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April 9, 2009

Open thread 122
Posted by Teresa at 08:48 AM *

Plato on Writing

If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.

Plato—Phaedrus 275a-b (Quote swiped from Medievalist, a.k.a. Lisa Spangenberg.)

Comments on Open thread 122:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 08:52 PM:


Our captain calls all hands
To sail tomorrow.
Leaves many a fair pretty girl
In grief and sorrow.
What makes you go abroad
Fighting for strangers,
When you could stop at home
Free from all dangers?

When I had gold in store
You did invite me
Now that I'm low and poor
You seems to slight me
Dry off your brandy tears
And leave off weeping
For happy shall we be
At our next meeting

You courted me a while
Just to deceive me
Now my heart you have gained
You mean to leave me
Saying there's no belief in man
Not my own brother
So girls if you can love
Love one another.

#2 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 09:26 PM:

On Tools

"If men learn this, it will cultivate weakness in their arms; they will cease to exercise because they rely on that which is manufactured, shaping will into action no longer from within themselves, but by means of external aids. What you have discovered is a recipe not for strength, but for crippling. And it is no true power that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by giving them the command of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to control much, while for the most part they control nothing, and as men filled, not with strength, but with the conceit of strength, they will be a burden to their fellows."

I mean really Plato, sometimes.

#3 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 09:54 PM:

*snort* Eye-rolling about Plato. Only here.

#4 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 09:59 PM:

A recruiting sergeant came our way
To the inn nearby at the close of day.
He said "Young Johnny, you're a fine young lad;
Would you like to march along behind a military band?"

Today's long story on All Things Considered was about the number of people reupping, one of them for six years, because they felt they had a better chance of making a living and/or providing for their families if they had a solid contract.

#5 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 10:13 PM:

If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks...

This belongs to a whole class of predictions that seem to us (at first blush) wrong, since they are said in such a dire way (in this case, the remainder of the quotation) that, looking around, we can't reconcile the dire tone with our lives. But looked at more closely, they turn out to be right -- in this case, widespread writing really did reduce the "arts of memory" that were used to enable people to remember lots of things (including large chunks of texts) that they needed to remember before they could write it down. (Some of this was transition from no writing to writing, but much of it was from writing to print, i.e. writing to practically affordable writing.) It's just that this transition wasn't as terrible as it seemed at the time -- or, at least, that we have become accustomed to it.

As I said, I think there are a lot of prophecies like that: ones that aren't so much wrong as simply said in a tone of voice that turns out to be unwarranted. One other example that comes to mind is the various arguments by pro-slavery folks (and assorted other racists in the years between slavery and the end of Jim Crow) that ending slavery (or, mutatis mutandis, whatever racist practice/law they were defending) would lead to intermarriage, African Americans being considered equal, getting elected to high office, etc. This turned out, in its way, to be true: it's just that now we'd say thank God rather than shutter in horror as those who were predicting it did (or deny it, as their less-racist-but-still-by-contemporary-standards-racist opponents would).

But I bet people here could come up with some others...

#6 ::: cap ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 10:56 PM:

While studying abroad in Athens last spring I took a philosophy class. We read rather a lot of Plato, and I came to strongly suspect my professor modeled himself after Socrates.

...But for the most part I'm convinced he knew nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, his rambling lectures became a burden to me and the rest of the class.

Kind of a shame, really. Studying Plato in Athens should've been fantastic.

#7 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:13 PM:

This being the blessing and curse of the Internet -- everything there to be found, so there's no need to do the thinking somebody else has already done.

#8 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:31 PM:

The analogy with tools strikes me as the best: writing allows some things that just aren't possible without it, just as physical tools change the way we deal with physical objects. Can you imagine what Plato would have thought of James Joyce?

And there are many places where one can disparage Plato. Some even welcome it as an ideal pastime.

#9 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:33 PM:

"If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks..."

I love that this was written down.

#10 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2009, 11:46 PM:

Here's a larger extract: Plato on Writing. It's got a number of great bits. As for what's quoted above, I think Theuth is actually correct: "my invention is a recipe for both memory and wisdom."

Another piece everyone who writes on the web already knows or should know: "Once a thing is put in writing, it rolls about all over the place, falling into the hands of those who have no concern with it just as easily as under the notice of those who comprehend; it has no notion of whom to address or whom to avoid. And when it is ill-treated or abused as illegitimate, it always needs its father to help it, being quite unable to protect or help itself."

#11 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:16 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 8: And there are many places where one can disparage Plato. Some even welcome it as an ideal pastime.

Karl Popper's The Open Society and its Enemies, for example, really chews him a new one.

#12 ::: Stephen Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:19 AM:

Plato predicted the internet? That's impressive.

#13 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:24 AM:

will (#10), that quote could be a good one to tie into the QueryFAIL thread.

#14 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:28 AM:

it will implant forgetfulness in their souls

There is only so much that a human brain can handle, Herbert's mentats notwithstanding. Besides, isn't he being elitist? Storing memories and knowledge outside of brains levels the playing field and allows those of us who are not geniuses to have access to some of those same resources.

#15 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 01:30 AM:

Ah, the irony of that being written down.

And, as Steven Frug said, it's true, in a false way. My library science, and copyediting, instructors told me, repeatedly, "It's not what you know, it's what you know how to look up."

I have a pretty good memory, but I there is no way I can recall all I want to know. I can look it up, which also means I have a lot more information ready to hand. I can use that to make better decisions, arguments, etc. I can synthesize a lot more too.

As to music: That song always chokes me up.

So too these.

The Recruting Sergeant
written by Bob Hallett / Based on traditional)

Two recruiting sergeants came to the CLB,
For the sons of the merchants, to join the Blue Puttees
So all the hands enlisted, five hundred young men...
Enlist ye Newfoundlanders and come follow me

They crossed the broad Atlantic in the brave Florizel,
And on the sands of Suvla, they entered into hell
And on those bloody beaches, the first of them fell...
Enlist ye Newfoundlanders and come follow me

So it's over the mountains, and over the sea
Come brave Newfoundlanders and join the Blue Puttees
You'll fight the Hun in Flanders, and at Galipoli
Enlist ye Newfoundlanders and come follow me

The call came from London, for the last July drive
"To the trenches with the regiment, prepare yourselves to die"
The roll call next morning, just a handful survived.
Enlist ye Newfoundlanders and come follow me


The stone men on Water Street still cry for the day
When the pride of the city went marching away
A thousand men slaughtered, to hear the King say
Enlist ye Newfoundlanders and come follow me

Great Big Sea

What's amazing/sad/wonderful (in all they ways such things are) is Newfoundland didn't join Canada until 1949. They didn't have to go.

A Chance as Good as Any

Oh the musket fires a bullet, and it’s battle black and bonny-o
None can fire sa’ straight an’ true as my boy Johnny-o
To fire upon the enemy, the sergeant gies him money-o
Maybe he’ll come back again, a chance as good as any-o

The fife sounds sweetly you can hear it fine and dandy-o
None can play so sweet and clear as my boy Sandy-o
To keep the boys from thinking, the sergeant says it’s handy-o
It’s cheaper than a tot o’ rum, and no so dear as brandy-o

The drum beats loud o’er the rattle o’ the canon-o
My boy Willie plays upon it as he’s standin’-o
The sergeant makes him beat so loud, you’d hear the noise in London-o
For when they’re listenin’ tae the drum, they never think of runnin-o

There’s Marshals and MacGregors, there’s McGiulderies and Mathethens
Bonny boys from Bonnie Brae and lucky lads from Latheston (?)
Apprentices from raw recruits, and squaddies made from journeymen
If any had a job at home, you’d never see them back again

Left, Right!, March and fight, try to show your willin'-o
Follow the musket, fife and drum, mind you take the schillin'-o
And if you sit and rue the day you ‘listed for the government
You can hear the Sergeant laughing... 'cause he’s got you in his regiment

Battlefield Band

#16 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 01:31 AM:

Serge: This is Plato, of course he's being elitist. He was an enemy of democracy.

#17 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 01:40 AM:

When this lousy war is over no more soldiering for me,
When I get my civvy clothes on, oh how happy I shall be.
No more church parades on Sunday, no more begging for a pass.
You can tell the sergeant-major to stick his passes up his arse.

#18 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 05:27 AM:

Ah, the irony of that being written down.

Well, if it wasn't, we'd have forgotten about it by now, wouldn't we?

This is Plato, of course he's being elitist. He was an enemy of democracy.

Clearly he should have been rounded up and sent to a prison camp somewhere he would have no rights. Oh, hold on, you mean real democracy, don't you?

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 08:44 AM:

Terry Karney @ 16... Yeah. We big monkeys don't want the ones who are less endowed in their physical nature to have a shot at it. Technology, the great equalizer.

#20 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 08:47 AM:

CHip, #4: First thing I thought of, too. That's just about the finest, most chilling version I've ever heard anywhere.

xeger, #7: Ah, but I learn from other people who have had the same thoughts as I how best to defend them against those who would argue otherwise. And sometimes I find something which turns my whole worldview in a different direction. Maybe some people wouldn't call that gaining wisdom, but I do.

#21 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 09:22 AM:
I love that this was written down.

Well, the Tao te Ching does the same thing. It opens by saying the way that can be spoken is not the true way, then continues for 81 chapters.

And when they say it implants forgetfulness in our souls, I haven't heard anyone actually discredit this notion. Writing, like any art or religion, is a commodification of our experience. Words and idols are not the things they represent. You can't smoke from a painting captioned "This is not a pip." If we accept that we can't have our cake and eat it too, how does writing to commodify our experience not deaden it?

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 09:39 AM:

Is a conversation less alive for relying on writing? Are friendship and love less real for being without physical proximity?

#23 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 09:52 AM:

Re what Stephen said @ #5: I used to memorize frequently-used phone numbers without trying, but with a cell phone I call people by selecting them off a menu, not by entering the actual numbers. Therefore I do not know my own children's phone numbers, though I call them several times a week.

#24 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 10:34 AM:
Serge @ #22: Is a conversation less alive for relying on writing? Are friendship and love less real for being without physical proximity?

The conversation and the writing are the menu. Our trust in the access to each other we earn is the meal.

#25 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 10:42 AM:

I'm totally in favor of memorization and recitation, particularly of poetry.

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 10:51 AM:

Mike @ 24... True, but the same could be said of the spoken word. Sometimes, the latter is not a possible path to the meals of friendship and love.

As for what Lila said... I can't memorize each and every phone nbr that I need for my work. I write them down on paper, which forces me to see them when I need them. I do try to keep some nbrs stored in my brain cells, if only to keep them exercised.

#27 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 11:07 AM:

Writing and memorization have this in common: while the knowledge that's stored isn't being used it is completely passive, just a dead representation. But when the knowledge is invoked and used, it becomes alive, and interacts with the self and the other knowledge available; it becomes changeable, and can change other knowledge, as well as the self of the person who invoked it.

But they are different in this respect: recalling memorized knowledge brings no new knowledge, and rarely brings new insight, because recall is a mechanical process; one rarely thinks new thoughts about recalled knowledge except in the context of other, newer, knowledge. Reading a text, however, can invoke totally new (to the reader), knowledge which can result in new insight, and new knowledge from its combination with what was known before.

Recall is necessary (though memorization isn't the only way to do it), but finding new things that other people wrote down and using them is far more creative in many senses of the word.

#28 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 11:12 AM:

Done With Bonaparte - Mark Knopfler

We've paid in hell since Moscow burned
As cossacks tear us piece by piece
Our dead are strewn a hundred leagues
Though death would be a sweet release
And our grande armée is dressed in rags
A frozen starving beggar band
Like rats we steal each other's scraps
Fall to fighting hand to hand

Save my soul from evil, Lord
And heal this soldier's heart
I'll trust in thee to keep me, Lord
I'm done with Bonaparte

What dreams he made for us to dream
Spanish skies, Egyptian sands
The world was ours, we marched upon
Our little Corporal's command
And I lost an eye at Austerlitz
The sabre slash yet gives me pain
My one true love awaits me still
The flower of the Aquitaine

Save my soul from evil, Lord
And heal this soldier's heart
I'll trust in thee to keep me, Lord
I'm done with Bonaparte

I pray for her who prays for me
A safe return to my belle France
We prayed these wars would end all wars
In war we know is no romance
And I pray our child will never see
A little Corporal again
Point toward a foreign shore
Captivate the hearts of men

Save my soul from evil, Lord
And heal this soldier's heart
I'll trust in thee to keep me, Lord
I'm done with Bonaparte

#29 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Stephen Frug @ 5: "But looked at more closely, they turn out to be right -- in this case, widespread writing really did reduce the "arts of memory" that were used to enable people to remember lots of things (including large chunks of texts) that they needed to remember before they could write it down."

Rather, they are true in so narrow a way as to render them meaningless. Yes, the arts of memorization are not what they once were, but so what? Memory is only useful and important, as Plato himself observes, insofar as it engenders wisdom, and in that half of his prediction Plato was dead wrong.

"Well, the Tao te Ching does the same thing. It opens by saying the way that can be spoken is not the true way, then continues for 81 chapters."

In the case of the Tao Te Ching, I feel it's more of a caveat emptor.

#30 ::: steve muhlberger ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:09 PM:

Of course Plato, for all his faults, was a brilliant writer.

#31 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:16 PM:

That sort of thinking is why I always preferred Aristotle to Plato -- the former was still a creature of his time, but at least he tried to look and see what was around him, instead of Idealizing whatever he was most comfortable with.

And yes, the "tools" analogy is spot-on. Indeed, it might not be an analogy, as such... One could consider writing as the "simple tool" for information storage.

#32 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:28 PM:

And a bit of Open Threadiness: I just found emergent complexity in my lunch!

I was cooking a pack of trolley noodles and the boiling rolled the noodles into nice long coils in the pot. I don't think I've had that happen before.

(This was a new-to-me brand noodles [new Asian market in "my" shopping center, yay!], in a pot wider than I usually use. Research shall continue at future meals....)

#33 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:38 PM:

And when they say it implants forgetfulness in our souls, I haven't heard anyone actually discredit this notion. Writing, like any art or religion, is a commodification of our experience. Words and idols are not the things they represent.

I wonder what Plato would've said if he'd known as much as we now know about the mutability of memory. It might make him like writing better. Or he might note that when we read, we're reading with imperfect memories that affect our present understanding of the text: the past that old words evoke is always a false past.

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:39 PM:

Tonight, on the SciFi Channel, Thor: Hammer of the Gods, with Viking vs werewolves.

"Down, Fenris! Bad dog!"

#35 ::: Ap from Saueltenegos ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 12:47 PM:

Bhelgh On Fire

If men learn this, it will implant weakness in their jaws; they will cease chasing because they rely on that which is frightened, flushing game into the open not through a hunting band, but by means of wildfire. What you have discovered is a recipe not for food, but for smoke. And it is no true winterfat that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by giving them the barbecue without teaching them enzymes you will make them seem to control digestion, while for the most part they control nothing, and as men filled, not with food, but with toxins, they will be a burden to their cavemates.

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 01:08 PM:

ap... You just reminded me that it's been a long time since I saw Quest for Fire. Not only does it have Ron Perlman sans makeup, but Rae Dawn Chong's attire consists of caked mud. I'll pass on Can of the Cave Beer.

#37 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 01:33 PM:

Serge @ 36 -

Quest For Fire was an interesting movie, perhaps the only serious film about early humanity.

10,000 BC, on the other hand, made Caveman look like a shining work of art.

#38 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 01:56 PM:

#36: I'll pass on Can of the Cave Beer.

But Cave of the Bare Clan was pretty good....

#39 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 02:11 PM:

Bruce (StM) @ #28, I really have to listen to more Knopfler. I dearly love his collaboration with Emmylou Harris, which was the first of his album's I really listened to.

#40 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 02:37 PM:

Serge @ 22 ...
Is a conversation less alive for relying on writing? Are friendship and love less real for being without physical proximity?

Provided that it's a conversation and not concurrent declamations...
That aside, there are many, many people who routinely surprise me with their physical appearance -- I'm so used to their virtual essence that discovering their physical actuality is always a shock.

#41 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 02:41 PM:

All this makes me wonder, though, how much different are our minds and experiences, just because of the whole structure of written language being burned in. I believe I've known one adult of normal intelligence, in my whole life, who couldn't read. (She's a Salvadoran immigrant cleaning offices for a living. And while I obviously couldn't claim any deep knowledge of her IQ or whatever, I had a lot of conversations with her, in which she was very obviously a bright and aware person. I've had interactions with retarded adults, and it's not remotely the same.)

I'm not sure I have any memories of being a person who couldn't read; it's hard to decide if very very early memories are real or reconstructed memories-of-memories. So it's hard for me to rule out the idea that maybe literacy changes some fundamental things about the way your mind works. I especially wonder how it affects us that, for many of us, we've had far more input of information by written word than by experience or spoken word.

This seems like the sort of thing someone has probably studied in depth, if I only knew where to look....

#42 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 02:59 PM:

Serge @22:

Is a conversation less alive for relying on writing? Are friendship and love less real for being without physical proximity?

Dunno. We're all here.

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 03:05 PM:

albatross #41: I've known quite a few adults of normal intelligence who couldn't read (one of them was my grandfather, a man who owned winning racehorses). Literacy is a skill like any other, it has to be taught. And those who learn must have a fair chance to learn it.

Literacy doesn't mean that memory isn't a cultivate skill either. Consider the "theatre of memory" that was taught in mediæval and renaissance Europe. Or, to take a more humble example the "memory gems" that generations of English schoolchildren (and children in British colonies) had to learn ("He that shoots at the midday sun, though he may never hit the mark, yet he shall aim higher than any man," for example).

#44 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 03:17 PM:

albatross @ 41:

I'm not sure I have any memories of being a person who couldn't read

When I visited China, one of the most frustrating things for me was being unable to read rather than to speak, even though I can't speak any of the languages there either. It was certainly an interesting experience.

#45 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 03:25 PM:

KeithS @ 44 ...
I found it very interesting being a functional illiterate in Japan -- able to speak, but not able to read much more than the raw basics ("bathroom", "subway", "food") -- especially being accustomed to being highly literate in my native environment.

#46 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 03:37 PM:

De Valse Zeeman, sung by Laïs
(YouTube, with folk dancing...I had not seen Dutch? Belgian? folk dancing before)

Vaarwel, mijn Griet en ik ga naar zee
De wind is reeds noordoost
Het schip ligt zeilklaar op de ree
Dus Grietje wees getroost.

Straks kom ik weer naar 't vaderland
En dan wordt gij mijn vrouw
Ik heb mijn hart aan U verpand
Ik reken op uw trouw

Dus Grietje denk dan ook aan mij
Beschouw u reeds als bruid
Ga nooit met knapen wie 't ook zijn
Ga nooit met and'ren uit

O Grietje droog uw tranen af
Men liefste schrei niet meer
Gij zijt en blijft mijn hartelief
En spoedig keer ik weer

Wees niet jaloers mijn lieve Griet
Al zeg ik U vaarwel
Die bruine meisjes kus ik niet
Die zijn zo zwart van vel

Maar de stuurman kwam aan het Oosterstrand
Daar was zijn hart gerust
En menig meisjes bruingebrand
Werd ook door hem gekust

Maar wat deed Grietje blef zij 'm trouw
Neen toen zij vernam
Werd zij dien dag reeds bootsmansvrouw
Toen hij weer binnenkwam.

- o0o -

(My translation, such as it is.)

Farewell, my Griet, I'm off to sea
The wind it blows northeast
The ship stands ready to set sail
So Grietje, be consoled.

I'll soon come back to the fatherland
And then you'll be my wife.
For I have pledged my heart to you
And trust your loyalty.

So Grietje think of me always
And act as though we're wed.
Don't go about with other men
Whoever they may be.

O Grietje dry your tears, my dear,
My darling, weep no more.
I hold you always in my heart
And swiftly I'll return.

And don't be jealous, darling Griet
When I take leave of you
I shall not kiss the brown-skinned girls
As dark as any sheet.

But the steersman came the eastern shores
And there he took his rest
And many brown-burned girls he met
And kissed while he was there.

But Grietje lost her faith in him
When once the news reached her
And she'd become boatswain's wife
Ere he returned again.

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 03:48 PM:

Serge @22:
Is a conversation less alive for relying on writing? Are friendship and love less real for being without physical proximity?

Well, having just played host to two internet friends, one of whom I had never met in the flesh before, I'd gotta say that it works out fine for me this way.

One thing I found strange: I found it easier to recognize Teresa when she was still than when she was in motion. I had to learn to know her as a moving person, because my previous visual associations with her were based on Flickr.

Also, in my head everybody I haven't met has my peculiar mid-Atlantic accent. It's always a bit of a jar to hear people whom I know in writing when we speak for the first time*. Suddenly they're all American (or, in some cases, sound just like Christopher Lambert). The effect goes away fairly quickly, but it's always a strange first few minutes.

* "And now, our final challenge in 2009's Diagram-That-Sentence competition," as PNH has said to me more than once when my clauses get tangled...

#48 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 03:54 PM:

Brown speckled white, the hawk has found his prey
beside the road, and looks around with pride;
he lives to hunt and soar another day.

Just sight of him makes northern air less grey,
this happy king on Campbellton Road side,
brown speckled white, the hawk has found his prey

just as in times of marl hole or red clay
this ruling bird with nothing here to hide;
he lives to hunt and soar another day

just one more immigrant who makes his way
in colder places, but still mice abide;
brown speckled white, the hawk has found his prey.

No creature pauses to contest his sway,
the turnings of the circles coincide,
he lives to hunt and soar another day.

You find the name i know that i can say
and all the facts that cannot be denied;
brown speckled white, the hawk has found his prey,
he lives to hunt and soar another day.

#49 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 04:28 PM:

Also, in my head everybody I haven't met has my peculiar mid-Atlantic accent.

In my head, most of you have my English accent* right up to the moment when someone uses an Americanism**, at which point they get a peculiar mid-American accent. I don't know for sure that it's abi's accent, but how many peculiar mid-American accents can there be at Making Light?

* Except clearly pronounced; how I speak English when abroad for example, rather than here in the South East
** Xopher once used a phrase that is very Irish, so sometimes I hear him with a Dublin brogue even though I know that this is wrong.

#50 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 04:40 PM:

abi, wait until you hear Serge's accent (French Canadian via southwestern US) and Linkmeister's (mid-Pacific).

(I'm lying; I've never heard Linkmeister's accent. I just thought the mid-Pacific joke hadda be made.)

When I first read Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, I heard all the characters speaking in Generic American. Then Dirk gets his nose broken, and Adams starts spelling to indicate the distortion. He spells 'secretary' "segradry." At that point I realized the accent I was hearing from him was all wrong, because 'secretary' is four syllables in America, but three in Britain.

#51 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 04:40 PM:

Neil @49:
Mid-American or mid-Atlantic?

I grew up in California, speaking mostly urban American English with a few rural quirks picked up in the mountains. I then moved to Edinburgh at the age of 23 and went somewhat native, though I never did get the Scottish accent.

I use a mix of Britishisms, Scots dialect words and Americanisms in speech. My accent, when I'm not around Americans for too long, is American in its consonants and British (generic English, kind of a weak-tea version of RP) in its vowels and word-stress.

Now I'm in the Netherlands, and starting to use Dutchified English as well. I don't think I'll pick up the local pronunciations, but the idiom and phrasing is creeping in.

I have a distinctive idiolect, in other words. If you could hear the way your voice sounds in my head, you'd laugh.

#52 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 04:50 PM:

Linkmeister @39, re: Mark Knopfler. He's an interesting guy, with a great deal of depth: His song "Sailing to Philadelphia"* is based on, and contains direct quotes from, Thomas Pynchon's "Mason and Dixon" (a book which I had to read with a dictionary in the immediate vicinity).

Aural and literary fusion FTW!

*from the album of the same name

#53 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 04:54 PM:

Xopher @50:
I have heard Serge's accent; thus the crack about Christopher Lambert.

You, I should try to imagine with a stereotypically Joisey accent, yes? (I can't; you come out mid-Atlantic like everyone else.)

#54 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 04:54 PM:

Debbie @ #52, I went directly from my previous comment to Bruce to my public library website and requested 3 Knopfler albums be put on hold; "Sailing to Philadelphia" is one of them. Thanks for your endorsement; I look forward to hearing more from him.

I do know he's a heckuva guitarist (I have the "Brothers in Arms" Dire Straits album).

#55 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 04:59 PM:

Xopher @ #50, if I lapse into pidgin I can sound pretty local. Most of the time I've got a generic American voice, with a mild tinge of Southern drawl if I'm speaking to someone from that region (I find myself using "Y'all" to those folks, and I rarely use it otherwise).

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 05:20 PM:

Nah, I grew up in Michigan. I can DO the Joisey accent, but there's almost no one left in Hoboken who speaks that way anyway.

Now I expect I've picked up some New Yawkish/New Joiseyish habits of speech. Certainly the pacing is more like NY/NJ than like MI.

#57 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 05:21 PM:

Having so recently read through the long and wonderful thread here on vaccinations, I was delighted to discover this on

I was tempted to comment on it (and leave a link to Jim's post), but by the time I got there the comments were around 800. (they have now passed 1000). I'm sure that, as you get further into the thread there may well be some uncivil behavior, attacks on Dooce, and some anti-vaccination nuttery, but the first hundred or so that I read seem to be well thought out.

#58 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 06:16 PM:

albatross, #41, I have a friend who is bipolar and can't read. I've had an odd change recently, too. When I had the first stroke in 1988, my reading speed became four times as long as it had been. After this most recent (fourth) stroke, I'm twice as long as before the first, but half as long as the time between. So about a minute a page now.

Xopher, #50, when I first watched Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters tapes, I was shocked. When reading his books, I always hear American accents.

Yesterday, the senior local NBC station anchor was talking about Obama getting pizza from St. Louis and as they're showing the shop logo, he says "That must be pia." His female cow-orker says "That's Pi" and it makes me wonder just how bright he is.

