasses were deemed too scary.

[Abi here - I'm using my godlike mod powers to put Serge's comment in here, so that I don't trash the numbering of the thread.

- o0o -

joann @ 31... There is indeed.

- o0o - ]

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 07:16 PM:

xeger @ 30... I'm sure to be eaten by a grue

"And then some," said Captain Crane.

#38 ::: Andrew Kanaber ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 07:48 PM:

The 118 xxx directory enquiries thing was a dumb idea. Ofcom (UK telecoms regulator) apparently thought they were unleashing the magic of the free market on a stodgy old BT directory enquiries monopoly, but it's a basic service. I don't think any possible improvement in utility from better service or value could have outweighted the loss in utility from the number doubling in length.

Market competition doesn't work very well here because people don't want to remember and have opinions about multiple directory enquiry services. After all, it's the number to call when you've forgotten someone's number.

The various players spent a fortune on marketing and total directory enquiries usage actually went down. End result, the numbers are six digits instead of three, usage is down and the BT monopoly turned into a BT/The Number duopoly.

I liked this satirical reaction.

Sorry for the rant.

#39 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 08:44 PM:

I am suffused with rage upon having heard that Keanu Reeves, not satisfied with fsking up "The Day the Earth Stood Still", will now be playing Spike Spiegel in a live-action "Cowboy Bebop" movie.

ghfstwgl!!!11!

#40 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 08:51 PM:

There are many, many activities going on re the Inauguration right here in NYC. I'm looking forward to watching the swearing in at S.O.B.'s with friends on a jumbotron and eating lunch and toasting the new regime administration with maybe, a caipirinha.

Love, c.

#41 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 08:54 PM:

I wonder about those serving jury duty like Patrick? Will the powers that keep them prisoner allow the jury room to watch the swearing in? Let them go to lunch early? The judges surely won't be doing anything during that moment?

Love, C.

#42 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 08:54 PM:

So, the person I asked to come do chainsaw work for me in May of 2007 is supposed to show up tomorrow. As a result, I spent this afternoon cutting the plum root suckers out of the way, again, after having done so three times in the intervening months. With luck, I'll be able to get fabric down and dump a couple of yards of gravel under the plum tree, and the roots will stay in the ground.

Baccala sounds like a good idea, but it would involve much too much shopping and cooking and so on. I think this may be a night for oatmeal.

#43 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 10:08 PM:

Caroline @ 16: I wasn't aware there were tickets to the parade for sale -- I thought it was just come and stake out a spot for free, if you could. I thought tickets were just for the actual ceremony, and could only be gotten through your elected representatives (for free).

If so, the national media has been suckered in too.

I think that the standing room is free, that the tickets are for reserved bleacher seating at specified locations.

And another friend of mine is going to be in the GLBT marching band, so I'm going to be there to cheer him on, w00t!

#44 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 12:25 AM:

Caroline, #16, that About article is wrong on a couple other things, too. Here's the info about the parade. The inauguration committee sold tickets to sit on the aluminum bleachers (Spherical Time, wear thick pants, since you can't bring much of anything) but anybody can stand on the sidewalk.

The big thing the About article missed is that there will be no private cars allowed on any of the bridges from Virginia to DC. Buses will be allowed on all, and bikes and walking on most.

I have PT at 4pm on the 20th, and I'm not likely to be up right at noon anyway, so I'll tape it.

#45 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 01:22 AM:

Dave Bell @ Previous Open Thread

Good to hear you're improving, and that you'll be with us more often. On a much less portentious note, the 48-hour bug that I had for a week is finally gone; I was capable of making phone calls and sending comprehensible email today. So I'll be here a little more often too.

#46 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 01:36 AM:

Andrew Kanaber @37, about "the magic of the free market", I ran into a former roommate at the café and got to chatting, and in discussing the recession it came to light that he has libertarian politics (not a big deal), and is one of those Gold Standard People (excused myself before I inadvertently slapped him with an economics textbook).

Math time! I realised my age (23) is equal to my Hebrew name (חיה). That is, חי, as any good Jew knows, is 18, and the ה is 5, which makes 23. An exercise for any scholars of gematria: what could I name myself when I turn twenty-four?

#47 ::: anthony ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 01:55 AM:

"In the House of the Seven Librarians" by Ellen Klages is totally it, and i loved it more reading it the second time. More please!

#48 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 02:28 AM:

Tlönista @ #45: Your comment about a libertarian and economics made something click for me. Those imaginary perfectly rational consumers that so much economics theory relies on are the same imaginary people that make libertarian theories work. Wouldn't the world be interesting if we actually were rational?

anthony @ #46: Easy mistake to make — feral librarians are a lot like witches. Didn't you just adore the spices arranged according to the Dewey Decimal System?

#49 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 02:50 AM:

anthony, did you get to the Swanwick I recommended to you yet? I got The Dragons of Babel as a Xmas present, and recommend it almost as heartily as The Iron Dragon's Daughter. BTW, I also liked Smax a lot. Who would have guessed that Fairyland was an embarrassing poverty-stricken incestuous backwater?

#50 ::: Yatima ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 03:18 AM:

For TNH, from an AP report:

A commuter ferry arrived in less than 10 minutes. "The guy on the ferry literally grabbed my arm and pulled me up," he said. Another man took off his shirt and handed it over. At the airport Marriott, the night bell captain brought a pair of shoes from home for him and went out and bought him some clothes.

"I have to say something about New York," Jones said. "We Southerners think we are the ones with all the hospitality. You just can't imagine what an overwhelming and humbling experience it is," he explained, his eyes filling with tears.


#51 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 03:47 AM:

I love my facebook page. I am unaccountably addicted to it. The only thing I don't like is being approached by all the people I went to high school with, only one of whom seems particularly interesting. (I may have commented previously on the heartless political views of some of the others.) Anyway, all in all, lots of fun. And cleaner layout than MySpace. And I'll happily join a ML group, if one starts.

#52 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 04:51 AM:

Yep, folks, I'm back.

slow, tedious, healing, but the odds are my fractured vertabrae will be OK without nerve damage or surgery, which is pretty good.

at the start of february I expect to have the plaster on my leg replaced, and that's when the physiotherapy will really start, with being able to bend my knee.

It seems strong-backed ex-farmers have an adventage.

#53 ::: Zarquon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 04:51 AM:

Speaking of Leo McKern, John Mortimer, author of Rumpole of the Bailey, has died.

#54 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 05:11 AM:

Dave @51:

I am so glad to hear that you're doing so well.

#55 ::: BuffySquirrel ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 06:07 AM:

Oh yeah, I remember calling one of these "services" from a payphone. They took all my money then couldn't find the number. Now if only I'd had my iPhone with me, I could have looked the number up on the web...for free.

#56 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 07:29 AM:

On the Hudson River ditching: I'm interested to see that the A320 floated tail-down, with the rear doors under the water. Does anyone know whether that's normal? All the safety cards I've ever seen in airplanes show the plane floating level after ditching ("landing on water"), with the rear exits being used.

#57 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 09:35 AM:

I've given up using Directory Enquiries from anyone as a result of this. I can't keep track of the numbers or the prices, and we have a phone book anyway. So no-one's getting money from me for that service, which I have to assume is okay with them...

#58 ::: Laura from Faraway ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 09:41 AM:

@ #14 & 34: "In the House of the Seven Librarians" is available free online as both a pdf and a podcast. I was introduced to it through the delightful (and, both lamently and recently, defunct) Year's Best Fantasy & Horror series; worth a look, #14, and available in many libraries.

#59 ::: Lisa ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 10:06 AM:

I've got tickets to the swearing-in, as well as one of the balls, and a couple of other parties I promised to attend this week. I bought a fancy dress and made appointments to get my hair and nails done and everything. So naturally, yesterday I came down with the flu. Cue much gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair. Here's hoping I manage to throw it off by Tuesday...

#60 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 10:06 AM:

janetl #47:

There are certainly libertarians with much more nuanced views of human nature (cf Tyler Cowan or David Friedman). But it does seem like the default is a very simplistic model of human decisionmaking based on (grossly oversimplified models of) microeconomics.

I suspect (without data or strong evidence) that the simplicity of your model of the world is positively correlated with the strength of your inclination to evangelize, in most every area. I lean libertarian in many ways, but "the free market is usually a pretty good way to organize things, as long as you account for known failure modes and regulate it enough to prevent fraud based on information asymmetry" is a heck of a lot less of a clean, internally satisfying argument to make than "the free market always gets it right."

I think this generalizes. The Christians most inclined to evangelize are usually the ones with the most simplistic view of God, the Bible, Truth, right and wrong, etc. The atheists who do most of the overt denunciation of religion tend to have (IMO) quite oversimplistic views of the actual beliefs of religious people[2]. It's an interesting question whether the tendency to evangelize is caused[1] by the simplicity of the model, or the simplicity of the model is caused by being the kind of person who finds evangelization rewarding. Certainly, it's easier to argue from a simpler, less-nuanced POV in most cases.

[1] Assuming this is true--I'm just reporting my own casual observation here, I have no data.

[2] Perhaps because most religious people they run into are trying to evangelize them.

#61 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 10:06 AM:

I never used Directory Enquiries in the 15 years I lived in the UK. Before the internet, I used the phone book.

But I found the adverts amusing.

#62 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 10:25 AM:

John @ #55 I'm just guessing here, but it might have been due to the weight distribution on the plane and/or how the engine damage affected the balance of the aircraft.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 10:32 AM:

Tlonista @ 45... Deriding the magic of the free market, are you? Hex & Spend liberal!

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 10:42 AM:

TCM is showing 1948's The Big Clock.

A corrupt publisher tries to frame a career-driven editor for murder.

I came in after it had started and, with George Macready and Charles Laughton both being in it, I couldn't tell who the corrupt publisher was. Charles bashing a woman's head in with a Hugo(*) clarified the situation.

(*) All right, it wasn't really a Hugo, but was a rocket-shaped object.

#65 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 10:46 AM:

#61
The engines were off the plane by then, which probably changed the balance. The authorities (NTSB in particular) are trying to find them (with sonar and divers feeling around in the bottom sediment).

#66 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 10:59 AM:

Albatross, I think it might be a combination of both-- evangelizing is often presented as, "But if I only explain it well enough, they'll understand!" and that lends itself well to one-sentence summaries and attempts at witty slogans. Someone whose understanding of Issue is fairly simple and straightforward may boggle that people don't agree and thus try to spread the word; surely they just haven't heard of it. Someone who has a deeper understanding of Issue and a need to evangelize may think that everyone else is just too dumb to understand the nuances and use short sentences and small words to explain it to the idiots, who will surely understand if only it's simplified enough.

There is also, in some arguments, a wariness of nuance. Nuance is weakness-- if you say, "I disagree with these bits of Issue, but I am pro-Issue," in certain settings, anti-Issue participants will see it as a capitulation or lending strength to their argument. "See! Here are even more problems with the pro-Issue stance!" If the Issue is persecuted/controversial, it's comforting to present your side as simple, with fewer potential weak points for the opposition to seize.

#67 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 11:49 AM:

#55 John Stanning: I read an airline safety info card thoroughly in December when I scored an exit row seat, and I seem to recall that it specifically pointed out that in a water landing the exits were over the wings and in the front, not in the rear.

#68 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 12:35 PM:

The Particle "twiffle, or perhaps paddle" is a joke, right? Please tell me it's a joke.

#69 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 12:39 PM:

Diatryma, #65: There's a second-level assumption on that -- they use "understand" as if it were a synonym for "agree". I understand a lot of their arguments perfectly well... including how badly wrong they are, and in what ways.

#70 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 01:01 PM:

janetl @47: Oh god, I can’t imagine anything duller and more terrifying!

In my brief stint as a Neo-Atheist I encountered a lot of people who professed to live their lives not according to superstition or fuzzy-headed wishful thinking, but rational principles alone. And yet it became apparent that the so-called rational thinkers neglected to examine their own biases and perspectives, not taking into account how their own circumstances might affect their perceptions of events, and refused to look at phenomena in their broader historical or social or cultural context.* They clouded their own understanding and adopted limited, rootless perspectives on complicated subjects, thinking that narrow-mindedness made them more Rational and Objective.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen truly “rational” behaviour, and (in my mind) the theories predicated on it don’t model reality as well as they could. A society of rational people would not be recognisably human. Its econ classes would be much easier, though.

The DSM says OCD, some say “feral librarian”...

albatross @59,

*Treating a religion, for example, as consisting in a set of empirical statements which followers universally assent to and non-believers don’t, rather than a tangled-up cultural institution/moral framework/historical phenomenon which both shapes and reflects the state of the world...

Another factor might be how much it matters that you’re right and your opponents are wrong. It’s really hard to admit, “This person’s views are diametrically opposed to mine, but they’ve probably got good, sensible reasons for believing what they do, and I should try to understand how they came to those conclusions.” And this isn’t looking down my nose; if I had a Shoran self-name it would be something like The Unempathetic or The Alone.

Serge @62: “And when I withdraw my arm from this hat...voilà! My hand has vanished completely! Take a look, there’s nothing up my sleeve, nothing in the hat...”

(“Is Smith doing his stupid little party trick again?”

“Sheesh. I think Milton invited him. Teach a man a cantrip and he thinks he’s Gandalf the White.”)

#71 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 01:04 PM:

albatross @ #59: but "the free market is usually a pretty good way to organize things, as long as you account for known failure modes and regulate it enough to prevent fraud based on information asymmetry" is a heck of a lot less of a clean, internally satisfying argument to make than "the free market always gets it right."

Yup! Reminds me of one of my economics professors saying something like "yes, the models with just two variables are unrealistically over-simplified, but once you add a third variable, the math gets too complicated".

#72 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 01:10 PM:

janetl @47: Oh god, I can’t imagine anything duller and more terrifying!

In my brief stint as a Neo-Atheist I encountered a lot of people who professed to live their lives not according to superstition or fuzzy-headed wishful thinking, but rational principles alone. And yet it became apparent that the so-called rational thinkers neglected to examine their own biases and perspectives, not taking into account how their own circumstances might affect their perceptions of events, and refused to look at phenomena in their broader historical or social or cultural context.* They clouded their own understanding and adopted limited, rootless perspectives on complicated subjects, thinking that narrow-mindedness made them more Rational and Objective.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen truly “rational” behaviour, and (in my mind) the theories predicated on it don’t model reality as well as they could. A society of rational people would not be recognisably human. Its econ classes would be much easier, though.

The DSM says OCD, some say “feral librarian”...

albatross @59,

*Treating a religion, for example, as consisting in a set of empirical statements which followers universally assent to and non-believers don’t, rather than a tangled-up cultural institution/moral framework/historical phenomenon which both shapes and reflects the state of the world...

Another factor might be how much it matters that you’re right and your opponents are wrong. It’s really hard to admit, “This person’s views are diametrically opposed to mine, but they’ve probably got good, sensible reasons for believing what they do, and I should try to understand how they came to those conclusions.” And this isn’t looking down my nose; if I had a Shoran self-name it would be something like The Unempathetic or The Alone.

Serge @62: “And when I withdraw my arm from this hat...voilà! My hand has vanished completely! Take a look, there’s nothing up my sleeve, nothing in the hat...”

(“Is Smith doing his stupid little party trick again?”

“Sheesh. I think Milton invited him. Teach a man a cantrip and he thinks he’s Gandalf the White.”)

#73 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 01:10 PM:

I've been lurking around here for a while, and thought it was about time to speak up and say hello. I know you don't bite, but I've still always been nervous about introductions.

To preemptively answer a common question, no, I don't. Not good poetry, anyway.

#74 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 01:38 PM:

Keith, welcome! You don't HAVE to write poetry.

#75 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 01:41 PM:

John Stanning @55, back in my younger years I worked doing consumer interviews, testing airlines safety cards for how well they communicated their instructions. The short answer is that stuff like airplane position after a water landing is designed for two purposes; one is to show clearly where all exits are, and the other is to not freak out the customers.

I think, though, that the Airbus doesn't have rear inflatable ramps, so it wuld sink as soon as the rear exit seals are broken (which is how the passenger interviewed on "Day to Day" yesterday described it).

#76 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 02:06 PM:

Spherical Time, glad to hear of my wrongness. High five on the bleacher tickets!

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 02:07 PM:

Well, yesterday I got an email from my brother saying "better make plans to come out right away." Even if I had been at the airport right then, ready to get on a direct flight to LA, I would not have arrived before my dad died; my other brother called to tell me.

I know that many/most of you will keep a good thought for me and my family, and that you're sorry for my loss. Please don't fill the thread up with people saying so. You already did, and I'm counting on those good thoughts, for which my gratitude is inexpressible.

#78 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 02:22 PM:

Sam Kelly @27: yes, that's exactly what I was looking for. Thanks! I think my parents must've used the "related(?) nonsense" as an alphabet trainer.

#79 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 02:23 PM:

For fans of disemvoweling as per the Book Links newsletter (copied and pasted because they don't have the review on their site):

The Vowel Family: A Tale of Lost Letters. By Sally M. Walker. Illus. by Kevin Luthardt. 2008. 32p. Carolrhoda, $16.95 (9780822579823).
As much a word game as a story, this clever book about vowels begins with Pm Smth and Sm Vwl getting mrrd. As Sm says, “Tlkng s vr hrd.” Then twins Alan and Ellen come along, and “Lfe was better. Bt t wasn’t perfect.” Iris, Otto, and Ursula follow, and Aunt Cyndy comes to visit on occasion. Though the story is mostly a device for the play on vowels, humorous touches in the artwork (Pm and Sm’s grocery list reads “mlk, bttr, rng jc, chs”) and endpapers that continue the game make this a picture book that children will want to return to.

#80 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 02:24 PM:

...damn double-post.

#81 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Oh, Xopher, that's terrible news. My sympathies to you and your family.

#82 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 03:32 PM:

Xopher, dear Xopher:

Threads are for the filling, but we understand if you'd rather the conversation moved on and gave you something distracting to read instead.

But if you need to talk about it, publicly or privately, we're here.

KeithS:

Welcome into the open! If not poetry, puns? If not either, just pitch into the conversation.

#83 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 03:53 PM:

Open thread question re photo-sharing sites: Pros and cons of flickr vs photobucket vs anything else out there that I'm not aware of? I am particularly interested in the features/limitations of free accounts. Also ease of use.

I seem to remember hearing that photobucket gives free accounts a higher limit than does flickr, but I can't find any numbers on their site. The photobucket FAQ is curiously silent on the matter; anyone have any pointers? Also, is it just me, or does photobucket hate Mozilla?

#84 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 03:58 PM:

To go meta for a second, Xopher -- it's important that there be at least a few expressions of sympathy for you, IMO. You may know that we're all thinking of you; a few people chiming in and making it explicit makes it clearer for the newcomers that we actually have a (joinable) community here. A certain amount of glue helps hold us together, and sympathy in times of distress is one of the glues. It's sometimes hard to be the focus of such sympathy, and I understand that too.

If this were a fiction exercise, I'd write a post which passed on sympathy to you without mentioning you, a dying parent, or the metaphorical necessity of maintaining community on a regular basis or one loses it. Or possibly try to put it in formal verse. Unfortunately, I'm not John M. Ford.

#85 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 03:58 PM:

Xopher #76: Oh, cripes. My sympathies and thoughts are with you.

#86 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 04:03 PM:

Too long a time to sink into disgrace:
the rule of fool, and villain, and lackwit,
ignoring the entire loud human race;

so many wrong roads we have to retrace
to find our way out of this deep dark pit,
too long a time to sink into disgrace

without a chance to argue a good case
or challenge what all know to be false writ
ignoring the entire loud human race

which has declared the true cause to embrace,
instead they turn and dive into the shit.
Too long a time to sink into disgrace

declaring that the true goal of the chase
was the sole one that they could then permit
ignoring the entire loud human race.

At least we are allowed a breathing space
where we can gather our senses and sit;
too long a time to sink into disgrace
ignoring the entire loud human race.

#87 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 04:15 PM:

Open Threadiness of a pretty serious sort: Has anyone else read this oral history of the Bush Administration? Ta-Nehisi Coates linked to it, and everything he said about it was true. Go read it. Really.

Reviewing the history of the Bush administration is like watching a film of a train derailing, plowing into a propane tank farm, and thus incinerating both a nursery school and a museum full of priceless artworks.

I recommend printing it out--it's a long piece, and I couldn't make it through in one sitting because of time constraints. (Ta-Nehisi said he had to put it down at one point, because it was too upsetting; I can definitely see why.)

I particularly recommend making it to the point near the end where Lawrence Wilkerson, an aide to Colin Powel, reveals that the office of the Vice President was reading the e-mail of the National Security Council. (That was the point where my children asked why I was saying all those bad words.) That gives an absolutely clear sense of just how dysfunctional the whole administration was, and just how willing the internal players were (at least Cheney) to violate law, custom, and decency in order to win.

The picture that emerges is just amazing in its creepy horribleness. It would almost be a more economical explanation if you assumed that one of the high-ranking Cheney advisors was Ishmael (as suggested with the Wheel of Time books' history of Artur Hawkwing's last years[1]), or was being teleoperated by Focused specialists under Podmaster Lau[2]. Or if their explicit goal had somehow been to wreck the US.

[1] Though I do keep wondering why all those Bush press secretaries kept answering questions with "As the old saying goes, let the lord of chaos rule," and then laughing....

[2] Which Charlie Stross suggested some time ago.

#88 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 04:30 PM:

Another take from that article is that George W Bush would have made a fine Wal-Mart manager, or maybe mayor of a medium-sized town. He could have made the world a better place by being that kind of idle-rich guy who occasionally shows up to help with some kind of charity, but mostly lives it up on his family's accompishments.

There's no shame in not being smart enough to be president, or in not being interested in the right kind of stuff to do it well. There's nothing shameful in being someone who can be manipulated by master-manipulators like Putin and Cheney--hell, most of us are probably susceptible. Not a damned thing is wrong with being someone who finds long, droning detail-rich discussions of the difficulties of occupying a foreign country after invading it, or of preparing for relief after a massive 9/11 scale disaster, or confusing discussions of the ups and downs of financial regulation, confusing and boring.

Really, it's okay. As long as you don't make a credible attempt to become president, it's alright that you're not suited to the job. Most people honestly aren't, even ones who've worked in a lot of the obvious lead-in jobs.

The only thing that's required is that, if you are deeply, massively unsuited for that job, you don't try to get it. Just as someone who can barely tie his shoes and can't cut a piece of paper in a straight line (neither one moral failings) ought not to try to get a job as a surgeon, just as someone who doesn't much like small kids ought not to try to get a job as a kindergarten teacher, if you're deeply unsuited to the job of president, you ought to know yourself well enough to figure that out, and then find some other thing to do with your life.

#89 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 04:43 PM:

albatross, I keep tripping over memories of the whole thing, and being horrified all over again.

I'm glad we'll be back on course in a few days, but I'm still deeply shaken by how so many people ignored reality for so long, and this makes me feel like I have to understand why and how, because otherwise it might happen again.

This is also why I deeply disagree with Obama's stated desire to just let it go.

I am reading your link.

#90 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 05:23 PM:

JESR #74, interesting sidelight on the way these things are composed.

Everything is on the Net. Here's someone's photo of an A320 safety card (of Iberia, the Spanish airline). Yep, floating level, with rear inflatable slides.

#91 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 06:05 PM:

#57 Laura from Faraway: "In the House of the Seven Librarians" is available free online as both a pdf and a podcast.

Would you happen to have a link to the PDF version handy, by any chance? My Google-fu gives me only the podcast, which is alas of little use to me (half deaf).

#86 albatross: I've had that oral history of the Bush administration open in another tab all week. Can only psych myself up to read it in very small portions, because, as Caroline says, it's all still too real and fresh. But I will finish it eventually: it's very important. I am very glad to read the parts of the story particularly that are from non-American sources: it feels like someone else is bearing witness, someone from outside the abused-spouse household that's been America for the last eight years.

(I, myself, was in Canada until 2005, but I've identified so strongly with the American left since I became aware of what was going on that I don't feel like I have any kind of perspective.)

On Obama, there's a quote from Rep. Barney Frank in this article that I found salient: Obama tends to overstate his ability to get people to change their opinions and underestimates the importance of confronting ideological differences [....] He says, ‘I don’t want to fight the fights of the nineties,’ but I don’t see any alternative to refighting the fights of the nineties if we want to change things.

(That article gives me some hope that there's folks in congress and around Obama that will be pushing him. I hope he listens--and yes, I'm still utterly thrilled about the inauguration! Joy, gladness, and the sounds of singing!)

#92 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 06:06 PM:

Hey everyone! Author Kevin J. Reardon posted this on an editor's LJ, apparently because the editor rejected his story:

You should really just kill yourself.

Obviously, that'd be no great loss to literature.
Just do us all a favor and take down your blog first.

Then he repeated the suggestion across a couple of posts. You can read about it over here. It would be cool if he never sold anything again.

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 06:17 PM:

Mary Dell @ 91... Whoa... That should get him a lot of friends in the publishing world.

#94 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 06:22 PM:

jenetl @47, Tlönista @ #45: Your comment about a libertarian and economics made something click for me. Those imaginary perfectly rational consumers that so much economics theory relies on are the same imaginary people that make libertarian theories work. Wouldn't the world be interesting if we actually were rational?

That would be interesting, but I don't think it would make laissez-faire work a lot better. Human irrationality is one of the problems with a lot of the theoretical framework here, but I don't think it's the biggest one- IMO a lot of problems with the theory of the free market still apply if you assume perfectly rational actors. There's still the matter of people starting out from very different positions when they first become independent actors. There's still the matter that for most of us, our standard of living is to a good deal a cost factor in the calculations of people who have to keep their costs as low as possible. There's still the matter that, as Orwell put it, "the trouble with competitions is that some people win them". Deflationary spirals and demand gaps can happen with everyone acting perfectly rationally.

Diatryma @65, Nuance is weakness-- if you say, "I disagree with these bits of Issue, but I am pro-Issue," in certain settings, anti-Issue participants will see it as a capitulation

Not just anti-Issue participants, for that matter.

#95 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 06:39 PM:

Abigail McKern is Leo McKern's daughter.

Xopher, my sympathies.

I am buying a long overdue birthday present for someone else today. (Now having typed that, I will have to do it!)

#96 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 06:44 PM:

albatross, 86: I just finished reading a printout. It's stunning.

I'm surprised, though, how often the people quoted seem to bend over backwards to express that they feel Bush meant well and had the best interests of the US at heart. He either must come across as even stupider in person than on screen, or a lot of people are still, still! scared to say truly bad things about this administration. I have no such compunctions: I think the administration meant harm, maybe not as much as it did, but we the people were clearly the enemy and approached as such. Looked at that way, this has been the most successful administration of my lifetime.

#97 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 07:09 PM:

Chris @ 95: Yes. To believe Bush is a good person, you have to believe that I deserve to be a second-class citizen, and that it is virtuous to decide to invade a foreign country and then go looking for reasons to do so. You have to believe that a "good person" orders people to be tortured.

Bush did mean some of us harm, here and abroad. Others he may have harmed by accident: but he stirred up homophobia in order to win an election. To say "he didn't mean it" is to excuse the deliberate spreading of hatred because one straight man's desire to be president outweighs the harm he has to have known his statements would cause. Nor do I believe that a "good person" would gut the emergency response agency in order to give his buddies jobs. [And so on, and so on. Just two from a long list.]

#98 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 07:11 PM:

Let me also express my sincere condolences to Xopher.

#99 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 07:19 PM:

I'm using the dry air in the house as an excuse to try boiling some wool -- worst case, the felines get something new to sleep on.

Xopher - my empathies and good energies to you and yours.

#100 ::: BuffySquirrel ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 07:36 PM:

abi@#60: The phone book is fine if you're at home where the phone book is, or the library has the phone book you want (they didn't) or you're living twenty years ago when payphones had phone books. Otherwise, not so much :).

#101 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 07:40 PM:

Let me say how amused I am at the "Long National Nightmare" Sidelight. Man, that Gore Presidency was a bore.

#102 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 07:58 PM:

Linkmeister, how can you say it was a bore? Don't you remember the outrage people felt at Gore's mis-steps?

A friend just pointed me to Howard Rheingold's piece on hosting on-line conversations. If the folks here hadn't read it, they did a good job of re-inventing it....

#103 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 08:17 PM:

86: Michael Ledeen, for one, appears to spend a great deal of time with Iranian intelligence officers, of either current, former, future, or undetermined status.

Frankly, if you were an Iranian general staff officer, in what way would Iraq not have suited all your strategic, operational and tactical aims?

#104 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 08:25 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ #101, the only outrage I remember is when he replaced the entire Supreme Court with the members of the Ninth Circuit Court. Forced retirement for Clarence Thomas did seem a little mean-spirited, since Thomas was barely 60 at the time.

#105 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 08:25 PM:

Xopher @ 73 and Abi @ 81 - thank you for the welcome. My sympathies to you, Xopher, as well.

I suppose I'll pitch in to the economics discussion, although I wouldn't want to be accused of only making hay.

I notice that Raphael @ 93 has pretty much said what I wanted to say already. Even if everyone were a perfectly rational actor, that still means that some people win while others lose. I suspect that people start talking past each other once the question of morality comes up.

I remember watching a video in an economics class. I think it was Milton Friedman extolling the wonders of the free market. The room was full of women working hard at sewing machines, and he was telling us that them working for some pittance was wonderful because that way they had jobs and we had cheap clothing. I had to wonder whether it was only me who learned about sweatshops, mining towns, cramped living spaces, factory stores, and things of that ilk in history classes.

On a completely different topic, I have written a script for Opera and Firefox/Greasemonkey that marks new comments on a thread, but I don't have anywhere to host it. If someone wants it or wants to host it, please let me know.

#106 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 08:40 PM:

xeger @ 98, I'm sure the felines will sleep on it regardless. They manage to sleep on everything I own. Somehow the long black woolen overcoat that always hangs in the closet still gets covered in white cat hair. But I hope that it works/worked.

There was much excitement this morning when I awoke at 11 AM and none of the faucets worked. It appears that the pipes had frozen, but not burst. (Also, they must have frozen at some point between 6:30 AM, when my fiancé left for work, and when I awoke.) Allowing the water to slowly drip seems to have melted the obstacles. A drip slowly turned to a trickle, which turned to a stream, which turned into a full-force flow. It was, however, extra-weird when the kitchen faucet wouldn't run hot, and the hall bath faucet wouldn't run cold. I let the kitchen faucet drip its way to running hot (though it ran ice-cold first, consistent with a melted ice chunk) -- and at the same instant the hall bath faucet roared to life with cold water. That just seems odd.

The low is only 24 tonight (compared to 8 last night), so I'm not sure if I need to leave the water trickling to prevent another freeze-up.

And also, Xopher, I really am thinking of you, whether you assumed I'd say it or not. (It falls with "I love you" into the class of things I like to say even if my audience already knows it.)

#107 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 08:52 PM:

OK, I was being a dork. I just didn't want to be hogging the thread. Thank you, everyone.

#108 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 09:17 PM:

My sympathies, too, Xopher. You're in my prayers, FWIW.

#109 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 09:19 PM:

KeithS #104:

You have to compare their alternatives, too. If you're a teenaged girl in Thailand, working 16 hours a day in a Nike sweatshop probaly isn't all that much fun, but you may still prefer it to the available alternatives, like starvation or working in a brothel.

#110 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 09:19 PM:

Oh, my. When I said Wouldn't the world be interesting if we actually were rational?, I was being entirely snarky. I was using "interesting" in the way one says "what an interesting choice of paint color". There are, of course, times when I look at decisions made that affect me, and long for a world of Science Officer Spocks making decisions based on facts and analysis. But while some things would be splendid, I don't think I'd want to live in that world. For one thing, we'd all have to wear rubber ear tips with itchy glue.

#111 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 09:29 PM:

Vicki #96:

There's a difference, though, between a good person and just not being a monstrous person. As a human being, one-on-one, Bush apparently inspires considerable loyalty and is kind and loyal to his friends. In his policy ideas/beliefs/preferences, I don't think he's noticeably more evil than the average American, who appears to be pretty much okay with blowing away or torturing irritating foreigners, denying rights to gays, etc.

In some sense, that's the thing that's so upsetting. The guy has done massive, amazing, horrific damage. And yet, he's not a monster. His failures weren't nearly so much from ruthlessness or evil as from incompetence. Incompetence with a nice side-order of win-at-all-costs in political fights, true, but still, if he'd presided over basically successful but immoral wars of aggression, if he'd been the kind of hard b-stard who broke rules and steamrollered opposition, but managed to get help to New Orleans when it was needed (because he could see that not doing so would limit his power, even if he didn't give a damn about the victims as people), he'd be leaving office with a much higher approval rating, and likely leaving the US in a much better position.

A certain amount of casual willingness to use anti-gay bigotry to win elections, or to accuse your political opponents of treason, that's nasty. But it just isn't the kind of capital-E Evil I expect to see from someone with such a bad effect on the world.

#112 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 09:39 PM:

Albatross @ 108:

Oh, I agree with you there. That doesn't make it right or wonderful. The least of a certain number of evils, perhaps.

#113 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 09:41 PM:

Xopher, sincerest condolences for your loss. And don't be a noodle: filling up threads with genuine feeling is the best of what we do here.

#114 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 10:38 PM:

If you're not familiar with the story 1976: Pettigrew for President!, it may interest you to take a look here. Because now is a good time for someone to tell you about it.

#115 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 10:50 PM:

KeithS, #104: It wasn't just you, but that hasn't been true for most American children in public schools for over a generation. Example: my partner's high school used to have a Social Studies unit on "how to recognize propaganda"; it was summarily dropped from the curriculum in the early 70s, after several students used Official Statements about the Vietnam War for their class examples. The equivalents of BushCo have spent a long, long time systematically gutting the public school system, with the ultimate goal of producing a populace that couldn't recognize what was being done to them. It's going to take a long, hard slog to undo all that.

albatross, #110: Noodling here, bear with me. I'm not sure "evil" is the right word either, because I think the root of the problem is a limited, elitist worldview. People Like Him are the People Who Matter; they're the lead actors, and everyone else in the world -- ordinary Americans, people in other countries, heads of state of other countries, anyone outside of his own intimate circle -- is just a spear carrier. As long as the People Who Matter are doing well, he thinks of himself as successful. What he does to make that happen isn't important, because it doesn't affect any of the People Who Matter. Am I making sense?

Xopher: My condolences on your loss. May he be remembered well.

#116 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 11:18 PM:

Caroline @ 105 ...
xeger @ 98, I'm sure the felines will sleep on it regardless. They manage to sleep on everything I own. Somehow the long black woolen overcoat that always hangs in the closet still gets covered in white cat hair. But I hope that it works/worked.

