Back to previous post: An item with suspiciously plan-like characteristics

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Making Light Amsterdam Meetup ’09

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

March 21, 2009

Open thread 121
Posted by Patrick at 05:53 PM *

We’re here. If you look at the larger version of the above snapshot on Flickr, you can see the rapidly-receding figures of Abi and Teresa far ahead on the path, blithely unaware that their companion, trying to retrieve a camera while cycling, had moments ago managed to hook a foot into the soil to the side of the path, consequently sailing over his handlebars and executing a perfect Comedy! Tonight! landing on the softly yielding Dutch soil. After which, I got up and TOOK THE DAMN PICTURE ANYWAY. Okay, the horizon line’s a little crooked. So sue me.

More to come as we adjust to the daily patterns of Planet Europe. Early indications are that we could adjust dangerously well.

Comments on Open thread 121:
#1 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 06:36 PM:

Apologies if this has been shared here before, but it's pretty brilliant.

When shepherds get bored (no, not like that you sicko).

#2 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 06:39 PM:

Well, Patrick, I'm not surprised. I mean, you play in a band, so you're in show biz, and the axiom is "The Show must go On!"

#3 ::: Eileen Gunn ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 06:44 PM:

OMG, Eric. Thank you.

PNH: Hope you caught up to the others eventually, or that you're adjusting to your new life on the polder.

#4 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 06:55 PM:

I saw a mouse!

#5 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 06:58 PM:

Are we sure that Don Quixote didn't travel to Holland at some point in his life? The giant kneeling by the water seems familiar somehow...

#6 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:00 PM:

More information about the windmill in het Twiske.

Eileen @3:
Although Patrick did indeed reappear, we hope to yet convince him to don some clogs, shave off his beard, and settle more completely into the Dutch lifestyle. He's already there in terms of both cheese and genever.

Today we celebrated Teresa's birthday with homemade chocolate ice cream, a sadly off-key rendition of "lang zal je leven", and the ceremony of shaking hands with the relatives of the jarige Job (birthday celebrant)*.

-----
* Presumably to congratulate them for putting up with the person for the last year†.
† I may not have this custom quite right. I blame the genever that Patrick introduced into the household.

#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:10 PM:

You could have blamed the crooked horizon line on subsidence.

* * *

MFB! GDMFSOB!

After nagging the HR department at work, I finally got a corrected version of my W-2 form. Settled in to do my taxes. Discover in my inbox email from E*Trade, the online broker, telling me there was a corrected 1099-DIV waiting for me.

Ah, what great timing!

I downloaded the PDF and printed it out.

And it is blatantly wrong. As in, the several AHEM COUGH AHEM dollars of dividends received and foreign taxes paid DISAPPEARED from the tally.

This is information they send to the IRS.

A can buried in the yard seems a more and more attractive alternative to banks.

#8 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:11 PM:

Abi, #6: Yes, because your household is so perfectly representative of "the Dutch lifestyle." And when are we going to see the mounds of cheese that, I'm reliably informed, hold back the North Sea?

#9 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:13 PM:

Stefan Jones: At the moment, a can buried in the back yard looks like it would be a better Treasury Secretary.

#10 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:14 PM:

PNH @8:
Yes, because your household is so perfectly representative of "the Dutch lifestyle."

You are absolutely correct; we are not sufficiently Dutch. Thus do we need you to go forth, settle in, and then return and show us the True Path of the Low Countries, with clogs and cheese and a great big mustache.

#11 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:16 PM:

I think Abi has me confused with a Dutch version of Steven Brust. Or perhaps the Super Mario Brothers.

Europe, it's very confusing.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:20 PM:

Did you say Comedy! Tonight!, Patrick?

#13 ::: Peter Hentges ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:21 PM:

Hey there, Making Light folks. Some of you know that I and my partner, Ericka Johnson, are currently struggling to save our house from foreclosure. The whole story is on the profile page of the LiveJournal community created to organize the auctions for our benefit.

There are some great things up for auction: Books, art, jewelry, DVDs, a book dedicated to Your Name, craft materials, a cool hat and more! Stop by and have a look.

(If you feel so moved, you can also send donations directly to me by PayPal. There's a button for that on the community profile page.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled shepherding and biking adventures.

#14 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:27 PM:

Patrick is still in happy ignorance of the ancient Dutch tradition of excessive mustache-growing.

It's bliss, I'm sure.

#15 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:33 PM:

Ah, the glorious Hierarchy of Beards.

Good on the Dutch for maintaining the diversity of one of humanity's sillier obsessions. Likewise, I understand the Belgians have taken responsibility for beef jerky, Carpenters B-sides, and pogo sticks.

It's a hard world. Everyone needs to take responsibility for part of it.

#16 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:36 PM:

I like beef jerky.

#17 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:39 PM:

Dave Bell @ 4: Where?

#18 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:42 PM:

The Dutch have enthusiasm, but they just don't have the competitive spirit to shake German dominance at the World Beard and Moustache Championships.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:46 PM:

Happy Birthday, Teresa!

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:49 PM:

abi @ 10... clogs and cheese and a great big mustache.

Personally I don't think a great big mustache is quite you.

(Say... Is the abiveld the real reason why Patrick had this happen to him?)

#21 ::: heckblazer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 07:55 PM:

I fixed the crooked horizon and tweaked the exposure:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/heckblazer/3374254476/

Hope you don't mind.

#22 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 08:09 PM:

I like Carpenters b-sides. Also beer.

#23 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 08:13 PM:

What, no number-related tidbits in this thread? Okay, I'll start:

121 is the third row of Pascal's Triangle. What I like to do with a Pascal's Triangle is divide every number by some n and use only the remainder. This means that as the triangle grows you get larger and larger triangular areas filled with zeroes, until it starts to look rather like a Sierpinski triangle.

More mundanely, 121 is the number I have to dial to pick up my voicemail.

And apparently, "One point twenty-one jiggawatts!" is the precise power of a lightning bolt that strikes the clock tower at exactly 10:04pm. Combine that with a car that's passing exactly the right point at exactly the right speed at exactly the right time, and I start to wonder why I still like that film so much when it stretches my suspension of disbelief to that extent.

#24 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 08:18 PM:

Patrick #11: You'd need a different kind of hat then, wouldn't you?

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 08:21 PM:

abi #6: Oude genever, by any chance?

#26 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 08:29 PM:

I like genever, but the only Dutch guy I ever asked about it said "yuck, no, I prefer tequila."

#27 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 08:43 PM:

Judging from your comically offended tone, I assume you're not typing this in a Comedy! Tonight! full body cast with your only free appendage, your left toe?

I'm sure some people are curious whether you were wearing your helmet.

#28 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 08:49 PM:

That windmill is obviously the hideout of a gang of villains from the Adam West Batman show.

#29 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 09:00 PM:

Tony Zbaraschuk #5: Are we sure that Don Quixote didn't travel to Holland at some point in his life?

He's also been to the US.

#30 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 10:22 PM:

I've got a bottle of young genever in my freezer. Alas, it's almost empty. I've got an almost full bottle of old genever because I really don't like it that much.

And, alas, my next trip to Europe won't get me anywhere near the Netherlands, or the mainland for that matter.

I think I could live in Amsterdam or its environs pretty easily. Or Berlin.

I hope the rest of the trip involves less cyclo-aerobatics.

#31 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 11:16 PM:

Information for John McPhee fans — he's a lacrosse nut. He has an article about the sport in the March 23rd New Yorker: Spin Right and Shoot Left. The link goes to a snippet. You must register to read the full article.

#32 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 11:37 PM:

There are just 62 days left until the next International Beard and Mustache Championships. If you haven't started growing one yet, it's probably too late.

#33 ::: mimi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 11:41 PM:

But Patrick, have you had the raw herring yet? I'm going to be in Amsterdam for a weekend in May, and I'm almost looking forward to the herring more than my cousin's wedding.

#34 ::: mimi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2009, 11:59 PM:

Er. I just realized that could be misunderstood, so to clarify: I'm very much looking forward to both the wedding and the herring.

#35 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 12:23 AM:

No raw herring yet, alas.

Heresiarch #27: As far as I can tell, the only cyclists in the Netherlands who wear helmets are sport racers. It's difficult to convey quite the range of human activities that are conducted while riding bicycles; as I observed in a conversation, pretty much everything up to, and possibly including, backyard barbecues.

#36 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 12:25 AM:

Oh, and heckblazer, #21: Lovely job. I felt under the circumstances that I should post the photo unedited, but your version actually looks better.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 01:22 AM:

Patrick @ 35... You must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest... WITH... A HERRING!

#38 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 01:28 AM:

James MacDonald @ #32, if I entered the mustache portion of the contest at least I'd be starting with a clean lip.

(It feels very odd to drink soup or eat corn on the cob with no strainer attached below my nose.)

#39 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 01:39 AM:

Happy Birthday Teresa!

VictorS @ 22: I like Carpenters B-sides too. Well, Mary Chapin Carpenter's, anyway. Pour me a beer, please.

#40 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 02:05 AM:

I would just like to state for the record, right here and now, that this is the third site I've tried out with Google Chrome and I am utterly bowled over.

I had no idea Firefox had gotten so sluggish.

#41 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 03:51 AM:

Ask me again about Google Chrome if NoScript and Adblock ever get ported to that browser. heh.

#42 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 04:13 AM:

Cheese? Check. Bicycles? Check. Genever? check.
Windmills? Check. Brown cafes? On agenda.

Ice-skating is ruled out by seasonal constraints. Tulips are unavoidable (seasonal constraints).

That seems to leave herring, dropjes and stroopwafels on the list of essential experiences.

#43 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 07:52 AM:

Happy Birthday, Teresa! Wish I could be there.

#44 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 08:13 AM:

My brother has just returned from Amsterdam sporting a magnificent Van Dyck (or possibly Frank Zappa) style beard and moustache. Clearly this is the influence of the Netherlander love of facial topiary.

On the other hand he's been in various central asian countries for the last 15 months so it may be representative of an Uzbek or Azeri fashion for all I know.

#45 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 08:18 AM:

#26: Jenever (note spelling) is something that's thought of as an old man's drink over here until a few years ago, with the stereotypical consumer being the retired worker or fisherman or somebody like that ordering a "kopstootje" (beer + jenever (in separate glasses of course)) at his local.

Then the yuppie distilleries like Ketel 1 revamped it and its slowly becoming popular again.

#46 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 08:28 AM:

Neil Willcox @ 44... Has Dick Van Dyke ever been seen sporting a Van Dyck?

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 08:51 AM:

Thomas @ 42... I guess tulips were bound to be brought up, even in passing. After all, isn't this where the expression 'to pay tulip service' comes from?

#48 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 09:08 AM:

One does wonder whether Serge has the stamena to keep going with these puns...

Put the petal to the metal, as the saying goes...

The trouble is, if things go too far, it could be pistils at dawn...

#49 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 09:10 AM:

For those who aren't watching the "recent comments" list on the side of ML (as I often don't):

Marilee has waved hello from the rehab center in an old thread, and hopes to be going home Tuesday or Wednesday.

#50 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 09:21 AM:

Very loosely related to Martin Wisse @45, IMO it's kind of funny how sometimes, hipsters from one country discover something from another country's culture that hipsters from that other country tend to find horribly un-hip. (The standard example I can think of is many US hipsters' interest in European soccer teams.)

#51 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 09:41 AM:


"Let us go to the banks of the ocean
"With the sunrise above the Zuider Zee
"Long ago I used to be a young man
"And dear Margret remembers that for me"
--refrain from a song, -- The Dutchman--?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Are there lots of artisanal breads over there?
After all, in the Netherlands one excepts the natives to do everything with flours....

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 09:49 AM:

Michael I @ 48... I see that you rose to the occasion.

#53 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 10:00 AM:

Serge #52: And here I was expecting you to get your iris up, or something like that. Amaryllis happy to see your moderate response to Michael's peony, I mean punning.

#54 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 10:16 AM:

In an entirely different discussion space than fibrous joke nettings and pleasure travel....

++++++++++++++++++
I've been trying to come up with a sonorous (I can't think of the actual word I want-- onomatopeia perhaps? -- I've been trying to come up with a term with r-- to use as phrase such as "Roadblock Republicans" or "Roadwreck Republicans" that carries connotations and denotation of intentional hypocritical obnoxious malicious obstructionism and vandalism (vandalism isn't a strong enough word, the term I want instead carries more the meaning of intentional vicious destruction and damage for purposes of spite and scorched-earth policy/attitude--hmm, earth-scorching is one of those type-terms....). Anyway, the Noose Media (which has about as much honesty as Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh)is playing stovepipe broadcasting all the lies and smears and accusations of the the fascists who lost their illicitly acquired control of the White House (but has all those abominable "burrowed in" S/t/a/l/i/n/i/s/t/s (can you tell that I've forgotten the code for doing a strikeout?!) fascist apparatchiks in alleged Civil Service (who were 2001-2008 political appointees moved into permanent Civil Service positions the last few months of the Misadministration) positions continuing to work their evil vicious damages on the world) and lost the majority in Congress....

Hmm, in all the derisive dicussions of Evil Overlords in fantasy and science fiction, little time and attention gets places on their syncophants, supporters, handlers, and all the appartchiks and minions and adherents and associates and subordinates and affiliates constituting the facilitating and sustaining network.

Translating the above--an evil overlord doesn;t exist in a vacuum. If nobody carried out the evil overlord's policies at lower levels and nobody implemented them, the evil overlord couldn't exist as an evil overlord...

The current arc in Girl Genius (which I finally started reading a few months back after years of other people extolling it.... wasn't the right time until recently for me to read it) applies--Zola is a willing front person for the conspirators/backers with power and money and wealth and influence to stage a giant powergrab. It didn't occur to me until just now but Zola seems to have more than a trivial amount in common with That Twerp who occupied (and I do mean "occupied" the White House for eight years.... Anyway, there are the enforcers surrounding Zola who follow her directions and who were detached to her/assigned by the wealthy and powerful to accompany her--theyre doing it willingly and they follow her orders to assault to, to enter the Castle, etc., and they're -scary- -- they're vicious enforcers, and those who get in their way, -splat-. On they other hand, they're being expended, too... but none of them seems to have any interest in defecting/peeling off. And Zola's backers are arrogant and wealthy and powerful and offensive to anyone saying, "This does not seem like a good idea..."

But back out of analogy:

The US Republican Party is the home of warmongering greedy socially irresponsible environment-destroying slavery-loving fascists, who make pre-Revolutionary French aristocrats look like radically active democrats....

=======

And on a related note, reported from someone on a a newsgroup I'm on that people sometimes mention politics on:

Startling admission made during public hearing in CA to consider decertification of the company's voting and tabulation software...

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6995

Would the Democratic Party and the organizations of lawyers (such as the one that stood up in public with accusations that the US Government was contrary to federal law at the most basic national constitution level giving illegal orders at the highest levels and stovepiping them down the Department of (in)Justice and demanding the Judge Advocate General corps (the lawyers) in the US military implement and carry out and distribute the orders to arrest without warrants and authorize torture upon them)please charge Diebold with fraud and criminal violation of US law, election tampering, gross negligence, coverup, and all the rest of that stuff??!!!

(Personally, my feeling is that there are bunch of people who for the actions and policies in force from before 2001 -- the plots that put the fascist front man into federal office didn't start on Jan 20 2001....-- deserve the treatment Vir wanted--and got-- for Mr Morden... Mr Morden was a much less evil and evilly-intentioned fellow, there was some core of decency and kindness in him, though his choices and decisions and self-interest otherwise, mostly overwhelmed it.... It doesn't seem at all that sort of thing regarding Rove, Cheney, etc.

#55 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 10:43 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 51, artisanal breads -- I've seen desem bread in Holland. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

As I write this, the Amsterdam meet-up is in full swing. I VERY much wanted to come and meet everyone (and show off my nearly-finished Laminaria), but it didn't work out. Enjoy! And happy birthday, Teresa!

#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 11:00 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 54...

But was the Twerp, like Zola, involved in a scheme to raise giant squid in the sewers?
Oh.
Wait.

#57 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 11:03 AM:

Here are the fragments of this oldest tale
in our large repertoire: silver in tone,
golden in spirit, force that cannot fail.


Each child will gather sand in a small pail
to build a castle, imitating stone:
here are the fragments of this oldest tale,


how we begin to lay a proper trail
for you to follow, once the flower's blown;
golden in spirit, force that cannot fail


to show the wary how to raise the veil
gaining what's wanted without angry moan;
here are the fragments of this oldest tale


fresh as we heard them, ready to inhale
into our deepest parts; so we atone,
golden in spirit, force that cannot fail


now that we're ready, to reach due scale
conquering all that we could hope to own.
Here are the fragments of this oldest tale,
golden in spirit, force that cannot fail.

#58 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 11:20 AM:

Talking of Amaryllis, can anyone help with the following:

I have three amaryllis, all of which have grown and been repotted several times, and which have developed side bulbs. This year they are producing four, five and two stems (including those from side bulbs). I want to separate the larger side bulbs off into new pots. However, all the info. I've been able to find talks about separating them in October or thereabouts, once the leaves have died back - and for the past two or three years the leaves have not died back. Suggestions? I keep them in the guest room (to keep them safe from the cats), with the heating on only low in the winter, which theoretically should encourage them to die back. I could try further reducing watering in September or October, but I don't want to harm them by stopping watering while the leaves are still growing.

#59 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 11:48 AM:

Paula @ 54
Did you mean "alliteration"?
Personally, I think that, as the less evil group, we should be sensitive to minority feelings, and use politically-correct terms like "Rugose-Squamous-Republicans".

Wrt your rant about the steadfastness of henchmen: many of them have their eyes fixed firmly on the prize (gold, power, or sex-objects) they've been promised. It's greed that keeps them chained to their masters; when things get bad they tell themselves that there's just this one more obstacle to overcome, one more evil to commit, and the prize will be theirs. And they tell themselves they are the meanest mothers in the valley, and cannot lose; they can't imagine any future in which theirs is not the boot and ours is not the face.

#60 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 11:50 AM:

Fragano @ 54

Very nice. I love it when the term ends and you don't have to read the horrible things your students think are English, but can write some beautiful ones yourself.

#61 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 11:51 AM:

While we're on Holland...

I've been investigating the shelves of the library where I work, to see if what we have is adequate to support what our students and faculty are doing, and this month it was History. It turns out that we have very little on Holland. We don't teach any classes on Dutch history, but we need to have something -- anyone want to recommend the top five must-have books for Dutch history?

#62 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 11:52 AM:

Serge @ 46
Has Dick Van Dyke ever been seen sporting a Van Dyck?>

Only the alternate universe Dick Van Dyke.

#63 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 11:56 AM:

dcb, I'd say after they bloom and stop growing, dig them up and separate them to the extent that the bulbs are willing to separate. 'Not growing right now' is probably the best you can get. (I had to whack the stems on my lilies to get them dormant enough to dig and chill them a few weeks and convince them it was really winter. Or, as I describe it, finding the five minutes the plant is dormant enough to prune.)

#64 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 12:30 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 51:

"Let us go to the banks of the ocean
"With the sunrise above the Zuider Zee
"Long ago I used to be a young man
"And dear Margret remembers that for me"
--refrain from a song, -- The Dutchman--?

Yes, that song is "The Dutchman". I always assumed that it was written by Steve Goodman, but according to Wikipedia, it was written by Michael Peter Smith. I've only heard it performed by Goodman.
Steve Goodman was a wonderful songwriter and performer from Chicago. His most famous song was "The City of New Orleans", as performed by Arlo Guthrie. I saw him perform in about 1979, and he put on a great show. Sadly, he died of cancer in 1984.

#65 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 12:35 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 62... the alternate universe Dick Van Dyke

...whose brother Jerry starred in My Mother the Monster Car.

#66 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 12:50 PM:

Steve Goodman?

What are the odds. I've just come back from the pub where the Making Light meet was held and we got talking about Steven Goodman when a French song to the tune of his "The City of New Orleans" came on the stereo.

Quick report: it was fun, with several lurkers supporting us in e-ma^walcohol. Apart from PNH, TNH and Abi, present were my good self, my partner Palau, Thomas, Aron (sp?) from Boston who was in Frankfurt anyway and used his railpas to get to Amsterdam, Auke (a Dutch lurker) and Bo (sp?) (another one, who promised to get posting here), as well as Steve Glover and his partner Jenny. Drinks were had, Dutch pub food was tried and merry was made.

#67 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 12:54 PM:

61: Tony Zbaraschuk asked:


anyone want to recommend the top five must-have books for Dutch history?

I'd recommend Jonathan Israel's The Dutch Republic, it's Rise, Greatness and Fall 1477- 1805 as a good and thorough overview.

#68 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 01:25 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers)#60: Thank you.

However, I've still got six weeks or so of term to go. And I've just been informed that "Emmit Til (sic) was drastically and brutally awoke by being drugged out his bed and killed."

#69 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 01:28 PM:

Tony Zbaraschuk #61: For Dutch colonial history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries I'd recommend C.R. Boxer's The Dutch Seaborne Empire, a wonderful little book.

#70 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 01:48 PM:

Fragano @ 68... I am beginning to get this horrible feeling that your students come up with such pearls of prose because they know you talk about them here. Either that or their communication skills truly are as ghastly as it appears. I'm not sure which is scarier.

#71 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 02:24 PM:

Serge @ 70:

The latter, surely. The former at least means they're having fun.

Do they really not read what they've written?

Now I have a mental image of a group of thugs injecting a happily-sleeping person with some not-so-nice stuff, marching him off and doing him in.

#72 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 02:29 PM:

Serge #70: Unfortunately, I keep getting students whose ability to write English is far below optimal. This is not helped by their deciding to write assignments the night before they're due.

They're trying, but middle and high schools no longer lay the basis for clear writing, and two semesters of freshman comp aren't going to fix the problem. So I get statements like this: The republicans and the general public main objective is Capital grain by any means necessary, no matter what race you are.

Capital grain is so important in these days of common grain.

#73 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 02:41 PM:

Fragano @ #72, Capital grain sounds ricey to me.

#74 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 02:49 PM:

Do they always write such floury prose? Or perhaps are wheat too quick with the rye humor?

#75 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 02:53 PM:

I think that much of my agony could be avoided if they would just take a millet or two to revise.

#76 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 02:58 PM:

Happy birthday, Teresa!

The photo and story together put me in mind of a pair of drawings I did in Rocky Mountain National Park, where I climbed up a hill with my clipboard tied to my back with a windbreaker and sketched looking down at the road. I went to climb down, and the clipboard slid off, teetered briefly on the edge of a rock, then gracefully let all its pages scatter freely across the mountainside. I watched in consternation, which turned to alarm as I realized that I was starting to follow it. I dropped to hands and feet, and slid off the edge anyway. My companions looked up when I yelled, laughed at the papers, and helped me gather it all up. Once safely at the bottom, I sketched the place where I'd been for reference, and later inked the two drawings in during a shift at the answering service. I think I used them for cover art in AZAPA, but I could be wrong about that.

I'm going to go listen to art spiegelman tonight, at RIT. I went to see his talk in October (I think), only to have it postponed until tonight. Looking forward to it, especially as the industrial-grade diarrhea I had from Tuesday on seems to have gone away. When it was raging, Cathy suggested calling the med center and telling them I was ready for my colonoscopy a week early.

#77 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 03:59 PM:

P J Evans @ 63

Okay, thanks for that - that's probably what I'll have to do. I've a few months to wait before trying anything. At present, the first stalk has four beautiful flowers on it; the other stalks range from "just visible emerging from the bulb through the leaves" to "about 3 ft tall and starting to bud out."

The one down-side to having our beautiful cats is that one of them is a plant eater, so only plants which either (a) she doesn't eat (e.g. rubber plant, small-leaf Ficus) or (b) can cope with being eaten (spider plant) can be out around the house. The rest (amaryllis, ponytail plant, Tradescantia, dragon trees, Christmas cacti) have to be shut away in the spare room.

#78 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Serge @46 - Anthony van Dyck/ Dick van Dyke/ dikes in the Netherlands/ beards - about then we decided not to go any further with the puns; he was still jetlagged and I'd been working.

Bruce Cohen @59 ...they can't imagine any future in which theirs is not the boot and ours is not the face.

In an alternative interpretation, they can't imagine any alternative to boots in faces, so if you aren't the boot, you're the face.

#79 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 04:35 PM:

Martin Wisse @45:
The bottle Patrick bought is labeled "Genever". Is there a difference among the spellings?

#80 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 04:49 PM:

abi @80:

If you cross the border to francophone Belgium, jenever is known as genièvre. Its Walloon name is peket; Liège is known for the many varieties on offer.

#81 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 04:51 PM:

A college friend has refused to watch any episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica. He was a fan of the original and thought that the dark and ambiguous new version was an insult. However, he was curious about how the new series ended.

I obliged him:

My Version

Captain Adama was visited in a dream by his ancient ancestor, the "real" Adama played by Lorne Greene. They used a combination of old clips and animation to do it . . . pretty amazing. This Adama told him to select twelve wives, one from each colony, and fly in a shuttle to a previously unknown 14th colony.

Meanwhile, Starbuck finished rescuing the crew and passengers of the Orphanage Ship from the Toymaker Planet, which was revealed to be a Cylon trap. The treacherous dagget which had led them into the trap was converted to Good by the tears of a spunky young orphan.

Apollo, leading the remainder of the fleet, fought a pitched battle in which the Queen Cylon was killed, but not before wiping out most of the Galactica's "Blue" squadron.

During the battle, an explosion killed the marines guarding Baltar's cell; the condemned criminal escaped and -- with the help of Count Diabolico, the Cylon assassin -- made his way to the hanger deck. Outraged at the sight of Apollo being hailed as a hero on his return, Baltar fired Diabolico's Energy Gauntlet at him; Boomer sacrificed himself to save his friend by leaping in the path of the blast.

With the death of the queen, the Cyclon began crashing into planets and fighting each other. Against everyone's wishes, Apollo saved two baby Cylons from lifepod and vowed to raise them on the side of Good.

Another lifepod was found to contain a message from Adama, giving the coordinates to the 14th colony, which is revealed in the final scene to be called "Deseret."

#82 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 04:52 PM:

Nobody reads what they've written, or so it feels sometimes. It's not just the students taking a couple of semesters of college composition that they'd rather not be doing: it's professionals.

It's not that the latter can't write. It's that once people write a sentence, paragraph, or chapter, they know what it's supposed to say, and they don't stop to check that what they meant is what they typed. That's true of college students writing papers they don't care about, of professional writers who care about their work, and of people writing job applications and love letters.

But it produces some of the problems Fragano posts about. It also gets me manuscripts in which (for a recent example) the text says "raise" where it should say "lower." (These things are easily enough fixed by an editor who, not having written the copy, could see it a little more clearly.)

Even people who are good at this find it hard to proofread their own work. College students mostly haven't even been told they should proofread, and even if they have, they're not going to find a friend willing and able to trade off proofreading if they finish the paper an hour before it's due.

Meanwhile, a freelance writer may well be in, say, rural Delaware, or for that matter the middle of Brooklyn, but not have a friend who has the time and appropriate skillset to read the manuscript over before they send it in. Also, deadlines don't magically stop being a problem once a person is out of college.

This is, in fact, part of why I have a job: publishers don't expect manuscripts to arrive so perfect that all the editor needs to do is read it over, check off that the writer has, in fact, done everything we asked them to do, and hand it on to composition.

None of that makes it less frustrating when you're dealing with certain problems, and I realize it's much worse for Fragano and his colleagues. But "not reading what they write" is hardly the only problem there.

#83 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 05:33 PM:

I'll be showing up later than usual for my regular Sunday night chat with a friend and whoever else wanders by. I mention this because it's conducted over a venue called meebo which censors so aggressively that the funnyman with the world's worst cockney accent shows up as **** van **** in conversation. Hilarity invariably ensues. It's easy enough to get around (I do it by inserting extra arrs: Drick van Dryke. Hah!)

#84 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 05:51 PM:

That's odd. I use meebo.com all the time, because Macmillan's IT department blocks the ports and protocols used by free-standing IM clients. (Don't get me started.) And I've never run into meebo censoring anything.

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 06:07 PM:

Fragano @ 72...

Capital grain?
Moral fiber is what kids need.

#86 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 06:08 PM:

Vicky @ 82

Proofreading your own work is difficult, and when the deadline is due and you're sick to death of what you've been slaving over for weeks/months, it's even more difficult. In my work I've had many errors (from transposed numbers to repeated paragraphs) spotted for me, thankfully, by other people. I've also noticed published work with missing letters: e.g. "plage" rather than "plague" in a running title of a book chapter; missing words: importantly, in one case the missing word "not" (I'd read the paper referred to the previous day so knew the conclusion had been opposite); repeated paragraphs and so on.

However, I think there are several factors which can compound the problem: lack of understanding of the meaning of words (poor vocabulary); poor understanding of sentence structure and punctuation; absence of care whether your words and phrases means what you intend them to mean, and over-reliance on computerised spell-checking, which will not catch the wrong word if it is correctly written, and may change a wrongly-spelled word into a correctly-spelled word - but the wrong word for the sentence.

I'm totally fed up of people who don't know the difference between "e.g." and "i.e." - and I see wrong useage of such abbreviations much too often in published scientific work as well as in documents not professionally published.

(And yes, I'm sure this post will contain at least one typo.).

#87 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 06:22 PM:

It sounds very much to me like the problem is not that Fragano's students don't read what they have written. I think it's that they don't read anything, ever, at all. People who don't read prose have no sense for how sentences should go. They don't hear the words in their heads while they're writing them. It's like being tone-deaf.

I don't have any idea what this is like, any more than I know how to be tone-deaf or colorblind. But I observed it many times with my classmates all the way through school, until I got to a level where everyone did read.

#88 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 06:28 PM:

dcb @ @ 86... There are only three persons in the group I work with whose native language is English and none of them is me, as people can guess from my posts. We have Cantonese, French, Mandarin, Indian, Arabic, Russian. Interestingly, we all have a good grasp of English grammar, probably because we had to learn it. Sometimes some of us slip and use the wrong word although it's easy to figure out what the person meant by looking for the phonetic equivalent. It can make the writer blush though when one points out that she should have written 'bear with me' because 'bare with me' could be interpreted the wrong way.

(This also reminds me of last year's Hulk when Edward Norton's Bruce Banner is hiding in South-America. At some point he is surrounded by thugs who threaten him and he struggles in Spanish that subtitles translates as "Don't make me hungry... You won't like me when I'm hungry.")

#89 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 06:37 PM:

Serge @ 88

From the evidence presented on Making Light, you have a better grasp of English (grammar, vocabulary and spelling) than many (most?) of Fragano's students. I've come to realise, for example, that in order to paraphrase properly (to avoid plagarism in writing review papers etc.), you need both an understanding of sentence structure (so you can turn things around and still get the same meaning) and a reasonable vocabulary (so you can use alternative words, and recognise when a word suggested by a paper or computer thesaurus will change the meaning). You also need to recognise when to go with a quote instead.

#90 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 08:34 PM:

Semi-literate students aren't that new a complaint -- there was at least one "collected essay" of those in print during my own high-school years (early 1980's).

If they've become more common in the past couple of decades, I'm inclined to blame those Reprehensible Republicans and their abuse of grade-school education.

#91 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 08:58 PM:

Steve Goodman recorded several of Michael Smith's songs. I recommend to you in particular:
The Dutchman and Roving Cowboy.

I'm now going to be spending some time at his
site checking out the lyrics to his other tunes.

#92 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 09:36 PM:

So I was just measuring the latitude and longitude of my new house (closing in three days!) to play around with solar heating ideas -- when I noticed how close to 40 degrees of latitude it really is. Just a shade further north, and it would be right smack on it.

So I panned north a little, then a little west... My Dad's chicken house is precisely at 40.0000 degrees latitude. My old bedroom is at 39.9997.

That's ... well, it's definitely open thread material, but I just had to share it with somebody.

Happy B-day, Teresa! (Belated, it seems.)

#93 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 10:06 PM:

Thomas@42: You may have left off an essential \tourist/ item: poffertjes. Possibly also out of season as I recall them connected to beaches and vacations, but the only times I was in the Netherlands were Augusts so I don't have a broad sample; Wikipedia says they're available from March to September. Certainly not on any reasonably diet, but travel is supposed to be a time for new experiences....

#94 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2009, 10:39 PM:

Patrick: Okay, the horizon line’s a little crooked. So sue me.

Obviously, you were inspired to emulate Don Quixote.

#95 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:37 AM:

Serge@88: I for one would not, solely from your posts, have known that your native language is not English. And I'm not insensitive to such things, either.

#96 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:50 AM:

On students and editing: My students are required to turn in both a first and final draft of everything they hand in, each of which gets a grade. It's not just about writing sensible sentences (which they are pretty good at, to be honest) - it's also about teaching them the conventions of technical/scientific writing. For example, students frequently use the phrase 'observation x proves y,' which makes me, as a scientist, shudder. The first draft is usually heavily edited, but the final draft is then mostly graded on its content, with few edits. One of the nice things about this is that they get to see how editing produces a good report. And judging by how much better the first draft of the second report is, this clearly gets something across.

It's quite labour-intensive, though, and it really helps that I have small classes.

#97 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 02:45 AM:

CHip @93:
We've had pannekoeken (pancakes). I did recommend poffertjes at the time, but we were hungrier than that.

Patrick and Teresa are going to be doing some touring on their own for the next few days; I'm sure they will consider poffertjes it they're hungry.

#98 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 02:58 AM:

Poffertjes/schmoffertjes — they must have a rijsttafel!

#99 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 03:21 AM:

#58 dcb :

Assuming those are florists' "Amaryllis" (Hippeastrum) cultivars, many of them don't go dormant under house conditions unless forced to, and they really do best if kept growing, so the best course seems to be to remove the largest offsets after the blooming phase has passed. Avoid over-potting &/or over-watering and all should be well.

#100 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 05:51 AM:

Strike One: Obama Administration Supports Telco Spy Immunity

Strike Two: Obama administration sides with RIAA in P2P lawsuit

Anyone want to guess what Strike Three will be?

#101 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:17 AM:

Earl Cooley III:

The Paulson/Geithner Bank Enrichment Plan?

#102 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 07:24 AM:

Joel Polowin @94: Obviously, you were inspired to emulate Don Quixote.

Tilting at windmills?

#103 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 08:00 AM:

Vicki #82: That's very well said. I cringe at the errors I find in my own writing, generally months after I've written it. Yet I proofread, and that involves a lot more than relying on spellcheck.

#104 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 08:17 AM:

Caroline #87: That's the truth. I find that a growing number of young people don't read anything they don't have to read. When a transient summer-school student from a major public university challenges me for using the word "inimical" in class, as happened a few years ago, I find myself wondering what on earth is happening in the education system before young people reach me.

#105 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 08:21 AM:

Serge #88: I felt embarrassed, back in the day as they say these days, every time one of my errors of either grammar or spelling was caught by my dissertation advisor. He's Dutch.

#106 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 09:08 AM:

Open threadiness: I found this post on Felix Salmon's blog very interesting, and relevant to some of our previous discussions here w.r.t. the financial meltdown.

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 09:14 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 95... Thanks. By the way, how goes the planned move to the Lone Star?

#108 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 09:15 AM:

Fragano @ 105... Everything Dutch?

#110 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 09:40 AM:

Bad student writing, getting worse?

I think there's a case to be made that once it became necessary for everyone to get high school diplomas, the proportion of college-bound types who could write well would go down. Our (U.S.) educational system does a great job of educating the top 20% of students who would do just fine anyway, and does a mediocre-to-awful job with the rest. (Mind you, illiteracy is waaay down, as is/are high school dropout rates, so it's not all bad.)

Also, my writing skills deteriorate like hell as soon as I start posting in a conversation about other people's writing skills. So, sorry that this is so crap compared to what I usually do.

#111 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 10:11 AM:

I don't know how my "then" compares with anyone else's, although I've seen some accounts which suggest that British schools generally dropped formal teaching of grammar before my time. Some of the things which some of you recount are nothing like my recollections. Sentence diagramming?

While my teaching wasn't all bad, I cannot but think that my writing and vocabulary have damn little to do with the formal teaching I experienced. I was reading, voraciously, and not the "Dick and Jane" sort of stuff. When, I wonder, did I first read Ungava. Was it before or after I read Treasure Island? I was reading old stuff, and not the old stuff which was force-fed through English-lit classes.

I wasn't reading the classy literary stuff, much, but the competent popular prose of the pre-cinema generation. Some of that is pretty dreadful: what would a modern editor think of the prolixity of Thorndyke's Dr. Syn? (Though the wordcount isn't so incredibly high.)

Forty years later, despite the apparent lack of formal teaching, I think I seem to manage. And I did get my O-level, lang. and lit., so my teachers can't be said to have failed. What I sometimes see in print is still dreadul. There's a cringe-worthy clumsiness to the phrasing of so much written for our modern world.

People assure me that I write better than that. Some of you here have asked me for copies of writing which I have excerpted here. But I shall admit to weaknesses, and not just in keeping track of the grammarians jargon. I was never, that I recall, taught anything about the overall structure of a work. Despite so many O-levels depending on writing a series of short essays in the exam, I have no recollection of being taught anything of that craft.

I didn't pass the history O-level. That was all essays, and the allocated period of history was pretty boring.

And what can you write in half an hour per question, which was all the time we had?

It wouldn't astonish me if, under those constraints, some of my writing was as dismal as that of today's students. But I got better.

"He used... sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. He was vicious."

I became not unfamiliar with litotes before I ever left school. But it wasn't anything to do with my teachers.

And I will admit to puns.

But I never mentioned the Spanish Inquisition.

#112 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 10:34 AM:

Dave Bell @ 111: I feel the same way. I learned to write because I read everything voraciously, and copied it.

One thing I did learn in school was how best to structure a formal five-paragraph essay (and related forms). This was accomplished through endless drills -- in AP English we wrote in-class essays at least once a week. I learned that the only way to plan and write an essay in 30 minutes flat, which was the time allotted, is to lay out your argument tersely and explicitly, in almost newspaper-style declarative sentences. Before learning that, I tended to ramble. (This is also a good skill for scientific writing.)

I passed the AP US History exam, but not by much. It wasn't so much the essays; I just don't have the head for history that I do for literary analysis. I couldn't come up with the argument in 5 minutes, as I could for the English exam. (And I blamed Nixon for the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Still embarrassed about that nearly ten years on. I'm amazed they passed me.)

#113 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 10:39 AM:

On the subject of writing that makes one wonder what, if anything, the writer was thinking:

I recently read an article in the newspaper about Stephan Elliott, who's spent the last few years recovering from a horrifying skiing accident. How horrifying? According to this article, he lost his body weight in blood.

#114 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 10:59 AM:

Paul A. @113:

That reminds me of a student who wrote "Oxygen is rich in blood."

#115 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 11:13 AM:

Paul #113:

I suppose his treatment was made more difficult by the way he kept shooting toward the ceiling, as a result of his now negative remaining weight....

#116 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 11:31 AM:

In reviewing various emergency preparedness threads, for reasons that will become apparent, I found Jim Macdonald's query for "I'm looking for A Kit To Take if the Gas Company Guy says, 'There's a Leak, Get Out!' " If found, add to it the label, "What if the LAPD knocks at 3am and says 'Get out. There's a bomb next door!' "

What he actually said was, "We'd like you to evacuate as quickly as possible. There's a hazmat situation next door." Since they weren't grabbing people and flinging them out the door (as they did in the Sesnon fire recently), I woke spouse, got into pants, sox, shoes, and we were out the door with smallest gobag in less than five minutes. This live fire exercise showed a few holes in the kit, some already dealt with, others under review.

LAPD bomb squad detonated the device at 0530. No damage or injuries to report. I don't know the neighbors well enough to have any clue why someone would throw a pipe bomb thru their front window.

Thanks to Jim Macdonald, for your posts and lists and thoughts, and to all the ML family who comment their own lists and thoughts. The evac process went smoothly, shoes found, keys found, kit found, and out the door.

#117 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 11:34 AM:

dcb @58: Amaryllis are supposed to have a dormant period, usually in August. They are forced into dormancy by witholding water. After the leaves turn brown, wait six weeks.

When the six weeks are up, remove bulbs from pots, divide and repot, adding bulb fertilizer to the soil mix.

If you follow this schedule you will have blooms at Christmas/New Years.

#118 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 11:49 AM:

Paul A. @ 113: he lost his body weight in blood

Thanks, I needed a laugh. And if he'd lost that much blood, he'd be dead several times over. (Also, what albatross said. )

#119 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 11:54 AM:

It's not impossible he could have lost several times his entire blood supply; people do, if they have to undergo major emergency surgery. You just have to keep pumping more into them until you can fix the leaks. But, yes, losing about 150 pints would seem a little excessive.

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:00 PM:

Paul A @ 113... Ginger @ 118... This reminds me of a line from the coming attraction for Jane Austen's Mafia, after a mobster has been shot:

"You lost a lot of blood, but we found most of it."

#121 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:30 PM:

I read the Fred Phelps as Con Man particle with interest. I think it quite accurately describes how he and his 'church' make money and how they plan their events, but I disagree with calling him a con man. Calling him a con man implies that he doesn't believe the stuff he's peddling.