#59 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 06:19 PM:

KeithS @ 44: I lived there for eight months and sympathize greatly. Learned a bit of spoken Mandarin, but almost no written (I could recognize the name of my town, some names of other towns, some ingredients on packaged food, the characters for "attention" or "caution" which appeared on a lot of signs, and a few others, but that wasn't much.)

The inability to read and the inability to converse affected me in different ways. Being Chinese-illiterate made it hard for me to find my way around independently, although additionally, many of the surrounding systems assume people always come in groups, which had a similar effect. I got used to being very prepared - when I wanted something that couldn't be conveyed simply, I'd look up the word for it and painstakingly copy it down off a computer screen. Being unable to speak to very many people on a fluent level was far more isolating in the long run; for written communication, I had the Internet, and used it copiously.

#60 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 06:25 PM:

Brenda Kalt @ 42... My point exactly.

#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 06:37 PM:

Abi @ 47... I found it easier to recognize Teresa when she was still than when she was in motion

Wasn't there a Star Trek episode where that happened to Kirk?

I think that friendships born thru the written word last longer than others because not that many people who first knew each other in the flesh are willing of keeping in touch when they go away, unless they both like writing.

#62 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 06:57 PM:

Stephen Frug @5: "But I bet people here could come up with some others..."

Indeed. There were dire predictions when women were given the vote that they might not vote as their husbands did. For a long time they did, but not any more. When Bill Clinton was elected, Doris Kearns Goodwin pointed out on PBS that the predictions of those who argued against giving women the vote had come true.

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 07:30 PM:

abi #47: Accents can be tricky things. I grew up in a family that was linguistically rather peculiar, and thought it normal.

#64 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 07:35 PM:

Linkmeister @ 55 ...
Xopher @ #50, if I lapse into pidgin I can sound pretty local. Most of the time I've got a generic American voice, with a mild tinge of Southern drawl if I'm speaking to someone from that region (I find myself using "Y'all" to those folks, and I rarely use it otherwise).

Eh brah, malama ka 'aina, fucka' ?

#65 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 07:57 PM:

xeger @ #64, Where the heck did you find malama ka 'aina?

Hot button phrase, that, what with a dozen sovereignty movements all arguing with one another about whose land it is, and the rest of us saying "wait a minute, we acted in good faith when we bought it."

#66 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 08:07 PM:

One of my favorite mixed accents belongs to Sherry Coldsmith, last heard at an ArmadilloCon, years ago.

#67 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 08:11 PM:

Fragano #63, re: abi #47: Accents can be tricky things.

Tell me about it... I've got two regional accents (Lawn Guyland with an overlay from Boston) and three stacked speech impediments! (Familial, "autistic", and hearing-loss.)

#68 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 08:26 PM:

abi @ 51:

I somehow managed to retain my American accent, although I did pick up some English turns of phrase as I grew up there. My vowels round off a little when I'm singing, though.

A.J. Luxton @ 59:

I had my father (who at least speaks a few words of Mandarin and had lived there for a bit) to show me around. That helped a lot. I came to recognize a couple of the characters, but that's not really the same as reading.

Fragano Ledgister @ 63:

Your discussion of where home is and dealing with the question "where are you from?" struck a chord with me, as I've been trying to sort that out for myself. Thank you.

#69 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 09:13 PM:

Linkmeister @ 65 ...
xeger @ #64, Where the heck did you find malama ka 'aina?

Would you believe me if I claimed that I found it in the couch?

#70 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 10:12 PM:

James D. Macdonald @38: But Cave of the Bare Clan was pretty good...

Clan of the Care Bears, though, not so much.

#71 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 10:22 PM:

KeithS #68: You're welcome.

#72 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 11:03 PM:

xeger, #40: I have found it to be a truism that Nobody Ever Looks The Way You Expect Them To. I think the most extreme example was when someone of whom my mental image was "little and feisty" turned out to be a muscular, laid-back dude about 6'4" tall. (Note that this phenomenon can be circumvented by something like Serge's Making Light and Faces page.)

abi, #47: I've had more than one person tell me, after having met me FTF for the first time, that I write exactly the way I speak and from then on, they "hear" my posts as if I were talking to them.

Interesting personal linguistic note: I can mimic a number of accents fairly well if I'm singing a song performed by someone with that accent; for example, when singing early Beatles songs, I can do a passable Liverpudlian accent. When not singing... not so much.

#73 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 11:05 PM:

Abi @ #47: Also, in my head everybody I haven't met has my peculiar mid-Atlantic accent.

Neil Willcox @ #49: In my head, most of you have my English accent* right up to the moment when someone uses an Americanism**, at which point they get a peculiar mid-American accent.

While in my head, anybody I haven't actually heard hasn't got an accent - their written word stays written. This could be because English is a foreign language and my accent is neither here nor there. It could also be because written Norwegian doesn't match up well to the spoken dialects, so you don't get used to making assumptions when you read.

#74 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 11:41 PM:

Lee, I've noticed the same thing about sung accents vs. spoken accents! I wonder if there isn't something interesting going on there -- different part of the brain involved? Or is it just that when you're singing, you're producing sound in a different way, so that along with trying to reproduce pitch and phrasing, you add reproducing accent in without thinking about it?

Why, yes, I did spend several hours last night with unfettered access to a karaoke machine, and found myself reproducing a VERY wide variety of voices. Alison Moyet does not sound like Rod Stewart who does not sound like Grace Slick who does not sound like Richard O'Brien who does not sound like Natalie Merchant.

#75 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2009, 11:48 PM:

Lee @ 72 and Rikibeth @ 74:

My personal wild idea about this is that singing is often something that is done communally, and you want to blend in together with your community.

#76 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:10 AM:

Open threadiness: PHN's Hang This Up In Your Time Machine Sidelight appears to lack the making of blackpowder, napalm & penicilin.

I wouldn't hang anything up in my time machine that didn't tell me how to make at least two of those three, personally.

#77 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:12 AM:

Actually, I'm partly wrong. Said poster does mention that penicillin comes from bread mold. Still no blackpowder or napalm, though. How is one supposed to conquer the past without them?

#78 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:58 AM:

In the should-be-a-particle department: A really interesting perspective on legalization of marijuana, from a programming blog that I read. It seemed like a thing that a lot of the amateur law-geeks here (and professional ones) would find interesting, but would be unlikely to have come across directly:

#79 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 01:19 AM:

Terry Karney @15: My library science, and copyediting, instructors told me, repeatedly, "It's not what you know, it's what you know how to look up."

Or as Dr. Johnson said back in 1775 (almost 200 years before I went to library school):

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. When we enquire into any subject, the first thing we have to do is to know what books have treated of it. This leads us to look at catalogues, and at the backs of books in libraries.

I have a poster with the first two sentences of that quotation, which was distributed (back in the Eighties) by the U.S. Government Printing Office to promote the Depository Library System, in which our library participates.

Johnson himself apparently did not write that, though. We know that quotation because his friend Boswell wrote it in his "Life of Johnson."

#80 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 01:25 AM:

Lois Fundis @ 79: When I was a student at the University of Wisconsin, one of the professors in the law school gave a lecture each year that he said was the most important lesson of the entire law curriculum. He held up a copy of a federal government directory, and went through it, explaining how to find the people you needed to get in touch with, and how to get them to return your calls.

#81 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 01:32 AM:

Steve C @ 37... 10,000 BC, on the other hand, made Caveman look like a shining work of art

It's been years since I saw Caveman (Hey! That's Dennis Quaid, with Ringo Starr!), but any movie that has a T-rex get drunk on berries can't be all bad. As for 10,000BC, was it that dreadful?

10,000 Beer Cans on the cave wall, 10,000 Beer Cans.
Take one down and pass it around, 9,999 Beer Cans on the cave wall.

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 01:38 AM:

Steve C... Speaking of bad prehistoric movies, I think it's hard to top When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, which has a bikini-clad Italian blonde lady fed some caribou by as dinosaur that thinks she's her baby, and who later is chased by giant crabs. I don't hold too much hope for Will Ferrell's soon-coming Land of the Lost. Hopefully Adam Beach's Turok, Son of Stone will be better.

#83 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 01:41 AM:

Lois @ #79, janetl @ #80, I got that same lesson from, of all people, a business finance instructor. The text he assigned had all the formulas (current ratio, inventory turn, debt-to-equity, etc.) one might frequently need printed on the inside covers. "Don't memorize them; memorize where to find them," he said.

I still have that book, although the internet has replaced it as my go-to source for those things, and I haven't had any use for them in years anyway.

#84 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:11 AM:

Wirelizard @ 76

Prior the 18th century, knowledge of trigonometry and analytic geometry (and a slide rule* or table of sines**, if possible) would be extremely useful. It would provide you with either range computation for ballistic projectiles, or better open-water navigation, depending on whether you're planning on military subjugation or commercial competition.

On the other hand, a Zippo lighter would be far more immediately impressive.

* A sun-powered scientific calculator would work, but you can make copies of a slide rule with extremely simple tech; if a calculator breaks, you're hosed.
** You could recreate the table yourself if you know the power series for the sine and tangent functions, but it would be tedious.

#85 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:15 AM:

Serge @ 81

As for 10,000BC, was it that dreadful?

Of course you wouldn't be aware that it was so bad that the Time Patrol had it retconned out of existence.

#86 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:15 AM:

Finally, finally, my UIL slide rule competition days turn out useful! Ha ha!!

#87 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:28 AM:

Open thready Whedon fansquee:

I watched last night's episode of Dollhouse today. That ep is what might be called an existential thriller.

At one point, gur Npgvir Abirzore, jub'f orra frag onpx gb fcl ba Ntrag Onyyneq jvgu gur "Zryyvr" crefbanyvgl vzcevagrq ba ure, oernxf vzcevag gb cnff ba n zrffntr sebz fbzrbar, vqragvgl haxabja, jvguva gur Qbyyubhfr. Onyyneq gevrf gb trg zber vasbezngvba sebz gur zrffntr vzcevag, naq vf gbyq, "V nz abg vzcevagrq jvgu nal vasbezngvba lbh ner abg fhccbfrq gb unir." Sbe n gevcyr jbeq fpber, n gjb-cbvag pbairefvba, naq n serr objy bs gur fbhc qr wbhe, jub vf "V" va guvf pbagrkg?

And while I'm in a whimsical mood, when do we get to meet Foxtrot, Hotel, and Uniform?

#88 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 03:03 AM:

Foxtrot was mentioned briefly in the episode with the drugs at the university.

#89 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 03:28 AM:

Clipped from what I'm writing right now:

“But we don't even have endocrine systems,” Javier said. “We can’t get big rushes of emotion. Even our smiles are just plug-ins performing a subroutine for socially-acceptable nonverbal communication. So you can’t be all that attached to your mother. Your feelings for her were never that real to start with.”

Amy pushed herself up. She stood over him and pointed at the scroll reader. “Do you know who you sound like? You sound like them. The people who want to kill us. The ones who think we’re not real.

“God, you even blush when you’re pissed. Look at you, you’re shaking. I’m so Turing for you it’s crazy.

...And, it's officially bedtime.

#90 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 05:29 AM:

Greetings from Minicon. Stayed up very late playing music. Must drag self out of bed soon, find eggs celebrate Resurrection. Hallelujah.

#91 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 09:16 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 85... What? Now everybody thinks he/she is a critic, even Manse Everard?

#92 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 09:20 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 90... My own Easter plans for today had included the digging of big holes - not to look for eggs, but to put plants in - but that's now cancelled, since it snowed last night. I'm still expecting to watch Ben Hur though. Happy Easter!

#93 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 09:26 AM:

As I was standin' in the street
Readin' Rowling's fiction-o
A recruitin' sergeant said to me,
"I'd like to check your diction-o.

"Please just pronounce this list o' words,"
He said in manner frantic-o.
"Secretary, schedule...."
Said he, "Yer mid-Atlantic-o."

"What do you mean?" says I to he
While ponderin' his queries-o.
"I want to know what voice ye hear
Whilst readin' British series-o."

#94 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 09:33 AM:

Abi @ 53... you come out mid-Atlantic like everyone else

I'd better learn to swim better than a rock does then.

#95 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:09 AM:

(Reposted from the "Osiris" thread, where I misplaced it.)

Re: "Hang this up in your time machine" -- Bah!

Some of the stuff there represents basic scientific knowledge, but a good deal of it is stuff that just wasn't practical until it was enabled by multiple other technologies, and in some cases social changes.

F'rex, it's one thing to build a single electric motor or generator as a demonstration -- large-scale production is a little trickier, especially if ironworking is handwork from a guilded profession... and working copper is likely a different guild ("whitesmithing"). Radio needs all of the above plus better precision, expert glasswork (eventually), and probably other stuff I can't think of offhand.

Even a glider needs pretty strong materials (q.v. Leonardo da Vinci), and powered flight needs lightweight IC motors.... (Even today, battery weight is a major restriction for any electric vehicle, let alone an aircraft!)

Similarly, atomic power is useless until you can (1) build large generators, and (2) refine metals that are not only radioactive, but toxic, fragile, and insanely flammable. (Not to mention the reputation you'll get when all your workers die horribly.)

A formula like C20H26O2 doesn't even come close to defining a single compound, the speed of light is useless until you get into space, and talking about germ theory before its time is a likely route to the heretic's pyre....

Heck, if you go back far enough, the wheel is only useful if you've got plains or paved roads, and suitable draft-beasts!

Wirelizard @#76: Yeah, the nice thing about black powder is that the ingredients and prep are distinctly low-tech. Depending on your location, it might be hard to find sulfur, but the other two ingredients can be prepared almost anywhere.

#96 ::: Robin Z ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:21 AM:

Regarding Hang This Up In Your Time Machine - it's Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics who had the idea, and sells the poster (and T-shirt).

#97 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:32 AM:

Plato Twitter users can't write long messages, and therefore soon find themselves unable to express complex thoughts.

Plato The 140-character limit reduces all ideas to their simplest form, losing the subtlety that distinguishes truth from generality.

Plato Twitter is therefore a tool not for communication, but only for declaration.

Plato And it is no true conversation that you offer your followers, but only its semblance, for by telling them many things without explaining...

Plato will make them think they know your thoughts, while for the most part they know little of you, and as...

Plato ...friends filled not with understanding, but with gossip, they will be a burden to your reputation.

Aristotle RT @Plato friends filled not with understanding but with gossip are a burden on your reputation.

#98 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:53 AM:

At risk of over-explaining the joke, and for the benefit of our non-native-English-speaking readers, a "mid-Atlantic" accent is one that comes from the east coast of the USA, between New England and Dixie: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

#99 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:57 AM:

David Harmon@95
but a good deal of it is stuff that just wasn't practical until it was enabled by multiple other technologies, and in some cases social changes.

Which is why development economics is hard. I expect anyone here who is interested has already found Charlie Stross' Merchant Princes series and the discussion of his work on Crooked Timber earlier this year.

#100 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 11:04 AM:

I wrote me a letter to Syracuse, it was a letter full of lies

I told them that we were doing fine, very much to their surprise
For how were they to know that here the ground was soaked in red

Or that we could fill the valley with our dead.

I started out and told them that by Christmas we'd begin

To pack our bags and head on home to bring the new year in
While all around me boys who help me sow last season's crop

By charging at the cannons till they drop

I told my mother not to write cause we're always moving on

I told my brother not to join cause he'd only find us gone

But if we keep on much further, retreating all the way

Oh we'll all be going home now any day.

#101 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 11:15 AM:

Wirelizard@76, David Harmon@95

the nice thing about black powder is that the ingredients and prep are distinctly low-tech. Depending on your location, it might be hard to find sulfur, but the other two ingredients can be prepared almost anywhere.

Interesting point. I don't usually think of sulphur as a key component of explosives, but the next-most-simple good explosive is probably guncotton (cellulose nitrate), and making that needs sulphuric acid.

Wikipedia says that sulfur-free black powder was developed as a priming charge for smokeless gunpowder, but doesn't say whether it works well as a standalone (fall-down-alone?) explosive.

#102 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 11:21 AM:

James D. MacDonald @ 98

"Mid-Atlantic" can more broadly mean any accent that mixes American and British characteristics. I'm a lot more familiar with that usage, actually.

#103 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 11:25 AM:

James D. Macdonald (98): Delaware and Maryland are usually on that list, too.

#104 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:03 PM:

#102 "Mid-Atlantic" can more broadly mean any accent that mixes American and British characteristics.

For myself, I've never heard that usage.

#105 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:03 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 103

Except that Philadelphia and Baltimore accents don't fit in the mid-atlantic mold very well. I grew up in Philly and had relatives living in Baltimore at the time; the differences were amusing. I think you can synthesize Philly by interpolating between Baltimore and New York (Manhattan, not The Bronx or Brooklyn).

#106 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Madeline Ashby @ 89

I like that. Please let us know where/when it gets published.

#107 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:10 PM:

I usually summarize my understanding of Plato by saying that Plato was not the Platonic ideal of a philosopher. And that if you spend all your time looking at the shadows on the cave wall, you're likely to miss seeing the paintings.

#108 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:12 PM:

TCM showed Solomon and Sheba this morning. My understanding is that we don't know where the kingdom of Sheba was. Based on how Gina Lollobridgida looked, I'd say that Sheba was a Romulan colony world.

#109 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:40 PM:

Beth @ 100 ...
That's hauntingly lovely. Thank you.

#110 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:54 PM:

James D. Macdonald (104): That's the only usage I know for 'mid-Atlantic accent'; I thought you were making a pun on the other use of 'mid-Atlantic'.

Bruce Cohen (105): I know the accents in the region don't fit a common mold, but in my experience, 'mid-Atlantic' covers Maryland through New York. Except when talking about accents, when I've always seen it to mean the usage James Moar cites.

#111 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 12:54 PM:


You're a dear. Thank you. In the event that it's ever accepted anywhere, I'll be sure to let you know. :)

In other news, we've spent our Easter holidays not with Biblical epics, but with Tolkienish ones. Same themes, different costumes, more SFX, fewer bare chests.

#112 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 01:04 PM:

David #95:

Many of those seem right, but I think you can have a huge impact with relatively little technology, if you understand the germ theory of disease, and maybe memorize some useful ways to make soap. (Alcohol or other antiseptics are also a win, but clean water, good sewers, and getting people to wash their hands all can have a really big impact.) Admittedly, if you're a stranger wandering around with a thick accent and funny clothes, it's not clear how to convince the locals to stop tossing their sewage out the window in the mornings.

#113 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 01:11 PM:

Re memorization vs. looking up: somewhere in here, we get into the issue of whether or not it's a Good Thing to make students memorize times-tables, or whether calculators should be allowed in exams. My gut feeling is that the former is still a good idea because it gives you tools for doing rough estimates later in life, and the ability to make rough estimates is an important part of critical thinking. OTOH, if a student understands how to use the formula on a test, why is it necessary to make them do all the mathematical grunt-work as well? (Not to mention that they will certainly be allowed, if not required, to use calculators in any real-world situation.) What do other people here think about these issues?

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 01:22 PM:

Bruce 87: Vg trgf obevat sbe ure gb xrrc fnlvat "guvf obql" bire naq bire.

James; I was familiar with the true-regional use of 'mid-Atlantic' that you cite, but the "half-British, half-American" meaning is the one I see more commonly today. Probably some lay people heard some linguists talking about mid-Atlantic accents and conjectured what it meant. Much like I had a great time laughing at the name of the PT exercise 'anti-gravity abductor', which to me sounds like the thing a UFO uses to kidnap people.

#115 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 01:39 PM:

James, Bruce, Mary, and Xopher, in theatre and Hollywood, "mid-Atlantic" is an accent that isn't quite American or US, an all-purpose accent that'll play for many audiences and that can be used for many parts. It's often recommended for doing Shakespeare or playing upper-class parts. That meaning goes back at least to the '70s, when I was studying theatre. I suspect it's much older.

#116 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 01:41 PM:

Regarding memory - writing seems to have delegitimized it. Saying something is true because you learned it and remember it as true isn't taken seriously. It's a caveat - "I hope I'm right, but I'm working from memory." And in serious/academic work, memory doesn't even count - you've got to have a cite, a place on paper and in writing, where you found the information.

#117 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:00 PM:

Mom was wondering about something the other day, and it occurred to us that folks here might know.

At the military ceremony where Dad's interred, there are a lot of pictures of the chief executive. Likewise at lots of other places, but we thought about it in that context. What do they do with all those pictures when there's a change of administration? It seems like it'd be a huge load of disposal all at once.

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:02 PM:

Fragano @ 63... Accents can be tricky things

Luckily, just before I open my mouth, nobody has ever accused me of being an accent waiting to happen.
That frying pun hurt.

#119 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:09 PM:

Thomas @#101: Googling around, this experimenter says that a sulfur-free black powder produces much less smoke to cloud the battlefield, but also has a much higher ignition temperature, to the point of being hard to use in a matchlock. Contrary to Wikipedia's aside, he says that powder for a priming charge needs a high sulfur content.

I also turned up a patent for charcoal-free gunpowder. It seems to use phenolphthalein as a substitute. Besides the laxative effects of handling that stuff, it seems to be a derivative from coal combustion, so probably hard to refine under low-tech conditions.

#120 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:12 PM:

Whoops, correction: phenolphthalein is derived from, among other things, phenol, which is the coal derivative. Even trickier to make in the field....

#121 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:15 PM:

*citation needed

#122 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Lee @ 113
I agree with you. Not to mention that you might get stuck with a calculator that's sick or dead, and have to do it on paper or in your head, so you really need to know how (been there, done that, got the right answer).

How do they expect people to know how to use a calculator well, if they don't teach them the math first? Calculators are a tool for doing the job faster, not a substitute for knowing what to do.

#123 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:38 PM:

Has anyone seen what Amazon's been doing the last couple days? I ran across this in a few LiveJournal entries this morning--apparently anything judged to have "adult" content has been stripped of its sales rankings. So far, read "gay and lesbian themes" for "adult content," not necessarily Jackie Collins type adult content. Arrrgh.

#124 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:46 PM:

PJ @ 122: Yes, this. In the boating safety courses I teach, I find myself hammering on the point that electronics fail. That GPS system may be really spiffy and all, but so was LORAN in its day, and the Karen E still sank. Knowing how to read a chart, plot a course and do your 60 D Street calculations can save your bacon.

Rikibeth @ 74: I don't think it's using a different part of your brain so much as the fact that the way you shape your mouth and throat, breath control, tension and relaxation when singing control the pitch and tone of your voice, and those factors also come into accents. Likewise the importance of rhythm and phrasing to both the music and the accent. When you're working on producing the sounds you hear musically, you can't help but import the accent as well. (It takes real effort to sing Flogging Molly songs like Bob Dylan, or Gaelic Storm songs like the Swedish Chef.)

#125 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:46 PM:

Lee @ 113:

Owing to general laziness, I never really did memorize multiplication tables very well, and I'm bad at mental arithmetic in general. This is inconvenient in situations ranging from thinking about change to various back-of-the-envelope calculations, so I'd say that learning that stuff is a very good idea. I'm improving slowly.

As far as I'm concerned, students should not be allowed to use calculators until after they know what they're doing (and this is speaking as someone who absolutely loved his calculator all through university). If you don't know what you're doing, you don't have any feel for whether the answer is right or wrong, or even necessarily which buttons to push. You have to know what you're doing and why, otherwise garbage in garbage out.

You can go too far in this attitude. I don't know how my car works beyond the basics of an internal combustion engine, for example. You shouldn't have to be an auto mechanic to drive a car. I suppose it's a distinction between casual use and specialized use.

Also, you really don't want to start plugging numbers into formulas right away. You want to do a whole bunch of symbolic manipulation up front. It winds up being a lot less work, and it's harder to get things wrong. Modern calculators can do symbolic math, and I used mine heavily for that in university (no, I didn't want to do those horrific Fourier transform problems by hand, why do you ask?), but it's still easier to manipulate a lot of things with pencil and paper.

In a lot of the engineering and physics classes I took, we were either allowed to make our own formula sheets for exams, or they were open book/open note. The professors thought, and I most certainly agreed, that if you use something often you'll remember it, but it's more important to know how to look things up.

Now, rote memorization doesn't do you much good if you don't use it in the service of something else. Lots of people have memorized multiplication tables and yet have a hard time figuring out, for example, how much seven items will cost if they're ten for a dollar.

To wrap it up: memorization is good to a point, and it can hurt you a bit if you don't do it, but knowing what you're doing and how to get there is better.

#126 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 02:51 PM:

Lee @#113: I'd say calculators should certainly be banned at least through elementary school! If they can't do their multiplication tables et al., then they can't actually multiply -- they're just pressing buttons and assuming the gadget is right.

Similar issues apply to logarithms -- I think every schoolchild should get at least a week's worth of working with actual logarithm tables -- without that, they'll have little sense of how logarithms actually work, beyond "press this button".

In general, if you don't have at least a basic mastery of doing mathematical operations by hand, you have no way to verify what your calculator is telling you, with dire consequences for general comprehension. (Not to mention when you press the wrong button!) You need those skills to have any hope of estimating approximate answers, and that's the most basic part of sanity-checking any calculation.

"Push Here, Dummy" barely works for cameras -- for math, it's just a recipe for disaster.

#127 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 03:02 PM:

And more Open threadiness: I just thought of a useful mem, anyone want to help spread it? The idea is to start everyone pronouncing "" as "wəwəwə dot foo...".

#128 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 03:04 PM:

Bah, dropped an "e" off meme... maybe it got eaten by a schwa? ;-)

#129 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 03:16 PM:

In one of my engineering courses, we were expected to derive certain equations on the tests. None of us could reliable do it-- the professor had gone through in class, but sort of skimming, assuming we all had the calculus to do it, and then he said, "Then you look it up in the table of integrals..." and was agog when I mentioned later that I'd never actually seen such a thing.

I forgot how to borrow when subtracting sometime in high school or college. I remembered when I took the GRE, which seemed to test the ability to find the clear shortcut in arithmetic problems, or to do arithmetic very quickly.

On tests, there are two different math things going on. You have the test of getting the process right, which doesn't include any numbers at all, and the test of getting the numbers right, which is where the calculator comes in handy. Finding a decent balance for people who get one or the other entirely wrong-- usually the second, to be honest-- is hard.