It's amazing how spectacularly good cat hair is at getting everywhere, isn't it :)

At any rate - the boiled wool seems to have turned out pretty decently, and I'm now debating moving on to phase 2 vs spending some quality time with a cuppa :)

#117 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 12:23 AM:

xeger @ #115:
We can count ourselves lucky that we each just deal with cat hair drifting onto clothes that are up on hangers. A friend of mine has a cat that prefers to sleep on good quality wool. If none is available, the cat goes into the closet and pulls down a cashmere or camel hair coat.

#118 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 12:50 AM:

janetl @ 116 ... and I'm glad for that :) OTOH, mine seem to delight in using ballistic nylon (aka: luggage) as both a sharpening post and a sleeping location, when they can.

You know things have gone a bit too far when airport security asks how the cats are doing...

#119 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 01:03 AM:

Lee @ 114, I think that George Bush was/is evil. He just doesn't look like what we conceive of as evil. We think of evil as being bigger than life. George W. is all too life-sized. The fact that he can live in a world where most people are just spear carriers and he doesn't give a damn about them isn't a character flaw. It's a style of evil. The fact that he can play power politics without any concern for his responsibilities towards his country is evil. We are judging Bush by his intentions, which were not, perhaps, all that bad. Good things for him and his. Some ego boo. Some revenge. But these things, in context, were evil. The fact that he didn't consider the context is what made him do evil things, and I don't propose, personally, to give him a pass for not having had evil thoughts. He had an evil lack of thought. People exist. When you forget that, you become a sociopath. He approved of torturing people. There's a piece of the American soul that is evil. We think of it more kindly than that. I wouldn't say that people who enjoy 24 are evil, but maybe I should. It's an evil fantasy, that you can torture in a good cause. I'm failing to say what I really want to say. I'm sorry. But I think that we let George Bush off the hook too easily by looking at his intentions, at what a nice guy he can be. These are not good measures of whether someone is good or evil. Actions have got to count more than intentions. Especially repeated actions.

#120 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 02:29 AM:

Caroline, #88: "I'm glad we'll be back on course in a few days, but I'm still deeply shaken by how so many people ignored reality for so long, and this makes me feel like I have to understand why and how, because otherwise it might happen again."

Krawk! You hominds don't mostly pay attention to reality, even when it's about to make you food for us corvids. I'm sympathetic, but it's so. The past administration, the reactionaries, and the Senate conservatives hurt you so much that a majority has decided it wants something else. And it's not over yet. The Senate conservatives are still very much in power. I suspect they are part of the reason for such caution upon the part of the President-Elect, who appears to be far more liberal than his personnel choices and state policy plans suggest. Illusion dominates human life. I would be pleased if I saw you hominids choose kind, creative, and joyful illusions, rather than cruel and destructive illusions. Good dreams might lead to a better awakening. With Obama, maybe you have begin that choice, but you must continue on that path, if you want to see those dreams realized.

The why is not too complex: your imagination failed, your dreams turned dark, and you made ill-thought-out choices. The how...the historians will be studying it for centuries, I think. I've opined that sociological and technological change has outstripped your institutions. Maybe I am right. Be that as it may, it is important to remember so that it can eventually be known. Krawk!

#121 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 02:31 AM:

Have you noticed that Obama has asked The Dead to play the inauguration? Those pops you hear are wingnut heads exploding.

#122 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 02:39 AM:

Lydy Nickerson at #118, it always disturbs me greatly the number of people who think 24 is wonderful television and that Jack Bauer is a noteworthy character rather than an amoral, torturing, thug. Then again, I thought the latest James Bond was portrayed as a murderous sophisticated thug, and people seemed to adore that character, too.

#123 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 02:45 AM:

I expect Bush will be let off the hook for war crimes, with a few limitations: he and his krewe may risk future arrest while traveling to any of the hundred plus nations that are members states of the International Criminal Court (the main reason why the US isn't a party to that treaty); in addition, several nations (including Germany, which temporarily affected Rumsfeld a while back) exert "universal jurisdiction" for genocide and other war crimes.

#124 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 03:42 AM:

Saw a report on a German inquiry into war crimes in 1944--very young soldiers and some still alive--and the kicker is that Germany doesn't have a statute of limitations on war crimes.

And I see Tome Cruise seems to be wearing a romantic eye-patch while he tries to blow up Hitler. I know enough of the history that the trailers make me wary.

Will Bush ever get a movie?

#125 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 04:04 AM:

I don't get the impression that Bush, personally, is evil.  I think he's a relatively low-watt bulb, easily persuaded, good at acting when he's given the script (though bad at improvising), good at appearing amiable but not intellectual, getting the votes from the kind of people who like that appearance.  [And I think one of the several hopeful things about Obama is that although he's clever, and it shows, enough people voted for him anyway.]

I do think some of Bush's followers are evil.  I can't see how they could have thought that what they were doing was good for America, or the Republican party, or anyone other than themselves and their own little circle.

The thing I most despise about them is the open sadism.  Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, 'extraordinary rendition', above all the lip-licking, pornographic authorisation and justification of torture.  I think I could have found a smidgen of respect for them if they'd done the torture themselves, but of course they were far too weak for that - they just somehow seemed to enjoy authorising it (pretending that it wasn't) and imagining what was being done to people they never saw, far away from their comfortable existences.

#126 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 04:11 AM:

Note sure whether I meant 'followers' in the middle paragraph above.  'Leaders', even;  'manipulators' maybe;  is 'puppet masters'* too strong?

* without arrière-pensée of the Heinlein story or the films.

#127 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 04:25 AM:

Any sufficiently advanced callousness is indistinguishable from hatred.

#128 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 07:11 AM:

Xopher, thank you for helping us bring out our feelings for you. Whatever you think you were being a dork about, that's not you. You have my sympathy and love. If you have something to share about your father or your process, I'd like to hear it.

When you are not preoccupied, you know what hogging the thread is—and isn't—as well as any of us. Thank you for making the thread.

#129 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 07:32 AM:

John Stanning@124

I see Bush as someone who is very skilled at a certain type of politics--no rules, no holds barred, the only consideration is winning, basically politics as a holy war--but not particularly good at much else.

(That said, he might have done reasonably well if he had stayed a baseball owner. The main duties of THAT job are making encouraging statements at appropriate intervals and checking every couple of years to see if your general manager is doing a good job.)

#130 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 07:41 AM:

Dave Bell @123 And I see Tome Cruise seems to be wearing a romantic eye-patch while he tries to blow up Hitler.

I've been looking at the picture*, and as well as the eye patch, his right hand is hidden and he's holding the briefcase with just the first two fingers; in other words they've not gone for just the romantic eyepatch, but also the injuries to von Stauffenberg's hands.

Still undecided over whether to see it or not.

And good to hear you're recovering!

* There's more than one, but if you google image Tom Cruise Valkyrie there's one that comes up a lot.

#131 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 08:03 AM:

Greetings, friends, from the other side of the slough. At least it looks like I'm on my way out of it. The past three months have been very gray and dim, probably from a couple of friends' funerals, a couple of hospitalizations, the roosting of procrastinated stress, disrupted meds, and a cancer diagnosis.

Things started brightening up about a week before the prostatectomy that I had scheduled in August, on the way down. It was about the latest I could get started and actually make it happen. As it turned out, things went really smoothly. Now twelve days post-op, I have every reason to expect a complete recovery.

I hope it's not just gratuitous name-dropping to mention that I got knifed by Dr. Patrick C. Walsh, the man who revolutionized prostatectomy technique in the 1980s. Before him, the prognosis was 100% impotence, nearly 100% incontinence, and 0% effectiveness against cancer (the last due to late cancer detection and postponement of prostatectomy due to the side-effects). Dr. Walsh's surgical innovations and the use of PSA screening have turned the numbers around.

Prostate cancer is second only to lung cancer in incidence and fatality to men, and smoking is the only reason lung cancer has the edge. So quit smoking and get your PSA tested, guys. (Women, quit smoking and get a mammogram.) There's enough death around without jumping into the volcano.

#132 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 09:31 AM:

Dan Hoey, I'm sorry to hear you've had such a tough time, but glad you're getting better.

Xopher, my condolences. We're here if you want to talk about it. (But don't feel that you have to.)

#133 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 09:49 AM:

Oh Xopher I'm sorry.

#134 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 09:55 AM:

Dave Bell @ 123... Tome Cruise and his encyclopedic knowledge?

#135 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 09:57 AM:

janetl & xeger @ 116-117: My adorable furry felines have also adopted an odd method of being destructive. Any piece of woven (or knitted, though it's worse with woven) cloth left lying around -- including sheets and blankets, which are of course "lying" on the bed -- is fair game. They take a bit into their mouths, then shake and tear it as though they were killing a small animal or tearing a piece of meat off a larger kill.

This results in great holes as the cloth tears. Flannel sheets tear particularly easily. The last set I bought didn't last 24 hours and I damn near murdered the cat when I saw the huge holes.

I am not sure how to prevent this. Providing a cardboard scratching post cuts down the scratching damage, since they actually prefer the post. How can I provide a substitute biting/tearing cloth? They do it out of my sight, mostly when I'm not home, so I can't scold or squirt them.

It is a good thing they are so cute.

#136 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 09:58 AM:

Nancy C Mittens @ 93... I knew that, and she's my age too. I loved her dad. I thought it was interesting that, when he died, TCM's remembrance of that year chose to use a clip, not from "A Man for All Seasons", not from "Help!", not from "Sherlock Holmes's Smarter Younger Brother", but from "The Prisoner".

#137 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 10:25 AM:

Caroline@134: Wool-eating is very dangerous to your cats, because it can clog or tear their guts. I'm pretty sure I've read it also may be a symptom of a nutrition deficiency. There are links of possible helpfulness on Metafilter. A vet is a good first step, but you may have to find an animal behaviorist.

A friend of mine had a poodle who repeatedly ate her bedding. The friend tried replacing the bedding with an extra-tough mat. The poodle still managed to eat it, but died.

#138 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 11:42 AM:

Serge, in my head, Leo McKern is Rumpole. I knew about his daughter because she was on that series as a junior, Liz Probert, for a while.

#139 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 11:49 AM:

Dan Hoey, they don't exactly eat it -- it's not the usual sort of suckling/nursing on wool behavior that cats do. They just tear at it, and they almost seem to prefer cotton fabrics, since they tear better. It's bizarre.

But asking the vet is a good idea.

#140 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 12:02 PM:

For anyone with a slow-loading computer like mine, if that online Oral History of the Bush Admin. seems too daunting, there's what seems to be a very similar Oral History in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. Same willingness to grant Shrub a bit of decency, but month by month by year the horror deepens. Economy mavens might also like the article on Fannie Mae etc. (Just ignore the godawful fashion ads, or get your kicks from ogling the near-nekkid movie stars in the mag.'s inevitable puff pieces.)

#141 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 12:05 PM:

Caroline @ 134 ...
This results in great holes as the cloth tears. Flannel sheets tear particularly easily. The last set I bought didn't last 24 hours and I damn near murdered the cat when I saw the huge holes.

Heh. One of mine likes to chew through[0] the handles of plastic bags. We usually discover this the hard way, by trying to pick up something that was carefully bagged and organized.

As far as ways to prevent the problem... maybe put some sort of [reaches for word] decorative cover with less appeal to the cats over the bed? Our method of dealing with the plastic bag problem has pretty much been avoidance -- make the bags less appealing (eg: awkward locations) or inaccessible (don't leave them out).

[0] Not eat, just chew through them... no plastic appears in the litter box, and you -could- put the handles back together if it wasn't pointless.

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Nancy C Mittens @ 137... Of course. It's strange that, much as I liked McKern, I only saw one episode of Rumpole, the one about the concept of Silence equating Consent. Well, NetFlix should allow me to correct the situation easily, and to find out why his wife is She Who Must Be Obeyed.

#143 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 12:10 PM:

Caroline, #134: we have one that carries catnip mice around while making hunting cries. She probably misses the live ones from the last place we lived.

#144 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 12:25 PM:

I'm not sure what it is about cats and plastic. I knew one that would lick the coating off photos, and another that would lick the air right next to plastic bags.

#145 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 12:33 PM:

Does no one else think of the stock phrase "the banality of evil" in conjunction with the Bush administration? The petty vindictiveness and venality with huge consequences, the self-serving self-centeredness--the list could go on.

#146 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 12:38 PM:

Cats... Here, Krosp, king of cats, gives up his kingdom for a dead mouse and a pot of catnip.

#147 ::: Jon Meltzer sees possible spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 01:42 PM:

Or someone's wandered into the wrong room at the con ...

#148 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 02:51 PM:

cmk @ 144 ...
Does no one else think of the stock phrase "the banality of evil" in conjunction with the Bush administration?

I can't recall who wrote it, but it was a phrase to the general effect of "She could not picture him doing something spectacular, only tawdry and petty-minded".

Yes - I do think of that phrase.

#149 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 02:54 PM:

Serge @ 145 ...
Cats... Here, Krosp, king of cats, gives up his kingdom for a dead mouse and a pot of catnip.

I hadn't noticed that there was catnip in one of my relaxing teas until the cats showed an unusual interest in my mug of tea...

#150 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 03:02 PM:

Xopher, on him be peace, and on you as well.

Dan Hoey Welcome back from the slough. Hope you stay on this side from now on.

Re Shrubigesis:

cmk

I understand "the banality of evil" to refer to the actions of the followers, who accept the evil their leaders present to them as the ordinary way of life. It certainly applies to the acts of many Americans in the last 8 years, most especially those involved in the various forms of torture and illegal imprisonment. But the acts of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et. al. were committed knowing that they were not ordinary.

Ignoring Cheney for a bit (would that we could do so forever), Bush is one of a kind of person who takes his own goodness and rightness as given, so that any acts he commits must be good. This allows him to commit any act at all with a clear conscience. Of course, that's completely antithetical to the view that I think most of us here take, that a person's goodness or evil is determined by his or her acts. This is also, I believe, the view that a majority of the nation's founders took. It's certainly a basic principle of law in this country that effects, and not intentions, should be used to judge acts. Intentions may be mitigating factors, but they still pave the road.

#151 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 03:08 PM:

xeger @ 149... Our cats love it when I water the flowerbeds because that means I'll have rubbed my pants against the cat mint. Oh, and here is photo of them with a gift from ML's Tania.

"Man, this is good stuff!"

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 03:11 PM:

TCM is showing Rodgers's & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song.

"We'll now make the hills of San Francisco rock with gaity!"
#153 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 03:36 PM:

I too have a facebook account and as I use much the same name there as here I can be tracked down fairly easily. I find it useful for dragging people I know but don't see very often into such vital discussions as what someone is saying in a photo (which after 5 lines links to a Carmen Miranda video on youtube) or which would be better for towing a car, llamas or zebras*. In addition every now and then some actual information turns up on a timely basis so I don't get informed that someone gets married/has a baby/has left the country etc. by my Mum 3 monhs after it's happened.

* Actually, this hasn't happened yet but will inevitably cause an argument when I get round to posting the relevant info.

#154 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 03:38 PM:

John Stanning #89: I just read an article in the Telegraph about things you can do to increase your odds of surviving a plane crash, and in the comments was this, "As a former Cabin flight manager, i can tell you, ... Airbuses are designed to float in ditchings, Boeings are not, Boeing aircraft the crew are instructed not to open the rear half doors only the forward half as the Boeing is rear heavy and will push the forward part up in the air, putting the rear completely under water."

I was on Southwest, so a Boeing 737. A pretty similar safety card found here. So, yay memory. I hope there's an article sometime about why the Airbus in New York sank from the rear, though. I did read that "It all happened so fast, the crew never threw the aircraft's 'ditch switch,' which seals off vents in the fuselage to make it more seaworthy"... Perhaps that was the problem?

#155 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 04:19 PM:

Neil @153, llamas would be much more useful as they are somewhat tameable. Zebras are much harder to break to harness, IIRC.

#156 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 04:49 PM:

faren,

there's what seems to be a very similar Oral History in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

yes, it's the same article. i also bought the issue mostly to read it on paper.

#157 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 05:13 PM:

Does Vanity Fair have a tip jar online? I may buy the magazine just to support the writing of the article, though I have no great desire to read the rest of the print magazine.

#158 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 05:15 PM:

Xopher, my condolences.

#159 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 05:20 PM:

When President Obama disappoints -- and he inevitably will -- just remember that there is no taking back his first accomplishment: he replaced Bush.

#160 ::: pensnest ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 05:37 PM:

Slightly to my surprise I haven't noticed anyone mention "L'Obama, ossia L'Avvento del Messia" here on Making Light.

It is brilliant. I suspect that people who know anything about opera will find it even more brilliant than I do. Enjoy.

Pen

#161 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 05:58 PM:

I don't think George W. Bush is evil.

But to give you an idea of what I think of him:

One Monday morning, I'm going to clip the largest picture of George W. Bush I can find out of the newspaper.

On Tuesday, after Obama is sworn in and I've left the cakes I'm baking today in the cafeteria for my co-workers, I'm going to go to the loo, get out that photo, take a dump, and wipe my ass with it.

#162 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 06:10 PM:

Serge, #141: It has been my observation, over a period of 10+ years, that most of the men who refer to their wives as She Who Must Be Obeyed (or any variation thereof) are the worst kind of sexist assholes and general jerks. It's become one of those things that I read as a self-applied warning label.

Note: This is not to be construed as any sort of commentary on Rumpole, with which I am not familiar enough to comment. I'm merely remarking on what seems to be the real-life application.

Stefan, #161: I don't think I'll do that; I don't find newspaper (in general) to be something I want to use for that purpose. In the bottom of the litterbox, OTOH...

#163 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 06:21 PM:

Lee @ 162... I'm not quite sure about some implications of what you said.

#164 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 06:29 PM:

KeithS @104, I hadn't really thought about international economic relations when I posted it- more about what happens in each country. But now that you mention it-

albatross @108, the problem there is that while outsourced work in a poor place is usually better than the alternatives (otherwise noone would take it), apparently it doesn't do anything to make things even better, and might even be an impediment there. ("What, you're thankful for your improved economic situation, but now you want further economic improvement? Well, then I guess we'll have to move on to the next place!") A factory that gets its suppliers, its customers, and its investors- everything except for the workers- from somewhere else almost exists outside of the local economy, doesn't stimulate local economic initiative much, and might even hinder it, almost like an economically dominant local natural resource. Except that you can usually predict when a local natural resource runs out, while a transplanted factory can go away any time, whenever the market for whatever it makes shrinks or the owners find some place with even cheaper labor or the locals get too uppity for their taste etc.

Tom Whitmore @101, some parts are good, but others are less impressive:

"A host is also an exemplar. Good hosts model the behavior they want others to emulate: read carefully and post entertainingly, informatively, and economically, acknowledge other people by name, assume good will, assert trust until convinced otherwise , add knowledge, offer help , be slow to anger, apologize when wrong, politely ask for clarification, exercise patience when your temper flares."

That's basically telling hosts to be nice to douchebags, under the assumption that Internet Tough Guys and similar characters will care about what kind of role models the hosts are; and it's an invitation for trolls to complain very loudly whenever someone calls them out, and for others to create a debating culture where telling trolls off is more disapproved of than trolling itself. Much of the stuff under "Host Behaviour" seems to be like that, too.

"Keep the rules as few as possible. Keep them simple and based on ordinary human courtesy."

Sounds too much like an invitation for rules lawyers to me.

"Within months, each community will want the tools and opportunity to make their own rules. This can be facilitated by means of a process handbook for democratic decision-making, and access to people who have experienced the process themselves."

Isn't that what they tried on Wikipedia, with, err, spectacular success?

Chris Quinones @95, Vicki @96, albatross @110, Lydy Nickerson @118, John Stanning @124, Michael I @128, cmk @144, xeger @148, Bruce Cohen @150, and whoever else took part in the Bush/EvilorNot debate- I think Bush and a good part of the movement he belongs to are connected to something that IMO is one of the closest things to being decidedly evil that exist in the real world- something that I call "the cult of ruthlessness", but if anyone can think of a better name, tell me.

By "cult of ruthlessness", I mean the idea that the most important thing in life (or one of the most important things in life) is being always as tough, strong, ruthless, and cruel as possible (usually because that's supposedly the only way to survive), and that everyone who disagrees is just to weak or squeamish. Once you think like that, you can dismiss all moral scruples as a sign of weakness, and see harm you cause to others as something good in itself (because it shows how strong you are).

This attitude is something that most of the really unsavoury characters in the world seem to have in common- from murderous dictators of all kinds to the more sociopathic kind of businessmen to leaders of plundering mounted nomads or other conquering armies in history. With apologies to Godwin, it is explicitly an important part of Nazi ideology, and at the same time, on the other end of the scale of magnitude of bad actions, it's probably a main part of the worldview of many ordinary nonpolitical violent criminals as well. I guess if you tell child rapists that what they do is wrong, many of those who respond will say that you're just too weak to stomach it.

That kind of attitude is clearly part of the worldview of many or most of Bush's core supporters. (As well as those- and they're out there- who stopped supporting him because he wasn't merciless enough for their taste.)

Aside from some lone lunatics, there are no people in the world who would really think or say something like "I'm going to kill all these people cuz I'm all Eeeevil Mwah ha ha ha!". But there are people who will think or say something like "I'm going to kill all these people because everything else would mean that I'm a wimp." And the Bush Administration relied a lot on the support of such people, as well as employing and enabling them.

#165 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 06:36 PM:

pensnest @ 160: Your opera link is broken, and it sounds like something I very much would like to see.

#166 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 06:51 PM:

Lee @ 162 ...
Serge, #141: It has been my observation, over a period of 10+ years, that most of the men who refer to their wives as She Who Must Be Obeyed (or any variation thereof) are the worst kind of sexist assholes and general jerks. It's become one of those things that I read as a self-applied warning label.

Odd. I know a fair variety of folk that use SWMBO and variants, and couldn't even vaguely be described as folk one wouldn't care to sit at table with. I most often see it used as shorthand for "I'm sorry, but certain types of obligation take precedence, no matter what"[0]. Maybe there's a regional or cultural variation going on here.

[0] "I'm sorry but SWMBO has decreed that we're cleaning out the garage this weekend" doesn't strike me as being a sexist statement, per se -- "I'm sorry but my old man's decreed that we're cleaning out the garage this weekend" neither.

#167 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 07:04 PM:

Randolph @ #142, ours have a nightly ritual of carrying rolled-up clean socks up and down the stairs while making peculiar muffled "meowph" cries. I think they're pretending they have kittens.

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 07:27 PM:

Raphael> @ 164... A few years ago, my employer flirted with outsourcing some of its programming needs. That eventually stopped because they realized that a person who isn't expecting to have to maintain the code may not feel inclined to make sure the code doesn't have to be maintained. At least, that's why I think they stopped. I'm sure that the official reason was a bit more polite.

#169 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 07:40 PM:

Link for the above-mentioned Opera: http://www.samefacts.com/archives/barack_obama_/2008/11/storiesofthegreatoperas_dept.php

This is apparently not the point of origin, but it should give you the gist, at least.

#170 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 08:15 PM:

License plate ceen this afternoon:
OORT CLD

I think the appropriate response has to be
'Far out!'

#171 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 08:53 PM:
"A host is also an exemplar. Good hosts model the behavior they want others to emulate: read carefully and post entertainingly, informatively, and economically, acknowledge other people by name, assume good will, assert trust until convinced otherwise , add knowledge, offer help , be slow to anger, apologize when wrong, politely ask for clarification, exercise patience when your temper flares."

That's basically telling hosts to be nice to douchebags, under the assumption that Internet Tough Guys and similar characters will care about what kind of role models the hosts are; and it's an invitation for trolls to complain very loudly whenever someone calls them out, and for others to create a debating culture where telling trolls off is more disapproved of than trolling itself. Much of the stuff under "Host Behaviour" seems to be like that, too.

I don't know. I read that particular paragraph as a very good description of what our hosts do. They don't suffer truly noxious people, but they're not on as much of a hair trigger as hosts of some other online communities I've seen. Moreover, one of the things I very much like about this community is that the culture is not to play troll piñata, which too often escalates into an insiders' culture where you get social points for being entertainingly mean. Here, our hosts Deal With trolls quietly, by disemvoweling and/or banning them. They're just shut down, not publicly stoned. I think shutting them down works better.

I didn't read any of that as stating that hosts had to be pushovers.

#172 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 09:09 PM:

Xopher, so sorry for your loss.

#173 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 09:10 PM:

Xopher, so sorry for your loss.

#174 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 10:23 PM:

Lida @ #167: nightly ritual of carrying rolled-up clean socks up and down the stairs

What is it with cats and their carefully scheduled activities? Each morning, our late cat would take a ball of socks to the (dry) bathtub in the spare bathroom, and fling it about and pounce on it for several minutes. Apparently the ricochets off the tub, and the hollow booming sounds, were very satisfying. This was not done at any other time of day.

#175 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 10:38 PM:

Serge, #163: I wasn't attempting to imply anything. Your comment triggered a free-association response about a topic related to the one you were discussing.

xeger, #166: This is clearly a case of Mileage Varies; if you've avoided the kind of individuals I've encountered, that's a Good Thing. Oh, and to clarify: I'm not claiming that any statement using the SWMBO construction is sexist in and of itself; what I'm saying is that in my experience there has been a strong correlation between men who use that construction and men who are sexist and unpleasant in other ways. It's as if they think of it as a "get out of jail free" card -- see, I can't be a sexist creep, I refer to my wife as a goddess!

#176 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 10:39 PM:

If any of y'all are fans or friends of Tom Dietz (author of Windmaster's Bane and known in the SCA of yore as Master Dylan ab Aneirin y Brywddwidiwr [I probably misspelled that]), he had a heart attack today. He's responding well to treatment, "lucid and talkative," but, well, heart attack.

Think good thoughts for him, if you would.

#177 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 10:39 PM:

Re: ShrubCo & Evil: One of my reference points for such things is Scott Peck's book about evil, People Of The Lie. "The Lie" can appear in various forms (indeed, I forget Peck's original formulation), but "whatever we do is good" is certainly one facet of it.

The other interesting aspect from that book is that, as a family therapist, Peck typically saw such people in pairs, and one of the pair was always dominant -- Peck described the other as a "thrall". I'm pretty sure he'd consider Dubya a thrall, probably to Cheney.

(Departing from Peck...) The thing to realize is, there's always a choice between Good and Evil. Most people tend toward whichever choice is easier for them, according to both their temperament, habits, and environment. It's the exceptions that raise eyebrows....
--------

My family gathering went quite well -- my gifts were pleasing to their recipients, especially the adult gift (we do a "Secret Santa", drawn several months before). But the clear "winner" was my sister, who, having drawn our mother, went to a local craft-shop and made a glass bowl, with a lovely abstract design -- Mom being an abstract artist herself!

#178 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 10:46 PM:

Lee #162: It has been my observation, over a period of 10+ years, that most of the men who refer to their wives as She Who Must Be Obeyed (or any variation thereof) are the worst kind of sexist assholes and general jerks.

Wow, I'm glad you qualified that as "most of". I've been using that term as an expression of fealty and respect for over thirty years (I'm not married, though).

#179 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2009, 11:00 PM:

David Harmon @177:"I'm pretty sure he'd consider Dubya a thrall, probably to Cheney."

I just realized that this means our (soon to be former) leaders came from a planet with three moons. Now I have visions of Cheney teaching his thrall what it truly means to be a man, for no one can truly comprehend manliness until he has worn the collar.

"It makes too much sense", she said.

#180 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 12:19 AM:

janetl @ #174 ...
What is it with cats and their carefully scheduled activities? Each morning, our late cat would take a ball of socks to the (dry) bathtub in the spare bathroom, and fling it about and pounce on it for several minutes. Apparently the ricochets off the tub, and the hollow booming sounds, were very satisfying. This was not done at any other time of day.

One of my cats 'sings' in bathrooms[0] -- every place he's lived, one of the bathrooms apparently has just the right echos. I'm reminded of Diane Duane's fictional feline wizards, and their opera obsession ;)

[0] ... and nowhere else, thank heavens... but 22-or-so lbs of cat makes an awful lot of noise (he's overweight at this point, but still would be about 20 lbs at an ideal weight)

#181 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 12:31 AM:

Stefan, #161, unless you use waterproof ink, you may not be as happy with the results.

#182 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 12:37 AM:

You know those little wooden mannequins? There's two Flicker groups that take pictures of them doing interesting things. If I was good at taking pictures, I'd take some of my cattequin.

#184 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 01:29 AM:

xeger @ #180: Except for the talking and the magic, Diane Duane gets cats exactly right.

#185 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 01:36 AM:

Like the rest of the planet I know who Bono is, and I even know the guitarist calls himself The Edge. But I can't say I've ever heard very much of the band's music.

I was quite favorably impressed with Pride (In the Name of Love) when I heard them play it this morning/afternoon (I watched on HBO after listening on NPR). So where do I find a starter kit for representative music from a band that's nearly 30 years old? Specific songs, albums, what?

#186 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 01:39 AM:

Xopher @ 183

That would make an excellent safety presentation. I'm just going to hope fervently that he doesn't take anyone else out with him when he goes.

#187 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 02:03 AM:

Xopher @ 183

Not sure I want any part of that left anywhere near the gene pool. And certainly not in my body. What a maroon!

#188 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 02:09 AM:

Linkmeister:
Each of U2's albums has a distinct character; I'd say skip the "best of" and instead start with a couple of their best albums.

Try any combination of The Joshua Tree (the first three songs are all stunning - 'Where the Streets Have No Name', 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For', 'With or Without You'), The Unforgettable Fire ('Pride in the Name of Love'), War ('Sunday Bloody Sunday', 'New Year's Day'), and Achtung Baby ('One', 'So Cruel', 'Until the End of the World'). I think overall Achtung Baby might be their best, or at any rate my favorite, but it's from a slightly later phase.

#189 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 02:23 AM:

#184 ::: janetl @ 184 ...
xeger @ #180: Except for the talking and the magic, Diane Duane gets cats exactly right.

... and I'm not so sure she's wrong about those ;) Mine are certainly fine at communicating ... and clearly good at translating (either that, or there's some extra way out of the house, or a cloak of invisibility...)

#190 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 02:24 AM:

Dave Bell @ 123

Will Bush ever get a movie?

Yep:

Premiering Jan. 20 (as soon as he's down the back stairs and out of the building):

"Brokeback Nation"
    A Major Motion Picture
    with Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Shrub,
    Tom Cruise as Sith Lord Cheney,
    Billy Bob Thornton as SoD Rumsfeld

  and Martin Sheen in a tour du farce performance as All Those Other Politicians, Especially the Ones with Integrity

A co-production of One Wing Only Productions and Cosmic Fail Studios.

#192 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 07:22 AM:

Lila @ 176: Best wishes to Tom Dietz for his recovery. Hilde bought and donated the first two books in the Windmaster's series to our local library after she realized they only had the later volumes.

- - - - -

Wildly off-topic, even for an open thread. (You don't often see sports-themed comments on ML, and certainly not from me.):

I came down sick Saturday, with chills, fever, aches, etcetera.

But I didn't realize how feverish I was until Sunday afternoon, when I tottered out for a bit, looked at the tv, and hallucinated that the Arizona Cardinals had won the playoffs and were going to the Super Bowl.

Huh. Yeh, right. Like that would ever happen. I went back to bed.

#193 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 10:03 AM:

For a non-fan of football here in AZ, the Cardinals victories have been a bit maddening -- turning Phoenix news shows into little but blather about the team. (One station even consulted a psychic, who checked the tarot cards and *did* come up with something like yesterday's score!) But it has been entertaining to see the general media incredulity elsewhere, like today's San Francisco Chron article, which first appeared with a teaser about "pigs don't have wings, but..." and now has a line that begins, "The Earth hasn't quite spun off its axis and signs of the Apocalypse still might appear...."

Nonetheless, I'll be busy watching Australian Open tennis on cable. Superbowl, schmuperbowl.

#194 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 11:40 AM:

Dave Bell #123: Will Bush ever get a movie?

He already has one, W., by Oliver Stone. However, I wouldn't characterize it as a luminous accolade....

#195 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 11:41 AM:

Adding my voice to many -

My condolences, Xopher. You and your family are in my thoughts.

#196 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 12:59 PM:

My own recommendation for "starter" U2 would be The Joshua Tree and the live album Rattle and Hum.

I knew Howard Rheingold as an online presence back when I was active on the Well, and I was briefly involved in his own "virtual community" Electric Minds. By and large his moderation principles are unexceptionable, if a little West-Coast-process-y. I share some of Raphael's reservations. I do think that keeping the number of official Rules down to as few as possible is a good idea.

What Raphael said, in #164, about the "cult of ruthlessness." With bells on.

#197 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 01:13 PM:

Thanks, Clifton and Patrick. Apparently there's wide divergence of opinion about the band's 80s music and that of its work in the 90s, which is why I asked.

Regarding the Cardinals' unlikely ascent to the Super Bowl, Spencer Ackerman:

It's not very likely that the 9-7 Arizona Cardinals would be NFC champions, but the next president of the United States is African-American.

#198 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 01:58 PM:

Lee in #161:

Perhaps you already know that "She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed" is a literary allusion, indicating that Rumpole has read She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard.

Ayesha is a ruthless, beautiful, terrifying, immortal queen of a lost African civilization. Wikipedia says:

The title is short for "She Who Must Be Obeyed", a translation of the Arabic honorific used for Ayesha by the Amahagger, a tribe whom she has enslaved. In childhood, Haggard's nursemaid used to menace him with an ugly doll which went by the name "she who must be obeyed". (The phrase acquired additional significance in British popular culture as the name by which John Mortimer's character Horace Rumpole refers to his wife.)

This doesn't contradict your point, but it may inform further discussion. I have not read either Haggard or Mortimer, but I presume the character Rumpole is using the sobriquet somewhat ironically.

(Also, it teaches us that things we do to scare children may have consequences in centuries to come.)

#199 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Bill Higgins @ #198, Ayesha may have been what Tolkien was thinking about when he had Galadriel pondering taking the Ring.

This is an unsupported and not-well-thought-out theory which just emerged from my chilly brain. We're not used to 60-degree weather out here.

#200 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 02:38 PM:

And here is She Who Must Be Obeyed. No, not Mrs.Rumpole.

#201 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 03:13 PM:

Linkmeister, keep in mind that I basically like U2, full stop. In all their various phases, poses, and pretentions. Even at their weakest they're impressive--as players, as vocalists, as pop composers.

I'm also impressed by how long they've managed to stay good. Their last two albums, All You Can't Leave Behind and How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, aren't The Joshua Tree, but they're very good, full of strong songs. This is, to put it mildly, rarely true of the later work of bands that hang together for three decades.