As a counterpoint, I found an article entitled Running From Hell*, which is an interview with one of Phelps's sons who managed to escape. I think that Phelps seriously believes what he preaches, and, even if he doesn't, most of his family has been indoctrinated to. The first comment on the post is from one of his daughters, and it is both quite telling and rather sad.

* Warning: the article has gone through brain-dead character-set conversion at some point in time, making it hard to read. It was UTF-8, treated as something else (Windows-1252?) and converted to UTF-8 again, so some of the punctuation is wonky.

#122 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:36 PM:

Serge #108: I was simply pointing out his superb fluency in English.

#123 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:38 PM:

ajay @ 119: The distinction here, I think, is the intra-operative losses which are managed with transfusions during the process, versus the loss of blood and subsequent transport to the hospital. The latter generally results in a lack of good outcome. [There was a case of shark bite a few years back, where the shark hit the boy's thigh and he bled out on the beach. He's alive, but seriously brain-damaged.]

Keep in mind that even intra-op losses, if too large, are dangerous, as the patient is at ever-increasing risk for DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation), and death.

#124 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:42 PM:

abi, I had an American friend (from the US. USian?)who spent a year or two in The Netherlands. He had a beard similar to Patrick's which he shaved when he learned the Dutch name for said beard.

Can you confirm, as I've always assumed he was pulling my leg, the the Dutch phrase for a goatee is a reference to "Parting the C@%T"?

My initial shock was replaced by skepticism. However, slang words are often derived from innocent sources, so who knows?

#125 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:42 PM:

CHip@93

Good point. I saw a van selling poffertjes on Saturday morning, so they aren't completely out of season.

#126 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:43 PM:

Dave Bell @ 111:

If English grammar is still thoroughly taught, I missed it in bouncing around different countries' educational systems. I think I learned more about English grammar in Latin, French and Spanish classes than I ever did in English.

Caroline @ 112:

I had the same experience as you for practicing to write AP English essays. I don't think that it was quite as simple as simple, declarative sentences, but it was pretty lean. It also helped that they all pretty much followed the same form. I'm a bit out of practice with that now, sad to say.

#127 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:45 PM:

"He rolled a truck and lost his own body-weight in blood."

"Wow, wouldn't that kill him?"

"He was a delivery driver for the Blood Transfusion Service."

#128 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:46 PM:

The best training I got for writing was four years of speech team, doing Impromptu. Walk into a room with an index card and a pen, get the slip of paper with the topic, clock starts. Eight minutes later, stop talking.

That and junior year AP US History, with a test every four or five days, AP test style, including an essay. I usually discovered my thesis toward the end, which wouldn't work for speech, but I remembered everything as I wrote it rather than before.

#129 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 12:48 PM:

Caroline #112:

There were three solid years of school when I had to write a "composition", as it was called, twice a week. A précis, at least as often. A business letter, two or three times a week. I believe it had an effect on my ability to write. I passed O-level English and Spanish, both with distinction at the end of second form. I'd already passed the Jamaica School Certificate English and Spanish examinations with distinction (which meant that I was at fourth form level) before I started first form. Granted, I was never good at mathematics. But the constant drill meant that I had the basics of writing down early. Devouring the library as soon as I could also helped.

Living in a Third World country also meant that banned books got passed from hand to hand in high school. Banned meaning that possesion of the book was good for gaol time, not that the local school board didn't want it in the hands of impressionable children.

#130 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 01:07 PM:

KeithS @121:

Louis Theroux did a BBC feature called The Most Hated Family in America. Reconciling their apparent niceness with the vitriol they spew is a jarring experience.

#131 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 01:49 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @129, Jamaica bans books? What kind of books?

#132 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 02:26 PM:

PNH @35: I scolded my Dutch upstairs neighbor for not wearing a helmet while bicycling. She commented that wearing bicycle helmets is very un-Dutch. I pointed out that Dutch bicyclists don't usually have to contend with American drivers.

#133 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 02:37 PM:

Don Fitch @ 99, Lori Coulson @ 117

Two different approaches: "let it grow" versus "forced dormancy". Hm. I'll have to think which option to try. I admit I'm a bit concerned about totally stopping watering and forcing them to die back, but then I'm also concerned about damaging them trying to separate side bulbs while the leaves are still green. The leaves did used to die back (without deliberate forcing), but haven't now for at least two or three years.

#134 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 03:48 PM:

Hood

Do not stray from the path.

They knew the forest in those days,
knew, and had reason to fear
old growth, vine-encrusted, blotting out the light
thickets tangling the route
no trail of bread to guide the way
the wolves that, in hunger, lose their fear.
Our forests seem tame
second, third-growth, monoculture, trash forest
all handicap accessible
with markers to teach us what once we knew.
I have walked the forest
alone
with only the stars
(fading year by year from the encroaching light of cities,
miles away)
and feared nothing worse than a misstep,
a stubbed toe
(do not stray from the path)
though it did turn out later
there were bears
stealthier than we knew.

We do not fear the forest.
Instead we fear the urban jungle
city buildings, vine-encrusted, blotting out the light
cold breezeways leading us astray
blind alleys, lairs where danger lurks.
Our predators wear a more familiar face.
I have walked the city streets at night
alone
over my friends' objections
(do not stray from the path)
under the brilliant summer sky
or the sodium glow of a snowy winter
and feared nothing worse than an obnoxious drunk
though it did turn out later
that mere blocks away
a human wolf was taking his toll
in those days
when I dyed my hair red
and knew that I would never come to harm.

#135 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 04:32 PM:

I've just gotten home for work, and while I'm checking my email and packaging up a custom order to mail out, I can hear the skateboarding whippersnappers come down the sidewalk behind my house. The scraping and clacking sounds of them practicing flippy-whatnots in the cul-de-sac go on for awhile, and I resist the urge to pop up and glare out the window suspiciously. I'm not that old yet, dammit.

Then I hear,
"I can break this. Should I?"
"No."

?!

#136 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 04:57 PM:

B. Durbin: I can be slow to notice people, but gosh, you're good.

#137 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 05:50 PM:

Lin @ 116:

What were the holes you found? What was superfluous? Enquiring minds....

(BTW, my Go Bag inventory list is at http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009528.html.)

(If the list(s) is/are useful to you, it's okay to copy, quote, link to, modify, or otherwise use 'em. Just please give credit. My guiding principles are: Cheap, light, easily obtainable, multi-purpose. The kit you put together is infinitely better than the kit you intend to put together someday....)

#138 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 05:54 PM:

Raphael #131: Whatever books the government wants to ban. At the time, the banning orders under the Importation of Forbidden Publications Act covered a number of Russian, Chinese and Cuban publications, all books published by the De Laurence company of Chicago (those had to do with witchcraft and divination), anything written by Elijah Muhammad, The Groundings with My Brothers by Walter Rodney, and The Children of Sisyphus by Orlando Patterson. I'm not sure of what else, but that's what I can recall.

The Rodney book and the Patterson book, a novel*, had a significant underground circulation. So, I gather, did the De Laurence books, though the people who read those also were liable to prosecution and imprisonment under the Obeah Act, for the practice of obeah.

Most of the bans were lifted in 1972. Except, I believe, for the ban on the De Laurence books. Those were unbanned a little later, since I recall seeing books with that imprint openly on sale in 1973.

In 1981, a copy of the Encyclopaedia of Marxism was seized from a visitor arriving in Jamaica, and returned to him on his departure from the island. But, as far as I am aware, no order regarding this book was gazetted.

* The novel describes the first prime minister of Jamaica, Sir Alexander Bustamante, lightly disguised as 'Montesaviour', as two-faced: Sweet-talking an angry crowd of unemployed people waiting outside the Ministry of Labour, then orderlng the police to forcibly disperse them.

#139 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 05:56 PM:

B. Durbin #134: Wow. Just wow.

#140 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:03 PM:

Paula Lieberman... Your comparison of the Twerp to Zola is becoming quite eerie today

#141 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:06 PM:

Patrick, since you're in Europe I suppose that all of your misadventures, bicycle and otherwise, should occur in the style of Hergé.

#142 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:17 PM:

Open Thready: Girl Genius got a shout-out (a while ago) at a softer world.

#143 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:20 PM:

#141: They'll need to borrow a small white dog.

#144 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:24 PM:

emergency preparedness question:
let us propose that the power and gas are out, and i am indoors. if i just want a damn cup of tea/soup/thing-involving-hot-water to warm back up, how do i boil the water?

#145 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:33 PM:

Shadowsong #144: I'm no expert, but I'd say get a can of Sterno, or even a camp stove (with suitable fuel).

#146 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:33 PM:

Shadowsong: Camping supply stores sell all kinds of little-bitty stoves.

#147 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:43 PM:

Sterno is cheap and stable. You can put the lid back on to extinguish it.

Buy a couple of small enamel pots and/or large enamel coffee cups to use with the stuff. Water comes to a boil faster in these than in a heavy duty pot. You could probably make a stand out of a large can.

In addition to a half-dozen sterno cans, I have a little stash of instant soups / noodles of the "add boiling water to get a hot meal" sort. I've seen instant mashed potato cups as well.

#148 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:44 PM:

Patrick, thank you. I'm delighted you found my post of such value. I'm touched.

Jim @ 137

Quite a tidy little live fire exercise. I have plans for big evacuations, earthquakes, train derailments, where to meet up if evacuated, that sort of thing. This was an itty bitty thing, evac two blocks down the street, for a few hours. Nothing in the plan book for that. That is being corrected.

1) Spouse's 3 days worth of critical meds piece didn't include critical herbal things. It was ok for a morning to not have them, and they have since been added.
2) Planning on evacuating cats doesn't work really well if the cats have been frightened into hiding. Getting them out, and then into carriers was deemed too much time, so I made sure they had access to water and left them. Not a hole, precisely, but the feedback from ML threads caused me to do a fast check on long term water availability.
3) Spouse is hypoglycemic. We have a "you have 30 minutes to get stuff and leave" kit that has food in it. The "OMG get out right now" kit does not. That can be rectified by the addition of small bags of nuts hiding in the same place as the meds.
4) Evacuation plans always included car, because neither one of us is in any kind of hiking condition. Sunday morning, street completely blocked by police cars. Even with evacuation point just down the street, cats could not have been evacuated because we couldn't have carried four cat carriers. Thoughts on this include a fold-up dolly like cons use for supplies. Other ideas welcome.
5) There is a slightly larger kit than the "OMG get out right now" kit, but I didn't even remember it. It had food. It wasn't in an easily remembered place (it was in my car; when the car got vetoed, apparently everything in the car was filed in "forget"). I need to rethink deployment, or just rethink. Get my CERT buddy to toss WhatIfs at me more often. Anyway, under review.

Small items like my sarape is really nice when getting from one place to another. Not really good for standing on a street corner in a rising wind. A cat in a carrier gets really heavy really fast (we managed to get one, the oldest). Where do we evacuate for a few hours, rather than days? And in the middle of the night. We could get transport, but where to? Transport person reminded me of a mutual friend who's out of town, and we went to the apartment. And ate his waffles. The apartment was only a few blocks away, so I got to hear the *womp* at 0530.

Jim, your posts, your kit lists, are the first place I go. I'm building a kit from the ground up for a friend off on a serious road trip, and I'm starting with your lists. And all the comments, because they not only include what, but hows.

#149 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:46 PM:

Mary Dell @ 141... Mille milliards de mille sabords!

#150 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:50 PM:

From the FWIW department:

I have a backpack with a change of clothes, towels, and toiletries stashed in my cube at work. An overhead cabinet has a few packs of instant noodles. So if the zombies attack my neighborhood but not the next town over, I have a place to crash. (There's even a shower in the mens' room.)

#151 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 06:54 PM:

We have a portable camping stove for if the power goes out. I think I could cook a decent meal on without much trouble. I traded mobility for a bit of stability.

If you want something really portable, a quick google of army surplus suppliers might bring up something. A hexamine-fuelled cooker, for instance. I think they come with the field ration packs.

At the other end of the scale, I've seen an Army surplus field kitchen trailer advertised at GBP 350. Note that the towing arrangements are NATO standard. But ideal if you expect company (maybe a bit small for a battalion).

Current kit apparently includes a metal mug and a matching hexamine cooker.

US readers will have different kit available. Terry?

#152 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 07:14 PM:

B. Durbin @ 134

That was excellent. Really good.

#153 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 07:32 PM:

I'll make sure to get some Sterno, then. Is it just propane and kerosene that you're not supposed to use indoors?

#154 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 07:51 PM:

Pendrift, #130: Reconciling their apparent niceness with the vitriol they spew is a jarring experience.

One of my favorite Sondheim quotes is an important thing to remember: "Nice is different than good."

Stefan Jones, #143: They'll need to borrow a small white dog.

Apparently Snowy will hire himself out for just about anything these days.

#155 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 07:51 PM:

B. Durbin @ 134

That's very good.

shadowsong @ 144

We have a 2 burner propane stove we bought in 1972 when we camped out 'cross country, moving from Boston to Sacramento (a 3,000 mile trip we turned into 6,000 by turning off to see a lot of scenic places on the way). We still have it, and it still works well for the occasional power outage. It's a little heavy for a short-term gobag, though.

#156 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 08:03 PM:

Jim, your first aid kit list has SAM splint. What size?

B. Durbin @ 134: oh my
very very nice
thank you

#157 ::: John Aspinall ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 08:22 PM:

KeithS@121: I too read the Phelps particle with interest. I stood with my fellow residents of Lexington MA in facing off against the standard minivan of Phelps-oids about 10 days ago. After training to meet these "hatemongers" with trial runs of very personal, in-your-face invective, the actual event came as somewhat of an anticlimax. There was definitely a feeling of choreography about the way they (the Phelps-oids) went about it.

#158 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 08:32 PM:

The SAM splints I carry are 4.25 x 36 inches. You can always cut 'em down if you need to.

Oh, and I carry 'em folded flat rather than rolled, for ease of packing.

#159 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 08:43 PM:

John Aspinall @157: I grew up in Lexington. What was Phelps doing there?

#160 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 08:47 PM:

Back from the con, and slo-o-o-wly catching up...

janetl, #31: Did you know that there was a Calvin and Hobbes strip that referenced lacrosse? I found it here, the 4th illustration down; click on it to see a larger version.

Caroline, #87: Also, they have no sense that words on a page are in any way related to words that a person speaks. So when they try to read aloud, everything comes out in a monotone. My partner's daughter always got the best parts in classroom dynamic readings because she was generally the only kid in the class who knew how to read with expression.

David, #95: Seconded. Serge is both fluent and idiomatic in English, and the latter is much harder to pick up than the former.

B. Durbin, #134: That is fabulous.

J Austin, #135: You might get the desired results with less negative-energy expenditure by watching the performers and applauding periodically. Whether you want to applaud the successes or the failures is up to you.

Steve C., other folx within driving distance of Houston, and anyone else who might be planning to be in the area at the right time:

CHOCOLATE DECADENCE XXII will be held on Saturday, April 4, from 7:00 PM until whenever we kick the last couple of late-stayers out the door. Bring booze if you want it, and a chocolate or fruit goodie to share. Folding chairs are also a good idea -- sometimes we run short of seating. Drop me an e-mail at the mailto connected with my name if you require specific directions. For those coming in from any distance, crash space here is limited, but there's a Courtyard by Marriott two blocks from our house.

BTW, would the person from here who recently friended me on LJ under a nick that doesn't translate please also drop me a line to identify yourself? Thanks!

#161 ::: Bill in Silicon Valley ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 09:11 PM:

The hard part of the go bag is "two cats" - Cat#1 can usually be grabbed and shoved in a box and has a clue about how to live outside if he needs to; Cat#2 can only be caught with a group of 3+ people or simultaneous luck and trickery, so if there's a fire-like emergency we'll have to just leave the doors open for her to escape.
The earthquake supplies mostly live in the garage (camping stoves, heavy-duty water jugs, etc.), and shouldn't be hard to dig out if the garage collapses. My wife's meds live somewhere easy to grab, and mine are lower priority and easier to replace, though it'd make sense to get a couple days worth in a go-bag again.

#162 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 09:11 PM:

Thomas@125: good to hear that poffertjes are already findable -- especially in this weather. (Boston's latitude is hundreds of miles south of the Netherlands', but today was barely over freezing.

abi/janetl @97/98: Poffertjes are supposed to be an and, not an instead-of -- although I wouldn't swear they would follow rijstaffel very well, and having them after pancakes might be monotonous. (Or maybe not; all sorts of things can come with pancakes -- including a former Revels colleague I ran into at a pancake house in Leiden....)

#163 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 10:33 PM:

About the Phelps particle, the source of the text is from a message thread on fark.com, by El_Camino_SS back in early 2006 or late 2005. I haven't been able to find the actual thread, but an early quoting by another Farker in February of 2006 was acknowledged and replied to by El_Camino_SS. For those interested in snoping out the source at least there's some provenance.

#164 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 10:42 PM:

Of course, I found the original link a couple minutes after hitting the post button. heh.

#165 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 11:03 PM:

The grab the cat part of the go plan got a live trial tonight for a tornado warning. I keep the cat carrier out in the living room all the time so that he's not alarmed by its appearance.

Of course sheltering from a tornado doesn't involve most of the things that you need to take care of for other disasters. Weather radio, cell phone, keys, wallet, and cat. Come back upstairs in 35 minutes.

#166 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2009, 11:32 PM:

Lee@160;
I don't actually mind the performances, other than I'm just turning into my granddad, but it's the perpetual carpeting of endless cigarette butts flicked over my fence(into my tinder-dry yard) and the thoughtful, "I can break this. Should I?" from out by my fence.

Someone's recently wrenched my mailbox flag out of shape trying to rip it off, and though it's briefly amusing, the sight of the wood from my partial split-rail fence bobbing by every once in awhile for fort-upkeep (younger kids down the block)makes me wonder what they're doing to my house when I'm at work.

I'm not sure the applause would be well received, and I worry about my dog. Probably silly, because I don't think any of these things is intentionally malicious, or directed at me personally, but you never know.
Harrumph!

#167 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 12:28 AM:

Fragano # something or other...

Years ago a friend remarked that his coworkers were "paraliterates" -- people who could read and write but really wished that they couldn't.... And they didn't like to/want to think, either. They didn't like to read, they didn't like to write, and when given suggestions such as "to figure out how much steel cable gets wound onto a spool, weight a known length of cable, weigh the spool before winding the cable on it, weigh the spool after winding cable on it, subtract the empty weight of the spool from the weight of the loaded spool, and divide by the weight per foot of cable."

That idea/concept was too complicated and advancdd for the managers and his coworkers to grasp....

#168 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 12:48 AM:

In re: everyone re: Sterno, small camp stoves, and other means of producing directed heat in the event of an emergency: Since the original poster asked specifically about indoor use, note that anything -- Sterno, kerosene, a small camp stove[1] -- will produce CO, which, as we all know, Bob, is colorless, odorless, and a serious poison. Only use such in a well-ventilated area!

(Some time when I'm not late for bed already, I'll tell the story of my own live-fire exercise...)


[1] Serious love for the MSI Wind (ironic name, but whatever), which my hiking partner and I took on our month-long trek through the Sierras. Best part: it comes with a couple pieces of really stiff metal foil that you use as reflectors to increase the amount of heat that gets into your food, one for the ground and one to surround the stove and pot. So simple, yet so effective! It's the first camp stove I've ever met that sips fuel -- we never touched our spare canister.

#169 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 12:49 AM:

I had a co-worker -- the company marketing manager -- who needed me to use a ruler for her.

Was folks like that that drove me to go to grad school.

#170 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 01:33 AM:

Fragano/Paula/Stefan:
An acquaintance who works in Japan shared the story of a series of IT trouble-tickets opened by one of his co-workers because "Excel will not let me divide by zero." Her response to everyone who replied to explain why was along the lines of "That's Western math! In Japanese math I can divide by zero! You are in Japan so you should make the software use Japanese math!" He had saved the entire sequence of trouble-tickets because it was so boggling.

#171 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 01:49 AM:

Clifton @ #170, is there an explanation in those tickets for why someone would want to divide by zero? That's truly bizarre.

#172 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 02:57 AM:

Serge@107: Nothing happening yet. Katie's employers turned out to be very accommodating about start date, and Katie decided she wanted to attend a graduation ceremony. So our plan is to go back sometime around the end of April to try to nail down a place to live, and then move in the last week of May.

#173 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 05:59 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 172... My best wishes for a smooth move. Off that topic, but, since you are a fan of Green Lantern, you might be interested to know that there is a direct-to-video animated film coming out this summer, and a live-action movie next year.

#174 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 06:06 AM:

Tonight, Turner Classic Movies is airing a documentary on Chuck Jones. It'll be followed by some of his classic cartoons, including What's Opera, Doc?, which has the surprising sight of Elmer Fudd as a Wagnerian hero, and the not-at-all surprising sight of Bugs Bunny in drag.

That's all, folks!

#175 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 06:48 AM:

170: obvious explanation of wanting to divide by zero; if you had, say, $120, and you wanted to know how many $15 books you could buy, you'd divide $120 by $15. Now, if you had $120 and the books were free, how many could you take? A Western response would be "as many as you want" but that would be selfish and greedy. How many, a Japanese person might want to know, could you take while still preserving wa, or harmony? Hence wanting to divide by zero.

#176 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 07:48 AM:

Linkmeister, #171: is there an explanation in those tickets for why someone would want to divide by zero?

One possibility: say you've got a spreadsheet tracking percentages. You're getting these percentages by dividing a smaller number by a larger (i.e., 35 divided by 50 = .7, or 70%). You add a new category to the spreadsheet... but the new category doesn't have anything in it yet to track. Until you have some data the resulting cells are going to show an ugly "DIV/0" code.

It's a minor thing, but perhaps annoying to the chronically neat.

#177 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 08:03 AM:

Clifton Royston #170: Oh, ye gods and small fishes.

#178 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 08:10 AM:

Paula Lieberman #167: Eek! No Archimedes among those folks.

There's a solid clump of people who want qualifications because they need those in order to get jobs, but don't want to make the effort to learn, or to think.

#179 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 09:34 AM:

Linkmeister, #171 et al: You might want your calculator to graph f(x)=(sin x)/x. It's no matter what the graph shows for x=0, random value or gap or big red splotch. But what you want coming out of it is a graph, not an error message.

For that matter, you might want to graph f(x)=1/x. Simple-minded cutoffs that omit the graph when it goes off the chart are easy, but you still don't want the machine to choke at x=0.

#180 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 10:22 AM:

Serge @#149: Milliards de boursoufler les bernaches bleues!

#181 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 10:41 AM:

Mary Dell @ 180... Bande d'ectoplasmes de tonnerre de Brest!

#182 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 11:02 AM:

Don't know if any of you have heard of the rather shocking Killer Brawl at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport. Predictably, some politician has called for airport security to be issued with machine guns.

#183 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 11:03 AM:

John Aspinall @ 157:

I have yet to watch the documentary that Pendrift linked to so I haven't really seen them first-hand. I'm sure they have a system worked out and they have everything planned out to take advantage of as much as possible. I just disagree with the claim that Phelps is a con man.

Dan Hoey @ 179:

Yes, but 1/0 is still undefined, and sinc(0) is strictly defined whereas sin(0)/0 isn't. Besides, if you're trying to graph mathematical functions in Excel instead of just plotting a bunch of points, you're in trouble. Not as much as thinking dividing by zero is a good idea, but still in trouble.

Wesley at 176 is probably closer to the mark, judging by the number of times I've seen similar questions addressed on Excel websites. At least, I sincerely hope he is, because otherwise I'm very afraid.

#184 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 11:18 AM:

KeithS@183, Dan Hoey@179

I agree that percentages of a zero denominator are the most likely not-entirely-insane use.

For other problems such as drawing graphs, this sort of thing is why God (or rather, Kahan and IEEE 754) gave us Inf and NaN. You don't need to throw an error on division by zero to handle it correctly. Pretty much any computer that won't fit in a pocket has hardware support for infinity and not-a-number nowadays, although there are some compilers that annoyingly optimize bits of it away.


#185 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 11:29 AM:

Mez @ 182... some politician has called for airport security to be issued with machine guns

This sounds like the premise for a really bad John Carpenter movie.

#186 ::: R. Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 12:04 PM:

Lin Daniel @ 148: Even with evacuation point just down the street, cats could not have been evacuated because we couldn't have carried four cat carriers. Thoughts on this include a fold-up dolly like cons use for supplies. Other ideas welcome.

A friend of ours has cat strollers that have two zip-up mesh cages apiece. Each person could push one, or cats could be stuck two to a cage if they don't hate each other. A quick Google Shopping search for "double cat stroller" shows about $250 new from several sources, or $50-60 used on EBay.

Thanks for the reminder that we need to update our go bags.

#187 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 01:07 PM:

I agree with everyone else that B. Durbin is teh awesome.

Fred Phelps is a con man because he has no source of income other than suing people who violate his rights. As for combatting them, I like the GOD HATES SHRIMP people, but I also like the idea of signs that name members of the Phelps family, perhaps with pictures from public sources, and notations like "FRED PHELPS IN HELL." If anyone objects that they're still alive, the answer should be "No, they aren't." No further explanation given. If REALLY pressed we could point out that they sure look undead to us.

Is there any truth to that idiot's claim about Japanese math? I mean, was there a period in the development of math in Japan where division by zero was allowed/defined? Math is, of course, a universal absolute (just about the only one), but I'm trying to figure out how deep her delusional rabbit-hole goes.

I suspect that in reality she was just too godsdamned lazy to put in a check to ISERR(), and add another column. Supposing the quotient you're looking at is in A3,

=IF(ISERR(A3),"Ooo, Japanese Math!",A3)
should do the trick. Either that or she was pranking the help desk. Either way, defenestration is too good for her; throw her out a window.

#188 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 01:27 PM:

Fragano (177): I learned that as 'ye gods and little fish-hooks'. I wonder which is original? And why the change?

#189 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 01:33 PM:

Serge @#181: Ouragans de tonnerre de dix-millièmes! You have stumped me! (in regard to the common English for your Haddockism, I mean)

#190 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 01:36 PM:

Serge @#181: Wikipedia has now educated me further, so I see that we are employing the same Haddockism. Apparently your French is more accurate than Babelfish's...

#191 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 01:46 PM:

Xopher @ 187:

The only quibble I have is definitional. Phelps is a loathsome, hateful person, but I don't think he's lying in that he sincerely believes what he's saying and doing.

As for the Japanese math, it sounds like a typical outrageous excuse for doing something stupid rather than any legitimate complaint. I would be interested to be shown wrong, but I doubt I will be. I have occasionally seen misguided people think that dividing by zero should be the same as dividing by one, but their reasoning is, of course, a bit off.

#192 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 01:58 PM:

The first Amazon review for the English translation of a standard 10th-grade Japanese math textbook says in its 4th paragraph, "The authors rarely state explicitly that division by zero is not permitted." Presumably this means that the authors *do* still state this prohibition, and that therefore it remains part of the basic framework.

(There's also a somewhat mindboggling history of Japanese mathematics here on Google Books, but it doesn't have any immediately obvious index entries about (not) dividing by zero.)

#193 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 02:15 PM:

You know that "undersea volcano" that erupted near Tonga?

It was actually a Japanese fishing trawler whose accountant tried to divide by zero using a pocket calculator.

Division by Zero: Just Say "E".

#194 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 02:33 PM:

Mary Dell @ 190... I was able to refresh those memories of my long-gone youth by going to "Les insultes du capitaine Haddock", a site that lists each of his insults in alphabetical order, along with the stories in which they were uttered.

All knowledge is on the internet.

#195 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 02:51 PM:

Serge @194:

You might want this in your library.

#196 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 03:05 PM:

Pendrift @ 195... Sapristi!

#197 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 04:33 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @138, thanks.

Paula Lieberman @167, Stefan Jones @169, Clifton Royston @170- Unsere Leistungselite!

#198 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 04:38 PM:

Georges "Herge" Remi passed away with one last Tintin book loosely sketched out. It has been finished by others. Canadian fan Yves Rodier made the art, and it has been scripted, colored, and translated into English.

I wonder if the other completion of this, the one signed as being by "Ramo Nash" (a character in this tale), has been fully finished now. There were interesting differences between them, owing to the vagueness of the outline both started from.

Anyway, I hope some of you enjoy this. It's a sort of gift for Tintin fans who thought they already had everything.

#199 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 04:57 PM:

KeithS 191: Phelps is a loathsome, hateful person, but I don't think he's lying in that he sincerely believes what he's saying and doing.

Ah, I think we have an essential point of disagreement. The fact that he and his family make their entire income by suing people they've goaded into breaking tort law makes me doubt that he's sincere, or ever has been, about what he's saying and doing. He's utterly without empathy for his victims, but that's typical of con artists.

I think he just found a good scam and enjoys the notoriety. Some of the other members of his twisted clan may have bought into the whole bullshit structure, but I don't believe he really has. He's just a money- and fame-grubbing scumbag.

I really want to see this guy get caught in flagrante with a male prostitute. Preferably an underage one.

#200 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 04:59 PM:

What about cases where zero doesn't exactly mean "zero", like 0 grams of trans-fat (which labeling laws allow to mean "less than 0.5 grams, rounded down")? You could reasonably expect to want to divide by that kind of zero, I suppose.

#201 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 05:03 PM:

Or perhaps division by the letter "O."

#202 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 05:04 PM:

Patrick @84 - Odder and odder. I'm wondering if you are using a version of meebo that you pay for -- we're on the free one. If it's not that, maybe you could stop by one of the Sunday evening chats and see if you can spot any reason it's doing it differently.

#203 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 05:55 PM:

Julie L. @ 192:

The book on Google says a little about division, but, as a history book, it doesn't really touch on the finer aspects of things that you can't do. In the course of arriving at mathematics as we know it today, it took a while for people to recognize that zero is an actual number and not just a placeholder or a nothing. This is probably true of the history of math in Japan as well.

Earl Cooley III @ 199:

Then it's not really zero, but you don't know what the number actually is besides being greater than zero and less than half.

Xopher @ 198:

I'll admit that I don't know if he is truly sincere in his beliefs or not, although for various reasons it appears to me that he is. Sadly, whether he is or not, I think that most of his family have been indoctrinated.

I'm not sure that the way he makes his money makes him any less sincere. He purportedly has never been one for peace and love, and it's entirely possible that he discovered this as a way to cover his expenses and make himself famous.

This is not to say that we aren't otherwise in agreement. He does enjoy the notoriety, he does do it to make a living, and he is without empathy for his victims. In fact, whether he really believes what he peddles or not is irrelevant, because of the consequences of his actions.

I just hope that if he does get caught doing something inappropriate, everyone (and/or everything) involved consented.

I'm going to try to find the time to watch the documentary that Pendrift pointed me at tonight.

#204 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 06:15 PM:

The phrase "for certain large values of zero" comes to mind. heh.

0 + 0 + 0 > 1

Whee!

#205 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Mary Aileen #188: I'd like to know the answer to that too.

#206 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 08:53 PM:

Then there is Heaviside Operational Calculus, and there are transfinite numbers including infinitesmals and infinite integers and hyperreal calculus, however, I do NOT think that those get taught to Clueless Wonder math illiterates.... and especially not morons involved in Excel spreadsheet attempted abuse!

(Once upon a time a coworker with BS, MS, and Ph.D. in math from MIT was telling me that his software program was crashing trying to invert various matrices. "Did you make sure the matrices weren't singular?" I asked which--which is basically the same thing as checking to make sure there isn't an attempt to divide by zero.... Guess who hadn't checked to see if the matrices could be inverted (this was back when compilers and general software programming tools were stupider and less forgiving than they are today... modern software tools generally have that sort of error checking and zero-checking in them to prevent he software from going boom...)

#207 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 08:59 PM:

Oh, I forgot.
There are those jokes about what countries to never get what from.

Something to NEVER get from Japan--space launchers, unless you want the payload to join the submarine failed-to-get-to-orbit satellite and destroyed in launch failures constellation....

Perhaps "Japanese math" might have somethng to do with that... do the math wrong, and you're going to have problems....

#208 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 09:20 PM:

When we were singing "Up With People" songs in grade school, one had the line, "We are a nation / divided by none!" I always maintained that this made us undefined.

ps:
Click on my name to see a blog entry called "a billion and one blistering barnacles," with a link to a Tintin book (PDF) most of you probably have never read: "Tintin and Alph-Art," as completed by Yves Rodier. I tried it with a link, and it went straight to Limbo.

There's an article just above it that links, in the first line, to a collection of Sarah photos, because today is the 6th anniversary of the day we became a family. We call it "Family Day."

#209 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 10:04 PM:

Kip W 2 207... a Tintin book (PDF) most of you probably have never read: "Tintin and Alph-Art,"

Heck, even I've never read it.

#210 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 10:44 PM:

Has anyone pointed out Japes For Our Times yet? Middle English translations (and re-interpretations) of various comics... rather amusing!

#211 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 11:19 PM:

Funny story there, David. Short answer: yes.

#212 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 11:24 PM:

re 207; I knew of it, and I knew of the original publication in its unfinished form, but I'd never seen that anyone had tried to make a finished version. It's one of the only two Tintins we don't have in some form ("Congo" is the other, but having plowed through "Soviets" I'm not really sure I want to).

#213 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 11:26 PM:

Kevin Riggle @168: Yes, indoors was the primary issue. I've actually been looking into something like a Trangia alcohol-burning stove. Any clues if there is a particular fuel likely to produce less CO than the others?

(Also, while laptops do tend to get warm with use, i don't think a netbook like the MSI Wind would be all that effective as a stove. The MSR WindPro, on the other hand...)

#214 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 12:00 AM:

C Wingate @ 211... I passed on Tintin chez les Soviets when it was re-released in the 1970s. It looked very clumsy and primitive. Well, it was clumsy and primitive, but, aside from its historical interest... Besides, I always prefered the SFnal stories.

(Somewhere I have a western novel from the early 1970s that I won from being on a spelling bee TV show. It has an introduction by Hergé, which is amusing because the latter leaned toward the right, although not that far to the right, and the book's author, Frenchman Pierre Pélot, was an anarchist.)

#215 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 12:39 AM:

Pendrift @ 130:

I just watched that documentary. It was interesting, but also quite painful to watch in places. I'm going to go ahead and write down some of my impressions and reactions to it here. This post almost certainly wanders into too long, don't read territory, but I feel like I have to respond to it somehow. Feel free to ignore it.

To get my one objection to it out of the way up front: at the beginning I think that Mr. Theroux interrupted a bit too much. I know he wants to ask questions, but it occasionally sounded like he was interrupting what would be an explanation. Not a good explanation, mind you, but an explanation.

It looks from the documentary that the family believes their message. It's possible that they're all putting on an act, I suppose, but it stretches credulity to believe that they could for a month of observation.

I am both amused and saddened by the young children. It's clear that they don't really know what they're doing and they're just parroting back what they're told, which is good, I suppose. They're too young to understand, and their parents aren't really explaining it to them. On some level I have to wonder if it's because the parents want to keep their children somewhat innocent, but on another I wonder if the parents themselves really understand.

At the same time, they are clearly being exploited and manipulated, and the outside world hates them. The boy who was hit with a drink at the protest learned that outsiders are scary and bad. Whether it was aimed at him in particular or the group in general doesn't matter.

The cheeriness with which the group members believe that they're in the right and everyone else is going to hell is a bit disturbing. The one woman who lives away from the family a bit seemed a little troubled by even some of the very basic questions, preferring not to think about them at all. Perhaps the cheeriness is a defense for some of them? As it went on, there seemed to be a bit of nervous laughter in response to some of the questions.

Phelps himself is— I'm not sure what to make of him, really. Sometimes it seems like he's a bit scattered and not quite with it; as if he's going through the motions. He's almost like a robot. He reads his script, then goes back to a state of semi-dormancy.

He doesn't take kindly even to the simplest questions, and seems to think that if you're not on an even footing with him then you shouldn't even be able to ask him questions. How are you supposed to learn? Or are you supposed to accept what he has to say as truth without question? That sounds like a typical cult leader. That sort of attitude might work to keep his family in line, but it comes off very poorly to an outsider.

They claim to be following the Bible. Some of them claim to read the Bible. They obviously are only reading certain bits of it.

Xopher, now that I've seen this I'm not sure if Phelps believes what he preaches, or did at one time, or doesn't at all. His family does, but he seems to almost be more of a manipulative paranoiac ruling through intimidation. On balance, I still think he does believe, but it's not the same kind of belief I thought it was, if that makes any sense.

I'm rambling too much. I'll let everyone else return to talking about fun things like Tintin and division by zero.

#216 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 01:03 AM:

KeithS, I really wouldn't worry about tl;dr syndrome around here.

As for Phelps, I think he's setting himself up for martyrdom; one of these days, I think that he's going to meet someone who really, really doesn't like having a particular funeral disrupted and doesn't care about jail time.

#217 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 01:10 AM:

Thanks for the kind compliments. It helps alleviate the symptoms of my poetry relapse (almost ten years poetry free!)

(Lyrics don't count... do they?)

#218 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 01:38 AM:

B. Durbin

Well, all of the resident poesyholics are clearly going to have to contribute to the undoing of your sobriety.

#219 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 02:11 AM:

Did y'all watch or listen to the Obama press conference this afternoon/evening? Best line of the whole thing (13 mostly vapid questions):

From the Obama press conference as live-blogged by the NYT:

[CNN's] Ed Henry follows up. Why did you wait days to express outrage [about AIG bonuses]? All the action is coming out of New York Attorney General’s office.

Ah, finally, a reply. Mr. Obama: “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

Nice not-so-subtle shot at the cable networks, Prez.

Full video here.

#220 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 07:41 AM:

Serge @213 (Somewhere I have a western novel from the early 1970s that I won from being on a spelling bee TV
show. It has an introduction by Hergé, which is amusing because the latter leaned toward the right, although not that
far to the right, and the book's author, Frenchman Pierre Pélot, was an anarchist.)

My impression is that Hergé generally tried to get along with everyone, and his politics were all too often simply a
result of who had the most influence on him at the moment. So it's not that surprising that at times, he might have
gotten along well with anarchist authors, too.

KeithS @214 They claim to be following the Bible. Some of them claim to read the Bible. They obviously are only
reading certain bits of it.

I Don't think so. One of the things I think I've learned in my time on the internet is that people can be very good-
even without any malice involved- at reading all kinds of things into all kinds of texts. And this applies especially
if people already have some idea of what they'll probably see in a text when they start reading it. By the time a
young Phelpsian reads any part of the Bible that many of us would see as a clear refutation of the stuff Phelps is up
to, that young Phelpsian will already be trained to read everything in the light of Phelps' claims, and he or she
will either interpret that Bible quote as a confirmation of what Phelps says, or simply not get the idea that there
might be any connection between that quote and the stuff Phelps is doing.

(For the record, I think Phelps actually got one thing right: If you really, strongly, without reservations believe
in the various traditionalist religious conservative positions about life and society and culture, it makes more
sense for you to hate America than to love it. Since I don't believe in the various traditionalist religious
conservative positions about life and society and culture, that doesn't matter to me, but I think it's a point where
Phelps is more consistent than more mainstream US religious conservatives.)

#221 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 08:00 AM:

Odd- I kept getting two simultanous error messages whenever I wanted to post the last post- one from Moveable Type, one from NoScript- and I eventually posted it in a different browser. Any odd line breaks in that post are results of that.

#222 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 09:02 AM:

Raphael @#219: If you really, strongly, without reservations believe in the various traditionalist religious conservative positions about life and society and culture, it makes more sense for you to hate America than to love it.

Indeed -- but that's not because of the particular religious beliefs, it's because America was founded specifically to stand against that sort of authoritarianism. And conversely, for any group to maintain that level of control over its members, the group pretty much has to isolate the members from contact with American society, and especially from any contact with the secular authorities. That's because the secular authorities would compete with the group leaders' authority. And that sort of authoritarian mindset cannot tolerate any competition whatsoever... (sound familiar?).

Also, I'd say that the question of whether Phelps himself "really believes" is poorly defined -- his brand of patent insanity involves actively attacking and suppressing any concept that would challenge his world view. If he were ever to admit any hint that he might, possibly, have Done Something Wrong, that would shatter his entire sense of himself as the Voice of Godly Authority.

... Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him. But the old man would not so, but slew his son....

#223 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 09:19 AM:

The "Soviets" Tintin story was uphill sledding for me, and not snowy enough. I could figure out the slapstick parts, but then there were all these blocks of text. (It's like they have a different word for everything over there!)

The "Congo" tale has more sight gags and visual appeal. It's funny-ironic to see the little dark children worshipping their Belgian benefactor. Considering what Leopold did to them, it's not funny-haha.

I toss it out to the learned folk here: is there any handy translation online of the black-and-white books, or even of just the first couple? All I need is to know the words in the text blocks; I have facsimiles of the first dozen stories.

For something that later became exceptionally well-researched, the early tales are totally off-the-cuff improvised stuff. Yanks wishing for an idea of how far out the first two stories are should read the third, where Tintin visits an America ruled by gangsters and Indians, with car wrecks, billboards, and tidy little European mile markers along every road. Herge was so inventive, he even got things right in a couple of places.

#224 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 10:54 AM:

Raphael @ 219... It may also be that Hergé appreciated being loved for the influence he had on younger generations, no matter what their politics were.