#130 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 03:28 PM:

I confess, I was using "Mid-Atlantic" in the sense of "between British and American". When people try to locate my accent on the North American continent, they tend not to guess the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

Mostly they go for Canada.

#131 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 03:31 PM:

Diatyma (129): I am reminded of one of my calculus tests in high school. On one problem, I did the calculation correctly, right up to the point where all I had to do was multiply 3 by 2 for the final answer. I got 5.

#132 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 03:37 PM:

Ursula, #116: ISTM that there's good reason for that. Memory by itself is notoriously unreliable; a group of people reporting an event that they all witnessed will offer wildly variant and often mutually contradictory descriptions, each of which the person telling it will swear they remember accurately. Rote memorization of data can do better than that, but I've done fact-checking on things I was writing about and discovered that I was misremembering even things I thought I knew. In an informal setting I'm willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I still come down heavily on the side of "citation or it didn't happen" overall.

KeithS, #125 & David, #126: That's more or less what I wanted to say and couldn't figure out how to express. If we stop teaching students HOW to do basic math, we end up in the world of Asimov's "The Feeling of Power".

#133 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 03:40 PM:

And the ugly I mentioned @123 has been christened (of course it has) #amazonfail over at twitter.

#134 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 04:08 PM:

Oh, Amazon just loves bad customer feedback. Especially when they get to cherry-pick what actually stays viewable. They'll not soon forget the lessons learned combating the bad rep that Spore's Digital Rights Manglement had.

#135 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 04:36 PM:

Diatryma @ 129:

My calculus text has a short table of integrals at the back, but I'm given to understand that there were entire books of the things at one point. I'll take tables of integrals over having to re-derive them any time, and a good symbolic math program over tables of integrals. It's still good to know how to derive them, but some of them can get quite hairy and in the way of the problem you're trying to solve.

I have a student's book of log and trig tables that the maths department was giving away when I was in 3rd/10th/whatever number they've settled on calling it form. They finally decided that since everyone had calculators, it wasn't worth keeping them around any more. We got a bit of a history lesson in how to use them, then took them home if we wanted to keep them.

#136 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 04:48 PM:

Btw, Bruce Cohen, qb lbh guvax Gbcure vf fhccbfrq gb or n yvxrnoyr punenpgre? Ur'f na "naablvat" veercerffvoyl purreshy areq, juvpu vf abeznyyl zl snibevgr xvaq bs crefba gb unat bhg jvgu, ohg ur'f vaibyirq va guvf hafcrnxnoyr rivy (gubhtu ur znl oryvrir gur Qbyyf ner ibyhagrref, ur cnegvpvcngrf va cercnevat crbcyr sbe gur Nggvp, jurer nf ur qrfpevorq vg gurl raqher pbagvahbhf zragny gbegher sberire), naq uvf purreshyarff nobhg vg tvirf zr gur synzvat perrcf. V jnf ernyyl ebbgvat sbe Rpub gb hfr uvf punve ba uvz naq jvcr uvz qbja gb Qbyyarff n pbhcyr bs jrrxf onpx. Vg jbhyq freir gur onfgneq evtug. Abg gung NAL bs gur crbcyr jub eha gur Qbyyubhfr qrfreir nalguvat orggre guna n ohyyrg va gur urnq VZB.

(Dollhouse stuff. Spoilers through 10 April ep.)

#137 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 05:09 PM:

I was asleep when this happened, but I just found out that Captain Richard Phillips has been rescued from the Somali pirates who were holding him hostage, and that three of the pirates are dead. What's Latin for "thus always with pirates"? Sic semper something.

#138 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 05:13 PM:

Mark @124 -- there seems to be a lot of neurological involvement in people's ability -- or inability -- to mimic accents, although it's not completely understood yet. For example, I've seen a study showing different activation patterns between people judged to be 'talented' vs. 'untalented' WRT foreign languages when pronouncing words in three different languages (native, non-native but learned at school, completely unfamiliar). And of course the brain first has to process the information of an accent. Scottish or Irish? Edinburgh or Inverness? Some people can discriminate nuances better than others, even if they can't articulate them. Don't know if there's been any work on singing vs. speaking in accent mimicry, though.

#139 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 05:19 PM:

"It's aubergine in UK books
An' eggplant west o' Dingle-o,
It's lifts an' lorries, blues an' twos,
What you call beach is shingle-o."

(Oh -- the tune to all this is "The Recruiting Sergeant.")

#140 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 05:22 PM:

Xopher @ 137: You might be thinking of sic semper tyrannis, which means "thus always to tyrants". For this situation, sic erat in fatis ("thus it was fated") might be applicable.

#141 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 05:37 PM:

I was thinking of that phrase, yes, but I meant to convey that being shot during the rescue is an appropriate fate for pirates and hostage-takers. I meant "may it be ever thus"—including, but not limited to, the safe rescue of the hostage.

#142 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 06:07 PM:

>What's Latin for "thus always with pirates"?

Sic semper latrunculis

#143 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 06:34 PM:

"Sic semper piratus"? Or is that straight off into dog Latin?

Regarding calculators, the failability of electronics, and actually knowing what you're damn well doing before messing with the electronic version: I have to confess to having forgotten all the actual trig theory that was drummed into me in high school. Put a scientific calculator in front of me and I can DO trig, but ask me to explain what I'm doing and I'll just give you a blank look and start stammering...

This while I work in aviation, attempting to complete my Flight Instructor training, where we insist (quite rightly!) on students learning & using pilotage & ded reckoning (chart, compass, speed & clock) before they start messing with electronic navigation in it's many and varied forms.

It always surprises non-pilots how little we use GPS in small airplanes. It's useful, but not at all 'mandatory', and sometimes it's nothing but a damned distraction. I've had a couple of friends wonder how we get anywhere, if not for GPS taking us by the hand and leading us there...

#144 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 06:53 PM:

Back when oi were a lad (in London, mark you, not in Yorkshire) my father who was not exactly the recipient of what Derek Walcott would call 'a sound colonial education', insisted on my memorising the times table. Since the multiplication tables up to twelve times twelve was printed on the back of the standard exercise book, this was easy to achieve. My father insisted that this was mollycoddling of the younger generation, and that in his day he had to memorise the fourteen times table (but I never heard him recite "farteen farteens are one hundred an' ninety six"). I can still recite the multiplication table up to twelve times twelve (144), and, consequently, still do simple sums in my head as a result of that rote memorisation.

#145 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 07:04 PM:

... and on a somewhat related note, I'm absolutely enjoying the hand tools which I seem to be accumulating at a marginally implausible rate (ones which don't actually require some sort of mending, not so quickly...) -- and have just discovered that one plus of using a hand powered grinder is the tendancy to let go of the motivating mechanism when something bad happens, thus making it much harder (say), for a piece of metal to be ripped out of ones hands and flung off somewhere...

#146 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 07:35 PM:

Xopher @ 136

Gbcure ernyyl, ernyyl perrcf zr bhg. Ur'f pbzcyrgryl nzbeny, pbaprearq bayl jvgu uvf cyrnfher, juvpu frrzf gb pbzr sebz orvat noyr gb cynl tbq jvgu crbcyr'f zvaqf. Ur'f rfcrpvnyyl cyrnfrq jvgu uvzfrys sbe orvat noyr gb perngr arj crefbanyvgvrf sebz sentzragf bs bguref.

Gurer'f fbzrguvat V'ir orra jbaqrevat nobhg uvz. Vg'f pyrneyl arprffnel sbe uvz gb or gur nycun trrx jurerire ur vf. Jr abj xabj gurer ner znal qbyyubhfrf, naq vs rnpu vf betnavmrq va nccebkvzngryl gur fnzr jnl, gurer zhfg or n Gbcure sbe rnpu bar. Qbrfa'g gung qrzbgvingr uvz? Be vf uvf rirel npgvba vagraqrq gb cebir ur'f gur orfg bs gurz? Naq vs fb, jura naq ubj qbrf ur vagrenpg jvgu gurz, fb ur pna trg gur srrqonpx sebz orvat nycun?

#147 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 07:46 PM:

On memorizing the multiplication tables--somehow, possibly because my mother is quite sneaky in her own way, I ended up memorizing what a friend calls "the gazinta tables" as a result of her drilling me on the multiplication tables: "If 6 times 9 is 54, how many times does 6 go into 54?"

#148 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 08:20 PM:

On the making of pirates:

Modern piracy has been so much in the news the last few years, it's interesting to see what conditions, cultural and otherwise, contribute to their rise.

This article is from crooks and liars, and there's a link to the actual UN report at the bottom of the article.

#149 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 08:21 PM:

And... The Obamas got their dog!

#150 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 08:35 PM:

One of my calculus teachers described it as the class where you learn arithmetic. You certainly do a lot of arithmetic in it!

(My eighth-grade math teacher had us learn the squares through the square of 25. We met slide rules and non-decimal systems in seventh grade.)

#151 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 08:42 PM:

The table of integrals I saw was a book, but it wasn't something I could use. It was more or less a thesaurus, it seemed, and you had to know how it was organized so you could turn Messy Integral A into Simple Integral B.

Most of us used the internet when we needed it, and handwaving when we didn't. If you know the beginning and end of a derivation, you can sometimes make the middle happen, and if your handwriting was sufficiently bad, the professor would sort of ignore it. If he knew you knew it, which had little to do with whether or not you did.

I used to know exponents up to something ridiculous-- two to the lots, nine to the third maybe-- and I still remember some. That was tenth grade algebra, and I think it did a lot to help me recognize potentially significant numbers.

#152 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 08:43 PM:

Re Xopher's 137 <hobbyhorse>When you let a bunch of normal people go into the glory of contraception-free radical free market libertarian bliss, for some reason, you keep on ending up with war lords, strongmen & and gangs.

Is it accepted when they're exploiting, oppressing & torturing locals, but when it's exported & affects 'real people' or interferes with trade, then we pay attention to that symptom?

Is it lack of history teaching, or that we learn other parts of history & don't get shown how often this pattern is seen across the world & time?

Is the idea we wait and see how many centuries this group takes to their version of Hammurabi's code, habeus corpus, or a Bill of Rights?<dismounts>

I'm agreeing with Mary Aileen (#110) that the #102 definition is the only one I've ever understood "mid-Atlantic accent" to mean, certainly when used here in Australia or by the British. I genuinely thought that James was joking. Now I wonder if I've misunderstood USians using it.

I seldom 'hear' writing in another's voice.

And feel that the literal interpretation of the idea of Platonic Ideal things has caused a lot of suffering and damage.

*returns to celebrating 4-day weekend with healthy diet of chocolate & toasted spicy fruit buns*

#153 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 08:45 PM:

#77, Wirelizard: Actually, I'm partly wrong. Said poster does mention that penicillin comes from bread mold. Still no blackpowder or napalm, though. How is one supposed to conquer the past without them?

I think that was a deliberate omission. From the repeated use of "Take the credit", my impression is that you should use the poster's information to get stinkingly rich, and buy the past, rather than conquer it.

(Although, in reality, in the past you might need black powder or napalm to enforce your innovative little concept of "patents".)

#154 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 08:57 PM:

J Austin (#148), Thanks.
I hadn't seen your note while I was writing, toasting, etc. I hope the linked things help confirm my prejudices :)

#155 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 09:03 PM:

Coincidences can be funny... no, I mean really funny!

I was browsing the Web when an E-mail came in from an old friend. He sent me a video on how Disney only made one movie and kept tracing it.

I responded with the very page I'd just loaded, saying "Watch out for their lawyers!"

#156 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 09:36 PM:

No thanks needed;)every devil needs an advocate.

The gist of the report is: since the government in Somalia collapsed, other countries have been dumping their muclear, medical, and other toxic waste in Somali waters, sometimes right on the beach. The Tsunami threw all that shit up onto the land, flooded the wells with salt-water, etc, etc. Then heavily armored fishing boats started coming in to take the tuna, shrimp, and other fish that was their only real marketable resource, because hey, they couldn't do anything about it.

The first "pirates" in those waters were trying to protect their remaining wealth (calling themselves volunteer coast guard), and then the inevitable opportunists moved in and commenced the real pirating that we see on the news. I admit it's an oversimplification, but backstory matters.

#157 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 09:39 PM:

Quick (and exhausted) Scraps deSelby-Bowen update: this afternoon, he walked from the bottom western end of Fort Greene Park up to the prison ship monument at the top, then halfway down. His faithful sidekick alternately carried and pushed the wheelchair all the way up, and down. The sidekick is exhausted.

#158 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 09:50 PM:

#155 ::: David Harmon, that's Zardoz gone horribly wrong. And given that Zardoz had already gone horribly wrong...

Oh. Funniest Zardoz review I've encountered:

#159 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:10 PM:

Wirelizard @ 143: I think you're combining sic semper tyrannis with semper paratus; the latter is, of course, the motto of the US Coast Guard ("Always Prepared").

Velma @157: Congratulations to both of you on your incredible exercise programs!

#160 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:28 PM:

Bruce 146: V'z tynq V'z abg gur bayl bar. Fbzrbar ba nabgure sbehz oebhtug hc fbzrguvat vagrerfgvat: znlor Ebffhz (naq V'z fher gur fvtavsvpnapr bs gung anzr vf abg ybfg ba lbh) svtherq bhg jub gurve orfg crbcyr jrer, naq Gbcure naq Qrjvgg naq fbzr bs gur bguref ner, haorxabjafg gb gurzfryirf, Qbyyf. Gung jnl gurl bayl arrq bar travhf grpuvr, naq gurl pbcl uvz. Naq fb ba.

Gung'f gur bayl jnl V jbhyq guvax nal bs gurz (rira Oblq, gubhtu ur'f pybfr gb gur rqtr pnfr sbe zr) qrfreir nalguvat orggre guna gjb va gur urnq.

#161 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:28 PM:

I've always heard those half-American, half-British accents called "transatlantic."

#162 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:36 PM:

Muclear? That sounds really gross...

#163 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:49 PM:

Lee@132: definitely. I still remember vividly the mugging that our history teachers staged at a junior-highschool assembly, and the widely-scattered recollections when people were asked to write down what had happened (less unreliable than a discussion, which tends to turn into an echo chamber). I've read of that sort of demo happening in journalism school, but not how common it is/was. And our case was no-stakes; Clint Eastwood showed how it can be fatal in True Crime.

JMD@139: "They have different words for things over there. They say 'drapes' and we say 'curtains'; they say 'elevator' and we say 'lift'; they say 'president' and we say 'cretinous brain-damaged git'" (Attributed to a UK comedian in a fortune file that's not on this machine, alas.)

Austin@148ff: the claim that the media haven't noted the backstory is nonsense; I've heard it multiple times, and I don't stretch for news nearly as much as I should. And I note that other people in difficulties somehow find a way to keep their problems before the world regardless of bad behavior.

and Mez@152: "Let"?

#164 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 10:59 PM:

Wiredwizard @ 143, the only time I was in a car with a GPS it proved to be very very annoying because there was a physical glitch in regards to the place we were going--the highway ramp was closed due to construction.

The machine kept yapping at us to go back to the closed ramp and get back up onto I70, while we safely and calmly went on an alternate route. We shut the damned thing off after a bit.

#165 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 11:12 PM:

I meant only what I said. I found it interesting, and for me, the backstory makes a difference to understanding the situation in that area of the world. I never claimed the media ignored it--I said it made all the the difference. To me, in understanding the environment.

I have no sympathy for the pirates who got shot, and I don't think that desperation--or poverty, or what-have-you--give you any right to take away someone else's life or freedom. I just didn't know about the third-party pollution and illegal fishing. That's it.

#166 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 11:30 PM:

Mid-Atlantic (not accent); I think it had been in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy that one character describes a Minister as 'Mid-Atlantic'; i.e, British, but identifying too much with American political viewpoints.

#167 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2009, 11:34 PM:

The non-sulphur powders have been, by and large, flops. The ignition points are higher, which means they need a hotter ignition source. This means flintlock is right out (unless one uses regular black powder to start it, in which case one of the advantages is lost; no need to clean afterwards).

They tend to foul less, but they aren't the same by weight, or volume, so one has to keep a table handy to convert from BP values to that of the propellant you've chosen. The best (and the only one which has had any commercial success) seems to be Hogdens 777, which uses sugar, instead of charcoal, for the carbon source.

As to manufacture... it's not hard, but it is quirky, and not for the careless. It want's three separate grinding operations, then a mixing/wetting operation, and then (which is the tricking part), a milling/sieving operation.

Without the wetting/milling, the mixture will settle, and need to be stirred before use, even with that, the mixture will be inconsistent from shot to shot.

But there are lots of things one can do to make things different.

In europe, design a double piston bellows, so one can make steel easily.

Wheels are handy, even without roads (though one is going back a long way to get to no wheels). The Chinese style wheelbarrow is really handy, so long as the ground isn't too broken up.

The bearing axle (as opposed to the direct), makes a big difference too. The arch, the flying buttress, etc.

#168 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 12:22 AM:

So I have a query for anyone familiar with English law. I've finally read Brat Farrar and am puzzled by the ending (rot13'd in case anyone else is as benighted as I was):

Ba gur ynfg cntr, jr urne gur onax unf orra gbyq gung gur cynpr "orybatrq gb Fvzba nsgre nyy." Guvf frrzf obthf gb zr, nf Fvzba jnf urve bayl orpnhfr Cngevpx jnf qrnq ol Fvzba'f unaq; guvf jbhyq fhttrfg gung Ratyvfu ynj nyybjf srybaf gb cebsvg sebz gurve pevzrf. Nygreangr cbffvovyvgvrf gung bpphe gb zr:
- Ratyvfu ynj qbrf abg nccyl gur fnzr fgnaqneq gb zvabef, rira vs gur srybal vf zheqre;
- Gur onax unf orra gbyq gung Oeng jnf na vzcbfgbe ohg abg gung Fvzba jnf n zheqrere, va fbzr hccrezvqqyrpynff-Ratyvfu cebprff bs uvqvat gur terngre fpnaqny jvgu gur yrffre;
- Gur nhgube jnagrq hf gb xabj gung Oeng jbhyq or noyr gb pbzr onpx naq zneel Aryy va gur shyyarff bs gvzr, naq unat gur ynj (juvpu bar bs gur snzvyl unf

Any comment, from anyone knowing either English law of that period or Tey's degree of care in constructing plots?

#169 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 02:48 AM:

Xopher @ 160

I thought of that while watching the last episode, but haven't had time to work out all the possible consequences. I'm certain it's at least partially correct, orpnhfr gur qbyyubhfr Z.B. vf nyy nobhg pbageby, naq gur orfg jnl gb pbageby crbcyr vf gb xabj gurz gubebhtuyl naq pnershyyl pubbfr gurve punenpgrevfgvpf sbe rnpu wbo. Nyfb, nyzbfg rirelbar ng gur qbyyubhfr unf fbzr phevbhf oyvaq fcbgf va gurve haqrefgnaqvat bs jung gurl qb naq ubj gurl qb vg gung znxr zr fhfcrpg gung gurve punenpgrevfgvpf unir orra pnershyyl pubfra sbe gurve wbof. Jul, sbe vafgnapr, jbhyq gur funqbjl Qbyyubhfr Znfgref uver QrJvgg, jub npghnyyl oryvrirf va gurve cuvynaguebcvp znexrgvat pnag, gb eha na bcrengvba jvgu gung yriry bs frphevgl naq yrtny ceboyrzf? Jbhyqa'g lbh jnag fbzrbar plavpny, jub pbhyq rira tb ntnvafg gur engvbanyr vs arrq or gb fnir gur rabezbhf vairfgzrag vaibyirq?

Ba cbffvovyvgl gung bppheerq gb zr jnf gung rirelbar, pyrne hc gb gur gbc bs gur qbyyubhfr uvrenepul, vf n qbyy. Gurer'f n Jvyyvnz Graa fgbel pnyyrq "Gur Freinag Ceboyrz", va juvpu n gjvfgrq genvy bs pbageby ehaf sebz gur ehyre (pnyyrq "Gur Freinag bs Nyy", VVEP) bs Rnegu guebhtu inevbhf shapgvbanevrf, synccref, jneq urryref, rgp., qbja gb gur ynfg thl, jub pbagebyf gur cynarg guebhtu gurz, ohg gura gheaf bhg gb unir orra pbzcyrgryl pbaqvgvbarq ol gur zvaq pbageby grpuavdhrf hfrq gb rafher gbgny borqvrapr gb gur Freinag. Fbeg bs n cflpuvp pvepyr wrex. V jbhyqa'g or fhecevfrq vs gur Qbyyubhfr vf yvxr gung.

#170 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 02:54 AM:

CHiP, how old was the character?

Ratyvfu ynj jnf n ovg fhogyr nobhg pevzvany erfcbafvovyvgl. Gurer jnf na ntr enatr jurer gur cebfrphgvba unq gb cebir gur npphfrq jnf erfcbafvoyr rabhtu. Naq lbh fgvyy unir gb cebir gurl qvq gur qrrq.

#171 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 03:03 AM:

Re "Mid-Atlantic" accents: where Pennsylvania was mentioned, note that the southwestern part of the state (shading into northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio for cultural purposes) has its own idiolect, generally called "Pittsburghese." Somayinz might have trouble unerstannin me when I slip into my native dialect. Otherwise the general Mid-Atlantic accent goes from New York State to Maryland and shades into Ohio where it begins to become the Midwestern accent which is the general "non-accented" American accent.

For the other sense of "mid-Atlantic" (note the difference in punctuation here) I always think of Cary Grant as the "original" speaker of that accent, although I think I first actually heard the term applied to Tony Blair.

Re multiplication tables: Two things have always helped me remember them, or at least work my way through when I forgot something. One is the actual tables, which used to be common inside notebooks, composition books, etc., i.e. a spreadsheet-like listing with all the numbers 1 to 12 (it usually was) going across and then down, and as you went along all the possible results were in the table. For example, to find 6 times 8 you could go across the row starting from 6 and then down the column from 8 and where the two met would be "48," and you'd go, "OK."

The other was the realization -- actually stated in our arithmetic book in third or fourth grade -- that mulltiplication is just a quick version of addition. Two times three equals two plus two plus two. Four times three equals four plus four plus four. Etc. So if I can't remember what seven times eight is, I remember 7 squared is 49, and I add 8 to that and get 56. (It tends to be the six-, seven-, and eight-times tables that confuse me, especially the answers in the 40s and 50s. Maybe I was sick the week we first learned that in school.* Is 54 six times nine or seven times eight; I often have to stop and think that one out.)

* It may have been around the time I had measles, which was about this time of year, over Easter weekend. I think that was fourth grade. (Or was it third?) That would be fifty years ago.

Did you know measles is now rare enough to be newsworthy, as in on TV and in newspapers?

#172 ::: Strata Chalup ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 03:59 AM:

Fragano@144: ...farteen times farteen...

Bhayvees, hil sprechen zie 'fart'!"

Huh-heh-pai, heh-huh-pai!!

#173 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 04:40 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 84: "Prior the 18th century, knowledge of trigonometry and analytic geometry (and a slide rule* or table of sines**, if possible) would be extremely useful."

I'm pretty sure my most saleable skill prior to the 18th century would be cryptography, though I could probably reconstruct enough basic calculus and trig to revolutionize mathematics--codebreaking just seems so much more likely to bring royal patronage.

abi @ 97: FTW

Lee @ 113" "somewhere in here, we get into the issue of whether or not it's a Good Thing to make students memorize times-tables, or whether calculators should be allowed in exams. My gut feeling is that the former is still a good idea because it gives you tools for doing rough estimates later in life, and the ability to make rough estimates is an important part of critical thinking."

So much of algebra, in my experience, consists of looking at numbers and simply knowing their relationships. Guessing and checking with your calculator is possible, but mind-numbing, and studying while mind-numb isn't a good way to learn. Without having the fundamentals down pat, working through the more advanced stuff is a joyless slog. It would be like trying to compose an essay while having to look up how to shape each letter.

Xopher @ 136: "Abg gung NAL bs gur crbcyr jub eha gur Qbyyubhfr qrfreir nalguvat orggre guna n ohyyrg va gur urnq VZB."

Be qb gurl? Jr qba'g xabj jung gur Qbyyubhfr'f hygvzngr checbfr vf, nsgre nyy. Znlor vg jvyy or pbaivapvatyl oraribyrag. V gubhtug gur rkpunatr orgjrra Qrjvgg naq Qbzvavp ng gur raq bs gur zbfg erprag rcvfbqr jnf irel vagrerfgvat--Qrjvgg frrf gur Qbyyubhfr nf gur nygreangvir gb gur AFN pbagebyyvat gur grpu, naq tvira gung pubvpr, V unir gb nterr gung gur Qbyyubhfr vf gur yrffre onq.

#174 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 04:46 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 169: On the other hand, vs rirelbar va n cbfvgvba bs nhgubevgl vf nyernql n qbyy, gura jul jnfa'g Qbzvavp? Ur jnf n qbhoyr-ntrag vafregrq ol gur AFN--gung xvaq bs guvat jbhyq or vzcbffvoyr vs rirelbar jnf n qbyy.

#175 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 05:20 AM:

So, the fascoRepublithugStalinistRedactorRewrite crew being one hopes ousted from the gravytrain express revenue and disinformation junket they had from 2001-2008, have been busily infesting and reorganizing to their intents and purposes, the apparatus of information dissemination and distribution in the commercial world, following having their patron faciliators voted out in the majority of cases....

That is, the ones who didn't get "burrowed in" into the federal apparatus, are now out playing terminate in the private sector where they can do the most harm to social fabric they consider inappropriate.

Methinks a massive fumigation campaign is in order.

#176 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 05:35 AM:

has an analysis and responses that the situation is likely the result of an intentional, malicious, orchestrated disinformation campaign by the pseudoChristian fascist right wing. Is there some way to go after these hatemongering fanatics and do the same thing to THEIR materials, and make them spend their time cleaning up after themselves instead of everyone else having to spend their time trying to remove grease, mud, excrement, garbage, toxic waste, and napalm spewed by Rovian tactics and glued onto the targets the Rovian Wrong Wing attacks?!