#202 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 03:21 PM:

Patrick, what had me boggled was the Dead being invited to perform at one of the concerts in DC. (What would Jerry do?)

#203 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 03:24 PM:

Yes, and for a one-hour slot.

As someone observed, that's generally not long enough to even get warmed up on "Sugar Magnolia."

#204 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 03:25 PM:

Patrick @ #201, "bands that hang together for three decades"

Have the Stones even put out a studio album in the last 15 years?

As to U2, I'd rather hear opinions from listeners (and players, in your case) with enthusiasm than from those with none.

I kept pointing out wonderful bass lines and terrific organ work during the show yesterday and nobody else in the room even heard them. We can't figure out how I got all the music genes.

#205 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 03:25 PM:

Raphael @164:

I'm the big softie of the mod squad here, and I find that description pretty apt. I would prefer it if we here were slow to anger and quick to apologize, for instance; best I do it myself then, before I tell others to.

Thing is, I'm also a parent of two children, and I am perfectly clear on the fact that you can exert authority and discipline without being nasty.*

(Besides, in some ways, not doing a troll the honor of reacting to them is even more effective a censure than eviscerating them publicly with a dull and rusty spoon. After all, attention is what they want.)

-----
* Indeed, parenting toddlers is very good moderation training. The words may be fancier in an online flamewar, but quite often the impulses and decision making skills are much the same. And it helps one keep one's temper to be able to translate all the wrath into the image of a three year old calling one a poopoostinkybutt.

#206 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 03:31 PM:

Re: "She Who Must Be Obeyed" My stepfather calls Mom's GPS that (after Haggard's -- I asked). Mom just calls it "the Lady".

#207 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 03:39 PM:

Abi @#205: Late on the drive home last night, my 4-year-old niece tried "I want music! You have to!" My brother-in-law responded with "Claire, does that ever work in our family?"

#208 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 03:41 PM:

#204 ::: Linkmeister

A Bigger Bang (2005)is the latest Stones' studio release, for what its worth. They still deliver the goods though, at least live. I haven't actually possessed or listened to A Bigger Bang myself. Too immersed still in New Orleans music and artists, I guess.

Love, C.

#209 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 03:47 PM:

Caroline, abi, I think I was a bit blinded by what I've read some of the times I've looked into the comments at BoingBoing- the parts where Teresa told trolls off and they complained about how rude and unprofessional that was and how she should set an example by always being nice to everyone and all that- some parts of Rheingold's guide brought that to mind.

#210 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 04:01 PM:

Raphael @209:
BoingBoing is a different place than Making Light. It's faster, rougher, brasher, more energetic. Teresa's demeanor there suits that vibe; you'll note she takes a different tone here, more subtle and intellectual, if no less effective.

Trolls pick on her manner on BB because it's there. If they didn't whine about that, it would be something else.

In general, Teresa and I are very different people; what I think of Rheingold's ideas and what she does* will probably reflect that. The balance and contrast are part of the fun of this team. I'm learning a lot from her.

-----
* We've never discussed them, so I don't know.

#211 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 04:14 PM:

Bob may, aka the Robot in Lost in Space, has passed away.

#212 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 04:27 PM:

Abi @ 210... she takes a different tone here, more subtle and intellectual.

ME: "I have never been so insulted."
ABI: "The evening is still young."

#213 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 04:47 PM:

Lee #24:

David D. Levine recently summarized the functions of Facebook for those (such as me) unfamiliar with Facebook. Don't know whether you'd find it useful, but you might.

I've blogged on Livejournal, I have photo stashes on Flickr and Picasa, and I have a presence on Linkedin. Should I get a Facebook account?

#214 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 04:57 PM:

I got in the Facebook* last week when a high school friend of mine was written up in the local paper for being an Actual Movie Star, or at least for being more like an Actual Movie Star than anyone else in town. I tried to googlestalk other people I knew, and realized that it's just easier to let Facebook stalk them for me.

I really wish the word for 'contact' wasn't 'friend'. Some of these people are not friends! There is at least one who is actually an enemy, monitored to be sure they are suffering appropriately!


*I can't help it. "We have to do it in the Facebook."

#215 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 05:15 PM:

David, #206: Okay, now that's funny. Especially given what I've heard about the more-than-occasional less-than-reliability of said units (as in, they don't always know where the one-way streets are, hence an uptick in low-speed head-on collisions).

#216 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 05:39 PM:

For what it's worth, I own the Rolling Stones' 2005 album A Bigger Bang, and I like it significantly better than any studio album of theirs since Exile on Main Street.

It's still not up to their work from 1966 to 1971, but it's got some notably strong songwriting and some startlingly powerful vocal performances.

#217 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 05:43 PM:

I have been contempating Lee's contention that a man calling his partner "she who must be obeyed" is a bad sign, and have come to the conclusion that most of the men who do so are imitating Rumpole (or imitating someone else who was imitating Rumpole), and are not, therefore, partaking of the full literary allusion. Rumpole is assigning Hilda a whole lot of libidinous charge; those who ape him are calling their wives bossy (and, I think, implicitly not sexy).

#218 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 06:16 PM:

I found a Bush picture for . . . cleanup duty.

It has that perfect clueless-smirk expression.

#219 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 06:34 PM:

Raphael, #164: By "cult of ruthlessness", I mean the idea that the most important thing in life (or one of the most important things in life) is being always as tough, strong, ruthless, and cruel as possible (usually because that's supposedly the only way to survive), and that everyone who disagrees is just to weak or squeamish. Once you think like that, you can dismiss all moral scruples as a sign of weakness, and see harm you cause to others as something good in itself (because it shows how strong you are).

A while back I read a review by George Orwell of a now-forgotten book called The Machiavellians, and was struck by his scarily accurate description of a phenomenon that had become very familiar over the last eight years:

Any theory which is obviously dishonest and immoral ("realistic" is the favourite word at this moment) will find adherents who accept it just for that reason. Whether the theory works, whether it attains the result aimed at will hardly be questioned. The mere fact that it throws ordinary decency overboard will be accepted as proof of its grown-upness and consequently of its efficacy.

On another subject, here's an uncanny prediction from E. C. Segar's Thimble Theatre.

#220 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 06:59 PM:

David Harmon @207: During the reign of George Bush the Elder, a four year old niece picked up a phrase she made much use of. It eventually led to this exchange with her mom:

    "Read my lips! I want a lollipop!"

    "Sara, that isn't very polite. What should you have said?"

        [pause]

    "Read my lips, please?"

#221 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 07:59 PM:

Raphael #164:

Re the culture of ruthlessness: Yes! That's been an obsession of mine for the last few years, as I kept noticing it in popular fiction. There are all these stories in which people become superheroes, not by being bitten by radioactive spiders, but by discarding normal moral restrictions and just cranking up their ruthless lawlessness. (Rorschack is a good example of this pattern being made explicit, and I think it may have planted the seed of this idea in my head years ago.) Think of Dirty Harry. (Contrast with the main character in Munich.)

The Bush Administration, and Karl Rove, and the whole Fox News/Rush Limbaugh/Anne Coulter/American Pravda crowd, they all seem to follow this idea--the notion that they're the good guys, and so it's okay for them to ignore any notion of decency or ethical behavior or law.

They beat McCain with that set of beliefs and tactics, they beat Gore with that set of beliefs and tactics[1], and they governed with that set of beliefs and tactics.

Politically, we got McCain's "black love child," and later we got all the accusations of treason against anyone who opposed the administration post-9/11--even decorated war heroes were smeared as traitors by folks who "had other priorities" or who were defending our nation from the threat of airborne invasion from Mexico instead of serving in combat. We got an amazingly round-heeled media[2] that was exploited to the hilt to smear administration enemies and to marginalize anyone who spoke against Bush and company.

Later, we got all kinds of internal nastiness within the executive branch, run on the same theory--Valerie Plame, Gen. Shinseki, the US attorney firings, the internal politics between Cheney/Rumsfeld vs Powell/Rice (apparently including eavesdropping on internal government email, presumably classified systems[3]). All the same idea--winning is everything, if the law slows you down, or any notion of decency slows you down, or even the truth slows you down, discard it[4].

Finally, we got the way they governed. Torture, secret prisons, eavesdropping on Americans, claiming essentially unlimited executive power, overtly and intentionally offending foreign powers for no good reason, muzzling government scientists who talked about their research when it offended powerful industry groups.

It was all running on this maximum ruthlessness pattern. And that pattern is fundamentally a very short-term, range-of-the-moment thing. If you p-ss on your inferiors, you get your filing lost and the soup spilled on your lap. If you p-ss on your equals, you lose all your friends and have no one to call on in a crisis. Burning your reputation today leaves you in a very bad spot the next time you want to be believed or trusted.

I hope to God we're shut of that pattern of behavior and belief for awhile. I have my doubts (maximum ruthlessness and to hell with the consequences isn't only a Republican game), but I hope so....

[1] Though just barely, and it could have gone either way.

[2] I am convinced that when the true story comes out about this, it will turn out that the administration and their allies were using spying, blackmail, and bribery, among other things, to roll the big media outlets so thoroughly. And I suspect that much will be said about it, but nobody will actually go to jail. Because jail is for, you know, little people.

[3] This still blows my mind. If it's true, the folks responsible need to spend a long, long time in prison. Most of them probably also need to spend an even longer time in prison for the policies of torture and domestic illegal wiretapping, though, and there seems little chance they will. But I still can hope.

[4] Note that this was monumentally counterproductive. They didn't even accomplish their own objectives for long. The limitless nastiness in internal politics guaranteed a dysfunctional administration, in which stupid blunders were almost guaranteed. Firing people for speaking unpleasant truths ensured that they were making all kinds of decisions blind. P-ssing on "old Europe" meant we were in a worse position when trying to arrange a response to Iran's nuclear program or Russia's continued thuggishness. Not just evil, but stupid, too.

#222 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 08:16 PM:

Lee @#215: what I've heard about the more-than-occasional less-than-reliability of said units

Indeed -- this one seems pretty good about one-way streets, but when we were first exploring Charlottesville, it tried to send us through a spot where a street had been cut into two segments (by later building, IIRC).

It also gets really confused when you're driving on something that isn't road-like, such as the huge parking lots (for malls) that are common around here. And when several roads run close together (such as around the New York City bridges) it can start tracking the wrong one until you get out of the tangle.

Rob Rusick @#220: Cute....

#223 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 08:25 PM:

Baking done, icing for election cake made, and it's all ready to take in to work tomorrow.

(The pound cake was surprisingly easy to make. Rose well, too, without any baking powder in it.)

#224 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 08:30 PM:

Raphael@ 209, yeah, I started thinking about BoingBoing when I was writing that comment. Mostly I agree with abi on the subject.

It's also hard to say whether that's the right way to handle things, say, on a feminist blog -- where you get an endless stream of vile, vicious trolls, not interested in polite disagreement but in personal insults and threats. I can understand the urge to play troll pinata there, as a method of frustration release and community show-of-strength, although I privately don't think it's the most effective route.

#225 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 09:43 PM:

#217 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden

[ "For what it's worth, I own the Rolling Stones' 2005 album A Bigger Bang, and I like it significantly better than any studio album of theirs since Exile on Main Street.

It's still not up to their work from 1966 to 1971, but it's got some notably strong songwriting and some startlingly powerful vocal performances." ]

Thanks for that information. I'm very much out of the loop in the last decade's worth of what is still called R&R. That may change with the new Mess in Progress though.

Love, C.

#226 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 11:00 PM:

Frederik Pohl has a blog!

I learned this from Steven Silver. Richard H.E. Smith, once and future fanzine fan, got it up and running for Fred.

You probably know who Fred Pohl is already.

#227 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2009, 11:42 PM:

#227: Holy Crap! He's going to be NINETY this year and he's BLOGGING?

(Clickity)

Yes, and totally lucidly.

#228 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2009, 12:02 AM:

To be fair, he doesn't turn ninety till the end of November.

You can see why Sir Arthur Clarke turned to a writer of Fred's youth and vigor to collaborate on his latest novel.

#229 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2009, 12:04 AM:

TCM just ran a montage in the memory of Ricardo Montalban, and yes, they did briefly show him as Khan Noonian Singh.

#230 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2009, 01:35 AM:

albatross @ room 222

I think the "cult of ruthlessness" grew out of the "we are the ones who make the hard choices" trope that Nixon's people were so fond of. Ollie North in particular used to talk about "hard choices" as being those which involved doing things that were unethical, immoral, illegal, or dangerous (especially if they were dangerous to someone other than him). I got the distinct impression that he meant that those choices were made that way because they were unacceptable to ordinary mortals; it showed how coldly macho he and his buddies were, how ready they were to give someone else's all for the cause. A variant of the Objectivist "capable man", or the Nietzchian "übermensch", who proves that he (sic) is worthy by doing things that others aren't allowed to do.

Not that any of those guys could be considered extraordinary by any other measure ...

#231 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2009, 01:43 AM:

Bruce #231:

Yeah. The thing is, there is a genuine need to look at reality without blinders on, and to be willing to make honest-to-God hard decisions. And there are plenty of people who do just that, to the best of their ability. (Think of an oncologist recommending alternative courses of treatment to her patient.) But I think the quality of those painful, hard decisions is almost never improved by abandoning any kind of ethics or moral code or laws. When your glands are pumping and your heart is pounding and your stomach is churning, you *need* those underlying principles that tell you how to respond, that say that there are lines you're not going to cross.

#232 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2009, 03:29 AM:

Techie quibble about GPS accuracy (#216, #223):  a GPS unit always, reliably knows where it is, uaually with an accuracy of better than 100 meters.*  The trouble comes when it tries to intepret its position (in latitude and longitude, natch) into something that we can understand, such as "you're on 45th Street going the wrong way".  That depends on the data it's given by human beings.  So don't curse the GPS, curse the $@#?!s who did the data collection (unless, of course, you're the cheapskate who didn't buy the data update which would have told it about the new one-way street).

* depending on how much the US Air Force is fudging the signal in a vain attempt to prevent 'them' from knowing where 'they' are.

#233 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2009, 03:31 AM:

uaually/usually

#234 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2009, 09:57 AM:

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a Mars photo panorama with all sorts of spots named for SF (and even fantasy) writers and works associated with the planet, as well as astronauts etc. Not sure what some of these things are -- rocks? hills? -- but the namers do know their genre fiction.

#235 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 07:00 AM:

That's neat, although I note with displeasure that they misspelled Fredric Brown's name.

#236 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 12:30 PM:

Dead Set

Dancin' In The Streets
Uncle John's Band
Sugar Magnolia
Eyes of the World

<<VP Joe Biden Speech>>

The Wheel
Touch of Grey
Box of Rain

<<President Obama Speech>>
*

Not only did Obama invite The Dead to play the inauguration, he went on stage right after their set. Barack Obama, Deadhead? Who knew?

#237 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 01:07 PM:

What? No Truckin'?!?

#238 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 02:29 PM:

My google-fu is failing me.

I've been asked to find (for some reason I can't quite fathom, but I'm sure it'll all become apparent at some point) a song, to be sung to the tune of "The Teddy Bear's Picnic", which is offensive. I'm sure somebody must have written one at some point, but damned if I can find it.

The best I have yet is this one, which is probably only offensive if you're a militant islamic fundamentalist. And I doubt that's our target audience...

So, I'm open to suggestions. :)

#239 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 04:07 PM:

Jules: Well, the filkers have not been idle (are we ever?). Googling "filk teddy bear" or "filk picnic" produces lyrics to that tune by Steve Savitzky, Tom Smith, and half a dozen others less well known. I'm not sure how offensive they are, though, except perhaps to rhyme and meter. If you want to write "today's the day the teddy bears have their orgy", be sure to post the results.

#240 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 04:17 PM:

"Teddy Bears' Rave-Up" is attributed to Fred Wedlock

#241 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 04:48 PM:

Sentences that wouldn't have made any sense ten years ago:

Scalzi slashdotted Frederik Pohl's blog.

#242 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 05:03 PM:

#242:

I checked Pohl's blog about ten minutes ago and ran into the out-of-bandwidth message.

And you know, I felt damn glad about that. Because Pohl, he's a goddamn national treasure. To not only have him alive and lucid enough to be blogging at eighty nine, and know that he's well loved enough that his blogged is swamped . . .

. . . well, that's just great. Now It's a Wonderful World is contending with Appalachian Spring in my head.

What a difference a day makes.

#243 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 05:23 PM:

y & Dave Bell: thanks. I think the "rave up" about meets my needs. :)

#244 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 05:28 PM:

John Stanning @#233: Well, NYC's bridge mazes have roads running within 100m of each other -- and in some cases, directly over each other!

#245 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 06:10 PM:

Greetings from Canada.

Am several days behind (trip to Joshua Tree, packing for trip).

Am safely in Canada. Story of immigration to follow, but I was allowed in.

Calgary Airport now has free wi-fi, so I was able to send this.

#246 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 06:12 PM:

Now to play some catch-up:

KeithS: That was a wonderful self-introduction. It shows you have been lurking for awhile.

Xopher: I don't know how to express my support without saying so. I do know how you feel (having expressed such sentiments myself at times). So you may skip over this, as if it were never written.

To papraphrase Forest Gump: Evil is as evil does. Had he the purest of motives, what he did to attain them was evil; even if I agreed with the ends.

Raphael: Re moderating. I think the immportant aspects is, assume goodwill. Nothing in that requires that those who don't have good will are allowed to exercise their ill-will.


#247 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 07:57 PM:

A minor open thready addendum to the sidelight on Iceland.

The riot police has just used tear gas.

They're wearing gas masks, which will clearly help them feeling and being seen as 'human' which is a key part of de-escalating the situation.

First time tear gas is used in Iceland since 1949 *sigh*

They've been quite liberal with pepper spray so far though. Great 'action shot' from earlier today (or well yesterday technically, depending on timezone)

I'm in the UK myself, been following along remotely. The whole thing is pretty surreal. Icelanders are traditionally not quick to get together and protest, what then to have those protests go violent. It's taken months to get to this stage.

#248 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 07:58 PM:

Obama takes presidential oath -- again

"Jan 21st, 2009 | WASHINGTON -- Chief Justice John Roberts has administered the presidential oath of office to Barack Obama for a second time just to be on the safe side.

The unusual step came after Roberts flubbed the oath a bit on Tuesday, causing Obama to repeat the wording differently than as prescribed in the Constitution.

White House counsel Greg Craig said Obama took the oath from Roberts again out of an 'abundance of caution.'

The chief justice and the president handled the matter privately in the Map Room on Wednesday night."

* * *

Of course, he's still a radical muslin terrist borned in the country of Africa. Or was that Indianesian?

#249 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 10:02 PM:

Terry Karney @246: Am safely in Canada. Story of immigration to follow, but I was allowed in.

So now, you will be able to tell us all the stuff you couldn't tell us before (having achieved asylum)?

#250 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2009, 10:55 PM:

I'd just like to also blame thank you all for inspiring me to finally catalog my books (and get even more books) while I was lurking here.

#251 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 12:18 AM:

I've been asked to find (for some reason I can't quite fathom, but I'm sure it'll all become apparent at some point) a song, to be sung to the tune of "The Teddy Bear's Picnic", which is offensive. I'm sure somebody must have written one at some point, but damned if I can find it.

I'm astonished - Google can't find a single hit for "Mountaineer's Hymnal". (That was one of the better-known collections of dirty songs that used to circulate in old mimeo copies for decades.) Searching on "rugby songs" is finding some similar collections. I can't recall off-hand anything to the tune of 'Teddy Bear's Picnic', but surely there must have been one.

#252 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 01:01 AM:

Think of the opportunity to win bar-room bets on the question:

Who was the first presiddent of the USA not to be born in the USA?

I suppose some people will get stroppy about mitochondrial dna and "African Eve", since it isn't in Scripture.

#253 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 01:05 AM:

They do things differently in Japan: DOKAKA (he also covers Nirvana).

#254 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 05:08 AM:

253: George Washington, surely? Or am I missing something?

#255 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 06:13 AM:

ajay might be right. After all, there were no USA when George was born.

#257 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 09:34 AM:

Of course, he's still a radical muslin terrist borned in the country of Africa. Or was that Indianesian?

...and he didn't have his hand on a bible for the do-over oath...

#258 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 01:24 PM:

US Democracy Server: Patch Day

Swallow anything you're eating or drinking, and get the cat off your lap before you click. Seriously.

#259 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 01:33 PM:

Lee, LOL!

#260 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 02:54 PM:

Lee (258): I'm particularly fond of The Vice President has been correctly reclassified as a pet.

#261 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 04:02 PM:

Producer Charles H. Schneer as died at the age of 88. He was the producer of all those marvelous Ray Harryhausen movies.

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117998888.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2590

I saw "Jason and the Argonauts" when I was ten, and I'll never forget those terrifying skeleton warriors!

#262 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Rumor up on Wired that Steve Jobs has suffered a cardiac arrest at home -- Apple sources are being very quiet. Anybody here have information? No statement of death around this, and (as we well know!) cardiac arrest is not always fatal.

#263 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 04:30 PM:

Wired may have been hacked with this.

#264 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 04:32 PM:

Wired may have been hacked with this. This appears to be the case, with a picture posted that looks like text. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Internet.

#265 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 05:29 PM:

Clifton Royston, 252,
Actually, there is precisely one hit, now.
Congratulations! You are now internet famous!

#266 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 05:39 PM:

Looks like the server patch page is overhelmed with traffic.

#267 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 08:05 PM:

Of course, he's still a radical muslin terrist borned in the country of Africa....

Word is he's actually a satin worshipper.

#268 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 08:40 PM:

Word is he's actually a satin worshipper.

Can someone shed a ray on that?

#269 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 08:55 PM:

#266: Another copy is here.

#270 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 09:01 PM:

Raphael@266: Google "democracy patch" and ask for the cached version. I feel you will be lucky.

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 09:50 PM:

Linkmeister @ 268... A manteau ray?

#272 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 10:34 PM:

This was my personal favorite in the Democracy Patch post:

Homeland Security Advisory System: We have identified a bug in this system that prevents the threat level from dropping below Elevated (Yellow). The code for Guarded (Blue) and Low (Green) has been commented out. We are testing the fix and hope to have it in by the next patch.

I'm sure I'm not the only person to have noticed that the "threat level" NEVER got below "Elevated". In time, I'm sure this would have produced a "Crying Wolf" error.

#273 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2009, 11:27 PM:

Breaking news: My new junior senator (and P&T's) looks to be Kirsten Gillibrand. All things considered, she's not a bad choice.

#274 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 08:59 AM:

Chris Quinones @ 273 -
Breaking news: My new junior senator (and P&T's) looks to be Kirsten Gillibrand. All things considered, she's not a bad choice.

Of course, Carolyn McCarthy is less than pleased.

Me - I'm not at all displeased (well, maybe a little). She's an upstater (well, relatively speaking - it's not like she's from Syracuse, or Buffalo or something), and she's a counterpoint to Senator Schumer on some topics, but is still a Democrat.

#275 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 10:45 AM:

Lee @ 272:

You're not the only one who noticed the actual range of threat level versus its supposed range. Of course, it could never possibly have led to people becoming complacent about it, because we really were under that level of threat all the time. The administration said so, so it must be true. Otherwise, what was the point of taking off my shoes at the airport?

Alternatively, it could be about as useful as the ratings that most video game magazines give.

#276 ::: Columbina ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 11:33 AM:

Daniel Radosh shows us an interesting typo at the Huffington Post. I post it here on the off chance that any of the Making Light folks might like to rise to the occasion ....

#277 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 12:33 PM:

Columbina, #276: Hee! This was my entry:

Bay-o! Ba-a-ay-o!
I'm a-gonna close Guantanamo Bay.
Bay-o! Ba-a-ay-o!
I'm a-gonna close Guantanamo Bay.

I'm your new President, and this is my intention --
(I'm a-gonna close Guantanamo Bay.)
Gonna bring us back to the Geneva Convention!
(I'm a-gonna close Guantanamo Bay.)

Somebody else had a pretty good one TTTO "Guantanamera", although he says his Spanish is no bueno por caca and mine isn't good enough to tell what he's missed.

#278 ::: Columbina ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 12:46 PM:

Lee, I applaud.

#279 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 12:49 PM:

For those who want their politics dramatic, it's hard to beat Iceland atm. Further on from the Sidelight and Sica #248, today the PM and head of one of the two parties in the coalition government announced he had a minor cancer of the oesophagus, was stepping down as party chairman (but not as PM) and called an election for May 9th. What with the chair of the other reigning party, the Foreign Minister, just today returning from Sweden from an op on a benign brain tumour, Icelandic politics doesn't look like the healthiest profession around.
For US relevance, some suggest that Obama fever has been partially to blame/thank for the fervour of the protests, as the change in the US galvanises folks.

#280 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 02:02 PM:

#279 Björn - I know! it's almost ridiculous. Basically if the things going on in Icelandic politics right now were in a book, I'd be rolling my eyes at the unrealistic plotting.

I mean, first there's the President needing heart surgery late last year, then the Foreign Minister with a brain cancer and now the Prime Minister with an oesophagus cancer. All in a few months while the country's economy is falling to pieces around them with corruption and shady dealings bubbling up all the time.

It's just, yeah.. definitely truth stranger than fiction territory.

#281 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 05:34 PM:

Columbina, Lee:

Added one myself:

As I shut down Guantanamo Bay
Reinforcing the American way
Then all shall have their human rights
Justice without delay.

Obama, let's shut down
Let's shut down, close it down,
Obama, let's shut down
Down Guantanamo Bay.

#282 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 06:00 PM:

Abi @ 281... Reinforcing the American way

"Why are you here?"
"I'm here to fight for truth, and justice, and the American way."
"You're gonna end up fighting every elected official in this country!"

Well, he did say he was from Krypton.

#283 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 09:54 PM:

Ok...

I cleared customs. Was sent to Immigration. A clean -cut young man greeted me, a tad curtly. In the secure area of the airport (alarms sound for anyone trying to get in from the back, and it's inside the secure area of YYC, and the only people whom they see are coming from the airplane, with nothing but carry-on baggage; why customs doesn't mate one with one's bags I don't know).

I suspect my length of stay was the trigger (30 days), but I was grilled as to how I knew the friends I was going to visit. He was slightly confused when his answer to how many friends I had in Canada was more than one, in more than one province (in addition to various casual acquaintances, fans and the like, I've met about 10 in the course of various military exercises).

He then asked if I'd ever been arrested. I said no, and he asked me to think again. At which point I knew the Lexis/Nexus database is not correct, because the arrest I suffered in 1986 was voided; not only was I not at the place of the offense (seven witnesses who could vouch for my actual wearabouts, and five who could testify I wasn't at the location), but the cops bungled the arrest six ways from Sunday, and bent a different statute to preclude the possibility of a massive lawsuit).

Then some more questions about why I was visiting, had the army sent me overseas, did I have a return ticket, was I planning to claim refugee status; because, "a lot of you have, and they're all beging deported because they aren't refugees," and then a little more banter about what I do in the States, how much money I have available to me (and was it in the bank, or my pockets, did I plan to work while I was here, etc.) I was allowed to enter the country.

#284 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 11:00 PM:

abi @ 281: Just caught the tune for that. Nice, very nice.

#285 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 11:42 PM:

Terry Karney @ 283 ...

That reminds me of the customs officer who was deeply suspicious about why I'd be willing to drive ~8h each way for a weekend visit, until the phrase "Um... friend" got used. At that point, she got a very amused look on her face, and waved me on, with an exhortation to enjoy myself...

#286 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 11:59 PM:

Terry... When I fly to Montreal for the worldcon in August, I'd better minimize how many people I know up there and in how many provinces. "Xeger? Who is that person? I disavow any knowledge." Oh, and there is my mom, my 2 sisters, their kids, a few friends in Quebec, one of whom will be GoH at the worldcon. Oh my. I'm doomed.

#287 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 12:07 AM:

A question for the assembly...

Does anyone here recognize the following quotation? The complete passage was several sentences long. I remember the essence but not the speaker, the actual words, or anything rare enough to create a useful search. Also, the original language may not be English. Here goes.

A famous French(?) woman (Coco Chanel? Simone de Beauvoir? ??), when very old, said, "Oh, to be 57 again! ... One still had hope."

At age 57, I'd like to flaunt that quotation in defiance of fate.

Memory jogged, anyone?

#288 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 10:40 AM:

My partner, henceforth named the Nice Jewish Boy, offers up the following anecdote about customs:

So in 2004 [mutual American friends] M. and B. drove me up from Connecticut to Toronto in my parents' van during winter break, so we could bring all my stuff, and then they drove back. At customs, when they take your passports and ask you where you were born, M. says "United States," and B. says "United States." But M.'s passport says Canada -- she was born there, they just went back to the States a couple days later.

That's when the customs people get suspicious, and they flip through M.'s passport and see lots of stamps for Syria [where M. has family]. They ask for driver's licence and registration. M. and B. hand over their licences, then open the glove compartment for the registration...and there's nothing in there but a yarmulke.

To make a long story short they spent the next six hours in a customs cell.

#289 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 11:02 AM:

listening to Life on Mars being played on ukulele.

#290 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 02:53 PM:

Brenda Kait: Don't know the quote, but some amusing things come up with a google on "be 57 again" and hope; also "were 57 again", with hope. The quote marks are important....

#291 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 03:05 PM:

My comment about my dad's memorial service was that it was like having a compound fracture set. It hurt, but it was essential to the healing process.

I'm so glad we were reconciled in recent years! I only wish I'd had the sense to do it sooner. If you have a relative you think you might want to reconcile with some day, I can only recommend that you start working on it now. It can get to be too late with devastating suddenness.

#292 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 04:40 PM:

Fade Manley: If you're around I just remembered the review I did of The Matrix:Revolutions in my LJ. Forgot it when I gave you the others in the old discussion about The Spirit...

#293 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 04:43 PM:

Xopher @ 291... I'm glad you had reconciled with your dad before it was too late. I never had a fallingout with my dad, but he apparently thought that one reason why I left my hometown at 30 was because of some arguments we had when I was a teenager. I had to chance to set him straight before he passed away, and to tell him that he had been a good dad.

#294 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 04:52 PM:

I have a few used books, both paperback and hardback, that have ex libris stickers on the inside of the covers. Is there any good way of getting them off without ruining the covers, or am I, er, stuck?

#295 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 05:36 PM:

KeithS @ 294 -- That depends on the kind of adhesive on the stickers. If it's some kind of forever-sticky substance or a glue that sets, you're probably out of luck. If it's a water-soluble adhesive like that used on classic envelopes and postage stamps, you may be able to soften it. What I'd do is to cut a piece of facial tissue to just a tiny bit smaller than the "ex libris" sticker; prop the book cover open, place the tissue on the sticker, and carefully dampen the tissue with water, a drop at a time, making sure that the damp tissue makes good contact with the sticker but doesn't touch the book itself. Keep the tissue moderately damp but not soaking. Keep checking the sticker to see if you can peel it away, gently. The idea is to try to soften the glue through the sticker without significantly dampening the book.

#296 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 05:40 PM:

(This will leave some gum residue on the book, of course, which you can let dry out so it's no longer sticky. You may even be able to remove some of it by wiping gently with a clean damp cloth. But if the book ever gets damp again, you risk the cover sticking to the next page.)

#297 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 06:32 PM:

KeithS: if the stickers won't come off, why not stick your own stickers on top of them?

#298 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 08:15 PM:

abi @ 281 and others: I couldn't very well resist, could I?

There's not a word yet
For suspects we can't vet
Out of this dark space
The courts are the right place
We'll give them fair trials or
Send them on their way
They're going to go back home someday.

(Yes, I remember The Muppet Movie very well, and Gonzo's song still chokes me up.)

#299 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 08:22 PM:

Mark @ 298... Speaking of Gonzo...

#300 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 08:41 PM:

KeithS -- It's also possible that the xlib stickers will provide vast amusement later if the person they belonged to becomes famous.

More seriously: try any method of removal on a book you don't particularly care about first. I spent a great deal of time figuring out how to remove various problem artifacts on cheap books, just so I'd have some sense of how to proceed on scarcer items. It's very difficult to do that kind of cleanup in a fully archival manner. I'm still noodling about how to approach a couple of booklets that got put into envelopes with the flap tucked in -- an adhesive flap. The books are out, but need a bit of cleaning even yet.

#301 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 11:02 PM:

Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I think these are the ordinary, self-adhesive labels you can buy at the office supply store, so I have a challenge cut out for me. A couple of the books are a bit more open to experimentation.

#302 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 11:23 PM:

In #300, Tom Whitmore writes:

KeithS -- It's also possible that the xlib stickers will provide vast amusement later if the person they belonged to becomes famous.

The previous owner need not be famous in order to provide amusement. See a certain gift I recently received.


#303 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 11:32 PM:

You might also try a hairdryer to warm and soften the adhesive.

#304 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2009, 11:48 PM:

Xeger: I wouldn't use a blow-dryer.

The adhesive won't be that sort, and the drying won't be good for the other glues (assuming it's not a stitched binding) and will be terrible if it's leather.

#305 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 02:04 AM:

Hi again, open thread!

Has anyone posted this link yet? (Almost every time I ask that, the answer is "Yes" but do I learn? Nooooo.)

It's a game (associated with Code Name: Kids Next Door) called "Flight of the Hamsters."

It made me think of Teresa and Porco Bruno and the rest.


(Am very much loving the song lyrics. My brain is too fuzzy at the moment to add to them, sadly. The Spanish one in the linked thread that ends with "I wanna tell George to suck it" made me laugh and laugh and laugh.)

#306 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 02:46 AM:

Another method for removing labels or stickers is to throw the book in a cold freezer. With some adhesives, the cold will make the adhesive brittle enough to be able to break the sticker loose.

(Doesn't work with every type of glue, but chilling down a book shouldn't hurt it, even if the sticker still stays stuck. EXCEPT: You might have to be careful not to bend the spine, if it's a glued, rather than sewn, book, in case the spine adhesive turns out to be brittle when frozen.)

#307 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 10:36 AM:

It seems that the cough/cold/flu variation that I've caught this year is profoundly exhausting -- I'm sleeping more than my cats, and it feels like somebody exchanged my muscles for water.

That said, I have a distressing craving for custard, and not nearly the mental or physical capacity to make it the usual way. Does anybody on the thread have ideas about an EZ(tm) custard version?

#308 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 11:54 AM:

xeger@307, oh, you've got it too, then? It's time for "not the official flu" season again. Crushing fatigue and muscle pain and the sort of immovable mucus which makes one's lungs sound like mistreated bagpipes.

The only good thing about it was I got to spent Friday in bed watchind s1 of "Slings and Arrows." This is balanced by the fact that well or not (see "mistreated bagpipes" above) I've got to go grocery shopping today, assuming one of the drivers is well enough to leave the house.