#225 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 10:57 AM:

Kip W @ 222... Herge was so inventive

Ah yes, his vision of 20th Century America was bizarre. And yet it could be quite incisive, even in its most surrealistic moments: within minutes of oil being found where the Indians live, the National Guard is relocating them to a Reservation, and the kids are crying.

#226 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:10 AM:

Tintin in America is just ludicrous, not to mention that it still has something of a "and then things happen" plot. There are times when I wonder how close the naive European picture of the US resembles the one Herge drew. Cigars of the Pharoahs is the first one that has a real plot, as far as I can tell.

Herge's politics rather conspicuously changed over the years, to the point where Picaros in particular is profoundly cynical. I suppose you could say that he was always a bit of a conservative to the extent of consistently preferring legitimacy of government (even Alcazar has some claim to legitimacy in San Theodoros); on the other hand, there is a suspicion of commerce and the bourgeous that perhaps reaches its peak in Jolyon Wagg, who actually manages to elbow Castafiore aside in the competition for most obnoxious character. Out from under the thumb of Fr. Wallez, Herge seems to me to have adopted no particular ideology, but he does seem to have adopted certain concerns which recur from book to book.

#227 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:11 AM:

KeithS 214: Not tl;dr at all, and it makes a ton of sense. I could argue that all cult leaders are to some extent con men, but then we get into "not guilty by reason of insanity"* arguments.

Earl 215: As for Phelps, I think he's setting himself up for martyrdom

That could be what he's trying for, but I hope he doesn't succeed. Martyrs are hard to discredit, and Fred Phelps discredited (I'm still rooting for** a male prostitute) is the gold standard ending for trash like him.

Serge 224: What's surreal about that? Didn't happen quite that fast, of course, but relocating Indians from land with value to land with none was a habit of the US Government well into the 20th Century, and the Tears of the children have left Trails all over the nation.
____
*You can't imagine how tempting it was to type "not guilty by reason of Sean Hannity," nonsequiturial though that would be.
**American sense...though the Australian sense is also interesting in this context.

#228 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:31 AM:

Raphael @ 220

If the error is something about suspicious cross-site scripting, I see that occasionally too. I believe it's the result of the NoScript analyzer being confused by a sequence of characters in the text you've typed into thinking it's found a Javascript attack from a separate site. I'm not sure what the cast of characters that can trigger that is, but '&' appears to be one of them. In any case, it's perfectly safe under the circumstances to click on NoScript's option to "Reload Unsafely", which will get you to where you want go with your comment in place.

#229 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:36 AM:

Xopher @ 226... What's so surreal? After Indians have been ousted, a modern city has sprung up, so fast that Tintin is still wearing his cowboy outfit and the motorists look at him like he's some kind of weirdo.

#230 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:39 AM:

If I were asked what my favorite Tintin story is, the Moon story's 2 books would be it, followed closely by Tintin au Tibet. That one has a happy ending, of course, but it's tainted by the sadness of a creature who has become lonely once again.

#231 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:43 AM:

Xopher @ 226:

*snerk* Thank you for those footnotes. I needed a good chuckle this morning.

Regarding the general Tintin discussion:

I have fond memories of catching the cartoons on TV when I was younger. Unfortunately, I'd always wind up finding them in the middle of the story and then they were never on again until some time later, when I'd find them in the middle of the story. Thanks, BBC! I should go to the library and see if they have any of the comic books.

Serge and other francophones, how taxing would the originals be on my meager and now rather rusty French?

#232 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:53 AM:

The Tintin books have been reprinted into a handy series of slightly reduced size with three books per volume.

The middle of the story is where I came in, myself. In the 1960s, Children's Digest was serializing slightly cut versions of the tales. I stumbled on them at the children's library in Fort Collins. They covered one volume per year, and the library didn't have a single complete year that I could detect. I made a checklist and haunted thrift shops, trying to get them all myself. Finally, in 1975, I found that Lois Newman Books in Boulder had the color albums, and all my still incomplete runs of the serialized copies (in black and white, with one added color per story) went away somewhere. Possibly to a farm, where they could run free and chase rabbits.

#233 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:58 AM:

According to the Guardian's newsfeed, the former chairman of the RBS has been shown that the public may not wait for punitive action by the government over his pension and benefits.

I wonder if that's enough to "encourage" any of the others, as Voltaire would have put it.

#234 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 12:06 PM:

KeithS @ 230... Unless your French is extremely meager and extremely rusty, the stories shouldn't be a problem. As for the cartoons... I discovered some of the stories thru the cartoons first, some the other way around. I seem to remember that he animation was so primitive that it'd make Hannah-Barbera's look like Fantasia but, hey, the kid I once was didn't notice and didn't care. Especially when they went to the Moon, when Apollo was something I had not heard about yet.

#235 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 12:34 PM:

Bruce Cohen @227, thanks.

Re Tintin in America, ok, the tidy little European mile markers along every road are silly, but aside from that, keep in mind that it was written during prohibition, and at a time when neither the Indian Wars nor the Gilded Age were nearly as far in the past as they are now; and keep in mind that Tintin was never completely naturalistic, but usually had some hyperbolic jokes, too. (For instance, I don't think Hergé really believed that Latin American armies have more colonels than corporals, either.)

fidelio @232, err, no, I don't think vandalism against the homes of people I don't like is a good thing. After all, there are some people I like who are hated by many, too.

#236 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 12:56 PM:

Raphael @234: The thing about the book is that it's a picture of America from outside, with great gaps in knowledge filled in with tabloid tales (policemen saluting masked thugs on the street), penny-dreadful stories (fierce Indians! lynch-crazy cowboys! Opium-puffing Asians!), and the rest uncritically imported from Europe. It's entertaining because even then, Herge's genius was starting to show.

For Americans, the book is a good indication of how accurate Herge was in depicting other cultures at that point. He started valuing accuracy later on, I think around the time of the Blue Lotus.

#237 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 01:23 PM:

No, Raphael--I'm sorry--by "encourage the others" I meant other investment bankers and similar types, who may still be in doubt as to just how much blame and public aggravation they are the target of--going by remarks from the head of AIG and others, a lot of them still seem to be inside the bubble of Bankerland, where what they are doing, and have done, seems perfectly right and normal. We don't need to encourage the people who throw bricks and set fire to things--they're good enough at encouraging themselves as it is.

Besides, both riots and really big fires get out of hand all too easily.

#238 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 02:02 PM:

fidelio @ 236... riots and really big fires get out of hand all too easily

Victor Frankenstein's family knows all about that.

#239 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 02:30 PM:

"A riot is an ugly thing. NAQ V GUVAX GUNG VG'F WHFG NOBHG GVZR GUNG JR UNQ BAR!"

"WHAAAT?"

"I said I think that it's just about time that we had one."

"Ohhhh!"

#240 ::: ers ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 02:57 PM:

#166

Natural pest control: plant poison ivy.

#241 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Xopher: RIOT-13?

#242 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 06:23 PM:

Welp, as of about an hour ago I am the proud owner of a reeeeeaally big, cheap house. My sister is there taking pictures as we speak, and says we could probably strip the fixtures (like the original buffet) and sell them for $50K. My mother says the kitchen will have to be fixed before we even set foot in it. The seller's agent congratulated me by proxy for having bought it so quickly, and says if I want to sell it, she has a list of 14 people who specifically said that they would like to be called first.

Turns out that "carriage house" is indeed a two-story structure, and like many such buildings in Richmond, its second story has been remodeled as a small apartment. My sister says that it features a great deal of mold in the kitchen and bathroom, but -- rental opportunity. Or, frankly, we could put all our stuff in the carriage house while not actually living there, have an apartment to use while visiting Indiana, and rent out the big house until we're ready to move.

It'll be a month and a half before I can get there to see it. This buying houses online thing is frustrating. Ha.

I'll post pictures when I get them from my sister.

#243 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 06:34 PM:

Mold? uh oh. You might not want to try to rent it out before getting a certified mold inspector to look at the place.

#244 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 06:56 PM:

No worries, Earl. If there's mold, it will be stripped and refinished -- as in, no moldy drywall will remain (if that's the problem). My son's allergic to mold, and we do not play with it.

We've done this before.

#245 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 07:04 PM:

I always figured that Tintin in America was set in the same world as the Brecht/Weill Mahagonny.

Abi is distracting me by showing YouTube videos of a Dutch Tintin stage musical. My mind is blown. I leave it to her to post the URLs.

(Why, yes, I am a total Tintin fan from about age 5, why do you ask? Coelecanths! Bashi-bazouks! Anthropophages!)

#246 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 07:14 PM:

Patrick @244:
Your wish, sir, is my command.

Kuifje is the Dutch-language name for Tintin. The stage play, per Wikipedia, covers The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun. It was produced in Dutch in 2001, then translated into French in 2002.

The website for the play, De Zonnetempel.

My favorite clip, Duizend bommen en granaten, (Billions of blue blistering barnacles); note the appearance of the key* character at the end.

YouTube has plenty more clips. Search for "kuifje zonnetempel".

-----
* or off

#247 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 07:29 PM:

FYI-ish:

The early Tintin animated cartoons seem to have been all but forgotten by history. They played on NYC area TV on Saturday (Sunday?) mornings in the 1960s. (Often in horribly chopped up form.) I'm glad to read others have seen them.

A new series of cartoons was produced a few years ago. A college friend got a pirated DVD set during a trip to China.

#248 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 07:37 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 246:

Sorry to disappoint you, but I've only ever seen (bits of) the new cartoons. (You and Serge both can insert a kids these days comment here if you need to.)

In addition to cartoons and a play, there have apparently even been radio adaptations. There's a list here.

#249 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 07:45 PM:

There have also been a couple of live-action Tintin movies.

The same friend mentioned in #246 says that they were disappointing. (He's Belgian, FWIW.)

#250 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 07:59 PM:

Abi @ 245... Oh goodness.

#251 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 08:04 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 248... They were disappointing. Let's put it this way. In the 1960s, French cinema wasn't very good at adventure movies. Today is another story. Now, if Caro and Jeunet were to make a Tintin movie... I'de see Ron Perlman as Captain Haddock.

#252 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 08:29 PM:

Kip, #240: 888888888888888888888888888888

Michael, #243: Once you're all renovated and moved in, will there be a Fluorospheric Gathering in the works?

#253 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 08:46 PM:

Stefan, Serge: I have a film book of "Les Poissons d'Or." I can pick out a little French, but when it comes in paragraphs and pages, I glaze and roll over, so I mostly look at the photos. Tintin looks kind of goofy. Tournesol looked great. Haddock came in between those, more on the good side than not.

YouTube seemed like it had a clip, but on examination it turned out to be a recording of the theme song with a couple of stills for visual interest. Not enough.

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 09:22 PM:

Kip W @ 252... Les poissons d'or... Which one was that? By the way, I seem to remember that, a couple of years ago, Patrick mentionned that Spielberg would produce Tintin movies, and that they'd use motion-capture to reproduce the comic's look. Whatever happened to that?

#255 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 09:31 PM:

I find motion capture in animation looks just icky if you stare at it too long.

For example the French anthology-movie Fear(s) of the Dark featured several animated horror shorts, and one was an animation by Charles Burns, which had live action characters autorotoscoped to look like a Charles Burns drawing, with lots of parallel lines looking like his idiosynchratic brush stroke textures. It was just too narrow-valley for me, as anything would be if it were all autotraced humans.

#256 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 09:48 PM:

A friend of mine just emailed me, frustrated about a college class she's taking. Specifically, she's upset about the curve:

To obtain your letter grade for test 1, apply it to the curve below.

72 and above - A
71 - 60 - B
59 - 47 - C
46 - 36 - D
35 and below - F

This is for a test where they were given all the questions beforehand. Her grades are considerably above a 72, and she's frustrated that her efforts are being wasted.

None of my classes ever had a curve. Is this at all typical? I had the impression from TV* that curves were based in part on the performance of the best students. This...yeesh.

*TV's always right, after all. Right?

#257 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 09:54 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 254... Motion capture has been becoming better. Good thing because Polar Express came off as very creepy, especially where the eyes of the characters are concerned. That being said, I think that Patrick had said the Tintin might go for the approach used in A Scanner Darkly.

Tintin meets Philip K. Dick?
Hmmm.

#258 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 10:16 PM:

Lee: "all renovated" might take a while, from what I'm hearing from my local correspondents. I'll be in residence starting mid-May, with a clock ticking down for minimum residential capability when the fambly shows up on July 3 as per current plan.

Anybody wanting to come strike a tent in the formal dining room with me during the initial triage is more than welcome to see all that sunny East Central Indiana has to offer. (Note: the tent is a rhetorical device, as the roof is reputed to be sound.)

Seriously: a Fluorospheric Gathering would warm the cockles of my heart. Mi casa es su casa. Except that no, I won't give you, or sell you, any of my antique doorknobs. My sister already asked and the answer is "No."

One piece of good news: the hexagonal window thing on the second floor south side is, in fact, in a room (not at the end of a hall or something) so -- we have our library.

#259 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 10:58 PM:

Patrick @ 244 and abi @ 245:

I don't understand a word of it, but it looks like great fun. They seem to have captured the look. If YouTube weren't blocked at work I would have to press one of the Dutch ex-pats into translating, and that really wouldn't be polite.

#260 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 10:58 PM:

Michael Roberts, it is good that you mentioned the doorknobs, because I keep telling myself that no, I am not allowed to take the hinges from my kitchen when the lease runs out. I am not allowed to take the hinges from my kitchen. I am not allowed to take the hinges from my kitchen.*

Do you have red-clay doorknobs? Those please me beyond what is reasonable because of the Steamboat Arabia museum and the poor restoration worker who explained about porcelain and clay doorknobs every couple minutes for ages.

*other thrice-repeated phrases include, "I do not need a reef tank," and, "I do not need a house."

#261 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:05 PM:

Diatryma, I have no idea what kind of doorknobs I have. I have never seen the house -- I just own it. (cf. my blog.) All I know is that my sister asked if she could buy some doorknobs, and I responded with a categorical negative.

There's a hole in the kitchen floor, though. So it all kinda balances out.

#262 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:09 PM:

Serge, I'm not sure which one. It was a live-action movie. I hope I don't have the title wrong, because the book is still in a box, and it's not the only box. Was the Spielberg item that far back? I was thinking it was a more recent threat.

Back when I first found the Alph-Art completions, there were some Tintin take-offs called "Zinzin," about Tintin's evil twin and the detective, Lanceval, who keeps trying to stop his evil plans. Lanceval is not terribly effective, and Tintin and most of his friends (including Herge) die horribly (and graphically). It was well drawn. My French isn't up to comparing how well the volumes were written.

Three of the six albums by Exem are at this page, along with other parodies of varying eptness (including a translated version of "Tintin in Beirut," from National Lampoon). The Exems are linked on page 2. Exem's work is exemplary in its way, but certainly not for everyone. "Zinzin, Maitre du Monde" may be the best of them. The violence isn't as horrific, and the jokes are more apparent. NSFW.

#263 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:30 PM:

R.M. Koske @255: Don't know how typical that is. IIRC, when I was in high school 75 = C, and A >= 90. Of course, that was more than 30 years ago, and doesn't account for inflation.

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:32 PM:

Kip W @ 261... I've figured it out. The movie you're thinking of isn't Le poisson d'or ('The Golden Fish'), but La toison d'or ('The Golden Fleece'). I remember very little about it aside from the text-heavy book. The other live-action movie, Les oranges bleues, had Professeur Tournesol breed blue oranges that were absolutely inedible - because they were synthesizing fuel, I think.

There were a couple of big-screen movies done in the 1970s that had decent animation, but they were ok, no more than that.

As for Spielberg... I think Patrick mentionned it within the last two years. One could get worse than Spielberg involved in such a project, but I haven't forgiven him for screwing up War of the Worlds.

#265 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:37 PM:

R.M. Koske @ 255: None of my classes ever had a curve. Is this at all typical?

Based on my experience as a TA at two universities, the curve is whatever an instructor decides the curve should be, unless a particular department or school specifies rules.
In a very large class, the scores on a well designed test will make a nice bell curve, but in small classes the distribution can look pretty untidy, making it tricky to draw the lines. It's not uncommon to have some outlier, very high scores, well above the line for an A, and still not give out all that many As (though I've no reason to say that's the case in your friend's class).

The most unpleasant "curve" I've ever seen was in a music history class at Michigan State University:

4.0 - 100%
3.5 - 98%
3.0 - 96%
2.5 - 94%

and so on. This was not based on the statistical pattern of the actual scores. The way it was explained to me was that there are very few jobs available for good musicians, so there is no point in graduating average ones. Grade in such as way that you quickly eliminate anyone who isn't highly talented and insanely motivated. I think it was meant kindly: push those kids to change their major, and get a degree that will put food on the table in exchange for all that tuition.

#266 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2009, 11:42 PM:

Congratulations, Michael, on the house deal. I'm glad you've done renovation work before as that means you know what kind of trouble you're getting into.

The mold— ick. Mold is a no-go for us, but if there's brick you can, worst case scenario, strip is down to the walls and start over. I think the carriage house-apartment while renovating is a great idea. Id be a little leery of renting out the house proper if it's got so many salable touches, though, unless you get a really good screen on the renters.

#267 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 12:36 AM:

B: The mold is actually in the carriage house, not the house itself. Since I didn't even know there was an apartment there, I don't regard this as a loss. I'll just strip it out when I'm trashing everything else that needs trashed, and repair it ... whenever. Pretty low priority. Apparently there are new windows for it, sitting in the building. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures as soon as my sister finds her USB cable. (Grumble.)

What I'm actually going to find in the house, God only knows. I mean, it's basically livable with some plumbing work (I think), but actually making it nice is going to be a multiyear project. I'm 42. This is just about the right phase of my life to tackle this sort of thing.

That, or I'm just going to work harder earning money, and hire the Amish.

#268 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 01:09 AM:

Linkmeister @ 218

Ah, finally, a reply. Mr. Obama: “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

This has me grinning from ear to ear. Similarly, the phrases "I screwed up" and "The buck stops here" coming from our president's mouth warm the cockles of my heart. Not because I'm happy that these things happened, but because the personal responsibility is such a difference from the years of "mistakes were made" and knee-jerk reactions.

#269 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 03:54 AM:

RM Koske @255:

That looks a lot like British grading, where the marking is harsher. I nearly fainted when I got my first essay back with a 65%; my tutor had to spend a little while talking me down*.

Time spent learning stuff, however, has its own rewads.

-----
* he had dealt with other American exchange students. He was expecting my reaction.

#270 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 05:14 AM:

Michael, I don't know how literal "hiring the Amish" might be, but it's the general sort of deal which puts money into the local economy.

You might do better for your future neighbours than the politicians will.

#271 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 06:05 AM:

Wesley @154: Into the Woods was the first Sondheim musical I ever saw on stage. "Nice" wasn't the right word, though - KeithS @214 described it better as cheeriness.

I wonder about the non-family members that joined the WBC. If they weren't raised in that atmosphere of heavy indoctrination, are they participating enthusiastically in something they well know is a scam, or do they actually believe the schtick?

Louis Theroux's faux-naïf style is irritating at times, but most of his documentaries are interesting. It reminds me of the Franco-Belgian series Strip Tease - an excellent show, often uncomfortable to watch. One episode followed an official delegation to North Korea, another showed a man who built his own spaceship. Plenty on Youtube (in French), but add "emission" and "RTBF" to your tags.

Re: Tintin the musical: It was later adapted into French and had a short run in Charleroi, in Belgium. There were plans to bring it to Paris, but they fell through.

The Hergé Museum will finally open in June after several delays. Hergé's widow has come under sharp criticism in recent years for her heavy-handed, overly profit-oriented management of the Tintin brand. (Tintin figurines are horribly expensive - easily twice or thrice the price of similar figurines in specialty shops.)

I've always been an Asterix fan, though.

#272 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 06:15 AM:

The Phelps as scam theory has charm, but does anyone know of Phelps winning lawsuits? Or even starting them?

#273 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 06:55 AM:

Here's a category of preparedness which I don't think is covered in the medical posts-- science fiction conventions.

I was recently dealing with someone with a seafood allergy who'd eaten some shrimp. A restaurant accidentally included the shrimp in a non-seafood dish.

However, one of the pieces of the situation was that the person with the allergy hadn't packed enough Benedryl-- fortunately, more was found quickly enough from an attendee. The hotel drug store was closed. The con had EMTs, but practically no first aid stuff. No one thought about the possibility of a 24 hour drugstore, even though one was fairly nearby. I intend to check on 24 hour drug stores near conventions as a matter of policy.

I'm willing to have some OTC drugs with me. Any recommendations?

A minor thing from sad experience: How reliable is Pepto Bismal? I've had it transform serious nausea into instant vomiting.

Another piece of it was that the person with the allergy talked about the possibility of their throat closing, at which point I went into "I must make useful things happen as fast as possible" mode. I didn't think to ask how much warning they'd get-- I was afraid they'd be turning blue, and *then* someone would call an ambulance.

Should I even be bothering with this stuff unless I get proper training? Is there a list of indications of when it's time to call an ambulance?

I don't think I did anything horrendous, but I didn't keep my head as well as I would like to have. Any advice on that one?

#274 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 06:55 AM:

#262, Rob Rusick -
What you're remembering is what I had in high school and college too, going on twenty years ago.

#264, janetl -

Ouch, yeah, that's an ugly one all right. It quite likely would have worked on me, and rightly so. I wasn't cut out to be a musician and washed out after a year.

Though I think I'd have harbored hope if I'd failed because of such an unreasonable scale. As it is, I know I really gave it my best effort and it wasn't good enough, and I'm fine with it.

#268 - abi -

Hm. I'll have to tell my friend that. She made an 89 on the test in question, so she had the feeling that the marking was typical, the test relatively easy, and the curve astoundingly forgiving. But if she did well on a test that was actually quite hard, that's different.

Thanks all.

#275 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:05 AM:

janetl@264

One of my roommates in college told me about this class a friend of his had taken.

There were 10 students in the class. The friend got in the range of 80s in the tests and the other 9 mostly got in the range of 30s or below. The friend got a B in the class.

The professor's explanation was that 1% of the class gets an A, 1% of 10 rounds to 0, so no one gets an A.

#276 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:55 AM:

Happy Birthday, Mary Aileen!

#277 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:14 AM:

Hey, does anyone remember the name and author of the 50s story where everyone was required to consume at least a certain amount of food, clothing, and other items? And if you fell behind, you were notified that you were below your consumption quota. As I recall, the resolution to the story was that a woman found a way for household robots to consume, thus ensuring that the economy would keep functioning.

#278 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:25 AM:

My brother is involved in the statistical science of testing and marking in schools.

The problem is that neither tests nor students are consistent. With large numbers of students taking the same course as was taught last year, it's possible to pick out the effects of differences in test questions, and you can do things like having easier and harder questions, so you can compare the results for easy, or hard, questions with the overall result, and so test the test.

Michael @274, I doubt your friend's professor knows any curve-fitting statistics more subtle than 36-24-36.

#279 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:43 AM:

#276 ::: Steve C.:

It was definitely by Pohl, and either "The Midas Plague" or "The Man Who Ate the World".

#280 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:44 AM:

I got used to setting the curve in my biology classes, usually in the low seventies or high sixties. Most professors looked for natural breaks in the grade distribution every ten percentage points or so.

My first year, Gen Bio tests were every two weeks, and the scores were listed in the hall. My parents came, I showed them, told them my number, and I got angry looks. "It's out of eighty, not a hundred," I said, and the looks did not stop entirely. "Look at the other grades." Mine were at the upper end of normal, not great at that point.

My favorite grade-distribution test was in my calculus class (of doom), which I shouldn't have taken to begin with but I knew everything back then. The mean was 50%, the median 90%. There ended up being a fifty-point curve for those of us who really, really screwed it up.

#281 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:45 AM:

Steve C. writes in #276:

Hey, does anyone remember the name and author of the 50s story where everyone was required to consume at least a certain amount of food, clothing, and other items? And if you fell behind, you were notified that you were below your consumption quota. As I recall, the resolution to the story was that a woman found a way for household robots to consume, thus ensuring that the economy would keep functioning.

I know! I know! It's "The Midas Plague," by none other than blogger Frederik Pohl. Galaxy, April 1954.

#282 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:46 AM:

Thanks, Nancy! (I was kinda suspecting it was Pohl). And "The Midas Plague" sounds right.

#283 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:47 AM:

Thanks, Bill! I love this place.

#284 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:55 AM:

Nancy beat me by two minutes. Will type faster, next time.

#285 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:56 AM:

Dave Bell writes at #277:

My brother is involved in the statistical science of testing and marking in schools.

I heard they named a curve after him.

#286 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:00 AM:

Here's a way-cool site that shows off the solar system. Think of it as a web orrery...

Planets

#287 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:05 AM:

Open threadiness:

If you're in the area and have some free time, the Trolls et Legendes festival will be held from April 10 to 12 in Mons, Belgium. It's about an hour from Brussels or Lille.

#288 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:20 AM:

George Bush we're poor,
We weren't always poor
George Bush each day
We hate you much more
We want our rights,
Which you took away
We want you all busted
TODAY.

#289 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:31 AM:

Note that Pohl's "The Midas Plague" is one of several stories in that world, collected in the book "Midas World".

#290 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:40 AM:

Pendrift @ 270:

I wonder about the non-family members that joined the WBC. If they weren't raised in that atmosphere of heavy indoctrination, are they participating enthusiastically in something they well know is a scam, or do they actually believe the schtick?

I've met people who had that same sort of craving for an absolute, unswerving way of living life. They didn't go as far, obviously. There's something about a certain type of mindset that just needs to believe, and in the end it doesn't really matter what that belief is in so long as it speaks to them somehow.

That's my hare-brained idea for why some people do things like bounce from wild drinking and partying to some strain of fundamentalism, anyway, and I think it's probably applicable here too.

#291 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:00 AM:

Serge (275): Thanks!

There is cake. Homemade. With cinnamon buttercream frosting. So I'm happy.

#292 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:11 AM:

I don't know; I've always thought the "curve" my grad supervisor built for his class was meaner yet:

There are 4 questions.
Each must be worth at least 15%.
None may be worth more than 40%.
The total must come to 100%.
Please write your choice of grading clearly on the front page before handing the test in.

#293 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:21 AM:

re 263: I found a few clips of La toison d'or on YouTube (blocked here, so I can link them). They are quite odd in some respects, though the fellow who played Tintin did know his judo (one of the clips runs through the fight scenes, pointing out various moves).

Worst curve story: For the first exam in MATH 411, we had half a bell-shaped curve-- the right half. I got the high grade, which was a 71; then there was someone in the fifties, and a few in the twenties, and it trailed off from there. The professor managed to adjust his exams after that to make them more doable.

#294 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:26 AM:

Apropos of nothing: Dave Bonta writes of The genetically modified poem.

#295 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:35 AM:

C Wingate @ 293... Is this the Tintin link you meant?

#296 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 12:02 PM:

Michael, #257: Oh, there's no hurry -- I just wanted to plant the seed, as it were. That house sounds as though it would be outstanding for a weekend-long party, although you probably wouldn't want everyone trying to stay there; are there cheap hotels nearby?

Michael I, #274: "1% of 10 rounds to 0"? WTF? I would have been complaining to the Dean about any professor who stole my A on such specious grounds as that!

Dave, #277: Oh, SNAP! I'll have to remember that one.

#297 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 12:19 PM:

abi@245: Thanks for that link. I was really impressed about how well they did the reverse doge hat haircut. In another clip, you see microphones in it, creating the appearance of a robotic hairpiece.

And Patrick@244: I imagine you were referring to the noir atmospherics and schizophrenic geography of Mahagonny, but abi's video also contains a bizarrely coincidental homage in the form of a crowd of women with suitcases.

#298 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 12:25 PM:

KeithS, I concur. I've seen people who were raised fundamentalist Christian become "fundamentalist" Gardnerian Wiccans, the sort that never do ritual without reading it out of a Gardnerian Book Of Shadows.*

I was also at some pains to convince a young friend that finding the promiscuous gay party-boy lifestyle empty and unsatisfying was not really the same as having a vocation to join the Jesuits. They really seemed like the only two paths for him. My description of the middle ground (I gave one example) really changed everything for him.

But neither of those is exactly the case you describe. I think some people were taught that everyone who isn't a good Southern Baptist (or whatever) is a hard-drinking scoundrel headed for jail, the gallows, and hell. So when they can't do the Southern Baptist thing any more they think they HAVE to become hard-drinking scoundrels. Fortunately they usually get over it.

A related effect: atheists who retain cultural assumptions about religion (such as the false idea that all religions involve unsupported beliefs contrary to scientific fact). They're no longer buying the content, but haven't realized that even the framework is wrong.

____
*Please note that I am not a Gardnerian initiate and have never actually examined a Gardnerian BOS (I've been read to from one with obvious copying errors, however); I've met the people, though, and while they would never talk to ME about ritual matters (lowly neo-eclectic self-initiated upstart that I am), their peers have told me that when caught without a BOS they're totally flummoxed. And been told by similar folks that if you're not Gardnerian or Alexandrian you're "not really Wiccan," which is like saying that if you're not Roman Catholic or Church of England, you're not really Christian.

#299 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 12:45 PM:

Dave @269 - in East Central Indiana, hiring the Amish is literal. My Dad says they're looking for work, since people aren't doing as much building right now.

Lee @295 - well, it's a big house... But Richmond is on I-70, so there is no shortage of cheap hotels.

The 56 pictures my sister took yesterday afternoon are uploading to Flickr as we speak.

Diatryma, the doorknobs are brass. Brass with filigree.

#300 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 01:01 PM:

Dan Hoey @ 296:

I wondered what those were. Why I didn't think microphone I have no idea.

Xopher @ 297:

The way a former coworker described himself was that he was a hard-drinking scoundrel who wound up in jail (though not the gallows) and was bound for hell, then he found Jesus. He actually had quite a profound impact on my life, but not in the way that he would have wanted.

#301 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 01:07 PM:

Xopher @ 297... When I'm told of Gardnerian Wiccans, I can't help but think of secret ceremonies being led by Gardner Dozois garbed in a monk's habit.

#302 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 01:15 PM:

Xopher @#297: everyone who isn't a good Southern Baptist (or whatever) is a hard-drinking scoundrel headed for jail,

It occurs to me that the upbringing of such folks may leave them underprepared with means of self control beyond "the preacher says it's bad". Certainly a teetotaler upbringing would leave them short on skills for "alcohol management"! (e.g., I learned when I was 12 that I was too big for my family to carry me home. Being Jewish, I learned this at a Passover dinner at my grandparents' house, not at some keg party or whatever....

#303 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 01:23 PM:

re 294: I'd like to say yes, but since what I meant to type was that I can't link to them, it'll have to wait until I get home.

re 297: Perhaps one can be Christian and not Anglican, but it is entirely possible that if one is not Anglican, one cannot be a Christian gentleman.

#304 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 01:37 PM:

David Harmon @ 301:

Very much so. If you've been raised to think things through, then you have a firm grounding for making decisions. If all you're told is that it's bad, all you get is guilt.

The other lesson that you learn at Passover is that Manischewitz wine tastes nasty.

#305 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 01:52 PM:

Serge, I had a friend who had a button that said "Earl Stanley Gardnerian: Celebrate the Mysteries!"

She had a "Martin Gardnerian" one too, but I can't remember what it said.

#306 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 02:09 PM:

KeithS@299: Why I didn't think microphone I have no idea.

I cheated and read the youtube comments. Fortunately, there was one about the microphones in English. (Perhaps Dutch speakers had more interesting things to discuss than stagecraft.)

#307 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 02:09 PM:

The Flickr photo set for the house is here.

#308 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 02:17 PM:

I'm not sure if this was a rerun, but last night I saw Neil Gaiman on Colbert's show. Colbert of course pretended to be aghast at the dark stuff in Gaiman's kid book Graveyard and asked if he read Lovecraft while still in the crib. Gaiman responded that he had disovered Lovecraft at 11, along with Tolkien. Colbert asked what his favorite part was in LoTR. "Everything but Tom Bombadil." It went downhill from there. Silly.

#309 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 02:19 PM:

Michael Roberts #306:

Umm ... wow, heartfelt version. You've certainly got your work cut out for you, but some of the details are beyond gorgeous. My first thoughts are that you're going to need a floor man and drywall guy(s) really bad and first thing. My second thought, omg, *look* at that sideboard!

#310 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 02:20 PM:

David, #301: Yes, exactly. This is my counter-argument to the "there can be no morality without God" types; if the only thing that keeps you from being a criminal or a bastard* is fear of hellfire, then you don't HAVE any morals -- what you have is a bully standing over you with a stick. Which is to say that I believe morality** must be internally generated to be of more than trivial value.

* And what of all the good Christian bankers and financiers whose lack of morality has brought us to the current crisis? Being religious certainly didn't make them into moral people!
** Actually, I prefer "ethics" in this context, but I use the language I think the other person will understand best.

#311 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 02:41 PM:

Dan Hoey @ 305:

YouTube does not have comments. YouTube can not have comments. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

(I had a scrap of CSS that made them all vanish, but they changed something and now I need to fix it again.)

#312 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 02:51 PM:

Michael @ 306: It looks to me - at a blurry speculative glance - like most of the floorboards are oak and still pretty solid. It doesn't look any worse than our floor was when we bought the house, certainly. (Termite munching in our case.)

With help you should be able to cut out the holed, rotten or damaged boards and slide/nail in fresh tongue-and-groove oak floorboards to replace them; then sand the whole thing down with a combination of the big drum sander and disk sander. If you can afford it, get a pro to run the drum sander - those take off material so fast that if you don't keep them moving at a perfectly even rate you end up with ripples in the floorboards. Then lots and lots of coats of polyurethane and final sanding, and you'll have a floor that people ooh and ahh over. This takes a pretty long time, but is worth it; in a house this big, you'll probably want to close off areas and refinish it in sections.

#313 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 02:53 PM:

I like to use the simplified definition that morals is ethics enforced by threat of force. That might not be sufficiently precise for finicky logicians, however.

#314 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 02:56 PM:

Now that you have pictures, start looking for a House Porn show to refurb it for you!

#315 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 03:18 PM:

Steve C. @ 285: cool site - thanks for sharing; that's the first time I've really understood the retrograde movement thing.

Marking. At my high school (UK) marking was pretty harsh. As I recall, if you were getting marks consistently in or above 70s for in-house examinations you were likely to get an "A" in the official external examinations.

Then there was the final year maths exam in which the top person scored 118% - and several others also scored over 105% or higher. How, you might ask - particularly for a maths exam? Well, there were 120 marks on the paper, and it was 1 mark = 1%. Obviously you were not supposed to manage to answer enough questions to get over the 100%. The school wrote all their marks down as 95% which i thought was a bit mean. The girl with 118% had got a single plus or minus sign transposed (she did go on to study maths at university).

Michael Roberts: I have house envy. We have a perfectly good house, and it doesn't need loads of work doing to it, and it's on the correct side of the Atlantic for our jobs, families etc. But I still have house envy. Good luck - it's going to be wonderful.

#316 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 03:21 PM:

Michael Roberts: Your blog seems to lack a feed, which I would subscribe to since I am interested in additional information on the progress of your have-bought-a-house.

#317 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 03:32 PM:

Aye, Kevin, it does lack a feed. Eventually I may actually address that lack. It's not like RSS is hard.

#318 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 05:05 PM:

KeithS @#303: Hey! I like the sweet stuff! And rarely drink enough to worry about its famous hangover....

#309 Lee: Yep. Of course, there's also Madoff! Now, Jews don't have that authoritarian thing going, but that didn't stop Rabbi Marc Gellman publicly tearing him a new orifice....

Eric Cooley III #312: I beg to differ -- I'd say there's a much bigger difference, but that religions in general tend to confuse the two rulesets.

In my view, "ethics" are the rules regulating interpersonal offenses (supporting trust, limiting or forestalling violence, etc.). In contrast, "morals" represent the other rules and customs (sexual, personal display, etc.) which serve for tribal identification and bonding, but which would not be seen as offenses by unrelated cultures. Morals and ethics aren't completely distinct, as some moral rules represent general responses to common social problems, but once you get past that whole "commanded by God" thing, they're surprisingly separable.

#319 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 05:11 PM:

Michael @306:
Teresa and I were oohing and aahing over your pictures. I'm definitely envious.

#320 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 05:33 PM:

You know who Tintin reminds me of in the musical clip? Limonadovy Joe -- "Lemonade Joe," as portrayed by Karel Fiala! Finally, someone's posted it at YouTube. I'll have to see if their copy has anything that's missing from mine, which got to my iPod via the subtitled VHS version, which I understand is slightly cut.

#321 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 05:44 PM:

Random cultural comment: Do you ever get the sense that we, as a culture, maybe at a species, are thrashing? Kind of like a drunk weaving all over the road overcorrecting, because he can't work out where he should be relative to where he is on the road and what the effect of the most recent steering wheel adjustment will be?

The financial crisis looks this way, but honestly, we've had a sequence of these radical scary weird shifts of direction. I keep thinking that this kind of thrashing, sort of being inside our own decision loop w.r.t. social, economic, technological, and political change, is a symptom of closeness to singularity. By that, I don't mean rapture-for-nerds singularity. I'm thinking something more like Crazy-years singularity--it becomes harder and harder to plan or understand the world because of the sheer speed of available changes in the world and progress.

For example, CDS were invented sometime in the mid-90s, and are alleged (with I don't know how much truth) to be a major part of the current thrashing economic order. That's something like 10-12 years from being invented to shaking the foundations of the industrialized world. CDOs are definitely a big part of the crisis, and the first ones came about in the late 80s.

How long has the web been a going concern? Can you even imagine trying to describe the world to someone from 1985 without a pretty long discussion of the web? The net has been around for awhile in some form (I was netted in the mid 80s), but the web started around 92.

How long has China been a dominant force in manufacturing, producing some huge fraction of the stuff we buy every day? Remember when it was Japan that was going to take over the world, and China that was going to remain mired in Communist poverty?

Those are three of a whole bunch of fundamental things driving the shape of the world, that were either not in existence or apparently inconsequential in 1985. (The Berlin Wall still stood, the S&L crisis was simmering but not yet aflame, we were well into massive peacetime deficit spending, the Reagan/Thatcher revolutions were afoot, the PC was becoming widespread and important among wealthy first-world folks.)

Our decisionmaking institutions don't handle this pace of change well. It appears that few countries were regulating their financial sectors well, partly because legislatures and regulatory bodies don't actually move all that quickly. Private decisionmakers fared little better--look at the companies that have run aground in this crisis. Lehman and Goldman and UBS and AIG were the sort of corporations you might have expected to outlast most governments, and yet one's dead, one's waiting for the respirator to be turned off, and the other two are in the hospital in critical condition. The current responses by all decisionmakers don't provide much reassurance.

We're thrashing. Our leaders have little idea what they're doing, and less control than they imagine. We live in really interesting times....

#322 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 05:46 PM:

Nancy @272, carrying Benadryl is useful for being in service in that sort of emergency, but really, the allergic person ought to be carrying an Epi-pen.

I ought to be carrying an Epi-pen, but my last one expired without me having to use it (yay!), I no longer have insurance, and my triggers are uncommon enough (paraffin and Brazil nuts) that I'm willing to risk walking around without one and just exercising general caution. Although there was that scary moment at the Chinese restaurant where the menu said "almonds, cashews and peanuts" and the dish came out with a big fat Brazil nut sitting on top -- clearly they'd just opened up a can of "mixed nuts" for the dish. At least the Brazil nut wasn't buried or I'd really have been in trouble! Sent it back and made them take it off the bill.

If you see the person's face puffing up, call the EMTs. Even if they DO have an Epi-pen. Better safe than sorry.

#323 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 06:06 PM:

#320:

"Modern science has imposed upon humanity the necessity for wandering. Its progressive thought and its progressive technology make the transition through time, from generation to generation, a true migration into uncharted seas of adventure. The very benefit of wandering is that it is dangerous and needs skill to avert evils. We must expect, therefore, that the future will disclose dangers. It is the business of the future to be dangerous; and it is among the merits of science that it equips the future for its duties. The prosperous middle classes, who ruled the nineteenth century, placed an excessive value upon the placidity of existence. They refused to face the necessities for social reform imposed by the new industrial system, and they are now refusing to face the necessities for intellectual reform imposed by the new knowledge. The middle class pessimism over the future of the world comes from a confusion between civilization and security. In the immediate future there will be less security than in the immediate past, less stability. It must be admitted that there is a degree of instability which is inconsistent with civilization. But, on the whole, the great ages have been unstable ages."

--Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, 1925.

#324 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 06:14 PM:

#320 ::: albatross:

I agree on thrashing. There's some specific stuff in Stafford Beer about needing time to assimilate new conditions, and we aren't getting it.

What's worse, we have what Scott Adams calls confusocracy-- airlines and credit card companies and (after he invented the concept) finance companies gaining advantages by being incomprehensible.

#321 ::: Rikibeth:

Thanks very much.

#325 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 06:19 PM:

Rikibeth #321: yeah, Chinese restaurants are infamously dangerous for people with allergies.

albatross #320: Sorry, but I think you're just suffering a bout of "future shock", a la Toffler.

Our late financial disasters are speculation bubbles -- not so new. The particular instruments at fault (this time) were "new" because they were created rather specifically to escape regulations on untoward risk-taking, and permitted by a government that was in league with the speculators. The ensuing disaster wasn't specific to the details of CDOs or such, it was the natural and inevitable consequence of giving the speculators free reign.