Labeling everything that Tim LaHaye writes and all the materials of the Dobson crowd as fascist hatemongering bigoted intolerant fanatic sociopathic unAmerican theocratic lunatic ravings is no more and no less than the truth of the matter. They're hatemongering intolerant fascist unAmerican sociopaths who daily abrogate and promote abrogation of civil nonsectarian law for the goal of imposing their brand of religion theocracy on the world....

#177 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 06:17 AM:

abi @51, will shetterly @115, I meant to say mid-atlantic rather than mid-american, but was still recovering from attending a beer festival. I'd taken mid-atlantic to be that non-specific american accent that is spoken on TV; shorn of all local words and pronounciations - a very tame american accent slightly influenced by RP. I note that this is the accent I often hear in the voices of spokepeople from Russia, Israel and occasionally from elsewhere in the world; perfect American English that doesn't actually come from anywhere in America.

As it happens I've been working with kids to improve their maths. One of them brought up the "can't we just use a calculator" so I used a real life problem* to demonstrate.

They absolutely and totally need their times tables (although up to 10x10 would do with the method for long multiplication we teach them), and sadly some of them haven't. Which leads us back to why I was hired to help them. The only thing we can really do is get them to practice and practice and hope the knowledge sticks this time.

* from the time I went to a wedding in Rome and I and 3 friends hired a villa for a week for €995. I put down a €300 deposit, so how much did everyone owe who? Apart from proving my point, at least one of them learnt that the Euro is divided into 100 cents**.
** Except in France.

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 10:00 AM:

Madeline Ashby @ 111... we've spent our Easter holidays not with Biblical epics, but with Tolkienish ones. Same themes, different costumes, more SFX, fewer bare chests

Is that a criticism of Tolkienish epics? Come to think of it, the only bare chest I remember from LoTR is Elijah Wood's. It rather literally pales in comparison to Charlton Heston's.

#179 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 10:49 AM:

heresiarch 173: gurl pbzzvg gur jbefg xvaq bs ntteningrq encr, naq V'z abg hfvat ulcreobyr, V'z orvat yvgreny. Gurl unir gubfr crbcyr ercebtenzzrq fb gurl guvax gurl'er qbvat rirelguvat ibyhagnevyl, naq znxvat gurz unir frk jvgu crbcyr gurl unir ab (npghny) pubvpr nobhg. Va fhpu na rkgerzr pnfr, gur grez nccyvrf rdhnyyl jryy gb zra yvxr Ivpgbe.

Vg'f cbffvoyr gb pynvz gung gurl'er abg ivpgvzf bs rkgerzr encr, ohg cnegvpvcnagf va rkgerzr cebfgvghgvba. V jbhyq fgvyy fnl gurl'er ratntrq va n fhcerzryl rivy sbez bs uhzna genssvpxvat (genssvpxrq ivpgvzf va bhe jbeyq ng yrnfg xrrc rabhtu bs gurzfryirf gb JNAG gb rfpncr, naq fbzrgvzrf gb fhpprrq). Ohg yrg'f ybbx ng gur guerr pnfrf jurer jr xabj ubj fbzrbar orpnzr n Qbyy:

Rpub: jnf tvira n pubvpr bs arire ntnva frrvat gur yvtug bs qnl be orpbzvat n Qbyy. Qrjvgg frrzrq gb guvax vg jnf n ernyyl fjrrg qrny fur jnf bssrevat.

Thl sebz gur havirefvgl/qeht rcvfbqr: jnf tvira n pubvpr bs qrngu be orpbzvat n Qbyy. Qvggb ba Qrjvgg'f orunivbe.

Fvreen: jnf tvira ab pubvpr ng nyy. N thl jub jnagrq ure neenatrq gb or noyr gb ohl gur bccbeghavgl gb encr ure jurarire ur jnagrq, naq unir ure npg yvxr fur yvxrq vg (jryy, fur qbrf yvxr vg, ohg fur'f qehttrq—abg yvgrenyyl, ohg gryy zr bar jnl va juvpu gur Qbyyznxvat cebprff vfa'g nf onq nf, be jbefr guna, qehttvat fbzrbar gb unir lbhe jnl jvgu gurz). Fur jnf xvqanccrq naq znqr n Qbyy ol sbepr.

Gurer znl or fbzr vaqvivqhnyf jub'ir orpbzr Qbyyf ibyhagnevyl, ohg jr unira'g frra n pnfr bs gung ba guvf fubj. Naq nsgrejneqf, gurl'yy nyy fnl gurl qvq. Bs pbhefr gurl jvyy, vs gurl erzrzore orvat Qbyyf ng nyy.

Vg'f n znffvir uhzna-genssvpxvat NXN encr-sbe-cebsvg bcrengvba. V'z abg fher lbh'er jebat gung gur AFN jbhyq or rira jbefr, ohg vg'f sne sebz pyrne gb zr gung lbh'er evtug; orfvqrf, va ernyvgl gur hfr bs gur grpuabybtl znxrf vg rnfvre sbe gur AFN gb trg vgf unaqf ba vg, abg uneqre. Gur orfg pbhefr jbhyq or gb qrfgebl gur qngnonfrf naq xabjyrqtr fgbentr bs gur grpu, naq nyy ohg bar bs gur punvef, hfr gung ynfg bar gb jvcr gur zvaqf bs rirelbar jub xabjf nal grpuavpny qrgnvyf, gura qrfgebl gung bar.

#180 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 11:47 AM:

I don't know whether he coined the expression--I doubt it--but for a reference point, Tom Wolfe's Mid-Atlantic Man was published in 1969. My recollection is that I first encountered it in the New Yorker and likely about that time.

#181 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 11:52 AM:

Xopher @ 179

hfr gung ynfg bar gb jvcr gur zvaqf bs rirelbar jub xabjf nal grpuavpny qrgnvyf, gura qrfgebl gung bar.

Jryy, lrnu, ohg gura jung unccraf gb jubrire vf yrsg gb qrfgebl gung ynfg punve? Gung'f n ybg bs grzcgngvba gb qebc ba fbzrbar jub xabjf jung gur grpuabybtl vf pncnoyr bs. Frr gur raq bs Serq Cbuy'f "N Cynthr bs Clgubaf" sbe rknpgyl guvf fpranevb.

V nterr gung gurer'f abg zhpu gb pubbfr orgjrra AFN naq gur Qbyyubhfr betnavmngvba. V thrff vg jbhyq or n pubvpr orgjrra gur Qbyyubhfr'f sbez bs uhzna genssvpxvat, cevznevyl sbe cebfgvghgvba, naq gur AFN'f rkgrafvbaf bs gur xvqanccvat naq pbaqvgvbavat bs puvyq fbyqvref gb nqhygf naq gb pbireg jnesner. Juvpu erzvaqf zr, jurer qbrf Gbcure trg gurfr fhcrefcl crefbanyvgvrf ur chgf vagb Rpub naq Fvreen? Ur pna'g unir perngrq gurz sebz jubyr pybgu; gurer unir gb or fbzr erny crbcyr ur'f tbggra gur onfvp fxvyyf naq nggvghqrf sebz. Gur Qbyyubhfr pyrneyl unf npprff gb fbzr rfcvbantr/pbhagre-rfcvbantr erfbheprf, jurgure vaqvivqhnyf gurl'ir znantrq gb erpbeq, be jubyr natrapvrf gurl jbex jvgu.

Naq gung'f nabgure cbvag gung obguref zr. Jul qbrf gur AFN jnag gb gnxr gur grpuabybtl naq abg gur crefbaary bs gur Qbyyubhfr? Gur Qbyyubhfr ybbxf sebz gur bhgfvqr yvxr n zrepranel betnavmngvba, jvgu ab vqrbybtvpny svkngvbaf (nffhzvat gung QrJvgg vf qryhqvat urefrys, juvpu frrzf yvxryl gb zr). AFN vf dhvgr pncnoyr bs fvzcyl bssrevat n pbagvahvat svefg-cevbevgl freivpr pbagenpg eryngvbafuvc, naq qevivat hc qhzcgehpxf shyy bs zbarl ba n erthyne fpurqhyr gb xrrc gur Qbyyubhfr vagrerfgrq.

#182 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 11:58 AM:

Strata Chalup #172: My father was Jamaican. He pronounced "four" and "far" very similarly.

#183 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 11:59 AM:

Bruce 181: Vs fbzrbar tbg rabhtu pbageby bire gur Qbyyubhfrf naq gur grpu gb qb gur bgure guvatf V'ir fnvq, naq jnfa'g qvffhnqrq ol oevorel be guerngf gb gung cbvag, gung crefba jbhyq unir gur zbeny fgeratgu gb qrfgebl gur ynfg punve. V jbhyq, naljnl. Hayrff gur crefba jnf vagb univat vg nyy gb uvefrys sebz gur irel svefg, juvpu jbhyq fhpx.

Nf sbe gur AFN...jul jbhyq gurl cnl gehpxybnqf bs zbarl jura gurl pna whfg fgrny gur grpu naq gur Gbcuref naq frg hc sbe gurzfryirf? Va snpg, jul jbhyqa'g gurl whfg yrnir gur Qbyyubhfrf va cynpr naq orpbzr fvyrag cnegaref? Jul hfr zbarl jura lbh pna hfr sbepr? (Guvf vf zl cebwrpgvba bs gur rguvpf, be ynpx gurerbs, bs gur AFN, abg zl bja rguvpf.)

#184 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 12:26 PM:

Nf sne nf gur Qbyyubhfr grpu vf pbaprearq, onfrq ba gur fvghngvba nf cerfragrq va gur frevrf fb sne V guvax gur yrnfg onq bcgvba vf gb jvqryl choyvpvmr gur rkvfgrapr bs gur grpuabybtl naq gel gb svther bhg ubj orfg gb tb sebz gurer.

Gur fvghngvba frrzf gb unir tbar cnfg gur cbvag jurer fhccerffvba vf na bcgvba. Ebffhz unf Qbyyubhfrf va zhygvcyr pbhagevrf naq gurer ner vaqvpngvbaf gung gurl'er abg gur bayl barf jvgu gur grpu.

(Ba gur fvqr vffhr bs jurgure nal bs gur "qbyyf" gehyl fvtarq hc ibyhagnevyl, onfrq ba "Arrqf" V fgebatyl fhfcrpg gung Abirzore trahvaryl jnagrq gb wbva. Cbffvoyl Ivpgbe nf jryy, nygubhtu jr qba'g xabj rabhtu nobhg uvf cnfg gb gryy.)

#185 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 12:49 PM:

Neil Willcox @ 177... the Euro is divided into 100 cents. Except in France.

Let me guess.

#186 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Thomas Jefferson was born two hundred and fifty-six years ago today.

John Adams: 'And we solemly declare that we will preserve our liberties, being with one mind resolved to die free men rather than to live slaves.' Thomas Jefferson "On the Necessity of Taking Up Arms," 1775. Magnificent! Why, you write ten times better than any man in Congress. Including me. For a man of only thirty-three years, you have a happy talent of composition and a remarkable felicity of expression. Now then sir: will you be a patriot? Or a lover?
Thomas Jefferson: A lover.

#187 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 02:04 PM:

Xopher @#179: Gurer znl or fbzr vaqvivqhnyf jub'ir orpbzr Qbyyf ibyhagnevyl, ohg jr unira'g frra n pnfr bs gung ba guvf fubj.

V guvax vg'f uvtuyl cebonor gung Abirzore qvq, gb rfpncr gur cnva bs ure qnhtugre'f qrngu. Vg rira frrzf cbffvoyr fur'yy pubbfr gb pbagvahr gb or n qbyy nsgre ure svefg pbagenpg vf hc, vs bayl orpnhfr fur unfa'g npghnyyl orra cebprffvat gur tevrs, whfg abg erzrzorevat vg.

Naq gurer'f tbvat gb or n ybiryl yvggyr qvyrzzn nobhg "Zryyvr be (jungrire ure bevtvany anzr jnf)", ng fbzr cbvag*; Onyyneq vf tbvat gb fgnl ranzberq bs Zryyvr qrfcvgr xabjvat fur'f abg "erny", vs bayl ol cebkvzvgl.

*Nffhzvat Sbk'f rkrpf ner vzcevagrq gb unir fbzr sevttvat frafr sbe bapr.

#188 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 02:18 PM:

Serge, #186:

A: "Now you'll write it, Mr. J!"
J: "Who will make me, Mr. A?"
A: "I will!"
J: "You?"
A (5'9"): "Yes!"
J (6'4"): "...How?"
A: "By physical force if necessary! It's your duty, dammit!"

Beautiful scene. It's like a Pomeranian facing down an Afghan hound.

#189 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 02:23 PM:

Lois Fundis (171): I also have problems with 6s and 7s (and, to a lesser extent, 8s). Not sure why.

Neil Willcox (177): I learned the times tables only up through 10; 11 and 12 were treated as double digits multiplication, not learned by rote.

#190 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 02:33 PM:

Lee @ 188... Only 3 months and then we can celebrate without any of the mental reservations imposed upon us by the first 8 years of the 21st Century.

#191 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 03:04 PM:

Neil Wilcox: re foriegn announcers: What I notice is most of them seem to be working toward BBC English. The vowels, and stresses, are pretty apparent to me (this is esp. true in Russian. I can pretty quickly tell if someone learned from an American, or a British, teacher).

#192 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 03:45 PM:

Reading accents: I have a tiny NPR staff in my head to read the newspaper to me. ANY movie review (even ones written by women) gets read in Bob Mandello's voice. ANYTHING about legal decisions, Nina Totenberg. Italy, Sylvia Pojoli. (The tiny Sylvia-simulacrum I carry around also read the whole Berlusconi thread here to me.) There's also a generic Indian guy who reads any quotes from Indian officials in the paper, but not the surrounding stories.

Why? No clue. I realized it a couple years ago, and it's only been getting stronger since then. (The Nina Totenberg was first, and is especially pushy. But somehow, reading court decisions in her voice magically makes them easier for me to understand, so I guess that's ok.)

Otherwise, it's my own voice that reads to me. Somehow I manage to translate all other accents into US-equivalents. (You know, like how anime often has its "hick" characters speak with a Southern accent/dialect when it's translated into English? Yeah, I do that with Granny Weatherwax. I know it's wrong, but there you go.)

#193 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 04:21 PM:

I doubt Bill Watterson drew this. But I bet he'd like it:

The Future

#194 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 04:42 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 193... It's beautiful!

#195 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 04:48 PM:

Cat Meadors: I'm glad it works for you, but if that was happening to me (esp. Nina Totenberg; which is because I dislike her analysis/commentary for content, as well as finding her voice annoying), I'd go crazy.

I like the, generally, neutral tone I have for unknown people.

#196 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 04:57 PM:

Now I'm wondering if I'm weird. I don't hear people when I read.

Stefan Jones @ 193:

Seeing that always makes me smile.

#197 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 05:21 PM:


No criticism here. Though Gollum technically has a bare chest, too. And I'm sure I glimpsed an Orc nipple here or there.

Speaking of which, we did briefly tune into The Ten Commandments, which precipitated a conversation regarding the possible visibility of Anne Baxter's nipples. Granted, the entire film is nipple-licious, but we were surprised Ms. Baxter's contribution(s) made it in.

Then we decided more buckling of swash was necessary to cleanse our befouled minds.

#198 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 05:31 PM:

Madeline Ashby @ 197... How could I forget Gollum's sculpted physique? (Well, it was literally sculpted.)

Ann Baxter, eh?

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 05:51 PM:

KeithS @ 196... You mean that it's been around for some time? I wonder if I'd get rapped on the knuckles if I posted it on my blog.

#200 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 05:55 PM:

KeithS #196: Now I'm wondering if I'm weird. I don't hear people when I read.

It's one of the fringe benefits of having attended many authors readings at SF conventions over the years: for the authors I've heard in person, that's the voice that narrates their work for me. Some of the writers in the wild have amazing reading voices.

#201 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 05:58 PM:

Serge @ 199:

It's been around for a little while, but I have no idea how long, and I don't know where it's from. It's just out there. No one who I've seen that's posted it knows either.

But go ahead and put it on your blog. To me, at least, that one doesn't get old.

#202 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 06:20 PM:

KeithS @ 201... I wonder if the little girl's mother is Suzy.

#203 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 07:03 PM:


Next time you are in a nostalgic mood on Easter and try to recreate a Holiday at Grandma's meal, don't be disappointed when the $1.99 canned ham purchased at Walgreen's fails to measure up. The "Celebrity" brand name should really have been a give-away.

Also, your choice of potato salad sucks.

That is all.

#204 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 07:05 PM:

Stefan, #193: ...or the children of your friends, which is where a fair amount of my leftover kidstuff wound up.

#205 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 08:04 PM:

Serge 202: I wonder if the little girl's mother is Suzy.

No, she isn't. While Calvin and Suzy remained close (even inseparable) throughout high school, they were never romantically involved. Being only children, they were each others' substitute siblings. (Calvin was Suzy's prom date, but neither of them dated much in high school, and they made a mutual decision to astonish everyone by showing up at the prom at all.)

Calvin calmed down greatly when his ADHD was finally appropriately diagnosed. His parents made the difficult decision not to medicate him, but helped him learn control through a variety of feedback and meditation techniques. He never stopped dreaming, though, and once he could sit still for long enough began to write down many of his fantasies.

Suzy and Calvin continued to correspond while away at separate universities (Calvin at MIT, Suzy at Stanford). Suzy dragged her unwilling roommate along to the Worldcon one year; Diana was not enchanted by the convention (which she described as "the largest collection of really dumbass t-shirts I've ever seen"), but she was smitten with Suzy's old friend, and he with her.

After a long-distance relationship in college, Calvin and Diana were married a year into graduate school (at UCSD). Their little girl is named Susan, but never called Suzy, and all parties deny that she's named after her father's childhood friend. She does, however, call Suzy (now a prominent lawyer who many whisper will be a judge before long) "Aunt Suzy," and the visits are frequent and pleasant for all concerned.

Suzy married a surgeon named Bill. Their wedding vows included, for some reason, him promising to "say you're the doctor when you insist." Suzy sometimes calls Bill "Mr. Buns," though only Calvin gets that one and Suzy refuses to explain. She and Bill have no children yet, but they both say that won't be a permanent state of affairs.

Calvin works for an aerospace company, but has also published several stories in Asimov's and Analog. Diana caught him once holding a bottle of ketchup and making a Hugo acceptance speech, but the actual award has so far eluded him.

#206 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 08:21 PM:

Xopher, that is utterly delightfully imagined.

#207 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 08:58 PM:

Xopher, that's beautiful.

#208 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 09:16 PM:

Xopher #205: Awww....

#209 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 09:30 PM:

Anyone who has a minute and ten seconds to waste might conceivably wish to listen to this insomnia-induced thing I recorded last night. Or not.

#210 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 09:52 PM:

Clifton, KeithS, David: thank you.

#211 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 10:12 PM:

Xopher @ 205... Wow.

#212 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 10:18 PM:

Post #205 got me thinking: if you subscribe to the interpretation of Calvin and Hobbes in which Hobbes is actually some kind of supernatural creature--which I prefer, since if Calvin is actually talking to himself the whole time the strip is more creepy than funny--what happens to Hobbes when Calvin grows up?

The image linked to in #193 has him passing Hobbes off to his kid, but Hobbes himself looks ambivalent about the deal. I figure Calvin keeps Hobbes around, telling everyone that the stuffed tiger on the coffee table is a memento of his childhood.

The thing is, though, that Calvin no longer carries Hobbes around all the time... so Calvin's friends and family have no explanation when Hobbes turns up in another part of the house, or down at the corner bar, or waiting outside the grocery store. Eventually it becomes incontrovertibly clear that the stuffed tiger is, somehow, moving around by itself.

Calvin won't hear of getting rid of the doll, of course, no matter how it scares people. For a while his marriage is strained. Eventually he buys a bigger house with the advance from his latest novel and gives Hobbes its own wing with a separate entrance so nobody has to be around it anymore.

Eventually, of course, Calvin dies. His kids come across Hobbes when clearing out the estate. The doll creeps them out as much as ever, especially after they find it in the kitchen, with a can opener, sitting by a pile of empty tuna cans. They sell Hobbes on eBay, advertised as a HAUNTED TIGER DOLL!!!!

The buyer gets more than he bargained for. Hobbes is passed from hand to hand and written up in several volumes of ghost legends, becoming as famous as Hugo the ventriloquist's dummy and the Cymbal Monkey of Death. Eventually he falls into the hands of an attractive forensics expert who, like Calvin, has a genetic mutation that allows her to see the tiger-spirit housed within the unassuming stuffed toy.

This, of course, is the point where they team up to solve crimes.

("The police! You idiot, Thibault, you were followed!"

"I don't understand! There's nobody around but... this stuffed tiger...")

#213 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 11:00 PM:

Dave Bell: 13. Gur jnl gur fgbel vf ynvq bhg, Fvzba vf thvygl nf uryy; ur fgntrq n fhvpvqr yrnc (pbng uhat hc arkg gb n pyvss) jvgu n abgr jevggra jvgu Cngevpx'f snibevgr cra, gura guerj gur cra va gur dhneel arkg gb gur (pbirerq) obql.

#214 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2009, 11:55 PM:

There's a great spoof Calvin cartoon in which Spaceman Spiff tries to avoid taking the ADHD drugs that evil aliens are trying to force down his throat.

The last scene shows kid-sized footprints in the snow, leading up to and away from a garbage can containing a stuffed tiger.

#215 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 12:15 AM:

Wesley @ 212:

I don't really see Hobbes looking ambivalent in that picture. It seems more of a wistful look back at Calvin before going off to play with the daughter.

Your interpretation is nicely creepy, though.

Stefan Jones @ 214:

It's not the one you're thinking of, but here.

#216 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 02:15 AM:

Xopher @ 205

That was absolutely delightful.

#217 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 02:22 AM:

Xopher @ 179: "Gur orfg pbhefr jbhyq or gb qrfgebl gur qngnonfrf naq xabjyrqtr fgbentr bs gur grpu, naq nyy ohg bar bs gur punvef, hfr gung ynfg bar gb jvcr gur zvaqf bs rirelbar jub xabjf nal grpuavpny qrgnvyf, gura qrfgebl gung bar."

Gb zr, gung'f ol sne gur jbefg bcgvba. Nyy vg rafherf vf gung jubrire riraghnyyl raqf hc erqvfpbirevat gur grpuabybtl naq xrrcvat vg vf tbvat gb or na nzbeny cflpubcngu. Grpuabybtl arire trgf uneqre gb vairag: vs vg vf cbffvoyr, fbbare be yngre fbzrbar jvyy svther bhg ubj gb znxr vg. Lbh pna'g tb onpx--gur bayl cngu bhg vf guebhtu.

Gung'f jurer V frr gur Qbyyubhfrf naq Ebffhz Pbecbengvba fgnegvat bhg. Gurl gevrq gb orpbzr gur yrnfg jbefg bcgvba, juvyr gelvat gb svther bhg fbzrguvat orggre. Ohg evpu crbcyr unir gurve bja ntraqnf, naq oevtug yvarf yvxr "nyy ibyhagrre Qbyyf" fgnegrq trggvat oyheerq. Abj gurl bpphcl n fcnpr jurer gurl ner fgvyy pbaivaprq gung gur pbzcebzvfrf gurl znxr ner arprffnel, ohg vg'f abg fb pyrne sebz gur bhgfvqr.

Zbfgyl V guvax guvf orpnhfr na biregyl rivy pbecbengvba jbhyq whfg or fb pyvpur.

#218 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 03:00 AM:

Stefan #193 -- Beautiful!

And note that Paul said "put away", not "throw away".

#219 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 04:22 AM:

James D. Macdonald@#25:
I'm totally in favor of memorization and recitation, particularly of poetry.

As someone who never managed to write anything properly without copious use of the "Gueuloir" (as Flaubert called it) I am too, especially the second part.

KeithS@44 & xeger@45:
To keep things short I've been left aphasic (damn is it already two years ago now ?) and am now slowly getting better, it seems (though I still sometimes display, among other things, what I call "Babel talk", mixing my wolof, soninke, french, japanese, english and spanish... fun for all the family).


While I was in Japan last summer, I experienced both those in a couple of days. Could read, couldn't talk. Couldn't read, could talk. I had never realised before the feeling of agression from all the writen words in public environments, be it from advertising or other sources. I really felt less tense, for lack of a better description, when I couldn't read all the signs around. It was not from just the images, but the words, as units of meaning screaming to be heard other my consciouness, that the feeling came I realised. As if the air was heavier to breathe.

I may be misreading all this of course, but that's how I felt.

I still missed the ability to read more.

Damn I don't remember what my point was.


#220 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 06:04 AM:

Apropos of nothing...

Over the weekend, my fiancee Katy and I went to see the vicar who's going to marry us. He's technically retired (being in his ninetys) but has agreed to do the ceremony as he's known Katy all her life. He's reasonably compus mentis, but (from my brief experience) notably eccentric.

One of the first things he said to us was "Katy - you know about dancing. I have been listening to 16th/17th century music recently, but it doesn't make sense if I don't know how it's suppposed to be danced to. Can you recommend a book?"

Now, Katy did indeed take ballet and modern dance in her teens, but it didn't adequately prepare here for this particular nonegenarian request. I'm about to dive into amazon and see what I can find, but it occurred me that if there's an online community where I might be able to get a first hand recommendation for a text that covers 16th and/or 17th Century formal dance, then this is it.

So...I'm afraid that's as much information as I was given. Any takers?

#221 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 06:49 AM:

It's in First Lensman that Virgil Samms discoveres that humans and Rigellians share the ability to not notice advertising.

(Say what you like about the overall quality, the guy had his moments as a writer.)

#222 ::: john ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 06:52 AM:

CHip @ 213: It's been a while since I read it, but I think vg'f abg jung gur ernqre naq gur snzvyl abj xabj, vg'f jung pna or cebirq va n pbheg bs ynj. Fvzba jnf arire sbhaq thvygl bs nal pevzr, fb gurer'f ab erfgvghgvba nf cneg bs n pevzvany ireqvpg.