#309 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 11:56 AM:

xeger: yes. Have a sympathetic friend make the custard and bring it to you.

#310 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 01:17 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 306:

I might try sticking one in the freezer first, since it seems to be the least effort on my part. I will, however, seal the book in a plastic bag first so that it doesn't get moisture in it.

Bill Higgins @ 302:

That's one of the best inscriptions I've ever seen.

#311 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 01:23 PM:

xeger @ 307:

This is made by Jell-O, and therefore should probably not be considered real, but the Jell-O Cook & Serve Custard can be fixed pretty quickly and easily in the microwave. From the product reviews it looks as if you can't buy it in stores, though.

I'm sure that someone with proper custard cooking credentials will come along later to slap me for even suggesting this, then tell you something much better.

#312 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 01:31 PM:

xeger, I'm not sure what meets your standards for Acceptable Custard Substitute. I'd personally go for something like Jell-O Instant Pudding in vanilla, or send someone out to the store for pre-made pudding or flan, or beg them to make genuine custard for me.

Then again, when I had the flu, I was not craving custard or any other dairy products. All I really wanted was salty broth.

#313 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 05:35 PM:

Another person here who's still trying to recover from the "unofficial flu" bug going around. (Official flu bugs were, one assumes, covered by the flu shot I had several months ago.)

I think I'd rather have had the traditional couple of days vomiting and diarrhea than this ongoing (Day Nine, and counting) weakness, lassitude, lack of stamina, and inability to get anything done. Behind on household chores, behind on shopping, behind on everything. (And my employers are Not Happy, either.)

#314 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 06:22 PM:

Bruce Arthurs, in my case, I missed a trip to Seattle to put the younger spawn on the train, and thence also missed a clearance sale I was particularly looking forward to. And then there's the week of slowly and studiously whittling away at the giant pile of brush (currently sitting in the way of several gardening projects) that didn't happen, meaning that when I am well enough to take it on it will have to be done with less studied calm and more swearing.

I'm sure there's a clearer construction for that last sentence somewhere on the planet, but it's not currently in my brain.

#315 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 06:41 PM:

I'm particularly unimpressed with this need to have a nap[0] everytime I go up the stairs.

[0] ... although I prefer to think of naps as things measured in quantities below 60 minutes, rather than in multiples of 60 minutes.

#316 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 07:33 PM:

Xeger @307: I'm not sure if you mean mean the British-style topping, rather than American-style (?) "pudding" or frozen desserts.

I've seen powdered (instant) custard (the topping) in a can -- I seemed to recall the brand was Bell's, but that sent Google bouncing around everything from glasswork to filks to garlic and corn "custards", to Mexican-war stories.

#317 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 07:37 PM:

David Harmon, the major difference between the English sauce version and one of an American puddinglike texture would, in the platonic sense, be achieved by proportion of egg yolk and length of cooking time. However, similar firm-textured products can be achieved with the addition of cornstarch or other starches. I would have to look at the "instant" products' labels to see how they produce their results in the absence of cooking.

#318 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 07:46 PM:

Rikibeth, #312: Vanilla pudding, instant or not, is definitely not a substitute for custard; the texture is entirely different, and the flavor only approximate.

xeger, do you have a nearby Mexican restaurant or bakery that could deliver flan, or a friend willing to get some for you?

#319 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 07:54 PM:

David Harmon: I think you mean Bird's Custard powder- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird's_Custard
Its advantage, according to my wife, is that it only takes one pot.

#320 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 08:00 PM:

Lee, I have gotten into sloppy habits of late, as my housemate conceptualizes pastry cream as "vanilla pudding." I haven't eaten instant pudding (or anything but straight-up creme anglaise or its variants) in a long time.

#321 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 10:14 PM:

David Harmon @ 316 ...
I think of custard as being the fairly firm eggy dish that one might find as a base to the desert creme brule, or in chawanmushi

#322 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 10:23 PM:

xeger @ 321... the desert creme brule

"Chani?"
"Yes, Paul dear?"
"Not enough Spice Melange in the custard."

#323 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 10:34 PM:

xeger, I have often made chawanmushi custard by cooking beaten eggs and broth (and assorted add-ins) in a mug in the microwave, which is much easier than cooking creme anglaise.

#324 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 10:43 PM:

Serge @ 322: Watch out for the Worms -- once you get them in your cupboard, you'll never be rid of them.

#325 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2009, 10:44 PM:

All this talk of custards and puddings and I'm still at the chicken rice soup level of unwellness.

I think you can get frozen creme brule and then put it under the broiler, and I know there's at least one high-end boxed mix,
but that all sounds way beyond my current culinary capabilities.

Mucinex, however, seems to be the solution for the mistreated bagpipes symptom. Well, that, or the fact that the inversion layer has finally cleared.

#326 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 01:06 AM:

Not to sideline the discussion of custards, but I thought the SFnal parents among this fine group might enjoy hearing that at The Boy's 7th birthday party today, we had party entertainment in the form of Mad Science. Yes, really. It's apparently a franchise.

In our case, the buxom and lab-coat clad "Laser Lily" came in, set up a table full of chemical supplies, and kept 14 jaded 6- and 7 year old kids highly entertained for a good hour with a lively spiel and demonstration of chemiluminescent reactions, hydrophobic compounds, combustion (burning a dollar without damaging it, flash cotton), endothermic and exothermic reactions, and other fun. At the end, the kids got to mix up their own containers of plastic slime. A good time was had by all, and one kid who had loudly said at the beginning "Science is boring" was heard to whisper to her afterwards, "When I said science was boring, of course I was only kidding!"

Before and after there were lively games including a game of "Bulldozers and Boulders", a kind of relay race, and plenty of good old-fashioned running around and shrieking; many kids should sleep well tonight.

#327 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 01:08 AM:

Oh, and I forgot the Tesla coil. (How could I forget the Tesla coil?)

There was a Tesla coil. The kids got to stand in line and take turns to hold a fluoresent tube while it was lit up by sparks from the coil.

#328 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 01:45 AM:

Clifton, no oobleck?

#329 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 08:37 AM:

Clifton Royston @ 327... It seems to me that a mad scientist named Laser Lily should have Tesla Goil as a teenage sidekick.

#330 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 10:32 AM:

Clifton Royston @ 326: I hope that the kids continue to think that science is fun and don't have that beaten out of them in school.

#331 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 10:41 AM:

#298, Mark -

That song gets me every time, too.

#332 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 10:50 AM:

Ginger@324

You could try drowning the Worms in water. But then you might have a Spice shortage.

#333 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 10:53 AM:

Oh, my. I was bored while searching Netflix, and thought I'd add a couple of MST3K episodes to the queue. One of them was MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE.

Dear God. My eyes!

The one thing MANOS did was make PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE look like a cinematic masterpiece.

#334 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 10:54 AM:

xeger @ 321... custard as being the fairly firm

Custard's Last Stand?

#335 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 11:30 AM:

Serge @ 334: Also known as "Creme of Lower Brûlée Sioux".

#336 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 11:56 AM:

Ginger @ 335... I like how Custard was made fun of in Dustin Hoffman's "Ladle Big Pan".

#337 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 12:22 PM:

The one thing MANOS did was make PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE look like a cinematic masterpiece.

When Dr Forrester is apologizing for how bad the movie is, you know it's BAD. Alan Smithee would be ashamed to have his name on that film.

Even MST3K couldn't save it.

My favorite bit of trivia? The credits were supposed to go over the long "driving" bit at the beginning, but they forgot to add them.

#338 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 12:31 PM:

Steve C @ 333... I'd have wwarned you if you'd asked me. But did you bother? Noooooo.

Torgo: There is nothing to fear, madam. The Master likes you. Nothing will happen to you. He likes you.
Margaret: Likes me? I thought you said he was dead.
Torgo: Dead? No, madam. Not dead the way you know it. He is with us always. Not dead the way you know it. He is with us always.

As for BAD mst3k movies... The Devil's Rain, starring Ernest Borgnine as You-Know-Who, is near the top. Or the very bottom, depending on where you're standing.

#339 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 12:40 PM:

Haven't seen it here yet, so ... Congratulations to Neil Gaiman on the occasion of his winning the Newbery Medal!

#340 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 12:41 PM:

Serge @ 338 -- Bad movies like that remind of an SNL sketch where John Lithgow (I think) sniffs at the carton of out-of-date milk, grimaces at the horrible smell, then hands it another cast member, who also sniffs it, grimaces, hands it another one....

Or that scene in Star Trek: Generations where Data tests his emotion chip by drinking a vile concoction in Ten Forward: "That's it! I hate this! It's revolting!"

"More?"

"Please!"

#341 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 01:19 PM:

If carpe diem is "sieze the day", how do you say "sieze the vixen"?

#342 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 01:28 PM:

carpe vulpem

There doesn't seem to be a distinct Latin word for "female fox", but vulpes is a feminine noun anyway.

#343 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 01:31 PM:

Huh, I just read The Graveyard Book and didn't think it was that good. Although I liked seeing Gaiman talk about it at the National Book Festival, I found it kind of disappointing - there seemed to be more idea than story, and not quite enough of that.

Then again, I'm starting to think I'm not really much of a Gaiman fan. There are books of his I love dearly, but I've been meh about probably 30% of what I've read from him. I do want to dig up my copy of Coraline, because while I'm pretty sure the movie won't be appropriate for my daughter, maybe if we've read the book together first... (Or maybe even the book will be too scary. Haven't read it since it was new.)

#344 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 02:07 PM:

The one movie I've heard gives Manos a run for its title is Troll 2 (which has nothing to do with Troll.) I haven't seen it, but the reviews I've seen make that sound pretty plausible. For a start, there's no troll in it.

KeithS @ 330: The Boy is going to Montessori school, which has really good teaching approaches from preschool on. His classmates mostly love science already, which is why I thought this would be good entertainment for them.

This fall, for instance, when learning about deep sea biology and geology, the first-to-third graders laid out a giant model of the world's undersea ridges on the basketball court, and pretended to be deep ocean AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) exploring the "black smokers". They also built working Lego ROVs in teams and tested them, had a class visit from scientists at the university working with real AUVs and ROVs, and ended up getting a tour of the university lab where some of them are based. It's a good school.

#345 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Roland Emmerich, who gave us 10,000 BC and Independence Day, is set to direct the film adaptation of Asimov's Foundation.

I think I'm going to go somewhere and whimper while the world collapses into such barbarism that even Hari Seldon could not alleviate it.

http://www.toplessrobot.com/2009/01/asimovs_foundation_movie_will_be_worse_than_you_ca.php

Foundation Schlock

#346 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 03:46 PM:

Is there some way to reduce scarring? On Saturday I gave blood, from the right arm for the first time, and when it came time to fill up the little tubes at the end there was a vibrating cell phone feeling and no blood coming out, and the Red Cross guys were talking about how the needle was probably interacting with a valve in a bad way, and there were some painful attempts to re-aim the needle and then a switch to the other arm. Anyway, the right arm today has an occasional slight tweaking feeling at the blood draw site when I straighten it, and I'm a bit worried that there's a scar building up between the outer skin and the vein which would keep everything from sliding around comfortably as I imagine it's wont to do, and I was hoping there was something I could pick up at the drugstore tonight to amelliorate this.

#347 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 05:30 PM:

#319 - No, the advantage of Bird's custard is that's the way school dinner custard and busy working parent custard tasted and that's the way it has always tasted and that's the way custard MUST TASTE FOREVER. AND A GIANT TIDAL WAVE OF CUSTARD WILL CRUSH ALL WHO DENY IT*. Preferably the giant tidal wave of custard will have a thick skin on it too.

* Who do the French think they are with their creme anglais? I've a good mind to go down to the beach with a proper boiled pudding and a jug of cooling custard and show them how it's done, assuming anyone is on Cap Gris Nez looking across with binoculars at that time.

#348 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 05:34 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 44, and everyone else, re Troll 2: see it. It will break your brain. It is amazing.

#349 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 05:36 PM:

Neil Willcox @ 347... Either you've watched Monty Python's Flying Circus to much or I have, but I now find myself thinking of the time an alien blanc-mange came to England and zapped everybody with a mysterious ray that turned them into Scottsmen so that it could win the tennis championship at Wimbledon.

#350 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 05:57 PM:

I really wasn't sure which thread to note this on. Almost used Patrick's flu thread (a sure cure?) :-)

Conyers Subpoenas Karl Rove

After "Former President George Bush", the four sweetest words in the language.

#351 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 06:05 PM:

Neil Willcox @ 347:

If that's the stuff I remember from school dinners, I have to admit a certain fondness for it. Haven't had it in years, though. I wonder if it's available around here.

#352 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 06:22 PM:

Madeline F @ 346: Valve? As in "inside the vein"? I don't really think so. What's more likely (in my humble experience) is the needle was not inside the vein but instead next to the vein. The initial stick was probably just inside the lumen of the vein, and after blood was safely collected by gravity flow, the vacuum of the tubes created too much suction for the system to tolerate, and it separated from the needle. Venous valves operate to keep blood from sliding backwards, so to speak; they don't flap in the breeze and they don't close under muscle power. They're passive valves. (The other possibility is they came close to a nerve and you're getting tingling from that.) The residual pain is possibly from the small hematoma around the puncture site, where the blood leaked from the vein.

What they should have done was switched from the tubes to a plain syringe; there's less suction power and they could have determined whether the needle was within the lumen or next to it.

Scarring is minimal for most people, and is primarily related to the formation of hematomas. As long as you don't have a huge bruise around the area, you should heal just fine (although YMMV).

If you're feeling ouchy or not-quite-ouchy over the venipuncture site, I suggest your personal favorite painkiller (aspirin, tylenol, etc.) and gentle warm compresses. Sometimes a bad (or meh) stick aches for a few days.

#353 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 06:35 PM:

#349: That was the first episode of Monty Python I ever saw.

February 23, 1975.

The effect was . . . profound.

#350: "the four sweetest words in the language"

What's wrong with "alpaca emasculates Rush Limbaugh" or "Cheney sentenced to hang" or "pretzel succeeds this time?"

#354 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 06:59 PM:

Stefan: they're not descriptions of reality.

Otherwise we could nominate "eternal peace began today" and "disease, war, hunger eliminated" to run for the prize.

#355 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 07:01 PM:

Stefan @ 353: if you can arrange for video of the alpaca incident, I will happily switch my vote.

#356 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 07:23 PM:

Madeline F at 346, my blood center nurses have told me that when the needle vibrates, it means it's hitting the vein's wall instead of floating nicely in the center. With me, this happens because I'm cold, and adding another blanket and a warm saline squeezebag will help (I've gotten pretty mummified before trying to keep the vein open). There shouldn't be much scarring, even though it hurts. It may be just that your vein took a beating for a while.

I am once again glad that my vial-filling comes first, and it involves a little baggie bypass. The nurse sticks me, fills the bag, then clamps and switches the flow to the actual donation procedure. That goes while she vacuum-sticks the vials from the baggie. It is an elegant procedure.

Then she gives me a warm saline squeezebag because they know me there.

#357 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 07:46 PM:

In case you want to know more about my dad, there's an obituary page with information about his scientific contribution here.

#358 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 08:37 PM:

Rikibeth @#317: Thanks for the explanation!

gaukler @#319: That looks right, thanks!

xeger @#320: Hmm... chawanmushi sounds interesting! Rikibeth, can you supply a recipe for the base?

Yay for Neil Gaiman!

Meadors @#343: I'd consider only 30% "meh" a pretty good ratio for a writer of Gaiman's range! Now, I've surely loved more than 70% of what I've read by him (admittedly, that huge "Endless" edifice skews the numbers), but even so, "American Gods" didn't grab me for some reason, and what I've seen of his (darker) early comics didn't look too appealing. A relevant quote from him, regarding his readers: We have an open relationship. Obviously they can see other authors if they want, and I can see other readers.

I'm currently reading an overview of his work, Prince Of Stories, by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, and Stephen R. Bissette. So far, it looks like a pretty good overview, but I'm less than halfway through (a little past the Sandman and related sections). It's got lots of good quotes (including the above) and a few short bits of his work to boot.

#359 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 11:28 PM:

Apropos open thread, do any of you know a way to search for fonts that contain a specific extended character? I'm trying to compare interrobangs‽ and having a hard time of it.

#360 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 12:41 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 353... I think the first-ever episode of MP'sFC that I saw had the contest "Spot the Loonie", the answer to which was Sir Walter Scott. (Practicing one's grasp of the English language by watching MP'sFC is akin to the sink-or-swin approach to learning not to drown.)

#362 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 01:56 AM:

A short report from Iceland, and this one while jumping the gun a little, it may be of more general interest than previous ones, so please bear with me until the punchline.
But first, boring political details. The government of the Independence Party (centre-right-far right) and the Social Democratic Alliance (centre-left) has collapsed, an all-party unity government looks unlikely and a minority government of the SDA and Left-Greens (what it says on the tin) looks fairly certain. Now the leader of the SDA has been having treatment for a benign tumour (see #279 and 280) so is not claiming the Prime Ministership and reports say that an agreement is close that the Minister for Social Affairs (from the SDA) will become PM.
Now she would be Iceland's first female PM, but certainly not the world's.
What she *would* be, is the world's first openly lesbian PM. As far as I know, and a short Google doesn't tell me otherwise.

#363 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 02:28 AM:

Question to the General Fluospherian Information System from a curious GenY-er: Which generation was the first that grew up with standard informal modern party dancing?

#364 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 06:43 AM:

Björn: Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir?

I've been following the Icelandic news on the Reykjavik Grapevine.

Photos by Sigurður Gunnarsson and
Jóhann Þröstur Pálmason are among the highlights.

There's plenty of video footage as well, but I won't link to it in case I trigger the spam-eater.

#365 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 08:17 AM:

Here's a nice bit of sarcasm, hope and wordplay, on Youtube: Lost Generation.

And while I'm at it, Morphing Presidents on flixxy.

#366 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 09:28 AM:

Raphael at 363, what do you mean by 'standard informal modern party dancing'?

#367 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 09:28 AM:

Xopher @354: [..] "eternal peace began today" and "disease, war, hunger eliminated" [..]

This is achievable. The punchline was that it required an empty planet.

#368 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 10:12 AM:

If by informal modern party dancing, it's meant that the dancers weren't making contact, then it was the early 60s (modern era - The Twist, Watusi, etc), with antecedents in the 20s and 30s (Charleston, jitterbug).

That's just a lay opinion -- I'm certainly no expert.

#369 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 10:15 AM:

Xopher: my condolences for your loss (since I initially kept quiet in deference to your early request). I had no idea your dad's work had such a huge impact on my line of work.

#370 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 11:00 AM:

Xopher at 357: Wow, that was your father? That's amazing. I'm sorry for your loss, and glad for his life.

#371 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 01:34 PM:

Steve #368:

But those dances (at least in that time) still presupposed a Partner Of The Opposite Sex, someone you were dancing *with*. From what I can see of what goes on now, that requirement no longer exists.

(My own crowd, from the mid to late 60s, did not believe in such dances, and stuck to the kind where you sort of glued yourself to your partner and swayed around the room to slow music. The slower the better.)

#372 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 02:29 PM:

Lila 369: Thanks. I'm curious; are you referring to the hippotherapy? Which part (of my dad's work) had a huge impact on it?

Sam 370: Thanks, and me too.

#373 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 02:58 PM:

At the risk of adding to the Obama mystique, take a look at these two pics side-by-side.

#374 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 03:11 PM:

Xopher: I'd guess it has to do with the ways in which stroke victims, and the like, retrain neural paths.

As I recall, one of the first horses used in hippotheraphy was one which had a hitch; which no one worried about.

Comes the day the patient is starting to walk on his own; he has the same hitch.

#375 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 04:20 PM:

Xopher, physical therapy in general, including hippotherapy but also neurological and orthopedic PT. (Terry: yes, that's why you can't use a horse with an uneven gait for hippotherapy, though you can for therapeutic riding or equine facilitated psychotherapy.)

Neuroplasticity greatly affects recovery not only from stroke (I used to work in inpatient rehab) but also from surgery, if there's been nerve damage. Not only that, we're beginning to learn that the re-drawing of the "map" of the body on the sensory cortex has huge implications for all kinds of chronic pain. This is one of my favorite examples.

#376 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 04:24 PM:

Book identification help?

Apologies for the vagueness. The idea of this book has been haunting me recently; I don't know why. It was shelved in the SF section of the library, back in 1982 or so. It's one I picked up often, tried to start once, but it was written in some kind of odd style that made it inaccessible to me when I was an adolescent.

The dust jacket had, as I recall, artwork showing a brick building overgrown with plants--maybe just an overgrown brick wall. The setting was, I think, a university, or the remains of a university in a post-apocalyptic time. The story sounded cool from the description on the jacket, but the actual reading part was too confusing for me. (I gravitated toward straightforward yarn-spinners--Larry Niven, Rex Stout)

That's all I've got. Post-apocalyptic, university, unusual-confusing-or-high-literary style, cool dust jacket that evoked the overgrown-university-building setting, probably written int he late 70's.

Does that ring any bells?

#377 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 06:39 PM:

Diatryma @ 366, I mean what people from my generation and younger usually mean by "dancing" in the context of parties that aren't formal social events- stuff that (as far as I know) doesn't have a name of its own and is mainly about moving to the beat.

#378 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 07:41 PM:

KeithS @361: I'll see your Precious Moments Kali and raise it more gods.

#379 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 07:43 PM:

#352 Ginger: Thanks for the response! It does sound more likely that the needle got sucked out of the vein. I have a bruise about as big as a half-dollar (~3.5 cm diameter). The site still has a kind of tweaking feeling, but I've done some research on anti-scarring stuff and it looks like there's nothing on the market, so c'est la vie. Some interesting papers, though.

#356 Diatryma: Where do you give blood? If it's a going concern in the Bay Area I may switch. The tube-filling part is the part that's been most annoying for me... Two troubles out of the past four times.

#357 Xopher: My sympathies. That is some good stuff your dad brought to the field of science... We work on changes in neuron interactions = learning and memory every day here.

#380 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 07:45 PM:

Raphael, the Fluorospherian who'd know best is probably Susan. You should go ask her!

#381 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 08:12 PM:

Mary Dell, #376: Dhalgren?

- - - - -

In other news, I finally got out to CostCo today to do some of the shopping that's piled up since I got sick (see my last couple of posts); came home tired and with a slight sweat, but not short of breath and not flat out exhausted. So it looks like I'll finally go back to work on Thursday. (I can afford to lose a few days' pay occasionally, but nearly two weeks worth... gets a little tight.)

But the reason I wanted to mention the trip to CostCo is: My local branch had a selection of young citrus trees (in containers) for spring planting.

And several of the citrus trees were... Buddha's Hand trees! For... holy crap... $19.99! (I've seen them offered in some exotic plants catalogs, but usually for, like, 75 bucks or so.)

Nope, didn't get one. No good place to plant one right now, and I'm not a citron fan in the first place. But I was a bit tempted anyway.

#382 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 08:24 PM:

Raphael @ 377... Like Rikibeth said, Susan is the person to go to. Her other blog, which is consecrated to dance, can be found here.

#383 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 08:56 PM:

I give blood at the university hospital here. They're set up for whole blood, like at a blood drive, and for automated donation, which means separating the components and only taking what they like. I do automated donation, and have for the last two and a half years or so-- the red cell requirements are a little looser because they never actually take any of mine, I can give monthly rather than two-monthly, and some days they need more platelets than others and adjust accordingly. It also means I have more time to chat with the nurses.

#384 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 09:03 PM:

Mary@376: if it was actually written in the late 1970's instead of when you found it, it might be a reprint of James Gunn's Kampus -- not as post-apocalyptic as the dust jacket claimed, but definitely post--some-sort-of-partial-dissolution. Nominally linear story but a lot of inner-conflict rambling; I the review of somebody who I would have expected to get it (Spider Robinson?) could be summarized as "Huh?"

#385 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 11:11 PM:

Madeline F, #346, I've been stuck thousands of times now, and the worst that's happened is a big bruise.

Xopher, #372, probably the "plastic" brain, like mine was. If it hadn't rewired during the coma, I'd be dead.

#386 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 11:53 PM:

Lila: Yes, I knew that about relearning. Maia was a sidewalker for a couple of years before she went to shcool for OT. It's been a steady area of interest for the past 6 years, or so.

If I thought I could afford the debt, I'd look into going into OT myself. Still might.

#387 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 06:58 AM:

Rikibeth, Serge, historical social dances (or social dances of any kind) aren't exactly what I'm wondering about (from Susan's questions thread, "Unless you have a question that pertains to Western social dance history, you're really in the wrong place. I might be able to answer a question that connects a modern social dance form to a past one, but modern social dance forms and theatrical dance forms are not my area of expertise"), but thanks a lot.

Unrelated, if you haven't seen it yet, this may-be-the-next-stage-of-technology-after-photos-thingy is immensely cool.

#388 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 08:50 AM:

There is a tradition in my family that we are distantly related to Sir John Franklin. The surname is in the genealogy, and Franklins of both families were living in the same part of Lincolnshire.

But there are gaps in the records, and nothing can be proved. Yet there are some facial resemblances, a little more than vague, between portraits of Sir John, and pictures of my more recent relations.

#389 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 09:01 AM:

Terry @ #386, if you want a smaller debt load you could go for COTA. I am very happy with my PTA job, and happier still that it didn't take me 4 years and a huge student loan to get here. Downside: there is no good route from PTA to PT, but I'm probably too old to get a doctorate now anyway. Don't know whether COTA to OT is any more feasible, but I'm sure Maia does.

#390 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 10:26 AM:

Today is the birthday of Fiona, aka Abi's daughter. Here is my little contribution to the occasion.

#391 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 10:30 AM:

Dumb Question: Is there an index of Jim's medical posts someplace on the front page? I had to dig for awhile to find the "cold blows the wind today" post (because I thought it would be smart to reread it with an ice storm on the way). If I hadn't known pretty precisely what I was looking for, I don't know how I'd have found it. But maybe I just missed something obvious....

#392 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 10:36 AM:

Julie L. @ 378: I'll fold.

albatross @ 391: After looking and searching for both obvious and non-obvious strings, I don't see anything on the front page.

#393 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 11:56 AM:

The New York Times has a glowing article about self-publishing today, without (so far as I can tell) a word about the scams. In my reading, it irresponsibly propagates the myth that self-publishing is Your Route To Fame And Fortune.

#394 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 12:38 PM:

Raphael, I just remember Susan posting something about a convention gathering and describing the people on the dance floor as all doing variations of the "four-count hustle," when from context I would have expected them to be doing the freeform, unpartnered, moving-to-the-beat style that you describe, and I strongly suspect that the dances were one and the same, which tells me she'd know more about your question than I do.

I do think the person who pointed to the Twist, the Frug, and the Watusi had it well pegged, and that the rise of 1970s disco had something to do with it as well.

For data points, I was born in 1970, and there were basically three kinds of dancing when I was growing up (say, starting in 1981 with junior high dances) -- the freeform stuff you describe, which could be performed "partnered" (facing but not touching someone of the opposite sex), in an all-female or mixed-sex group, or entirely solo (solo was for private parties, if you danced solo at a school dance you were a loser); "slow" dancing, which was a close embrace with an opposite-sex partner and no discernible steps, just swaying; and "ballroom" styles, which had OMG ACTUAL STEPS you had to learn, had to be taught by a parent or instructor, and were performed rarely, mostly at weddings where the grownups knew how to dance that way, or at "theme" parties meant to recall '50s sock hops.

#395 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 01:23 PM:

In the sharing of changes.

As of sometime this morning (depending on where one lives), I am no longer a member of the US Army.

16 years, and a good time (by and large) the trouble outweighs the pain, but the time had come, and so I went.

#396 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 01:24 PM:

Caroline #393: The New York Times has a glowing article about self-publishing today, without (so far as I can tell) a word about the scams.

It wouldn't be the first time that the sins of Motoko Rich have been noticed here.

#397 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 01:26 PM:

Terry Karney @ 395... Thanks for your service.

#398 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 01:30 PM:

Terry, thanks for your service, and welcome to the civilian world. Any plans for civ life you'd care to share? (I suppose you could put your interrogation skills to use by working for HR, but surely that is beneath you.)

#399 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 01:33 PM:

#395, Terry -

I wish I could quote Marvin K. Mooney at you.

As others have said, thank you for your service. May the change be as smooth as possible, and the new path of life rewarding.

#400 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 01:36 PM:

Hm. Quoting Marvin K. Mooney might not be that appropriate, now that I think of it. Your announcement made me think of it, but it would sort of smack of, "Okay, Terry, get lost!" which isn't the point. The book begins "The time has come. The time is now," but that's where it stops working.

It made sense at the time, I swear!

#401 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 01:43 PM:

R.M., how about

The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things,
Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax,
And cabbages and kings;
And why the sea is boiling hot,
And whether pigs have wings.
(Which can, btw, be sung to Shubert's Die Forelle.) I first encountered that, not in its original source book, but in Harriet the Spy, wherein Ole Golly says it before informing Harriet's parents that she's leaving their employ.

#402 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 02:15 PM:

Terry Karney, thank you for your service. You did good in the world with it. And here's to your new path and new opportunities [raising my burrito, as I have no beverage].

Earl Cooley, somehow I had forgotten that it was the same fellow. So, he is still at it. *sigh*

#403 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 02:35 PM:

Terry, thanks for your service. May your fortune be good on the new path you're following.

#404 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 02:51 PM:

Caroline #402: somehow I had forgotten that it was the same fellow. So, he is still at it. *sigh*

She.

#405 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 03:26 PM:

Thank you for your service, Terry, and I hope that your influence on the people you trained and the people you encountered lives on.

#406 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 03:32 PM:

albatross, #391: I think this is what you want.

#407 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 03:42 PM:

Terry, let me add my thanks for all you've done.

On another topic...

I haven't been in high school for ages, so I was somewhat surprised that there are now books that translate the old bard -- into English.

I'm conflicted about this -- part of me thinks this is pure BS, because one of the main points of Shakespeare is the elegance and poetry of the original text. On the other hand, if something makes the language more accessible to students, that might draw more people to appreciate his masterful way with drama and character.

Here's an example:

Shakespeare Translated

http://nfs.sparknotes.com/hamlet/page_2.html

Thoughts?

#408 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 04:01 PM:

I think "translations" of Shakespeare are bogus - but I think the idea that Shakespeare can be fully learned and appreciated simply through reading and analysis is as bizarre as expecting kids to appreciate the beauty of a Mozart opera just by looking at the score and picking out the key changes.

That said, This is my cheater's guide to Shakespeare.

#409 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 05:25 PM:

Steve C., I think the "No Fear Shakespeare" side-by-side approach is at least harmless, but I think the best aid to comprehending Shakespeare is to see the plays performed by a good company. The BBC did a complete set of Shakespeare plays on video--very uneven, but it includes the very best "Midsummer Night's Dream" I've ever seen, and the dialogue is absolutely crystal-clear. Check it out if you ever get the chance (Helen Mirren as Titania!).

#410 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 05:28 PM:

Raphael at 387,

What I've been telling people to do with that photo on Gigapan is to center on Obama, move down to the musicians, and then zoom onto their music.

Add voice commands and you might start feeling like Deckard.

#411 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 05:37 PM:

Steve, #407: Having looked at it, I approve (generally speaking). Yes, you lose the blank verse and the lyrical Elizabethan language -- but that same language is part of what makes Shakespeare impenetrable to modern students. The "translation" part makes it possible for them to follow the story line, which is really hard to do when you have to look up every third word in the glossary. And it's a pretty good idiomatic translation, at least to my ear.

I particularly like that they have the original text on one side of the page and the modern idiomatic version on the other; this will let the students who are inclined to be interested build their vocabularies, so that eventually they may be better able to read and appreciate the original text.

However, I also agree with nerdycellist that the best way to "get" Shakespeare is by watching an actual mounting of the plays. Then you have all sorts of visual and kinetic cues to help you figure out what the obscure words mean.

And speaking of cheats for Hamlet specifically, I'm very fond of this one. Although it does make it really hard to watch the fight scene without giggling!

#412 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 05:41 PM:

Lila, Lee, I agree that Shakespeare is best experienced performed. Most high school classes, as far as I know, still just read the plays.

I don't know if any of these books are used as texts; I suspect most of them are purchased by students so they can cram for the tests.

#413 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 05:47 PM:

Of course, there's always this version.

Hamlet the musical

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cNN5zwEcXM

#414 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 06:22 PM:

My experience with Shakespeare is that it's good to know what's going on, and even better to see it rather than just read it. That said, it's still written in English. Some words have changed meaning or are no longer in common usage, but much can be gleaned from context. The teachers I had were very good about supplying the necessary meaning for the few obscure or non-obvious words.

I don't recall which play it was, but I had to buy a book of it for one of my classes in university. The cheapest one was the 'annotated' one, with the play on the left page and a few unhelpful comments on the right. I remember being annoyed that the words that were singled out for definitions were ones that were perfectly normal or obvious from context, while ones that I only knew because a past teacher had pointed them out were left blissfully alone.

If it were done better than that one, it could be useful. Shakespeare's plays are considered fine literature, so, of course, it's read in classes. It's much more difficult to arrange a field trip to see the play being performed, and not all filmed performances are complete or good.

That said, I wish that the linked example were an attempt at humor than something serious. That translation translates perfectly understandable english to understandable english, but loses the flavor of the original without adding anything new to make up for it. More knowledgeable people than I can correct me, but I doubt that the play sounded perfectly colloquial to the original audience either, given Shakespeare's use of meter and verse.

#415 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 06:29 PM:

Terry, thanks, and hope the next thing deserves you.

#416 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 06:40 PM:

Thanks, Rikibeth, now I have a lower limit on the age (it's been around since at least the 80s). You're description is pretty close to what I remember (well, indirectly, I've never been good at dancing).

Kathryn, hmm, I'll try that.

#417 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 06:42 PM:

Terry, congratulations on your milestone.

#418 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 06:53 PM:

Terry. thanks for your service. I hope the transition goes smoothly.

I actually came here to scream. According to DailyKos, not one single Republican house member voted for the stimulus bill. Not one out of 177. So much for respect, cooperation, bipartisanship, and all those other useless words. Never want to hear them again. Fnork the Republicans. Fnork them all. May this lack of support come roaring back to bite them in 2010 and beyond.

*tantrum continues out of reach of keyboard*

#419 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 06:53 PM:

How on earth did I manage to miss this on first reading?

Terry, thank you for your service. I hope that your future endeavors go well for you.