Similarly, China is just the latest of several countries to make their stake in manufacturing -- admittedly the biggest, but China has been dominating Asia for centuries if not millennia. They were never a Third-World country -- getting their economy into high gear isn't "coming out of nowhere", it's basically finishing their recovery from the Opium Wars.

And the Internet certainly is a new and shiny thing, but it's ultimately parasitic on the real world, and forgetting that is a good way to lose your shirt (or pants, depending... ;-) ). Ultimately, the Internet is about people, and people are mostly the same as they ever were.

Yes, we have a problem with our leadership handling the changed situations, but that's not new either -- there's a reason that innovation and experiment are traditionally a young-folks' game.

#326 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 06:22 PM:

David Harmon #317: Eric Cooley III #312

There are plenty of Eric's around here. I am not one of them.

#327 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 06:27 PM:

And a seasonal note: Wild garlic is back in my neighborhood! OK, it never really "left", as there were a few shoots in my lawn even well into winter.

But, today I literally found some on the sidewalk -- someone had pulled a whole bunch of full-grown plants, and strewn them on the sidewalk, bulbs and all. I rescued the ones that hadn't been trampled, and later dug up a few more (the rain makes that much easier). Now I'm having some chopped into my spinach.

#328 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 06:33 PM:

Earl Cooley III #325: Whoops, I'm sorry. Clearly I had a braino while typing.

#329 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 07:15 PM:

Riding the curve:

I once got a 34 of 100 on a thermodynamics test.

It was a solid A.

#330 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 07:44 PM:

David @ 324, I fairly well agree. Our species has always been thrashing, since we first left Africa.

Abi & TNH: stay tuned, then. Starting mid-May things oughta get good.

I'm honestly thinking of doing the wall and ceiling work with honest-to-God plaster, instead of drywall. Drywall seems so ... Johnny-come-lately. Although I do believe that the dining room ceiling has been repaired in drywall. Which I may just remove and start over. Along with all that wallpaper.

I loathe wallpaper. Back in the early 90's, we lived in a third-floor walkup a few blocks from this house (on Main Street, which was at the time a real live pedestrian zone!) The wallpaper in the kitchen of that apartment was sagging off the walls, despite relatively recent provenance, because they had never removed any of the earlier layers. We took it all off -- an exercise in archaeology; I wish we had had digital cameras then, because I would definitely have recorded each layer -- and painted it all a proper and blinding white. It was lovely after that.

That's my plan for this house.

#331 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:06 PM:

Stefan Jones @ #322 -

I like that a lot.

#332 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:30 PM:

Michael Roberts, it's a _beautiful_ house. The built-in buffet is magnificent. It will be a lot of work, but it will be worth it. What a steal. I love the doorknobs.

#333 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:47 PM:

Cursory research indicates that plaster resists mold far better than drywall, even blueboard. So that has decided me. I'm going to be doing a lot of plastering.

Mwuahahaa. I love it when a plan comes together.

So we're at about 95% moving to Indiana now, rather than just going for the summer but staying in Puerto Rico another year. My family will be going to Budapest and returning to JFK on July 2. Uh, anybody want to spot me a futon in the NYC area on the night of July 1? In return, I will allow you to whitewash this here fence, I mean, plaster this here wall. Although my wife is very particular about how plaster is applied. She might not trust just anybody to get it right. Maybe I'd better go ahead and do it myself.

#334 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:09 PM:

Wallpaper is like neckties. All but the most basic designs look utterly foolish ten years later.

Micheal, I'd wrap that clean up that buffet, apply finishing oil, and then seal it off with bubble wrap and cardboard until everything else is complete.

#335 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:11 PM:

In lieu of actual participation:

A visit from a smooth criminal or, as it's also known, Mustela freneta.

#336 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:16 PM:

Michael, #329: The house looks fabulous! Or at least, I can look beyond the fixing-up that needs to be done to see the fabulous place you'll have once it's finished.

I do agree with you about the wallpaper. That was one of the things going thru my mind while I looked at the pictures -- "That wallpaper has GOT to go!" While I'm not as dead-set against it as you seem to be, I do find many of the most common styles to be fugly. In my condo in Nashville (which otherwise had dove-grey walls throughout), I had wallpaper in

1) The dining room -- rose-beige grasscloth, to pick up the color in the chandelier glass
2) The kitchen -- a cheery abstract, mostly white with thin strokes of bright primary colors scattered across it
3) The upstairs bath -- water-resistant paper that looked like sponging in shades of blue

and I thought all of them improved their respective areas considerably.

#337 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:40 PM:

Too funny not to share!

For the times when you really DO give a flying f*ck...

(Worksafe only if your office is lenient about obfuscated profanity.)

#338 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:12 PM:

#328 Nancy
I once had a final exam in a math class in college in which a zero was a passing grade.... (wrong answers involved points being taken off. It was a graduate level class in non-linear methods.

#339 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:14 PM:

re 295: That's the one.

#340 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:41 PM:

My uncle told me of a test in a decision-making class of some sort. It was multiple-choice, and you ranked the answers according to probability that they were right-- if you knew beyond doubt that the answer was A, you put A-100, B-0, C-0, D-0.

The points awarded were related in some way to the natural log of the number you put next to the correct answer.

The natural log of zero is negative infinity. If you answered as above and were wrong, no score for you. Part of the test was figuring out how sure you could be without wrecking everything if you were wrong.

#341 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:52 PM:

Diatryma @ 340: I once had a biology test in high school that used a scoring scheme like that: 10 points and 5 answers per question, allocate the points to the answer(s) one preferred. But the final score was just the sum of the points allocated to the correct answers. If I recall correctly, there was a further complication in that a few of the questions had more than one correct answer, and one had to allocate points to each of those correct answers in order to get the full score.

Most of my classmates were not happy about this scheme.

#342 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:53 PM:

C Wingate # 339... If you go to YouTube and search for "Tintin Lune", you get many clips from the animated film where he goes to the Moon.

#343 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 12:49 AM:

@320,322,324

The Whitehead quote has the right of it, I think. There are some times when a fundamental shift in the structure of culture, economy, technology, and pretty near everything else results in a ferment in which great deeds (and horrible ones) are done, and beautiful things (and ugly ones) are created. The European Renaissance (particularly in Italy) was one such time; ours would appear to be another.

The one difference between now and previous such eras is that the world is now so much smaller, and every ripple in one place causes waves everywhere else. Cultures aren't meeting and struggling just at their geographic borders anymore; the mixing and hybridization takes place all over and all at once. I don't think that's going to go on forever, though. Over the next century or two things will settle down somewhat, as competing cultures reach accomodations, and mixing levels the racial, ethnic, religious, and economic differences among populations.

In the meantime, buckle up: it's going to be a bumpy ride.

#344 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:01 AM:

Michael Roberts:

Your house will be a home with less work than I feared as long as the invisibles (plumbing especially) are intact. My boss just tole me he'd bid on two houses before the one he ended up with and backed out because of bad inspection findings— one had, literally, no real plumbing anymore as it had corroded away. "Nice garbage disposal, though."

We've put in a bid on a house that is much smaller and more recent. It was built in the 80s and has had NO updates since then— which on the one hand, is nice because we can literally see that there's been no roof issues. We'll see where we get with this one; the listing bank has been beyond obnoxious so far so if they yank our chains much more we're just going to withdraw.

#345 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:41 AM:

Oh, Stefan -- that's a good idea. Thanks!

#346 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 02:41 AM:

You know what's happened since I last had to buy appliances? Craigslist, that's what. This might work out OK.

#347 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 08:01 AM:

Re the particle of The Naked Taoiseach: in keeping with the grand naming tradition of political scandals, this is now being called Picturegate in Ireland.

#348 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 08:04 AM:

albatross @ 321: "Do you ever get the sense that we, as a culture, maybe at a species, are thrashing?"

I'd go with oscillating. We change a little, maybe privatize some state functions, and reap a slight benefit as a result. Then we decide that if a little privatizing is good, then we should privatize everything! Then we find out, oh, no, total privatization is actually pretty terrible. So then we decide that we should nationalize everything! ...and back and forth, and back and forth. We can't really learn from previous experience because by the time we've cycled around again, so much has changed that it's at least arguable that previous experience doesn't apply, and of course there will always be someone willing to argue it.

Michael Roberts @ 330: "Our species has always been thrashing, since we first left Africa."

"We" only left Africa for values of "our species" excluding all those human beings who, y'know, still live in Africa. I get what you mean, but you might want to stay away from that particular construction.

#349 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 08:49 AM:

Christmas gifts in case of disaster-- this strikes me as having the open thread nature. It's a recommendation for giving first aid kits and a list of good multi-tools.

#350 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 09:46 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 307: I, too, now suffer from house envy. That is one seriously neato place. I think the "laundry room" was originally a bathroom, because the windows and corner cabinet remind me strongly of my in-laws' former house. They had a Central PA-standard issue "colonial" with an attic just like yours, a porch only a bit smaller than yours, and all brick. (In fact, their kitchen was completely tiled, floor to ceiling.)

Anyway, nice house. Good bones.

#351 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 11:15 AM:

And while the Tintin fans and the Asterix fans continue on happily, those of us who like Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent and want to read it in English are stuck with three out of print adventures from the 70's since every publisher that has started printing it in English has gone bust without decent distribution.

On Chinese restaurants: I have a friend who has an allergy to onions who can eat at one Chinese restaurant in the city with no worries. This is because the first time he ate there the chef decided my friend was just being fussy when he said he was deathly allergic to onions and needed them kept out of his order so he hid all the onions in the dish while it was still in the kitchen. The owners were nice enough to cover the cost of the 911 ambulance run and the emergency room expenses...

#352 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 11:50 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 351... I met Mézières a couple of times in the mid-1980s. He mentionned that someone in Hollywood wanted to make a movie based on Valérian's "Subway" stories. Obviously it never happened. Would have been interesting. By the way, guess who Mézières would have liked to see play Valérian? Tom Cruise.

Anyway, if you want to see what a movie based on Mézières's drawings would look like, go see The Fifth Element.

#353 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 11:57 AM:

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Obama uses hypnosis!
Obama hypnotizes

At first I thought was one the most elaborate put-ons I've ever seen, but it just comes down to a classic case of a nutter with a soapbox. I have to admire the dedication, though.

#354 ::: Hank Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:18 PM:

This thread reminded me of Making Light, so, xref:

http://scienceblogs.com/bushwells/2009/03/what_one_word_tips_you_off_tha.php

#355 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 03:11 PM:

I need to gripe about this somewhere so I'll do it here... I said over on another thread that this week was our anniversary? Actually, yesterday, instead of our anniversary, turned out to instead be my day for "Cancel the dinner reservations and lie on the couch hacking up phlegm because it's too hard to sit up at the computer." Oh well, we're taking a rain-check and will try it next week or later, after I've recuperated.

(I actually made it in to the office for about an hour yesterday morning, because I had to build a new software release so testing could get underway on it. That wiped me out for the remainder of the day.)

#356 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 03:20 PM:

Clifton @ #355, Sorry to hear it. You actually found a restaurant that's remaining open long enough to reschedule your reservations?

(That's an inside Oahu joke. Several very high-profile restaurants have closed their doors recently.)

#357 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 03:24 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 355... Sorry to hear about that. My best wishes for a speedy recovery.

#358 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 03:27 PM:

Ginger @ 350: seriously? A bathroom? It's facing the street! That would be very weird. Not to mention, the house already has four other bathrooms.

I'm virtually positive it was just a nice, sunny upstairs veranda kind of room. That's how I intend to use it, anyway.

#359 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 04:56 PM:

I just had a perfect Vernor Vinge moment.

I was out walking the dog, and glanced up at Orion. There was a very bright star there, out of place, so I stopped to look. It was moving. Ah, the space station, I thought, and stood watching its track for a minute, so that I'd be able to identify for certain it at heavens-above.com at home.

... and then the second ship appeared, even brighter, following a minute behind the first in the same orbit. It brought tears to my eyes.

It turns out that the first ship was the shuttle, STS-119, and the second brighter ship was the ISS.

Sadly, neither was the interstellar ramship Pham Nuwen.

#360 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 04:57 PM:

Diatryma @340:

I took a class with that grading policy - Decision Analysis at Stanford with the guy who basically invented the methods. The grading scheme was as you describe - most of the work (homework, midterm, final) was multiple choice, and for each question you assigned each of the four options the relative probability you felt of it being correct. The specific algorithm was grade = (1 + log(p)/log(4)), where p was the probability you had assigned to the correct choice.

The algorithm is weighted such that a .25 probability (1/4, or chance) equalled 0. A probability of 1 gets a grade of 1. Anything below .0625 gets a grade below -1, which means that you are better off being conservative - but not too conservative - because those negative points build up fast.

We were explicitly told never to assign a 1 probability, because that meant the other options would all get 0s. A 0 probability for the right answer would mean a grade of negative infinity, or flunking the class. Exceedingly low probabilities (.0000000000001) had similar effects. Yet, apparently every time the course was offered, somebody did that and got the answer wrong - and failed the course. [Stanford has liberal course drop policies, so if it happened early enough in the quarter they could drop the class without serious GPA effects.]

#361 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 05:16 PM:

Dividing by zero

#362 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 06:34 PM:

oliviacw @360.

A -infinity scoring might be valid at the end of such a course, though it seems a harsh method. It looks a stupid way of marking in the early stages, if the course grade is based on the total marks for the whole course.

Didn't the teacher expect his students to learn anything?, and improve their skill in what he was teaching?

#363 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 06:51 PM:

Michael Roberts #317: RSS? Atom. Much better specified.

(I have in the past written a program to screen-scrape a feedless source — but I haven't got the time or enthusiasm to write a variant for this purpose.)

#364 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 07:12 PM:

Another question for Micheal . . .

In what shape is the yard? Weeds and broken glass? Just a little overgrown?

Might be interesting to see if a community group is interested in using it as a garden.

Reason: Having reasonably responsible people visiting on a regular basis might discourage squatters, vandals, and thieves.

Also, when you visit you can stand by one of those tower windows and pretend the gardeners are your vassals.

#365 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 08:23 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 358: You're probably right -- it just struck me as strongly reminiscent of their upstairs bathroom (which was their only bathroom for many years). I think it would make an excellent little sun room for you now. (I did mention my envy, didn't I?)

#366 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 08:34 PM:

The yard's OK. I don't know about lead content. It's not very sunny, though, especially in the summer -- lots of trees. Not ideal for veggies, although I'm going to try if we actually move there instead of being absentee owners.

The yard looks pretty typically Indiana March to me (here and here).

#367 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 08:44 PM:

Oliviacw, it's probably the same course. I just couldn't remember anything specific enough to cite.

Sadly, none of this sort of thing has come up in my teaching college courses course. It's largely student-led, and kind of underwhelming. Some of that's due to the structure-- we have people who teach HR courses, piano teachers, and me, Little Miss Lecture-And-Lab-Based-Science-Courses. I had hoped that the 'evaluation and grading' discussion would include favorite and least favorite testing methods, both as student and teacher, but no, not so much.

I would have shared my Animal Physiology final: write your own question and answer it within two pages.

#368 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 09:10 PM:

Cliff @ # 170: The people at Tech Support Comedy would appreciate your friend's divide-by-zero Japanese math trouble tickets.

#369 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 09:39 PM:

Steve/Nancy: "The Midas Plague" is a reminder that the attitude of "The world is hard! Let's go shopping!" has been around long enough to be satirized in 1954. "The Man Who Ate the World" was a ~sequel which (unlike the original) was also the title of its collection -- possibly somebody thought it would grab monster-movie fans.

Earl@313: David@318 is much closer to the definitions I've commonly seen -- notably including Sturgeon's in More Than Human.

Nancy@339: I remember that thermo test; it was part of my school's first AP chemistry class.

dave@362: most teachers I've had have not retested material, except on the final; the intermediate exams tended to be free-standing, so expecting competence on each was reasonable. cf the comedian who professed not to care about the diploma on his doctor's wall: -"If I'm in there for a kidney problem I want to see his grade on kidneys!"- OTOH, that doesn't mean that blowing one \question/ should be a failing grade for the entire course; I also dislike the system as described because I think there's way too much hedging (much of it aka "fair and balanced") these days; students should not be taught that everything can be hedged any more than they should be taught that everything has an absolute answer.

There are a \lot/ of replies with off-by-one comment references, suggesting that the numbering code is mishandling something (a delay post?) -- I thought this had been fixed?

#370 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 11:04 PM:

Well, I had a tiring but fun day... I went hiking in the Shenandoah Nat'l Park, (White Oaks Trail) with a couple of guys twice my age. 6 miles of rocky trails and climbing mostly upward, past the gorgeous White Oak Falls. I know I'm in poor shape, so it wasn't even embarrassing being paced by a couple of 80-year-olds....

And now I'm formatting my new terabyte drive...

My first computer, was a 4K Commodore PET that loaded programs from audio cassettes. My second was a Commodore 64 which used 170KB floppy disks -- IIRC, the drives cost something like $200 apiece by the time I got them.

Now, some 25 years later, I just bought an effing terabyte drive, seven orders of magnitude larger than those early floppy disks. For $120.

#371 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 12:10 AM:

I had a physics professor whose grading system was rather nice— he gave the point spread, said, "this is the minimum grade you'll get," and went on to explain that if you showed improvement over the term, he'd up your grade a bit to reflect that. He also gave ~ 20% to "in-class quizzes" where half of the two points per quiz was for turning in a piece of paper with your name on it. He used that in lieu of taking attendance, which would take too much time.

Hardest class I've ever taken, and it was a first- or second-year course. EM, optics, relativity— and real questions such as "You have a sphere of equal charge x surrounded by a sphere with a charge according to y equation. What is the charge at point z?" Nobody finished the tests before the end of the period.

I got 3 Cs and a D on the four tests, but B in the course as a whole. Either I rocked the final or everything else added up pretty well for me.

BTW, I loved that course. But I feared it just as much.

#372 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 12:57 AM:

David Harmon @ 370... My first computer, was a 4K Commodore PET

It always amuses me, watching 1982's Bladerrunner, when I catch sight of the neon ads for Atari computers.

#373 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 02:38 AM:

Serge:

By the way, guess who Mézières would have liked to see play Valérian? Tom Cruise.

Not to be heightist or anything, but isn't Cruise a head too short?

#374 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 02:59 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz (#273): I concur with what Rikibeth (#322) said - Benadryl is good, but you really want an epinephrine pen.

I asked at my local pharmacy if I could purchase one, and was told they were prescription-only. I have a fantastic GP who is used to my academic weirdness. When I explained to her that I was taking students and colleagues on a field trip to dig up the nest cells of Colletes inaequalis, and that they are pretty docile bees, and I didn't think anyone was allergic, but I wanted to be on the safe side because we'd be out in a powerline right-of-way a mile of hiking out from vehicles, she promptly wrote me a prescription. Then I took it to the pharmacy and explained that yes, I really wanted to pay for it outright rather than just paying the co-pay on my insurance, since technically it wasn't for me (it's about $60). The risk of needing the epi-pen is pretty low, but the value of having it if you need it is extremely high, so it seemed worth the effort to get one.

#375 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 06:18 AM:

#369 ::: CHip:

I think the major point of "The Midas Plague" is that people can turn anything into a status symbol, even austerity.

There are subordinate points about status-seeking-- it's pretty funny to watch the frantic scramble from the outside, but it's painful to be stuck doing it.

#376 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 10:28 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 373... Tom Cruise too short to play Valérian? Actually, no. Valérian is not a tall guy. In fact, Cruise would have been physically right. As for the rest... I'm not questionning his acting abilities, but movies with him in it tend to be all about him, whether the story is supposed to be about the last days of the Samurai or about alien invaders. Valérian really is a humble man trying to do his best to keep the world going. 'Humble' and 'Cruise' don't go together.

Speaking of European comics making it to movies... I was a bit dubious when I heard that Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese stories had been made into animated features. I found some clips on YouTube. While the animation isn't quite on the level of a Disney classic, it manages to keep the look and feel of the original comics. I shudder to think that someone once wanted to make a live-action version. With Lee Majors as tall skinny Corto.

#377 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 12:35 PM:

Kevin Reid at 363: I've been using Dapper for that purpose. It seems to work well - I've been seeing some hiccups in the feeds, but then I use Bloglines too, and that can have occasional issues.

#378 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 03:48 PM:

To Serge and all the other punsters in the Fluorosphere, an explication of the punomonon.

#379 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 04:10 PM:

About that terabyte drive...

I'm still formatting the first 200GB partition! Or rather, I decided to specify a full (read/write) scan for bad blocks before the formatting proper (Linux mkfs... -c -c). Well, 18.5 hours later.... If it goes on to write zeroes (it's done 0xaa, 0x55, and 0xff so far), the total time will exceed 24 hours -- for the first of 5 partitions (200GB each)! (Of course, actually building the partitions will take negligible time, by comparison.)

Oy vey --- but if I don't do this now, then when? ;-)

#380 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 04:28 PM:

Just coming up on 20.30 over here. Time for lights out, computer off, candles lit - I'll catch up reading on traumatic brain injury in an hour.

#381 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 04:45 PM:

David Harmon @379: I'd recommend never. Modern hard drives don't show errors in surface scans until the entire disk's about to fail. And you should have _heard_ it being noisy before that happens. The reason for this is that when it hits an error, it remaps the sector to a reserved space. When you start to run out of reserved space the remapping moves blocks a long way, so you hear lots of long seeks. After that, it runs out of space and you start seeing actual errors.

The test's useful for floppies, but next to useless on a hard disk.

#382 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 05:02 PM:

All the talk of test marking reminds me of a group project we were assigned in the final year of my CS degree. In this particular project we were split into groups of 6 and told to go away and finish the project, then decide how to split the final marks between the participants. 4 of the members of my group never bothered to turn up to any of the meetings we arranged. Asking the course tutor if we could assign them zero grades, he says it's unusual but within the rules. Only damned assessment I've ever scored 250% on.

#383 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 05:06 PM:

Linkmeister @ 378... Caligula ordered an actor to be roasted alive for a bad pun

That seems rather excessive.

"Puns are the lowest form of humor - unless you think of it first."
- Seamus Zelazny Harper

#384 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 05:14 PM:

I just received my copy of Ravens in the Library. The book, which had been put together to help defray S.J.Tucker's medical expenses, looks very nice.

#385 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 05:28 PM:

Jules #381: Hmmm. So there's no "occasional" bad blocks anymore?

I've pre-empted the test for the other 4 partitions for the moment, I figure I'll let the first one complete, just to see just how long it takes. (I was already losing enthusiasm for continuing the test -- most of a frakking week?)

#386 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 05:45 PM:

David @ 370 - yeah, I'm having the same feeling about my house.

#387 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 06:16 PM:

Clifton @355:

Congratulations on the anniversary, however late the celebration. The real achievement is the years spent together, and they contain their own reward.

#388 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 08:04 PM:

Linkmeister #378:

That article seems to be missing the point. What both I and my husband (an inveterate punster) got out of it is that punning is conscious and willful, and therefore almost a moral issue or character fault. My spouse, OTOH, will testify that it is uncontrollable, requires no conscious effort, and should be regarded as a brain wiring condition vaguely akin to Tourette's. We both believe that what is actually going on, what worries the listeners so much, is the context-switch that is required both to produce a pun and to hear/see it. You're screwing with reality--and that is, in many views, unforgiveable.

#389 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 09:51 PM:

joann @ #388, I lean in your direction. I do it without thinking; when I try to manufacture a pun it usually fails.

Anybody remember this visual example?

#390 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 10:03 PM:

joann @ 388... My spouse, OTOH, will testify that it is uncontrollable, requires no conscious effort, and should be regarded as a brain wiring condition vaguely akin to Tourette's.

In my case, it is conscious, but little effort is involved.
("Snort!")
I heard that.

"Puns are the death of wit."
- Voltaire, who probably never could come up with a good one.

#391 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 10:41 PM:

I think of punning as being akin to the "fannish fount of trivia" syndrome; both appear (to me) to be related to having an overactive free-association circuit. And I agree that the best puns arrive unheralded and with little or no thought -- they just happen, like weather.

Of course, one also has to have a love of language and its oddities to enjoy puns. I would bet that the guy who wrote that article is a very dull conversationalist.

#392 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 10:57 PM:

The main difficulty I have with puns is that I don't necessarily hear words when I read them, and I don't necessarily see words when I hear them. Not that I let this stop me, mind you.

It was an Asimov story where it turned out that puns were the only true human form of humor, right?

#393 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 01:43 AM:

KeithS @ 392

Right, and all other forms of humor were created by aliens, as an experiment. When a human figured it out, they ended the experiment because of contamination of the subject, and all forms of humor stopped being funny.

#394 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 01:51 AM:

Going thru the list of Hugo finalists.

Tonight, John Kessel's short story Pride and Prometheus, in which bookworm Mary Bennet meets kindred soul Victor Frankenstein.

Highly recommended.

#395 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 10:02 AM:

Nancy@375: status is an obvious point; but there are various signs that Pohl was aware of the economic-philosophy disagreements that later produced (e.g.) Packard's The Waste Makers and a weak counter from Reader's Digest, "Waste Not, Have Not?". In the same decade, Pohl's sometime-associate Damon Knight was more pointed about the conservative spend-our-way-to-riches idea (e.g., Hell's Pavement) -- but Knight tended to be more pointed about \everything./

Jules@381: It's been decades since I was a sysadmin working at that level, but I'm wondering whether excluding weak spots immediately doesn't at least give the OS a better picture of the usable size of the disk, so that it reports being full when it's run out of usable sectors instead of throwing errors because it thinks there is still space? Or am I giving Windows too much credit?

#396 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 10:17 AM:

Now, some 25 years later, I just bought an effing terabyte drive, seven orders of magnitude larger than those early floppy disks. For $120.

They're $95 in Boston this week.

In college, I remember everyone being awed by my friend's Apple II with 48K memory, a black-and-green monitor, and two floppy drives. Cost: $2500.

(Said friend wrote a game called Wizardry on it, which made a little money ... )

#397 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 11:48 AM:

Leonard Pitts, in his usual compelling and evocative style, gives a eulogy for Dr. John Hope Franklin.

#398 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 02:21 PM:

shadowsong @213: Drat it, you're right, and thanks for the catch -- I meant the MSR WhisperLite, not the MSI Wind. I blame buying a new laptop right before the hiking trip. :-)

#399 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 10:11 PM:

I am a lousy typist. OJT, and the use of a pencil/copy editor are not conducive to perfect mastery of the keys. I am also fast, which is no help. What I did discover was how much I/we all needed the copy editors. If I let something sit for 2-3 days, I could spot errors I missed on the first/second pass.

It was how I improved my grades. All the copy was submitted for grading. Any copyediting marks we added were considered to be included. So long as 1: I'd not made any differences in the typewriting, and 2: I'd not asked anyone else to go voer it after I turned in the production copies, I could delay submission for grade a couple of days.

The steady stream of "whites" to the advisors was such that it didn't change their workload. So I started to submit my "pinks" and "yellows" to the desk (the production deadlines were absolute, and would hurt my grade if I missed them; they'd also hurt the paper), and sit on my whites for a couple of days.

Then I'd re-read them, fix what I'd spotted, and turn them in. But if I didn't wait... the brain would gloss the mistakes to what I'd meant to type. I have more toubles editing on screen too. I despair of ever having really pretty blog/comment posts.

On the flip-side, it probably makes it harder for people to spoof me.

Re body weight in blood. If we assume blood is thicker than water, and give it a weight of eight pounds per gallon, (at 8 units the gallon) than I would need 116 units of blood to lose my own weight in it. It's a pretty potent visual metaphor for how much that is, which is to say, about 14 gallons.

Which would be a lot of transfusing.

But I suspect he was larger than I.

dcb: re bulbs. I have some amaryllis (in Los Angeles) as does Maia's mother. I water mine more religiously than she does. I got moderate dormancy (the smaller bulbs went dormant in Novemeber, the larger ones in September). All were up in January. Hers go dormant about August, and return in February. Mine are a different type (Spider Lillies), but the pot I missed when I repotted last year went dormant in Oct. I gave it to Pat (Maia's mother) in January, and put it (still dormant) in the ground last week. All four bulbs are now green and growing.

Dave Bell: re hexamine and "compos" They do, and they don't. Each case of Composite Meals (the British MRE) comes with a box of cookers, and hexamine. The individiual meals don't. I don't know how well the surplus stores do at getting complete cases (or at selling them complete) there. I do know the meals are plainly labled as being MOD property, and not legal to sell.

MREs have chemical cooking bags (a compound of caustic lye, just add water to the line, and then slide the food packet into the bag. For serious heat slide it back into the cardboard box the food packet was in. You can also warm water with it, after the food is hot. The newer MREs have bags meant for this. It won't make real tea, or coffee, but instant will be warm enough to be as pleasant as it ever is).

Problem, the heaters give of hydrogen gas (this makes for many amusements in the field. It's the fuel for the infamous, "MRE Bomb"), and should not be used in small spaces with poor ventilation (not a real problem when one has only a couple of people, in a kitchen, but not a good idea when one has 20, in the back of a truck). They also have a disctintly metallic odor. I will never forget it, you may find it off-putting.

But they do make the MREs more palatable. Each MRE has one, and most surplus stores carry them. They can be put into water (inside the bag) so long as the water doesn't mix with the contents, as the byproduct is bad for people.

R.M. Koske @256: Yoiks! I supsect all your classes had a curve, but many of them were very flat. :) What is usually meant (or was, when I was in school) by, "grading on the curve" was to define 100 as the highest score attained, and then setting the relative grade-points from there.

I had teachers who did that in a way which both moved (when I wasn't in those classes. I was terrible for curves, at least in non-math classes), the grades down (so say, a 90 = A), but didn't save the really poor performers, because less than 70 still earned an F.

My psych of human sexuality prof had a different curve.
100-93 = A
92-84 = B
84-75 = C
less than 75 = fail (well it was a D, but that still wasn't credit worthy, so it was an effective fail. USC's College of Occupational Therapy sets that at C, sort of. You can get a C, and the class counts, but if your average isn't a B, you can't pass out of the school).

To tie that into my story about my journalism courses.

We had a straight 10 percent scale:

100-90
89-80, etc.

But we also had to make "inch count", of written (not published) work.,at four, 60 ct. lines to the inch

150" =C
225" =B
300" =A

If you wrote at least one letter grades worth of copy more than you recieved, you could be bumped up one grade value. This was to make up for the extra risk (because papers were graded all the way down to zero) turning in the extra copy caused.

But... you also had to write one each of news, feature and sports. Miss one of those, and you got a fail, No matter how stellar your writing was.

My first term on staff I lost track of the timeline, and didn't get a sports assignment. Fail.

janetl re Music Theory: When I was in college last I was interested in taking harmony (i.e. theory II), but I couldn't. The Prerequisites were, pass Theory I (I had) and be enorolled in Harmony (3 units), A keyboard class (3 Units, plus 2 hours practice) Another instrument class (2 units, plus one hour practice), and a performance class (1 unit, plus rehearsals/performances). That was nine units, with an extra 3-6 hours a week of classes.

Kept those who weren't really serious from taking the class.

#400 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 10:46 PM:

Terry Karney @ 399: Your description of the prerequisites for a college music class sound like what I recall my friends going through at MSU. For example, the poor souls would be required to sign up for 1 credit of Band, which would involved several hours of band rehearsal per week, and you were supposed to show up already knowing the music. Then, to make things really fun, they'd put the band on a bus to another city during finals week to do a performance. Judging by what I saw, music is the toughest undergraduate degree there is.

#401 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 10:53 PM:

A brief note: on Saturday, my third day home sick, two things happened. My wife relapsed to the point where she was coughing worse than I was - her asthma kicked into high gear from the aftermath of the cold, and I had to take her out to get a nebulizer and start taking hefty doses of Extra Stuff. And, in the evening, our phone line and our DSL both went out. The Powerful and Benevolent Phone Company says they'll look into it by Tuesday or thereabouts. I'm seriously considering cable internet now.

I'm posting this from a coffee shop we headed out to Sunday afternoon, because we couldn't fight the Internet withdrawal pains any more. After 3 and a half days of dying inventively, I'm tired of Nethack for a bit.

#402 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 01:22 AM:

Clifton @ # 401 says "The Powerful and Benevolent Phone Company"

which is currently in bankruptcy.

Betcha never thought an almost public-utility company with a near-monopoly in its past could do that, didja?

#403 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 04:01 AM:

Linkmeister, which phone company are you talking about?

Clifton Royston, if you do switch to cable internet, I recommend that you do not also get digital phone service unless you also have cell phone access; otherwise, you'd be one rampaging backhoe away from having all your comm utilities cut off at once.

#404 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 10:21 AM:

About the upcoming worldcon... It is my understanding that, last week, its organizers were bemoaning the lack of volunteers. That's rather amusing. A friend and I both volunteered months ago and neither of us ever heard a single thing back.

#406 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 11:21 AM:

For once I like hat guy.

#407 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 12:06 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 401:

A while back when I had to set up a phone line, it amused me that I had to telephone the telephone company so that I could order telephone service. I think there's something a little screwy about that.

I hope you feel better from the combination of illness and internet withdrawl.

Xopher @ 406:

I have dreamed of doing things like that. Fortunately, I don't own the right equipment or have the time. Sometimes I fantasize about having telekinetic powers on the freeway to deal with obnoxious people, but they don't exist.

Proof (in case you wanted it):

  1. If telekinetic powers existed, then we would see cars taking up multiple parking spaces compacted to take up less than one, tailgaters flung off to the side of the freeway, and those insanely bright headlights popped.
  2. We do not observe any of these things.
  3. Therefore telekinetic powers do not exist.

Corollary: I would be a very bad Jedi.

#408 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 12:20 PM:

Well, TK powers wouldn't necessarily have to be Sylar-level to exist. If they're relatively subtle (like, enough to influence the fall of a rolling die, but no stronger), we wouldn't see the effects you describe.

I'm very glad I don't have pyrokinesis. It's not a good thing to have if you have a temper. I think much on it.

#409 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 02:06 PM:

Open threadiness: I'm pretty sure this hasn't been mentioned here yet, but thought it might be of interest --

The Army's National Museum of Health and Medicine has been scanning their photo collection and starting to post on flickr. There's a good article about it on Wired, and the flickr set is here.

It's really a fascinating compilation, since the museum has pictures from the Civil War to Vietnam. The pictures that have been posted at this point, however, all appear to stem from WWII.

#410 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 02:42 PM:

Earl @ #403, that would be Hawaiian Tel. It's losing landline customers to cellphones and other alternatives.

#411 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 02:46 PM:

Linkmeister @ 402:


Clifton @ # 401 says "The Powerful and Benevolent Phone Company"
which is currently in bankruptcy.
Betcha never thought an almost public-utility company with a near-monopoly in its past could do that, didja?

Another interesting case of looting. Hawaiian Telcom was bought out from Verizon by the Carlyle Group, a multi-billion investment fund which boasts George Bush Sr. and Colin Powell among others as shareholders, and has had Bush Sr., Frank Carlucci (former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director) and a host of other famous establishment names as directors, advisors, counselors, and chairmen. The purchase was approved despite the Carlyle Group having zero experience in telecommunications and despite its requiring Hawaiian Telcom to take $1 billion in debt to pay for its own purchase. Now that it's in bankruptcy, suddenly its employee pension plan, previously amply funded, is reported as badly short of money. It's possible that all that pension money vanished in the market downturn, but I suspect that close scrutiny might show that some of that pension money ended up diverted to indirectly fund HT's buyout or to other destinations instead.

I also suspect that scrutiny will never happen because of the Carlyle Group's standing "above suspicion", and that it will remain above suspicion because they spread their political friendship generously across both parties. Ex-FCC Chairman Bill Kennard, who put this deal together, is now one of Barack Obama's chief technology advisors, and see - you just don't question people like that.

#412 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 02:54 PM:

I should have mentioned, re the fraud thread: see also under "bust-out".

That's what a lot of "taking it private" deals really are - bust-out the business to pay out all its accumulated value to the new management and/or owners, then dump it. In recent decades, it's usually included looting the accumulated value in the pension funds and leaving the public stuck with making good on those pensions, because that's become virtually no risk - the Fed agencies involved have shown absolutely no interest in criminal investigation of accounting fraud involving pensions, even when the government is getting stuck for $100s of millions or $ billions in pension liabilities.

#413 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 03:01 PM:

Twitter search (top terms at the moment: #earthquake, Morgan Hill, San Jose) tells me that there's a certain amount of shakin' going on out West.

Everyone OK?

#414 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 03:14 PM:

David, #405: From the article: President Barack Obama refused further long-term federal bailouts for General Motors and Chrysler, saying more concessions were needed ... before they could be approved.

Okay, now why the HELL can't he say that to the banks and finance companies? It really does start to look like class-based discrimination.

#415 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 03:16 PM:

4.3 Earthquake, epicenter 11 miles north of Morgan Hill.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/30/BACN16PF4O.DTL&tsp=1

There were no immediate reports of damage.

#416 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 03:16 PM:

Magnitude 4.3, they say. Or, "Hey, I felt that one" on the "people I know in chat are saying" scale.

#417 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 04:53 PM:

Clifton:

Privatization always seems to me like an example of something that should work out well in theory. I mean, the investor should overpay as often as he underpays. But the agency problem rears its head, and leads to a persistent problem: the actual owner of the resource is some diffuse entity like a community or city or state. That entity's representatives, its agents, don't actually own what they're selling. While the investors have a great incentive to know the value of what they're buying, the sellers don't have much incentive. Even without outright bribery (which can definitely happen), there are a lot of ways for the sellers (agents with no skin in the game) to find it in their interests not to bargain real hard. The investors are likely to be in a position to be of use to the agents in the future--seats on the board, consulting jobs, paid positions working for one of the investors, etc. They're also likely to be well-connected, meaning that p-ssing them off by negotiating hard isn't likely to be a win for the agents.

It doesn't have to work out this way, and I'm sure it often doesn't. But it sure does seem like a common pattern. More broadly, whenever I'm investing my own money, and you're on the other side of the negotiation handling someone else's money with no skin at all in the game, the smart money will bet on me coming out ahead.

#418 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 05:12 PM:

Poetry party at Elise's place!

Elise Matthesen made a pendant named "Nine Things About Oracles."

Jo Walton wrote a poem inspired by the pendant.

Now it's a meme. Elise is collecting the poems in sets of nine. Come and play!

#419 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 05:17 PM:

Albatross:

Actually, I was referring to "taking it private" in the sense of a leveraged buyout of a previously publicly traded entity, or (as in this case) a portion of some public entity.

Oddly enough, much of what you said above about privatization of public entities applies there too: The collective shareholders are the actual owners of the business, but they don't necessarily have a good way of knowing its actual value; the top managers who are selling the business (often to themselves) have little interest in maximizing the payout to shareholders if they can find a way to maximize the payout to themselves instead; and the new investors (if they are not the same set of managers) can do massive favors to the management. In the case of large corporations, the board of directors - who are nominally the overseers and protectors of the shareholders' interests - are usually more aligned with the top managers, via class and via networks of interlocking multiple relationships and arrangements. As seen in the whole incestuous mess of executive compensation, they usually find ways to rubber-stamp anything the CEO and top management want to do. In the entire transaction, the pensioners and other creditors have no voice at all, no matter how large their interest in the outcome, until the money is all gone and the company ends up in bankruptcy, by which point it is too late to protect their interests.

No, I'm not cynical at all, why do you ask?

#420 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 07:58 PM:

Xopher at 408, if I had enough telekinesis to influence a rolling die, I would probably use my powers for frustrated about half the time. "You honked at me! I am not at fault! I am upset and shall now corrode the wires in your starter." "I'm going to sit and think about your porch for a while until there's an inch of slick ice from the melting on your roof. Next time, shovel your walk." Then I'd go to Vegas.

#421 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 08:06 PM:

Anyone got ideas about this?

The National Weather Service said Monday there is no evidence of any naturally occurring phenomenon to explain bright lights in the eastern sky that prompted hundreds of calls to the service and emergency officials. Callers from Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina described brilliant, streaking lights followed by an explosion-like sound at about 9:45 p.m. Sunday.

I did not hear anything last night, and wasn't outside to see anything. Anyone else around here hear/see it?

Unless this is a really elaborate April Fool's setup, involving the national news media (first heard it on NPR today), I'm really curious. Probably space debris, eh?

(I kept an eye out for tripods and zombies on the way home. Didn't see any.)

#422 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 08:33 PM:

Caroline @ #421, "(I kept an eye out for tripods and zombies on the way home. Didn't see any.)"

Well, if you'd used both eyes . . .

#423 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 09:09 PM:

Ugh.

What should I do if a dear friend of mine, who is 35 and gay, has in a fit of patriotism, enlisted in the Navy? Other than be supportive I mean.

#424 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 09:20 PM:

I likewise wasn't outside at the time. I didn't hear anything, but with one thing and another, I likely wouldn't have noticed unless it basically rattled the windows.

#425 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 10:09 PM:

The second Communist leader elected to office in the Americas has died

#426 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 10:17 PM:

Caroline @ 421:

The source of the excitement seems to have been a Soyuz second stage.

#427 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 10:22 PM:

Leroy @ 426: Oh, wow, that's cool! Man, I wish I'd been on that plane -- okay, so I would have been terrified if I didn't know what it was, but it would have been so neat to see it from the air.