Gung yrnirf n pvivy ynjfhvg ol gur arkg nygreangvir urve: ohg gur nygreangvir urve vf nyfb Fvzba'f erfvqhny urve naq vf abj va cbfrffvba! (Sebz gur grkg, Fvzba'f fvfgre vf pyrneyl gur arkg urve ohg abg zhpu qrgnvy vf tvira. V nz nffhzvat Fvzba qvrq vagrfgngr, be gurve cneragf' jvyy cebivqrq sbe Fvzba'f qrngu jvgubhg puvyqera ). Jvgu abobql gb fhr naq ab batbvat ybff, ab yrtny npgvba vf arrqrq.

Gurer zvtug pbaprvinoyl or n fhvg ntnvafg gur gehfgrrf gb erpbire nal vapbzr tvira gb Fvzba orsber ur jnf 21. Ohg nf gur gehfgrrf npgrq va tbbq snvgu naq gurve npgvbaf jrer ernfbanoyr, vg'f abg yvxryl gb fhpprrq. Nyfb vg jbhyq or ehqr.

#223 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 07:35 AM:

Russ @220 -- Susan at Capering & Kickery is an excellent source of information.

MD² @219 -- I had never realised before the feeling of agression from all the writen words in public environments, be it from advertising or other sources. I really felt less tense, for lack of a better description, when I couldn't read all the signs around. It was not from just the images, but the words, as units of meaning screaming to be heard other my consciouness, that the feeling came I realised.

I understand exactly what you mean. One of the things that struck me about moving to Germany was how much quieter it was here (and thankfully has remained). There aren't many billboards, and there's just generally less visual advertising, even in large cities. It seems one can't NOT read visual information, or at least try to process it if it's in a remotely familiar format, so when I'm in the US I always feel a heightened undercurrent of stress, or activation or something.

#224 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 08:11 AM:

Wesley @#212: Besides being even creepier than you claim the original to be, your interpretation is simply not supported by the "original text":

(1) Calvin is six years old, an age well-known for creative fantasy, and definitely below the "age of reason".

(2) It's made clear often, that Calvin's wild flights of fantasy, are linked with bizarre behavior. ("Captain Stupendous" is particularly dramatic.) Also note that Hobbes doesn't appear in most of those fantasy sequences, not even as a sidekick.

(3) It's also made clear that regardless of Calvin's fantasies, reality proceeds according to its own rules. Notably, Hobbes won't (that is, can't) defend him against the bully Moe, let alone help him persecute Susie, or do his homework for him.

(4) We, the readers, can see all this as funny, because it's nicely contained in a comic strip. But within his world, Calvin's behavior does indeed baffle and disturb those around him.

Personally, I'd much rather see Calvin as a highly intelligent child, using his creativity as a defense against life's "slings and arrows", than as the pixilated victim of some "supernatural creature".

#225 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 08:35 AM:

MD² #219, Debbie #223:

I have the same reaction to advertising in general, but yeah, excessive signage is disturbing in it's own way. In my case, at least part of that is due to my hyperlexia -- printed words in general tend to visually "pop out" at me the same way that bright colors do (for almost everyone). And given the character of this forum, I strongly suspect lots of us qualify as hyperlexic!

Note that personally, I'd define the term a bit differently than given at the link -- it's clearly a trait commonly found with autistic-spectrum conditions, but I strongly doubt it's unique to the autistic spectrum, and it definitely extends well beyond early childhood! I've known people with the trait who clearly weren't neurotypical, but who also didn't particularly match up with the "spectrum" criteria. (To cross topics, at least one of those would have nicely fit the Calvin pattern!)

#226 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 09:17 AM:

CHiP, this is a newspaper report from 1995 which outlines the legal framework which would have applied to Simon.

I recall a report on BBC radio--one of those little things that sticks--to the effect that this intermediate stage fitted rather well with developmental psychology. There's a change in how people perceive other people, usually happening somewhere in that 10-14 age range.

Reading between the lines of the report, I wonder if the courts were presuming a little too much.

#227 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 09:45 AM:

#193, Stefan Jones -

Ooh! (Although Hobbes' expression has a hint of wistfulness that makes me sad, in spite of Calvin's cheeriness.)

#205, Xopher - Win. Absolute win.

#212 - Wesley - I prefer the standard reading of the strip because I like the sweetness of it but I can see why you like the creepy version, and I'd be right there to read this if it were fleshed out into a story. It too is wonderful, in a completely different way.

#228 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 09:54 AM:

Interrupting this open thread-in-progress to let you know that this week's This American Life podcast closes with a discussion of This is Just to Say - a deconstruction and a bunch of parodies. The theme of the TAL episode is Mistakes were Made.

#229 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 09:54 AM:

Wesley @ 212: Some years ago, I tried to write a short story which used something like that as a premise. The protagonist was a police officer in Charles de Lint's Ottawa -- the guy who keeps getting stuck with investigating the horrible supernatural incidents, and is developing a reputation as someone whose presence is unhealthy for bystanders. The story hinged on similarities to an unsolved case from years before, in which a child disappeared, leaving evidence of a horrible attack by a large cat-like creature: a few hairs, some tracks which shrink and fade out, a bit of fuzz at the end. "Crap. This looks like the thing that got the Chesnutt kid, way back when."

(In one of the early strips, Calvin claims that Hobbes ate Tommy Chesnutt, after Tommy bothered Calvin at school. "UGH! He needed a bath, too." Turns out that Tom Chesnutt was an old friend of Bill Watterson's.)

#230 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 10:24 AM:

MD² @ 219:

I'm not sure you need a point, but that's interesting to hear. I know I have trouble not reading things, so if you can't really read then all of a sudden all that noise in the surroundings fades into the background.

Dave Bell @ 221:

I was reminded of the advertising on the Rigellians' planet in China. In the cities, if you can put an ad on something, possibly a video ad that makes noise, there will be one there. Or those awful things popping up at some gas stations here in the US for that matter.

#231 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 10:31 AM:

Thanks Debbie@223; I'll head over there.

Also to Xopher@205, I'd just like to add an "awwwwww..."


#232 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 10:52 AM:

Russ @ 231... Kickery definitely is the place to go.

#233 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 11:10 AM:

Openthreadiness - Here's what happens when an author spends a little _too_ much time designing a language for his aliens:

#234 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 11:25 AM:

WRT to Calvin and Hobbes and other comic strips -- I've always enjoyed playing with the idea that they exist in the comic strip universe, where litle boys are little boys forever, spinning through an endless cycle of months. Sometime around the beginning of the schoolyear, the cycle flips back and they start a new year, same age, but with different events.

Some strips, like Baby Blues and Luann, slowly move their characters ahead, but much slower than realtime.

#235 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 11:44 AM:

Here's what happens when an author spends a little _too_ much time designing a language for his aliens

I think the Silmarillion has been characterised that way.

#236 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 12:19 PM:

Serge, Bruce Cohen, R.M. Koske, Russ: Thank you.

#237 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 12:20 PM:

Steve C. #234: That suggests come interesting interactions with the cast of For Better Or For Worse, who were aged in realtime until recently.

#238 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 01:15 PM:

re 220: Also Playford.

#239 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 01:26 PM:

Xopher, #205: Allow me to join the chorus and say that's wonderful!

KeithS, #230: ObSF: in the ClassicTrek episode "Charlie X", reading is the analogy McCoy uses to explain why Charlie can't just stop using his power to make things "go away". Once you know how to read, you can't just look at text (in a language you understand) and NOT read it. I still remember how much that resonated with me.

#240 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 01:40 PM:

Steve #234 & David #237: To say nothing of Gasoline Alley*, Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. I think the last two already interact occasionally. Tank MacNamara may also move in real time, or at least realer than comics time. I'm always amused when comic strip characters cross over briefly to other strips.

*My father has always maintained that he is the same age as Skeezix, but he's actually a few months younger.

#241 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 01:48 PM:

Thanks, Lee.

I think Hobbes is Calvin's unconscious mind. Calvin puts a NO GIRLZ ALOUD sign on the clubhouse, and Hobbes says "Who do we smooch then?" Calvin tells Hobbes that wearing a sombrero isn't cool, but Hobbes says "What's the use of being cool if you can't wear a sombrero?"

Actually he's more than Calvin's unconscious; he's Calvin's other self. Sometimes Hobbes is the one who tells Calvin when he's being silly, which is pretty cool when you think about it.

My mom tells me I was like Calvin in every way when I was that age. I never had a Hobbes, though, so my inner life was rather different. (I never backed the family car into a ditch or set anything—well, anything big—on fire, I have to add.)

#242 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 01:51 PM:

A few months ago, I had a really weird dream in which I was a character in a comic strip that was partly like Peanuts, partly like For Better or for Worse. I became aware that there had been some kind of reset: all the people around me were back the way they had been many years before. And my joy about the return of beloved friends and relations long-departed was mixed with creeping horror about knowing their inevitable fates, with a sense that we'd be trapped in some kind of loop forever...

#243 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 01:57 PM:

Xopher @ 241:

You have read the essay positing that Fight Club is about Calvin and Hobbes after Calvin's grown up, right?

#244 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 02:03 PM:

No, but I haven't seen Fight Club, so I doubt it would mean much to me. I'm told I'd actually like it, but I generally don't like to see people hitting each other (got my fill of it as spectator and participant before I got to be a teenager), so that's a bit of a barrier.

#245 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 02:38 PM:

Xopher @ 205: That's lovely.

My brother and I used to make the snowmen that Watterson drew. We even have some pictures of the one in front of the car.

#246 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 02:48 PM:

Ginger @ 245... Did your parents also say "I think we'd better get that kid to a psychologist" ?

#247 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 02:48 PM:

Xopher @#241: It think the term you want is "shadow", in the Jungian sense. Applying Jung to a 6 year old seems faintly dubious to me, but if a kid that age did start forming a shadow, then it probably would be externalized in much that fashion.

#248 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 03:12 PM:

In the comic-book "Son of a Genius", we are asked to ponder what would happen if Franklin Richards, son of the leader of the Fantastic Four, had a personality not unlike that of Calvin. Yes, you may shudder at the thought. Especially with all those supposedly deactivated doombots that Dad keeps in the closet.

#249 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 03:19 PM:

I'm enjoying the speculations on/extensions of "Calvin and Hobbes" immensely.

Thanks, particularly, Xopher and Wesley, and the rest of you in general.

#250 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 03:31 PM:

Serge @ 246: Good question. I certainly didn't hear anything from them.

Then again, we were teens, and known readers of "Calvin and Hobbes".

#251 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 03:32 PM:

Xopher @ 244:

Fair enough.

For anyone who wants to read it and hasn't seen it before, Fight Club The Return of Hobbes. Spoilers ahoy.

#252 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 03:46 PM:

Xopher: That was wonderful!

#253 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 03:46 PM:

One of the funnier things I read a while back (on the late, lamented GEnie) was a short piece about Calvin on ST:TNG, when Worf was assigned to watch him. The line I liked was was, "The fight ended, as all of Worf's fights did, with the Klingon being knocked unconscious."

#254 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 04:01 PM:

Tracie, #240: Tank moves in realtime as far as being topical, but I don't think the characters age much, or have significant life changes -- they tend to use the Star Trek Reset Button a lot.

#255 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 04:26 PM:

Earl @200: From not attending cons regularly, I'm afraid that I'll have some trouble adjusting my reading of Tim Powers and Ian Watson after seeing them at Eastercon, for different reasons. Powers-in-my-mind had a generic voice, kind of mid-Atlantic, but also somewhat earnest. Tim Powers in life is a charming, laconic, dryly funny Californian. I don't know how his books will sound when I pick them up next.

As for Ian Watson, the real one has this marvelous, theatrical tone, like a Shakespearian actor. At the moment the only one of his books I have is a Games Workshop Space Marine one that I've never read. Like a Shakespearian actor may actually be the only way to read it.

BTW, Madeline @89, I'll buy that book when you publish it.

#256 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 04:48 PM:

Re: authorial voices. On consideration, I generally don't hear author's voices when I read; I see the imagery, and only sometimes sometimes hear the characters' voices, including the narrator if they are present in the book-world. Accents and such are rarely emphasized, though.

#257 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 06:14 PM:

Ginger, albatross: thanks!

Carol: you're very welcome. It was fun.

#258 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 06:14 PM:

For fiction I hear voices for the characters. I loathe "books on tape" because they ruin both the sounds I hear in my head, and the rythms of the text/the cadence of the characters.

Who can do Elizabeth Bear's Morningstar, with the blooming presence she gives him? It's as if he doesn't speak from without, bit within.

#259 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 06:39 PM:

There's something I like about this library project: Santa Monica library lets public check out walking, talking sources

'On Saturday, the Santa Monica Public Library's Living Library Project will feature "a Mormon, an animal rights activist, a police detective, a fat activist, a feminist, a married Jewish lesbian mom, a little person and an ex-gang member," among others. Members of the public will be able to "check out" the sources for 30-minute conversations.'

'Rachel Foyt, the library's administrative analyst (and self-avowed "book-cart drill team world champion"), said in a release that the event provides an opportunity for people who have special interests, beliefs or experiences to share their personal stories with interested citizens... Foyt said "readers" will be responsible for returning "books" in the "same mental and physical condition as borrowed."'

#260 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 06:42 PM:

Aww, so no putting the Mormon in Topher's chair and reprogramming him with the personality of the married Jewish lesbian mom?

You never let us have ANY fun.

#261 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 06:46 PM:

Xopher@ 260: I'll trade you the Mormon for the animal rights activist. The police detective can help me, and the feminist/lesbian mom can help you.

#262 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 07:35 PM:

Xopher @ 260... reprogramming him with the personality of the married Jewish lesbian mom

That sounds like an episode of Dollhouse I'd want to wtch.

#263 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 07:43 PM:

David Harmon, #224: Personally, I'd much rather see Calvin as a highly intelligent child, using his creativity as a defense against life's "slings and arrows", than as the pixilated victim of some "supernatural creature".

Why a "victim?" Maybe Hobbes is just Calvin's friend.

It's worth noting that I come to this strip as someone who also likes Barnaby; also that Watterson himself was deliberately ambiguous as to Hobbes's reality. Among the many reasons he gave for refusing to license the strip was "I don't want the issue of Hobbes's reality settled by a doll manufacturer." (From the 10th anniversary book.)

#264 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 08:10 PM:

Wesley, thanks for mentioning the ambiguity. It's what I love about Calvin and Hobbes. Which isn't to knock people who want to decide one way or the other. I just prefer the tension between the possibilities.

#265 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 08:47 PM:

After I spend time with my less geographically close friends, their emails sound like them. Mostly, though, I get what I think I sound like, even though I don't actually sound like that (my voice, it is squeaky).

One of the reasons I like the strip Frazz so much is that everyone is both Calvin and Hobbes at some point.

#266 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 09:59 PM:

Xopher, thanks for outlining the future of the Susan/Calvin relationship.

(Had to be said.)

#267 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 10:05 PM:

Wesley #263: Watterson certainly deserves credit for defending his world against commercialization, and also for refusing to publically "break" Calvin's subjective world with some careless "adultism".

But as I noted above, Hobbes acts like an imaginary friend -- even other children can't see him, he never does anything Calvin couldn't conceivably have done, and he doesn't seem to know anything Calvin doesn't. When Hobbes "ambushes" Calvin at the front door, or they fight in the treehouse, there's never a witness -- Calvin comes in filthy and scratched-up, but then, he's a young boy who's been playing outside in a rural area. In general, like Calvin's "superhero", "alien", and "monster" fantasies, Hobbes yields to the "external reality" of not only the adults, but the (few) other children he interacts with.

In essence, the "ambiguity" is provided by the frame of the strip as much as the changes of viewpoint. Yes, Hobbes is real to Calvin -- but how real is Calvin? While the strip was running, he was an eternal six-year-old. A real child grows up in time; the closing of the strip frees us readers to imagine how Calvin might grow up, as in the picture that started this discussion, and as in Xopher's piece above. We know how often the dreams of childhood are simply lost, how adulthood can kill the best of childhood. The picture moves us, because it shows one way those dreams can live on, passed along to new generations. Xopher's piece shows another side of that, telling how childhood fantasies and play can mature, into adult creativity and enduring relationships.

But Wesley's version does neither of these -- instead of growth and the cycle of life, it offers a dark temptation: that the things of childhood need not die, but can be kept far beyond their natural span. Even Wesley recognizes the disturbing aspect of that... Calvin eventually has to hide his companion away from others, and when Calvin's no longer around to "contain" Hobbes... well, that's when things get ugly. And pretty much has to, because an eternal childhood is fundamentally unnatural. It violates the basic cycles of humanity, and that's always been an invitation to disaster.

#268 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2009, 11:57 PM:

Jeffty-ly said.

#269 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 12:39 AM:


As a contrary viewpoint, I'd note that there are at least a couple points where Calvin's parents go not just "What was he thinking?" but "How on earth could he have done that to/by himself?"

There's also the matter of the boy who Hobbes ate up, alluded to upstream.

#270 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 12:57 AM:

Hey, it's after midnight in the Eastern Time Zone.

Have the Teabaggers overthrown the oppressive socialist government yet?

#271 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 01:09 AM:

You just wanted to say "Teabaggers."

#272 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 01:18 AM:

I hope, after tomorrow, that tea bagging in the political protest sense is swiftly forgotten, and only reappears thirty years from now in an episode of the hit comedy "That '00s Show," in which an obnoxious neighbor drives around in a Hummer (borrowed from a museum), burns flags, and throws tea bags at people while shrieking "Down with taxes!"

* * *
Funny, foul-mouthed:

We Didn't Start The Flamewar.

#273 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 02:07 AM:

Well, I figure that the credibility of the Teabaggers really took one in the chops when Warren Buffett said in an interview that he didn't think rich people were paying enough taxes. Not so's they'd notice, though. I figure they're pretty oblivious to reasoned discourse at this point. It seems like the Teabaggers aren't actual rich people, just people who think they might be rich one day.

At least the punditocracy is have a good ole time with terminal terminology definition dysfunction. heh.

#274 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 02:21 AM:

Earl Cooley III @273:

It seems like the Teabaggers aren't actual rich people, just people who think they might be rich one day.

I'd say more like people who stop thinking when they hear "taxes". Or who stop thinking whenever someone in bad standing with them does anything. Or who stop thinking whenever someone they respect tells them that something bad is going on.

#275 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 02:23 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 268

Nice one.

#276 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 02:26 AM:

"Hefalump, hefalump, hefalump onwards.
 Into the Hundred Acre Wood rode the 300."

And if that doesn't make your head explode, you're unbreakable.

#277 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 02:42 AM:

If anyone is still reading the letters to the editor in the sadly shrinking Oregonian newspaper, then my letter tomorrow will have some tea-baggers shaking their heads in disbelief. There was a guest editorial earlier this week with the title I want to pay more taxes. I wrote in to agree.

#278 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 08:03 AM:

David Harmon, #267: Hobbes acts like an imaginary friend -- even other children can't see him, he never does anything Calvin couldn't conceivably have done, and he doesn't seem to know anything Calvin doesn't.

This isn't actually true, as Watterson himself has pointed out:

Calvin's dad finds him tied up and the question remains, really, how did he get that way? His dad assumes that Calvin tied himself up somehow, so well that he couldn't get out. Calvin explains that Hobbes did this to him and he tries to place the blame on Hobbes entirely, and it's never resolved in the strip. Again I don't think that's just a cheap way out of the story. I like the tension that that creates, where you've got two versions of reality that do not mix. Something odd has happened and neither makes complete sense, so you're left to make out of it what you want.

(From a Comics Journal interview, quoted on the strip's Wikipedia page.)

The idea that Calvin and the rest of the world exist in two realities that intersect but don't quite match is more interesting to me than pigeonholing Hobbes as a realistic imaginary friend, which seems to make the strip much smaller. (Admittedly, it could have a creepy side--Philip K. Dick would have a field day with the idea.)

Calvin eventually has to hide his companion away from others, and when Calvin's no longer around to "contain" Hobbes... well, that's when things get ugly.

I really intended that scenario to be more funny than creepy. (It does end with a forensic scientist teaming up with a stuffed tiger to fight crime, after all.) I think my mistake was in telling it from the viewpoint of the confused people who can't "see" Hobbes. I imagine Hobbes living with his usual patience and equanimity, while around him people just can't understand how that stuffed tiger is getting around, and getting more and more freaked out by what are merely Hobbes's ordinary day to day activities--eating breakfast, reading the paper, going for long walks...

#279 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 08:26 AM:

Clifton Royston #269: I'd note that there are at least a couple points where Calvin's parents go ... "How on earth could he have done that to/by himself?"

I'm pretty sure that most parents of small children say that on occasion.... ;-)

Regarding Tommy Chesnutt: as it happens, I just bought two of the C&H volumes. (Library book sale, whee!) That strip is at the top of page 31 in The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, and the exchange fits what will become the classic pattern:

Mom: Calvin, are you going to take that stuffed tiger to school again?

Calvin: Sure.

Mom: Don't the kids make fun of you?

Calvin: Tommy Chesnutt did once, and now nobody does.

Mom: Why, what happened to Tommy Chesnutt?

Calvin: Hobbes ate him!

Hobbes: Ugh! He needed a bath, too!

Now, there could be any number of reasons why "nobody" teases Calvin about the tiger anymore, or why Calvin would say so to his mother. But you'd think that the death of a fellow student would cause enough fuss that Mom wouldn't have to ask! And about 7 weeks later (top of page 50), we meet the class bully Moe ("Never argue with a six-year-old who shaves").

#280 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 08:56 AM:

From the "Touchdown Jesus" particle: Church leaders believe it is the World's Largest Christ (or at least the W.L. half-buried Messiah) and have submitted it for consideration for a Guinness World Record.

I think they missed a couple.

#281 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 09:20 AM:

Wesley #278: The idea that Calvin and the rest of the world exist in two realities that intersect but don't quite match...

But the point is, that's not unique to Calvin! It's a basic feature of subjective reality -- most obvious in early childhood, but not really limited to it. Which is exactly what makes the strip universal, a glimpse into the inner life and childhood -- rather than a tragic tale of early psychosis.

Compare to the classic play and movie Harvey, which starts off looking more like the latter, until the pooka reveals itself to an outsider (and the audience). And then the story ends, forestalling any further questions about how supernatural pranksters fit into the larger reality (which includes psychiatrists and mental institutions).

In contrast to such "containment" of the bizarre, is the popular "hidden reality" subgenre of fantasy, where it's the skeptics who are deluded, but the MiBs, Keepers, and so forth who know the Truth. "The Matrix" takes this even further, though Split ("It's the cracked ones who let the light into the world") went there first.

(And I suspect that last paragraph has condemned this post to the moderator's queueueue. ;-) )

#282 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 09:33 AM:

And, while a linkier reply is still stuck in moderation, consider the "tragic tale of madness", Garfield minus Garfield.

#283 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 09:37 AM:

David Harmon @ 279: But you'd think that the death of a fellow student would cause enough fuss that Mom wouldn't have to ask!

That would depend on how much was seen by the other kids, and how much is just a horrible story going around that most people don't really believe. Sure, everyone's creeped out by the mysterious disappearance of the child, and there are some kids who're telling this totally bizarre story about it, but...

I wrote a filk song last year which alludes to this.

#284 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 09:48 AM:

Also, while I'm still reading Essential C&H, pages 55-57 cover Calvin and Susie's first Valentine's Day. The Sunday after sending his "vinegar Valentine", Calvin himself comments, "it's shameless the way we flirt".

#285 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 10:41 AM:

Is there a name for using mannequins and fake equipment to make your forces look stronger? It's an ancient military tactic, of course, but it's an ancient rhetorical one, too--claiming greater support than you have. ("Moral Majority" being an egregious example.)

#286 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 10:53 AM:

Research on Operation Bodyguard might be a good starting point to source specific terminology for that tactic. Or it might be faster to just ask Terry Karney. heh.

#287 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 12:16 PM:

will shetterly @285:

Ah, "the lurkers support me in email" perhaps?

#288 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 12:41 PM:

will shetterly @ 285... It's an ancient military tactic

...used in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles.

#289 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 12:50 PM:

Will, my brain suggested phantom forces, which is alliterative, at least, but I don't think there is a generally accepted term. I can't find one associated with possibly the most famous example: the First United States Army Group set up to convince the Germans that the D-Day invasion was going to take place at Pas de Calais.

#290 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 12:57 PM:

Stefan, #272: *giggle* And now you know why I spend so much time here instead.

#291 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 12:58 PM:

The REAL "Touchdown Jesus" is the mosaic by Millard Sheets on the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame, my father's alma mater, my stepfather's alma mater, and my alma mater.

Not only is the Savior giving the touchdown sign, but He is also clearly visible from Notre Dame Stadium beyond the northern end zone.

The campus also features Joseph Turkaly's sculpture Fair-Catch Moses.

#292 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 01:17 PM:

Will @285:

I'm looking for my copy of The War Magician--maybe it will have the actual term in there.

#293 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 01:41 PM:

Wow, suppose I wanna go see the Touchdown Jesus. Will Amtrak offer me a Super-Savior Fare?

#294 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 01:43 PM:

Nope. Just decoy, illusion, and lots of legerdemain.

#295 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 01:44 PM:

(Extra) Point to Xopher!

#296 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 01:46 PM:

#294 is in re Will Shetterly's request, and not meant to refer to Touchdown Jesus.

#297 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 02:35 PM:

Earl @286, good idea! But it's fun seeing what folks are coming up with, so I'll wait a bit. Terry might chip in something later.

Lori @287, that one's ambiguous. Sometimes, the lurkers do support you in email. They're like countries that say, "We prefer your side, but we'd rather stay out of the fight." (The Moral Majority example is different than "lurkers in email", because they make the claim without, you know, the email.)

Serge @288, I first saw it in Beau Geste, I think.

NelC @289, I like the sound of that, if an approved term doesn't come along. And the example's appreciated!

J Austin @294, thanks for checking. And for mentioning another good resource!