#420 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 07:02 PM:

Lizzy L #418:

You and my husband are clearly of like mind on this; he was ranting when he got out of the shower this morning, and the vote hadn't even happened yet. (I feel pretty strongly on the issue too, but mumbled something about not raising one's blood pressure before breakfast.)

#421 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 07:50 PM:

I am less annoyed by Shakespeare translations as by classes that study adaptations as text-- I haven't read A Christmas Carol, but we read a play of it in seventh grade, and you know, we may as well have studied the Muppets. That would have been more interesting, more information, and more fun.

What I remember of the translated Shakespeare we saw in class once (the teacher was sort of testing it, I think) was that they translated 'bite my thumb' as 'thumb my nose'... which is another thing that I don't really know what it means. Insult, possibly involving boogers, yes. Anything more than that, no.

#422 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 08:03 PM:

Lizzy L @ #418, and because of that display of "bipartisanship" I suggested the Dems just add back in everything they took out in hopes of drawing some R's votes.

#423 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 08:26 PM:

It does occur to me that after this display of non-cooperation, for the next four or eight years Obama could simply choose to say to the Republicans:

"Where were you guys when we tried to fix the economy? Nowhere. So why should I listen to you now?"

I doubt if he will, though. He doesn't appear to be as nasty as I am.

#424 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 09:41 PM:

A lot of Republicans were in favor of a stimulus in October. What's different now? Does this new bill have some nasty undesireable feature, like, oh I don't know -- accountability?

#425 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 11:17 PM:

Logee's has Buddha's Hand plants for sale. http://www.logees.com It's within a mile of I-395 is it, an hour or so south of Worcester, MA, in central Connecticut.

Logees also has lots of other citrus for sale--limequats, Australian Finger Limes, kumquats, various types of oranges, Palestine Sweet Lime, Ponderosa lemon... and lots of other stuff--a bunch of different passiflora including passiflore edulis, passiflora incarnata, the hardy maypop species of passiflora, curry plant (the one used for seasoning), lots of different daturas, lots of different geraniums including the scented edible ones, vanilla orchids and other types of orchids, several different types of bananas, etc.

#426 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 11:25 PM:

There are pieces of eight, and then there are pieces of shit.... (not being too specific as to what posts elicted that comment... (and no, I am NOT referring to the people in here as being POS... )

#427 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 12:26 AM:

Allan, #424: What's different now? Bluntly, Obama was elected, and they want him to fail. That's the priority.

#428 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 12:34 AM:

#376 Mary
I think that Curse of the Giant Hogweed by Charlotte MacLeod had a cover something like that.

===
I vaguely remember when I was in junior high school in the mid 1960s that there was freeform dancing of girls with girls at lunch hour or recess or some such.

#429 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 12:53 AM:

Over at File 770, Mike Glyer (via Andy Porter) reports that the Flatiron Building is being sold to a hotel developer.

I don't know about anyone else, but I've always thought it was pretty cool to have Tor Books operating out of an American Architectural Landmark.

The report it may take ten years before the Flatiron is converted into a hotel. So that gives us some time to find another architectural landmark for Tor to move to.

I'm thinking, maybe... the White House. Anyone up for a Draft Tom Doherty For President 2016 movement?

(If he can make a go of running an sf publishing house for twenty-ump years, keeping a handle on the national economy shouldn't be that big a deal. And being used to dealing with temperamental writers, he should be able to make some progress with Israel and Palestine pretty quickly.)

#430 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 12:53 AM:

Mary @376: I wonder whether someone at the post-apocalyptic book club could help? There's also a post-apocalyptic book list on Metafilter, including links to previous lists and (inevitably) Wikipedia.

#431 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 01:02 AM:

Terry, I too thank you for your service to this country, and not least for steadily speaking out for what is right.

...

While we're going on about modern Shakespeare translations, let's not forget the classic Skinhead Hamlet by Richard Curtis. (People who don't like reading red on black may want to adjust their browser colors. People who don't like bad language may prefer to visit some other web page altogether.)

#432 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 01:56 AM:

Terry, #395, thank you for your service to us and the country. I hope you enjoy your next job.

#433 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 05:09 AM:

Allan Beatty #424: A lot of Republicans were in favor of a stimulus in October. What's different now? Does this new bill have some nasty undesirable feature, like, oh I don't know -- accountability?

My guess would be that it doesn't give enough free money to rich people.

#434 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 05:59 AM:

If we're going to bring up the Skinhead Hamlet, then I think we need also to link to this alternate ending to the play.

#435 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 08:05 AM:

David Goldfarb:

I once saw a similar thing (which doesn't appear to be online, alas) in which Sherlock Holmes is called to Denmark and proves that the whole thing was a fraud perpetrated by the gravediggers, who were on the verge of bankruptcy and needed to drum up business. "Ours is a dying trade."

#436 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 08:14 AM:

...which in turn reminds me of James Thurber's take on Macbeth, starting from the self-evident premise that in any detective story where the murder happens offstage, the guy who was shown beforehand to have an obvious motive is never the one who dun it...

#437 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 09:07 AM:

Terry: From me also, thanks! Just from what I've seen of you here, I'm quite sure that whatever you do next, it'll still be to the betterment of our nation and society.

#438 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 09:24 AM:

Butterfly wings... whoa. Yeah.

Back in the 1980's, when cash currency from different countries was difficult to obtain in small (and affordable!) amounts, a young Dutch fan paid for an order of some science fiction fan reprints with the only US currency he could get from his bank, a $10 note. That was far too much for what he was ordering, so he appended a short letter, explaining the problem, and saying they could send him "whatever" as a form of change.

"Whatever" was the club 'zine - with my address as a Junior Year Abroad student in it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Crazy(and still together with that sweet enthusiastic fan)Soph

#439 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 09:27 AM:

oh fooey - someone please remove this from the open thread, while I repost where I'd intended - the butterfly wing thread!

I have *no* idea what happened. My first submission hung up because I'd neglected to type my email address, but... this was not a case of multiple windows and confusion of which one I'd been posting to!

#440 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 09:32 AM:

I remember going to see Romeo+Juliet as a school outing in college (it was a fashion-design class and the teacher thought the costumes were relevant.) I left the theater thrilled, thinking that it was an excellent and comprehensible version of the play for people who were afraid of Shakespeare.

That lasted five minutes until the girl behind me in our trek back to class started cursing about the waste of her time. She claimed she couldn't understand a word they said. I don't know if that production is particularly good or bad, but I usually have problems understanding poor enunciation* and didn't notice any difficulties in it myself, so I assume her problem was the style.

So I dunno, but some folks can't or won't parse it out from seeing a performance.

*I once saw a performance of Poe's works done as plays. I was excited, because I liked the stories, but the theater was crowded with noisy teens,** the actors were unamplified, and they delivered lines based strongly on Poe's complex writing in a rapid way that I simply couldn't make words out of. It was an agonizing hour.

**The production was being staged as part of a junior-high field trip, so the teens were my peers.

#441 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 09:46 AM:

Re: the Republican votes -

One of the local political Republican bloggers I read occasionally* has noted it. He's Republican, and he's annoyed about the lack of bipartisanship.

Because the Democrats *said* they'd be bipartisan, and they didn't.

That's right, he's accusing the Democrats of being unwilling to vote bipartisan on the bill. They shouldn't have voted yes, because that wasn't the bipartisan thing to do.


*I live in Georgia, and so far I haven't found a Democrat who blogs about local politics. I started to read the comments and when I got to "disagreeing with Obama will be a hate crime soon," I had to stop. I think I need to do without local commentary if this is all I can find. *deletes feed*

#442 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 10:02 AM:

Lee @ 427: Obama was elected, and they want him to fail. That's the priority.

R*sh L*mb**gh has been explicit about it. I find it hard to grasp. This isn't like "bozo wants to invade a foreign country, we don't want him to carry that out", this is "guy's trying to save our country from economic disaster, but we hate him so much that we'd rather see him (and the country) fail".

#443 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 10:07 AM:

RM Koske @ 441... The bastards can take their complaints about our supposed lack of bipartisanship and shove it up their trous de cul.

#444 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 10:38 AM:

Yeah, the Rs were so bipartisan that none of them in the House voted for the stimulus bill. (I wish that that surprised me.)

#445 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 11:21 AM:

For years now, the Rethuglicans have been using "bipartisanship" as code for "bend over, chumps!"

I've said for years that Clinton was a much better President than most people give him credit for, but a lot of that was wasted on fighting off backstabbing from the Gingrich Gang.

It's time to declare war on the neocons. Now.

#446 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 11:35 AM:

I heard about the vote on the radio this morning, and it made perfect sense, given:

A) The bill will pass, one way or another.

B) It will not be perfect.

C) The economy will not grow by 100% every six months starting from the day the bill passes.

So you, the R who wants to hold on to your precarious position, can safely vote against it, and then while running for reelection, say see? I was for FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY! We've spent all this money and are you driving a solid gold Cadillac yet? No? Then vote for me, and I'll bravely fight against those spendthrift Democrats and their horrible economic ideas.

And you (the hypothetical R House member) don't have to worry about what will happen if nothing gets done, because someone else is doing it; you can just blame anything bad that happens afterwards on what they did.

It's actually a very comfortable position to be in, as a minority-party politician.

(Unless the economy does start growing 100% every six months as a directly observable result of the stimulus bill. But it won't, so that's ok.)

#447 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 11:51 AM:

Terry, thanks for your service, and I wish you luck and happiness in your new life. Sorry you had to come back to civilian life at a time when things are so strained that a lot of people are fleeing the other way.

#448 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 03:01 PM:

Wow. This is a clever phish:

Customer Satisfaction Survey

You have been chosen by Walmart to take part in our Customer Satisfaction Survey.
If you decide complete this survey, Walmart will send $150 to your confirmed Credit or Debit Card Account – Just for your time.
Helping us better understand how our customers feel, benefits everyone. With the information collected we can decide to direct a number of changes to improve and expand our services.

The Survey form is attached to this email. Please download the attachment, open it, and follow the instructions on your screen.

I mean, apart from the fact that I don't believe for a minute that Wal-Mart, of all entities, would pay that much for a survey, and the fact that I never patronize them (the only time I can remember was an emergency a couple of years ago, when they were the only place open at 7:30AM--and I was careful to pay cash).

It looks pretty good, although the paragraph breaks are wonky, and it's "Wal-Mart" in the sender line and "Walmart" in the text. And they've left out a "to" in front of "complete" and thrown in an arbitrary capital on "Just." (Well; now I'm looking closely, a person could see it as a bit oddly punctuated.)

But I'll bet they get some responses.

#449 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 03:10 PM:

Neil Gaiman's library. Buttons too.
(My thanks to Carol Witt for the link.)

#450 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 03:26 PM:

cmk @ 448: Downloading and opening the attachment may install something nasty on your machine.

#451 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 04:21 PM:

Terry: another person thanks you for your service to our country, and hope civilian life works out for you. Considering the photo you posted on LJ, you could always be a male model, though I think professional photographer makes better use of all your talents.

#452 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 04:22 PM:

Cat @ 446 - You're quite right. When your vote can't change the outcome, you might as well vote to your own personal advantage.

#453 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 05:24 PM:

Terry Karney @#395: Congratulations, and Thank You!

#454 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 05:37 PM:

Joel Polowin @450: Yes, I actually thought of that as well. Also forgot to mention that this got by Postini's spam filter. Very little does (including a fair amount that I want).

#455 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 06:32 PM:

Terry,

Late with it, but welcome to Civvie Street, and thank you for your time and dedication in the Army. I particularly appreciate your role as an interface between our community here and your own particular specialisms.

#456 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 09:21 PM:

Terry, welcome to civilian life. I hope it treats you as well or better than the army did.

#457 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2009, 09:45 PM:

cmk @#448: Also, I consider the fragment "confirmed credit..." (or any variation) to be a red flag, even without the wonky capitalization. I've never seen it in a legitimate context.

Dwarf of the day: Sneezy (I should probably pick up some of those zinc lozenges. And more tissues. :-( ).

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 02:23 AM:

Oh goodness.

Gulliver's Travels

Release Date: TBA
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Rob Letterman
Starring: Jack Black, Emily Blunt, Jason

Plot Summary: A bigscreen adaptation of "Gulliver's Travels," with Jack Black taking on the title role of Lemuel Gulliver, a free-spirited travel writer who, on an assignment to the Bermuda Triangle, suddenly finds himself a giant among men when he washes ashore on the hidden island of Liliput, home to a population of industrious, yet tiny, people.

A free-spirited travel writer on an assignment to the Bermuda Triangle?
I can hardly wait.

#459 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 07:10 AM:

Terry, this article might interest you re: future employment; the author suggests that the SEC should recruit investigative journalists, but a few Army int types might come in handy too...

http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/another-view-the-sec-should-hire-journalists/

#460 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 07:37 AM:

Serge @ 458 -

That can't be good. The studio execudroid who greenlighted this needs a Swift kick in the tuchis.

#461 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 08:16 AM:

Steve C @ 460... Bunch of Yahoos.

#462 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 10:09 AM:

Did everyone already know about the imminent arrival of Pride and Prejudice...with Zombies?

It's here.

#463 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 10:21 AM:

Sarah S. @ 462 -

"Mr. Darcy, would you care for some braaiinnns with your tea?"

#464 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 11:10 AM:

Sarah S @ 462... Lizzy Brainett's family has problems, but that much?

#465 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 12:33 PM:

Magenta Griffeths: I don't know that one photo a modelling career makes. Even grantig a few pounds to the lens, I am pretty slight.

As to the rest, It's been a helluva ride, and thanks for the good wishes.

re Hamlet: One of my favorite variations was John Houseman's travelling troupe (I forget the name) doing it abridged. First in 15 minutes (just parseable, and the pantomimed duel, with Osric using a pair of spoons for the sound effects was "fookin' br'illaint"). Then in five (with Ophelia leaping out of the (vanishing) grave to recover Yoric's pate.... bouncing across the stage). Only parseable if you knew the play (or were paying attention to the 15 minute).

Then the 30 second. Hamlet enters the AP, "To be, or not to be....

"Ah, what the heck," stabs himself and pitches off the stage.

For something differently funny...

The Three Minute Hamlet Which is a real hoot.

#466 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 12:48 PM:

I'm still focused on the production of Hamlet in s1 "Slings and Arrows;" not just the humorous aspects, but the directors note's on the characterization of Ophelia and the way to approach the performance of Hamlet so that the part is not overwhelming. And Jack's plaint about the grand soliloquy: as soon as you say the words "to be or not to be" people are taken out of the play.

A week ago I was sick enough to let myself stay in bed and watch all six episodes of that work. I've been helthy enough to be penurious since, and haven't broken down and ordered the boxed set.Do you suppose I could excuse it as an economic stimulus package if I ordered it today?

#467 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 01:02 PM:

Terry, #465: Not just one. ;-)

#469 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 01:37 PM:

Regarding the Drunken Russian Space Pig Particle, here is an account of the film Первые на Луне, from which the still images were derived.

Youtube has a clip.

#470 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 01:49 PM:

Terry, I just started browsing through your photos. They are absolutely stunning. I try my hand from time to time, but they're nowhere near as good as yours.

#471 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 01:52 PM:

It is entirely possible that I should cease posting until I can hit the right s with my apostrophes: director's notes, sheesh.

#472 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 02:11 PM:

Serge and Steve C.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of brains."

You know, I think I may almost like that better than the original.

#473 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 02:30 PM:

KiethS: Thank you. Part of it is diligence, as with writing, attentive practice makes a great deal of difference. If you'd like, prints are available.

Lee: Aw shucks, you'll turn my head. The one's which show me to be a pale stick figure are left on the darkroom floor.

#474 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 04:36 PM:

(I submitted the below to Boing Boing. I'm posting it here so Rob's work exposing these frauds gets maximum exposure.)

Prankster and muckraker Rob Cockerham published an expose a few months back about the sleazy cash-for-jewelry outfits that advertise on low-rent cable TV spots.

Now one of these firms, Cash 4 Gold, is offering Cockerham cash to remove or soften his findings:


I work with Cash4Gold on the reputation management. Your article is ranking #3 on their brand term. They would really like to make it worth your while to take it down or make it more positive. They did something similar by joining (OTHER CONSUMER AFFAIRS WEBSITE)’s advocacy program. Is it worth a few thousand to take it down? If not, maybe a donation to your favorite charity is more to your liking?

If chutzpah could be turned into gold, Rob would be a millionaire. Carry on, man!

#475 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 04:46 PM:

It Sucks To Be Me dept:

I've just been informed that as of Monday my group will be transferred from a subsidiary that pays 100% of salary for short-term disability to one that pays 85%. Convenient for them, since I'm having surgery March 4.

I suppose I shouldn't complain, since many people have no health insurance, or get no pay at all when they're out, but it's almost like they did it on purpose. Changes like this are usually announced well in advance. They have to change all of our email addresses, for one thing.

#476 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 04:49 PM:

Diatryma @66: Nuance is weak

Your description here is fascinating. I've run into variants of this phenomenon when arguing with a roommate. I was puzzling over this to a friend of mine, and his explanation was that, often, "explanation invites argument."

I'm currently struggling with one of these dynamics, and it's causing me an inordinate amount of pain, because I don't feel that I'm being heard, the situation as it stands is untennable, and I haven't identified a unilateral position that I can take that doesn't amount to retreat and submission.

#477 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 05:33 PM:

Xopher @475, if they changed your policy with the foreknowledge of your upcoming medical situation, they might be violating the law. Someone should go to jail for it. On the other hand, I Am Not A Lawyer, just a person with a well-developed disdain for the insurance industry.

#478 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 05:42 PM:

No, the huge corporation I work for has multiple subsidiaries. Today I work for the one with a liberal disability policy; Monday I work for one of the ones with a stingier one.

The transfer wasn't triggered by my impending doom disability; my whole group is being moved.

#479 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 09:02 PM:

Xopher (#475 et seq), re your change of health status, if you've informed your employer ahead of time that something is definitely happening and given them an expected date not too far away, are they able to abrogate the responsibility they had to you on the date you told them? Even if they can say that they're not making changes to your health cover because of your situation?

#480 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2009, 09:59 PM:

Mary Dell @ 376: Might it possibly be Spider Robinson's _Telempath_? I seem to recall a sort of overgrown-university cover illustration on that, and the post-apocalyptic, lap-or-university-setting, and confusing elements seem like they might match.

#481 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 12:27 AM:

Xopher @ 401:

The time has come, the Walrus said...

(Which can, btw, be sung to Shubert's Die Forelle.)

*whimper*

#482 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 02:50 AM:

Pre-war America in olor

We're in the last days of Kodachrome, and those photographs show the first days.

Though the article makes one error. In Germany, Agfacolor was being developed and used.

#483 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 10:14 AM:

Google is apparently playing with a new* anti-malware service. At this moment, if you do a search for "Google Reader" you'll get a page full of results that are tagged "This site may harm your computer." The first five results so tagged are all official Google sites. You can't actually click through to Google Reader on the search result - it takes you to a page that has a strongly worded warning and no link. You have to copy & paste or use the paid ad at the top of the page.

Playing a bit more, search results for "Making Light" are much the same. The only site I've seen so far that doesn't have that tag is YouTube.

*Well, maybe not new, but I've never seen it before. At the least, they've updated an existing feature and it is behaving badly.

#484 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 10:15 AM:

Er, I wasn't clear. You have to use the paid ad that happens to be at the top of the search results page. There's no paid ad at the top of the strongly worded warning page.

#485 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 10:22 AM:

Skyne...er, Google is behaving itself again.

#486 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 10:27 AM:

Ha. I figured they wouldn't let it stay that way long. I'm actually surprised that it stayed wrong for the entire half-hour it took me to notice and mention it.

#487 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 02:33 PM:

Because AKICITF:

Is there a reasonably cheap-n-easy way to convert MIDI files to MP3 files? I understand iTunes used to have this feature but no longer does.

#488 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 02:56 PM:

Remember that Midi files aren't recorded sound, they're sequences of commands to a synthesizer to create sound. What iTunes used to do is use the default sound generator, the Quicktime software synthesizer to generate the sounds as it was creating the mp3 file.

You can do the same thing with GarageBand, and even have a very wide choice of instrument sounds to use. It's easy to do, whether it's cheap depends on whether you have a Mac and already own iLife, which contains GarageBand, or have a Mac without iLife and think that the $79 pricetag is cheap.

As for easy, you can import a midi file to GarageBand by dragging it from the Finder. Then you can assign instruments to the parts in the midi score, and export the resulting sound file to hard disk, burn it to CD, or send it to iTunes.

#489 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 03:12 PM:

Lila @ 487:

Bruce Cohen is right that MIDI files are instructions to a synthesizer rather than recorded sound. That means that the quality of the eventual recording depends on the synthesizer you have and the samples it uses.

TiMidity++ is a free MIDI synthesizer that can output wave files from MIDI files. If you're on Windows you can get a version of it here. If you're on a Mac, it looks like you're out of luck unless you're comfortable mucking around with the command line and compiling things yourself, as the Mac site is in Japanese and the program crashes when I try to run it.

#490 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 03:13 PM:

R.M. Koske @ 483: The Register has an explanation.

#491 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 04:22 PM:

Thanks Bruce! I do indeed have GarageBand; sounds like that will work. (I'm updating the web site for my sister's choir and have inherited 2 other people's hardware/software combos.)

#492 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 04:28 PM:

Today is the day that Montreal's worldcon started accepting hotel room reservations.

#493 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 06:36 PM:

Ah, cool! Thank you for the reminder (and, er, being utterly lazy, is there a preferred hotel/yada? I have a vague recollection that there's often many?)

#494 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2009, 06:38 PM:

#490, KeithS -

I'm vastly amused by the particular human error that caused the problem. Thanks!

#496 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2009, 01:08 AM:

xeger @ 493... The Delta Centre-Ville is the Party and HQ hotel. That's where I'm staying. I can walk the third of a mile from there to the con center, especially since I'm not dragging banner supports around this time.

#497 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2009, 03:30 AM:

Firedoglake describes Rep Marcy Kaptur's (D-OH) advice to constituents who can't make their mortgage payments: squat in their own houses. Read it and you'll see that it's really quite clever advice.

#498 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2009, 03:59 AM:

Serge @492, 496

Thanks for the reminder!

I've now got a room booked at the Delta, arriving on Wednesday--I figure that the Delta's connection to the secret underground city* will make the jaunts pleasant.

Now for work on the party suite. Wouldn't Friday be good for Making Lumière?

It will include a Miracle Fruit Tasting Event**.

Perhaps also round 2 of the Freefloating Freestyle Rochambeau Competition.

And more than 1 square foot per person, truly.

------------------
* not a smelly wet tunnel (like subway entrances), or a sterile dry tunnel (like Edmonton's), but very comfortable tunnels, with smoked meats, and many little restaurants, and shops on both sides.

** This fruit has a a molecule (miraculin) that affects the tongue to turn sour and bitter flavors to sweet (for up to 1/2 hour). But not sweet like sugar, sweet like "there is no sour." Hard to explain, but fun.

#499 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2009, 05:13 AM:

I wish I could be as optimistic as the "true 21st century" sidelight, but I don't see why the author is so certain that solidarity-related values are on the rise. At least in the West, it doesn't really look like that.

In Europe, while most governments of the last thirty years (right or left) were to some extent influenced by the Reagan/Thatcher form of right-wing politics, in most countries the supporters of that kind of politics never had the almost free reign they've had in the USA, so they didn't get discredited that much and still have a lot of support. Germany, for instance, is almost guaranteed to have a rather Thatcherite government by the end of the year, and various other countries have governments with similar views that won't face elections for a while.

In the USA, right now right wingers are apparently in the wilderness, but as Digby doesn't get tired of saying, the problem is that while wingnut leaders are pretty unpopular, some of their worst ideas are still pretty common, and that makes it rather difficult for the administration to get things done on some important matters. If they don't get enough done on bread-and-butter issues, too many people might soon forget who was in charge when the current crisis started. One of the things the last four years taught us is how quickly someone's political dominance can implode, after all.

So there's a pretty big risk that either the US military will soon be in the hands of people even less interested in learning facts and staying informed than the Bush crowd, or large parts of Europe turn into something like the America of the last few years, or both. And even if both of these can be prevented, there's still the danger that not nearly enough is done to get over fossil fuels anywhere.

And my own live doesn't look good at the moment, either. (Allthough oddly enough, I'm feeling a little bit better for the moment now.)

#500 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2009, 09:06 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 498... You're welcome. As for Making Lumière on Friday night, that sounds fine. I don't think it'd collide with the Masquerade or with the Hugos. Since the con has gone back to Olden Times's Thursday-to-Monday worldcon schedule, those two events would be held on Saturday and Sunday.

#501 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2009, 06:06 PM:

I was fascinated by this article on bootleg haute cuisine. It almost makes me want to become a meatitarian foodie to try it out.

#502 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 08:59 AM:

As proof that the internet contains everything, a segment of a primary school lesson in Gascon being taught in Spain. (Especially for TexAnne and Serge; the language of narration, btw, is Catalan.)

#503 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 10:42 AM:

I've been away from the 'Net for the last few days due to the ice/snow storm of Wednesday last. We did the sensible thing and stayed indoors.

And on Thursday morning my oathsister went out to salt the driveway, and fell on the ice -- result: a broken wrist.

She comes inside and tells me she fell. I help her get her coat off, take one look at the wrist, and I pick up the phone and dial 911. Then I sit her down, get the ice pak and had her elevate the wrist. Then I give her a glass of water and a couple of ibuprofen.

The EMTs were very nice and told us we'd done all the right things. They took Jan to the hospital, and a friend with 4-wheel drive brought her home after the docs and the x-ray tech had done their jobs.

It's a spectacular break -- the large bone crumpled like a broken bridge, and a hairline crack and chip on the small one. Jan has surgery tomorrow, and would appreciate any energy anyone cares to send. We're hoping it will only take internal hardware...

#504 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 12:15 PM:

OUCH! Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

#505 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 01:37 PM:

Lori... Ow. Best wishes.

#506 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 01:39 PM:

Am I the only person who has noticed a strong resemblance between Rush Limbaugh's head and that of a Sontaran?

#507 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 01:58 PM:

Serge @ 506

What comes out of his mouth sounds Sontaran too. No, actually, more like the love(?) child of a Sontaran and a Dalek: "Exterminate for the glory of victory!"

#508 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 01:59 PM:

Clifton Royston #501: I was fascinated by this article on bootleg haute cuisine. It almost makes me want to become a meatitarian foodie to try it out.

The most telling line in the article: "I’m starting to wonder if I can keep it all down." It looks like a big load of pretentious crap to me, rife with a long series of French Problem infractions. If I had three hundred dollars to blow on expensive food, I'd invest it in American Wagyu beef.

#509 ::: Holly P ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 04:00 PM:

Clifton Royston @501 -- I think that sounds amazing, and if I weren't several thousand miles away, I'd be going too. It reminds me of the blog written by the woman who cooked every dish in the French Laundry cookbook.

Earl Cooley @508 -- I like steak, too, and someday I'd like to try Wagyu beef, but this is a cow of a different color. Whether or not you personally like this style of cooking, it's unquestionably an art. The skill levels involved are incredible. And I don't think the so-called "French Problem" applies at all. I mean, for one thing, it's a 21-course tasting menu, the portions are supposed to be small so the diner can get everything down. For another thing, $300 a head probably approaches straight food costs for foie gras, truffles, white sturgeon caviar, and abalone.

And pretentious? This kind of DIY foodie-god homage is pretty much anti-pretentious -- you'll never get to tell anyone you really ate at the French Laundry, there's no "atmosphere," it's all about love of the food.

Mostly, though, I just hate to see anyone stomp on another person's honest enthusiasm.

#510 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 04:10 PM:

Earl Cooley III, #508: If I had three hundred dollars to blow on expensive food, I'd invest it in American Wagyu beef.

Chacun á son goût, as they say, but I'm with Clifton (#501). If I'm going to spend that much money on food, I'm paying for the raw ingredients, sure, but mostly I'm paying for the massively dedicated and skilled labour to create combinations of flavours and textures that I could never encounter elsewhere.

I should note that, while I've not eaten at Alinea, I have eaten at Moto and at Perigee.

#511 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 04:11 PM:

If you prefer, I can stomp on Rachel Ray's pit bull advocacy instead. heh.

#512 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 04:24 PM:

A bit of shameless promotion of some non-commercial CC-licensed SF/F content to which I am a contributor: The New Faith of the True Emporer. I mention it here, because this seems like the kind of place where people who might be interested in it can reliably be found.

New Faith is the product of a lexicon game run by my friend Dan Curtis Johnson, whose name some of you may recognize if you're particularly geeky about Batman comics. You can see his release announcement for the site here.

#513 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 04:34 PM:

Sorry, Holly P - our posts crossed. While we said essentially the same thing, I like your version better. And mentioning that I'd eaten at Moto and Perigee wasn't meant to be foodie bragging, honest - I was really just trying to get across that, when I talked about this style of food, it was with at least a little bit of firsthand knowledge.

#514 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 04:36 PM:

Sigh. Please forgive the spelling and grammatical errors. I'm home sick from work today with a fever and other issues.

#515 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 07:08 PM:

Fragano--whoa. I actually caught about half the Catalan, too. Nice to know I still got it!

#516 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 07:11 PM:

That "Two Pictures" particle is awesome. I'm just sayin'.

#517 ::: Holly P. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 07:16 PM:

No worries, debcha -- I envy you your first-hand experience, which I am currently denied for reasons of geography and finance and inability to convince my husband we need to blow a month's rent on dinner.

Earl Cooley III, #511 -- as the late, great Molly Ivins used to say, I have no dog in this fight.

#518 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 07:22 PM:

R.M. Koske, #494: So it was all the fault of slash? ;-)

Clifton, #501: As usual with such articles, I read it mostly for the trainwreck fascination about the things people come up with to do to perfectly good food. "Haute cuisine" seems to be rather like Romulan ale: you eat it to prove that you can.

Lori, #503: Ouch! All my sympathies and positive energy to Jan; having dealt with a broken wrist myself, I know just how much fun it's not.

#519 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 10:11 PM:

Lee @ 518... You eat Romulan Ale? That explains why using a straw never worked for me. Speaking of haute cuisine, remember the episode of DS9 when Doctor Bashir and his date go to a Promenade restaurnt whose chef was a Klingon? I specially liked the bowl of worms.

#520 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2009, 11:07 PM:

Excuse me, that's called gagh, thank you very much.

#521 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 12:18 AM:

Lori, #503, I hope Jan's surgery and recovery goes well!

#522 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 02:36 AM:

Xopher @ 520

I thought that was what you said when you ate it.

#523 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 06:24 AM:

Xopher... Bruce Cohen... It helped digestion to have the Klingon chef play the violin. (Darn, I wish I could find that scene on YouTube.)

#524 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 07:50 AM:

Serge @523, like this YouTube clip (called Pizzaiolo Klingon, from ST:DS9, Series 2, Episode 6)?

#525 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 09:26 AM:

Epacris @ 524... Pizza Klingon? This reminds me of a pickup-only pizza place I used to order from at the eastern end of Toronto's Queen Street. Their motto was "You ring, we bring". I expect that a Klingon pizzeria's motto would be "You ring, we wring".

#526 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 09:49 AM:

TexAnne #515: That's about as much of the Catalan as I caught, which is not bad for a language I don't claim to speak.

#527 ::: lurkerY ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 11:18 AM:

Delurking because much knowledge is contained in Making Light, and in the current Economic Unpleasantness this may be useful to others.

Anyone have any suggestions for a not-informational interview? I've a meeting tomorrow with a very well connected person in a field that overlaps mine who likes to talk to folks about job searches. Got the basics: 30 second elevator pitch, resume, googling them and their corporate history, but still don't know what I should say besides 'hey these are my skills and where do you think I should look?'

Thanks.

#528 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 11:42 AM:

Today is the 50th anniversary of the "Day the Music Died."

In happier news, it's also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Felix Mendelsohn. (And btw, piss on you, Richard Wagner! Felix's music is WAYYY better'n yours!)

#529 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 11:45 AM:

lurkerY: Any relation to Racer X?

If they seem well connected, I'd ask what areas of business seem to them to be still going strong in your area. Even when the economy's tanking, some businesses and some niches continue to do well. Then see if they'll brainstorm a bit about ways you and your skills might fit into one of those. That could end up with some concrete suggestions about where to look, or at the least some general ideas.

#530 ::: lurkerY ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 12:46 PM:

Any day that ends with a 'y'....

Thanks Clifton. There is one big economic driver in this area, and luckily this guy is involved with it.

#531 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 01:10 PM:

Happy birthday, Mary Dell!

#532 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 01:30 PM:

Serge, 525: I have previously written on the important role of pizza in the Star Trek universe on my own blog. The explanation of "Klingon Pizza" is at the end.

#533 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 01:41 PM:

Bruce Arthur @ 532...

"Some days you eat the pizza, and some days the pizza eats you"?
Hold the anchovies.

#534 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 02:55 PM:

My dear and favourite American and politically interested people: does any Democrat pay any taxes at all?

#535 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 03:09 PM:

#534
no, only Republicans can avoid them completely.

#536 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2009, 03:40 PM:

As I said at my place, if Daschle had run afoul of tax law by overstating oil depletion allowances he took on his 1040 I don't think that would have been insurmountable, but thinking a car and driver doesn't represent imputed income ? That's entirely too easy for the rest of us to understand.

See the editorial cartoons that Dan Froomkin picked up this morning in his column/blog.

#537 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 01:00 AM:

Tonight's episode of Leverage had Timothy Hutton go undercover to a rehab clinic where he calls himself Tom... Tom Baker. This is the 2nd time I caught a Doctor Who joke on the show. I wonder if I missed others.

#538 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 01:34 AM:

#537: The show's co-creator is a major geek. Physics major, stand-up comic, role playing game designer. According to his blog, he didn't write in the Dr. Who reference, but the screenwriter "knows how to please the boss"

#539 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 02:32 AM:

Shamelessly bragging here: I know one of the guys who created this.

#540 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 03:32 AM:

I am going to try writing a radio play.

And if it seems to work out, I am going to send it to the BBC.

#541 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 04:27 AM:

Is it language snark to recommend reading the first edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage in a comment thread on a news site?

(I wasn't the first to point fingers at some dreadful sentences in the article.)

#542 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 05:25 AM:

Dave @541:

Is it language snark to recommend reading the first edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage in a comment thread on a news site?

Follow-up question: if it is, is that a bad thing?

Belated afterthought: link?

#543 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 07:09 AM:

abi, read the first three comments, and then mine is a few further down.

#544 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 08:38 AM:

#540, Dave Bell -

Cool! Good luck.

...and #541 & 543 -

Wow, that original sentence...yeesh.

#545 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 09:10 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 538... how to please the boss

That'd work.