#428 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 10:44 PM:

nerdycellist@423: Offhand, I'd say being supportive is about all you can do. At 35, your friend is presumably a grownup, and capable of deciding for him- or herself what risks and sacrifices are acceptable.

#429 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 11:00 PM:

#423 & #428: I promise you this. He or she definitely isn't the first gay person to have enlisted in the Navy. Not even close.

The Navy in general is a great deal of fun. Give him/her my best.

#430 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 11:19 PM:

Jim, #429: Oh, great. Now I'm going to have "In The Navy" as an earworm for the next few hours, and it's all your fault. :-p

#431 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 11:21 PM:

#423: Suggest that Godzilla is a great theme if you're making commercials for the Army/Navy game?

Oh, wait, that was my friend Ryan. Never mind.

#432 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 02:16 AM:

"The Navy in general is a great deal of fun."

Ha. Back in my day the lower ranks were chock-full of malcontents who were in it only because they didn't want to get drafted into the Army and go to Vietnam.

I'm sure it's improved drastically since then, though. Sea duty might get dicey if your ship is in the Straits of Hormuz.

#433 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 02:52 AM:

Just so folks know, the first chapter of my story, A Wolf in the Fold, is now up on the web.

Lust, death, and anarchists with guns: naturally pulpy.

#434 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 03:00 AM:

Fragano @425

News Link fixed.

#435 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 04:03 AM:

Xopher wrtes about TK powers:

enough to influence the fall of a rolling die, but no stronger

I never really understood this one. I mean, I can influence the fall of a die, by applying a force with my finger. But the only way I can make it come up six is to grab it and put it down with the six face up, which is really obvious. Even if I use the Invisible Hand of Telekinesis, it's going to be really obvious.

The TK dice trope seems to assume I have TK powers and a subconscious ability to poke things with it so that no-one can detect the poke directly, yet the poke accomplishes a complicated 3D piece of Newtonian physics which I couldn't possible manage consciously.

Wouldn't it be simpler to demonstrate TK by moving a little balanced pointer in a vacuum jar? No, lets use dice! After all, there's no reason a swindler might have experience with games involving dice, right?

And we'll use decks of playing cards to check for ESP!

#436 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 04:22 AM:

The best (and most tedious) way to make dice rolls the way you want is to first create a temporal checkpoint before the die roll. If the roll is what you want, then proceed to victory; if it is not, then jump back to your checkpoint and roll again until you get what you want. One downside of this technique is that you age normally during all your attempts. If you go for an extremely rare shot, then you may shock people when you appear to noticeably age when you throw the dice (or pull the slot machine lever, etc.)

#437 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:08 AM:

abi@413: I felt it, it woke me - I noticed a single light shockwave going by. I thought it was a small earthquake close by. I was a bit surprised to find that it was a medium earthquake a ways away.

During the last week, btw, there seems to have been quite a swarm of earthquakes down by the Salton Sea, at least according to the USGS CA-NV earthquake map.

#438 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 09:05 AM:

Caroline @ 421... I kept an eye out for tripods (...) Didn't see any.

I did.

#439 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:48 AM:

nerdycellist @ 423:

I think that being supportive is all you can do. He's presumably thought through the issues for a while. I've heard it's fun as well, although I'm not hurrying to find out for myself.

Earl Cooley III @ 436:

That's starting to sound like Carl Sagan's (?) simple instructions for making a cake from scratch: you have to create the universe first.

#440 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:48 AM:

Thanks, Jim and Debra -

He is a grown-up and can make his own decisions, but I worry about the political football that is DADT - that if he's got cool shipmates and can remain relatively "discreet" he might have a fine time serving, but that he also might have a difficult time getting what is due to him. I also worry a bit that he's another non-college-educated smarty-pants like me who has difficulty listening to others in authority.

Ah well - it's his choice to make. Just wish he wasn't making it as a "last resort" to get something going on with his life.

#441 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:08 PM:

nerdycellist 423 et seq. Funnily enough, I have a much younger gay friend who just did the same thing. He ran out of money for college, and the Navy will, if all goes well, put him through med school. He wants to be a corpsman while he's on active duty, which a) means he'll probably hit the Sandbox (or maybe the Icebox, as I've taken to calling Afghanistan) and b) is way too The Boy Who Picked the Bullets Up for me.

Niall 435: No, that's not how you do it. First of all, you start with one die, in private, and you don't try to nudge it to come up six, you pull down hard on the one. Much easier, trust me. You practice that for weeks to months, until you can get the die to come up any way you want.

Then you practice beginning the pull after it's turned over a couple of times, so it won't look so obvious. This is harder, but as your TK strengthens and sharpens you'll be able to do it.

Only then do you move on to two dice. That takes several more months to master. What, you thought you'd be able to do it without practice? Not even mental powers are quite THAT royal a road, my friend!

But the key point is that TK isn't so much like having an invisible hand to move things; it's more like having a talent for persuading the die that it wants to be in a particular orientation, and encouraging it to find that orientation.

By the way, since in craps all you have to do is roll randomly then NOT roll seven or eleven before you roll your point again, all you have to do to win at craps is disrupt sevens and elevens, which is much easier than trying to roll a specific combination. (I may have missed some specialness about box cars, too, but I don't much care for craps, so I may not have learned all the rules.)

#442 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:28 PM:

Well, I can't say that I'm not relieved, but it appears my friend has been disqualified for naval service. I know (the unspoken) part of his decision was based on feeling stuck in life - cruddy job, etc - but a good deal of it was an honest feeling of wanting to make a difference. So I feel kind of bad for him. I'm hoping I can help him find something else to do with his big brain.

#443 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:34 PM:

Xopher @ 441:

I didn't know much of anything about craps apart from the fact that it involved dice and rolling/not rolling sevens. I had the opportunity to learn and play with fake money, and quickly came to an understanding about how it can suck people in. There are so many special, arcane ways to bet that it seems designed to distract you from the simple facts of probability. A good casino guy at the table will feed into that as well by invoking the gambler's fallacy.

All that said, a seven is the most likely total of the roll of two dice (unless you construct dice that don't roll sevens), so if the dice don't roll seven much at all the casino guy is going to know that something's up.

#444 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:41 PM:

KeithS @#443: Yeah, but he's far more likely to suspect that the dice are somehow bad than that you are a telekinetic. If it happens a lot at the same table they'll likely shut the table down (after several dice changes), but they aren't going to decide you're a psychic unless such things are common in the universe in which you live. Which may or may not be the case here, but here "everybody knows" there's no such thing as telekinesis. Just don't try to make your retirement fund all at once and you'll be fine.

#445 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:46 PM:

That's when your friend the telepath steps on your foot to let you know the croupier (is that the right word?) is getting suspicious and that it's time to crap out. Any kind of cheating requires an awareness of when you're about to get caught.

That's not the reason I don't cheat, though. I just don't play those kinds of games, because the odds are stacked in favor of the house and if you do anything to even it up, you're "cheating" and they throw you out. For example, in blackjack you can consistently win over time if you can keep track of all the cards that have dropped. By no reasonable definition is this cheating, but if you get caught doing it they'll throw you out.

Casinos bad. Stay out, that's what I say. I figure I'll do con things at Reno in a couple of years!

#446 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:47 PM:

Also, what Carrie S. said. She smart, that one.

#447 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 02:56 PM:

I've come up with a couple of theoretical ways of changing the odds in craps. Just a little. I don't have a lot of manual dexterity, I'm not willing to practice for several hundred hours, and the standard deviation can kill ya pretty quick even if your theory is sound and the execution flawless.

For reference, the magician John Scarne claimed he could throw whatever he wanted, tossing the dice twelve feet onto dirt. Someone asked him to prove it. He grabbed the dice, threw, called "heads" in the air... and two pennies landed twelve feet away. They were heads.

#448 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 03:14 PM:

My boyfriend can reliably cause a flipped coin to end up whichever way he wants it--I've seen him demonstrate this trick maybe a hundred times (once about 20 times in a row for a skeptic) and he got it wrong precisely once.

So when we need to flip a coin, I do it. :)

#449 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 03:42 PM:

Back when I was DM-ing for my high school buddies, a couple of them were pretty good at manipulating the dice. Even d20s....

#450 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 04:21 PM:

Xopher @#445: That's when your friend the telepath steps on your foot to let you know...

Not a very good telepath, I take it? Foot-stepping, hmph.

#451 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 04:51 PM:

Well, I never had a projective telepath on the team. Receptives are much more common; besides, projectives can make easy money with other schemes.

#452 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 04:56 PM:

Xopher @ 445

People who make money at cards or dice (and don't work for casinos) do it in "friendly" private games, where there's no house edge, and you can sucker in players who don't know anything about probability. I knew a couple of guys in the Army who had their own GI bill based on knowing the odds of the various poker hands, and extracting a high fee for "teaching" that to other players.

#453 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:27 PM:

Yes, but a receptive telepath will never fall for a bluff in poker, and a projective will make the guy with the high hand fold.

#454 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:59 PM:

"Wouldn't it be simpler to demonstrate TK by moving a little balanced pointer in a vacuum jar?"

I can do that!

Okay, maybe not me...

#455 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:22 PM:

I keep expecting Jean Grey to come swooping down on us.

#456 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 09:23 PM:

Xopher @ # 451: "... projectives ... receptives ... "

Is that what they're calling pitchers and catchers these days?

#457 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 01:01 AM:

I went to the Bayou City Art Festival over the weekend, and got pictures. (Note: all photos were taken with the permission of the artist!) I'm told that this is one of the most prestigious art shows in the country, and after seeing the level of work on exhibit, I can readily believe it. Abi, there were two bookbinders, and I made sure to get pictures of both booths.

#458 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 08:48 AM:

Xopher @#451: I can no longer find the extremely creepy bit of fanfic in which I discovered the terms*, but I've seen receptive called "read-only" and projective "read-write". Which I thought was hilarious and quite apt.

*When I say extremely creepy, I mean like "Professor X is a psychopathic cult leader, Magneto works for the UN, and they have to execute Wolverine by running over him with a steamroller because shooting doesn't work" creepy. It's bad.

#459 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 09:37 AM:

It looks like the comic-book Jonah Hex is being made into a movie.

Jimmy Hayward is directing the film, whose cast also includes Josh Brolin, John Malkovich and Megan Fox. It's the story of Hex (Brolin), a scarred bounty hunter tracking a voodoo practitioner (Malkovich) who wants to raise an army of the undead to liberate the South.

Hopefully John Malkovich is better at southern accents than he is at pronouncing French names even when his character is supposed to be French.

#460 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:13 AM:

Product of the Year:

Squeez Bacon

#461 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:27 AM:

It looks like this year I can finally manage a holiday to the lovely island country of San Serriffe.

Carrie S. @ 458:

I am not a comic book person, but my understanding was that Wolverine has managed to survive worse.

Steve C. @ 460:

I'm not sure whether to be delighted or appalled. Probably both.

#462 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:33 AM:

Steve C (460): That's an April Fools joke, right? Right?

#463 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:38 AM:

Mary Aileen, with Thinkgeek, you never know. :-)

#464 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:40 AM:

Aaannnnddd...I just tried to buy some. It's a joke. Good one, though.

#465 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:42 AM:

KeithS @ 461... The movie Wolverine is easier to stop and, while bullets can't get thru his skull's adamantium, the concussion will knock him out. The comic-book Wolverine has been burned to ashes in a concentration camp and still he came back. Oh, and this is the guy who, when he was trapped underground for a long time, ate parts of himself to feed.

#466 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:45 AM:

Steve C. @ 464:

The others today are good too. Teresa would almost certainly want to keep a unicorn chaser on hand for emergencies, and I so desperately want the tauntaun sleeping bag to be real it's not even funny.

Serge @ 465:

Conservation of energy and mass never seem to apply. Or common sense, for that matter.

Mutters to self: it's only a comic book; it's only a comic book.

#467 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:48 AM:

KeithS: Wolverine's regenerative ability fluctuates wildly, based in large part on how big a Logan fanboy the current writer is. I've seen people claim he could come back from being decapitated, while others have him laid up for a few days after merely being stabbed in the gut with a tanto*.

But they all seem to agree that he needs time to regenerate, and the point of the steamroller was to inflict enough damage quickly that the regen ability would simply throw up its hands and sputter out. And since the writer sets the rules for his story, it worked. :)

*Or possibly a wakizashi; a Japanese short sword/long knife, in any case, and given that it was a ninja I'm going for tanto.

#468 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:59 AM:

KeithS @ 466... Conservation of energy and mass never seem to apply.

Well, if puny Banner can turn into a 1000-pound Jolly Green Giant, what's to prevent Logan to nibble at himself?

That being said, Hank McCoy has always been favorite mutant.

#469 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 11:01 AM:

Carrie @458: That image suggests a 'Looney Tunes/X-men' pastiche. From what you describe, Sylvester might be Wolverine, because we'd expect that he would survive getting run over by a steamroller[1][2]. Tweety could be Professor X, because of that high-domed forehead.


[1] Although Wiley Coyote would also be a good candidate.

[2] SCTV once did a skit titled Quincy - Cartoon Coroner: "What do you mean he died of natural causes! He's flatter than a pancake! This cat was run over by a steamroller!"

#470 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 11:21 AM:

I've always wondered about the mutants who just didn't qualify because their abilities were just too dull. There are probably some Heroes like that as well.

So, here are some who didn't make the cut:

VerizonMan: Able to get at least three bars

Sneezer: With the right irritant, he can blow over a house of cards 30 feet away

Drone: Makes time stand still by talking in a slow monotone

HelpDesk: Takes forever to get a hold of him, but when you do, your spreadsheet formulas will finally work

#471 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 11:32 AM:

SteveC @ 470... The Frying Nun?

#472 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 11:39 AM:

IIRC, when Wolverine was gutted by the Silver Samurai, he was also suffering from an infestation of nanobytes that inhibited his regenerative power.

Just recently he was incinerated down to his skeleton by Nitro, but got better, so you're right that his ability to recover from injury depends mainly on who's writing for him at that time.

Besides, if he can survive the Hulk ripping his legs off (he crawled over and stuck them back on, they then regenerated to full ability), they'd figure out how he could survive losing his head.

#474 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 11:58 AM:

John L@#472: No, I was talking about the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine limited series from the 80s. My copies of the originals having been sacrificed to the Moving Gods when I left California, I cannot remember whether it was Ogun or Kitty herself who stabbed him.

Anyway, the Silver Samurai is not a ninja. :)

#476 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:06 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 475 -

Some of those are hilarious.

#477 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:09 PM:

This community will probably appreciate this one better than anyone...

#478 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:12 PM:

Steve C. #470: In the collaborative Wild Cards series (edited by George R. R. Martin), normal-looking super-powered folks are called "aces", except that those with trivial or very weak powers are more usually called "deuces".

#479 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:15 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 475... TeleKinnearsis? We're getting into Mystery Men territory, and yes, I do remember that Kinnear was in that movie.

#480 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:36 PM:

#470, Steve C -

"Mutants with dull abilities" was part of the premise of Mur Lafferty's novel Playing for Keeps. The main character's power was that anything she had, she kept. (In other words, she couldn't lose or have it stolen. Discarding things was okay.)

Among the other powers in the story were the ability to carry a full bar tray and never drop it, and the ability to know and cook exactly what someone wanted at that moment, to perfection.

#481 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:39 PM:

Jeremy Preacher ##477:

Cute... Best comment from the MutaMetafilter thread:

***Ỉ DỌ NỞT RỂCṎGNịZỄ YỖỪR PỮNY DỊSẾMVỚWỀLỈNGS***

Mods, have you ever had one of those?

#482 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:47 PM:

The only deuce superpower I've been able to demonstrate is something I call Dictionary Luck, where I can take a reference work with which I am familiar, have someone ask a pertinent question covered by the topic of the book, and open the book to the page with the answer on the first try; a critical success in the attempt is when I can also call out the page number before I open the book. That can come in very handy during tabletop gaming, for example.

#483 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:50 PM:

Is the abiveld a power for Good or for Evil?

#484 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:53 PM:

David Harmon #481: ***Ỉ DỌ NỞT RỂCṎGNịZỄ YỖỪR PỮNY DỊSẾMVỚWỀLỈNGS***

The Novalis disemvoweling tool (for example) handles that without difficulty:

*** D NT RCGNZ YR PN DSMVWLNGS***
#485 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:54 PM:

R.M. 480: Among the other powers in the story...[was] the ability to know and cook exactly what someone wanted at that moment, to perfection.

You must be kidding. I would kill puppies for that power! While I probably couldn't make money with it (chefs can't get FTF with every customer) the impact on relationships alone...!

#486 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:55 PM:

re 470: I have one of those powers (and it isn't "drone").

#487 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:58 PM:

Nun Plus... This nun is very strong, but also very dumb.

#488 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 01:24 PM:

Serge @ 483:

I was going to say good, but at this point I think that the abiveld just is.

Earl Cooley III @ 484:

I made that disemvoweller barf by feeding it pointed Hebrew, but I'm not going to hold that against it.

Xopher @ 485:

I think I can find some puppies for you, if you really need them.

My superpower seems to be Google-Fu, but I haven't tested it under controlled circumstances.

#489 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 02:52 PM:

My useless superpower is "Precognitive Earworm" - I get a song stuck in my head, then in a few days, someone starts using it in a commercial. (Oh, how I long for the bygone days of jingles... Ok, I can still tell you the phone number for Jhoon Rhee Karate (USA-1000), but at least I wasn't walking around humming stupid classic rock songs all the time.)

I've got a friend whose power is "Spot Blue Heron" - actually kind of neat when we lived on the Eastern Shore, not quite so useful when he moved to New Mexico. (But if there *had* been a blue heron there, you can bet he would have spotted it. It was uncanny.)

#490 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 02:53 PM:

Jeremy @477:
Fine jesting!

Serge @483:
Is the abiveld a power for Good or for Evil?

If I type the answer into this window, there is a significant chance that the entire internet will blow up. Unless, in a last desperate move, the 'net censors my answer.

But you asked, so I will tell you. It is, as a matter of fact, a force for ↔‰ ∴♣⌋♣.

I hope that clears it up.

#491 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 03:00 PM:

My useless superpower is that I tell the type and vintage of any wine with no more than a single glance at the label.

#492 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 03:07 PM:

My superpower was limited to books in libraries: I could, without breaking a sweat, find mis-shelved, mis-labeled, and mis-placed books all by "accident". Purely at random, I would glance at a shelf and find two identically labeled books with completely different titles (oops!), or two identically titled books with completely different labels (a lesser oops!), or pull out a book at random and find it missing the card, indicating that the circulation desk thought it still in circulation and not on the shelf; or, finally, I'd randomly find a book that was completely out of place and thus totally unfindable except by accident.

All this while reshelving books in the 800 series.

Alas, I do not work in a library anymore.

#494 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 03:12 PM:

My only power is that I can find the things that my wife's own power makes her misplace.

#495 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 03:23 PM:

I used to be able to look at a printed page of text, and spot the one misspelled word on it without taking the time to read it.

Unfortunately the daemon who provided this power appears to have deserted me for someone with a better sex life.

#496 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 03:39 PM:

477: Scroll down far enough, and you get this:

"Vwl crcss n thrd ths mrnng, cnsnnts trd n brst stmch. Ths st s frd f m. hv sn ts tr fc. Th thrds r xtndd gttrs nd th gttrs r fll f snrk nd whn th drns fnlly scb vr, ll th mn wll drwn. Th ccmltd flth f ll thr mtps wll fm p bt thr wsts nd ll th thrdshttrs nd mdrtrs wll lk p nd sht "MTTLK!"... nd 'll lk dwn nd whspr "N."

Thy hd chc, ll f thm. Thy cld hv fllwd n th ftstps f gd pstrs lk my fthr r sxclrs. Dcnt pstrs wh blvd n dy's snrks fr dy's pstng. nstd thy fllwd th drppngs f crtx nd jssmyn nd ddn't rlz tht th trl ld vr prcpc ntl t ws t lt. Dn't tll m thy ddn't hv chc. Nw th whl st stnds n th brnk, strng dwn nt bldly lngbt, ll ths lbrls nd ntllctls nd smth-tlkrs... nd ll f sddn nbdy hs ny vwls.."

#497 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 03:52 PM:

My useless mutant power is to not show up in random pictures. It's not that I don't appear on film, but if someone's taking shots at a party I'm at or something, I won't be in any of them, at least not more than the "Well, I was standing there, so that must be my elbow" level. To get a picture of me you have to set out to take it.

#498 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 03:56 PM:

#497 Carie S, similarly, I've got the Fastest Blink Reflex in the West. Only a small handful of pictures have been taken where I've been foiled - in my entire adult life. (They are, of course, all posted on Facebook.)

#499 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 04:06 PM:

Jeremy Preacher @498:

Have you considered eyelid tattoos?

#500 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 04:15 PM:

#488 ::: KeithS #488: My superpower seems to be Google-Fu, but I haven't tested it under controlled circumstances.

I have; back when I did tier 3 Windows tech support, we held search engine races. Vrooomm!!!

#501 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 04:38 PM:

Abi #499 - Hmm, interesting thought. But usually my eyes aren't 100% closed - I generally end up looking massively stoned, rather than actually asleep. A good artist might be able to work something out, though...

#502 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 04:45 PM:

I just realized I do have a useless mutant power: I'm invisible to young (under 30) gay men. You can tell they don't see me, it's really funny. If I say hello to them, even ones I see every day at the gym, they can't hear me either.

#503 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 04:45 PM:

The night is the darkest before dawn.
The toilet is the fullest before the big flush.

#504 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 04:56 PM:

In honor of April Fool's Day, I posted a couple of YouTube videos at my place, including the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest (1957!), as well as a link to the classic Sports Illustrated Plimpton-authored spoof about Sidd Finch, who could throw a fastball 168mph.

#505 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 05:12 PM:

Clifton Royston @496: Thanks for pointing out the gem of that page. It's certainly harder to skim that sort of discussion.

#506 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 05:34 PM:

abi @ 499:

Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.

Xopher @ 502:

"I don't know what happened, officer. I was just sitting right here in my living room, watching TV, and when I got up I found all my stuff was gone. I didn't see or hear anyone."

#507 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 05:35 PM:

The newest april fools video:

http://aprilfools.hotelicopter.com/

#508 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 06:39 PM:

I recently watched The Starlost on DVD, and rewatched a few bits to keep up with James Nicoll's reviews. Thinking about that ship -- a complex construction of domes connected by tubes -- it occurred to me that with a few scale adjustments, if it were made from transparent plastic, it'd make a really cool hamster habitat.

And also that the show might have been much more entertaining if it had been acted out by hamsters.

#509 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 06:43 PM:

Joel Polowin @508: ...that the show might have been much more entertaining if it had been acted out by hamsters.

Tangentially related.

#510 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 06:48 PM:

I've been away, but not lost. I'll come back occasionally....

Meanwhile, a friend who wrote a song got banned from posting on MySpace because he posted a copy of it. Interesting issues on both sides -- he's clearly not a common copyright violator. And MySpace does seem to be bullying him around it.

http://www.stmedia.org/index.php/news_stories/2009/03/30/cyber_bullying_on_myspace for his side of the story.

My mutant superpower appears to be finding books.

#511 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 06:55 PM:

Serge @ 494

I have a related talent: I can find things other people have lost. Not things I've lost. My best finds were an earring someone had lost on a highly-patterned pub carpet, and a gold necklace lost in a field at a horse show (I spotted it, remembered who I'd seen wearing it and handed it to her before she even knew she'd lost it, which was fun).

#512 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 08:21 PM:

Joel @ # 508: Habitrail for Humanity?

#513 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 08:22 PM:

Tom Whitmore #510: Meanwhile, a friend who wrote a song got banned from posting on MySpace because he posted a copy of it.

Is your friend aware that Union Square Music is selling that download track on Amazon UK? Perhaps they think that they're under the impression that they have the right to do so; as far as I can tell the original vinyl appears to be for a benefit for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. One possibility is that the Amazon UK entry might be what the MySpace copyright filter matched for an automated takedown.

#514 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 08:59 PM:

Earl Cooley III #484: Cool... I guess that one's a little more sophisticated than AEIOU....

#515 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 09:21 PM:

OK, I am behind the curve in both time and tech, and I, personally, neither tweet nor Twitter.

That said, PNH's sidelight about The Guardian going to a Twitter-only format made me wonder:

When will Twitter force the evolution of the next step in poetry, a new and unique poetic form suited to modern life and electronic communications -- a form perhaps similar to the tanka or haiku, only limited by characters rather than syllables?

What will such a new form look like, what will its rules be (or, has it evolved already)?

#516 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 09:22 PM:

dcb @ 511... handed it to her before she even knew she'd lost it

That sounds like the premise for an episode of Doctor Who.

#517 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 09:42 PM:

I have the power to easily remember trivial information. Important stuff, not so much.

#518 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 11:43 PM:

pedantic peasant #515: When will Twitter force the evolution of the next step in poetry, a new and unique poetic form suited to modern life and electronic communications -- a form perhaps similar to the tanka or haiku, only limited by characters rather than syllables?

Ancient Memes

#519 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 03:26 AM:

Pedantic Peasant @515
When will Twitter force the evolution of the next step in poetry, a new and unique poetic form suited to modern life and electronic communications -- a form perhaps similar to the tanka or haiku, only limited by characters rather than syllables? What will such a new form look like, what will its rules be (or, has it evolved already)?

When it does, will it be new? Emily Dickinson seems to have been there before and now again, as she twitters on business news, space launches, and other news of the day. She sets--no, she owns-- the 150 year old standard* in fitting stanzas to tweet-lengths.

-------
* The "Emild," a measure of poetic efficiency?

#520 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 09:03 AM:

Serge @ 517, same here.

#521 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 10:34 AM:

Thirty years after its initial theatrical release, Italian space opera Starcrash is discovered by Rixo, and reviewed here. Susan appears to have survived unscathed. As for myself, I was quite scathed by the experience in 1979.

#522 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 11:03 AM:

Serge @ 521:

If she needs any more amazingly awful movies to watch, may I suggest Sinbad of the Seven Seas? It stars Lou Ferrigno and is quite laughably bad.

#523 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 11:09 AM:

KeithS @ 522... Oh, goodness. I remember seeing that one in a Lackluster video store. For some reason, I skipped, even thouigh it stars Lou Ferrigno, and is also directed by Cozzi/Coates. (It worries Rixo that I have seen most if not all of Cozzi's attempts at Cinéma.)

#524 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 11:29 AM:

Serge @ 523:

I haven't seen much of his oeuvre, but such things usually need a group to mock. It's actually available on DVD through Netflix, which is kind of frightening, really.

#525 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 12:53 PM:

KeithS @ 524... It's actually available on DVD through Netflix

...while Raintree County isn't. Go figure.

#526 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 01:06 PM:

Earl Cooley @513 == the real question is what sort of contract he signed, if any. If there's no contract with him, then I think he may have some rights to personal use of the song in any performance: but it'd be hard to figure out exactly what those rights are.

And I really doubt MySpace has examined his contracts, or that Amazon has. I certainly haven't!

#527 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 03:12 PM:

No, I didn't say that MySpace had examined his contracts, but that the automated MySpace copyright filter may regularly and automatically scan Amazon and other music download retailers for matches, resulting in takedowns. That particular music track is being sold on Amazon UK. In particular, though, it's up to us puny humans to correct computer errors when they occur. I doubt, at this point, whether he'll be able to exert any rights he might have by brunt of moral outrage alone; he may well need (shudder) representation. In any case, the rules change based on venue shopping, which is something else to watch for. IAmNotALawyer.

#528 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 04:06 PM:

A few years back a local Goodwill store had a basket of one-dollar DVDs. Brand new! In shrink wrap!

One of the titles was another Italian space opera. I don't recall the title . . . I'll look it up tonight. But to judge from the cover it featured cyborg marauders and cutesy robots and telepaths and mercenaries and such.

I bought a half dozen copies to give to friends for Christmas. Friends I know were into bad movies.

After watching it, I feel really bad about that. It was not a bad funny movie, it was a bad bad movie.

#529 ::: iain ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 04:35 PM:

Congratulations to Jim McDonald & Debra Doyle!

#530 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 10:08 PM:

re #529's link:

Y'know, I used to think I did a moderately good job of keeping up with short fiction, but the only story in that list I recognize is the Geoff Ryman.

I guess the good way to look at it is that there's a bunch of good fiction there I can look forward to reading.

#531 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 12:33 AM:

The movie I describe in #528 is Star Odyssey, starring Yanti Sommer.

#532 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 02:27 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 528

It was not a bad funny movie, it was a bad bad movie.

Thanks, now I have an earworm of Chris Isaac singing, "I made a bad, bad film."

#533 ::: Joseph S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 05:46 AM:

Carrie S. @474: It was Kitty who stabbed Wolverine, at the end of issue #3. She was using what appears to be a katana (two-handed grip), and it definitely rendered him useless for at least a day. He's walking and swimming two days later but is shown with heavy bandages. Earlier in that series he's nearly knocked out by a paralytic poison and he runs away from a fight to let it clear out.

Um. Yeah, I had to go read my copies. Thank you for getting me to de-lurk in the hope of adding something to the conversation.

#534 ::: Earl suggests an antispam strategy ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 06:21 AM:

Is it possible to fight spam thread necromancy by marking topics that haven't received a new comment in a while so that any new comment in that thread is automatically first sent into Moderation? If the comment passes moderation, that would reset the dead topic timer due to it being a valid revival of the topic.

#535 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 07:00 AM:

Is there a non-perjorative term for a country in a novel whose technology (not necessarily military) works as advertised. Tom Clancy does this a lot, of course, but IIRC Heinlein did this before WW2.

The Battle of Britain can be written up as an example of good systems design, and makes a good example of how there can be decent stories even with that advantage for the good guys.

In some ways, Nazi Germany's panzers were the same, but they're not the good guys: more Dr.Fu-Manchu with caterpillar tracks.

At the moment, I'm internally labelling the concept as the hero-country, but is there's something already used I'd rather not add confusion.

#536 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 07:31 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 531... Drat! I missed that one.

#537 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 07:34 AM:

Speaking of Wolverine... Going by a convenience store yesterday, I saw the first merchandising tie-in for the upcoming movie: a banner that advertised "Mutant Berry Slurpee".

Sure, Halle Berry is a gorgeous woman, but...

#538 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 08:37 AM:

Joseph S @#533: Thank you. Obviously my memory was even hazier than I remembered. :)

Wish I still had those. I had "Days of Future Past", too, which I lost in the same incident. But I still have all of the Age of Apocalypse!

#539 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 10:21 AM:

Carrie S @ 538... Somewhere in the house, I have "Days of Future Past", autographed by Chris Claremont. And his autograph on the "Wolverine" miniseries he had done with Frank Miller.

#540 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 10:36 AM:

Dave Bell @535, none that I can think of- perhaps we could go with "Suania"?

#542 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 10:54 AM:

Dave Bell @538 and Raphael @540

A coworker once had a phrase for overly positive memories of previous employers and projects. He would say, "Back at oh-so-peachy we used to..."

In the land of Ohsopeachy, things really do follow (dating myself with this one) the IBM Pollyanna Principle: Machines should work. People should think.

But I guess that doesn't meet the original request for a nonpejorative term.

#543 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 11:02 AM:

Serge @ 541:

That was the one thing that ThinkGeek had as part of this year's AFJ that I desperately wanted to be real. It looks as if I'm not the only one who thought that way.

I thought the tauntaun innards print on the inside of the sleeping bag was a nice touch, but a friend didn't. YMMV.

I only hope that it doesn't smell like the real thing.

#544 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 11:15 AM:

Movie recommendation: _Knowing_, the recent Nicolas Cage vehicle. While there were a couple of logical questions that really bothered me during it (although after the end made up for it, so I don't care about them now), and I don't normally like religious pandering (as if nobody has had those ideas ever when there's plenty of stories older than me exploring them), the unflinching end of the movie was truly a wonder to behold, and if you want that good ol' sensawunda, I got it here, in spades.

Well worth a viewing.

#545 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 11:23 AM:

KeithS @ 543... I only hope that it doesn't smell like the real thing.

Welllll, considering the age of the intended users...

#546 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 11:27 AM:

I'm planning to see Monsters vs Aliens. The reviews are so-so. On the other hand, one of the monsters is called Susan and the fact that it's also my wife's name has nothing to do with it. Of course not.

#547 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 11:50 AM:

Is there a non-perjorative term for a country in a novel whose technology (not necessarily military) works as advertised.

I'm going to go with "Germany".

#548 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 12:21 PM:

Can I infer that Google Mail is 5 years old? There's a Gmail-themed birthday cake with a 5 on top replacing the M in their logo today.

#549 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 12:25 PM:

Serge - if it helps, my kids really, really liked it. I haven't seen it.

#550 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 12:40 PM:

ajay @547

Is there a non-perjorative term for a country in a novel whose technology (not necessarily military) works as advertised.

I'm going to go with "Germany".

"If Allied planes ever bomb Berlin, you can call me Meyer."

And you know what Adolf Galland asked for.

#551 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 01:02 PM:

Mez@548:
Yes, here's their blog post on their birthday.

I remember how exciting it was to have four Gmail invitations to bestow! Power!

#552 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 02:27 PM:

#536: Do you want a copy? I have one still in the wrapper. Send me email with your real address to s e j at a o l dot com.

The DVD also has: An old Superman cartoon, a Rocky Jones: Space Ranger episode, a Felix the Cat cartoon, and a Three Stooges cartoon. All space-related.

All really, really bad.

#554 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 03:35 PM:

Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!

(No, I'm not just reposting it. I'm posting the story about them getting so much demand that they're trying to get it made for real. I hope the Lucasuits go for it!)

Also, my husband totally believed the Squeezy Bacon one, so thanks for the heads-up on that. (I wasn't even trying to April Fool him, but hey, bonus!)

#555 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 03:44 PM:

I'd like to see a Jar-Jar Binks sleeping bag. Because the thought of an eviscerated Jar-Jar make meesa happy!

#556 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 04:20 PM:

I didn't find out the squeezy bacon was fake until I tried to buy it.

If they make the tauntaun sleeping bag, with they include Real Tauntaun odor? Or at least a voice chip of Han Solo saying he thought they smelled bad on the outside?

#557 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 04:43 PM:

A friend of mine points out that the concept behind the Tauntaun sleeping bags could be used for kids' SBs much more conventionally. For example, you could have a sleeping bag colored inside and out to look like a watermelon or a banana. I bet lots of kids would go for those.

#558 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 05:47 PM:

Stefan, #553: In response to the same argument which prompted that reaction from Obama: They could be replaced easily by talent recruited from India, who have the same skills and will work for a lot less. As a bonus, we'd get CEOs who were much more aware of the need to stay within the bounds of the law, because they'd be here on green cards.

Note that this is just extending the tactics used by those same CEOs for the last 2 decades up to cover their own level.

#559 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 10:04 PM:

I really like Iowa right now. Most of the day, actually. Granted, at this point (post day, post margarita on an empty stomach, post rally, post dinner, all in good company), I am interpreting the possibilities of gay marriage in my fair state as, "Excellent, more cake!"
But still. More cake!

#560 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 10:50 PM:

About the "A full-service establishment" particle:
Whenever I see one of these wacky signs, my first thought is always, "Oh, something got mistranslated." However, the last few sentences really do say, "If you haven't determined your own status, please go to security for help -- They're extremely friendly."

Oh, and on a completely unrelated topic: I'm thrilled about Iowa too.

#561 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 07:37 AM:

For a number of stupid reasons (frozen shoulder and tendinitis so painful now I could scream, so sleeping is out) I have been looking at some websites tied to folks that have said or drawn less than glowing (or sparkly) things about Stephanie Meyer's writing style, or ability to plot, or the Twilight books (and don't even get me started on those folks that refer to the Twilight Saga--Forks, WA isn't large enough for a saga). It has shown me three things. Thing one, I didn't know you could use LOLcat to give long and bitter death threats. Thing two, Twain clearly died too early: I can't even imagine what the author of Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses or Christian Science would have done with four fat targets like this. Thing three, paralogia is a greater problem than I'd thought. Now, if you'll excuse me, in the immortal words of Patrick, "This is stupid. I now have stupid all over me." so I'm going to either find a collection of early Chuck Berry I can play at high volume or a really polysyllabic discussion somewhere to bleach the mental smegma I've had deposited in the crevices of my brain.

#562 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 11:45 AM:

Hey I just spotted "The Race to Witch Mountain", now playing at my local theater. Given the Disney imprint, I assume this is linked to the "Witch Mountain" movies and books I remember from middle school. Anyone here seen it yet?

#563 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 01:03 PM:

Stefan Jones @553, “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”- am I the only one who wanted to paraphrase Phineas Nigellus when reading that? (To avoid confusion, I have few rather than many disagreements with Obama.)

Reader request: Could there be a hint somewhere that email addresses used for posting here will be shown, and that posters should better use addresses where they don't mind it if the world sees them? I guess things were differently when Making Light was set up, but by now, many people see it as self-evident that when they provide their mail addressto post a comment, it will be hidden, so they might be unpleasantly surprised when they see it's not that way here.

#564 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 01:04 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II:

I've had teenage girls tell me how wonderful the books are and that I should read them too, so I looked them up. If I wanted to read a badly plotted steaming pile of misogynist logorrhea starring a blatant Mary Sue, I'd read— Actually, I don't want to read anything like that. What scares me is not only that an editor somewhere thought that it was a cut above the slush, but also that it's sold so well.

I would dearly love to know what Twain would make of the whole thing. I suspect I would hurt myself laughing.

David Harmon @ 562:

It's apparently a remake of the 1975 Disney film Escape to Witch Mountain, so take that for what it's worth.

Owing to the way the title on the bus stop poster was laid out, the only words you could make out from a distance were "Race" and "Witch". This left me to wonder what it was that a race witch does.

#565 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 01:09 PM:

Raphael @ 563:

Since I started posting here I think I've had about three spams that slipped though the spam filter. All three were from clueless types that left an easily-available and identifiable return address, as opposed to criminals who wanted to sell me authentic immitation Rolexes that would turn on the girls (or something).

Reported them to their postmasters, haven't heard anything from them since.

#566 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 02:11 PM:

Note, for the historical record, that John Norman's Gor books also sold very well (even if not on mainstream best-seller lists), and also had a significant number of fans among teenage girls.

(Once, when Hilde was helping organize and run a church book sale -- this was before the politicization of the Lutheran church drove her away -- a complete set of the Gor books was included among the donations; she had some misgivings about selling the set to a woman who wanted to buy them "for my daughter.")

#567 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 02:17 PM:

Personally?

I'd rather our President stopped standing between the finance playas and the pitchforks.

Just sayin'.

#568 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 02:37 PM:

Constance @ 567... Something like this ?

#569 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 02:53 PM:

KeithS, #564: "Spike, when I want your opinion, I'll... I'll never want your opinion."

#570 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 04:30 PM:

David@562: the Boston Globe reviewer didn't quit say that the remake was as vile an abomination as the remake of Bedazzled -- but I think that was mostly because he thought the original wasn't that great. Even if you liked the previous go-around, you may want to wait for cable/rental/...

#571 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 04:36 PM:

@568 -- I was thinking of the storming of the chateaux of the ancien régime aristos and tax farmers more specifically, but, well, whatever! It's all gude.

Love, C.

#572 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 04:45 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 566

There's a scene in an otherwise forgettable movie about three beautiful young things in a ménage à trois in the Greek islands one summer where the boy and the American girl try out some scenarios from the Gor books and end up lying on the floor giggling at the foolishness of it all. So I guess even college age kids are immune to the allure.

#573 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Constance @ 571... You mean, something along the lines of A Tale of Two Cities, done by Mel Brooks?

Count de Monet: It is said that the people are revolting.
King Louis XVI: You said it! They stink on ice!

#574 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 05:39 PM:

And, in a different direction, the shawl 'Miralda' (the same design which was giving the Yarn Harlot so much trouble) is currently pinned out and drying, and has about twice the area it did before. (I have a couple of loops in the nupps that escaped and will need to be anchored.)

#575 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 06:01 PM:

Open threadiness: Can any of you physics/chemistry folks tell me why ganache is always darker than its darkest ingredient?

For example, mix white chocolate (very light yellow), cream (very slightly off-white), and glucose syrup (clear). Color result: dark yellow.

Or bittersweet chocolate (dark brown), cream, and glucose syrup. Color: very dark brown, much darker than the dark chocolate.

Mixing them results in a fat-in-water emulsion. But why is it so dark?

#576 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 07:00 PM:

In despair of the Babel of the online tech forums, I turn to the all-knowing Fluorosphere:

I have a pair of computers -- different hardware, but both running Ubuntu Linux 8.10, and each with an internal DVD-writer: LightScribe capable, Philips logo. They are linked by Ethernet (and to the Internet, via a third computer).

Over the past few weeks (to months), these have been failing ore an more often. First it was the Lightscribe capability, where disks would come out simply blank (where there should have been label text). Sometimes trying again would work, sometimes not, but eventually it stopped working entirely on the more-used drive. Except after a while of disuse, sometimes it would work again. :-*

Well, the last week, the drive I've mostly been using started failing on actually writing DVDs, with extra-questionable behavior. In particular, the writing program K3B would actually hang on the verify, after perhaps 30 seconds of thrashing. The resulting disks could neither be mounted, nor recognized as blank media. Brasero, and the Gnome file manager's CD/DVD Writer, did no better, except that they the latter didn't crash. (Brasero seg-faulted on the verify!).