#298 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 02:38 PM:

I reckon it was only after WW2 that such things as FUSAG acquired a collective name. The idea was around for a long while, such as the defence of Fort Zinderneuf in Beau Geste, but it depended on reconnaisance methods which reached far beyond the front line. For example, the Germans tried to set up fake wireless traffic to mask the sortie of their fleet before the Battle of Jutland.

Yes, there were "quaker cannon" before then, but these artifices were tactical. In WW1 armies tried to hide the build-ups for their attacks, but it was essentially camouflage--short-range and close-up.

By WW2 people had realised who aircraft and wireless intercapts could reveal. So much so that the German radar developments were initially under-used for fear of revealing secrets. And everyone was making some attempts at deception.

Perhaps it was the desperate straits faced by Britain in 1940 which laid the foundations. With sometimes erratic navigation, a decoy was worth trying as part of the defences against night bombing. The Germans tried to do the same against the RAF. By 1943 in North Africa these methods were reaching beyond simply hiding the real, and persuading the enemy to attack the fake, and were trying to present a wholly false image of the where and when of an attack.

And we had such overwhelming control of what the Germans could see. We controlled their spies in England. We were feeding them fake radio traffic, and breaking Enigma meant that we had a good idea of how they were thinking. We could amplify the reactions we wanted.

FUSAG was the creation of the Fox News of military storytelling.

And part of the deception was to hide the deceivers. Units had rather anonymous designations. It also looks as if some of the standard accounts are pretty thorough fakes. Jasper Maskelyne's version of events has been pretty thoroughly demolished, for instance.

#299 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Will Shetterly@297:

I don't know that book would be a great resource by itself, but if you google Jasper Maskelyne, you'll get several websites that dissect his personal accounts, have pictures of the "sunshields," etc, and you might be able to track down some better terminology that way.

#300 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 02:52 PM:

Dave Bell @298:

Should have hit "refresh" before I posted 299;)

#301 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 03:27 PM:

Lee @113: What do other people here think about these [calculator vs. memorization] issues?


#303 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 03:49 PM:

David Harmon @127: pronouncing "" as "wəwəwə dot foo..."

I use "dub dub dub." People mostly seem to get it.

#304 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 03:55 PM:

RM Koske @ 302... I love crazy castles

...even the part about building a nice doomsday device to wipe out all of Europa?

#305 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 04:09 PM:

#304, Serge -

It is a smidge extravagant for a first date, but he is a Wulfenbach, after all. I'm sure he's got great plans for the second date, no worries.

(The advantage of crazy castles is that no matter how much Castle Heterodyne likes the idea, it can't go out and do it without him.)

#306 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 04:22 PM:

RM Koske @ 305... If a doomsday device is a Wulfenbach's idea of getting to first base on a date, I dare not think what the second base is like. ("When he whispered sweet little nothings to me, I had no idea he meant Nothingness.")

#307 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 04:52 PM:

R.M. Koske @ 305 -- it can't go out and do it without him until after the entire castle is converted into a mass of little replicated clanks.

#308 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 06:06 PM:

I think the second star next to Touchdown Jesus was meant to be a separate Particle with its own label, about someone auditioning for something.

#309 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 06:13 PM:

The US tends to use the term, "battlefield deception".

The Russians, of course, have a lovely word for it, "maskirovka", which shows up whenever the subject is talked about, and will (I hope) end up becoming the generic term of art.

#310 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 06:17 PM:

Terry Karney @ 309:

Do you know if that word is related to masquerade? It looks like it. If so, that's a charming term for it.

#311 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 07:20 PM:

re, Susan Boyle Particle: wow.

#312 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 07:56 PM:

Terry, maskirovka gets 26,800 hits, so I'm going to make sure it gets one more. I owe you now! (Okay, I prob'ly owed you before, but I definitely owe you now.)

J. Austin @300, no worries. I like knowing that someone writing about spoofing was either spoofing or spoofed.

Dave Bell @298, *many* thanks. "Quaker cannon" is especially nice; I suspect I'll find a use for it, too.

#313 ::: dido ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 08:48 PM:

I'm sorry, I usually read all the comments before responding but this is really upsetting me (which is not to imply at all that you *should* not upset me): I'm not a Plato fan (like--at all) but I think he should be given the benefit of doubt on the question of whether his "teachings" were written down.

He *knew* that the "writing" quotes were problematic; in an era of something like 5-10% literacy how could you envision a future where people who couldn't read were an anomaly?

[As for all the Aristotle-avengers, well, I see your point, but he's equally, fatally flawed)--and I would argue in a more fundamental way. And I AM an Aristotle fan.]

#314 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 08:53 PM:

Xopher, to return to the chocolate-packing problem of the last open thread, I've got another simple solution for you: convoluted packing foam, the stuff that looks kind of like egg cartons. Get two pieces that nest together, and use scissors to snip each "peak" into a dip. That would give you a regular grid of voids separated by foam. You'd just need to make sure that the convolutions in the foam are on a scale appropriate for your chocolates.

#315 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 09:41 PM:

Dido @313, agreed. That's sort of what I meant (but did not say clearly at all) @10: Plato doesn't say it. He tells a story in which Thamus, King of All Egypt, says it.

#316 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 09:50 PM:

will shetterly @ 264: "Wesley, thanks for mentioning the ambiguity. It's what I love about Calvin and Hobbes. Which isn't to knock people who want to decide one way or the other. I just prefer the tension between the possibilities."

You know, in the past I generally preferred the ambiguity too--in all kinds of stories, not just Calvin and Hobbes. Lately though, I've found it kind of irritating. Instead of actually deciding whether something is true in this universe or not--especially regarding the existence of God--it's become de rigeur to be cleverly non-committal on the subject. More and more it strikes me as "ooh, I'm so terribly hip I can't see over my pelvis I don't even NEED to make truth claims within my created universe! How do you like them po-mo apples?" Now, there are legitimate artistic reasons to be coy about existential truth in the story's universe, but so often these days it just feels lazy.

I noticed this when I watched the pilot of Kings, which is fairly straightforward about God: yes, there is an active God, and he's the fickle, incomprehensible God of the Old Testament. No ambiguity. There He is, giving out crowns of butterflies, protecting His chosen, messing with His enemies. It was just so refreshing to see someone (anyone!) take a stand that I started wondering what the norm was that I was comparing it to.

#317 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 10:15 PM:

dido #313: I wouldn't call myself an "Aristotle-avenger", I just prefer his basic approach(*). What are you considering as his "fatal flaw"? (There's too many possibilities for me to guess! ;-) )

*: And while it's hardly fair to judge either of them against modern science, the Platonic "world of Ideals" has been comprehensively smote by the trifecta of Turing, Goedel, and whoever figured out that computation is subject to thermodynamics.

#318 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 10:17 PM:

heresiarch @316, also agreed that ambiguity can become tiresome. Sometimes fiction should say: "This is a simple proposition. Now, let's explore it." For all that I love Calvin and Hobbes' ambiguity, I also love Jack Staff's "There are superheroes and vampires and whatever I want to put in here, so sit back and enjoy."

#319 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 10:31 PM:

Bill Higgins - Beam Jockey @ #291: I don't think I knew you were a Domer. I am a Bender & a fac brat, so I grew up in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus.

Three of my brothers graduated from ND in the 80s...what was your year? (I went to IU Bloomington, myself).

#320 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 10:41 PM:

John@222: Cebbs jbhyq pregnvayl or svaqnoyr unq gur snzvyl abg gnxra pbhagrenpgvba (qvfcbfvat bs gur vapevzvangvat cra); ohg lbhe rkcynangvba znxrf frafr, ng yrnfg va qba'g-fpner-gur-ubefrf grezf. Ba shegure gubhtug, V'z jbaqrevat jurgure gung gur fgngrzrag gung fbzrobql unq gb gryy gur onax gung Fvzba unq orra gur cebcre urve nsgre nyy jnf n cbyvgr jnl bs fnlvat gur onax unq gb xabj gung Oeng jnfa'g Cngevpx, va beqre gb trg gur snve erfhyg bs Aryy vaurevgvat; nf lbh fnl, jvgu Fvzba qrnq vg qbrfa'g znggre gung ur unq qvfdhnyvsvrq uvzfrys.

Dave: interesting. It looks like there would have been all sorts of discussion about whether planning proves understanding.

Earl & NelC: Alfred Bester read \exactly/ like he wrote -- so much so that a few weeks after first hearing him I had to put one of his stories down very quickly to avoid being too jangled for an audition.

Will@285: "Potemkin Army" is an obvious name, but I've never heard it used.

David@311: I got the Susan Boyle link through one of my chorus's emails. "wow" is just the start; I'm wondering how she got so much better a technique than any pop star or Broadway singer I've heard in a long time -- no imitations, no gimmicks, just a great performance. That's much harder than writing well without an editor because your voice sounds radically different to you than it does to other people.

#321 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 10:42 PM:

heresiarch #316, will shetterly #318:

Whereas I consider that apparent ambiguity is often just a distracting surface effect, obscuring a complex but definite reality.

#322 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 10:56 PM:

CHip #320: According to the fan sites, she had sung in church choir and karaoke. (I suspect the first was more important to her style. let alone her vocal power.)

Watching the video, I was vastly amused by the judges' reactions: they start off slouched, not quite snickering with the audience, but clearly "going through the routine". Then she starts to Sing, and the judges just jawdrop -- in at least one case, literally! Within seconds they're all sitting up and leaning forward....

#323 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 11:10 PM:

David Harmon @ 321: Wavicles?

To some observers, by some detection methods, Hobbes has toy-like behaviour. In other circumstances, he has tiger-like behaviour. But the reality is more complex and has aspects of both. Eventually, yarn theory may give us an explanation.

#324 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 07:21 AM:

Joel #323: To one observer, Hobbes has tiger-like behavior -- it happens to be our usual viewpoint character. And I really don't want to continue this argument, as for me, the real point of the strip was stranded back in the early 200's of this thread.

#325 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 09:15 AM:

David Harmon @ 324: Sorry, I thought I was agreeing with you about Hobbes' nature. (One observer that we know about, obviously in the minority, but we can't know if he's unique.)

#326 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 10:27 AM:

Joel @#325: Sorry, I thought I was agreeing with you...

It's OK, but you're not actually agreeing with me. I was the one arguing that we can infer the reality of the strip by examining its characteristics. It was Wesley et al. who were arguing from inconsistency to indeterminacy.

<pedantic> BTW, you've confused at least two of the three Big Weirdnesses of modern physics: Wave/particle dualism says that particles can behave like waves (or vice versa) depending on how they're constrained (or not) by "observation" (the definition of which has gotten distinctly esoteric). Relativity says that (specifically) the observed sequence or simultaneity of events can differ among observers, but does so in a consistent manner. The third Big Weirdness is quantum indeterminacy, which limits the information that can be extracted from a given observation, and also reveals some (very) non-intuitive phenomena at the subatomic scale. </pedantic>

#327 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 10:32 AM:

heresiarch @ 316:

I think it's a matter of intent and execution. The reality or not of Hobbes was taken just seriously enough to be both interesting and funny. In other stories there is ambiguity that's still interesting. In yet other stories, it's a matter of being 'clever' about it, and that's when it becomes annoying.

CHip @ 320:

If Bester read like he wrote, I have to wonder how he would have read the telepaths' conversations and word-games in The Demolished Man.

David Harmon @ 322:

I have to say I was stunned by her performance as well. I gather she's been signed to a label, so we'll see what comes of it.

#328 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 10:41 AM:

re: Tommy Chesnutt being eaten by Hobbes

It doesn't have to be any more complicated than that after an altercation (and we have only Calvin's perception that it was overt bullying), Tommy didn't come back to school.

It could have been sudden illness, an accident, or a move that had been planned for some time but that hadn't trickled down to the kids at the school.

If Tommy had known his family was leaving, there might have been some resentment and acting out at school. If he said or did something mean, particularly referencing Hobbes, and then "vanished", of course Calvin would think Hobbes had taken care the problem.

#329 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 10:44 AM:

"had taken care of the problem."

#330 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 11:02 AM:

KeithS @#327: I have to say I was stunned by her performance as well.

Indeed, as was I (and I promptly tossed the link at my Mom). If the judges had been more respectful to begin with, their reactions wouldn't have been so funny!

#331 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 11:23 AM:

I remember being very surprised the first time I saw downtown LA, because while the city itself is huge the traditional "big buildings with corner offices" part is quite small--not as small as Pittsburgh's downtown, but not a whole lot larger either. This is far from obvious from the way it usually shows up in movies and such.

Therefore it seems to me that someone familiar with downtown LA ought to be able to figure out which other buildings DeWitt's corner office looks out on, and thus where the Dollhouse is located. This assumes that they're using a real office and not a set with a backdrop outside its "window"--but even then, it's probably a shot taken from a real location.

I would find this interesting to know, but I don't remember even vaugely enough about downtown Los Angeles to attempt it...

#332 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 11:29 AM:

David Harmon @ 330:

You have to admit, slightly dotty older lady from the country is a pretty good secret identity.

#333 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 11:40 AM:

Random comment/thought:

When a party starts losing voters, it's natural for it to lose the less fervent, less extreme voters first. This seems to be happening to the Republicans right now--with more voters who've either gone over to the Democrats or just lost faith in the Republicans, they seem to be more and more dominated by their extremes. This looks like a feedback loop, because as the extremes take more power, more moderates will be pushed away.

ISTM that there are a great many ways this could go very badly for the country. The modern GOP is a party in which Rush Limbaugh seems like a serious leader, and Newt Gingrich is the voice of moderate reason. Our electoral system almost guarantees that they will get power again sooner or later, and the economic crisis could turn in such a way that they ended up in power very soon. It takes little imagination to see how badly that could end up.

#334 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 11:46 AM:

KeithS @332 You have to admit, slightly dotty older lady from the country is a pretty good secret identity.

Mrs. Pollifax lives!

#335 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 11:58 AM:

David Harmon @320, a "a complex but definite reality" may be more complex than can be rendered by an ostensibly objective reality. Look at any event that has partisans. People like to say "the truth is in the middle," but it's not necessarily, and even if it is, it may be impossible to find out exactly where it is. Frex, something happens, and someone has a heart attack. Cause and effect? Coincidence? The wrath of God? For different POV characters, each of those can be true. (Recommended novel illustrating this, and which might be fantasy: An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears.)

Carol Kimball @328, re: Tommy Chesnutt being eaten by Hobbes:

Tommy Chesnutt may have been one of Calvin's imaginary friends.

Calvin's folks might have checked and found that Tommy Chesnutt was perfectly fine.

Hobbes may have eaten Tommy Chesnutt's soul and left his mind and body to continue a purposeless existence.

#336 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 12:30 PM:

Random bit, seen in the New Scientist:

If bright light makes you sneeze, a neurogeneticist at UC-SF wants to hear from you.

#337 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 12:39 PM:

KeithS #332 You have to admit, slightly dotty older lady from the country is a pretty good secret identity.

Not for a singer it isn't! Heck, I don't even hang out with "music crowds", and I've still personally met at least one woman who looked pretty much like a troll -- but had a glorious singing voice. (She was also quite a sweet person, but that's equally irrelevant to being a good singer!)

And frankly, I think judges sneering at their audition contestants is just nasty to begin with, if not unprofessional.

#338 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 12:47 PM:

Will #335: Dude, take your portable goalposts and go home -- I want out of this argument! ;-)

#339 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 12:57 PM:

Pendrift @ 336:

Bright light doesn't make everyone sneeze?

David Harmon @ 337:


#340 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 01:22 PM:

Carol 328: Or Calvin just beat the hell out of Tommy and imagined/reported it as Hobbes eating him. People would have stopped teasing Calvin about Hobbes at that point.

I have a friend who was fat in junior high, and a guy who was mean to him about it got pushed down the stairs. (No, I don't think that was appropriate, but it was certainly effective.) "OK, this kid's a psycho. DNFW" would explain Calvin's general lack of friends, as well, and why no one helps him with Moe later.

Carrie S. 331: Interesting points. The Dollhouse is deep underground, yet Dewitt's office IIRC is only just above the lab level, if that. I suspect her office windows are simulations.

David 337: Hear hear. I don't watch such shows, because I watched a little bit of one once and was very uncomfortable with the feelings I had toward Simon Cowell (i.e. I wanted to stab him to death with a dull and rusty spoon). But you know, because commercial singers in this video age are all pretty, people expect funny-looking people not to be able to sing.

KeithS 339: It doesn't make me sneeze. Walking along last summer roughly parallel with another guy (I didn't know him), we both passed from the shadow of a building into the bright sunlight; he immediately began sneezing uncontrollably; I did not.

#341 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 01:31 PM:

Xopher @ 340... I was forced to watch American Idol when I was staying at my sister-in-law. Well, I wasn't really forced, but it'd have seemed a tad rude for me to walk out of something my host was enjoying. Personally, I don't get the attraction of shows like that, or like the late unlamented "You Are the Weakest Link". They remind me too much of high-school - which wouldn't make a pleasant musical.

#342 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 01:36 PM:

#339, KeithS -

I think I was in my twenties before I'd even heard of it as a phenomenon, so I don't believe it happens to anyone in my family.

It's so weird what turns out to be genetic, eh?

#343 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 01:54 PM:

Xopher @#340: I don't know where you got that impression; they have to use an elevator to get to her office and as far as I can tell there's been no particular indication of how long that elevator ride is. Of course I could be forgetting.

Regarding earlier conversation on the morality of the Dollhouse, I get the distinct impression that Abirzore'f obql pnzr sebz n ibyhagrre--fur jnagrq gb trg njnl sebz gur cnva bs ure qnhtugre'f qrngu. Vg frrzf gb zr abg bhgfvqr gur ernyz bs cbffvovyvgl gung (zbqhyb riragf va gur frevrf) fur'yy jnag gb xrrc orvat Zryyvr jura ure vavgvny pbagenpg vf hc, fvapr yvsr nf n Qbyy vf abg npghnyyl urycvat ure qrny jvgu gung cnva.

V frafr n avsgl yvggyr "juvpu crefbanyvgl jvaf" pbasyvpg va gur shgher, nffhzvat Sbk'f rkrpf pna or vzcevagrq jvgu rabhtu frafr gb xrrc n fubj gung pna znxr gurz n ybg bs zbarl.

#344 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 02:05 PM:

Regarding the new sidelight of Teresa's about the epidemic of suicides in India: Wow, that comment thread went septic immediately. The story itself is horrifying, but the response of the readership is more so.

#345 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 02:12 PM:

David Harmon @337, I'm now imagining a comparison of Janis Joplin and Susan Boyle.

@338, portable goalposts should be in any Calvin and Hobbes discussion. Calvinball rules! (Because they change!)

#346 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 02:15 PM:

David, #330 (et al): What I want to see is what she looks like once she's been given access to the same kinds of professional primping assistance available to... oh, people like the judges. Something as simple as a more flattering hairstyle and taming the eyebrows would bring her appearance more into line with what people "expect" a good singer to look like.

I'd also like to note that part of the reaction is due to what I call the "Jim Nabors effect" -- her singing voice is a LOT better than her speaking voice, which adds considerably to the surprise. Listening to her before she starts, I would have expected her to sing like my mother, which is not a compliment.

Serge, #341: You've just nailed the reason I don't like shows like that. They are ALL based on humiliation humor, although they pretend not to be. The prizes are pure justification and plausible deniability.

#347 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 02:21 PM:

Andrew, #344: It had gotten better by the time I looked; there were a bunch of people dogpiling that first idiot (and a few more like him). Still ugly, but at least not uniformly toxic.

#348 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 02:28 PM:

Fluoroquestion-- is there either an elegant (or sharp) English phrase for "I told you so," or a non-English version? Today in response to a situation I very much want to imply 'I told you so,' I just don't want to say "I told you so."

For example, "Lucy directly told you she'd pull the football away , and you kicked anyways. You were played."

#349 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 02:29 PM:

Carrie 343: You're right about her office. I just misremembered.

#350 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 02:48 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 323

A quite coherent explanation.

#351 ::: broundy ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 03:53 PM:

Another take on Calvin growing up (mildly NSFW):

Teenage Calvin & Suzy

#352 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 03:59 PM:

Xopher@340: But you know, because commercial singers in this video age are all pretty, people expect funny-looking people not to be able to sing.

Classical music and opera used to be the exception, but (speaking from an admittedly limited exposure to the genre) I get the impression that good looks are almost as important as a fabulous voice nowadays.

KeithS et al re: photic sneezing, I honestly had no idea it was that common. Within an hour of posting that link on Facebook, three of my friends told me it happened to them.
Trust scientists to call it an Autosomal-dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst. Nerds do have more fun - I don't see myself getting to name anything after Gary Larson ever, for instance.

#353 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 04:43 PM:

Ok -- the Department of Justice has released four of the torture memos from the Bush Administration. I've tried reading them, and I can't get past the second paragraph of the first memo without wanting to run for the bathroom.

I'm ashamed to be an American, to know that our government has done this in my name, on my behalf...

#354 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 05:27 PM:

The last talent competition I watched, and I think in some ways it is on the margins, was the BBC versiom of "Strictly Come Dancing", last year. And that's different because the people competing, while they're professional performers of one sort or another, are learning dancing as the series progresses.

Have a look at the official BBC page. The winning Show Dance in the final had the judges awestruck.

Apart from the judging panel not including Simon Cowell, and not deciding the No. 1 record in the hit parade for Christmas, as a whole the show gives us a feeling that we could maybe match that. Since I was, at the time, still in hospital after my road accident, I maybe was worrying I couldn't even do better than John Sergeant.

An aquaintance of mine did tell me that the dancing in Cats wasn't all that difficult. I certainly can't imagine a cat having to dance backwards and in heels.

#355 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 05:36 PM:

Lori Coulson @353: I found a link on the NYT site after reading your comment and downloaded the memos. I could feel my stomach churning after the first paragraph describing the techniques, and can't bring myself to read the rest just yet. Scrolling down very rapidly already makes me queasy.

#356 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 06:10 PM:

On a lighter note, I'm watching "The Narnia Code", discussing a hitherto undiscovered layer of meaning to the series.

The Guardian articles says:

It has long been accepted that the classic children's series features Christian symbolism, but scholars have laboured for years to discover a third level of meaning, trying unsuccessfully to fit the themes of the seven sacraments, the seven deadly sins, and the seven books of Spenser's Faerie Queene to the novels.

Three guesses as to what the third level is.

#357 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 06:10 PM:

Dave Bell #354: They seem to be having trouble -- I keep getting "This content doesn't seem to be working. Try again later", even after enabling scripts.

#358 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 06:18 PM:

Open-threaded random fun. To determine your NPR name, take the first letter of your middle name, and insert it at random into your first name. Your last name is the name of the smallest town you've been to.

For NPR news from Texas, this is Streven Schulenburg.

#359 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 07:04 PM:

Bother. Working for me, but the BBC could be blocking access from outside the UK

Try Youtube Seems to need less bandwidth, and includes the judge's comments.

#360 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 07:10 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 353... You shouldn't be ashamed. We did throw the bums out, with democracy and without the pitchforks.

#361 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 07:10 PM:

I find myself in need of fonts, specifically medieval fonts but also all types of decorative fonts and wingdings. Does anybody know of a safe site that offers font shareware? I use OpenOffice on an Itty Bitty Machines clone running Microgunk Vista.

#362 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 07:16 PM:

A few friends of mine got very into America's Next Best Dance Crew, or something with a similar title, because it was different. It was very performance-oriented, by the time I saw an episode absolutely everyone was good-- and I mean good-- and they were generally supportive of each other, not only within each dance group but among as well. While the people who had seen the entire arc could point out how tired everyone was and where they'd borrowed choreography, I was just stunned at the performances.

Early Idol, or What Not To Wear*, are awful. I don't like that kind of meanness.

*A friend once watched about an hour and a half of this show before taking me shopping. This was a bad idea. I already disliked shopping, especially shopping with intent to make me over in some way, and I couldn't imagine spending the kind of money they do on the show just to look like everyone else with a fresh scoop of self-loathing on top. I cannot make that show make sense.

#363 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 07:25 PM:

I would love to go on What Not to Wear and get into it with the hosts over the utter ridiculousness of paying $250 for a pair of dry-clean-only jeans that I plan to go hiking in. Or wearing pointy-toed shoes when there is any other option. I doubt that I could find the clothes I need in the shopping districts where they send their victims.

OTOH, they do have some successes, like the young artist who needed to look pulled together and professional without showing any skin (and her counterpart the Realtor who was still dressing like a college kid and showing way too much skin) or the up-and-coming boxer who needed to look successful to attract backers without a clue how to go about it.

#364 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 09:29 PM:

Just a few minutes ago, I have discovered what I believe may be a law of the universe. Testing it could prove difficult and dangerous, so I'm going to put it to the Fluorosphere as a hypothesis, for you to compare to your own experience.

Hypothesis: If a Hummer appears in motion in an urban environment, the number of flaming assholes inside the car cannot be less than one.
I would assume that if there is only one, he's* behind the wheel, but there might be circumstances where the asshole is doing the egging-on, not the driving.

In my experience Hummer drivers are unable to comprehend that stopping or even slowing down at intersections is required, even when (say) there's an old bald guy dragging himself across the street on a cane.

(Yes, I just almost got run over by one of these fucktards tonight. He had plenty of time to slow down, but of course the mass of the Hummer means that for him to slow down (as opposed to making me speed up, which fucking hurt, dammit) and then accelerate the monstrosity back to R17 would probably cost the asshole twenty bucks in gas over just tearing along and assuming I'd run, which of course I can't.)

I hope that guy wraps his fucking Hummer around a lightpole before he kills someone who doesn't deserve to die. Fuck Hummers and the assholes who drive them in cities!

*I suppose it's remotely possible that a woman might want a Hummer, but if so I bet she doesn't drive it in Hoboken. The Alaskan Tundra, there's a reasonable place, if you accept that there's any reasonable civilian use for a Hummer, an idea of which I'm far from convinced.