By the way, Kouredios recently had an entry on her blog about watching the episode of The Avengers that introduced us to the awe of Emma Peel's cat suit. The story is set in a department store, and someone is building an atomic bomb in the basement. Emma is working in the toy dept and, if you look closely, one of the toys is a Dalek.

#546 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 11:03 AM:

No, this isn't an Onion item.

http://i.gizmodo.com/5145695/love-jealousy-passionstar-trek-cologne-for-men

Star Trek Cologne for men

#547 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 11:50 AM:

Steve C. @ 546: That's horrifying.

#548 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 11:58 AM:

I dreamt last night that there was a Making Light quiz night, like a pub quiz night. We all got together in person. Patrick asked the first question, which was a FiveThirtyEight.com style of question, a logic puzzler about election statistics.

It was fun until the giant ants showed up and I got overzealous with the Raid. (No, really.)

#549 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Steve C. @ 546: "Red Shirt"???

#550 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 12:13 PM:

Caroline @ 548... Been reading Rudy Rucker's stories again?

#551 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 12:15 PM:

Lila @ 546 - I guess it causes sudden death but you sort of expect it.

#552 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 12:50 PM:

OK, I wrote this on Scalzi's blog, where he claimed that at an upcoming convention (where he's GOH!) participants will be composing in "dactylic hexameter." (In quotes because I always called it dactyl hexameter, but never mind.) But I just HAD to share it with you all too:

*I* cannot write in dactylic hexameter; efforts I make are all
failures of scansion. I try, but it keeps falling back to iambic. So
what can I do but give up and go back to the rhythm of sonnets, which
Shakespeare adored? So to HELL with dactylic hexameter anyway!
You see? How easily the iams flow
from me? I hardly need to modify
my ordinary style at all.

#553 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 01:11 PM:

Hi, folks! Jan's surgery went well (internal hardware not external, yay!) and the surgeon even showed me the x-rays of the finished product. He gave me a big grin when I said, "Doctor, that is excellent work!"

She's at home, taking good pain meds. I slogged in to work through the ice field formerly know as Ceramic Drive...(We got part of the ice/snow storm in Central Ohio last week. The plows never made it to our street). It took me a half-hour to walk to the bus stop -- under normal conditions, i.e., visible pavement, it would take fifteen minutes, sigh.

#554 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 02:26 PM:

Serge @ 550, actually it was a matter of an unexpected ant invasion that happened in real life last night. (Regular tiny black ants, not giant ones.) I thought it was too cold for ants. Seems I was wrong.

(I actually have not yet read Rudy Rucker -- perhaps I ought to remedy that.)

#555 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 02:38 PM:

Caroline, just as long as it wasn't Them!

#556 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 03:03 PM:

Here's a rather amazing blog post; it's an elegy for the blog-hosting site he's closing down. It features Ingmar Bergman (he's Swedish-American) and Moby Dick and Rumi and. . .oh, just go read it. You won't waste your time.

#557 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 04:47 PM:

Linkmeister, that was amazing. Thanks for the pointer. (Though I hate discovering things just as they're ending....)

#558 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 05:00 PM:

Steve, #546: What gets me giggling is the totally slash image on the article!

Lila, #549: I echo your befuddlement. Unless some marketing type was looking at the TNG uniforms and was completely unaware of both the difference between the two series and what the slang usage indicates.

#559 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 05:07 PM:

Lee @ 558 - Yeah, that made me chuckle as well. The Gizmodo folk are hip.

#560 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 06:18 PM:

Lee @ 558: They seem to know just enough to know about pon farr, so I'm going to assume they know what redshirt means. I'm guessing they're going for novelty value without really thinking why a fan would want a novelty perfume in the first place.

#561 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 07:19 PM:

Caroline @#554:

unexpected ant invasion ... I thought it was too cold for ants.

It was... that's why they came indoors! :-)

#562 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 07:33 PM:

David Harmon @ 561... Next, Phase IV?

#563 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 07:48 PM:

Can I put in a request for a new open thread? Not that this one isn't fascinating, but it's a ways back and a bit long...

#564 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 10:04 PM:

Serge at #533
Sometimes you hold the anchovies and sometimes the anchovies hold you.

#565 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 10:07 PM:

Sisuile @ 564... I dunno. I mean, it's been a long time since we had a thread so lengthy that one could hear Faren's Computer wheeze its way to the end.

#566 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 10:23 PM:

Arrrggghh. CSI NY has a victim with radiation poisoning. A member of the team is dying of the exposure, and they have to figure out what kind of radiation the victim was exposed to...because otherwise, of course, they won't know how to treat the team member.

Sigh.

#567 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 10:31 PM:

Xopher @ 566...

Last night, Fringe had a man lock hhimself into an airplane's bathroom before he transformed into a humanoid hedgehog, including the 6 nipples. And Agent Dunham twice had to strip down to go in the isolation tank so that she could tap into her dead boyfriend's memories that are stuck inside her skull.

I love that show. Still, the really unbelievable part of that story is that a plane's bathroom could be this roomy.

#568 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 10:44 PM:

Damn. Now they're looking at a body in what can only be described as a holodeck.

Who the fuck WRITES this garbage?

#569 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 10:57 PM:

Dave Bell, #541, I have a button that says: Bad grammar makes me [sic].

#570 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 10:59 PM:

Xopher @ 566 -- It makes a big difference, if your intended cure is to bombard the victim with the correct neutralizing agent. You know, anti-alpha particles, anti-beta particles, anti-gamma rays, anti-neutrons, whatever.

(I'm reminded of that ghastly TNG episode in which Space Cowboy Picard picks off the terrorists while the Enterprise slowly edges through a zappy field which extracts all the baryons from its structure. 'Cause they, you know, accumulate while you're flying through space, and they're really bad. If nothing else, your ship will fly much lighter without them.)

#571 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 11:03 PM:

They fed him Prussian Blue.

#572 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 11:38 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 564

In Soviet Russia comrade anchovies hold each other!

Joel Polowin @ 570

So why didn't they just fill up on leptons?

#573 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 11:41 PM:

Because Making Light is the repository of all knowledge:

If anyone out there speaks Farsi, or has an English to Farsi dictionary and can transliterate the resultant Farsi words into Roman text (the latter is what I can't find on the web), please to tell me how to say "Art of fire" in Farsi.

#574 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2009, 11:45 PM:

Bruce: Have you tried asking at the local Baha'i center?

#575 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 12:31 AM:

Xopher, #568: Oh, they've borrowed the Angelator from the Jeffersonian? I finally figured out why my back-brain kept insisting that Bones was a sci-fi show, and that was it.

Xopher, #571: They did WHAT? Call the SPCA, stat! Showing that kind of thing is supposed to be illegal!
(Psst, Lee, that's Prussian Blue, not Russian Blue.)
Oh. Nevermind.

#576 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 12:41 AM:

Joel Polowin @570: IIRC, the terrorists were planning to steal the collected baryon sludge, which was really bad, and sell it to some even eviler people who would use it to create a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

With regards to Xopher's original complaint, I was recalling an STNG episode where Worf (again, IIRC) had been shot with an energy weapon, and Dr. Crusher was not able to treat him unless they could recover the weapon; needing to know the characteristics of the weapon to understand exactly how the damage was done. Once the weapon had been recovered, it was possible to immediately restore him to full health.

#577 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 01:19 AM:

sisuile @563, my impression was that new open threads get started here when it looks as if the post count might hit 1000 before the next time a moderator gets around to starting a thread.

#578 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 01:41 AM:

Texanne: No, this question just came up this evening, about 8 PM, my time. Thanks, I'll give that a try tomorrow, if no one here comes up with the answer before that.

Oh, if anyone was curious where that question came from, I'm writing a short story involving an art gallery in NYC owned by an Iranian-American, and I wanted a name for the gallery.

#579 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 05:13 AM:

I love that Oasis video! (There's something I never thought I'd type.) The one in the Amanda Palmer sidelight, I mean.

#580 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 08:33 AM:

#566 & 568 - Xopher -

I saw that one! The radiation thing got a pass from me partly because I wasn't really watching (I was in the room while someone else was watching) and partly because I thought it was "we don't know how our team member got exposed, so we can't protect him from more." Now that I think of it, that's equally silly. I think mostly I just had my brain shut off for that part.

I jeered at the holodeck when I saw it, but I don't think that's the first time they used it.

The CSI franchise has mostly lost me. NY stretches my credulity, Miami I can't watch because David Caruso makes my neck hurt (I wonder if he has carpal tunnel syndrome? That neck posture is *not* natural) and Vegas hit me too many times with an unexpectedly horrible situation. Yes, that last is not necessarily a flaw, but it made me twitchy all the same.

#581 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 10:08 AM:

Rob Rusick @ 576: No, the terrorists were intending to tap the hazardous sludge out of the engines. Except for a few systems that were protected by technobabble generators, all the baryons were supposed to be removed from the ship.

#582 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 10:32 AM:

Bruce:
WAG: [something]-i-Nur
'Nur' (or 'Noor') is 'light'.

#583 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 10:40 AM:

Xopher @ 566:

If I understand you correctly, you're saying that one of the CSI team was suffering from radiation sickness because he was exposed to a radiation-exposed patient? If so, wow. I think this should be known as the cootie theory of radiation.

#584 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 10:46 AM:

582: Paradaeza-i-Nur? (Garden of Light. Yes, "paradise" simply means "garden".)

#585 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 11:28 AM:

Y'all read everything. And remember most of it.

I need two professional essays in the comparison contrast pattern and two in the division classification pattern.

This is NOT homework. This is for a collection of readings organized by rhetorical format that I'm working on. I've collected everything else, but am having a heck of a time with these last few, mostly because it's a very backwards way to come at a search for something--no one ever looks for something to read or write based on rhetorical format, for heaven's sake.

So if you happen to stumble on a good comp/contrast or div/class piece, or happen to have written one that we can buy permisisons for...I'd be endlessly grateful for an email.

#586 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 11:38 AM:

Sarah, are you talking about composition patterns or software engineering patterns?

#587 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 11:38 AM:

Rob Rusick @ 576... Ah, for the days when 'Bones' McCoy could fix anyone up with his trusty hypodermic syringe. Or with thermo-concrete.

"I had Uhura beam me down some of that thermo-concrete. You know, the stuff we use to make emergency shelters. It's mostly silicon. So I just troweled it into the wound, and it'll act as a bandage until it heals. Take a look, it's good as new."

#588 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 11:40 AM:

Earl @ #586

Sorry! Composition patterns. I had no idea there was a software engineering analog.

#589 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 11:52 AM:

Updating...

Saw the surgeon today. My leg is in a below-the-knee cast, so I can now bend my leg. My spine is also healing. Another month, and I should be able to say goodbye to the back-brace and the plaster.

The weather ias bad, for England, and I anticipate the snow-slush to be ice in the morning. Not fun.

#590 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 11:59 AM:

ajay, #584: No offense, but that sounds more like an Iraqi-owned Kinkade gallery...

#591 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 12:10 PM:

I wonder how much Kinkade would charge to do a painting, in his typical style, of a peaceful Iraqi cottage being blown to bits by an artillery barrage?...

Note that I'm not bothering to ask "whether."

#592 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 12:19 PM:

#589, Dave Bell -

I imagine the improvement in your mobility is making a huge difference in your comfort. Glad to hear things are progressing nicely.

#593 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 12:56 PM:

Regarding post-apocalyptic books, not so long ago I tried to get an effort at Crooked Timber going to catalogue all the SF works that involve the destruction of London, in order to confirm or refute my hypothesis that London is literature's most destroyed city.

#594 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 01:15 PM:

Lee 575: Oh, they've borrowed the Angelator from the Jeffersonian?

Oh, no, this was nothing as near-future as the Angelator. They went inside this room (with that square pattern on the walls like a turned-off TNG holodeck, albeit in a different color scheme), and looked at a lifesize 3D image of the victim's body, showing all the radiation hot spots. "Zoom in on the stomach," one of them says, and the stomach appears on the walls, so they can examine its contents and determine that she didn't eat any thallium.

R.M. 580: I know what you mean about Vegas. I'm so tired of bright teenagers turning out to be murderers because their parents neglected them, and little girls' bodies...well, never mind. But now that Morpheus is in it, it's hard to resist.

KeithS 583: If I understand you correctly, you're saying that one of the CSI team was suffering from radiation sickness because he was exposed to a radiation-exposed patient? If so, wow. I think this should be known as the cootie theory of radiation.

Yep. They're all about the cootie theory. I think they took a script that was about a deadly virus and just did an s/virus/radiation/ on it. They kept saying things like "This radiation isn't airborne, so Sid must have touched her." They kept using 'radiation' and 'contamination' interchangeably. And they checked to see if people had radiation sickness by using a geiger counter.

OK, the first victim was contaminated through skin contact (the killer had painted a book in the library with thallium—they made a point of saying that thallium was soluble in water). So of course, Sid, who always wears gloves when examining a victim (except this time), keels over from the radiation exposure while examining her. I guess he's old and weak, so the tiny transfer from her knocked him cold almost instantly, instead of taking several days to make him sick like it did her.

Are they actively trying to make sure no one knows science? This is over the top even for TV. Looks like we're back to "we have to keep the general public confused about the effects of radiation" in Hollywood. I'm astonished they didn't put in some giant ants.

#595 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 01:24 PM:

Dave Bell @ 589... Another month, and I should be able to say goodbye to the back-brace and the plaster

May that month come soon.

#596 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 01:51 PM:

Alex @ 593, I would have bet either Tokyo or New York -- but that would be including movies and TV. Now I'm curious.

#597 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 01:58 PM:

Sarah S. #588: I had no idea there was a software engineering analog.

Gang of Four Design Patterns

#598 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 02:17 PM:

And so the semester begins: Marie-Olympe de Gouges’ was born in 1748 and in 1793, she was executed for sedation “for having forgotten the virtues which befits her sex.”

#599 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 02:25 PM:

Fragano @ 598 - You need to compile those gems like Anders Henriksson did.

Life reeked with joy

http://theody.net/reeked.html

#600 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Xopher @ 594:

Are they actively trying to make sure no one knows science?

No, since they know that lots of people still think that radiation is magical and/or scary. Or, as I strongly suspect, they think that radiation is magical and/or scary. Then again, on the few occasions I've seen CSI, it was all about the magic. I've never once seen its alleged realism.

#601 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 02:56 PM:

Xopher @594 Thallium isn't usually radioactive, is it? It's a heavy metal poison. Apart from the other … infelicities in the story.

Dave Bell @589 – Yay! Another step forward <ahem> … anyway, d'you think the cast is that thermo-concrete stuff?

Another cheer for Lori's Jan @553. Ain't human ingenuity & evolved healing mechanisms wunnerful?

#602 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 03:01 PM:

I've been getting a kick out of Life on Mars recently. Here's a time-travel story (for those who haven't heard of it, it's about a modern day detective who "wakes up" in 1973 and is on the New York City police force) that seems utterly grounded in a gritty reality. And it's a delight to see Harvey Keitel in a role that seems tailor-made for him.

#603 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 03:43 PM:

A friend of mine is a forensic analyst. She stays in the lab, snipping clothing and swabbing stuff, and running machines all day. All she does is DNA testing.

She says the closest to what her job is like is Abby's job in NCIS, and even that is not very realistic.

She will not watch a CSI show; I'm hoping that someday I can persuade her to watch a single episode with me, (probably as a present,) and I will get to listen to her rant about everything they are doing wrong for a good solid hour.

#604 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 03:49 PM:

Epacris @ 601 -- There are radioactive isotopes of thallium (as I found while I was wondering the same thing). Th-201, which apparently was what they used in that episode, is a medical isotope, half-life 73 hours. I have a sneaking suspicion that that short half life is not consistent with the events portrayed, and I don't know if the episode explained how the culprit supposedly got hold of the stuff.

#605 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 04:18 PM:

My favorite forensics scene in a long time was in this week's episode of The Closer. It begins with their finding a very fat man stuck in his car's trunk, dead for days under the Los Angeles sun. As a result, they can't take him out of the trunk so they'll tow the whole car to the lab. Except that the car rolls downhill from the tow truck, crashes against a phone pole, from which a transformer falls right down on the trunk before the power line falls on the car and sets it on fire. When they finally make it to the lab, and saw the trunk open, the forensics guy simply says:

"Yuch."
#606 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 04:43 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 598

Official: And, having been born this year for the second time, was sentenced to death for the crime of nodding off in a meeting of a revolutionary committee. Guillotine, strike!

Headsman: But sir, I can't kill her while she's snoring! You know how boring those meetings can get.

Official: True, and she wasn't excited about being a counter-revolutionary; she was sedate about it, after all. So wake her up and then cut off her head.

#607 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 04:53 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 606 -

Wasn't there an episode of some lawyer show that had as its premise that since state law forbade the execution of a mentally ill man, then the state was justifed in forcing the administration of anti-psychotics until he was well enough to be executed?

#608 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 04:59 PM:

Speaking of isotopes... Albuquerque's baseball team is called the Isotopes. Feel free to make Simpsons jokes.

#609 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 05:03 PM:

A Law and Order episode. It was a rewrite of the Ted Kaczinski story.

#610 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 05:06 PM:

A friend of mine told me about his high school football team that for some reason was called the Nads. (I'm not making this up)

Anyway, that meant that at the games, the students would be cheering, "GO NADS! GO NADS!"

#611 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 05:07 PM:

Steve c#607:

My dad worked for awhile in what was basically a maximum security mental institution, in the 70s. He told me there were people in the institution who were under sentence of death, but could not be executed so long as they remained insane. Oddly, these guys never seemed to get better, and indeed, seemed to get much worse whenever the folks from the court or county or whatever came around to check on them.

I guess now there are cases where people on death row are given IQ tests to decide if they're smart enough to be executed. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that most of them don't try real hard. (Caveat: The ones who really aren't bright enough to understand what's going on probably do their best, but anyone who does understand is going to be shooting for a very low score.) If you think stereotype threat depresses scores, wait'll you see the effect that execution threat has on them.

In general, the legal system has the sausage property in spades--if you want to feel good about it, it's probably better not to inquire too deeply about how it gets its results.

#612 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 05:15 PM:

Steve C. @ 610: And the opposing team's supporters' rejoinder would be, "nuts to you"?

#613 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 05:36 PM:

albatross @ 611 - I don't doubt it. In those cases it's smart to play dumb.

Not that I'm planning anything, but in case I ever ran afoul of legal system and I was a candidate for execution, I'd get crazy or stupid in a hurry. Probably my only evidence for the doofus defense would be, "Yer honor, this is an IT guy who still occasionally programs in COBOL!"

#614 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 05:56 PM:

Serge, 608: Wikipedia reports that the Albuquerque Isotopes actually picked the name because of the relevant Simpsons episode.

#615 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 07:07 PM:

607, 609: Not the Ted Kaczynski case; it was a real case in some state, and that was exactly what the state was arguing - they were seeking a court order authorizing them to forcibly administer antipsychotics to a prisoner so that he could be considered sane enough to be executed. I may have seen discussion of the case in my wife's copy of the American Psychological Association's Monitor.

#616 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 07:21 PM:

The Albuquerque AAA team was formerly the Dukes, for reasons that I've forgotten. Since it was (and now is again) the highest-level farm team of the Dodgers, I used to pay a fair bit of attention to them, particularly when the Hawai'i Islanders played them.

#617 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 07:36 PM:

Joel 604: It isn't, and they did. Some kind of medical-equipment factory that went bust or something.

This awful episode is fading rapidly from my mind.

#618 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 07:55 PM:

Xopher @594: I'm astonished they didn't put in some giant ants.

Now that could be fun; do an update of Them! in the mode of a CSI episode. Even better, do it as a CSI episode — in which the final scene reveals the entire episode to have been 'just a dream' of one of the principal characters, or to have been taking place in an alternate universe (possibly tying in that stargate in storage at Area 51). Perhaps the ants could have come from a parallel universe.

I was thinking that the original movie started in the desert outside of Las Vegas, but a little research shows it had been outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico (how close to your backyard, Serge?)

#619 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 08:00 PM:

I loved CSI:Atlantis! What's not to love?

#620 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 08:18 PM:

On the advice appearing further upthread (Caroline, #348), I Netflixed Troll 2.

Oh. My. God.

I think the last time I saw a movie this bad was... I dunno. Maybe the studio cut of Brazil. (Not the one originally released in theaters. The one that showed up on syndicated TV, also included as an extra in the Criterion DVD set. Try renting it; it's appalling, but will show you just how comprehensively bad editing can destroy even a good film.)

My one coherent thought about Troll 2: for some reason, the spectral grandpa really reminded me of Philip K. Dick. Which gave an extra, weird edge to the scenes where he explains the movie's cosmology--such as it is--to his grandson.

Now I'm imagining some kind of weird 1980s Saturday morning cartoon... one where Philip K. Dick is an Obi-Wan figure mentoring a group of multiethnic kids who use their Valis powers to fight Richard Nixon and the Empire that Never Ended. It would certainly have been preferable to The Smurfs.

#621 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 09:23 PM:

#305 Nicole LeBoeuf-Little: Curse you for linking to Flight of the Hamsters! I have better more Important things to do with my time, but I was playing FOTH instead for a while.

That's what happened to Rip Van Winkle too. He got absorbed in a game and wasted a lot of time. Don't let it happen to you.

#622 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 10:41 PM:

Dave Bell, #589, good news, and doesn't your upper leg look weird? I was surprised by my leg when the foot-to-hip cast came off. I was lucky, though, no itching.

Steve C., #607, DC is working on that.

#623 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2009, 10:53 PM:

PNH's link "Don't Work for Assholes" was great. That article is only one in a series of "Things I Learned the Hard Way," and they were all worth reading.

#624 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 12:11 AM:

I want to give a big shout out to whoever invented ibuprofen.

This morning: Hunched over, walking like an eighty year old.

Early afternoon, 3 hours after a double dose: Feeling pretty good.

One of my co-workers has a "stand up" workstation. I'm wondering if I should follow suit.

#625 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 12:34 AM:

Clifton Royston: I seem to recall several cases where the state has adminstered drugs to make a defendant competent to stand trial. I have a friend who was attacked by someone who was unbalaneced.

The jail infirmary had him doped on thorazine so he wasn't twitching, and foaming at the mouth, in the courtroom.

I thought you were asking about a television show, and that was how Law and Order dealt with that aspect of the case. Sorry for misunderstanding you.

#626 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 01:10 AM:

Chris Quinones @ 614... Linkmeister @ 616... The team was called the Dukes, presumably because Duke City is a nickname for I-shoulda-toined-left-at-Albuquoique, although I don't know where that one comes from. I'm not a sports fan, but I do remember reading about the team's name change in the local right-wing rag... I mean... the local newspaper, and the Simpsons indeed were their inspiration. Gogling reveals that there later was an episode of the show about Homer worrying that Springfield's team was going to relocate here. (In comic books, Albuquerque seems to be the end of the Marvel universe, or does anybody else remember when Grant Morrison was writing the X-men comics?)

#627 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 01:18 AM:

A computer tip...

No, I'm not going to ask for one.
I'm giving one.

Last year, I asked here and on my blog for recommendations about portable DVD players capable of handling various formats. There didn't appear to be anything I could afford that would do what I wanted, and where the screen size would be bigger than that of an old Ace Double. As a result, I decided to take a different approach and, as soon as my wife got her new laptop, her one one became mine. I was provided a recommendation for a software that can handle not just all North-American formats, but it could also let my laptop's DVD drive handle European ones too.

Details are here, in case you're interested.

#628 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 04:42 AM:

Marilee, the surprise for me was the normal side-to-side movement of a bent knee, and the extra weight of the cast still protecting my ankle. Ow!

#629 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 07:10 AM:

Marie-Olympe de Gouges’ was born in 1748 and in 1793, she was executed for sedation “for having forgotten the virtues which befits her sex.”

Over-use of sedation can lead to moral torpitude.

#630 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 07:37 AM:

Well,I've been cooking. Nothing fancy, but a bit different to my father's style.

250 gm minced beef.

1 tbsp Tandoori spice.

1 can red kidney beans

potatoes cut to about half-inch cubes.

Simmer in pan.

I said simmer!

Add dumplings for last half-hour and bring to a slightly faster boil.

Salt, pepper, herbs, etc as discoveredin the cupboard my father didn't open.

cooking is a lot easier when you can bend both knees and sit at the work-top.

#631 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 08:25 AM:

It may have only been relevant to the discussion 400 or so comments ago, but I just found the link and I think it's a really important one if you're just dipping your first toe into the Facebook.

10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know.

(My favorite is the one that lets you disallow other people from seeing photos that other "friends" post/tag of you. I would never post a photo of someone else without their permission, and especially not if they looked horrible(/drunk/stupid/sneezy), but apparently I'm the only person on the planet who feels this way, so it's a good setting to know about.)

#632 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 08:59 AM:

ajay #629: Especially in the 1790s.

#633 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 10:27 AM:

#598 et al well, yanno, sedition → sedation isn't that hard a slip to make, and see the exciting results:
bill ➛ ball
fill ➛ fall
gill ➛ gall
hill ➛ hall
mill ➛ mall
pill ➛ pall
till ➛ tall
will ➛ wall
silly ➛ sally
and so on.

#634 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 10:44 AM:

Linkmeister (#616), as to why Albuquerque is sometimes called Duke City, and team 'the Dukes', it takes its name from the Duke of Alburquerque (note first 'r'), who was the Spanish viceroy of the colony when the town was founded.

#635 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 11:04 AM:

Mez @ 633: It occurs to me that "dark Satanic malls" would not be a slip so much as a paradigm shift.

(Going in the other direction, I'd very much like to hear the Steeleye Span arrangement of "Down by the Silly Gardens.")

#636 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 11:16 AM:

Mez @ 634... Oh, that's where the 'Duke' comes from. As for misspelling the city's original name... When I moved there in 2000, I ordered new checks from our bank. And had to promptly send them back because there is no such town as Alberqureq, not around here anyway. By the way, did you know that, before New Mexico became a state, one of its governors was one General Lew Wallace, aka the author of "Ben-Hur"?

#637 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 11:43 AM:

Lux Interior of the Cramps died. A longstanding heart condition, apparently. [sigh] That gets me down.

#638 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 11:44 AM:

Lux Interior of the Cramps died. A longstanding heart condition, apparently. [sigh] That gets me down.

#640 ::: Steff Z ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 03:37 PM:

Another amusing headline, this one from the AP:

Reindeer herding Sami celebrate national day

I had no idea that reindeer had a nation, nor a national day, nor that they celebrated anything.
I certainly had no idea that reindeer could herd any people - let alone the reindeer-savvy Sami people.

Are reindeer smart enough to herd people and celebrate at the same time? What do they celebrate with - huge luscious heaps of crunchy tundra lichen? If they get carried away, do the people manage to run off? What is going on in Lappland??? The article does not answer any of my questions about the headline.

Maybe it's just that hyphens are MUCH too hard to type, or the concept of a compound adjective is much too hard to use.

#641 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 04:27 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 618

Perhaps the ants could have come from a parallel universe.

And you could tell because the ants all had beards?

Somewhere on this hard disk is a bit of Cthulhu fanfic I wrote a couple of years ago, the first episode in the CSI:Arkham series. The main character is Lady Heather from CSI:Las Vegas, who has been hired as Chief Forensic Investigator for the city of Arkham's police force, but has some additional duties to an, errr, Higher Power, in the case of inexplicable causes of death.

#642 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 05:09 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 641... the ants all had beards

Like this one?

#643 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 05:12 PM:

Won't you please find it in your hearts to sponsor an executive?

After all, if you don't help, who will?

#644 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 05:29 PM:

Serge @ 642 - Man, those Zanti dudes still creep me out a bit. I was just thinking that someone could make some evil photomanips plastering the faces of recently departed villains on those ant bodies. Anyone have good Photoshop-fu?

#645 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 05:34 PM:

Steve C @ 644... Well, Mary Dell's photoshop-fu is quite strong, but I fear that the sight of a zanti with Dubya's face would be enough to turn us into gibbering mindless creatures.

#646 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 06:33 PM:

James Whitmore has died - age 87 - according to the LA Times.

#647 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 06:39 PM:

P J Evans @ 646 - He was a good actor. Odd that we talked about Them! a couple of times in this thread.

#648 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 07:09 PM:

Cat, #631: Thank you! I have that bookmarked now, in case I need it. Right now I'm not doing a lot with Facebook, but I can see how in the future I might (for example) want to separate out people who are on my friendslist for business purposes from those I know in my personal life. And I can't imagine anyone currently on my list posting an embarrassing photo of me or anyone else... but of course, it's always possible that I don't know all my acquaintances, and their personal ethics, as well as I think I do.

#649 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 07:16 PM:

Heh.

I had reason a few moments ago to visit PublishAmerica's web site. I noticed that since I last visited, they'd added a Better Business Bureau quality logo thing in the top right corner of their pages. Noting the irony of this, I clicked on the icon. To be presented with this page:

https://www.bbb.org/online/consumer/cks.aspx?ID=105060194339

"BBBOnLine Seal Verification for PublishAmerica

This business's BBBOnLine participation has lapsed for one of the following reasons:

# Non-payment of the annual BBBOnLine license fee or BBB Accreditation dues;

# Failure by the business to maintain its BBB Accreditation, or abide by the program standards or dispute resolution requirements of the BBBOnLine program"

:)

#650 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Lee @648 - it's really not that they do it on purpose - I really think that most people look at pictures and say, "this is a picture of X. I will post it so everyone can see my good friend X!" sort of thing. (When really, in my opinion, they should exercise a little discretion and say, "wow, that person looks really funny when they're just about to sneeze. I think I'll keep this one to myself." But that's the thing - you can lead a friend to Facebook but you can't make 'em think.)

But I may be a little obsessive about that sort of thing. (And at any rate, definitely distrustful of photos in general.)

#651 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2009, 08:20 PM:

Cat, photos can totally weird one out, as witness this set:

Strange pics

This was found via Boing Boing. While I wouldn't call it NSFW, I would advise that there are several disturbing images here. So let's call it NSFSP (Not Safe For Sensitive People).

#652 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:12 AM:

Is it true that Seattle has just withdrawn its bid to host the worldcon in 2011?

#653 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:14 AM:

Stefan Jones, #624, I'd like to jail whoever invented ibuprofen.

Three months, one pill twice a week.

Renal failure.

The nephrologists say that 2% of anybody who ever takes it gets some kind of kidney damage.

Serge, #627, I remembered your post when I read this old WashPost last night.

#654 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:38 AM:

Marilee @ 653... Yes, it's really neat not to have one's DVD-watching limited to one region. Of course, when I went to Amazon's British counterpart yesterday, I discovered that the DVD set of Star Cops is out of print, and that a never-watched set costs close to $200. Bah humbug. On the other hand, I will be able to finally acquire the animated films based on Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese.

#655 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:52 AM:

#653: Sorry to hear that! I only use it when the back problem flares up. When it is a very good thing.

#656 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 01:29 AM:

Serge #652: Is it true that Seattle has just withdrawn its bid to host the worldcon in 2011?

Correct.

#657 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 01:33 AM:

Serge, #652: Looks like.

Which sucks, but when the facility wants earnest money before you even know if you've got the con...

#658 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 01:44 AM:

On the other hand... Reno is near the Sierras. Also, it's only 160 miles (3 hours) south-east of Mount Lassen, which has volcanic sources of hot water. Also, Reno is only 200 miles (3.5 hours) from the Bay Area.

#659 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:40 AM:

Just 'cause I love a good snark:

I'm reading Benoit Mandelbrot's The (mis)Behavior of Markets, and I found this quote from 2004, which very aptly describes our present economic condition:

We lurch from crisis to crisis. In a networked world, mayhem in one market spreads instantaneously to all others—and we have the vaguest of notions how this happens, or how to regulate it. So limited is our knowledge that we resort, not to science, but to shamans. We place control of the world's largest economy in the hands of a few elderly men, the central bankers. We do not understand what they do or how, but we have blind faith that they can somehow induce the economic spirits to bring us financial sunshine and rain, and save us from financial frost and pestilence.

#660 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:55 AM:

Just 'cause I love a good snark:

I'm reading Benoit Mandelbrot's The (mis)Behavior of Markets, and I found this quote from 2004, which very aptly describes our present economic condition:

We lurch from crisis to crisis. In a networked world, mayhem in one market spreads instantaneously to all others—and we have the vaguest of notions how this happens, or how to regulate it. So limited is our knowledge that we resort, not to science, but to shamans. We place control of the world's largest economy in the hands of a few elderly men, the central bankers. We do not understand what they do or how, but we have blind faith that they can somehow induce the economic spirits to bring us financial sunshine and rain, and save us from financial frost and pestilence.

#661 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:57 AM:

Sorry for the double post; the first post ran several minutes, so I stopped it and started again. Next time I'll reload the page first to make sure it didn't go up.

#662 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 08:10 AM:

About the "new story in Jo Walton's Farthing universe" mentioned in Sidelights: how much of the series does one need to have read first?

ie. is it safe to read for someone who's only read 'Farthing' itself?

#663 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 10:50 AM:

Another great headline:
Snow-crazed stoat goes berserk

#664 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:07 PM:

Paul, 662: The new story doesn't have any spoilers for the books. Go forth and read!

#665 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Lila @ 663...

Snow-crazed thoats?
In the United Kingdom?
("Not thoats. Stoats.")
Oh.
Nevermind.

#666 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:22 PM:

In case people are interested... On February 15, TCM is showing No Time for Love, a romantic comedy starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray. I mention it because of the dream sequence where Claudette finds herself rescued from a top-hatted mustach-twirling villain by a flying Fred dressed like Captain Marvel.

#667 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:25 PM:

My last couple of busy, fruitful days had, despite, a heavy dread about them because right in the city centre there was a smoky smell from a nearby minor bushfire. But it's down south in the next State, Victoria, that they've been badly hit (see news links below). Much more deaths & destruction than we've had for years; more still expected. Between warm nights (moon waxing gibbous) and worriedly tuning the radio to hear news, sleep eludes.

'More than 40 feared [14 confirmed] dead, 100 homes lost in Victorian fires' — www.abc.net.au/ news/ stories/ 2009/ 02/ 07/ 2485270.htm (ABC photos)

Many may be trapped in homes (SMH photos)

Oh, and extremely heavy rain has caused major floods up north in Queensland. Ingham
( http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/07/2485190.htm ), Tully and near Cairns f'rinstance, with the Herbert and Tully Rivers flooding.

#668 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:50 PM:

... showing 'No Time for Love', a romantic comedy starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray.

I guess this would be the antithesis to Time Enough For Love?

I wonder what you get if you collide them?