When this started, I was able to successfully burn perhaps one in three disks, and Lightscribe seems to be working again on that drive. I kept trying longer than I would have, because I was just switching to a new package of disks, and I thought the last few of the old pack might have been bad. Now it seems to be basically no sucesses....

And the "interesting" part -- the same thing happens on the other computer's drive, which has been used much less! So, it's not just the drive wearing out.... (I've burned perhaps 100-odd disks between them, mostly on the "forward", more-used, machine.)

Does anyone have any ideas what could be causing this? One idea I had was crud on the lenses (I am a smoker...). ISTR from prior days, those "CD-Drive Cleaner" pseudodisks were a useless scam -- is that still true for a DVD-writer?
(I have tried using "canned air", to no effect.)

#577 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 07:17 PM:

PS on the tech problem: The main drive also fails to write CDs, sometimes ruining them in the process. However, it plays music CDs just fine, which seems to argue against a mechanical failure.

#578 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 07:26 PM:

Xopher @ 575:

My knowledge of food science as absorbed from my grandmother who taught it for years fails to cover this arena. My wild guess is that lots of things look darker once they've absorbed water so that's what's happening here too.

David Harmon @ 576/577:

Since you've tried different CD-burning software it sounds like it's probably a hardware issue. Still, there are a couple possibilities here.

One is that there's a low-level software component that all the burning software uses that is a bit flaky (library, kernel). I know that when I was using Linux on a regular basis all the GUI CD-burning programs were wrappers around the same command-line program.

The other is that the hardware's going bad, which sounds more likely to me. The CD burner in my old machine decided it just didn't feel like working one day when I needed it a lot, but a couple months later it burned something happily. They seem to become a bit crotchety with age.

I believe that the reading and writing mechanisms of CD burners are at least somewhat separate, so one could work just fine and the other not. As well, you won't hear most single- and even sometimes multi-bit errors on an audio CD, whereas writing and verifying that you've burned a disk correctly bit-for-bit is different.

You might want to see if anyone you know has one spare you can borrow.

#579 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 08:11 PM:

Serge #568: Something like this ?

How the hell did that movie manage to stay on YouTube without being taken down months ago?

#580 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 09:01 PM:

David Harmon @ 576 ...
A quick online search suggests that you're not the only person running into issues.

The third link there has a bunch of information about what to gather as far as bugs are concerned, as well as different apps to try.

I'd be curious to hear if you have the same problems burning media if you try booting off of a livecd type distro like Knoppix which I believe is running a different kernel from yours.

#581 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 09:06 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 579... I now have this image of movie lovers storming the YouTube Castle with pitchforks and torches, demanding that it be taken down. (All that John Scalzi said about it in his book is that it's nostalgic, and an attempt to breathe new life into Universal's old monster franchises. Nostalgic isn't what I'd call it.)

#582 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 10:35 PM:

xeger: Thank You! Yes, this definitely suggests a possible software link. I will try using Xfburn as noted, and I've taken note of the bug standards. I probably won't be dealing with either of those tonight, though -- better done in the morning.

PS: What search expressions did you use for that? I'm finding that my normally-strong Google-fu seems to fail utterly when it comes to the Ubuntu support sites.

#583 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 11:16 PM:

David Harmon @ 582 ...
I'm afraid that I used a remarkably vanilla search term - ubuntu 8.10 dvd burning problem - but empathize completely with the onset of sudden search blindness :)

#584 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2009, 11:39 PM:

#558
In the software development and support business, the wages for Indian workers is up to at least, in dollars, a quarter of what workers with the same responsibilities get paid in the USA (that was a year ago, or maybe more like two, now, that I heard that figure at a panel on offshoring) and their productivity, not including the additional costs involved for dealing with language issues and time differences and cultural differences, was a sixth of workers in the USA.

It's gotten to where companies in India, subcontract work out to Eastern Europe where the pay converted to dollars, is considerably below the wages of workers in India....

#585 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 02:18 AM:

Bruce @ 572:

otherwise forgettable movie about three beautiful young things in a ménage à trois in the Greek islands one summer

That would be Summer Lovers. I have a copy on VHS that I picked up used on the theory I might watch it again more than once. Perhaps with the sound off, just to watch the BYTs.

#586 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 02:32 AM:

Crap.

Had a wonderful day hiking down the coast. Took some pictures of volcanic headlands and tidal pools and the Pacific.

And pictures, when viewed in "playback" mode or on a PC, are a mess. You can kind of make out an image, but it's mostly a mess of very pale lines.

I tried taking new pictures, in the house. The pictures get taken and stored, but are a mess. (The only thing that works perfectly is movie mode . . . go figure.)

This is a name-brand camera (Canon PowerShot A70), maybe four years old. Is there any sense getting it looked at?

#587 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 05:38 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 586 ...
Canon had a recall/replacement notice out on the CCD for a number of their digital cameras, including yours. IIRC humidity is one of the exacerbating conditions...

#588 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 05:42 AM:

This is just to say

I have stolen
the sleep
that was in
your bed

and which you
were probably
waiting
for wearily

Forgive me
it was delightful
so sweet
and so restful.

#589 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 09:18 AM:

xeger #583: I'm afraid that I used a remarkably vanillainclusive search term

FTFY ;-) I suspect I was using overly specific keywords. And I certainly wasn't thinking in terms of a general problem with Ubuntu plumbing! I really hope they get that fixed fast.

PS; Xfburn failed on an Ubuntu CD image. Segfaulted, too.

#590 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 09:45 AM:

Another food-related question...

Ultra-simple fudge recipe. Melt two cups semi-sweet chocolate chips with 14 oz condensed milk, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla over low heat. Stir in 1 cup walnuts (broken into "big and little" pieces by placing nuts in freezer bag and using roller pin). Pour into 9x9x2 cake pan. Let set in refrigerator. (Basically Nigella Lawson's fudge recipe from the Food Network's website with some minor modifications.)

Most difficult part is getting fudge out of pan after cooling. Any suggestions on how to make this easier?

(Some of the comments at the website suggested buttering the pan before pouring in the fudge.)

(Modifications to original recipe. Vanilla added based on some comments and because it seems to make sense. Walnuts replaced pistachios due to recent announcements. Salt increased somewhat because pistachios normally already salted and walnuts not.)

#591 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 09:59 AM:

I think one of my cookbooks has that same fudge recipe, and it says to line the pan with waxed paper first. Maybe I'll try it one of these days. I have not been doing things in the kitchen lately.

#592 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 10:05 AM:

Lee #558:

Thank you for calling the CEO line. If you want to ask for a raise, press one, now. If you want to complain about your boss, press two, now. For press inquiries about the latest stock-options scandal, press three, now. All other questions, stay on the line and a CEO will answer your call in the order in which it was recieved.

#593 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 11:25 AM:

Stefan @586, xeger @587, A big dislike & disappointment with digicams is short shelf life. Well-kept good brand film cameras last many decades. CCDs maybe 5 years, or X-thousand images (10-13k?). OTOH, to shoot that many images would usually take far longer on film.

Sounds like some hope for a fix here, tho'.

#594 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 11:35 AM:

Some headlines on Comcast's site...

"Man riding bar stool arrested for DUI"
"Harpoon removed from man's head"
"Alligator attacks man in his house"

Goodness. That man has had a tough week.

#595 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 11:45 AM:

#594: So, this man, drunkenly riding a bar stool, hit himself with the harpoon he had aimed at the alligator?

#596 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 11:49 AM:

Something seems to have gone wrong with the latest Particle. There are two asterisks instead of one; the second is a link to the hilarious saga of the Dog and the Sweet Potatoes.

#597 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 12:00 PM:

590/591
I've used foil on occasion. Waxed paper is probably better.

(Try adding baking chocolate and a pinch of baking soda when you're melting the chocolate. Cook's Illustrated did that and it's remarkably good fudge. IIRC, it's an ounce of baking chocolate and a quarter-teaspoon of soda per two pounds of fudge.)

#598 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Jon Meltzer @ 595... When interviewed, the alligator said "No caiman".

#599 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 12:25 PM:

Mary Aileen @596:
Thanks for the heads-up. A double quote went astray. I've rounded it up and herded it into place.

#600 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 12:56 PM:

abi @ 599... A double quote went astray.

Quite, the Raven said.

There I sat, distraught, exhausted, by my own machine accosted.
Getting up I turned away and paced across the office floor.
And then I saw a dreadful sight: a lightning bolt cut through the night.
A gasp of horror overtook me, shook me to my very core.
The lightning zapped my previous data, lost and gone forevermore.
Not even, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

#601 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 12:58 PM:

Serge @ 600... That first line should have been:

Quote, the Raven said.

Abort, Retry, Ignore?

#602 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 01:17 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 586:

Unless the problem is something reasonably simple and obvious, it will probably be better value for money to just buy a new camera. They're not really designed to be fixed, just replaced.

Serge @ 598:

What a croc.

And applause for 600/601.

#603 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 01:32 PM:

KeithS @ 602... What for? Oh goodness. I didn't cook that one up. It's been around the internet for a long time so I thought everybody would recognize it. I was obviously wrong. In case you're interested, here is the full text. It sounds even better if you think of Christopher Walken reading the original in Dead Zone.

#604 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 01:54 PM:

Serge @ 603:

I've seen lots of things around the internet, but that one is actually new to me. Thanks for the pointer.

#605 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 02:05 PM:

KeithS @ 604... I've seen lots of things

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the Shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tan Hauser Gate."

#606 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 02:20 PM:

I ended up checking, it's been so many years, but Florence Ambrose, in Freefall, was running a very familiar self-test routine.

(Go on, click on the link: reaction time is a factor.)

#607 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 02:23 PM:

And, linked off the "Dogs and Sweet Potatoes" story, I found "Dogs in Elk". My favorite part was the finale....

#608 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 02:31 PM:

Paula, #584: I was thinking more in terms of the Indian contractors who are over here on green cards; I was running into a lot of them my last few years as a programmer, and not all of them were in tech fields.

Michael I, #590: This sounds remarkably like the "easy no-bake fudge" recipe I picked up from... somewhere... back in the 1990s. I've had good results from spraying the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Oh, and if you want something more like a very rich brownie, you can add about 2 cups of chocolate cookies (I use Chocolate Teddy Grahams) that have been processed or pounded into crumbs.

Mary Aileen, #596: The Dog And Sweet Potatoes thing was all over LJ back when it was originally posted. It's pretty well tied with Dogs In Elk for the funniest dog story I've ever seen.

#609 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 02:46 PM:

abi (599): My pleasure.

Lee (608): Yeah, I'd seen it before. In fact, I have it bookmarked. I just wanted to make sure nobody else missed the wonder that is Dog and Sweet Potatoes.

#610 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 03:13 PM:

Michael I: Baking parchment, by preference, or greased foil if you haven't got parchment -- but foil makes wrinkles, which affect the bottom surface of the fudge. Wax paper, well, as long as I'm not eating any of this batch, it'll be fine. (I'm allergic to paraffin. It'd kill me.)

Now, here is the important part: cut the foil or wax paper long enough to leave extensions hanging over the edges of the pan on two sides. That way, when the fudge is cool, you can just slide a knife around the edges to loosen it, lift up on the extensions, and the whole block of fudge will lift out, and you can cut it at your leisure.

#611 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 03:53 PM:

Look what I made!

http://www.geocities.com/eriknelson2002/rooster/chickenanimation2.swf

Apropos of nothing, but this is an open thread and I feel like announcing that I feel a sense of accomplishment having made this.

#612 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 04:10 PM:

Stefan @ #586, I had a similar problem with my Canon SD110 in 2007. I took it down to the local Canon store and they shipped it off to Ohio or somewhere for a fix; the eventual result was a replacement for the SD110 with an SD600, since they couldn't easily replace the part. I think the camera was beyond warranty at the time I had the problem, but I'm not sure.

I also think the images may be stored on the memory card just fine; if you can upload them to your computer or try the card in another working camera you might be okay.

#613 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 05:04 PM:

#587: THANK YOU! This describes the situation exactly.

#602: Yeah, after looking through the ads in the Sunday paper it is apparent than any repair costing more than $20 or so would be ill advised. The closest equivalent is a far more fully-featured camera. But I think it is covered by the special program Xeger noted.

#614 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 05:31 PM:

Open thread delight:

It's finally warm enough for me to hang laundry out to dry on the drying rack in the back garden.

I'm now ironing a pair of trousers that hung out there, and the heat is bringing out all the fragrances of the day. Very pleasant indeed.

#615 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 06:41 PM:

It's not nearly warm enough to put laundry out, but it's sufficiently humid that a brief interlude with a plane has left my garments and myself easily in need of said laundering... [0]

[0] Er... apologies if that falls into TMI! It's been so dry here that the idea of anything resulting in more than a brief gesture towards moisture is utterly fascinating.

#616 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 06:50 PM:

Serge:

Thank you for your recommendation of Robin and Marian. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

#617 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 07:22 PM:

This is not sane.

In Washington state, a man shot his five children (!!!???!!!) and then himself because his wife told him she was leaving him for another man. From the AP story:

Candy Johnson, an aunt of the mother, described Harrison as a strict, controlling husband and father who didn't allow his wife to make decisions without asking him first.

"My niece has been so controlled from the time she was young," Johnson said, adding that Harrison had impregnated the mother when she was 13.

Is it just my imagination, or have there been a lot of mass shootings recently? More than usual... WTF is going on?

#618 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 07:43 PM:

Lizzy L @ #617, by my quick count from this list, 43 dead in mass killings in the US since March 10 (not necessarily including the shooter).

You are not imagining things. Even ABC News mentioned it as a lead-in to their Pittsburgh and Binghamton story last night on their evening newscast.

#619 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 07:45 PM:

Was it someone here who recommended Dorothy Gilman's The Tightrope Walker? I got it from the library, read it yesterday and loved it; I'd almost put it up with Tey's Daughter of Time in style.

#620 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 09:55 PM:

re dice: I've seen "mechanics" who can throw any number they want. If they are careful they can play for a long time before the casino excercises it's right to deny them the chance to play.

The trick to that, of course, is to throw what they want, for a while (which will be treated as a, "streak") and then let the dice revert to normal rolling.

re MySpace and copyright. I've not looked, but I don't think venue shopping is an issue, for MySpace. The ToS almost certainly name a resident jurisdiction, and insist all users accept it. Since he is the one making the complaint, and is a user, they are bound by that. What someone who isn't a user of MySpace does, is a different question altogether.

Dave Bell: I'm confused, how does the application to which the tech is put change the nature of the tech? It's not that the german equipment was inately evil, just that those who owned it put it to evil ends. After all, the folks who bombed Dresden got exactly what they expected. It was an evil end, with equipment (Lancs and B-17s) which we think fondly of today.

As for what Galland asked for, he was being pissy. I know guys who said they wanted an AK-47 in Nam. All in all, they were about the same. The Spit couldn't nose dive away. The Bf-109 had no trim tabs. What he really wanted was for the Spits to not have Chain Home, and controllers. That, and drop tanks for the 109s so they could loiter, and bomber pilots who didn't have his men chained to the bomber stream.

Most of those problems don't go away with Spitfires, and the 109 had something Spit pilots wanted... canon.

On a different note: Serge, that quotation from BladeRunner is potent stuff. You just reminded me of things I've seen which you wouldn't believe.

Not bad memories, but powerful, and strange. Tracers, no one else could see rising up in the far distance; slowly rising globs of phosphoresence in the night vision goggles. And the stars. NVGs let you see amazing stars, so many the constellations are lost.

Shooting stars never stop. Take the goggles of, and the sky is empty, and pathetic, never mind that it was an empty desert with no moon.

Another of those things which were priceless; you couldn't pay enough money to get somone to show them to you, and I wouldn't pay a nickel to do again.

That was some serious writing.

#621 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 10:08 PM:

Erik @ 611: That was cute. Now all you need is some lolchicken captions.

#622 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 11:35 PM:

RE mass shootings:

The sociopath who shot and killed three cops in Pennsylvania was concerned that Obama was going to take his guns away.

Read a piece in the paper today that a gun store was running a food drive . . . the Alpha Omega Apocalypse gun store.

There's something deeply, deeply disturbing about that.

#623 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 12:07 AM:

Clearly, my dad's shop, Bill's Guns, needs a catchier name.

#624 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 02:22 AM:

Terry Karney

you couldn't pay enough money to get somone to show them to you, and I wouldn't pay a nickel to do again.

Word. There are things I got to live through whose sights and the sounds I'll always remember with awe, but I'd never do them again.

#626 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 02:31 AM:

Bruce (StM)L Awe is a good word. It catches the good, the bad, the ugly, the wonderful and the mind-staggering, all without having to sort out which was which.

#628 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 09:30 AM:

625: like the trivia machine in the Mended Drum, which cleared up a number of open cases by asking questions like "who did the blagging at Minchin's Warehouse last week?"

#629 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 09:36 AM:

Steffan Jones @ 622 -
The sociopath who shot and killed three cops in Pennsylvania was concerned that Obama was going to take his guns away.

AFAICT, he wasn't supposed to have guns in the first place - he was dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps, which makes him an Ineligible Person. (that, and any restraining orders, etc. that resulted from the numerous civil disturbance calls that had apparently been made to his residence). Dude was a felon, just by owning those guns.

Read a piece in the paper today that a gun store was running a food drive . . . the Alpha Omega Apocalypse gun store.

There's something deeply, deeply disturbing about that.

Yah. Gun Stores around my area all have boring names - Pro-Gun Services, Creekside (now defunct), Kielon's Gunsmithing, stuff like that. Bout the most exciting from a "uhh..." position is Liberty Guns, out on 96 - and they're still pretty mundane - Gander Mountain usually has more evil black scary rifles and shotguns in stock than Liberty does.

#630 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 09:42 AM:

After a day of computer programming, which was followed by a day of gardening, I popped in the first DVD of Brisco County Jr. It had been a long time since I'd seen the show, and it's even more silly than I remember, with Bad Guys planning to stop a train by putting a huge boulder across the tracks, and disguising its presence by painting on it what the tracks would look like if the big rock weren't there. In the same Wile E Coyote spirit, Brisco later catches a train with a rocket sled.

#631 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 10:00 AM:

Terry Karney @ 620 -
Not bad memories, but powerful, and strange. Tracers, no one else could see rising up in the far distance; slowly rising globs of phosphoresence in the night vision goggles. And the stars. NVGs let you see amazing stars, so many the constellations are lost.

Shooting stars never stop. Take the goggles of, and the sky is empty, and pathetic, never mind that it was an empty desert with no moon.

(sigh)

You are Not Helping me resist the temptation to pick up a night vision monocle, you know.... :-)
(not so much your direct experiences, but the idea of being able to scope out the night sky like that is Really Tempting).

#632 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 10:10 AM:

Terry Karney @ 620... My own sky memories aren't as awesome, but I remember the first time I saw the Milky Way. I was on a fishing trip way out in the wilderness. Night came. I looked up.

My first con had organized trips to a nearby old-style observatory. It was late October. It was cold inside the dome. Then I looked thru the telescope. There was a double star.

I was at a party given by friends one summer. Stars were shooting acrss the sky. One exploded and spread across the darkness like frost across a window pane during winter.

#633 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 10:17 AM:

Linkmeister @619 I don't know if someone mentioned The Tightrope Walker here or not, but it's one of my favorites. Life-affirming, if that's not too saccharine a phrase.

#634 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 10:42 AM:

Speaking of stars, I'm going to be getting my astronomy on in a couple of weeks at the Texas Star Party, with over 500 astro-geeks under some of the darkest skies in the nation. Last year was my first time there, and it was spectacular. The odds are probably against getting all those marvelously clear nights I had last year (6 out of 7), but me and my Celestron and binoculars should still have a fine old time.

#635 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 10:49 AM:

Another astronomical memory is an event organized by the Planetary Society at the outdoor theater on top of the Bay Area's Mount Tam the year that Shoemaker-Levy crashed into Jupiter. After the event, we went to the parking lot where amateur astronomers would let you peer thru their telescopes.

Saturn is awesome.

#636 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 12:03 PM:

Hee hee.

I was watching the latest episode of Supernatural and almost choked on a french fry when our intrepid heroes, Sam and Dean, discover not only that they are fictional characters, but that there is Sam/Dean slashfic. "Don't they know we're brothers?" Dean says plaintively.

#637 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 12:07 PM:

Bruce, that's a hoot! I love that.

Of course, the ACTORS aren't brothers, but RPS is creepier, IMO.

#638 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 01:19 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @561: How exceedingly coincidental: Coworker A just stopped by the cube of Coworker B to see how B like the copy of Twilight that was loaned. B comments glowingly. "Read all weekend; almost finished."

I relayed Patrick's comment. A says, "This person has obviously never been a teenage female." I confirmed that this was the case. (To the best of my knowledge.)

#639 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 02:20 PM:

Wacky-yet-awesome things for your keyring, part MLXVII: Emergency Tracheotomy kit.

#640 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 02:34 PM:

Have y'all heard (apart from Darwinorama 2009), this is the International Year of Astronomy? It being the 400th anniversary of Galileo turning his telescope skywards.

There may be some special events in your area.

Serge, the Shoemaker-Levy/Jupiter encounter was a pretty special night's viewing. Sydney Observatory arranges good things for special astronomical events, whether Transits of Venus, Martian landings, Saturnine fly-bys, IYA2009, &c.

#641 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 02:51 PM:

Epacris @ 640... Seeing Shoemaker-Levy happening would have definitely been a special night's viewing. Regarding the first time I saw the Milky Way, you know that someone isn't an SF fan when he/she is perplexed by your excitement. You know, the so-what? shrug...

#642 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 03:11 PM:

Serge @ 641: And you do have APOD bookmarked on your computer, yes?

#643 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 03:40 PM:

Ginger @ 642... Ooooooooooooh...

#644 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Lizzy L. @617, I really don't like saying this, but I wonder wether mass shootings themselves might contribute to more mass shootings. For someone who's been a kind of walking ticking bomb for a while, hearing that there's been another mass shooting might well be the thing that finally makes him decide to go on a killing spree himself. And generally, there might well be more mass shootings in the world than there would be if for some reason noone would no that mass shootings exist.

#645 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 04:41 PM:

Jacque # 638, I was a teenage female for 7 years, and I would likewise quote that comment of Patrick's about Twilight. It's possible I might have liked it at age 13; I don't know. I tried to read it about a month ago and just found that I did not care about any of the characters at all.

OTOH it did get my younger cousin to actually carry books around with her and read obsessively. She's always been a reluctant reader and rarely reads for pleasure -- I think Harry Potter was the other series she's actually read for pleasure. I will therefore never say a word against it in her presence.

#646 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 04:53 PM:

Serge @ 643 (and anyone else who likes stars): I really should have pointed to their main page, but I knew you'd like that one.

#647 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 04:56 PM:

My wife and I watched the Twilight movie over the weekend, and my reaction was that it's a bit like Dirty Dancing; basically, it's p0rn for girls.

#648 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 04:57 PM:

Ginger @ 646... I think I'll be adding a few new images to my computer's collection of wallpapers.

#649 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 05:10 PM:

I've never seen Twilight, nor do I have any interest in changing that state of affairs. And its creators may never have been teenage girls. But... Should it be dismissed as p*rn for girls? Should anything be dismissed, on the ground that we're not its target audience, or because it doesn't feel a need in us? We're F/SF fans, after all. Some of us remember when the genre got no respect. (Time for my Rodney Dangerfield impresonation?)

#650 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 05:10 PM:

I've never seen Twilight, nor do I have any interest in changing that state of affairs. And its creators may never have been teenage girls. But... Should it be dismissed as p*rn for girls? Should anything be dismissed, on the ground that we're not its target audience, or because it doesn't feel a need in us? We're F/SF fans, after all. Some of us remember when the genre got no respect. (Time for my Rodney Dangerfield impersonation?)

#651 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 05:43 PM:

Serge: The twin questions to ask in such cases are: What virtues does it have? and conversely, what liabilities does it have? (On both sides: artistic, social, or other....)

I haven't seen the movie or read the books, but IIRC, Slacktivist's dissection indicates that it abuses both of it's genres (vampire fic and romance), carries some fairly disturbing subtexts, and isn't very well written to begin with.

While I'm not sure I'd class Dirty Dancing as "porn for girls", I've certainly seen stuff I'd classify as, say, "gadget porn", "food porn", or even "nature porn" -- stuff that invites you to drool over images or imagery of a given sort, without actually being useful or significant. (And sometimes actively misleading....)

Some of us remember when the genre got no respect.

As in "You're all just jealous of my jetpack"? Seriously, we have no problem savaging an SF/F work that we think is schlock or worse... why should we give a pass to this one just because it's supposed to be for teenage girls? Especially when there's so much good stuff out there which appeals to teenage girls, and which doesn't make everyone else gag?

#652 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 05:57 PM:

#639: Wacky-yet-awesome things for your keyring, part MLXVII: Emergency Tracheotomy kit.

How to you carry the Ambu bag and the oxygen cylinder on your key ring?

#653 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 05:58 PM:

#639: Wacky-yet-awesome things for your keyring, part MLXVII: Emergency Tracheotomy kit.

How do you carry the Ambu bag and the oxygen cylinder on your key ring?

#654 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 06:07 PM:

David Harmon @ 651... Of course we have no problem savaging an SF/F work that we think is schlock or worse. After all, it is our genre, the one that is intended for us, and if a work betrays what we want from it, we should not give it a free pass. But if it is not a genre that is intended for us, are we qualified to judge its virtues, or to tell its readers what virtues they should demand from it?

#655 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 06:19 PM:

Serge @ 654 -

I don't have a problem making a judgement about a work from a genre that isn't my preferred one -- genre or not, it still should aspire to basic storytelling competence. I may not be its intended audience, but I'm still an audience.

#656 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 06:21 PM:

Serge: (1) Some virtues are pretty basic to literature in general, (2) the author's use of "vampires" suggests a claim (at least) to be venturing into "our" genres, and (3) It's not like "books for teen girls" is some exotic specialty, which can only be grasped by the initiates.

In fact, that targeting means that at least the parents of the books'/movie's potential audience should certainly be looking at what the series is telling their kids!

#657 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 06:27 PM:

Serge @ 654:

Yes, depending on the particular virtues.

I'm not about to get bent out of shape for something that just doesn't float my boat; different horses for different courses and all that.

At the same time, I think I'm perfectly justified in trashing Left Behind for bad theology, bad writing, and bad attitude. I think I'm right to be concerned about what seems to be industrial-strength misogyny in Twilight, a book popular with teenage girls. The fact that the excerpts I've read from it are pretty dire is just icing on the cake.

This isn't exactly a spaceships are cool/spaceships are stupid discussion. Nor is it a dismissal of a work because it's for girls. If I'm ever dismissive of something purely on those grounds, please shoot me.

#658 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 08:21 PM:

I have this feeling that I didn't express quite clearly what I had meant to say. My apologies for that, and for any offense I may have given. I'll just drop it, if that's ok with you.

#659 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 08:48 PM:

Serge @ 658:

By the string of replies right after yours it looks like a pile-on. I certainly didn't intend it to be that way. I am not offended at all by what you wrote, and I'd hate for you to drop the discussion because you think you did.

#660 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 09:38 PM:

Likewise, I didn't mean to pile-on. I understand your impulse toward charity... I merely fail to share it in this case.

#661 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 09:46 PM:

What Keith and David said.

#662 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 09:46 PM:

What Keith and David said.

#663 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 10:03 PM:

Raphael@644: that's certainly possible -- the Pittsburgher reportedly said that it was every man for himself because the police wouldn't be able to keep order.

Terry@620: You must have seen someone sharper than the teaching pros written up in a recent Harper's; their main technique was just "don't throw sevens" (to avoid losing their point), but the overall results with money on the line were barely better than chance.

And is everybody being butterfingered today, or is the software hiccuping? There are a statistically-improbable number of double posts in the last few hours.

#664 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 10:14 PM:

CCHHiipp @@ 666633::

WWhhaatt ddoouubbllee ppoossttss??

#665 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 10:54 PM:

Don't worry, guys. I might have eventually found the right words to explain things better. I could have tried using more words too. Brevity and concision can be virtues, but not always.

#666 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 11:06 PM:

I just finished watching "Socrates' Sister", the 2nd episode of Brisco County Jr, wherein I made the discovery that it is a source of amusement for a woman to be called Iphigenia. I rather like it, myself.

#667 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 11:17 PM:

Serge @ 666 ...
Like a lamb to the slaughter, I feel obliged to ask what's so funny about Iphigenia -- surely there's some devilment about your post!

#668 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 11:17 PM:

Serge @ 666 ...
Like a lamb to the slaughter, I feel obliged to ask what's so funny about Iphigenia -- surely there's some devilment about your post!

#669 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 11:35 PM:

There's something weird going on with the posts, all right. I also noticed that when I load a Making Light page, I have to refresh to see the latest posts, and that was never needed before.

And when my posts show up twice, that makes each word in them only half as valuable as before. I suspect that Wall Street investment firms are trying some sort of Fonzie* scheme.


*aaayyyyyyyy

#670 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2009, 11:42 PM:

I liked Twilight when I was reading it. Any time my brain got the slightest bit away from the story, I was boggled, eventually aghast. It's wish fulfillment, and the problem I have with it is not so much the story itself as the environment that makes the story ideal and the reinforcement the story gives to that environment.

On astronomy, though multiple people have pointed it out to me, I've never actually seen the Milky Way. It took me a good long while to pick out the Big Dipper, too.

#671 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 12:29 AM:

My niece read and loved Twilight; she and her sister saw the movie.

I'm glad she's reading . . . but my mother and I are trying to sneak her a set of Pullman's "His Dark Materials."

#672 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 01:08 AM:

More Iowa goodness:

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal will not co-sponsor legislation aimed at rescinding gay marriage rights, thereby blocking the legislation. The video made me tear up.

#673 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 01:30 AM:

xeger @ 667 and 668... surely there's some devilment about your post!

That must be why yours came out twice. Heheheh... As for 'Iphigenia', I don't know what's funny about the name either. I thought that maybe I don't see it because English isn't my native language and, the name, while quite quaint in French, has some romantic connotations to it. Also, I have come to liking quaint names in my old age, which is why my youngest nephew is called Theodore.

Of course, learning about American reaction to first names from Brisco is about as fraught with peril as learning from it about Science and about the West.

#674 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 01:53 AM:

I skimmed through Twilight in a bookstore. It seems like contemporary b/o/r/i/n/g teen romance which happened to have vampires in it, to me.

I had no urge to continue reading, to go to the next book, or to see the movie.

#675 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 02:24 AM:

Diatryma @ 670

I've never actually seen the Milky Way

You have to go farther and farther away from urban areas to see it all the time. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and even owned a small telescope as a kid, but never saw the Milky Way until I was 17, and travelling around the backroads of Michigan. There were places in PA I could have seen it on a clear night, but those places, a clear night, and I never got together.

Now, though, you have to go farther, and it's best to get some altitude too. The last time I got a good look at it was in the hills just north of the Columbia River, about 100 miles east of Portland, on a very clear summer night. When you have good seeing and a whole night to watch, you can see the sky swing around as the earth rotates.

Serge is lucky, he's got altitude to start with, and more all around him. And winter nights up there are very clear.

#676 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 04:50 AM:

The APOD has a feed on LiveJournal; you can add it to your friends and then whenever there's a new one, a thumbnail + link will show up on your friends page. (Used to be the full-size picture did, but that changed a while back; I don't know why.)

#677 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 07:23 AM:

Raphael #644 I really don't like saying this, but I wonder wether mass shootings themselves might contribute to more mass shootings.

I'm pretty sure that they do in fact... certainly I've heard a fair bit about "copycat" shootings.

#678 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 07:36 AM:

I finally found a copy of Mike Ford's The Dragon Waiting last Saturday (yey!) - in a French bookstore of all places - and have just started reading it. Dimitrios's mother is named Iphigenia. I have yet to discover if this will be a source of amusement.

#679 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 08:50 AM:

564: Owing to the way the title on the bus stop poster was laid out, the only words you could make out from a distance were "Race" and "Witch". This left me to wonder what it was that a race witch does.

White magic, of course.

#680 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 09:37 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 675...

I've got attitude?
("No, Serge. Altitude.")
Oh.
Nevermind.

I live a few hundred feet above the mile-high point of Albuquerque, the latter being at the corner of Lomas Blvd and Juan Tabo. I can't see the stars any better here than elsewhere, because of urban light pollution, but it is true that I wouldn't have to drive that far to be able to see the Sky River.

#681 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 09:41 AM:

Pendrift @ 678... But did Dimitrios's mother Iphigenia also have a brother called Socrates?

#682 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 09:43 AM:

ajay #679 Er, no, it would be magic of colour, surely.

#683 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 10:08 AM:

Well, well, well... Actor Kal Penn, of the "Kumar" movies (and who got squashed as a result of Lex Luthor's latest real-estate scheme), last seen on House, is going to be working at the White House.

“I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House. I got to know the President and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there, so I’m going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison. They do outreach with the American public and with different organizations. They’re basically the front door of the White House. They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House. It’s similar to what I was doing on the campaign.”
#684 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 10:20 AM:

David #677:

Robert Cialdi's book Influence discusses this, pointing out some disturbing data w.r.t. not only mass shootings, but also plane crashes that appear to have been "take them all with me" suicides. (I gather this is much more common in small planes, where you're taking your wife/mother/lover/annoying business partner/boss with you, rather than a whole planeload of strangers. But I think it also happens with whole planeloads of strangers sometimes.)

This is one of those places where my libertarian instincts w.r.t. freedom of speech (and gnu control, for that matter) run up against places where there might be substantial good done by somehow damping down the repetitive "BREAKING NEWS" 24 hour coverage of every mass shooting incident. (Note that only some mass shootings are nationwide front-page news; if you just shoot your ex-wife and three kids, it's a local tragedy, but you're not interestingly weird enough to make national news.)

IMPORTANT TIP ON MASS SHOOTING ETIQUETTE: If you are driven to commit several murders and end with a suicide, the only proper way to do this is to start with the suicide.

#685 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 11:25 AM:

Jacque:

I relayed Patrick's comment. A says, "This person has obviously never been a teenage female." I confirmed that this was the case. (To the best of my knowledge.)

That's true in my case. Probably true in Patrick's as well.

And I think I could almost deal with the mindset here, but it sounds like your coworkers have drifted into here. The former is bad writing that might show up in any genre (and it somehow reminds me of the folks that tried to push the Narnia books on me to convert me to whatever mutant version of Christianity they were members of), the latter is something much more disturbing.

And, of course, my sister-in-law is a major fan of the books. Why does this not surprise me...

#686 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 11:31 AM:

Sentence reduced for Muntadhar al-Zeidi (remember him, he's the one who threw the shoe at Bush). Yay for the good guys! I hope they don't find some excuse to keep him behind bars; the article says that with credit for good behavior he could be freed within five months.

#687 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 11:59 AM:

Yeah Vermont! The Vermont House just voted to override their Governor's veto of the legislation establishing same-sex marriage. It's legal now in 4 states. Whoo-hoo!

#688 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 12:02 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @685: Ew. Um. Ew. See also: ew. (It's probably fortunate that I don't know the coworkers nearly well enough to pass on those links.)

Well, I was once a teenage female, and even so, the whole vampire trip utterly eludes me. Had Interview with a Vampire pressed upon me, complete with palpitations and breathless flutters. I think I got through one chapter before I set it down and never picked it up again.

Tried Dark Shadows, gave up after two weeks when the serial structure became clear. (And looking back, I was in the most vulnerable age-range, even.)

So: I Don't Get It. I think I'm missing a gene or something. Add in the layer of sadistic mysogyny and...whew!

Fortunately, I seem to have pretty good trailer-fu, so the ads for Twilight just sort of bounced without even attracting my attention. Vampire movies in general annoy me because they have just enough of the spec-fic (sorry, Harlan) flavor to ping my radar, but then the vampiric element becomes clear. It's like being offered a lovely meal comprised of food to which one is violently allergic.

#689 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 12:19 PM:

#683: Kumar's character in House (who was abruptly killed off last night) "enjoyed science fiction and was a frequent participant in the Clarion Science Fiction Workshops", according to the Fox website here.

(link from Nick Mamatas)

#690 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 12:19 PM:

Bug alert: I clicked on "Teresa's recent comments posted to Boing Boing" in More What and got "Forbidden
You don't have permission to access /cgi-bin/mt/plugins/Profile/profile.cgi on this server.
"

#691 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 12:24 PM:

What does it say about me if, while packing up my study, I rub my hands with glee at the thought of my Tube of Gloom (complete with backscratching fingers) bleating loudly and piteously as a result of getting jounced around by the movers?

#692 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 12:27 PM:

Jacque @ #688: Hear, hear. As far as I can tell, only Steven Brust has ever managed to write a good vampire novel (Agyar). But then, he has a gift for making the reader sympathize with very unsympathetic characters.

#693 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 12:43 PM:

Jacque, that bug is in Boing Boing, which is currently undergoing extensive system upgrades and is currently frelled to hezmana.

#694 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 01:10 PM:

Aaaaaand the honeymoon's over. The Obama Administration has added yet another cracked theory to justify illegal wiretaps to the steaming pile of them left by the Bush Administration. BoingBoing's writeup.

#695 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 01:11 PM:

Lizzy L:

Although this is slower and less spectacular, I think we're witnessing a moment rather like the fall of the Berlin Wall; the whole world is going to be very different in 10-15 years when this falls out.

Sometimes, it's easy to get freaked out by the rate of technological change in our society. And yet, I sometimes think the social change is even bigger, and probably even harder to swallow, at times.

Imagine trying to convince some farmer in Vermont in 1959 that fifty years from that day, there would be a black president and gay couples would be getting married. (Similarly, as I've pointed out before, if you wrote a real-life story involving my office in the 1950s, with accurate description of the racial and gender balance of my coworkers, it would be taken as some kind of radical statement about racial and gender equality.)

We're all living in an SF story now. Or perhaps in the Crazy Years.

#696 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 01:23 PM:

Lizzy L @ 687... Every time I hear about Vermont and homosexuals, I think of the movie White Christmas. There is a scene early in the movie where Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby (both of them Democrats) are trying to think of a way to drum up some business for their old commanding officer's inn. Kaye suggests a novelty act: something with a Democrat in it. Crosby mutters that the Democrat would probably wind up being run out of town on a rail.

Just goes to show.
Things CAN change for the better.

#697 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 01:39 PM:

Xopher:

I suppose those broad, immune from legal challenge surveillance powers come in handy from time to time....

#698 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 01:53 PM:

Xopher @ 575: Can any of you physics/chemistry folks tell me why ganache is always darker than its darkest ingredient?

I can think of a couple of possibilities.

One is that the emulsion results in more scattering of light through the components, rather than rapid reflection or absorption. This might lead to stronger optical effects.

Another is that coloured compounds are initially primarily fat-soluble but contained in a water-based medium, or vice versa. This would result in small pigment-rich particles dispersed in a relatively non-coloured medium, which wouldn't absorb light very well overall. The emulsion allows the pigmented components to disperse more evenly through the mixture, leading to stronger absorption of light. (For example, consider a small amount of powdered dye, soluble in alcohol but not in water, in a container with water. Only light that strikes one of the particles is absorbed; the liquid looks almost clear. Now add some alcohol; some of the dye dissolves, and the solution becomes intensely coloured.)

Just speculating, here.

#699 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 02:13 PM:

Xopher @575:
Can any of you physics/chemistry folks tell me why ganache is always darker than its darkest ingredient?

Well, I'm not a physics or a chemistry folk.

I am, however, a tester. I wish you could find a way to get me some of your ganache so I could test it. Given a sufficient quantity, I am sure I could research the matter in detail and come up with some hypotheses.

#700 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 02:28 PM:

La ganache de Xopher a un tel panache qu'on s'en amourache.

#701 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 02:39 PM:

Serge @ 700 -

La ganache de Xopher a un tel panache qu'on s'en amourache

Oh, oh, let me translate.

The gan aches from Xopher and tell his pancakes on lovepain.

#702 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 02:43 PM:

Joel, thanks! That makes a lot of sense.

abi, while I realize you are (mostly) kidding, I would like to state that I have not forgotten my promise to send you some chocolates. A series of unfortunate events in my life has prevented me from making any chocolates since the batch I brought to Worldcon. When my hip is all better I will get a melt going.

Then I have to solve the shipping problem. Chocolates are fragile, and while people didn't seem to care in Denver, I was horrified by how beat-up they were by the time I opened the box. I can't afford to have shipping boxes made to fit my chocolates exactly, as the commercial companies do; Elise explained to me that they need to be in something form-fitting, and that makes sense, but I haven't figured out how to accomplish that.

#703 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 02:46 PM:

O Container of All Knowledge, O Fandom As Represented Here, a question:

How is it that there are two organizations originally founded to be the female equivalent of Boy Scouts?

Wikipedia tells me that the Camp Fire Girls were kindled in Vermont in 1910, while the Girl Scouts of America started in 1912 in Georgia (though the Girl Guides began two years earlier in England).

I see that by 1915 there was confusion (pdf) in the press between the two organizations.