#365 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 09:41 PM:

Xopher @ 364:

When I would drive past a Hummer dealership on a regular basis, I always wanted to hang up a sign that said something like, "Average human male pns length is 5–6 inches. You don't have to overcompensate for something that's not inadequate." Unfortunately, this would not be a catchy slogan, and I'd probably get in trouble with the dealership.

I don't think I've ever seen a dirty Hummer. Take that for what it's worth.

Certain words pre-disemvoweled because I might have inadvertantly performed a spambot-summoning on another thread.

#366 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 09:43 PM:

Apropos of absolutely nothing, but:

Is it just me, or is Craigslist getting particularly hideous wrt to their job ads lately? The signal-to-noise (well, really, job-to-scam) ratio there these days seems ridiculous.

#367 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 09:58 PM:

Summer Storms @ #366, no, it's not just you. Once you bypass the "work from home" scams there doesn't seem to be much left. I may have to resort to my local newspapers to see if they actually still have any listings.

One of our papers just went from afternoon to morning, and to tabloid-size from "normal." It's driving me crazy; for one thing, no longer are the comics all on one page. They're scattered throughout the paper.

#368 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 10:27 PM:

I am a photo-responsive sneezer. I am also a violent sneezer. Maia made me warn her if we were in the car (which we got down to my waving a finger in the air, toward the windshield). She also managed to short circuit it sometimes, by saying, "bless you" before I could sneeze. This was sort of frustrating to me, because that left me with the urge to sneeze, and no sneeze handy.

#369 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 10:37 PM:

Summer Storms: I've had very little luck with it, and that in a smaller market. I've seen some really hideous things.

The best was the one which sent me a reply (rare enough) explaining they couldn't accept resumes as attachements, because they'd been hosed with a virus.

The email addy let me look them up. Scummy.

The ad I found via google was for a "contract" job (on an outsourcing site), asking for bids (job to pay 20-100USD), to scam Craiglist.

One had to be able to make multiple postings (with proxies, IP spoofing, etc.) not be flagged, or ghosted, and have all this ready to go.

It's a hard time out here in the job hunting market.

#370 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 10:45 PM:

Lori at #353, me too. I get simultaneously enraged and sick. The fact which makes me maddest and sickest is that the army/CIA/US government employed doctors to oversee these monstrous acts, and they did. How is this not a violation of their oath and of every moral standard they were ever taught? How does it differ from the horrors of experimentation the world publicly rejected after WWII?

I am glad that Obama published the documents. I am ashamed, that my government did these things. I have mixed feelings about his statement that individuals who did these things "in good faith," believing that it was legal, are off the hook. I can understand why he thinks it's necessary -- but someone needs to be held accountable. Bybee? Yoo? George Bush? Someone?

#371 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 10:48 PM:

Terry @ 369: Eeew. Just eeew.

One ad I found even in the Plain Dealer(!) here was for someone to write ad copy for a foreign-dating scam site, of the "meet hot singles from [insert foreign country here]" variety. Said individual to also deposit checks for same. I'm frankly surprised that the paper actually took the ad.

#372 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 10:51 PM:

Lizzy, 370: and I'm surprised that Obama is apparently unaware that the Nuremberg Defense doesn't fly.

#373 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 10:56 PM:

Jenny @ 361
If it's freeware, you can download it. If there's a shareware site for it, it links. (Also for-pay sites, because we really don't want Bitstream and people in Redmond after us.) You really don't want to know how many fonts there are on this planet ....

#374 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 11:17 PM:

KeithS 365: I don't think I've ever seen a dirty Hummer.

You will, if you're with me when I find that Hummer parked and if there's a pile of dogshit nearby.

#375 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 11:18 PM:

KeithS@327: I was hoping to find out more, but he couldn't make his guest slot at Worldcon and died shortly afterwards; the ]actors[ who attempted to do "They Don't Make Life Like They Used To" and especially "The Pi Man" were a very weak substitute.

Pendrift@352: My impression is that classical (I'm not much familiar with opera) still does not depend on looks -- for one thing, it's mostly live in large halls (where looks aren't much visible) or recorded. But I'm not exactly an authority either -- I sing behind local professionals a few times a year

Lizzy@370: Yoo is currently a professor at the former California "Christian" College (now Chapman) in Orange County, so he's unlikely to face the expulsion for moral turpitude that he richly deserves.

Summer: I was also thinking of Nuremberg -- but IIRC that defense was denied mostly for high-level people. Mind you, I would hope nobody else would be willing to hire them; but I'm not totally cheesed off at Obama's decision. The doctors, on the other hand, should lose their licenses as violators of the Hippocratic Oath.

#376 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 11:23 PM:

CHip: I didn't know that Yoo was at Chapman (I thought he was still Berkeley's disgrace) I may have to tell some of my friends (who are alums).

The "Christian" in the name has been gone a long time (it was Chapman College in 1991, and became a Chapman University in 1992/93).

It was a tolerably liberal campus (I have an ex, now an opera singer, to twine subthreads, who went there). I suspect some alumni might be convinced to stop donating, so long as he is teaching/has a position there.

#377 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2009, 11:32 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 361:

You might find something at They're all free as far as I'm aware.

#378 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 12:34 AM:

Xopher: re female Hummer Drivers.

My wife was on a message board, and one of the posters there was a hummer driver. This was a couple of years ago, when the subprime mortgage mess was only starting to look like a looming failure.

She was a financial train wreck. Everything was bought on credit, some on cards, some on refis. She wound up with two houses, because she bought a foreclosure with the intent to refinance later. One of the little incidents I remember was her replacing the windshield because she threw her cell phone at it.

So, no more sense than the male hummer drivers.

#379 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 12:42 AM:


Around here, the hummers are often driven by aggressive a--hole men, but the cellphone-chattering soccer moms in minivans are at least as much of a danger. They won't *mean* to kill you, but even after the bump and screaming, they'll simply complain to their friend over the phone about all the noise on this road, driving merrily on.

#380 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 12:42 AM:

CHip, Lizzy L, Lori, Summer:
Doctors assisting at torture — shudder.
Oh, wait — silly me — they weren't helping, they were just monitoring the health of the prisoners, but of course that made it more palatable(!) for the horrors to continue. I so much want them to at least lose their licenses.

#381 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 12:49 AM:

An important consumer advisory for men who overcompensate (since we were talking about behemoth SUVs), do not buy the magic pills associated with the claim that "Your manhood will fly like a white dove - independent and free". Over the counter pharmaceutical offers like that can be poetically compelling, but you really do not want that to happen to you, especially if you have a window open.

In case you're curious, this is not a matter of personal experience, just a general, common sense warning.

#382 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 01:02 AM:

Using the rel="nofollow" tag for this:

The Talent Killers: How literary agents are destroying literature, and what publishers can do to stop them

Among agents many sins: selling books, not writing query letters for wannabe writers, and having submission guidelines on their web pages.

A "... particulary brilliant (or particularly sleazy) first-time novelist."

#383 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:58 AM:

Jenny, #363: Heh. Some 30 years ago I went to one of the early versions of the Women's Expo shows, and sat thru a presentation about how to dress for success in the office. The (male) speaker emphasized the need for clothing that was professional and practical rather than sexy. In the question-and-answer session at the end, I stuck up my hand and asked why NONE of the models had been wearing shoes that were either professional or practical? And what good did it do a career woman to wear shoes that were guaranteed to damage her feet and legs over the long term, as well as making it hard for her to keep up with her male colleagues?

He didn't have a good answer. And this is one standard of "professional" dress for women that doesn't seem to have changed much, from what my female lawyer friends tell me.

KeithS, #365: Reminds me of a comment I posted in my LJ a few years ago:
d00d. If you think that putting Jimmy Buffett stickers on your shiny army-green Hummer does anything to lessen the Jerkwad Factor of driving a Hummer in the first place, think again. There is NOTHING you can put on your Hummer that will make you look hip, or cool, or like anything but a shallow vain asshole with a lot of money and a really tiny pns. (also pre-disemvowelled)

Xopher -- so glad you're not hurt. And dammit, why isn't there ever a cop around when they do that?

#384 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:12 AM:

Harry Connolly @382, all comment links on ML are set to nofollow by default; ML has traditionally been very stingy with the blessings of its considerable strategic reserve of googlejuice.

#385 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 04:09 AM:

Albatross @333

I agree completely.

I think I am most frightened by the fact that the same "liberal media" that called the previous president a hero for fighting the war on terror with terror is declaring the Republicans to be in disarray.

The impression that a party, whose congressional delegations are still voting as a block -- almost without exception -- constitute a party that has been de-fanged is terrifying while Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich spread their hatred and tea parties become occasions for vicious slander.

But I worry most about the willingness of true progressives to cede the broader cause by allowing a president, who has only been in office a short time, to be blamed for not reversing eight years of fascism overnight -- especially when he must work so hard to keep the Democratic Party together to fight against the Republican juggernaut.

He has released details that name names higher in the power structure that should arm his supporters with the ammunition to lobby for accountability -- something he cannot do directly without moving "off message." That is important, considering the tightrope we must all walk now to rebuild our nation's moral and fiscal strength.

On a generally lighter note, I'm so glad that Susan Boyle has received her own just deserts! I keep watching the Youtube clip and crying (even when I watch with my eyes closed, her voice overwhelms my emotions).

#386 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 05:07 AM:

One of my favorite Bush-era quotes from Doonesbury is "what's the point of being right all the time if you're always off message"?

#387 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 05:30 AM:

Earl Cooley @386

With respect, I didn't mean to imply that Obama should step outside the bounds of "being right" for the sake of staying "on message." I hope, as a member of the Democratic Party, that my fundamental belief that government springs "from the people" is shared by others -- and that "we, the people" will push our representatives to do what is right, rather than expecting the social contract to work the other way around.

#388 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 05:41 AM:

This is a beta announcement of

Making Lumiere, the Party: Friday August 7, 2009, Montreal-- exactly 16 weeks from now-- and

Making Lumiere, the LJ Community, devoted to all things Making Making Lumiere.

MLtCommunity has just opened*. Much more will be announced over the next units of time.

MLtP will be a guest-list party: the room [much larger than last year's room] is not on the party floor. We'll be celebrating all 8 food groups and the 5 basic tastes including the newest flavor "not sour" via a miracle-fruit tasting party.

* as I neither sprǽc nor parler nor have previous experience with LJ Communities, all pointers, sharp or not, appreciated.

#389 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 05:50 AM:

I'm also a photic sneezer. I'm pleased to see someone doing research about it. My experience is that angle matters, and so does amount of glare.

Photic sneezing trivia question: What character in a popular fantasy series is a photic sneezer? (The answer is especially interesting in that the character is not human.)

#390 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 06:01 AM:

Xopher@340: Have you seen last Friday's episode, "A Spy in the House of Love"?

In it, n jvaqbj va qr Jvgg'f bssvpr vf oebxra. Jr frr bhg bs vg gb gur fgerrg orybj. Gur jvaqbj vf beqvanel tynff, naq gur bssvpr vf uvtu hc.

#391 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 06:08 AM:

Kathryn: Joined and friended.

#392 ::: KévinT ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 07:30 AM:

Both "cent" and "centime" are allowed, due to homonymy: "neuf cents" can mean ".09 Euros" or "900 Euros".
The distinction is important when writing checks!

#393 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:01 AM:

Scammy job offers: Neddie Jingo found that Sometimes they come after you. He was going to punk them, but didn't have the heart.

#394 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:19 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 388... We'll be celebrating all 8 food groups

It's made with people!
The party, I mean.

#395 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:30 AM:

Oops! I screwed up the 'bold' html ar #394. Can somebody fix it?

#396 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:18 AM:

#354 - Dave Bell -

The equivalent show* in the US is called "Dancing with the Stars" and I enjoyed the first season immensely.** I recall watching Evander Holyfield (a boxer) on his last episode early in season one, and while he didn't do well technically, he was *beaming*. I was so happy to see him enjoying the process and felt like he was likely a bigger winner than many of those who stayed on longer.

*I think, anyway.

**My tv watching dropped and I haven't seen any of the more recent seasons. I can't say if the show has changed since or not.

#397 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:30 AM:

KévinT @ 692... That must make for interesting situations when it's time to pay l'addition.

#398 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:38 AM:

re Craig's List job ads: My library (meaning I) has put up a page of job-search links, including the local Craig's List pages. It's a comprehensive, not selective, list of links. But, given the ratio of scammy-to-real that is being cited here, should I take Craig's List back off the page? (My boss had previously expressed some concern, but without either of us knowing how bad it really was.)

#399 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:43 AM:

I'm reading Freerange Kids by Lenore Skenazy, which just came out, and I note one Abi Sutherland who lives in the Netherlands is quoted on page 85.

#400 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:57 AM:

362, 363: I like What Not to Wear, specifically because it's not humiliation-based. And they really do work with the people on the show to find things that fit their style - either toning it down or spicing it up as necessary, but they don't just put everyone in a one-size-fits-all "THIS IS FASHION" look. Sure, they spend a ridiculous amount, but it's a TV show - that's its job. You can (I try to) take the ideas they promote and apply them to reasonably-priced clothes, too.

Xopher @ 364 - the two Hummer drivers I see around here regularly are both women. Got to keep the kiddos safe, after all - driving on those mean suburban streets, you never know when you'll have to jump a curb & start driving through people's lawns.

#401 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:06 AM:

I don't know about Craigslist in general, but for things dealing with writing or publishing, if it's on Craigslist it's either a scam or hopeless.

#402 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:07 AM:

As some of you may recall, back on the 4th December I had a nasty road accident. Nasty in what the potential effects could have been, as thewy included three fractured vertabrae. But the designed safety features worked, and saved me from a lot of other bad things.

Yesterday, Thursday, the last of the plaster came off, and I was consigned to the physiotherapy department. Ankles need particular care, after all.

Well, some of you know the superficial problems, such as the itching of the dry skin newly exposed. But I'm feeling pretty good about how I'm getting around. I've be warned to be very careful about driving (manual transmission--you need the left ankle for the clutch), though we've lined up a low milage Honda Civic, with a fittings package that would make me a boy racer if I had a full head of hair.

I'm going to the fracture clinic in another six weeks, and at the moment it feels like that might be the end of things. Or the physiotherapy might run for longer.

Anyway, I consider all this to be Good News, and shall permit you to erupt in paroxysms of exuberant joy, or not.

#403 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:15 AM:

Xopher #364:

So far as I'm aware, no one in town here owns a Hummer. I do occasionally see them in wintertime, driven by tourists. Just a hint to them: Four-wheel-drive doesn't brake any better than two-wheel-drive, and ice is no one's friend.

#404 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:17 AM:

Dave Bell @ 402... Hourra!

#405 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:31 AM:

I used to drive an ex-Army Land Rover. I've driven it off-rad, not just in muddy fields but in some rather rough conditions.

About the only way it could have been more mil-spec was if it had 24v/FFR electrics and a machine-gun mount.

Who knows how long the classic, box-ey, Land Rover design will continue to be produced? But you can still buy civilian models which are the equivalent of what the Army uses. Heck, many of the Land Rovers the Army uses are civilian models.

And the Land Rover, right from the start, had the Meccano nature.

Perhaps the only problem, from the POV of a modern soldier, is the sneaking suspicion that you might need a Whitworth spanner.

The Hummer, or at least the ones truly based on the military vehicle, seems designed to carry four people who are not on speaking terms. My Land Rover could seat seven. My Land Rover could be carried inside a helicopter.

Well, the Land Rover is firmly of the Jeep generation, only better. After WW2, people were working out how to do things better.

If you want a better Hummer, instead of a better Jeep, maybe the Land Rover is still the answer.

#406 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:35 AM:

Dave Bell #402:

I personally love it when the designed safety features work as intended. Good job to them, to you, and to all who've been involved in your care in the interim.

(For those coming in late, Dave talked about his collision in Open Threads 117 and 118.)

#407 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:38 AM:

Dave Bell @ 402


I'm sure you don't need me to tell you, but do your physiotherapy as instructed - sure helped my shoulder recovering after dislocation. The physiotherapist informed me that most people try to skimp - if told to do the exercises four times a day, they do them maybe twice a day - then they wonder why return to function isn't coming along as fast as they would like.

#408 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:56 AM:

Kathryn @399:

Yes, we chatted by email about international differences in child-rearing.

What did she quote, in the end?

#409 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:58 AM:

332&334: Don't forget the slightly dotty older lady played by Dame May Whitty in Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, who turns out to have been abg zreryl na vapbairavrag jvgarff gb fbzrguvat fur fubhyqa'g unir frra, ohg n fcl va cbffrffvba bs n ivgny frperg.

#410 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 11:06 AM:

#402, Dave Bell -

Has it really been that long? Time flies when it is someone else wearing the cast, apparently.

I'm glad to hear about your progress - congratulations on the loss of that extra plaster!

#411 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 11:27 AM:

Cat Meadors at 400, I think some of my antipathy toward the show is from too many well-meaning friends trying to make me over-- in sixth grade, two girls had a birthday party, boy-girl, and told the boys to come at seven and the girls at six so everyone could make me over. It didn't take. And the first season had the woman and a mean-tongued man with long hair. He was a lot less forgiving, and she seemed to use him as a benchmark for her own meanness.

#412 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 11:40 AM:

Ok, this morning I pulled myself together and called my Senators and Congresswoman, and asked that there be an investigation of those who authorized the use of torture, and prosecution of them and of those who wrote the memos. (I'm looking at you, Yoo, Addington, Cheney...)

#413 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 11:43 AM:

David 390: Yes, you're right. I made a mistake. Now I'm sad. (*blam!*)

#414 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 12:03 PM:

Dave Bell #402: Good on yer!

#415 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 12:06 PM:

Dave Bell@ 402: Hurray! Best wishes for a continued recovery.

and @ 405 (et alia, wrt the Hummers): I live in the World Capitol of Bad Hummer Drivers, aka DC Metropolitan Area. I'm sure other areas have more people, thus more Hummer drivers. I'm equally sure NY has at least the same number of Diplomat license plates driving around.

But you all don't have the same combination of Awful Privilege (whether based on richness, governmental status, or diplomatic immunity) and Hummer vehicles.

We even have at least one stretch Hummer limo (although for stretch limos, I suspect Hawai'i will have more).

Add to that the lack of quality public transportation (it's there, but the quality suffers depending on location), and you have a critical mass of Bad Hummer Drivers on the congested roads.

Top all that off with winter weather that always takes people by surprise (as if they thought that being south of the Mason-Dixon Line meant that winter didn't exist), and you have a recipe for disaster.

Yet, somehow, every year we manage to make it through.

#416 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 12:13 PM:

I made it to page 18 (out of 80) of the Torture Memos, and every step of the way had me wincing over the tortured phrasing, the desperate attempts to define the acts of torture as "not-torture" despite faint acknowledgments that this was possibly wrong, but not really.

This is Justice, to say

We have tortured
the words
that were in the Constitution

And which
You were probably
were universal

Forget that
the framers were conscientous
so discrete
and so bold

#417 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 12:13 PM:

Is the phrase 'Bad Hummer Driver' redundant, or only redundant for civilians? I suspect that the DC area has some military and ex-military who actually know how to drive one—but they wouldn't drive one in the city, unless they were trying to occupy it. So I think my rule still holds.

#418 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 12:21 PM:

Xopher @ 417: I think your rule is correct; I offer the DC area in support of it. True, there are plenty of military and ex-military around to drive Real Hummers, but they don't. I see them on the road, and we're right across the street from the Naval hospital. Based on a non-scientific poll, randomly distributed sampling techniques, and a fine sense of irony, I can safely say the number of Hummers coming from that place is a value approaching zero*. Most of the military personnel drive pickups, vans, and regular cars.

*I wish I could say it was zero, but there's plenty of people with access to the hospital who are neither military nor ex-military.

#419 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 01:02 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 412:


As a response, I just wrote my state medical board, saying:

"I have been horrified by recent news reports about doctors who have participated in the torture of "enemy combatants" as part of the "war on terror" -- and wonder if my state's medical board is investigating any licensed professionals who have so broken their Hippocratic Oath as to monitor patient health in the service of keeping patients exposed to "stress positions" healthy enough to endure even more torture.

Does the Medical Board of [our state] have a policy that addresses licensing of these individuals? And if so, how are these investigations carried out?"

The "Conservative grass roots" cannot be allowed to dominate our government's attention!

#420 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 01:11 PM:

The American Psychological Association did pass a policy - I think it was year before last - prohibiting member psychologists from having any involvement with torture.

#421 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 01:29 PM:

For those who appreciate 4x4 vehicles being used in difficult conditions:

A Picasa gallery of photos taken at the Kirton Off-Road Centre

I've driven in this place, and I sneer at the civilian Hummer drivers of DC.

#422 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:19 PM:

Lori @412,

I called both my senators, and had a much-longer-than-usual talk with the two staffers (vs. the quick "thanks for your comment" one often gets).

One had not read 1984: I was still able to get the horrors of "We've. Built. Room. 101." To use Orwell as a guide: that's Orwellian.

It also helped the conversation to talk about my grandfather, who was a POW in Hong Kong for over 3 years*. And to have the phrase "Verschärfte Vernehmung" memorized.

* If what we did wasn't torture, then we owe some now-elderly Japanese officers apologies.

#423 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:37 PM:

Kathryn @422: The USA tried and excuted Japanese interrogators after WW2 for using water-boarding on American prisoners-of-war.

Obama's statement, "we won't prosecute" has just rendered the justice of the Nuremberg trials moot. They're no longer about war crimes, now it's the winners punishing the losers.

#424 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:23 PM:

A happy birthday to Alex, Abi's son! He really turned 8 last Staurday, but better late than never.

#425 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:42 PM:

Ginger @ 415

"We even have at least one stretch Hummer limo"

They've even reached the UK, I'm sad to say - seen in London and Manchester. My jaw dropped the first time I saw one. Epitome of too much money and total lack of good taste.

My best-ever limo story is the one which had messed up a turn at Cambridge Circus, a junction in central London. The driver was having to do an umpteen-point-turn. There was a Black Cab (taxi) driver who could have backed up a bit and made it easier, but instead was sitting enjoying the show. I stopped for a while and grinned broadly myself.

#426 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 04:27 PM:

417/418: There's a limo place near my house which has at least one super-stretched SUV limo. When you get to that level, it really doesn't matter what kind of SUV they stretched.

Here in the Outer DC Reaches, Hummers aren't that common, but SUVs still are (they fit into manorial delusions of the semirural). As road menaces none of them compare with the very many BMW drivers who are trying to shove past everyone else.

#427 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 04:30 PM:

BMW stands for "Break My Windows."

#428 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 04:39 PM:

Oh, that reminds me: we have photographic proof of the Jaguar that delivers pizza. I guess Jags are too common now.

#429 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 04:44 PM:

i don't know whether this link goes here or in the amazon thread (for queer visiblity), but it reminds me of when ginger, & i think heather, & others were talking about the different kinds of lesbians there are (golf, uniformed, etc.).

watercolour cartoons of couples, from a show currently hanging in portland.

i wasn't previously familiar with the artist, but these made me smile and smile.

#430 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 05:16 PM:

miriam beetle @ 429... Golf lesbians?

#431 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 05:21 PM:

Today, my manager said that a request handed to me by a user could not be fulfilled because the deadline for all such weekly requests was yesterday at noon, and our making exceptions to the rules will lead to CHAOS. Yes, she actually said that.

I must now go report to Sigfried on the failure of my mission.

#432 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 06:35 PM:

Ginger, #428: Gonna put it up somewhere? Preferably with a caption to the effect of "Lo, how the mighty are fallen"?

#433 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 07:13 PM:

Lee @432: I should, shouldn't I?

Serge @431: Clearly, your boss is a long-hidden mole for the CIA, as in this operation. As for golf lesbians, they're the ones who attend the Dinah Shore Tournament every year. Think "rich, understand and/or play golf, and like to visit Palm Springs".

#434 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:07 PM:

Will #335 redux (copied from another thread):

I'd just like to apologize (to you and the mods) for snapping at you the other day, at #338.

Yeah, I was a bit annoyed that you clearly hadn't caught up (to my bow-out at #324) before replying to a previous night's message -- but a half-smiley doesn't excuse telling someone to "go home" on a third party's blog.

#435 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:17 PM:

Dave Bonta and Pica offer an article on Hand-binding small books of poetry.

#436 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:21 PM:

miriam beetle @ 429: Love the watercolors!

My neighborhood was built around 1910, and has streets that are almost wide enough for 2 cars to pass each other when a third car is parked at the curb. I've considered organizing a little coordinated parking with my neighbors, ordering one of those stretch Hummer limos, and then sitting on the front porch with a pitcher of margaritas to watch the fun.

#437 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:37 PM:

Ginger @ 433... Either that or she thinks that Elric and his soul-drinking sword are waiting for her domain's minions to lapse.

#438 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:42 PM:

Serge @ 431 ...
It's a totally different sort of CHAOS[0] ... but it is amusing me...

[0] Probably NSFW in a variety of contexts

#439 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 11:01 PM:

Xeger, I think your HTML is borked.

#440 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 11:02 PM:

SUV and Hummer limos always scream 'misfired irony' to me. They weren't treated as anything but awesomely bad when I was in high school, and even now, most people I know see them more as stunts than anything.

#441 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 11:04 PM:

Dave Bell @402: Congratulations. Ankles are definitely tricky; I found after the cast came off mine (simple break from a hard landing) that there was still sprain damage, but didn't have a physiotherapist on tap. (Definitely seconding abi's recommendation to stick with it.) wrt clutch, I'm reminded of Hambly mentioning research (for Those Who Hunt the Night) to find out whether a recent veteran of the Boer War would have had a motorcycle that he could drive with a broken wrist.

Lori@423: the problem with war-crimes trials is that they largely \are/ victor's justice; the people who firebombed Dresden, or who dropped a second A-bomb on Japan because a country with almost no communications left couldn't surrender fast enough, were never even called into court.

#442 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 11:19 PM:

#408 Abi

She quotes you approvingly on letting a 4-year-old go to the park. I think your section is about 2/3rd of a page.