#669 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:55 PM:

Regarding Hugo eligibility... Does a short story published in a magazine with a cover date of January 2008 count even if the issue was actually releaed in December 2007?

(By the way, thia year is when they will decide on the ratification to a change to the rules whereby a blog would be eligible in the fanzine category. I am planning to attend that bbusiness meeting and to vote in favor of the ratification. About time too, and I can thank Susan de Guardiola and Ben Yalow for that.)

#670 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:55 PM:

#667: Fred MacMurray as Lazarus Long in "My Hundreds of Sons"?

#671 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 04:32 PM:

Clifton @ 667: You get Enough is Enough?

#672 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 05:16 PM:

Jon: [sputtering hysterically]

Ginger: Or perhaps Too Much Love is Better Than Not Enough?

#673 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:14 PM:

Maybe Two-Timing When Love is not Enough?

#674 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:24 PM:

My last couple of busy, fruitful days had, despite that, a heavy dread about them because right in the city centre there was a smoky smell from a nearby minor bushfire. But it's down south in the next State, Victoria, that they've been badly hit (see news links below). Much more deaths & destruction than we've had for years; more still expected. Between warm nights (moon waxing gibbous) and worriedly tuning the radio to hear news, sleep eludes. Now trying to deal with unslept hangover effect.

'More than 40 feared [14 (update: 25) confirmed] dead, 100 homes lost in Victorian fires' — www.abc.net.au/ news/ stories/ 2009/ 02/ 07/ 2485270.htm (plus ABC photos)

Many may be trapped in homes (plus SMH photos)

#675 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:39 PM:

Oh, and extremely heavy rain has caused major floods up north in Queensland. Ingham
(http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/07/2485190.htm), Tully and near Cairns f'rinstance, with the Herbert and Tully Rivers flooding.

"Droughts and flooding rains", indeed. (Ignore bio details.)

#676 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 08:52 PM:

Just got back from seeing Coraline. It is of course not identical to the book, but it's entirely worthy of it. Amazing and stupendulous!

Really, it's an outstanding movie. I might go to see it again just to try to catch more of the visual references to other movies.

#677 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 08:57 PM:

Apologies if someone's already mentioned it but:

Sultan's Elephant creators bring forth....a giant spider.

#678 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 10:25 PM:

Epacris, I'm so sorry about all the deaths and destruction. I haven't read/seen anything about that here.

Pulled from a couple of LJ accounts: The Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks.

#679 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:02 AM:

Serge #668: Regarding Hugo eligibility... Does a short story published in a magazine with a cover date of January 2008 count even if the issue was actually released in December 2007?

3.1.1: Unless otherwise specified, Hugo Awards are given for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year. [emphasis mine]

However, "Because such a huge proportion of the people who nominate on the Hugo Awards are in the USA, and because those people often do not get to see works first published outside the USA until a year later when those works get US publication, WSFS has been experimenting with extending the eligibility of works first published outside the USA."

So, if you ask me, "appearing" doesn't refer to the date printed on the publication, it refers to the date the work is made available for actual people to read it. Note, though, that I am not a Hugo Administrator. If you want a definitive answer about a particular work, you might want to contact a member of the Hugo Administration Committee of the current sitting WorldCon.

#680 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:04 AM:

Drat the fact that I can't correct typos here. That should be 3.2.1.

#681 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:10 AM:

"Coraline" indeed rocked. The 3-D made the whole animated-puppet animation all the more engrossing.

Differences between book and movie were relatively minor, and quite acceptable. Not really spoilers, but:

Gur fgbel (jryy, gur erny-jbeyq cneg) gnxrf cynpr va Nfuynaq, BE; gur naahny Funxrfcrner srfgviny vf zragvbarq.

Gurer'f n perrcl qbyy jub vf na vagrteny cneg bs gur fgbel . . . V qba'g guvax vg nccrnerq va gur obbx.

Pbenyvar vf crfgrerq ol n tbbsl arvtuobe xvq. Znlor ur jnf nqqrq gb nccrny gb gur lbhat znyr ivrjref? Va nal pnfr, ur vf ng jbefg n unezyrff nqqvgvba.

Gur qrgnvyf bs gur "frpbaq" pyvznk ner qvssrerag. V yvxr gur obbx'f irefvba n ovg orggre, ohg gur zbivr'f qbrf ryvzvangr n snyfr raqvat naq xrrcf guvatf ebyyvat.

Those are the differences. The movie itself? Wonderful, in the literal sense of the word, and taking into account that not all wonders are necessarily nice.

Technically, just beautiful. Great character design, nifty props and sets, good voices. Some visually very funny stuff, like almost-naked sixty-something performers.

Suitable for kids . . . oh, I'll say eight and up. There are some really scary things, but TV these days is pretty intense. The kids near me weren't gasping in terror or anything. I did hear one impressed "that's pretty scary!"

#682 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:11 AM:

Ear Cooley III @ 678... Thanks. I also heard back from someone who was involved in some of the committee's meetings at Denvention and she said that, at least where magazines are concerned, the cover date s what they go by.

#683 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:17 AM:

To all those worried about the fire, drought, and bizarre weather in Australia:

This is a natural cycle! There have been mass extinctions before. It was warmer in medieval times and grapes grew in Greenland. Humanity might die but the planet will be just fine. Just a natural cycle. Glaciers are growing again. Nothing to worry about. And fixing it would ruin the economy and raise taxes.

This message brought to you by the Association of Climate Change Skeptics who Could Use a Kick in the Groin. Or Two.

#684 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:22 AM:

Yes, let's not ruin the economy just to save humanity. That would be foolish.

#685 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:23 AM:

Stefan:
Did you spot the momentary Benny and Joon riff? And the couple bits that seemed to be playing off Pan's Labyrinth? There was another bit where I thought "Oh, that's such-and-such!" but now I can't remember what it was.

#686 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:29 AM:

I did a shelf cleansing today:

After Picture.

All of the first edition fiction books that my father found in garage sales and thought would be valuable someday. Well, I'll find out on Monday, when the appraiser looks them over. (There's a first edition Elmer Gantry in there, but in rough shape.)

A miscellany of non-fiction books, mainly lit-crit stuff (also from my father) and odds and ends like a woodworking primer.

Half, maybe more, of my SF paperbacks. Things I had hanging around for decades, and mostly haven't been read in the last 12 years. Some I couldn't care less about. I rarely read even books I like more than once these days.

Others I had twinges about: A half dozen signed Hal Clement books; a dozen Larry Niven "Known Space" books of a certain edition that had Rick Sternback covers and Bonnie Dazell sketches of aliens on the inside covers. I just totally adored those at one time. I don't think I could stand reading them now. But still.

I sold the SF to Powell's. $119. Not bad. They rejected about a dozen books, including the Niven stuff. I don't want to just dump them on Goodwill. Sigh.

Eventually I'll need to make decisions about the rest. There's nearly a whole shelf of DAW edition Jack Vance books. Again, once adored, but I couldn't see reading them again. A dozen Heinlein juveniles, in Ace paperbacks with wonderful covers. Valuable? Probably not, but too good for Goodwill.

#687 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:38 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 682... Humanity might die but the planet will be just fine

They should work on their morale-boosting techniques.

#688 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:38 AM:

#684: I really didn't notice any film allusions. This is probably due to my being dense. I saw Benny & Joon but don't remember it well enough to have noticed anything.

Pan's Labyrinth? I wouldn't be surprised. Leave a ROT13 hint!

#683: Really, there are con suite libertarian types who think global warming is a plot by statists and communitarians to impose socialism.

#689 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 02:03 AM:

Stefan @ #685, I thought my shelves were, um, untidy. That was taken mid-Library Thing cataloging; it's since been cleaned up some.

#690 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 02:20 AM:

#688: Shelves are currently a disaster because this morning's Cleansing was merciless, swift, and conducted in my underwear.

#691 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 02:26 AM:

OK, gur ovg jurer fur'f cyrnqvat jvgu ure zbgure gb ohl gur tybirf, naq gura fgnegf fyvqvat hc gb ure naq njnl ntnva ba gur jurryrq fgbby jnivat gur tybirq unaqf ng ure, vzzrqvngryl fgehpx zr nf n evss ba gur fprar va O & W jurer Oraal vf pyrnavat gur xvgpura jvaqbjf juvyr mbbzvat onpx naq sbegu ba gur jurryrq fgrc-fgbby.

Gur znagvf cvpgher ubyqre fgehpx zr nf orvat irel pybfr gb gur fgvpx-vafrpg snvel va gur rneyl cneg'f bs Cna'f Ynolevagu, naq gur yvir qentbasyvrf mbbzvat nebhaq ure Bgure Orqebbz rira zber fb; V guvax gung zvtug jryy or vagragvbany.

#692 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 02:46 AM:

Stefan @ #688, beat me! I'm pretty sure I was fully clothed at the time I went through mine.

#693 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 03:50 AM:

Epacris@673 - you are not alone. Who sleeps when the world is on fire? My Gippsland kin are OK, by last report. Do you have family in the area?

(Update: over 700 homes, 66 dead, more expected).

I remember the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires; this is worse. But we got through those, somehow, and we will get through this. Go and give blood, if you can - it's something concrete that we can do now to help. I guarantee it'll make you feel better.

#694 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 09:20 AM:

Last night, I decided to give myself a belated wedding-anniversary present, and went online to buy 3 DVDs. I don't know if their individual prices says something about their critical appreciation by the world, but Time after Time cost more than Wild Wild West. Yes, I bought Wild Wild West, but because of the giant mechanical spider. I also treated myself to First Men(*) in the Moon.

(*) And one woman.

#695 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 09:25 AM:

Epacris, this morning's news reports are horrifying. My heart goes out to everyone who's having to live through this--"apocalyptic" is not an exaggeration.

#696 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 09:58 AM:

TexAnne @ #664:

Oh, good. Thanks!

#697 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 10:46 AM:

Today, on the SciFi Channel... Larva ('You are now leaving the town of Host') is on, to be followed by The Hive, then Black Swarm, all this leading to tonight's original movie Locusts, starring Lucy Lawless.

So, either I allow my brain to further rot today, or I catch up with my Hugo Preliminary reading.

Decisions, decisions.

#698 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 11:46 AM:

Stefan Jones @ #685:

I've fallen in love with both Paperback Swap and Bookmooch for swapping books. Admittedly I've got a ton of credits at each because I'm sending out more books than I'm requesting, but at least I know the books end up in the hands of somebody who wants them.

#699 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 11:56 AM:

Stefan Jones @#685: Your local public library would probably love to have anything you don't want (and can't sell)!

#700 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 12:56 PM:

David Harmon (698): Only if they're in excellent, if not pristine, condition. Otherwise they'll just end up in the library booksale, at best.

Signed, the person who sorts paperback donations at her library.

#701 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 03:32 PM:

Marilee, Lila thanks for your concern. Word may spread yet.
vian #692, Good to hear your people are OK so far. AFAIK, mine aren't in threatened areas (flood or fire) in their States. Regular blood donations have been a way of contributing when there was none other.
My parents remembered Black Friday 1939 (a year significant otherwise). 1983 was big in my life. Looks like 2009 will join this list.

#702 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 04:04 PM:

Epacris, vian, glad to hear you're okay.

I lived in Australia, some of my family are still there (safe and nowhere near the fires, thank god). I remember the Ash Wednesday fires. Again, we were nowhere near them -- but the wind that fanned the flames brought the smoke and the ash and the smell to people who were hundreds of miles from danger.

I've tried to donate to the Victorian Red Cross appeal, but at the moment it doesn't seem to be recognising non-Australian credit cards.

#703 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 07:15 PM:

Epacris @ 70: News is coming through about the fires; the New York Times also had a photo slide show.

At a choir dinner tonight, a few people had heard that there were fires raging, but not that so many had died. We all hope it is brought under control as swiftly as possible.

#704 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 07:42 PM:

Julia @701, Thank you, thank you. We all thank you.

Australian & Victorian Red Cross as well as banks – ANZ, Bendigo, Commonwealth (CBA), NAB – are taking donations. I'll let people know problem. Their sites & phone donation hotlines are overloaded, understandably.

Quick query: big-brand world card: American Express, MasterCard, Visa, but non-Oz numbering? Or ‘local’ like Barclays, &c? (Email for privacy if preferred.)


Some links
http://www.redcross.org.au/default.asp – Oz Red Cross

about 2009 Victorian Bushfire Fund
about Bendigo Bank Appeal

Online donations
Red Cross
Bendigo Bank

#705 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 08:07 PM:

Julia - The Red Cross donation site is swamped at the moment, but you might have better luck with a direct deposit. One of the papers is reporting that you can make a direct deposit to the Victorian Bushfire Relief Fund. The article is here:

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25027108-421,00.html

#706 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 08:50 PM:

And as epacris says, we all thank you.

#707 ::: mcpye ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 09:16 PM:

Surfacing from the murk to add that the Salvos have international donations already organised.

Salvation Army one-off donations to Victoria Bushfire Appeal
- Australian bank transfer & credit cards
www.salvationarmy.com.au/partners/donate.asp?oneoff=yes
- International donations
secure.salvationarmy.org

Relurking with gratitude for thoughts & wishes, tho' your funds may be too short to reach this far.

#708 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 09:50 PM:

Lila, #676, wow, that's a great piece of work!

Stefan, #680, Coraline takes 3D glasses? So I should probably go see it instead of waiting for the DVD?

... #685, you can sell them via Amazon, eBay, Abebooks, or many others, but if you'd rather not do that, your local library will probably sell them and use the money for library projects. Our Friends of the Library gave the community room new carpet, tables, and chairs a few years ago.

Linkmeister, #688, as you might imagine, my shelves are fairly tidy. You can see pictures here.

#709 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 09:52 PM:

Jo Walton's "After the Spindle". Everybody should read this.

#710 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 11:30 PM:

Is there to be a Fluorospherian get-together at Boskone?

#711 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 11:50 PM:

Marilee, yes. It is well worth a matinee price (our theaters charged an extra $2 for the glasses, we kept ours because there are going to be more and more of these movies coming up).

I really enjoyed the movie, and the kids (Margene's grandkids) did too. It was a good work of art.

#712 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 11:56 PM:

So far everyone I know who's seen Coraline has seen it in 3-D.

I think it is worth the trouble and money to see it on a big screen in 3-D.

#713 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 12:22 AM:

Marilee: There's both a 3D and non-3D version showing in the theaters. My wife thought the 3D version would give her problems with perceptual processing, so we saw the regular version. I might go again to see the 3D version; I heard it was used in ways that gave the movie added depth, if you'll forgive the pun.

#714 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 01:55 AM:

I don't want to discourage anyone from donating money to charitable organizations to help with relief efforts for the Australian fires, but I really do think some fluorospherians might rather choose the International Red Cross over The Salvation Army.

#715 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 03:15 AM:

On the whole I really liked the Coraline movie.

I did think it was curious that they set it in America: there are a number of details in the book that say "England" to me, and most of them were left in.

They left out my favorite line:

"Jr pbhyq or sevraqf." "Jr pbhyq or ener fcrpvzraf bs na rkbgvp oerrq bs Nsevpna qnapvat ryrcunagf, ohg jr'er abg. ... Ng yrnfg, V'z abg."

And also a very significant line:
Jura Pbenyvar vf va gur pbeevqbe, fgehttyvat gb pybfr gur qbbe, gur guvat gung znxrf gur qvssrerapr vf ure zbgure fnlvat "Jryy qbar, Pbenyvar" -- juvpu qbrfa'g unccra va gur zbivr.

#716 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 07:50 AM:

From the Dick Cheney particle:

Mr. Cheney was unapologetic about the previous administration’s failure to head off the economic downturn that began to take shape on Mr. Bush’s watch.
“We did worry about it, to some extent,” he said. “I don’t think anybody actually foresaw something of this size and dimension occurring.”

That sounds uncomfortably familiar.

#717 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 09:22 AM:

Here's an idea I've been mulling over. I'd like to hear if it sounds feasible:

With drastic cutbacks being made in state and city government budgets, one of the items that ALWAYS gets cut is funds for public libraries.

That means, besides trying to cut employee hours and shortening operating hours, most libraries will have to cut back on their book purchases.

I assume that library honchos have regular meetings where lists of desired books are discussed; some make the cut for purchase, some don't. I figure in the current economic climate, they'll be purchasing less from the list, and cutting more.

So here's my idea: An "Adopt-A-Book" program for the general public to donate for specific books from that "cut" list.

A library would post a list of the wanted-but-unbought books on their website, with a setup where an individual could donate the cost of this book, or that book, to the library, earmarked for the purchase of that particular book.

A nice touch would be if the library could put a small sticker inside the book, saying "Adopt-A-Book Program: This book purchased thru the generous donation of [insert name]."

The program could be publicized outside just the library's patrons by various means. My monthly city water bill includes a city newsletter that frequently lists library news and events, for instance.

The major expense for this program would be building the code to set it up for lists and donations on the library's website. Once that's set up and operating, maintaining the lists would be fairly simple. (And there could be a hardcopy list available at the library for people who don't feel comfortable donating money online.)

This might only get six or a dozen extra books purchased per month, but hey, I've always felt that more books at a library is better than less, even if it's only a small number more.

I know there are a fair mumber of librarians here on Making Light. Have I come up with a reasonable idea here, or am I ignorant of library protocols and procedures that would throw up roadblocks to this idea?

#718 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 10:06 AM:

Bruce @716
You are unfortunately correct, and somewhat behind the curve. Libraries have been hurting for 5 years or more.

However, for the most part, library boards do not decide what specific books to buy, they only decide how much money the library has, and perhaps how it will be spent, so much on salaries, so much on books. Occasionally, they have to decide on a very controversial book, but usually they don't get that involved with day to day activities. There is a trend, very upsetting to me, for library boards to spent lots of money on new buildings, and less on salaries and books. Books often make up only 10-20% of the budget, with salaries making up 60-80%.

Librarians decide what to buy, specifically the acquisitions librarian or department. (I know the process, I worked in acquisitions for 5 years.) Most would like to buy far more than they have money and space for. Some libraries have programs where people could give money for books, or specific types of books (like science fiction), and with the rise of Amazon, libraries can add the ability to order a book from Amazon to go to your local library.

Not all libraries do this because the cost to process a book is additional. Finding a place on the shelf may not be possible, unless another book is weeded (i.e. discarded) And many have very specific acquisitions policies, and don't want anyone interfering. Not even by donating books.

By the way, all the decluttering books that tell you to give your books to the library so they can make them available to everyone are deluded. Most of the time, the books you donate will be sold at a book sale, or recycled. And even if they decide the book is needed and in good enough condition, there is no way to know if it will be there if you want it. It may be out, it may be missing. (The loss rates at most libraries are horrendous.) Only donate books if you can't sell them otherwise. Otherwise, sell the books and donate the proceeds. Everyone will be better off.

This is my experience at big city libraries. A small town may be different. YMMV.

#719 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 10:23 AM:

Bruce @ #716, my town's library has an endowment fund from which they not only purchase books, but support internet services, children's programs, etc. etc. ad infinitum. They also have an annual book sale and a small gift shop in the library, which sells used books year-round as well as other stuff.

#720 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 11:03 AM:

My local library used to be open Sunday afternoons during most of the school year, but they stopped doing that after the state budget cuts a few years ago. For some time, they were just had the reduced hours because of budget constraints. Now there is a big sign in the lobby looking forward about 3 months. For each week the library can afford to be open, it says the library will be open on Sunday [date], thanks to a donation from [individual, group, or "anonymous donor"] and sometimes "in honor of" or "in memory of." There are still gaps in the schedule, but it's a lot better than nothing.

#721 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 11:45 AM:

Another huge problem re donating actual books is cataloging them.

These days acquired books almost all arrive at the library via a vendor that has already provided the MARC record and entered the record into the library's OPAC (catalog). There is less and less money to pay a professional librarian to do cataloging per se -- money never goes to salaries, only to programs, facilities and so on. Catalogers are still essential as a distinct dept. generally in large research or speciality libraries, that work with out-of-copyright books, and which still acquire collections from private individuals built around a particular interest such as first editions of juvenile works from the 19th century -- subjects of that nature.

Far more of the budget is spent now on subscription to and the maintenance and management of those marvelous data bases, dvds, online e-books, audio materials, computer games and so on than to books -- all of which are available generally to you right from your home computer or anywhere, with your library card identification.

Your left-over books are, as mentioned above, probably going to go for sale.

Love, C.

#722 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 12:04 PM:

The best way to find out whether your library would find it helpful for you to donate books is to go ask the librarian. If your librarian says that they can not handle book donations, accept that; if they need something specific, or meeting certain criteria, you now know what to do.

At one point when the Hawaii State Library System was suffering under a acquisition program in which the state-imposed mainland company was dictating not just the purchase and cataloging but the selection, I made friends with the YA librarian, found out what they were not getting, and donated some suitable brand new (not lightly-used) graphic novels. (A missing Miracleman volume, Mr. Punch, and The Tale of One Bad Rat, as I recall.) She was very happy with me, but that was a somewhat special situation.

So ask your friendly neighborhood librarian, and respect what you hear.

#723 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 12:52 PM:

Clifton has good advice. A friend of mine who was widowed a few years ago wanted to donate her late husband's extensive collection of martial arts books; she called several branches of our city library until she found one which had a specialization in that area and was delighted to take them. But if she'd stopped with the first branch she called, they'd have ended up at the used bookstore.

#724 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 12:54 PM:

Twenty years ago, during a local (state-wide) economic downturn, the public library in Casper, Wyoming had a program similar to what Bruce describes at 716. Being pre-web, there was a box at the reference desk with reviews of the books the library wanted but couldn't afford to buy. It didn't generate a lot of donations, but there were a few. Bookplates went in the front as acknowledgements.

The medium-sized public library where I work now gets a lot of donations. A very few wind up in the collection. Most go in the booksale, the really icky ones* get thrown out.

*filthy, badly damaged, and/or completely outdated

#725 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 01:10 PM:

We've got a bunch of paperbacks that need a new home, but I expect they'll be adopted when I bring them to the local SF club's monthly meeting this coming Friday. I am also trying to get rid of my DVD of the dreadful Fantastic Four, but I doubt anybody will be interested.

#726 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 01:25 PM:

Austin Public Library accepts donation of bestsellers and other popular titles for library shelves. All other donations go to the annual sale, or (in recent years) to Friends of the Library bookshop. The money raised there goes back to the library for materials, programs and books. I've donated several times, and always felt I was doing good things.

My last donation went to Salvation Army, though, because the bookstore was in transition (reopening three weeks from now in a new location) and the donation was Very Large and SA would come pick up (this was before recent revelations about their current theology and social attitudes came to my attention). It is unfortunate but true that if you have a large object and don't have a pickup truck, SA are the only people willing to come over and pick it up. I wish other charities, more enlightened, would get with the program.

#727 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 03:25 PM:

Mary Aileen @#699: Hmm. I had asked beforehand at Flushing Library (NYC), and they took my bag of miscellaneous books with every indication of pleasure. At the same time, I was moving out of state, so I never got a chance to see if they actually ended up on the shelves.

#728 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 03:31 PM:

Our library sells everything, or at least tries to, and good for them - I picked up a copy of that Harry Potter prediction book about six months after the book 7 came out for 25 cents. Who knows what'll sell? (I didn't see anyone pick up the touring guide to East Germany, though.)

There's some separate system for donating new books to go on the shelves - you get a bookplate - but I don't know what the process is.

The Montgomery County library has a real, live store in the mall where they sell donated and culled books - my mom buys books from them and then donates them back when she's done reading them. (Just like using the library, only she gets to pay for it!)

#729 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 03:31 PM:

Epacris @603: it was with a Mastercard issued by a US bank. I will try again with a UK issued card when I am awake enough to be sure I'm getting all the details right. (I have tonsillitis and my typing leaves something to be desired right now.)

#730 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 04:25 PM:

I was doing our grocery when I saw a woman reaching for some big bottle of soft drink on the top shelf, but she was barely able to reach it, even tiptoeing. I asked if she needed help. Obviously she needed help, but she might feel embarassed about it. Considering that I wound up putting something like 20 bottles in her shopping cart, she wasn't embarassed at all. This is one of those things about being tall that makes up for all the times I banged my head on the ceiling pipes in my parents's basement.

#731 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 04:34 PM:

I donated a whole lot of books to the library when I moved. I hope they end up on the shelves, but if they don't, I don't care. If they sell them, great! The books get a home and the library gets money. What's the problem?

#732 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 05:19 PM:

joann, #725: Re picking up large items, if there's a DAV (Disabled American Veterans) branch in your area, they're worth calling. The one in Nashville was willing to do large-item pickups.

#733 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 05:45 PM:

When I moved in 1992, I donated the books (and other stuff) that didn't sell in the garage sale to the DAV. They were willing to come and pick them up on a day convenient to me - everyone else insisted on doing it on their own schedule (generally about two weeks after I was leaving).

#734 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 06:13 PM:

David Harmon (726): We're happy to get donations in good shape, too. We can't use a lot of them, but the booksale money comes in very handy. And you called first; that's always a plus.

What we hate are the people who just show up with a bunch of boxes/bags full of worn, dirty, outdated travel guides/encyclopedias/TRS-80 manuals. We can't use them, we won't try to sell them, but we still have to use staff time to go through and get rid of them.

#735 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 06:22 PM:

I couldn't resist. I just ordered the new Kindle.

#736 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 08:01 PM:

Ah, the Kindle, a paragon of Digital Rights Manglement. heh.

#737 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 09:36 PM:

All:

Just a general announcement: We have added a family member, Jenessa, born today at about 1:30 PM. Busy day, very long for my wife, who got to have a C-section and umpteen tubes and wires attached.

I'm going to go crash now.

#738 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 10:11 PM:

Albatross... Congratulations to the family!

#739 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 11:03 PM:

Congratulations albatross and albatross' wife! Welcome to the world, new...um...albatrosslet?

#740 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 11:29 PM:

Congratulations albatross, mrs. albatross, and Jenessa, albatrosslet!

All rest, recover, and greet the new day tomorrow with joy.

(Me too. Not for the same reason.)

#741 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 11:35 PM:

Congratulations, albatross.

#742 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 11:42 PM:

albatross and family, congratulations, and welcome to the world, Jenessa!

#743 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 12:09 AM:

Thanks for the Coraline notes! I've put email out to the library group to see if anybody else wants to go.

As to the Cheney particle, this is also from Roy Blount Jr.'s Alphabet Juice, where he talks about Cheney saying "if you will" all the time: "There were many more instances, in each of which Cheney was saying in effect, "whether you will or not," and to each of which the all-American response would have been 'No we won't.'"

albatross, #738, Congrats on the girl! And for those who know her, Rivka had a boy, Colin, today!

Our library takes very few donated books for the shelves, which is why in #709, I talked about giving them to the library to sell. We have volunteers who will sort books and run the sales, so it doesn't take up the library's time.

#744 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 12:43 AM:

Huzzah to both kids, and comforts and the like to the parents of same.

#745 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 01:17 AM:

Congratulations to the albatrosses and to Rivka. May the mothers be well and the children be well and grow to be people their parents will be proud of.

#746 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 01:31 AM:

Has there been a medical thread covering animal bites?

#747 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 02:10 AM:

Congratulations to all of the albatrosses, and to Rivka too!

#748 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 03:35 AM:

hooray new albatrosslet & rivkid! congrats & everybody be healthy!

#749 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 06:03 AM:

albatross @738:
Congratulations on the hatchling!

(Congratulations to Rivka as well!)

#750 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 06:06 AM:

Plea for assistance:

The sister of a colleague has just arrived in San Francisco (yesterday) for an internship, only to discover that the housing she'd arranged doesn't exist (literally, the building does not exist), and her deposit is gone.

Where would a young woman be best directed in SF (preferably) to find safe, affordable housing in very short order? And what would the best way of going after the fraudster be?

It's a tough, tough way to start an adventure abroad. Any suggestions would, in addition to their intrinsic value, make her feel less alone in a strange land.

#751 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 07:32 AM:

Congrats, albatross!

#752 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 08:10 AM:

Congratulations, Albatross!

#753 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 09:18 AM:

abi, I have a contact that I think might be helpful for your colleague. Email me.

#754 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 09:25 AM:

Congrats to Albatross, Rivka, and both their expanded families!

Abi @#751: OUCH!

#755 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 09:29 AM:

Lila @754:

OK, you have mail. And thanks.

(By the way, the first lurker* has been supportive in the email. Making Light: living up to its name.)

-----
* regular, actually, but I'll sacrifice truth to fit into a cliché any time.

#756 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 10:18 AM:

Pft. Actually I was no help at all. :-(

#757 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 10:25 AM:

Congratulations to albatross and Rivka on the new kids. I hope that everything goes well for you and you all get enough sleep.

#758 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 10:43 AM:

Lila,

Ach well, points for trying. We only need to get lucky once...

#759 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 10:51 AM:

Congratulations to Rivka too!

And abi, I have no help to offer, and only moral support, but FWIW she has that. Hope she finds a place and that the miscreant is punished!

#760 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 10:56 AM:

abi, I have a couple of friends in San Francisco. I don't think they can offer housing themselves, but I will ask them if they have some suggestions for your friend, and email you with any results.

#761 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 11:13 AM:

One immediate suggestion might be a youth hostel, if your friend is of the appropriate age.

Not really for the long term, but for purposes of getting a roof over one's head immediately at an affordable price while searching for a room or apartment, it might be an idea.

#762 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 11:13 AM:

Congrats to Rivka too.

#763 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 11:20 AM:

Abi @ 751... I wish I could have helped. I'd organize an ML gathering, where we'd regale her with puns and other witty divertissements, but I won't be visiting the Bay Area untila couple of weeks from now.

#764 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 11:49 AM:

xeger @747:

I don't think there's been a post on animal bites.

What kind of animal bite?

If it was a cat -- hie thee to thy doctor, those need to be treated with antibiotics, and it will probably take 2 injections...

#765 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 11:59 AM:

Congratulations for the new parents. May you be blessed with babies that sleep well. (Seriously, 7 months in and I'm just now getting more than 4 hours in a row. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.)

#766 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 12:12 PM:

Abi @751,

I sent your message to my cousin and she wrote back with a few suggestions. Could you please email me so I can pass them on?

Good luck!

#767 ::: Pedantic Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 01:08 PM:

Found today on Salon.com...

Three Republicans -- Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter -- crossed the aisle to join their Democratic colleagues in supporting the bill. Still, the most difficult part of the process involved in getting the package to the president's desk by the deadline he's set may still lay ahead.

Not 'lay' ahead.
It's 'LIE ahead'.

Jeez.

#768 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 01:37 PM:

abi, you've got mail from me (my real name email address, caroline.lastname).

#769 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 01:38 PM:

And more cynical evil piles thick and high: bankrupt Circuit City wants to give phat bonuses to its executives.

#770 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 01:44 PM:

Thank you all for the emails and suggestions; I am forwarding them as they come in. If you've asked me to email you, check your mail in the next few minutes.

My mother, who lives in the Bay Area, has also offered as much assistance as we can persuade our visitor to accept.

I'll keep you all posted as events develop, unless she comes on-thread to do it herself!

You're a good lot, and I'm happy to be part of the community at times like this.

#771 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 01:51 PM:

Pedantic Serge @768:
Still, the most difficult part of the process involved in getting the package to the president's desk by the deadline he's set may still lay ahead.

Processes lay heads? Like chickens lay eggs? Scary.

#772 ::: Pedantic Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 02:12 PM:

Abi @ 772... That's one interpretation. If I had a filthy mind, I could give another one, but I don't so I won't.

#773 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 02:46 PM:

Abi @ 772: Thank you for that. Now I have Terry Gilliam animations running through my head.

Serge @ 773: They lay them like tiles?

#774 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 02:56 PM:

KeithS @ 774... Not quite. Think of 'lay' and 'head' in the context of the mutual exchange of carnal knowledge.

#775 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 02:58 PM:

KeithS @ 774... I wonder who'd have won, in a gangland war between Eggs Diamond and Basil the Killer Sheep.

#776 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 03:02 PM:

*cough* I suppose it's time I introduced myself properly, after posting ten comments then scuttling back into obscurity. KeithS gave me the courage.

So. Nice to be here. (Who am I kidding, I think this is the bestest everest blog - and the archives are nearly as insurmountable as Everest to me, I haven't gone through all the "2008 on Making Light" posts yet!)

No, I don't write poetry, aside from a recent feeble attempt on the "Zombies on my Shoulder" post.
Yes, I like puns. Especially the hot cross ones.
Xopher, sorry to hear about your dad.
Terry, good luck with civilian life!
Albatross, congratulations!
Used bookers, there's also Bookcrossing, though I haven't been there in a while.

Good heavens. Writing this introduction is more stressful than I thought it would be. Lurkdom beckons once more.

#777 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 765 ...
If it was a cat -- hie thee to thy doctor, those need to be treated with antibiotics, and it will probably take 2 injections...

Assuredly a cat, and a week of oral antibiotics... but I was thinking more along the lines of "ways to speed healing of..." and "things to worry about"[0] and "what swelling is bad..."

[0] red lines & fever being obvious ones

#778 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 03:34 PM:

Pendrift, you are braver than I for even considering the archives. I'll read archives for personal blogs, the kind that have a kind of storyline to them, but not for things like this.

#779 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 03:36 PM:

What a pleasure to have more lurkers coming out of the woodwork! And such pleasant lurkers, too; gives one the feeling that the world is in general a good and friendly place.

Pendrift, having now introduced yourself, participated in a parlor game and been helpful in a community effort, you can relax, kick back, and comment as the spirit moves you. Starting to talk is the hardest part. (I should know; I lurked for months before venturing a single line in an open thread.)

#780 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 03:44 PM:

xeger @778: I'm assuming you got puncture wounds? You can use a syringe to flush them with hydrogen peroxide, I'd recommend doing so a couple of times a day.

Things to watch for (besides the red lines/fever) -- increased pain at the wound site(s), swelling, a foul smell, or pus coming from the wound. If the bite is on a hand or foot, difficulty in moving same.

One of my apartment mates in college was studying to be a vet, so I got chapter and verse on what to do when the beast bites you, whatever the beast might happen to be. (And more about parasites than I ever wanted to know.)

Wishing you improving health...

#781 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 03:52 PM:

Pendrift, welcome! And thanks.

#782 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 04:13 PM:

Serge @ 775:

Ooooh. I guess you'd want to make sure that everything was arranged neatly for an anatomy lab.

Pendrift @ 777:

Nice to know I'm good for encouragement, then. For me the delurking was the hard part. It gets a lot easier after that once you relax and have pun. I read a lot of the archives before I started commenting, but still nowhere near all of them. It still took me far too long to delurk and join in, so don't worry about that.