So why and how have they remained separate? Are there class, religious, or cultural differences? Why was I a Brownie in Palo Alto, California, but a Bluebird when we moved to Piedmont?

#704 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 03:00 PM:

Steve C @ 701... I think your Universal Translator needs some tweaking otherwise you'll be starting an interstellar diplomatic incident. Unless it's the Klingons or the Evil Universe's Starfleet you're trying to get interested in lovepain pancakes.

A more accurate (if not as entertaining) translation is:

Xopher's ganache have such panache that one will become infatuated with them.

#705 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 03:01 PM:

Serge @ 700:

Xopher's ganache has such panache that one falls in love with it?

Xopher @ 702:

A block of foam rubber and a sharp knife to carve out little holes might work.

#706 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 03:05 PM:

Perhaps comforted and emboldened by the Obama Administration's newly demonstrated penchant for information oppression, the Associated Press reveals that it has not learned any significant lessons from it's previous errors.

#707 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Serge @ 704 -

That's what I get for buying a gray-market Universal Translator on eBay. It also explains why the Vulcan lady used that nerve pinch on me. T'p_owww!

#708 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 03:10 PM:

Argle, bargle, dribble, burble!! "Its" "its" "its", a thousand times "its"....

Is there a name for the horror one feels upon realizing that there is a typo in a message during the scant seconds after one has clicked the Post Button?! If ML ever switches software (due to being tired of doubled posts or other annoyances) I hope that we will gain the ability to edit (within reason) our own posts.

#709 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 03:26 PM:

Xopher, I do happen to be both a materials science type and a foodie-type. In lieu of samples, could you maybe send me a recipe to play with? I think Joel Polowin (#698) is on the right track, though.

#711 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 03:58 PM:

#710: And I neglected to add: Severe bummer. I only met Arneson once and he seemed like a nice guy. I'm sorry he kind of got the short end of the D&D fame stick.

#712 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 04:06 PM:

abi @ 703 - If I'm remembering right, Camp Fire Girls was started to be the sister organization of the Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts was independent and modeled on the Girl Guides. Camp Fire has been co-ed for the last 30-few years, which is a pretty big difference from Boy or Girl scouts. (My husband was in Camp Fire. I was a Girl Scout but still had to go to stupid Boy Scout camps with my cousins. Yes, I'm still bitter. Ew, ick, boys.)

#713 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 04:13 PM:

Fringe is back on for a few more episodes, starting tonight.

#714 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 04:16 PM:

albatross @695: We're all living in an SF story now. Or perhaps in the Crazy Years.

I'm just praying it's not The Year of the Jackpot.

#715 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 04:18 PM:

Xopher @702:

I'd rather have your hip better than all the chocolates you could send me. My mother just had her knee replaced* and has been telling me how great it is. I believe her, too, having seen how much the joint pain was eating into her life.

I know how to make boxes to keep what I do from being damaged; I wish I knew more about ones to protect your products!

-----
* the physio tells her bicycling is the perfect therapy, so her next trip here is, um, medical. Right.

#716 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 04:38 PM:

Paula, #674: You're not the target audience -- you're an adult woman. What's troubling is, so are the co-workers and mothers who are being so complimentary about it.

Which is not to say that adults should never enjoy YA fiction; I have a fair amount of it in my library. What I don't have is badly-written YA fiction.

Jacque, #688: I adored Dark Shadows, but apparently sometime between then and now I became resistant to the concept of vampires as sexy. I liked BTVS, but the only thing that made either Buffy/Angel or Buffy/Spike palatable was that they kept having huge problems. Anne Rice and Laurel K. Hamilton are both Right Out. Still, I don't mind vampires as characters as long as they aren't featured romantic protagonists.

albatross, #695: I'm highly suspicious of the "living in the Crazy Years" meme because of the unspoken assumptions that go along with it. It was rather more plausible before the last election (or rather, before the Republican candidate list self-destructed) because for a couple of years there it did start to look as though we were headed for a religious-wacko coup d'état. But we have clearly taken several large steps back from that precipice over the last 6 months.

"Living in an SF story" now, that's an entirely different statement, and one with which I largely agree.

Xopher, #702: Perhaps you should look at the problem from the other end -- get the box, and then make your chocolates to fit. I suggest cardboard jewelry boxes as potentially-appropriate containers, being of similar size and shape to the average box of chocolates. If there's still too much wiggle room, you could try filling in the spaces with bits of bubble wrap.

And honestly, you will always be more horrified by the visual imperfections of your chocolates than will any of the fortunate recipients, who will be far more interested in the flavor!

Earl, #708: Yes, there is; it's called the ohnosecond.

#717 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 04:56 PM:

Here's an article from the Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society about the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Camp Fire Girls, and some of the relations between them.

We haven't been closely involved with any of those groups, so I can't vouch for the article's reliablity. It doesn't say much about the historic Camp Fire philosophy, but it seems fairly clear at least that the groups had different ideas about who should control them.

Where I live, Girl Scouts are pretty thick on the ground, but Camp Fire groups seem harder to find. (The Camp Fire website lists only two councils in all of Pennsylvania, the closest being about an hour's drive from where we are in Philadelphia).

There continue to be a number of scout-like youth groups in the US. Here's one annotated list compiled by a Boy Scout troop in Colorado. Many of the groups are religiously-based; and each seems to have its own ideas about what characteristics to emphasize in their programs.

#718 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 06:20 PM:

abi 715: I'd rather have your hip better than all the chocolates you could send me.

Thank you. But you know, my hip will get better AND you'll get some chocolates, so I'd call that a win-win.

Lee 716: Currently I'm leaning toward the idea of a grid made of closed-cell foam. Just haven't found a place to buy said foam yet.

#719 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 06:43 PM:

Jaque @#688: I think I'm missing a gene or something.

No, no, you're not missing a gene... you're missing a genre! :-)

Lee #716: I wouldn't breathe too easily about that coup... the neocons are showing no signs of "going gently into that good night" -- or even of conceding that they might, possibly, have done something wrong. And having failed at their "legal" coup attempt, they still might try something more direct.

#720 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 06:54 PM:

There's something that Obama could do that would utterly infuriate the NRA, and give the hayseeds having fantasies about a Second American Revolution something to think about.

He could address the nation and suggest that everyone who voted for him buy a rifle (and a trigger lock), take a safety course, and sign up to join a well regulated militia should the need arise.

#721 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 07:02 PM:

Xopher @ 718:

Stores that sell upholstery fabric tend to stock foam too.

#722 ::: Tae Kim ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 07:06 PM:

Stefan Jones @ #720 - Why would people buying rifles and taking safety courses infuriate the NRA? That would increase the number of lawful gun owners, and potential NRA members.

#723 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 07:23 PM:

Xopher @ 702

How about using spray epoxy foam, like the stuff used for wall insulation? The only problem I see is that it does get a little warm when it sets; maybe there's a slower setting version that doesn't heat up as much.

#724 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 07:28 PM:

The Girl Scouts have always been fairly adamant about the fact that they are not the "ladies' auxiliary" of the Boy Scouts of America, thankyouverymuch. They're also considerably less socially-conservative than the BSA, as befits an organization that was meant from the beginning to foster independence and self-reliance in its members.

#725 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 07:31 PM:

#722: Because the NRA has through the years become less about rifles and safety courses and more about very specific flavor of political activism. (Best summed up by bumper stickers reading "My President is Charlton Heston!" As in: "The fact that I'm an NRA member means more to me than the fact that I'm a U.S. citizen.")

If millions of Damn Yankees and Californicators suddenly bought rifles and God forbid joined the NRA . . .

#726 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 07:34 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 723:

If that's the stuff I'm thinking of, it expands a lot and turns hard. It might work, but it would be hard to make a decent grid, and would probably expand to cover the chocolates if you tried to work it around them. It probably also isn't the healthiest thing to eat.

#727 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 07:46 PM:

Xopher @ 702

In fact, a foam product designed specifically for packaging sounded like such a good idea that I was sure someone had already developed it. I was right (google for "instapak quick foam bag"), but I hadn't realized it would be an industrial product; they're only sold in cases of 30 bags, at $8 and up per bag depending on size. Not sure you want to lay out $250 or so for packaging.

#728 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 07:55 PM:

re 703: I can tell you that the YMCA organizations, which used to be the Indian Guides/Maidens/Princesses/Braves but are now all lumped together into Adventure Guides, were specifically set up as parent-child activities. They started out in the late 1920s.

#729 ::: Tae Kim ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 08:17 PM:

#725 - I'd wager that the NRA has almost always had a strong political bent, recent Moses as President notwithstanding. Again, Obama asking people to go out and buy rifles and take safety courses would probably make LaPierre and the NRA shiver with glee.

#730 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 08:35 PM:

Lila at 692, have you tried Barbara Hambly's vampire novels? You might enjoy them.

#731 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 08:36 PM:

Xopher, re: packing: I'd use alternating layers of foam: sheets of the same thickness as your chocolates, with cylindrical holes punched or cut through, separated by thin sheets with no holes. The separator sheets could be replaced with bubble wrap.

If your chocolates are flat-bottomed, you might get away with packing them in pairs, with the flat surfaces together, if they're otherwise packed so they can't rattle against each other. Last time I brought some of those googly-eyed macaroons to a convention, I packed them base-to-base with the pairs wrapped in squares of paper towel, inside a reasonably sturdy plastic tub.

Or, for that matter, just lay out a row of them on one end of a piece of bubble wrap, separated with bits of tissue or paper towel, and roll them up.

#732 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 08:38 PM:

It's funny how many people come to a screaming halt when you finish their declaration of "the right to bear arms" with "as a part of a well regulated militia"...

#733 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 09:13 PM:

Cleolinda of "Movies in Fifteen Minutes" fame has done Twilight in 15 Minutes. (My favorite line from the review: "CARLISLE: Bella, I'm so sorry...your father's weird friend was killed by a feral plot point.")

#734 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 09:33 PM:

xger @ 732... Speaking of bears, do you think that Booboo was an enabler of Yogi's thieving tendencies?

#736 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 09:43 PM:

Debra @#733: That quote had me not just snickering, but guffawing!

Tae Kim @#722: Oh, the NRA as a group might be happy... but the Republicans would be livid!

I see I misspelled Jacque's name above, sorry!

I would totally love to see editable comments. Naturally there should be some time limit (say 30 minutes) to avoid abuse. (Yes, then it wouldn't have helped me this time. Even so.)

Come to think of it, another useful feature would be "reply" links that just stuff "Name #msgnum:" (from that comment) into the comment box. Given how lengthy comments can get here, it probably shouldn't auto-blockquote the whole comment. ;-)

#737 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 09:55 PM:

Serge @ 734 ...
xger @ 732...

I'm hoping this isn't a suggestion that I be sent to the outer darkness, found by strange superior aliens, welded back together into some implausibly single-minded god-like object, and sent back to my creators...[0]

Speaking of bears, do you think that Booboo was an enabler of Yogi's thieving tendencies?

I think it would be unbearable to dwell too long on that thought...

[0] Yes, a bad reference to this

#738 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 10:26 PM:

Tae Kim, #722: But they wouldn't be ideologically correct gun owners! And I'll bet only a small proportion of them would in fact be interested in joining the NRA, who they would perceive similarly as "not our kind of people".

Stefan, #725: What if they didn't join the NRA, for the reasons you and I both gave, but instead formed a competing organization? Wouldn't that just put the cat among the pigeons...

#739 ::: Tae Kim ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 10:37 PM:

I have a feeling that any time you have someone legally purchasing a firearm that they might otherwise not have, gun owner's groups score a victory.

Even if you never join a gun rights group, if you can discern the difference between a so-called 'assault rifle' and a semi-automatic hunting rifle as nothing more than pistol grip and a black plastic stock, then gun rights groups win again.

#740 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 10:42 PM:

Bruce 723: How about using spray epoxy foam, like the stuff used for wall insulation? The only problem I see is that it does get a little warm when it sets; maybe there's a slower setting version that doesn't heat up as much.

It comes with warnings like "use in a well-ventilated area." Chocolates are gas-permeable to a limited extent. I did the math and said uh-uh.

Joel 731: Can you think of a good way to cut or punch cylindrical holes, about an inch and a half in diameter, into foam rubber sheets? I don't know if there's a tool for that, do you?

About the plastic tub idea...if I were hand-carrying these, I'd have no problem. But I need to ship them (partly because I'm not planning to go to, say, the Netherlands any time soon, and partly because I can't carry them on a plane—the Transportation Suppression Assholes would confiscate them); that takes drastically more protective packing.

#741 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 11:13 PM:

Xopher @ 740: I've seen "cork borers" in chem labs, but not that big. The basic idea is a metal tube which has had its end sharpened to a cutting edge -- you'd put a wooden board under the foam, press the sharp end of the tube into the foam, and whack the other end with a mallet. This punches out a cylinder of foam, which gets pushed up the centre of the punch.

The closest thing that I can think of to something like this in the size you're looking for is a dowel/plug cutter. I have some doubts about how cleanly they'd cut soft foam if one was used as a rotary tool, but they might be sharp enough to work as cylindrical punches.

#742 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 11:16 PM:

A friend and officemate of mine said that she had been shocked to find that the tending-liberal group of people in our department-- generally socially liberal, some vote conservatively for other reasons-- is so gun-happy. We range from Army-trained through hunting through a black-powder guy to me, raised with the idea that guns are Toys That Will Kill You (looking for something to defend yourself? Gun is the wrong choice, because it is a toy: not for defense. Looking for something fun to mess with at a party? Gun is the wrong choice, because it will kill you, you idiot.)

#743 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 11:19 PM:

Xopher @ 740:

Hmmmm. Use an apple corer, and make smaller truffles to fit the holes?

#744 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 11:47 PM:

They make leather and metal punches in 1.5" sizes -- but I'd be more inclined to sharpen a cookie cutter or a tin can.

#745 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 11:48 PM:

Serge: Oh, the night skies in Iraq were part of that, "Million dollar experience". The milky way was impossible to ignore. Virgo looked to be part of scorpio (I didn't realise she wasn't. Scorpio filled the sky, with her as the stinging tail, dragging the horizon as it ladled the Milky Way). Orion pointing to Gemini and the Pleiades (the sign under which both Maia and I were born, and the home of the start named for the Nymph [mother of Cupid] for whom she was named. You could navigate the ground by their light.

Xopher: Can you use a commercial mold (such as TJs sells belgian truffles in, the one's shaped like shells) to make them, and then just pack them securely? I'd use finely shredded paper. 1: it form fits,and can be used to fill small gaps, if the box is tight, and 2: It will insulate some.

#746 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 11:59 PM:

#710, #711: Or maybe not:

D&D Co-Creator David Arneson not dead.

But still very ill.

#747 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 12:02 AM:

What about rectangular strips of foam sheet, cut with notches so they interlock crosswise like the cardboard separators in cases of wine/liquor bottles?

#748 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 12:03 AM:

While I don't want to get a huge flap going.

1: If a lot of liberal gun owners (Myself included) were to join the NRA, and get active, we could change it. It would be hard, but it could be done.

2: There is not really any "functional" difference between an "assault rifle" and a "sporting" rifle. The differences defined by the various gov't entities are pretty much cosmetic, as it's a collection of traits which does it, and the functional abilities can be had, even when all the bells and whistles aren't present.

3: What that comma means, and how to define, "well regulated" is a tricky bit of business. The Feds will say the National Guard counts, even though the Feds get to define who joins, how many, what they do, and how they are traine/equiped.

4: The last substantive decision by the Supreme Court on that issue was that military weapons were allowed, and those weapons which had no military purpose could be banned.

So... Under Miller v. Texas assault rifles are legit, bolt action sporters are iffy, and .22 single shots are bannable.

Personally I am always croggled to encounter the mythical associations (for and against) guns. The guys who think having them will keep the hordes at bay, and the people who can't handle them because of the miasma of evil they posess. For me, they've always been just things. Useful in some circumstances, not useful in others, and a liabilty in some others.

#749 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 12:28 AM:

#695 Albatross

You should have picked some state other than Vermont or outside of New England.... I don;t think that any of the New England states had skin color segregration as rule/law going back to at least before the 19th century turned into the 20th, and maybe not ever.... The small city I grew up in, someone was being impolite to a darkskinned woman in the early 1960s because of her skin color. Someone else asked the offensive person, "That woman's family have been citizens in this community since the 1600s. When did your ancestory arrive here?!"

Serge #696
Back then the Vermont Republicans were old style, Lincoln's Party, Republicans--the sort the Republican Party at the national level repudiated over the past 30 years, the sort of Republican that Senator Jefford had been bred, born, and raised as, and said as when he stood up and announced his disaffiliation, "I didn't leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me."

#750 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 01:07 AM:

Lee @ 738

What if they didn't join the NRA, for the reasons you and I both gave, but instead formed a competing organization? Wouldn't that just put the cat among the pigeons...

We could call it the American Rifle League, and every fall the two organizations could have competitions to see which had the better gun clubs (which is what a gun becomes when it's out of ammunition). And there could be marketing campaigns to make gun use the National Pastime. I bet our team would look great in brown uniforms with Sam Browne belts.

#751 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 01:15 AM:

Bruce (StM) Hee, for the win.

#752 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 02:47 AM:

Abi@whatever number: The difference between Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Kids (yes, it's "Kids" here, with mixed troops) where I live is that the local GSA is pretty explicitly Christian, while the local CFK are painstakingly not-affiliated-with-anybody. Aside from that they're very similar; they even share an office/meeting house.

#753 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 03:13 AM:

Xopher: It looks like you've already ruled out the expanding foam approach for chocolate packaging. In case you consider it again, I wanted to mention that the foam I've seen used in shipping gets very hot as it expands and hardens.

I've bought truffles through the mail from a friend-of-a-friend who has a small chocolates business. She puts them into a box with interlocking cardstock dividers, nestled in crumpled tissue paper, and they arrive through the mail looking fine. I suspect they start out pretty cold. You could include ice packs around the box, inside a larger package, to keep them firm.

On the apparent darkening of ganache question: For dark chocolate ganache, I think it's the change in the surface texture — it's not actually darker. I'm definitely going to do some squinting the next time I make ganache! Could the heat cause some carmelizing? Enough to slightly darken white chocolate ganache?

#754 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 04:46 AM:

Terry Karney @ 745... I had a suspicion that your earlier comment about not wanting to repeat the experience had to do with that.

#755 ::: S'Urge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 04:51 AM:

xger @ 737... I'm hoping this isn't a suggestion that I be sent to the outer darkness, found by strange superior aliens, welded back together into some implausibly single-minded god-like object

...who's unable to tell the difference between being scanned and being attacked, and such a slob that, if it had scrubbed its original body at least once, it would have figured out what its real name was?

#756 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 04:53 AM:

xeger @ 737... it would be unbearable

'Ours' it is not to ask.

#757 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 05:01 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 749... "I didn't leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me."

Jeffords said that?
Wow.
As for the GOP being the Party of Lincoln... I wonder which party Honest Abe would join today if he came back. I haven't enough knowledge of his politics to know. Of course, his looks wouldn't play well on TV. He could always become a wrestler then get into politics.

#758 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 05:38 AM:

janetl @ 753... foam approach for chocolate packaging

Xopher could use quantum foam.

"How did the chocolate go from that box to your mouth without crossing the space in between?"

#759 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 05:38 AM:

janetl @ 753... foam approach for chocolate packaging

Xopher could use quantum foam.

"How did the chocolate go from that box to your mouth without crossing the space in between?"
"It's that good."

#760 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 05:55 AM:

699: I wish you could find a way to get me some of your ganache so I could test it. Given a sufficient quantity, I am sure I could research the matter in detail and come up with some hypotheses.

So the idea is to get a sample of this ganache, which Xopher admits already has Mysterious Properties Unknown To Food Science, and put it within the abiveld?
(egon voice) Guys? I think that would be extraordinarily dangerous.

#761 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 09:30 AM:

Steffan Jones @ 720 -
There's something that Obama could do that would utterly infuriate the NRA...

It would?

huh. News to me. (long-time NRA member, gun club member, shoot at least once a week, introduced half-a-dozen folks to shooting in last couple of years, and probably four more next week).

More shooters means fewer people going "gunsrbad, mmkay?" when the topic comes up - whether they are NRA members or not. More shooters means that gun clubs aren't as likely to face near-continual attempts to shut them down. More shooters means that when someone carrying concealed accidentally prints while getting out of their car (or carries openly while stopping in the grocery on the way out hunting), they're less likely to have to deal with hurriedly called security and/or police. More shooters means that people are less likely to be fired for simply talking about shooting while at work.

The only thing that might infuriate current NRA members about more gun owners is that it would (short term, at least) get harder to find ammunition and firearms to buy...

...oh, wait, that's already happening. DPMS (one of the Evil Black Rifle manufacturers) was, last I checked (a couple of weeks ago) 100,000 rifles deep in pre-orders - and had been unable to make a dent in that number for almost a month - as fast as they get them out the door, new orders come in. They've already made as many rifles as they normally make in a *year*.

Ammunition is just as bad - not only are guns stores having problems keeping ammo on the shelves, even Big Box retailers like Wal*Mart are having problems keeping in stock on popular calibers.

I know shooters who have cut back on their competition shoots, because they can't afford match-grade ammunition in the amounts needed for shoots (60-100 rounds for CMP - with match grade running as much as .75-1.00 per round, and .50/round being a good deal), and the cheap stuff (cheap at .40/round, typically - I was overjoyed to find some good .223 ammo at .30/round at the last local gun show) hurts accuracy enough to make it non-feasible for actual competition.

#762 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 10:44 AM:

Xopher @ 740:

I think that xeger at 744 has the right idea. Get yourself a 1.5" metal biscuit cutter if you want to go the foam route.

#763 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 10:48 AM:

761: the spike in gun orders is at least in part due to "he'll take our guns!" paranoia among the camouflaged classes...

#764 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 10:56 AM:

Joel 741: The basic idea is a metal tube which has had its end sharpened to a cutting edge
xeger 744: I'd be more inclined to sharpen a cookie cutter or a tin can.

I am Teh Duh. I have those, minus the sharp edge. They're used for cutting jelly candies prior to dipping. I wonder if they'd cut the foam as they are? If not, I could probably sharpen them (I keep them in a metal box and they aren't exactly suitable toddler toys anyway, so that wouldn't really make them a problem).

glinda 743: Use an apple corer, and make smaller truffles to fit the holes?

Smaller...truffles. You want me to make my truffles...smaller? I'm sorry; obviously you couldn't have meant something so obviously absurd (as the lack of outcry from those who were at that party at Denvention shows). I apologize for misinterpreting you. Could you explain what you actually did mean?

Terry 745: Wow. On the stars, wow. That sounds amazing.

On the commercial molds...unfortunately I'm quite attached to the shapes I've been using, especially for the ginger ones.

Joel 747: What about rectangular strips of foam sheet, cut with notches so they interlock crosswise like the cardboard separators in cases of wine/liquor bottles?

That's kind of my fallback solution. I'm not sure I can cut foam that cleanly, and there's the tedium issue. But then teenagers always need money, don't they? <evil grin>

janetl 753: In case you consider [the expanding foam approach] again, I wanted to mention that the foam I've seen used in shipping gets very hot as it expands and hardens.

I actually have a solution to that problem: I could use my candy molds (condomed with plastic wrap) to make a positive out of Sculpey or a similar product, then use the hard positive to make the foam negative, which would then be the right size and shape. The trouble with THAT is that the expanding foams I've seen all dry to a VERY hard consistency, and what I want to end up with is a foam-rubber kind of hardness...padding, not boarding. And I'm still worried about the chemicals from the foam leaching into the candy...I doubt expanding foam is considered food-safe!

I've bought truffles through the mail from a friend-of-a-friend who has a small chocolates business. She puts them into a box with interlocking cardstock dividers, nestled in crumpled tissue paper, and they arrive through the mail looking fine.

Hmm. I could do that. After my experience shipping to Denver I was looking for something a little more protective, but if that works, it's the simplest solution yet.

For dark chocolate ganache, I think it's the change in the surface texture — it's not actually darker.

Hmm. Maybe, but I don't think so. Melted chocolate is lighter than solid, not darker. And remember we're adding cream to it.

Could the heat cause some carmelizing? Enough to slightly darken white chocolate ganache?

Nah. Carmelization takes a loooong time (dulce de leche takes four hours of boiling) and white chocolate would break (separate) long before you could get any carmelization. Something else is going on there.

ajay 760: So the idea is to get a sample of this ganache, which Xopher admits already has Mysterious Properties Unknown To Food Science, and put it within the abiveld?

I think the ideal would be for 100% of each batch of ganache to be destructively tested by the end-users, don't you? I'll keep abi away when I'm making single-step ball truffles though...I haven't mastered that, and I don't want another batch of truffails.

KeithS 762: Ayup. See above.

#765 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 11:27 AM:

Xopher @ 764:

Does a truffail taste awfail, or does it just look frightfail?

#766 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 11:47 AM:

Ajay @ 763 -
761: the spike in gun orders is at least in part due to "he'll take our guns!" paranoia among the camouflaged classes...

Partially. There's a number of reasons why gun purchases have increased so dramatically (so much that the BATFE has run out of NICS 4473 forms at least once in the last four months or so) - a process that had actually begun before Barack Obama was elected, but certainly did ramp up into a fever-pitch after the election.

Part of it is "get it while you can", with the assumption that if another AWB is passed, the weapons will be grandfathered in (which is most likely the case - the SCOTUS really dislikes ex post facto law).

This impacts not just pre-existing gun owners, but new ones as well - gun store owners I've been conversing with have pretty much universally stated that a majority of their business increase has been new gun owners, or folks who might have a pistol in the house, or an old shotgun that dad left them, but haven't really been "gun owners" until now (some of whom are dropping thousands of dollars on multiple rifles, shotguns, and pistols at once).

(and this includes not just the "camouflaged classes" - perfectly reasonable (well, by my standards, anyways) folks have been operating under the assumption that the Obama administration will actually try to do what they say they're going to do in their election platform - which includes a new AWB).

Part of it is investment opportunities (hey, guns are going up in value - buy some now!) This, again, includes not just current gun owners, but new ones as well, although it's mostly current gun owners (like the bloke I know who has about twenty unfinished AR-15 lower receivers in a box that he bought right at the beginning of the craze - and has seen his ~$2000 investment at least double in the last couple of months, were he to sell them as unfinished lowers).

Note that there is some logic to this position - new-in-box firearms rarely go down in value, long term (you used to be able to pick up a semi-auto AK-47 for about $200 (maybe $250 inflation-adjusted) - now they are sometimes retailing for $600 or more, but that's a ripoff).

Part of it is economic uncertainty combined with a bit of post-millennial FUD - some folks are figuring they might want to have a SHTF rifle or two in the house, and a couple of thousand rounds of ammo each... just in case. Again, this is hitting both current and new gun owners.

Part of it is increasing awareness of the shooting sports.

And... are you paranoid if it really does look like they are out to get you? Obama's record on guns is (as a gun owner) pretty abysmal - this is unsurprising, given his political background (Chicago is one of the most profoundly anti-gun cities in the country - Berkeley isn't as anti-gun as Chicago). His SecState and AG are both anti-gun as well.

There have been noises from the White House and Congress that folks are not actually interested in pursuing major gun control initiatives at this time - but a new, permanent AWB is still on the various policy agendas on websites, and the rebukes of Holder and Clinton when they've spoken up about gun control have been lukewarm.

I get the feeling that gun control simply isn't a priority for Pres. Obama personally (one way or the other) - but it absolutely is for some members of his administration, and for members of the House and Senate (though not as many as some in the "camouflaged class" believe).

And I'm not at all certain that, if Carolyn McCarthy or one of the other rabidly anti-gun types in the House or Senate slid a rider into a bill that he believed he absolutely needed passed, that he would veto it because of the rider - despite the damage it might do in the next election.

#767 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 12:00 PM:

"I'm sure Agent Dunham knows what a penis looks like."
- Walter, crazy scientist, to his son chiding him for not wearing any underwear under his bathrobe, in last night's episode of Fringe.

#768 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 01:11 PM:

Scott, #761: Re gun/ammo shortages -- much of that is happening because of the likes of Limbaugh continually pumping out the Big Lie that "Obama is going to TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY!!1!111!" Which means that a lot of it is going to exactly the kinds of people whose ownership of guns worries me the most: gullible, emotionally hair-triggered, and heavily influenced by hate radio.

#769 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 01:42 PM:

Xopher -- Taking glinda's idea a bit farther, what about a pineapple corer, or something like that?

#770 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 01:54 PM:

Anyone else hear the NPR interview with the gun shop owner blithering about why his sales are up? Bank takeovers! Socialism! Giving money to people who don't work so hard!

I should invent a panty-unbuncher. I'd get rich off of these people.

#771 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 02:07 PM:

Lee @716: Jacque, #688: I adored Dark Shadows, but apparently sometime between then and now I became resistant to the concept of vampires as sexy. I liked BTVS, but the only thing that made either Buffy/Angel or Buffy/Spike palatable was that they kept having huge problems.

I, too, was paradoxically a Buffy fan. Angel always bored me to tears, though, mainly because the actor was so painfully mis-cast. He was clearly meant to be Dark and Brooding, and mostly came off as whiney and vapid. IMnsHO. He's far more effective in his current role on Bones.

Spike, on the other hand, I got a huge kick out of. The thing I enjoyed most about his relationship with Buffy was that they were both so utterly sqwicked by the whole concept.

Also, be alerted all: the link to ohnosecond provoked my computer into a whole flurry of "anti"-spam hysterics. I use quotes, because to my uneducated eye, it looked to me like the the scan had a different imprint than the software we have installed. In any event, I think that site is Highly Suspect.

David Harmon @736: I see I misspelled Jacque's name above, sorry.

Not to worry. I have been Miss Pelled literally from the very beginning: there is an erasure on my birth certificate where my dad had to go back the next day and get the "c" inserted. Exceedingly well done: you have to look very closely to see it. Particularly impressive, as this was back in the days when such things were done with typewriters. And typewriter erasers.

#772 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 02:09 PM:

Lee @ 768 -
Scott, #761: Re gun/ammo shortages -- much of that is happening because of the likes of Limbaugh continually pumping out the Big Lie that "Obama is going to TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY!!1!111!" Which means that a lot of it is going to exactly the kinds of people whose ownership of guns worries me the most: gullible, emotionally hair-triggered, and heavily influenced by hate radio.

umm....

No. Not really. Honest. Most of the folks that I know have bought guns (as first-time or near-first time owners) in the last six months (or are planning to near-future) range from the vaguely libertarian to the somewhat progressive (but not gun control advocates) in political outlook.

Most are younger (late 20s - early/mid 30s), vaguely urban/suburban, and the only reason they would listen to Limbaugh, Beck, or the like would be to laugh or marvel at the stupid.

Look, there are people pumping the "ZOMG Gun Controlz!" message. No doubt about it, and a lot of it is going on on message boards and forums (and even some surprising ones - democraticunderground, for example). Yeah, you've got freepers and wannabe-Operators berking out and scooping up the most lo-pro "optimal combat" profile guns they can get their hands on, along with hundreds (in some cases) of magazines, and thousands (tens of thousands, in some cases) of rounds of ammo.

But, really, they aren't the majority of gun buyers. Not even close - there just isn't enough money in those demographics to cover the massive numbers of firearms that are being sold (firearm sales in large retail outlets - which accounts for only one leg of the firearm retail industry are up 39% so far this year). We're talking literally about probably hundreds - of millions of dollars in gun sales alone - and likely the same again in accessories and even more in ammunition sales, so far*.

The crazy (by Liberal/Progressive, if not DSM IV, standards) whackjobs for the most part already have guns - they might be buying another couple, or a bunch of ammunition, but they aren't - for the most part - single-handedly trying to overwhelm the entire gun and ammunition manufacturing industry - there just aren't enough of them, and most of them just don't have that much money.

A lot of the purchasing is being done by Joe and Jane Democrat, and Sam and Sandy Republican. Ordinary folks, who, for various reasons and combinations of reasons, have decided they need a gun. Some of it is "panic" buying - but given the rhetoric promulgated by some (many?) gun control advocates - it is really that surprising?

*(DPMS, if they sell only their currently listed pre-orders - not counting the guns they've already sold this year, or any future sales for the year, just their current pre-orders - at an average cost of around $1200 per rifle, will clear 120 million dollars in gross revenue this year - not counting non-gun sales)

#773 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 02:31 PM:

On packing foam for chocolates: It seems likely there's a fatal flaw in this idea or it'd have been offered but: what about that hard-meringue they make those mint candies out of around Xmas?

You could go either way: your Sculpey-positive idea, or make it in blocks that could then be carved/whittled to the appropriate shape.

You could even get really silly and color/flavor the meringue and voila! Edible packing foam! (I could be persuaded to beta-test a prototype....)

#774 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 03:00 PM:

Bill O'Really is upset with the newspaper. One of its columnists, one Roger Ebert, has been properlyu chastened:

Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers on your "Hall of Shame." To be in an O'Reilly Hall of Fame would be a cruel blow to any newspaper. It would place us in the favor of a man who turns red and starts screaming when anyone disagrees with him. My grade-school teacher, wise Sister Nathan, would have called in your parents and recommended counseling with Father Hogben.

Yes, the Sun-Times is liberal, having recently endorsed our first Democrat for President since LBJ. We were founded by Marshall Field one week before Pearl Harbor to provide a liberal voice in Chicago to counter the Tribune, which opposed an American war against Hitler. I'm sure you would have sided with the Trib at the time.

What's that Law again about arguments that bring up Adolf Schickelgruber?

#775 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 03:00 PM:

To second the stuff that Scott has been saying, right now the only gun owner I know personally here (or know that I know) describes himself as a "two-fisted pistol-packing liberal". His long-time SO, one of my best friends, who also shoots their pistols at the range has a major role in the ACLU here. (I'm not being more specific because I haven't asked their permission to use them as an example here.)

I've thought seriously about buying a gun or guns and practicing shooting, and the potential for further restrictive gun laws would indeed increase my likelihood of doing so. The primary reasons I don't own one are 1) kid in the house and I don't want to add any potential hazards, however careful I might try to be about keeping them locked up, and 2) my wife is seriously freaked by the whole idea of guns - one of those who are opposed to guns on reflex - and obviously I wouldn't enjoy freaking her out.

#776 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 05:11 PM:

So I'm doing my taxes.

I've dowloaded and printed the forms from the IRS website. I've carefully filled them out (hugely simple—enter my Dutch income as foreign earned income, note that it's excluded, and put a bunch of zeroes on a bunch of lines).

I'm about to sign the 1040, declaring under penalty of perjury that the return is true, correct and complete to the best of my knowledge. But then I notice that the PDF says, at the bottom, Printed on recycled paper.

Oh no! My printer paper is only 81% recycled! Is that enough? Can I still sign the form? Is it a mitigating factor that the remaining fibers are from sustainable forests?

#777 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 05:13 PM:

Lila@692: I second Lizzy's recommendation of Hambly; Those Who Hunt the Night and Traveling with the Dead certainly don't gloss over the essential evil of vampires, but even some of the worst are sympathetic.

Earl@708: the classic term for comebacks realized just too late l'esprit d'escalier; would that do here?

packing the NRA might stop it from making threatening noises against proposals to ban assault rifles, ultra-penetrating bullets, etc.; the wingnuts would probably split and establish the "Real NRA", but the damage would be done. The problem is getting enough people to hold their noses and pay dues. (I know someone who did -- but that was because it was the only way to get into a local range where she could shoot her crossbow.) This assumes (contra Tae Kim and maybe Scott Taylor) that ownership is not a reqt for membership; I don't have the stomach to poke through their website to find out.

Lee@716: in RAH's chronology, the Crazy Years were a century or more before the theocracy.

xopher, re chocolate transport:
* if you're thinking of a grid instead of precise forms like commercial candy boxes, and willing to accept the relative rigidity of closed-cell foam, Foamcore (tm?) (cf Joel@747) may be easier to handle and is available at good art-supply / design stores (Charrette in this area, but they don't have stores in NJ -- maybe NYC?). * Per Lee, I can imagine a very effective grid made out of foam rubber (which is sometimes sold independently as well as by upholsterers), but it might get gooey after one use and is certainly less sanitary. With paper it might be clean enough. wrt cutting -- the punching suggestions might work with hard foam, but not soft. Consider a grid and find a store that's not too busy to cut lots of fiddly little pieces (they use something like a knife-bladed saber saw that is very effective), then glue the pieces together (there should be \some/ glue that doesn't outgas toxins), or just half-slash and interleave slices.

mfjgates@752: It's interesting that your GSA are explicitly Xian, given the link above that says they were generally more tolerant (specifically wrt homosexuality) than the BSA. Local variation, maybe.

#778 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 05:31 PM:

Jacque, #771: I had exactly the same problem with Angel, which is the main reason I didn't follow when they gave him his own show. Spike was definitely in the category of "fun to hang out with, but don't even THINK about getting involved". (Which, BTW, was Marsters' take on him as well -- he was appalled by the number of women who appeared to consider Spike a desirable romantic partner.)

And I agreed heartily with you about Boreanaz being better cast as Booth ("Angel minus the damn angst" was how I was wont to describe it) until they retconned the whole show this season and turned it into a Wacky Romantic Comedy set in a forensics lab. Feh. Now I'm watching NUMB3RS instead.

Open Threadiness: LiveJournal has a semi-tradition called Rabbit Hole Day, when people (well, those who want to) write posts with a certain amount of reality-warp to them. I have a friend who's a vet, who is also a pretty decent vignette writer, and her Rabbit Hole posts are absolutely charming -- sort of "James Herriot meets Alice in Wonderland". I've been encouraging her to collect them for submission, and she's finally gotten around to doing so. Is there anyone here who would be willing to (1) take a look at them with a more professional eye than mine and tell her if there's any chance of an acceptance, and/or (2) suggest a market(s) for said submission?

#779 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 05:35 PM:

Abi @ 776... I gave up on doing our own taxes years ago. I spend one weekend going thru my wife's writing expenses, then I pass on the results and everything else to our tax consultant. Who called one hour ago. Who said that we're getting a big refund. Enough to buy a new stove/oven. Hourra.

#780 ::: dajt ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 05:36 PM:

CHip: Back when I was a NRA member, lo those many years ago, owning, or even having fired a gun were not prerequisites for membership. I've never done either. But things may have changed in the intervening decades.

#781 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 05:56 PM:

CHip #777: the classic term for comebacks realized just too late l'esprit d'escalier; would that do here?

I first heard of "l'esprit d'escalier" by reading Little Brother, but actually, I think that Lee@716 nailed what I was looking for with the ohnosecond.

#782 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 06:00 PM:

Has AAA been deterred fron its autos uber alles political lobbying by the presumably large number of members who wouldn't agree with all those stances? I haven't noticed any such trend, but perhaps I've missed something. Would a political shift be any more likely to work with the NRA than with AAA?

(And yes, I'm a AAA member. No one else has the same range of travel discounts combined with a widespread road-service network, and for now those outweigh the things I don't like so much about AAA.)

#783 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 06:19 PM:

abi:

This is just to say

I have printed
the form
that was on
the website

and which
you were thinking
would be
recycled

Forgive me
it was imperfect:
One fifth
is not old!

#784 ::: Tae Kim ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 06:28 PM:

Firearms ownership is not a requirement for NRA membership. The NRA is mild compared to the GOA.

#785 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 08:13 PM:

Xopher re: packing chocolate.
How about that "egg crate foam" stuff? Two layers, facing each other so they "nest". Then, chop out alternating "peaks" to make open spaces for the chocolates. Wrap each chocolate individually in something that won't stick to it, thus protecting it from the foam, stick the chocolates in the foam, interleave the two halves and fit the now rectangular solid into a box. Should work well, methinks. Only problem I know of: the green foam they sell at fabric stores has a (an?) horrendous stink to it. You may need to go shopping and take a whiff here and there, find the least-stinky stuff, and then aggressively aerate it, or something.

Then, of course, you could also use actual egg cartons, sealed in a plastic baggie and wrapped in bubble-wrap.

As for refrigeration, you'd have to talk to the shipping people of choice to find out what is and isn't allowed/preferred for keeping things cold in transit. I'd say dry ice, but who knows what the response to a "smoking" box would be. No Name Steaks seem to come with re-freezeable packs, those might work but you'll have to guard against condensation damage.

If you have chocolate shapes that don't fit the above methods, try spraying "Great Stuff" or similar expanding foam stuff (as mentioned by several people above, Great Stuff just happens to be the brand I see most often on regular store shelves)into sealable plastic baggies, using your idea of casting Sculpey or similar "fake chocolates" as forms. It may take some experimentation to get the correct quantity to avoid "bag go boom, foam go everywhere" but you'll end up with nice form-fitted pieces with the stink probably well sealed away - I can't smell rotten food through a plastic baggie. If you do the forming in a smaller box than you intend to ship in, you can surround that hard foam with bubble-wrap or similar for a "floating island" effect.

If you can get oven-safe plastic bags, you could try the meringue idea that Jacque @#773 mentioned, but in bags: "bake your own edible form-fitted packing foam". Or get a cotton-candy machine...

Engineering + food = yummy fun!

#786 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 10:27 PM:

Xopher @718: Currently I'm leaning toward the idea of a grid made of closed-cell foam.

Would cold oatmeal work?

#787 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 11:12 PM:

Xopher @ 764:

Smaller...truffles. You want me to make my truffles...smaller? I'm sorry; obviously you couldn't have meant something so obviously absurd (as the lack of outcry from those who were at that party at Denvention shows). I apologize for misinterpreting you. Could you explain what you actually did mean?

That will teach me to post that late, and medicated. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

#788 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2009, 11:59 PM:

Things that annoy me #98363: People* who assume that, because I don't have a gun, I must want to take away everyone else's guns.

*Not "You People", of course. Mostly fundraising letters for advocacy groups who swapped mailing lists with one of the liberal causes I contribute to.

#789 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 12:02 AM:

Scott Taylor @ 766: ...investment opportunities (hey, guns are going up in value - buy some now!) This, again, includes not just current gun owners, but new ones as well...

And we just saw how well that eventually worked out with houses.

#790 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:44 AM:

789: you're worried about subprimemachineguns?

Part of it is economic uncertainty combined with a bit of post-millennial FUD - some folks are figuring they might want to have a SHTF rifle or two in the house, and a couple of thousand rounds of ammo each... just in case.

...well, I'm sure there are things that "perfectly normal" Brits do that would be considered just as strange by Americans, so I shouldn't rush to judgement.

No, actually, I should. It is NOT perfectly normal to be planning for a situation that would require you to have a rifle and two thousand rounds of ammo in the house. What on earth are they expecting, the Night of the Living Dead? Rorke's Drift? The Somme? Two thousand rounds? LRRP patrols don't carry that much, and they're supposed to be dropped a hundred miles into enemy territory! They're expecting to fire until their mag runs dry, reload, fire until dry again, reload, and so on sixty times and the enemy will still be coming? Most armies lose impetus after suffering 25% casualties; so you're expecting, assuming you're a decent shot, that you, personally, with your rifle, in your suburban home, are going to be attacked in brigade strength? Have you irritated some medium-sized nation recently or something?

#791 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:39 AM:

ajay, it's the magic of full auto.

As used by The A-Team on TV. You know, it scares folks, but nobody actually gets shot.

I'd rather have an SMLE and know how to use it.

And if you want "intimidating" just fix bayonets.

Black rifles? Ha!

#792 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 07:20 AM:

Ajay @ 790 -
No, actually, I should. It is NOT perfectly normal to be planning for a situation that would require you to have a rifle and two thousand rounds of ammo in the house. What on earth are they expecting, the Night of the Living Dead? Rorke's Drift? The Somme? Two thousand rounds? LRRP patrols don't carry that much, and they're supposed to be dropped a hundred miles into enemy territory! They're expecting to fire until their mag runs dry, reload, fire until dry again, reload, and so on sixty times and the enemy will still be coming? Most armies lose impetus after suffering 25% casualties; so you're expecting, assuming you're a decent shot, that you, personally, with your rifle, in your suburban home, are going to be attacked in brigade strength? Have you irritated some medium-sized nation recently or something?

Unwarranted assumptions alert!

You need to rethink some things in your think -

1 - why are you presuming they intend to utilize all of that ammunition in one go?

2 - why are you assuming they intend to utilize all of that ammunition in engagements?

3 - what are the logistics and price point breaks around purchasing ammunition in the US?

Reconsider.

#793 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 07:24 AM:

I'd rather have an SMLE and know how to use it.

Well, who wouldn't? I'm reminded that the tommy gun was originally designed for trench fighting - the "trench broom" - but, since the Great War ended before it could come into service, it was remarketed for the civilian home defence market. Advertising material of a couple of plug uglies with revolvers being surprised by a pajama-clad householder carrying a tommy gun. (Really)

#794 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 07:34 AM:

Dave Bell @ 792 -
ajay, it's the magic of full auto.

As used by The A-Team on TV. You know, it scares folks, but nobody actually gets shot.

Because, as you know Bob, it's been ever so easy, since the passage of the National Firearms Act and the Hughes Amendment, it's been ever so easy (and cheap!) for American gun owners go get their hands on fully-automatic or burst-fire firearms.

Perhaps you should not base your assumptions about American gun laws on TeeVee?

I'd rather have an SMLE and know how to use it.

Because, as you know, Bob, everyone who uses a semi-automatic firearm is, in fact, a gung-ho moron with no concept of breath control, fire control, or sight picture.

And if you want "intimidating" just fix bayonets.

Given that I'm basically not allowed, in NYS, to own a modern firearm with a bayonet lug, I'll stick with my evil black rifle if, god forbid, I ever have to do "intimidating" beyond what my naturally ugly visage can imply.

Besides, most folks - including those with military training (and myself) - know as much about actually using a bayonet in combat as they do about using an arming sword - if I have to use an OKC-3s, I'm not only in big trouble, I'm going to use it as a knife, not stick it on the end of a rifle. I'm actually less likely to hurt myself that way.

#795 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 08:34 AM:

792: because you said that "some folks are figuring they might want to have a SHTF rifle or two in the house, and a couple of thousand rounds of ammo each... just in case."

You didn't say "a rifle or two plus some ammo". You said "rifle plus 2000 rounds just in case". So I assumed that the 2000 rounds was part of the "just in case", not "because it's cheaper to buy ammo in 2000-round boxes" or "because you'd need to use 1900 rounds to train in advance" or whatever. And I'm assuming they plan to use it all in one go because, if not, they could always nip out and buy more.

The use of a rifle (rather than a shotgun or handgun) also highlights some interesting assumptions about engagement ranges.

#796 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 08:37 AM:

Scott, old chap, I'm fairly sure that Dave Bell was not being entirely serious. Deep breaths.

#797 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 08:58 AM:

What I've heard, over the years, is that a lot of Americans are just as dependent on TV drama for their knowledge of firearms as are the rest of us.

Scott, I do get an impression that you think some of the guys spending now are a few rounds short of a full clip. And I'd suggest that full-auto myths are part of the general frothiness.

I also recall some of the original rhetoric over the assault weapons ban. Believe me, if some guy starts waving a gun around, I'm not going to ask to see his last range card. Black plastic and curved magazines don't matter. A fixed bayonet doesn't even need loading.

Incidentally, what do your local legislators consider to be a "modern" rifle, in such need of special controls?

#798 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 10:13 AM:

Adventures in publishing. I'd have done a recipe, myself...

#799 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 10:30 AM:

This thread's current exchanges makes me want to watch Hot Fuzz again.

#800 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 10:40 AM:

This thread's current exchanges makes me want to watch Hot Fuzz again.

(sigh)

Should have just kept my fucking mouth shut. I should have known better.

Okay. I'm out. Adios.

#801 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 10:49 AM:

ajay, #790: No, they're worried about having to "rise up and take back America" -- a meme that's now being pushed by mainstream right-wing pundits. They're planning for armed insurrection.

#802 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 10:50 AM:

Scott Taylor... Damn. I was trying to lighten things up, but it didn't quite come out the way I intended. My apologies.

#803 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 12:22 PM:

Serge @ 734: Speaking of bears, do you think that Booboo was an enabler of Yogi's thieving tendencies?

The truth is stranger and far worse than you might suspect.

#804 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 12:32 PM:

Nicole J Leboeuf-Little @ 803... Did Judge Mightor ever have Quickdraw McDraw brought before him for a trial? The charges? Not only did those biscuits he'd feed his dog before sending him on a criminal's trail have suspicious effects on said canine, but McDraw himself often circumvented the normal ways of law enforcement in his secret identity of El Kabong.

#805 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 12:47 PM:

CHip @777, It's interesting that your GSA are explicitly Xian,

I'd say that's at least up there with "Democrat Party" as far as silly cheap slurs are concerned.

ajay @790, What on earth are they expecting, the Night of the Living Dead? Rorke's Drift? The Somme?

I guess many have the more reasonable reasons given by Scott Taylor, but for some of the nuttier and creepier ones, "Rorke's Drift" is probably pretty accurate.

#806 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 01:51 PM:

Is it "Χian" you're objecting to? I thought it a common standard online abbreviation, but could be mistaken.

(Attempting chi, HTML entity is Χ (&Chi;) or Χ (&#935;) or Χ (&#x3A7;), tho' it looks identical to a Roman/English X in my browser font.)

#807 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 02:04 PM:

Epacris, my experience might be un usual here (in my time on the internet, I've been mostly in places where people use rather few abbreviations), but I've mostly seen it used by people who didn't think much of Christianity, and I can't remember ever seeing it used by self-described Christians.

#808 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 02:20 PM:

As a person who uses that selfsame substitution, I'd just like to say that in my experience Christians don't use 'Xian' or like it when others do...except the tiny subset of Christians who use it as a synonym for CHINO (CHristian In Name Only).

#809 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 02:23 PM:

But I'd also like to point everyone (especially if you found the use of 'Xian' offensive) to this comment here.

I don't think it was meant offensively.

#810 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 02:56 PM:

There are Christians who reject the abbreviation 'Xmas' for Christmas, because they feel it's "taking the 'Christ' out of Christmas", and would presumably reject Xian for the same reason. And there are others who remember that the Greek chi (+ rho) is an old symbol for Christ, and/or just don't feel offended. Or don't believe that not typing it out will get them in trouble with the Almighty.

Back to scouting -- I was a Girl Scout in Florida for years and years, and never caught a whiff of a connection to any organized religion. Even though there's a religious clause in the Pledge (does it still have that wording?) 'On my honor, I will try to do my duty TO GOD and my country, to help other people at all times, and to obey the Girl Scout Law....' it was pretty much ignored in practice.

It was therefore a surprise to me to see that Scouting in Germany has explicitly Catholic, Lutheran, and interconfessional subgroups.

#811 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 03:35 PM:

ajay, Dave, Scott:

One of the many rich veins of misunderstanding and ire on the internet is the difference between American and British attitudes toward firearms. I am both an American with a bit of shooting experience (BB guns, a .22 rifle or two and a .38 revolver, all either on private, empty land or gun ranges) and a cultural Brit, so I can see both perspectives.

Ajay and Dave are perfectly entitled to find the American attitude to firearms in the home pretty darned freaky within their cultural context. The only places in the world where the gun is as much an emotive symbol of freedom as it is in America are countries like Afghanistan, places with a long and recent history of occupation. Brits in particular, with their unarmed bobbies on the beat, find the right to bear arms like some kind of irresistible scab. The impulse to pick at it is almost overwhelming.

But Dave Scott* is not being unduly touchy. The matter of firearm ownership in America is sensitive and emotive. The reverence for liberty is the touchstone of our common identity; we love it more than the Brits ever loved the Queen Mum or Princess Di. And the Bill of Rights is the working out of that liberty into its practical implications. But the Second Amendment is problematic and disputed, and each side fears that their particular approach to liberty will be compromised by what happens with it.

I would urge you gentlemen to try to understand one another's perspectives on this matter. There is no chance that you will come to substantive agreement, and I would not ask either side to curtail its commentary. But don't take this cultural gulf as a personal affront, please, chaps.

-----
* Corrected per Xopher infra

#812 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 03:38 PM:

Didn't the X symbol originate under early Christians as a means of recognition? (I'm too lazy right now to execute my Google skills.)

I wonder how things would have proceeded with the religion if the faction supporting the idea that Jesus was a creation of God (and therefore not the same as God) would have prevailed.

#813 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 03:45 PM:

abi 811: But Dave is not being unduly touchy.

Do you mean Scott here?

#814 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 03:48 PM:

Oh, on another forum, someone related the posting of this comment regarding the face-off between Christopher Hitchens and Kenneth Blackwell:

"The decline in American devotion to Godliness can be directly attributed to the extensive reading of so-called "science fiction" by our young people. This poisonous, Satanic rot about creatures not of God's making, alien societies without a good Christian among them, and rawsex between unhuman beings with three heads contaminates our children's minds. Fantasy becomes reality and God is pushed aside. God is unhappy with America."

I'm wondering if this guy meant it or was putting everyone on.

#815 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 03:49 PM:

Xopher @813:

I do indeed. Sorry, gentlemen, for the error. I was distracted at a crucial moment.

#816 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:01 PM:

Xopher and others regarding packaging tasty things for shipment:

In googling I came across this. It seems like sensible general advice.

Steve C. @ 814:

I haven't read it, but there is a story by, I think, Stanislaw Lem about a missionary who takes Christian teaching to an alien society. It doesn't necessarily end well for all concerned.

(Name of story and correct author appreciated, if anyone knows what I'm talking about.)

I'm also oddly tantalized by Mr. Blackwell's examples. I must be reading the wrong books.

#817 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:03 PM:

Steve C @ 814... Does he have any objections to sex with robots?

#818 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:13 PM:

Thank you, KeithS. Now: can someone tell me what on Earth a pudding mold might be?

There's lots of other good advice on that page (popcorn! of course!) but that one bit mystifies me.

#819 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:15 PM:

Serge @ 817 - the guy reminds me of this exchange from Clerks II

Randal Graves: You can't get a chick, ya mook. You're too weird and sad.
Elias: [gets angry] I turn down chicks left and right.
Randal Graves: Your chicks *are* your left and right.

#820 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Steve C @ 819... Heh. That being said, there is very little love in Blackwell's heart.

#821 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:32 PM:

Xopher @ 818:

That's the only one I didn't know either, but I couldn't be bothered to check until you asked.

It appears to be some sort of tin with a lid, often with a protrusion up the middle.

Froogle Google Product Search.

#822 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:42 PM:

KeithS @ 816

Harry Harrison's "The Streets of Ashkelon"?

#823 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:45 PM:

Thanks again to xeger for the link to the Canon CCD fault site. Canon sent me a UPS label and inspection form and will determine if my camera's troubles are related.

I learned that my sister was very pleased with Canon's service. She has the same model camera; she sent it in for service on the LCD display. No charge, even for shipping.

#824 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:45 PM:

abi, my impressions from some places on the internet is that there are some Brits whose attitudes towards firearms are relatively close to that of American gun owners, but they're mostly from rural areas and therefore a pretty small part of the total population.

Debbie, Steve C., the issue is not trouble with the Almighty or wether "X" is a traditional Christian abbreviation for "Christ". The issue is that when I see a term for a group or idea or concept used almost entirely by people who seem to have a pretty low opinion of that group or idea or concept, I get the impression that it's effectively used as a slur, no matter what the historical origin of the term is. Same as with "Democrat Party".

#825 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 04:52 PM:

Steve C. #814: "The decline in American devotion to Godliness can be directly attributed to the extensive reading of so-called "science fiction" by our young people...."

It's long been known that SFWA really stands for "Satan's Forces Working In America."

#826 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:00 PM:

James @ 825 - I would love to see the logo for that!

#827 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:04 PM:

Raphael, I understand what you're saying. Just, in my experience, I haven't happened to have seen it widely used in a disparaging context, so it's not a red flag for me. Mileage varies.

#828 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:07 PM:

Ockerbloom@782: I've been a member of AAA for 35 years and don't recall ever getting polled on anything, or even an annual meeting at which to vote on issues; doesn't the NRA have at least the latter?

Raphael: per comments above yours, the set of people you've seen using "Xian" may not be representative. As for "silly slur" -- if it were a slur, I'd have cause. (Perhaps not sufficient, but certainly more than that of most of the people who sling around terms like "Islamofascism".)

KeithS@816: classic novel: James Blish, A Case of Conscience. well-known modern novel: Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow. I'm blanking on the shorter non-recent work in which the aliens crucify the preacher, thinking he will be resurrected.

#829 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:30 PM:

I've also read a story where the missionary goes to the aliens to preach, only to discover that they're already in a state of grace, never having experienced a Fall!

#830 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:44 PM:

James Moar @ 822:

Yes, I think that's it. Why I managed to think of Lem I have no idea.

Debbie @ 827:

Christians don't use it much in my experience. The only use of "Xian" I tend to see is by people who are not fond of Christianity in general. The only good reason that I can think of to use it is if you feel like getting the War on Christmas folks' knickers in a twist.

CHip @ 828:

See James Moar's post, which, judging by the synopsis I found, seems to be it. Other reading suggestions are, of course, always welcome. Thanks.

#831 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:44 PM:

KeithS @816: I haven't read it, but there is a story by, I think, Stanislaw Lem about a missionary who takes Christian teaching to an alien society. It doesn't necessarily end well for all concerned.

I was thinking it was a Damon Knight story, but I am having trouble finding which one (if any) it might have been.

The story as I recall has a human trader settled on a planet with a simple society of aliens. A missionary lands, intent on building a church and converting the aliens. The aliens, attempting to resolve the different viewpoints of the two humans, crucify the missionary to see if his god will resurrect him.

I even recall reading an underground comic adaptation of this story.

#832 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:49 PM:

James Moar @822: Harry Harrison's "The Streets of Ashkelon"?

Yes, that's it!

And Harrison worked as a comic book artist at one point; he did not illustrate the book I described, but he may have been sympathetic to someone else who wanted to.

#833 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:54 PM:

#831: "Streets of Ashkelon" by Harry Harrison

#834 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:56 PM:

Something else was tugging at my mind regarding that Blackwell quote, and I think I've figured out what it was. He says "unhuman beings" rather than inhuman or non-human, which sounds slightly off. Is this like the difference between disinterest and uninterest, or is it something else entirely?

#835 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:58 PM:

Xopher @818 re: transporting chocolate,

I wonder how well silicone kitchenware would work for transporting these?*

Looking up silicone tray in a shopping search results in ice trays and other holders. They're squishable but they'll absorb heat and shocks, so might somehow be useful. I've seen prices 1/4th that of the above link at local discount stores.

----------------
* silicone in general I love: previously for oven mitts, spatulas and basters, now (after finding some on sale) bakeware too. The secret to buying it is to give it a twist--pure silicone won't chance color.

#836 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 06:59 PM:

KeithS, #816: ISTR that there's a story something like that in Bradbury's Martian Chronicles. Could that be the one you're remembering?

Raphael, #824: My impression is that it's used a lot as a keystroke-saver, in the same way as IMO or FFS. This doesn't necessarily negate your contention; it could be that both factors are operative. (I also refer to the Wretched Excess aspects of the winter holiday as Xma$, which would support your position because I specifically use the X to mean that the original religious significance has been downgraded by the co-worship of Mammon.)

CHip, #828: See also Speaker for the Dead, in which the aliens honor their elders by "taking them to the third life" -- a process that doesn't work so well on humans so honored.

#837 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 08:24 PM:

Re the Blackwell quote -- I didn't express myself clearly in my original ost. The quote was from a commenter on the Hardball site which showed the video of his debate with Hitchens.

#838 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 08:47 PM:

Lee @ 836:

I just did a little more research, and I'm almost positive the story I was thinking of was the Harrison one. My next trip to the bookstore is going to be expensive with all the other ideas kicked around here, though.

I more or less liked Speaker for the Dead. It's interesting to me that Card could come up with such an alien lifeform and culture and get us to understand it, and yet he seems to have such difficulty dealing with the more minor differences that human beings have among themselves.

#839 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 10:53 PM:

LOL @ subprimemachineguns.

It's not my thing, so I'm just speculating, but the ammo hoarders are probably expecting a breakdown of society such that there is no way to just go out and buy more.

#840 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 11:17 PM:

A question for the fluorosphereadingers- is there a concept space (and example) of useful & well-designed suspension of disbelief brought into play for the endings of books? i.e.

There exists willing suspension of disbelief for the beginnings of books, when authors use their 'Get Out of Disbelief' card(s) for FTL drives, or comprehensible aliens, or whatever is needed to get the parties launched and roads rolling. This is expected and acceptable.

There's resumption-of-incredulity if an author pulls a deus ex machina ex extremus. This tends to be annoying and a cause of spontaneous book flight.

However, is there a name for/ are there books that bring about willing suspension of disbelief at the end of books? Chekhov's gun comes out as the alien ambassador in control of it all--without there being prior hints--and this is fine?

The best writers can pull off anything, sure, and is this the only case where WSOD can be done that late in the book?

#841 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 11:22 PM:

2000 rounds at an average of one shot per day is not very many years worth at all.

#842 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 11:29 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 840... Didn't such a ending ("It's a cookbook!") use to be called a O'Henry?

#843 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 12:24 AM:

As I walked out in the streets of Ashkelon
As I walked out in Ashkelon one day
I met a young merchant, all strong atheistic,
Who taught folks to think in a rational way.

#844 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 12:25 AM:

Xopher: I'll bet you can get a view, mostly, like that. What you need to do is find someone who has some civilian night-vision device.

As to the molds... I feel your pain. I was thinking of a specific solution to a specific problem. I shall ponder it some more.

As far as carmelising... depends on the substance. A plain carmelezation of sugar can be done in mere moments (and the move from pale straw to damn near black can be painfully short).

Scott Taylor: Why don't those shooters do their own reloading? It's not that hard, the quality can be (if you take the care) better than commercial. My ammo-guy was charging me about $.35 for match grade .308/30-06 (including some match grade plinking ammo; he had a few hundred Berdan primed cases). I just agreed to get some dies and a press from him (he found them as part of a bulk purchase at an estate sale), and I can now reload all three of my calibers (including the pain the butt to get over the counter 7.62/54R. Initial costs will be about $.40 per rd, but then I get 3-6 reloads for the price of powder, primer, bullet and time, call it .15 per.

So I can practice for cheap, and use new brass for competition.

John Mark Ockerbloom: re NRA, as with any other advocacy group the active participants get to set the agenda. The AAA is a bit different, in that it's made up of a whole lot of subsidiary goups AA SoCal/Ohio, etc. It's also not seen, by most of the members, as an advocacy group, but an roadside assitance plan/trip planning resource. So the political action they do is mostly invisible to the members.

ajay: At the risk of seeming to be a batshit insane person (and with strange dogs in this fight: as abi says the issue is one of deep divides, some very emotional. I am mixed. I think the second amendment a useful thing. I think the question of what constitutes a militia, and the regulation of same, needs more resolution than the arguments about who has what rights. I tend to the idea of an individual right, because absent that the core idea of overthrowing a gov't as needed fails [and we really don't want to get into the weeds of, "armies are so powerful today that it's pointless for citizens to contemplate taking them on... really we don't], and the idea of all firepower belonging to the state makes my blood run cold, even when I agree with the gov't completely [again, as abi says, this is one of those cultural gaps which we will never be able to convey, one to the other]): I probably have at least 2,000 rds of ammo. I have four rifles. (a .22, a .308, a 30-06, and a 7.62/54R). For each of them I have ammo. Because I don't like going to the gun shop every time I want to go shooting, because it keeps, and because the price will only go up (and has been going up in excess of inflation, quite apart from stagnant wages). Which means I bought it in bulk when I bought it.

When I go to the range I fire about 200 rds. So planning for five trips to the range a year = 1,000 rds. .22lr is most cost effective when bought in "bricks" of 500/1,000 rds. (they cost about 50 percent less when bought that way). So there are a lot of reasons why, "a rifle and 2,000 rds." might go together.

As to shoot-outs.... the people who think like that, ARE batshit insane. Second, the rate of actual damge (for armies) is something between 250-1,000:1, where one equals casualties, and 250-1,000 equals rounds fired. Having been in combat zones, the "basic load" (270 rds. same for the Brits) is 1: not enough and 2: a lot less than we actually carried. I'd guess, as an average, the line troop has his 7 mags, plus another couple of hundred rounds ready to hand (either in the vehicle, or in his fanny pack).

Then again, the guys in armies know that they have buddies ready to hand, who also have at least 270 rds with them, so they don't have to rely on themselves quite so much. If I were seriously expecting a firefight, against odds, and didn't have at least a fire team (four people, with training, and not less than an aggregate 1,080 rds), I might be carrying a lot more (and a lot more of it "magged up", because loading clips takes time.

Yes, most of the people thinking like that are, at least a little, "batshit crazy," but the reasons behind the stockpile is based on some fairly reasonable logic; even if it suffers from flawed first principles.

As to the Tommy-Gun, it was sold as an all-around handy gun. I've seen the ads for the bad-guys (though the one I recall was a rancher on his porch; when parts of the country were pretty barren of both people, and law. Bandits such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were still around in the early years of the last century, Bonnie and Clyde were running about in the 30s, at the time those ads were being made). The countries are different, and the cultural assumptions behind things aren't the same.

Re bayonets as intimidation: No. 1st, as Scott says, they are hard to use. I've been trained in them. I am, actually, pretty good with them (I'm an odd duck, I like playing with sharp toys. I've played with everything from knives, to pikes [and seriously trained in several of those]. Bayonet was the one I didn't have any real practice with (though I'd actually gotten to handle an SMLE, with a couple of it's bayonet versions). That makes me rara avis

2nd. The intimidation factor of bayonets isn't from one guy having it on the end of his rifle (thus making it a clumsy sort of ill-balanced bill/pike), but the effect of a large group coming at you with them. The sense of an implacable mass coming at one, with the intent to make like a pincusion on one's person is what makes it work; and why armies; where both sides practiced with them, rarely came to actually crossing them. The side being approached broke.

3rd. They are really short range. Give me a pistol, and the single guy with a bayonet has a real problem. If he walks at me, I shoot him. If he runs at me, I wait, step aside and either knock him down, or shoot him.

#845 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 07:23 AM:

In my experience, I haven't seen "Xian" used as a standard shorter form to any significant extent by self-identified Christians. I've occasionally seen it (or the even shorter "Xn") used in a neutral sense as blackboard/notetaking shorthand in college classes, but not in less telegraphic contexts.

The use I've seen online seems to correlate fairly strongly to folks who don't think much of the religion; and the use of "Xtian" (which doesn't even expand "correctly"), correlates even more strongly, in my experience. (Here I'm considering forums where one generally writes in full sentences and paragraphs, such as blogs, Usenet and the like. Usage may be different on more telegraphic forums like chat, txting, and Twitter, but I don't really use those myself.)

I don't think one can dodge the issue by saying "but it derives from more respectable etymologies!" or "but it's just a shorter form!" One could say the same of lots of other words considered slurs, whether relatively mild ones like "Democrat party", or more inflammatory ones like "Jap", the N-word, and others.

(Note that I have no problems with the use of "X" in most other contexts, such as in one's own nom de Net.)

#846 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 07:32 AM:

Part of the appeal of the Thompson was that it was unregulated. There were lots of laws on the books covering pistols, rifles, and shotguns; permits, licenses, forbidden and what-not, but no one had thought to mention machine guns, because up 'til then a machine gun was a crew-served weapon rather than something you could buy at the hardware store.

(Also, the Auto-Ordnance Company had seriously misjudged the military market (the Thompson, when the Army tested it, turned out to be a lousy pistol and a lousy rifle--that it was an excellent submachine gun hadn't come to anyone's attention because that wasn't a category) and had to dump a lot of inventory fast.)

#847 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 10:26 AM:

My boss just emailed my development plan for the coming year. I was amused by the spreadsheet's listing of my training resources consisting of...

manger coaching

Somehow that seems appropriate.

#848 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 10:46 AM:

Serge @ 847 -

I hope that doesn't describe what your accommodations will be in the event of travel.

#849 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:08 AM:

'Manger coaching' sounds like teaching an animal to feed from a trough. Part of weaning, maybe?

#850 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:14 AM:

Steve C @ 848... Xopher @ 849... Or maybe it means that my employment situation is stable.

#851 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:18 AM:

Which would mean your boss had an epiphany about you.

#852 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:26 AM:

Xopher @ 851... Which is an improvement over the metaphorical épis in the fanny she's been giving me so far.

#853 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:27 AM:

Serge:

Or else outside the internets you really *are* a dog?

#854 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:57 AM:

joann @ 853... Curses! I've been found out!

#855 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 12:47 PM:

Did anyone else here get a spam apparently directed at Absolutewrite members, supposedly coming from a beautiful young lady who supposedly fell in love with my (nonexistant) profile at absolutewrite.com? Probably it's something sent to people with profiles at all kinds of places.

#856 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 01:13 PM:

Raphael @ 855... Alas, it's been more than 24 hours since I last received emails from any beautiful lady.

#857 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 01:15 PM:

Raphael @ 855: I got that one. Claimed to be related to my posting at www.absolutewrite.com, though I don't recall ever having posted there.

#858 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 01:29 PM:

Raphael @855:
I got that. Not only do I not have a profile on AW, I'm not gynophile.

Fail.

#859 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 01:40 PM:

Serge @ 847 et seq.:

I think you're making entirely too much hay out of a single comment.

#860 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 01:51 PM:

Got the spam email.

Nothing like the fan-mail I've been getting.

#861 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 01:52 PM:

KeithS @ 859... It's run-with-it or stall.

#862 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Chalk me up as another one who got the spam without having an absolutewrite profile. Had no idea it might have anything to with posting comments here till I saw the current ones on this thread!

#863 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:07 PM:

Me too on the Absolute Write Spam. Joy Baby would like me to know:

"Interested in you My name is joy am a beautiful young girl with full of love Well, I saw your profile today at www.absolutewrite.com which gives me joy to contact you please i will like you contact me through my e-mail adderss (joysiako@yahoo.com)At the same time i will show you my picture.
Miss joy"

I don't have an account (that I can remember) but I do lurk a lot, especially lately.

#864 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:07 PM:

Serge @ 847 ...
My boss just emailed my development plan for the coming year. I was amused by the spreadsheet's listing of my training resources consisting of...

manger coaching

Y'know, I still can't stop reading that as "Serge coaches his manager... "

#865 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:17 PM:

A funny thing happened yesterday: I got a 419 spam email that came remarkably close to being written in intelligible, grammatical English. If the spammers learn to write, what will we do?

#866 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:17 PM:

xeger @ 864... Time for me to bring out the Cat O' Nine Tails?

(To be fair, her native language is far less related to English than mine is.)

#867 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:18 PM:

J Austin @ 863:

Anyone else wondering what a love well might be? Or don't I want to find out?

#868 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:20 PM:

y @ 865:

I haven't seen a 419 email recently. Do they still do the no space after a period thing?

#869 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:20 PM:

Raphael #855: I did. Instant delete. Figured it was someone trolling here, since I have nothing to do with Absoluterot.

#870 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:25 PM:

KeithS @ 867:

To be fair, in the original formatting, the two words were not together. Instead of using periods, the next sentence was on the next line.

Interested, My, Well, please, At, Miss---those are all the beginnings of their own lines/sentences.

And no, I don't think you want to find out, since she's only going to show you her picture after you visit the Love Well.

#871 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:36 PM:

re Serge, #854:
Let us also remember Richard Corben's Rowlf

#872 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:40 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 871... Goodness. It really dates us when we can remember seeing those comics, eh? Corben is still active, by the way. A few months ago, he drew an issue of HellBoy that was a homage to Manly Wade Wellman.

#873 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 03:43 PM:

KeithS #867 Possibly a love well would be found near the Love Canal.

#874 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 04:50 PM:

KeithS @ 868: No sooner do I write this, than a more traditional one comes in from "Dr.Tom".

#875 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 04:51 PM:

*waves*

Aaaaah! I need your help!*

I'm getting redirects to localhost whenever I try going to google or search.live.com (microsoft). Subdomains like groups.google work just fine. It's pretty tedious trying work around this to search for answers about just what happened.

Can anyone tell me:
1. what I've got
2. how to get rid of it****

[I think I can rule out local network problems, ping works fine, pinging google from the router works fine, etc.]

*can I cash in all my Wuffies for this one?**
**I'll post this in lolcat if that would help***
***or haiku?
****short of reformatting and reinstalling windows

#876 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 05:00 PM:

Serge @847: [..] manger coaching

Perhaps your boss sees you as one of the original Wise Men.

Not to be confused with Wise Guys.

#877 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 05:12 PM:

don delny @ 875:

Ping from the command line works fine for google? If it's just an issue with a browser, it sounds like it's been hijacked by some toolbar or other. If it's any browser and command-line tools, you might have a bad hosts file (c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts in XP).

The Conficker thread has some resources on general virus scan stuff. You might want to try Trend Micro's Housecall and various anti-spyware programs, assuming whatever you have lets you.

I had a similar problem a few years ago. Make sure you have a password on your account. That stops some of the more simple-minded stuff from just installing itself.

#878 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 05:21 PM:

Terry, #844: I think the question of what constitutes a militia, and the regulation of same, needs more resolution than the arguments about who has what rights.

I think that's the entire basis of the conflict right there. Until we have a baseline definition of "regulated militia", there is never going to be any resolution about the rest of it, because everyone is using their own individual definitions!

#879 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 05:29 PM:

Don:

If you suspect infection with malware, which sounds plausible from the symptoms you're describing, try running the following three freeware programs, which in combination seem to do a decent job:
LavaSoft's Ad-aware
Spybot S&D
The above two primarily target "adware": browser hijacking "toolbars", spyware, click-trackers, etc. - the wide range of nasty stuff which is short of pure virus/worm. I've seen them get rid
of quite a bit of stuff.

Then for an anti-virus, run AVG - free version
That's a free antivirus package which is as good as most of the commercial ones.

#880 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 05:38 PM:

KeithS, 877,

ZOMG! It's totally fixed!
For no reason!!!

Ping from the command line works fine for google?
Yes.

If it's just an issue with a browser, it sounds like it's been hijacked by some toolbar or other.
It's going on with google chrome as well.

If it's any browser and command-line tools, you might have a bad hosts file (c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts in XP).
Pretty plain vanilla, one entry:
127.0.0.1 localhost
I tried commenting it out. Probably no effect. (see, ZOMG! above)

#881 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 05:43 PM:

subprimemachinegun... sounds like that would blow up shortly after you ran out of ammo....

#882 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 05:54 PM:

don delny @ 880:

I like it when problems fix themselves, but I don't always trust it. Best to run a virus and malware scan or four just to be sure.

#883 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 06:05 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 876... Neither. My boss thinks of me as a greasemonkey.

#884 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 06:29 PM:

"I see by your Bible that you're a believer,"
These words he did say as I chanced to walk by,
"Come sit down beside me, don't be so conspicuous,
For if you get tested you're going to die."

#885 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 07:48 PM:

Clifton Royston, 879,
thank you for the tips
KeithS,882,
Best to run a virus and malware scan or four just to be sure.
Fyi,
AVG is running right now, 2 and 1/2 hrs later I've got: "Trojan horse Generic_c.XHB"
in C:\My Documents\Desktop\new downloads\us.pdf"
Note that us.pdf is invisible in that folder, and that folder did not exist until I downloaded a new copy of firefox using google chrome.

Thank you for your help! And all, thank you for your patience tolerance of panicky questions about a mundane technical problem. So, a
lolcat haiku:

Halp!

I haz a problem
O hai I are h4xord
Making Light FTW

teh netz search is broke
ooo! chase falling sakura
whut? attention fail

doodz KeithS and Clifton
Royston, UR so helpful
make U cookie naow?

#886 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 08:16 PM:

KeithS #867: Regarding "love wells": You could consult Piers Anthony's Xanth series (I think they make their appearance right up in the first volume), but, as you note... you might not want to. (Hint: They're a key part of his origin story for centaurs....)

#887 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 08:31 PM:

don delny @ 885 ...
One other thing that might be going on (note that I know nothing about your network setup) is simply that you're using some sort of proxy which listens on localhost -- and it was down, resulting in everything you did apparently pointing at localhost... (not that this is something unknown to trojans and viruses, of course -- but it can also be benign).

#888 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 08:51 PM:

Terry @ 844: the pain the butt to get over the counter 7.62/54R.

That sounds exactly like something I ranted about, except I was talking about tires for my car.

#889 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 08:57 PM:

don delny @ 885:

You're welcome. Also, I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I came to the haiku. Well done.

#890 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 10:20 PM:

Don, it's lucky that you were able to catch it. The bad guys are getting better and better.

#891 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:12 AM:

LeeL re miltia: Yeppers. And I've been in a whole bunch of discussions about that. I'm a middle of the roader myself. I think there needs to be a bit more control in making sure those who want do own a weapon are basically competent/safe with them, and less in the actual weapons people purchase.

I've always been of the minimal skills test (e.g a driver's license), with some generic safety, and a very basic test of one's ability to put the rounds into the general area of the target.

In more complex forms it would, as with vehicles, be categorized (longarms and handguns, maybe so granular as to make it revolvers/semi-autos, non-autoloading rifles/autoloaders, and shotguns).

I don't favor a registry of what is owned by whom (though I have no real problem with background checksl; but I favor broader returns of gun rights to convicted persons for whom the sentence is done; which is part of a different topic altogether. I figure they did their bit, and ought to get all their rights back, which would go a long way to making them feel part of the larger society, which; it seems to me, ought to reduce recidivism).

But I am comfortable with guns (be strange if I weren't, given my time in the Army, and being an armorer to boot), and I understand there are those who aren't. Then again, I eat meat, and understand those who don't.

Alan Beatty: The real problem is that to get ammo I like in that caliber; and be allowed to shoot it means gettig it made. There is a lot of ammo available for it. I have several hundred rounds, which are pretty decent, but they are steel-cored (it's all mil-surplus; most of it I've had for about 20 years... long story).

The problem with steel cored ammo is, basically, I live in So.Cal. Steel, when moving at high speed, can strike sparks. I live in Southern California.

#892 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 02:40 AM:

I suspect that steel-cored ammo also provokes anti-gun paranoia about AP rounds. But since that's a full-power rifle round, stopping a conventional FMJ bullet is non-trivial anyway. The usual police-grade bulletproofing isn't enough.

#893 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 03:24 AM:

Dave: If they had been manufactured as AP, then they would be illegal. Since they weren't, they aren't.

Since the only people who are aware of them shoot, it's not on the public radar, and yeah... regular ammo (even the light loads I can get from WOLF), will go through everything but level 3, with trauma plate.

#894 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 05:28 AM:

Terry Karney @891: I've always been of the minimal skills test (e.g a driver's license), with some generic safety [..]

I'd like to see more serious treatment of 'gun-like' things too. I've been shot in the head on two separate occasions (separated by a couple of years, in different neighborhoods of my city) while riding my bicycle, with paintball guns from passing cars. Clearly, someone who would do such a thing shouldn't have been allowed to purchase a paintball gun in the first place (the driver of the car should have his license revoked too).

It's all great fun until... the first time it happened, I was caught on the ear. Fortunately, I was wearing a knit cap which may have dissipated some of the force; the paintball caught the edge of my bike helmet, which may have also helped. However, I was sufficiently startled the bike and I both went down. Later, I used a Q-Tip to swab the tinted vegetable oil (that is used for 'paint' in those pellets) out of my ear. I didn't lose hearing, but for months afterward I could feel some 'tension' in that ear. The second incident wasn't as dramatic. In both cases, I called 911 and reported it (in case it was an ongoing thing and there might be other reports), but I wasn't able to get a license number from the passing car. My fear, if this keeps up, is that I might get caught in the eye next time.

#895 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 06:55 AM:

There are all sorts of cultural variations with regard to guns, even within the same country. I'm a rural Englishmen, brought up around men who had carried guns in both world wars, and in a setting where shotguns were commonplace. Gun safety was something you didn't you had been taught. It was just there.

Even then, it was a bit different in a city.

Well, the rules have changed, and governments have banned whole classes of gun, and there isn't the same tendency for city police forces to be distinct from those covering rural areas.

I've seen Police officers do stupid things with handguns (The Lincolnshire Police stand at the County Show), I've heard stories of how reckless ordinary PCs can be. And, at about the same time, Humberside Police send a team from their Firearms Squad to investigate an Army mobile SAM battery.

Crazy ignorance. Lessons from bad TV.

And there's something Terry maybe glossed over. He's been trained to use particular weapons. For him, those are the guns to use. It's the same as a martial artist: there are things you don't have to think about.

It's not just about hitting a target.

The guys buying these wonderweapons, and all the ammunition: will they learn the right things?

There were old guys around, when I was a kid, who'd tested their training on the Somme. There was a blacksmith in the next village who, if the Germans had invaded in 1940, would have vanished into the woods with the rest of the Auxiliary Units.

They're the sort of guys I'd bet on, even with something as old as an SMLE.

#896 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:32 AM:

Dave Bell: What I glossed over is that I've been around, handled, fired, etc. guns for the past 37 years.

I had been shooting for 21 years before the army got ahold of me to show me "the Army way: of shooting; much of which I ignored (though the practical applications of the training in reactive shooting have proven... interesting, in other contexts. I am, so it seems, a force to be reckoned with on a painball course; not least because I teach people to communicate, and work as teams, which is rare in open paintball. That and a certain level of both reckless abandon [which I attribute to knowing the paintballs can't kill me, and experience with being shot at. I don't panic when the "lead" is flying; even when doom is pretty much certain. That is, I think, directly related to being in the army, as all the army buddies I've gone paintballing with show the same sorts of behavior, which even the, "experts" at paintball don't seem to have, but I digress]).

But yes, I have been trained, and for certain applications, I will prefer to use certain weapons. Some of that is training, and some inclination (though it's possible my inclination is the result of a lot of early training in shooting).

I did competition air rifle as a youth (even going so far as getting a shot at trying out for the US Olympic Team in '84. I didn't have a 'career day', and so didn't make the cut).

So I do have a very different appreciation of the things.

#897 ::: spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2010, 12:04 AM:

[ spam from 69.147.248.250 ]

#898 ::: spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2010, 11:12 PM:

[ spam from 173.234.151.20 ]

#899 ::: Earl sees ugly link spam at 898 ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2010, 11:19 PM:

Beauty is in the link of the beholder....

#900 ::: Cadbury Moose spots probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2011, 04:23 AM:

#900 also looks spammish to this moose, despite the lack of link or payload.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.