Welcome aboard!

xeger @ 778:

I guess it's time for my funny animal bite story. When I was in university, I volunteered at a local animal shelter for a little while. On my first day there, I was taking one of the dogs out (lovely malamute who didn't get taken out enough because he was just so big), when another slipped out of his kennel and went after him. This was, of course, exciting. I eventually dragged the malamute off, while another guy came out to get the other.

After everything settled down, I was asked, "Is that your blood?" I looked down, and, sure enough, there was blood dripping down my leg. I said something like, "Huh, I guess so," and then, "I need to sit down now." Then everything started to go kind of white and hazy until after I had sat down for a while.

Wait, there was supposed to be a funny part. Oh, yeah, I kept going back anyway.

Don't worry, the dogs were fine.

Basically, keep it clean and keep an eye on it. You probably also want to make sure that your tetanus shot is up to date.

#783 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 06:17 PM:

Abi @ 780... I lurked for months before venturing a single line in an open thread

You did? I think I started posting the first day I showed up, and it probably showed, and I blame San Francisco columnist Jon Carroll for telling me and his other readers about this place.

#784 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 06:32 PM:

serge @ 784 ...
I think it's related to how much you posted in other places before. I didn't wait either.

keiths @ 783 ...
The tetanus is up to date with a -confirmed- date ... now.

Lori Coulson @ 765 ...
Definitely pus, which is slowly reducing... no idea about a foul smell (stuffy head), but don't think so, and the pain is slowly reducing while movement (finger) slowly increases. Typing still sucks (slow, painful, not often or much), and still definitely swollen in a way that would cause Serge to make bad jokes.

#785 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 06:53 PM:

Well! The book appraiser mentioned in #687 got back to me. Of the dozen or so first editions, three are worth something . . . but they're worth a total of $161.

The rest, including the Elmer Gantry, are worthless. He doesn't even want them for free.

I told him to take a second look at Elmer Gantry. He may not have even bothered looking it at it because it is fiction.

I guess I'll try to find another used book dealer who is less picky.

#786 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 07:18 PM:

xeger @ 785... Typing still sucks (slow, painful, not often or much), and still definitely swollen in a way that would cause Serge to make bad jokes

Moi?

So a puss caused the pus?

#787 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 07:57 PM:

On first posts. I wasn't nervous, but I'd been around many of the (then) regulars in RASFF, so the intimidation factor was lower.

But it was a whil before I posted in an open thread.

#788 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 08:17 PM:

Welcome to the new people in this world, and many joys to their parents.

Love, c.

#789 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 08:27 PM:

serge @ 787 ...

not quite the pussy problem I was thinking of, but close enough...

#790 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 08:42 PM:

xeger @ 790... Close enough not to be an impussture?

#791 ::: mcpye ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 09:41 PM:

#715 - j h woodyatt. I agree. Generally I avoid any religious charities, using Red Cross, Oxfam, Smith Family, MSF, Wilderness Society, WWF, National Trust, etc. The Salvos are usually practical helpers, tho', & it was the one I found that explicitly allowed international donations.

It's happily I report therefore that the Australian Red Cross donations form: — www.redcross.org.au/Donations/onlineDonations.asp — has 'Outside Australia' as a choice & a list of other countries in their drop-down menu. You can choose different projects for your donation.

Books: Better World Books — www.betterworld.com — sells 'deaccessioned' library books to raise funds for schools & literacy charities. They might have hints about recirculating books.

#792 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 12:32 AM:

Off topic...

I spent more than one hour of my life today and missed the last bus and my wife had to come pick me up because of an email exchange explaining to the head of our user/tester group that, yes, I did work on some of the database's materialized views, but not on the ones that she was having problems with and I suggested that she talk to two of the other programmers. She wrote back saying that Other Programmer Number One said he had not worked on it, and that this left only Other Programmer Number Two and me as the people who could have worked on this. Either the head of the user group thinks I'm a liar, or she thinks I'm a fucking idiot. Past incidents make me lean toward the latter interpretation. That's when I wrote to my manager to point out that I am capable of remembering what I work on. I expect nothing to be done by my manager as she is as useless as a screendoor in a submarine's airlock. I guess I'll have to take care of this myself tomorrow morning and tell the user that I am quite perplexed by what happened today. This is the kind of shit I have to put up with every day because I telecommute as part of a group that's 1100 miles away. I am so looking forward to my yearly review when I fly to San Francisco the week of February 23.

#793 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 01:15 AM:

My apologies for the grumpy episode above.

#794 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 01:47 AM:

serge @ 793,794...
No need for apologies -- that sort of thing sucks, and I (for one) completely empathize!

#795 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 03:13 AM:

So, after Serge's remark at #784, I went to see what his first comment was...

...and found that the bottom half of his View-all-by page looks weird, because this comment opens more blockquote tags than it closes, and this comment opens more bold tags than it closes.

#796 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 05:01 AM:

Thanks to all who have offered suggestions and help for my colleague's sister. She's got her forward momentum back, has been in touch with various people, and has all of the recommendations for how to proceed. It's going to be OK now.

You guys rock.

#797 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 06:24 AM:

xeger @ 795... Thanks.

#798 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 06:28 AM:

Paul A @ 796... Interesting. Sometimes I don't put the closing counterparts to either, because I had assumed that each post was a totally self-contained entity. It confirms what 'they' say about assumptions.

#799 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 06:31 AM:

Abi @ 797... You guys rock

We also thermo-concrete.
Glad to hear that things are getting back on track.

#800 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 07:38 AM:

Serge #800: But do you ferro-concrete?

#801 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 08:28 AM:

Fragano@801

Of course not. That would be much too ironic.

#802 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 10:17 AM:

I am in ore of such gritty puns.

#803 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 10:45 AM:

We're just testing your metal.

#804 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 10:55 AM:

I have to steel myself before reading these threads. How people have the brass to make such brazen puns is beyond me; I feel like calling the coppers on you. But maybe I'm just gettin golder now, and slowing down.

Well, be that as it may, I was lead down the garden path in my youth.

#805 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 11:06 AM:

(I was going to say something about not being anti-mony, just anti-rich people, but it didn't flow.)

#806 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 11:13 AM:

#806 - It sounds fine, if you have a tin ear.

#807 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 11:39 AM:

These puns are igneouble.

#808 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 11:56 AM:

xeger @785: Definitely pus, which is slowly reducing... no idea about a foul smell (stuffy head), but don't think so, and the pain is slowly reducing while movement (finger) slowly increases. Typing still sucks (slow, painful, not often or much), and still definitely swollen in a way that would cause Serge to make bad jokes.

Xeger, according to my doc: pus + swelling + pain = bad.

1. Go to doc, get antibiotics.

2. Soak in hot, soapy water twice a day

3. Keep elevated (above heart) so as to drain

These three steps helped me a great deal when one of my guinea pigs pierced my wrist tendons. Even so, my right hand was a blunt instrument for about a month. (Good thing I taught myself how to write with my left hand in high school.)

(It wasn't the guinea pig's fault; I'd chucked him in with the girls without giving them a chance to introduce themselves first. They decided he needed to die. I rescued him barehanded. Dumb.)

Re: introductions, I never formally introduced myself (been posting here a year or so) 'cause I usta hang out on rasseff. Assumed the "membership" was transferrable. So: hi!

(BTW, since I keep forgetting to ask: Abi, was that you videoconferencing in to the Making Light party at Worldcon?)

#809 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 12:18 PM:

Xopher @ 805/806: Sounds like you're trying to plumb the depths of punnery.

Serge @ 808: Them's fighting words. Prepare to be basalted.

#810 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 12:22 PM:

abi@797 writes: "It's going to be OK now."

Excellent news. I hope I was able to provide useful information.

#811 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 12:37 PM:

*looks in, sees puns flying like a stone-skipping contest*

*decides real life is about all I can handle these days*

*waves at the assembled multitudes and slogs off to the next project*

#812 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 12:41 PM:

I'm past the age where I lust after cars, but this Boing Boing entry got my blood pumping a bit.

Phantom Corsair

I can just see Doc Savage behind the wheel of something like this.

#813 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 12:42 PM:

Jacque @ 809 ...
Xeger, according to my doc: pus + swelling + pain = bad.

1. Go to doc, get antibiotics.

Long since done[0] :)

2. Soak in hot, soapy water twice a day

Hot salt water...

3. Keep elevated (above heart) so as to drain

Haven't been able to do anything else until very recently, due to wretched pain if I don't. Still mostly doing that... makes typing ... interesting :)

[0] ... and they're clearly working on my stomach fauna...

#814 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 12:49 PM:

JESR: Are you slagging off our punning? I react with unalloyed annoyance!

(Actually, I think she smelt something funny when she came in here...but I won't be detailing what I think it was.)

#815 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 12:50 PM:

And now, for your entertainment, a double feature from the vaults of Turner Classic Movies.

First, our main feature, Martin Scorsese in "Que Sera Sera", with Doris Day dressed as a clown… The second feature is The Dirty Dozen on Ice.

Don't forget the popcorn!

#816 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 01:06 PM:

JESR... If I may tie in to Xeger's impussible situation, I'd say that's a blistering comment.

#817 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 01:09 PM:

# 747: Has there been a medical thread covering animal bites?

Not yet. Putting it on the list.

Bottom line: Control bleeding. Seek medical attention.

This is particularly true of human bites. (It isn't just the risk of zombieism.)

Your classic "fight bite" (guy hits another guy in the mouth during a barroom punch-up, nicks knuckle on one of the guy's teeth) can lead very easily and very fast to an infection that is limb-if-not-life threatening. This is complicated by a reluctance by the participants in your typical bar fights to seek that early medical attention.

#818 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 01:19 PM:

Jonathan Carroll's novel The Land of Laughs made a cameo appearance on last night's episode of Fringe. And the use of the mad scientist's teleporter was referred to as 'startrekking'.

#819 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 01:22 PM:

#814: [0] ... and they're clearly working on my stomach fauna...

Eat a lot of live-culture yogurt.

#820 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 01:24 PM:

xeger @ 814
I suggest acidophilus caplets (or yogurt) to deal with the antibiotic's effects on the internal fauna, but wait an hour after taking the antibiotic. It helped me when I was dealing with antibiotic side-effects.

#821 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 01:27 PM:

Jacque, #809: Since abi hasn't had time to respond yet, yes it was.

#823 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 02:43 PM:

Not slagging off nor impunning anyone's rock-solid talents, just beset with snow and facing a world without my favorite elder in it and thus in one of my silent-er times.

#824 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 02:45 PM:

JESR @824:
I saw on your LJ. Condolences.

#825 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 02:55 PM:

I'm sorry, JESR. Peace be with you.

#826 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 03:09 PM:

JESR... My condolances.

#827 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 03:13 PM:

Condolences, JESR.

#828 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 03:25 PM:

P J Evans @ 821 ...
I suggest acidophilus caplets (or yogurt) to deal with the antibiotic's effects on the internal fauna, but wait an hour after taking the antibiotic. It helped me when I was dealing with antibiotic side-effects.

Ahh... I bet the "wait an hour" will make a difference...

#829 ::: spoonfork ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 03:59 PM:

#766

EClaire, I am dizzy with envy for your sleeping 7-month old. Or perhaps it's sleep deprivation.

My younger daughter is almost two and has no apparent intention of sleeping for more than three hours in a row, unless her parents are already awake.

#830 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 04:07 PM:

Thanks, all- reuse, recycle, and most especially regift in her memory. Love, and pass love along.

#831 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 05:24 PM:

To me, Shepard Fairey's Obama poster looks too much like Frank Kelly Freas' painting of a soulful-eyed robot who accidentally killed a man.

#832 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 05:51 PM:

JESR: Losing people you love sux. Losing people who love you sux even more. My condolences.

#833 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 06:08 PM:

In order to make up the vast budget shortfall, our beloved Gubernator is considering taxing veterinary services as "luxury" items.

Here are the instructions in case any other californians want to make their voice heard, or just like to push buttons on their phone.

#834 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 06:19 PM:

Those Republicans just keep raising taxes, don't they?

#835 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 06:28 PM:

Spoonfork @ #830
It's only been 4 days in a row, so I'm not counting any chickens yet. He still won't sleep without someone next to him or holding him, but most of the time I need the nap as much as he does so I don't mind. Mostly I miss the ability to form a coherent sentence.

#836 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 07:00 PM:

Current list of peanut based products on recall:

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm#PeanutButter

Found under the “Candy” section:

Bear Scat
Bear Poop
Moose Droppings
Cow Pies
Chicken Coop Poop
Osprey Poop

#837 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 07:16 PM:

Xopher -

Raising them, or inventing new ones. But the repubs I know call Arnie a RINO anyway.

#838 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 08:01 PM:

Steve C. @813: I saw that, and was thinking something similar, except I was thinking of The Shadow, from a few years back. Doc Savage would be good. Also good, a 1930's Batman.

#839 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 08:05 PM:

Xopher @385: Mark Russell had said (of GB the 1st): "No new taxes... we'll just keep raising the old ones."

#840 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 08:39 PM:

JESR, my condolences.

#841 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 12:44 AM:

JESR, my condolences as well. Aside from the personal loss, there's a loss of memory and continuity when someone's gone forever. Other people we know, and especially people we love, become parts of us; losing them fragments us and that's sad.

#842 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 12:47 AM:

This time it's not rogue elements of SFWA, but the Authors Guild that has jumped off the Copyright Cliff.

#843 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 07:41 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 843... Does someone at the Author's Guild have too much time on his/her hands? As for the rogue elements of SFWA, do they have their business meetings all dressed like Rambo, sweaty-skinned, and with a bandana to keep their big Eighties hairdo from falling forward? (I need a brain scrub.)

#844 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 08:02 AM:

JESR, my condolences too.

Re: favorite elders. Most of the members in one of my two community choirs are retirees, and the mean age is probably somewhere in the 70s. Several members are in their 80s. I am not looking forward to the next few years, when they start to go.

Book identification help: (or will I be accused of creating an unauthorized derivative work at the rate things are going?)

Fantasy, Labyrinth - type book with young female protagonist. Our heroine has to overcome the usual riddle and puzzle challenges to get to the next bit.
There's a tongue-twister section where she's up against a foe who can repeat things flawlessly, and to get past him she needs to trip him up.
The first tongue twister was "Red leather, yellow leather".
I forgot the second one.
She tricks him in the third one by telling him "Say '[followed by tongue twister]'". He, of course, omits the "Say", and she's free.

Everything else is a blur. I don't remember the cover, if the book was illustrated (I think it was), the heroine's name, her mission, how she got there in the first place, nada. All I remember is "red leather, yellow leather". I would dearly love to find this book again, but this detail isn't much to go on.

#845 ::: spoonfork ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 09:24 AM:

EClaire @ #836

You know those warning labels that say, "May cause drowsiness--Don't operate machinery"?

Babies should have those.

#846 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 11:19 AM:

Wow, it's been a while since I've been by here, hasn't it? Been busy, I guess...anyway, this totally made me think of all my fellow fontophiles on here:

Font warehouse MyFonts has released WhatTheFont, its new typeface identification application for the iPhone and iPod touch. WhatTheFont allows the user to snap a picture of any type and upload it to MyFonts in order to find out what font it is, along with the ability to email a link to the font.

Is that not awesome?

#847 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 11:58 AM:

SKWID!!!!! Long time no hear from, con buddy! I thought...I thought we'd lost you. :'-(

Seriously, glad to hear from you. How've you been?

#848 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Welcome back, Skwid.

#849 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 12:30 PM:

My friend and I were discussing the fact that Oscar the Grouch's garbage can is bigger on the inside than on the outside. Is there a general SF term for a place like this? My friend came up with TARDIS, but I think that has more connotations than just embiggening.

I call a place that disappears and reappears through time a Brigadoon, and I was thinking it might be something like that... some older example that's been co-opted, but I can't think of anything. Anyone have one?

#850 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 12:52 PM:

Skwid! Yes, that is awesome. All of those "instantly identify things" applications appear to be made of magic to me. I have an idea how they might work, but what I don't understand is how they work so fast -- especially since many of them have to call out to a remote database to make the match.

Shazam, for example: how on earth does it take any 10 second segment of a song, including relatively large amounts of ambient noise, find a unique fingerprint, send it to home base, make the match, and send it back, all in about five seconds? It's an engineering problem I'm just not smart enough to solve, at least not from my armchair.

Ever since I watched the documentary Helvetica, I like to play Spot the Helvetica. Luckily my fiancé is a graphic designer who can identify Helvetica at thirty paces (or more), and can tell me if I spotted it correctly. If I get WhatTheFont, I can play Spot the Helvetica solo!

#851 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Leah Miller @ 850: I've seen terms such as "pocket dimension" used. IIRC the TARDIS is described as "dimensionally transcendent".

There's something appealing about the notion of Oscar the Grouch being a renegade Time Lord. (And if his TARDIS looks like a garbage can, well, the Doctor's looks like a blue recycling box.)

#852 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 01:10 PM:

Leah Miller @850,

A War Drobe of the Narnia variety?

#853 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 02:46 PM:

850: They occur in fantasy a lot, particularly as derivatives of true fairy-tale/folk-tale objects such as the never-empty purse, the magic tablecloth, the blacksmith's magic sack, and so on. Of course true folk tales have no standard names for anything. In D&D or NetHack, they're canonically "Bags of Holding".

They also appear in cross-over SF/fantasy works like Glory Road (the not-magic box that you just keeps unfolding and unfolding, until it's the size of a mover's container...) and in harder SF. I think "pocket dimension" is as close to a standard term as I've heard.

#854 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 02:49 PM:

Snoopy's doghouse was also much bigger on the inside than the outside. And the crooked house in Heinlein's story was so after it folded following the earthquake.

#855 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 04:38 PM:

If I remember correctly, even the pockets in the Doctor's suit were/are/will be pocket dimensions.

#856 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 05:38 PM:

Steve C. @ 855: I was never sure if Snoopy's doghouse was dimensionally enhanced, or if it merely had a really big basement level.

Serge @ 856: In The Runaway Bride, the Doctor says of his pockets that "They're bigger on the inside."

#857 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 06:34 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 857... Thanks. I remembered that it was a Tennant episode, but not which one. One nice thing about dimensional pockets is that no matter much how matter is inside of them, it doesn't appear to result in an extraordinary gravitic effec. Good thing too, otherwise the Doctor's pants would have fallen down to his ankles. Or maybe he has an antigravity belt for his pants.

#858 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 06:58 PM:

The Doctor tried to explain the TARDIS to Leela in one episode. She thought it sounded silly.

My favorite explanation for the Doctor's pockets is in Lawrence Miles's novel Alien Bodies. It reveals that the Doctor has read Karma and Flares: The Importance of Fashion Sense to the Modern Zen Master, and is now "totally at one with the lining of his jacket."

#859 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 07:10 PM:

Joel @ 857 - Considering that Snoopy was a WW I flying ace, a lawyer, a writer, and a shortstop, I wouldn't have blinked too much at a dimensionally enhanced doghouse. :-)

He was probably a Time Beagle.

#860 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 07:20 PM:

Wilbur Wright und seine Flugmaschine, 1909.

The second half was filmed from the Wright Flyer.

#861 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 07:24 PM:

Steve C. @860: He did have a time machine, and traveled with a round-headed kid as his companion.

Oh wait, that was this beagle...

#862 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Pendrift at 845: That sounds like Rebecca's World, by Terry Nation. (Amazon.co.uk link - the reviews give more details about it.)

Now I want to read it again myself, even if it's not the one you're after!

#863 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 08:40 PM:

Jack Vance in The Dying Earth called them overpockets.

#864 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 04:21 AM:

Sam Kelly @863:

YES, that's it!!!! Thank you ever so much. I've been trying to find the title for at least 10 years.

Now to find a copy.

#865 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 09:54 AM:

I always just thought Oscar had a huge basement. Someone had to explain to me that it was supposed to be a joke that he had an elephant in his can with him.

I've also heard the term "anvil space" - you know, the place where Bugs Bunny pulls the anvil from before dropping it on Elmer Fudd.

#866 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 10:31 AM:

Was the Logrus what a prince of Amber uses to reach through worlds to get the desired thing? Better than overpockets but just as handy?

#867 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 10:42 AM:

Rob 862:

MR. PEABODY: And now we will set the Wayback Machine for Palestine in the year 4 BCE.

SHERMAN: Jesus Christ, Mr. Peabody!

MR. PEABODY: Precisely, Sherman.

#868 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 12:06 PM:

takuan @867:
Was the Logrus what a prince of Amber uses to reach through worlds to get the desired thing? Better than overpockets but just as handy?

The Logrus is a Chaos thing rather than an Amber thing. It was kinda roughly analagous to the Pattern, both a discipline for the mind and a tool for the manipulation of power.

Never really thought about it as an overpocket. But you could certainly use it, or the Pattern, to find or make a shadow with whatever convenient characteristics one needed. If you could then obtain or create a Trump to that shadow, you'd have yourself a handy portable hole.

I think I ran across someone in an Amber game who did that, come to think of it.

#869 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Is a pocket-dimension pocket woven from superstrings?

#870 ::: Ahayweh ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 12:17 PM:

There's also "hammerspace", as in the place where all the girls in anime store those giant mallets they occasionally whip out of nowhere to hit people with.

#871 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 12:31 PM:

After you've used the Star Trek cologne (see #547) cozy up to your intended when she's wearing the Star Trek corset.

Could there be a better Valentine's Day gift?

#872 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 12:31 PM:

I'm sure I read it in the series as used just that way - somewhere. By Corwin? A portable hole is exactly what it was but he used some intuitive feel of the thing desired and "felt" around until was in grasp.

#873 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 12:37 PM:

I had no idea!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_hole

#874 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 12:40 PM:

It will have been Corwin's son Merlin, who was a prince of both Amber and Chaos. He's the narrator of the second series of books.

But the Logrus isn't quite a portable hole. In this context, it's more of an access mechanism to infinite Shadow, in which all possibilities are contained. A Master of the Logrus can search around until he finds what he wants.

It's kinda like Google in that. On its own it's not the repository of all knowledge, but if you combine it with the Internet, it acts like one.

#875 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 01:02 PM:

In an extremely short-lived D&D game in high school, we decided that our emergency escape route would be to put the portable hole inside the bag of infinite holding, blowing the whole party into an unknown dimension.

I'm sorry the game never progressed far enough for us to deploy this plan. I would have loved to see what the DM would have done.

#876 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 01:19 PM:

I was playing a demo of Portal recently, and found that I could create a portal (using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device) that I could jump through to fall forever (with my orientation snap-changing each time I fell through the portal again). It's a good thing I don't get video game motion sickness. heh.

#877 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 01:22 PM:

Caroline, speaking as a long time DM/GM, I would have said "Everything goes dark," and handed you dice to roll up a new character.

If your character is dead or unplayable, you don't get to find out what happened.

#878 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 01:47 PM:

Xopher @ 878, that may have been the response. I think we were hoping that he wouldn't do it to all of us. (It was also at least partly a joke.)

That said, in my memory he was the kind of DM who would more likely have had us wake up in the Demon Dimensions and then had us killed off in colorful fashion by things with many heads.

#879 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 03:10 PM:

So a Nivean stepping disc isn't really a Hole? A Hole implies intact transition (and being partially present on both sides at once) as opposed to tear-down/re-build teleportation?

#880 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 03:52 PM:

RINGO: I've got a hole in me pocket.

(ah, nuts, Wikipedia beat me to it)

#881 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 04:12 PM:

Lila...

"With this ring, I could... dare I say it?... rule the world!"
(a mad scientist in that Beatles movie)

#882 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Re: anvil space and hammer space - I've heard the term "katana space" used in Highlander fandom to explain where the immortals are keeping their swords.

While we're talking about dimensional storage, I'd like to give an honorable mention to Heward's Handy Haversack, which is like a smaller bag of holding but whatever you're looking for is on top of the pile.

There was also a recent thread on Paizo.com's playtest boards about using nested bags of holding to create infinite storage space (the first bag contains N bags, and each of those N bags contains N bags...). A good labeling system is key, there.

#883 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 04:31 PM:

UnSeen University's Cabinet of Curiosities?

#884 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 04:38 PM:

FungiFromYuggoth @ 883... Didn't Felix the Cat have a bag like that? The cat was out of the bag, not in it.

#885 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 05:00 PM:

abi @ 875: In this context, it's more of an access mechanism to infinite Shadow, in which all possibilities are contained. A Master of the Logrus can search around until he finds what he wants.

It's kinda like Google in that.

I've often thought that the critical factor in having a really useful time machine would not be the time travel itself, but having some kind of time-search engine associated with it so you could find when/where you need to go to find what you're looking for.

FungiFromYuggoth @ 883 Re: hammerspace, katanaspace, see also 'Sam & Max: Freelance Police'. (For those unfamiliar with it, Sam is a dog, Max is a small bunny-like thing with big sharp teeth.)

One of their dialogues is approximately:
Max: [Brandishes very large semiautomatic pistol]
Sam: Where do you hide that gun, Max?
Max: You'd better be sitting down before I tell you, Sam.

#886 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 05:10 PM:

Captain Jack Harkness has used a similar line about hiding a gun.

#887 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 05:14 PM:

Clifton: see also the very similar dialogue after the stark-naked Captain Jack Harkness produces a weapon in the Dr. Who episode "Bad Wolf".

#888 ::: Takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 05:30 PM:

So the Bag of Holding or the Portable Hole are for getting or keeping your heart's desires, which is a finding too since you find all in it,like a cornucopia, which is from The Goat Almathea,who was the first unicorn after losing the horn that became the cornucopia that is the World Wide Web....right. It's unicorns all the way down. If you get my drift.

#889 ::: arkizzle ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:02 PM:

Eunuch Horns? Very rare, I hear.

And the folk who search the lands for them? Eunuch Horn Chasers.. It's a lonely life. Fortunes for some, nothing but misery for others.

#890 ::: Takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:14 PM:

Careful Arkie, I don't know if they cotton to Owists in these parts.

#891 ::: arkizzle ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:26 PM:

Oh, I'll still my tongue 'til the local learnin' has made its nature apparent. Can I say 'boobs'?

#892 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:27 PM:

Tarkuan @ 891... Coming soon, Mister Peabody in "Warp ad Woof"

#893 ::: Takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:29 PM:

How dreadful does a pun have to be here to warrant summary execution?

#894 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:37 PM:

If'n I have your meaning right, arkizzle, you should know that we don't call your kind Owists in these here parts. We call 'em punsters, and welcome them with open harm...er...arms*. Serge can show you round the punsters' lounge.

Do you write poetry?

By the way, 'boobs' is juvenile. Stick to wordplay.

-----
* they do say the only difference between unharmed and unarmed is the ache.

#895 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:42 PM:

Takuan @894:
How dreadful does a pun have to be here to warrant summary execution?

A summery execution sounds nice about now. But it snow good expecting us to spring into action with the ice of the community turned this way. To hail with that.

#896 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:43 PM:

Takuan, I do not think that I can reasonably support a punishment quite as severe as summary execution for felony punning (even for a multi-layered, multi-language Omega Class pun). Defenestration, on the other hand, gives the Universe a chance to commute the sentence, as does being thrown from a moving vehicle in heavy traffic.

#897 ::: arkizzle ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:52 PM:

abi, a pleasure.

I have written words, some of them rhymed, but not these ones :)

#898 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:55 PM:

Takuan @ 894... I don't know. Not only am I still alive, but I haven't been summarized.

#899 ::: Takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:03 PM:

Why am I smoldering?

#900 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:10 PM:

Earl Cooley III #897: The number of fen who object to defenestration (or who have been conned into objecting to it) is quite large. One suspects, indeed that there might have been some form of condign punishment that will be inflicted on paronomasiacs (or paronomaniacs) by those who abhor them, but that is prevented by a surge of the abiveld.

#901 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:12 PM:

Earl 897, as my friend Judy used to say "Defenestration's too good for him! Throw him out the window!"

#902 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:31 PM:

Xopher... Defenestration's too good for him! Throw him out the window!

...which happens to be the window of a basement appartment, but right next to a bus stop.

#903 ::: Takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:32 PM:

Abiveld? You get those around here too? We learned the hard way never to cross the fields - or streams.

#904 ::: arkizzle ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:33 PM:

Wow, ML's pun'ishment is far superior to mine, I'll stick to making bad jokes.

#905 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:36 PM:

Summery execution? Not this winter.

#906 ::: Takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:43 PM:

Aye Arkie, lest ye be drawn and quoted.

#907 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:46 PM:

abi, #895: But "boobies" isn't...

(Well, somebody had to say it!)

#908 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:55 PM:

Well, Lee, I am not such a fan of boobies, but I feel that few things are more delightful than a pair of Great Tits, although smaller tits can also be quite Elegant.

#909 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 07:55 PM:

Since "defenestration" is of my favorite words, I felt compelled to leap at the chance to use it here.

#910 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 08:17 PM:

Earl, I feel the same way about 'pathognomonic', but it doesn't come up as often, alas.

#911 ::: arkizzle ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 08:22 PM:

Why not combine two pleasures at once, with tits out the window! (or one anyway)

#912 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 08:50 PM:

Leah Miller @ 850: the TV Tropes Wiki calls it a Clown Car Base.

#913 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 09:52 PM:

Ahayweh #871:
Do the girls wear balloon-pants?

takuan, abi #875 has the gist of it. Merlin son of Corwin (in the second Amber series) used Logrus magic to access multiple shadows (dimensions) to retrieve stuff. The Google analogy is apt.

#914 ::: Takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 10:11 PM:

you say balloon plants?

#915 ::: Takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 11:19 PM:

When the public web was born, I commissioned an artist to make a Brazen Head to fit over my monitor. She never delivered, but I suppose it was excessive for a six year old. I wanted it styled after the one Albertus Magnus made. Which brings me to my question: what is the earliest reference to an internet? Especially as a social phenomenon where people interact? The Machine Stops?

#916 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 12:13 AM:

#916: Did you see Bruce Sterling's Imaginary Gadget post about the Brazen Head?

#918 ::: Takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 12:51 AM:

Dear Stefan, I have now, more syncronicity. The image has been with me almost forty years. Did Vance write something similar?

#919 ::: Takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 01:00 AM:

How old is the magic mirror meme?

#920 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 01:38 AM:

I've read almost everything that Vance has written, and that doesn't ring a bell.

William Gibson included a brazen head -- a special computer terminal -- in Neuromancer.

A, maybe "the", brazen head appears in John Masefield's The Box of Delight. The low-budget but wonderful TV version does a good job of implementing it.

#921 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 01:46 AM:

Nope, definitely older than those. Well, The Box of Delights is old enough, but the contexts are wrong.

#922 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 02:10 AM:

Balloons in Hammer Space.

#923 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 03:05 AM:

The Brazen Head is an old folk story which attached itself to various philosophers; in the public mind they were all alchemists and wizards. The story has been associated with Roger Bacon and Albertus Magnus, among others, and thence made its way into many fantasy novels.

One of the canonical stories involves a dunce of a student set to watch it and warn the mage when it is ready to speak; when the head utters "Time is", and "Time was", he takes them for philosophical debating points, and earnestly considers what they may mean. In the end, the head shouts "Time is past" and breaks into pieces.

(The important role of the dunce would seem to make a brazen head eminently suited for an Internet access terminal.)

I think the head may appear in Avram Davidson's great The Phoenix and the Mirror, and also in John Bellairs' The Face in the Frost; does that ring a bell?

#924 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 06:01 AM:

Nota bene:

Open thread 119 is up. There's plenty of space here to continue current discussions, but new ones might want to go there.

(It's not a numerology thread; I found 119 an entirely uninspiring number. Somebody should set me straight on this matter.)

#925 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 08:35 AM:

Yes! Both do, they must be moldering on my shelves still. (I use the Dewey-Haystack system). I think The Phoenix and the Mirror especially.

Here's another:

"For he was a shepherd laboring for the then ruler of Lydia and some part of the earth was shattered by a violent thunderstorm developing along with an earthquake and a chasm appeared at the place where he was pasturing. Seeing this and wondering, he went down and the fable says that he saw, among other wonders, a hollow bronze horse having openings, through which, peeping in, he saw that there was a corpse inside, as it seemed, greater than is usual for men, and wearing nothing else but a golden ring at his hand, that he took off before leaving. When time came for the shepherds to hold their customary assembly in order to prepare their monthly report to the king about the state of the flocks, he came too, wearing this ring. While he was sitting with the others, it chanced that he moved the collet of the ring around toward himself into the inside of his hand ; having done this, he disappeared from the sight of those who were sitting beside him, and they discussed of him as of someone who had left. And he wondered and once again feeling for the ring, he turned the collet outwards and, by turning it, reappeared. Reflecting upon this, he put the ring to the test to see if it indeed had such power, and he came to this conclusion that, by turning the collet inwards, he became invisible, outwards, visible. Having perceived this, he at once managed for himself to become one of the envoys to the king ; upon arrival, having seduced his wife, with her help, he laid a hand on the king, murdered him and took hold of the leadership." (Republic, II, 359b-360b)"

If that wasn't made into a science fiction/fantasy piece, it certainly should be. I thought I had read a little Plato but this one was new to me. So I guess it was very little. Do you not exalt in its coolitudinous?

#926 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 09:18 AM:

what an appalling typo: "coolitudiousness"

#927 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 10:53 AM:

Clifton Royston @ 909 ...
Well, Lee, I am not such a fan of boobies, but I feel that few things are more delightful than a pair of Great Tits, although smaller tits can also be quite Elegant.

I have to say that I find these dancing and displaying boobies charming and colourful.


#928 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:04 AM:

Marilee @ #654:

Old comment, old thread, but I'm wondering (Based on current painkiller preferences and not totally infrequent need):

I was always told that acetaminophen was the nasty one for liver damage, and ibuprofen was much safer. Am I misinformed?

#929 ::: takuan ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2009, 01:20 AM:

painkiller app? Which pain? Ibuprofen ("Advil") can burn a hole in your stomach if over-used, and is also anti-inflammatory ( can be a good thing). Acetaminophen ("Tylenol") if mixed with alcohol ( a hot rum toddy for example) kills your liver. , Google lots, there's lots to know. And Asprin (ASA) can kill you if you are a teen (Reyes Syndrome).

#930 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2009, 12:48 AM:

Lenora Rose, #929, I only mentioned kidney damage, and that's caused by ibuprofen. Acetaminophen is bad for liver damage, but interestingly is not mentioned as something I should avoid while I take depakote, which is prone to liver damage.

#931 ::: dcb sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 09:10 AM:

And the name is positively amazing!

#932 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 09:53 AM:

It's almost like they're taunting us.

#933 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 12:00 PM:

Idiot can't even use his spam-generating software correctly. Those are supposed to be parentheses, not braces.

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