#443 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 11:19 PM:

Summer Storms @ 439 ...
Hrm... that's annoying... how about this try

#444 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 11:51 PM:

Hummers - my sister lives in Montana, and she and her husband work in Glacier National Park (not quite the Alaskan Tundra, but still geographically challenging). They have Subaru Outbacks. Lots of people there have Subaru Outbacks. (Also personalized license plates - I saw more personalized license plates in Kalispel than I've ever seen anywhere else.)

#445 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:14 AM:

xeger @ 438-441... I am pondering what the symbolism of the flying bananas is.

#446 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:43 AM:

xeger #443: how about this try

That reminds me a bit of the music of Candee Jay.

#447 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:44 AM:

I haven't seen a real Hummer in quite some time. I see way too many of those parts-bin Tahoe-based H2 things and that horrid little Colorado-based H3. A real Hummer - the civvy version of the HMMWV - has a 6.2 or 6.5 diesel, sometimes turbo, 16 inches+ of ground clearance stock, and has less legroom than your average 80's fullsize van. It takes commitment to compromise comfort to that degree! My FJ-40 was a fun truck - daily commuter, weekend toy, and I definitely pushed the limits of it's 4WD capabilities. Tough as nails, too. Both the FJ-40 and the Series Land Rovers were "copies of" or homages to the original WW2 Jeep, that flexy light multi-purpose vehicle that did so much and kicked off the hobby that many a H2/H3 driver wants people to think they participate in - without the dents, dings and scratches of course. I test drove an H1 once, rather interesting. As an off-highway enthusiast, I quickly appreciated that I could legally fit 49" tires within Minnesota's 6" lift law, so long as I didn't alter the suspension to do it. At that height, it may have been capable of crossing Jersey Barriers! The sheer width of that rig, though, would be daunting to fit on trails - it's wider than most fullsize pickups and they already don't fit on some of the more interesting/technical trails. Heck, it would be daunting to try and navigate around a city! My old fullsize Dodge Ram 2500 Quad Cab Longbed Turbodiesel (17mpg is darn good for a 7500lb truck!) was tough to fit - parking garages were an interesting technical challenge. Sold it when I no longer had anything to tow. The Baja 1000 off-road race had at least one rocky technical section that had a "Hummer Only" line as they were the only vehicles with enough ground clearance to make it through. Even Pinzgauers and Unimogs can't match the fully-independent portal axle suspension design for sheer ground clearance.

Wouldn't want to pay the fuel bill, though. There's at least one hybrid electric version running around somewhere - full load capacity, full speed capacity, full range, but half the fuel tank size, half the time from 0-60 and has a 5-10 mile "silent running" range. Toyota made their MegaCruiser copy of the H1 for the JDF, and put in a really nice little 4-cyl turbodiesel. Better mileage than the GMC 6.2/6.5, though arguably more complex. (Mil-spec H1's had no turbo and fully mechanical injection, IIRC.) I do like the mil-spec fastback on the H1, something I've never seen on a civvie rig. The H1 has quite a bit of style when you peel off all that silly plastic inside. I have quite an appreciation for purpose-built vehicles.

BTW, the H1 can be airlifted, it's in the specs. Planes got bigger, so the truck did too. The original Jeep and the Rover Lightweight were rather small partly because the planes at the time were rather small inside. I do wish we could get the good ones here in the States, all we get are the "Mall Crawler" variants. What good is spending $100K+ on a Mercedes Gelandewagon when you're paying for leather and fancy trim but you'd rather have the factory diff-locks, higher rate suspension, lower gear ranges and other goodies? The LandCruiser's not available in heavy-duty trim over here either - all IFS here.

I drive a boring little 10yo Chevy Prizm now - the trucks are long gone - but it gets me to work and gets over 30mpg, so I don't complain too loudly. One of these days I'll have the time/money/shopspace/tools needed to build another rig. Gotta get 30mpg or better, though, or I can't have it. It's an engineering imperative.

/vehicular enthusiast

#448 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:03 AM:

I would support charity events that feature sledgehammering Hummers. It would be very cathartic.

#449 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:42 AM:

Ah... the humvee. I have a mixed mind on it. For what it does, it's great. Goes anywhere, is deadly reliable (if you maintain it), can ford streams over the motor (if you do a quick adjustment) and has ZERO comforts. The military version (the only one with which I am familiar) has lots of legroom, is drafty as all get out (unless you are in an up-armored one, in which case it's hot as blazes), and has a bunch of variants.

I'll never forget being in the back of a Marine humvee on Ft. Hunter Ligget. Only the clenching of our buttocks kept us in the thing.

But they take maintaining, and they don't handle well (though they are easy to drive) are wide as all get out, and both easy to see, and possessed of crappy visibilty (the gunner is the only one who can really see what's going on, and the driver [which was me] dependant on the passengers for status in the blind spots [when one is actually in a tactical evironment, it's a bit different when one isn't hauling a trailer, worrying about people popping up and shooting at RPG at one, etc.]).

And I have never understood the desire to own one. I see a couple of 4x strech limo humvees every week; more in prom season. Boggles me.

#450 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:52 AM:

Stretch hummers.

When I think of those, I think of what for lack of better terms I'll call jocks and bimbos. Shallow, vain people I have no use for.

#451 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 02:01 AM:

Terry, I thought I was pretty good with Army base names, but Liggett is a new name to me. Monterey County, huh?

#452 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 06:44 AM:

It doesn't really look like anybody is interested in the answer to my trivia question, but I'll post it anyway: Paarfi of Roundwood, from Steven Brust's "Dragaera" series.

#453 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 07:50 AM:

First time a shiny white stretched hire-hummer cruised past on the night street, it took a while to ‛see’ what this thing was.
I'm never sure if the passengers seriously consider it‛cool’, or are taking the p**s.

cajunfj40, dad would've loved to have a yarn.

#454 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 09:02 AM:

Epacris @453: A couple of times around my city, I'd seen a bright yellow-orange stretched hummer about — I wondered what school that bus would be serving (and what kind of kids would ride in it).

#455 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 09:03 AM:

Re: photic sneezing, I seem to be an intermediate case, in that I'll often sneeze in response to bright light or flashes, but it's not overwhelming.

#456 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 10:04 AM:

Serge @ 445 ...
xeger @ 438-441... I am pondering what the symbolism of the flying bananas is.

Not in a melon-choly way, I hope...

#457 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 10:07 AM:

Tomorrow night on the SciFi Channel, Knights of Bloodsteel...

On the island continent of Mirabilis, in a faraway time, the most coveted element is bloodsteel, a sorcery grade ore that imparts potent magical abilities to anyone who is able to draw it from the earth. The desire for untold wealth and power has drawn much of Mirabilis' vast and disparate populace-humans, elves, dwarves and goblins-to the old port mining town of Black Roc Keep. It has also enticed the evil Dragon Eye (Mark Gibbon) and his ruthless cadre of Brood soldiers, who'll stop at nothing to possess the ore for the purpose of total world domination. Enlisted to save Mirabilis from this lethal insurgency is the venerable sorcerer elf Tesselink (Christopher Lloyd), who has been given a vital directive by the Oracle of the land. He must find the legendary magical Crucible, which is the source of bloodsteel.

Tonight, War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave. I think there's also a movie where a cryptozoologist smuggles a Chupacabra on a cruise ship. Presumably comedy ensues.

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 10:09 AM:

xeger @ 456... I guess we won't know until we peel away the layers of symbolism.

#459 ::: sgac ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 10:40 AM:

Re Hummers

There's just one around here.

It's driven by a local trauma surgeon.

#460 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:02 AM:

Linkmeister, it's kind of next door to Camp Roberts, northwest of Paso Robles and southwest of King City, and in from the coast. (Big Sur without the coastal scenery and weather.)

#461 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:17 AM:

Serge @ 458 ... and I'm not sure that's an entirely a-peeling suggestion ;)

#462 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:22 AM:

For some reason James D. MacDonald @ 1 caught my eye this time, and reminded me of this:

Farewell to Nova Scotia

The sun was setting in the west
The birds were singing on every tree
All nature seemed inclined for to rest
But still there was no rest for me.

Farewell to Nova Scotia, you sea-bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I am far away on the briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh and a wish for me?

I grieve to leave my native land
I grieve to leave my comrades all
And my parents whom I held so dear
And the bonnie, bonnie lassie that I do adore.


The drums they do beat and the wars to alarm
The captain calls, we must obey
So farewell, farewell to Nova Scotia's charms
For it's early in the morning I am far, far away.


I have three brothers and they are at rest
Their arms are folded on their breast
But a poor simple sailor just like me
Must be tossed and driven on the dark blue sea.


#463 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:23 AM:

Serge @ 445: I am pondering what the symbolism of the flying bananas is.

I think that Earl Cooley III covered it at #381.

#464 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:47 AM:

xeger @ 461... Thanks a bunch.

By the way, has your work situation improved, or did the idiot who had done it wrong strike again?

#465 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:48 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 463... Ah yes. But do we really want our manhoods to fly away, independent and free? That sounds painful to me.

#466 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:21 PM:

Serge @ 465:

Maybe, maybe not.

(Probably NSFW, but in a cute way.)

#467 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:34 PM:

KeithS @ 466... Sure it can fly, but does that make it a testes pilot?

#468 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:46 PM:

Dave Bell, congratulations! It's good to hear your continuing improvement. It's a long hard slog, but nice to see when it's having an effect.
(I managed a day at the Royal Easter Show! Though it killed me for a few days following.)
Marilee's been cheering to see improve too, after a terrifying time.

#469 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:53 PM:

Serge @ 467: Do testes pilots do seminal flight research?

#470 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:31 PM:

Dave Bell @421:

For those who appreciate 4x4 vehicles being used in difficult conditions:

A Picasa gallery of photos taken at the Kirton Off-Road Centre

I have a friend who used to work at Jaguar/Land Rover. You haven't seen difficult driving conditions until you've been out on their test track.

Ginger @428:

Oh, that reminds me: we have photographic proof of the Jaguar that delivers pizza. I guess Jags are too common now.

Didn't you get the memo? Only the XF is cool these days.

#471 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:47 PM:

Parody of NOM "Gathering Storm" commercial.

Really funny and on target IMNSHO.

#472 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 02:54 PM:

I am engaged in my regular activity of marking papers, and, as is the custom, learning many new things. This is one of them: "If the current President Barack Obama were to be assassinated, people all over the world would want to turn to ciaos." Farewell, it seems, to hope.

#473 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Fragano @ #472 can you take any comfort in knowing that at least the subjunctive was used properly? (If in fact it was; it looks and sounds right to me, but I'm willing to be overridden.)

#474 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 03:35 PM:


Cute! I feel kinda bad for the little blue guy a few pages *ahem* ahead of the one you linked.

I love those fertility/luck charms that look like animals--in fact, I've just gotten a perky Thai bat in the mail today;)

#475 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 05:49 PM:

Linkmeister: It's behind a ridge, and so has none of the cooling ocean breezes. On the other hand, the landscape is gorgeous, and it used to belong to William Randolph Hearst. He kept it as a hunting preserve, and the "lodge" is now the NCO club. Does a nice lunch, and a decent supper.

#476 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 08:01 PM:

Linkmeister #472: The subjunctive was used correctly, much to my surprise.

#477 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 08:53 PM:

Re: the "best Presidential photos" Particle -- the caption says their singing, but it looks to me like they're in the key of Zzzz....

#478 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 08:59 PM:

Gah -- s/their/they're

And I need some Zzz's myself.

#479 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:50 PM:

Quotes of the day, unfortunately.

Just to name a few contemporary instances, characters like Edward Cullen, Jacob Black, Harry Potter and Anakin Skywalker are universal archetypes that get recycled by authors over and over again with just a few variations here and there.


Characters don't belong to authors. Authors don't create characters. They merely channel them. Characters are recurring universal archetypes. The only thing that changes is their names and identities, but their essence is always the same.

Authors write fanfiction and sell it all the time. They just change the identities of the characters to protect themselves from lawsuits. Unfortunately, when an author is honest about their unconventional views about fanfiction, they get called a "thief" and their ethical values come under attack.

The "Characters don't belong to authors" line is disingenuous at best because we're reading a press release from AV Paranormal: I understand that. What I find fascinating is the characters listed: not as bad as the "ultimate anticlimax" of "For God, For Country, and for Yale!" but the need for Edward Cullen/Twilight characters uber alles to get first place is disturbing, and the recent vintage of their "archetypes" is even more disturbing. Also, I don't like being made to feel like George F. "Seventy-five percent of American 'gamers' -- people who play video games -- are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote" Will this early in the day, thankyouverymuch.

#480 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:01 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II, #479: You left out the best part:

Laws that attempt to privatize the ownership of characters operate based on a delusion of separateness that we all share in this matrix we call reality. But according to Eckart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, there is no such a thing as separate minds. There is only one Universal Mind and it is the source of all our thoughts.
While this concept used to be considered an occult truth back in more conservative times, today it is a widespread awareness. This is the reason why modern science, especially the field of quantum physics, has started to accept the possibility of telepathy, clairvoyance and remote viewing.

See, fanfic authors get to use other people's characters because they and the author are part of the same telepathic group mind, and thus in some sense legally the same person.

In other words, the writer is using the Borg Defense.

#481 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:18 PM:

Wesley: thank you. I'd had a MEGO moment in the middle of the page (short version: Dad was the attorney for a lot of "psychic readers" and so on because somebody had to handle their plain vanilla legal matters, and I've seen so much of this sort of stuff it makes my teeth hurt) and let that one slide by.

#482 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:33 PM:

I'd like to know something.

When the movie Transformers came out a couple of years ago, I had a hard time focusing on the robotic characters. I mean, literally. There were so many details a that I had a hard time seeing solid surfaces. I watched some of the sequel's footage on YouTube this morning, and I had the same reaction. Maybe there's something wrong with my mind.

("There is.")

I heard that.

#483 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 02:20 PM:

Serge @ 482: I saw Transformers in the movie theater, and I thought it was difficult to follow the action sequences -- whether they were too rapidly generated or the cameras were too "shaky", I don't know. I eventually gave up trying to focus on anything, and even took a little nap.

As I tend to do in these movies lately. Doesn't everyone?

#484 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 02:43 PM:

Ginger @ 483... I don't go to the theater that much, but most of the movies I did see in the last couple of years left me not sleepy, but indifferent or disappointed, especially the 2nd HellBoy movie, in spite of the tooth fairies. I'm hoping that Star Trek will make me go aaah in awe, in spite of Uhura's skirt.

"Your father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives - including yours."

#485 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 02:53 PM:


The few times I've actually gone to the movies the last few years, I'm most often disappointed. It seems that (like Hellboy II) they're really gorgeous, but that's it. I keep wishing I had any kind of technical talent, because I'd just chop up most of them up into pieces, and set them to music that told the story better. You know which part of hellboy I liked the best? When Father was telling little Red the story of the elves--those awesome little puppets? So cool.

#486 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 03:27 PM:

On a sad note: J. G. Ballard has died, age 78. His death made the BBC five-minute news summary, where they quoted him talking about being proud to be a science fiction writer (and played part of an interview with him where he talked about why -- having been in England in the 1950s, when it was actually beginning to change).

Here's a link to a BBC obituary:

#487 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 03:27 PM:

It's possible to make computer generated images which are too sharp. And matching CGI to digital cameras is different, because the patterns are fixed and regular. Film grain is not a regular pattern, and so is slightly different, frame to frame.

And even big-budget movies do poor jobs of CGI flames and explosions. They suddenly break out into video game territory.

#488 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 03:35 PM:

Serge, #482: I've never seen Transformers, but I have that reaction to a lot of modern CGI work. For instance, I've watched certain episodes of the new Doctor Who--"Father's Day" was one, as was the one where Mark Gatiss turned into a scorpion--and immediately afterward realized I wasn't quite certain what the monster of the week had looked like.

It may partly be due the way film and TV editing has gotten so quick, compressed, and attention-deficit-disordered that it's often hard to tell what's happening on screen. However, I also think there's something going on with mixes of CGI and live action, or at least with how CGI is currently mixed with live action. Often I really do feel as though I can't quite focus on it... like the CGI elements aren't quite there.

I've been watching a lot of TV the last few days while fighting a cold that's turned into a mild sinus infection. I had the chance to buy heavily discounted DVDs of The Outer Limits recently and for some reason that's what I've felt like watching. I'm seeing most of them for the first time. By today's standards the nearly 50-year-old special effects are cheap and obvious... and yet they look very, very good--the stop-motion Zanti are scarier than anything Doctor Who has come up with. They're obviously solid. The effects seem to inhabit the same reality as the actors. Modern CGI is sophisticated, but I suspect many animators haven't yet learned to create that solidity.

(Incidentally, the DVDs have revealed the source of an image that scared me as a young child--a fluttering, banshee-like creature floating towards the porthole of a darkened spaceship, which spent over 25 years in my brain's dictionary as the illustration for the word "scary." I've often wondered what it was, or if I'd imagined it entirely. It turned out to be the big special-effects moment--just a marionette, but a damn creepy one--from "Cold Hands, Warm Heart." I'd never imagined it could have come from The Outer Limits because the memory was in Technicolor. Seeing the thing again must have been a bigger shock than I realized; the following night I dreamed about it at least twice.)

#489 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 03:48 PM:

Dave Bell@487:

Is that why CGI that look pretty good in the theater just looks wrong on the small screen? I've been wondering if CGI effects can...degrade?...over time, because I've seen some movies on TV where the CGI just looks like crap, and I don't remember being that bothered by it the first time I saw it. It always has a weird textural difference that makes it stand out, but it's almost like it doesn't scale down as well to TV formatting as the regular film does.

#490 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 03:58 PM:

CGI has just fallen into the Uncanny Valley, that's all. I suspect it will never climb out of it, because no matter how well the computer geeks render the shiny bits, the real actors and the real props on the sound stage are still trying to react to a Thing That Isn't There.

Or maybe learning to react correctly to the Thing That Isn't There will become the single defining skill for actors.

#491 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 04:12 PM:

J Austin @ 485... Yes. The puppet section was really neat, especially with John Hurt narrating it. (Did you ever see him in TV series The Storyteller?)

Part of my problem with HB2 was that I'd have preferred if it had stayed in Lovecraft Country. I'm not suggesting that they should have given us a rehash of the first HB, but there was plenty more they could have done with the contrast between lovecraftian horror and someone who yanks the monster's jaws and says "No tongue on the first date!"

#492 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Oh, the Storyteller... I was about to sigh wistfully, but let me just go check I'm thinking the right one.

*back* Oh, I loved that show, because it wasn't always happy-ending type stories. It had one of the first fairytales I ever heard about Death, and then I devoured all the ones I could find. Luckily, my older brother was getting the TIME-Life Myths and Legends book-a-month set at that time. At least I think that's which one it was...

Myrtle fairies chopped up into kindling, unexpected appointments in Samara... I'm sure someone out there is wincing, but I loved those books to almost literal pieces.

#493 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 04:25 PM:

Wesley @ 488... To be fair, CGI is the only way they could have revived Doctor Who. On the other hand, compare the 1990s incarnation of Outer Limits with the 1960s's, especially episodes that were remade. The newer version, in spite of its better FX, never even approached the awe and technogothic horror of the original, especially here.

#494 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:00 PM:

J Austin @ 489 and mjfgates @ 490:

There are a few different things going on. In the case of Dr. Who, Sci-Fi Channel movies, and the like, it's done on the cheap and there isn't the time or budget to do a very good job. For Dr. Who they do the best they can, but it's still not enough to get it to look spot on. In the case of Babylon 5, the technology was still primitive, but they did as good a job as they could with what they had. It still didn't quite work when there was a fully CG character.

With modern, blockbuster movies they have the time and budget for expensive software and experienced animators. I only saw a few bits of the new Transformers movie, but it looked like a typical Michael Bay, short-attention-span film. The combination of frenetic cutting, the need for absolutely everything to always move, and hyperrealism makes the CG not look quite right.

For its faults, Hellboy 2, to me, did a very good job of blending CG and live-action. It helps, too, that del Toro is a firm believer in using practical effects as well as CG. The 1999 version of The Mummy worked pretty well as well, although they flipped back and forth between using real people and CG depending on what they thought would work better for the scene.

Skilled animators and graphics people can bring a lot to the table, but they also cost a lot of money.

Reacting to things that aren't there isn't exactly a new requirement, but it is more common now than it used to be. Very good actors can react well to things that aren't there. Hollywood does not necessarily select for good actors.

Serge @ 491:

The first Hellboy animated film was kind of like that, too. It was set in Japan, and, despite being a collaboration between Mignola and del Toro, felt a little off. It was fun, but maybe not what they should have chosen for a first outing.

#495 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:12 PM:

Wesley, #488: Did it come thru the porthole and suffocate people, and did light scare it away again? If so, you and I had the same Outer Limits-inspired nightmare critter.

#496 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:23 PM:

Serge, #493: Coincidentally, I just watched that episode this afternoon. It's a perfect example of an old-fashioned effect that's accidentally freakier than any modern version would be.

I'm not sure CGI is the only way they could have revived Doctor Who. It might be more accurate to say that it's the only way they could have revived the show on the available budget. Farscape did extremely well with muppets and practical effects, but considering the kind of on-set expertise they must require I'll bet they cost more than CGI blobs.

Lee, #495: No, it came up to the porthole and then William Shatner blacked out. You can see the scene that scarred me for life at the very beginning of this clip.

#497 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:25 PM:


Babylon 5, Doctor Who, and like that are made for the small screen, and I understand the budget constraints. With me, I was wondering why some CGI looks like crap when shrunk from the cinematic screen to the TV. Matter of scale, I suppose. When it's being shoved up your nose at more-than-life-size, maybe all the textural weirdness is spread out, and the flaws are just more apparent when contracted to a typical home-viewing size?

I have no idea--maybe I've just gotten that much more sophisticated between viewings, but I really doubt it. My sophistication level peaked somewhere around the age of twelve. Sometimes it just really looks like the effect itself is somehow degrading faster than the rest of the film, and I was trying to figure out why it looks that way.

About the shaky-cam you guys reported from the first Transformers movie. I hate it. When I watched Quantum of Solace, they were using that Bourne-Identity-in-your-face-fight-cam, and I could have sworn M got shot in the shoulder. I actually like to be able to see all the kick-ass stunts they're doing, dammit.

#498 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:37 PM:

KeithS @ 494... del Toro should have taken a closer look at HB's spinoff, the B.P.R.D. comic-book. Last year, it ran the story "1946". HB himself isn't in it, still being a kid busy chasing chicken somewhere in New Mexico. The story has young Professor Broom in Germany, cooperating with his Soviet counterpart, a little girl who really is a demon who's been around since Peter the Great, and they find a secret project where human-vampire hybrids had been created by a Nazi head in a jar. There also was "Lobster Johnson", a tale set in the 1930s that had a mysterious Shadow-like crime fighter, ghosts, Nazis, vril-powered armors, and gorilla cyborgs.

#499 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:39 PM:

J Austin @ 497:

Eventually I hope that they'll figure out that we don't all care for the 'realism' of not actually being able to see anything other than the camera shake, but I doubt it.

Part of the problem with doing things in CG is that if you don't restrain animators with a big budget (or any techie, for that matter) they'll do all sorts of things: the CG will be sharper and crisper than the actual film footage; there will be all sorts of fiddly, little details, just because it's cool. That's what I meant by the hyperrealism comment. If you shrink down something that already has a lot of fine detail when it's shown on a big screen, I expect it will turn to mush.

In other words, I think your hypothesis is good. I am not, however, going to test it because that would involve actually watching these things multiple times.

One other thought in terms of actors interacting with things that aren't there. If the point of the film is the interaction, then hopefully they'll try to get it right. If the point is to see giant robots beating each other up, probably not so much.

#500 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:42 PM:

Serge @ 498:

I've read the Hellboy comics, but not the B.P.R.D. ones. A matter of time and money, mostly. Sounds like I should start.

#501 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:44 PM:

Lee @ 459... You might be thinking of "Wolf 359", in which scientists recreate an alien planet inside their lab, except that they do too good a job of it. The monster was basically someone's head and hands inside some stretchy fabric, but it worked. Me, if I have to choose between a bloated modern big-screen extravaganza and a technically deficient story that has atmosphere (no vacuum jokes), I'll choose the latter.

#502 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:51 PM:

J Austin @ 492... I think I saw just one episode, "Hans My Hedgehog", but I never forgot it.

#503 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 05:53 PM:


Got it, got it--I misread it to think you were saying "well, of course it looks bad, they've got no money." I wish I could come up with some specific examples--I think the last thing I noticed was fabric, like a cape or something, which looked better than I was expecting in the theater, then incrapulated between there and the tube.

Yeah, that Hellboy comic description makes me want to starting reading comics again, too;)

#504 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 06:01 PM:


I got my brother the Ray Harryhausen Collection on DVD for Christmas. I'm still jealous I didn't get it for myself, instead.

#505 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 06:08 PM:

Serge @ 501:

Starts to type, "Basically, you want a film that doesn't suck." Reads "no vacuum jokes" comment. Sulks.

J Austin @ 503:

I think I was trying to cover more ground than you were asking about in your post, and expended more words than necessary. No worries.

#506 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 07:10 PM:

Re: the flaws of CGI: I wonder if the next stage will be a move toward cinematic robotics? With a little creative design, could even set up the robots to "help" with later CGI additions to a scene, say by providing trackable 3-D points within the set, and/or guide spots for reading shadows and blurring directly our of the scene.

#507 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 07:13 PM:

J Austin @ 503... that Hellboy comic description makes me want to starting reading comics again

One recent story of B.P.R.D. had troglodytes that rebuild ancient giant robots that look like a cross between a tombstone and a scarab. Next thing you know, Munich is in trouble.

Oh, and did I tell you about one of the B.P.R.D. teammembers being an Egyptian Princess whose mummy was brought back to life in the 19th Century? Unfortunately she can't die and is now really old, which means she spends most of her time lying in a hospital bed. But firestarter Liz Sherman has brought kittens to keep her company, and provides her with smoothies.

#508 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 07:27 PM:

Ah, Hummers. There are several I see around town. Can't tell who's driving them; the windows are all tinted more heavily than is legal, so it might be a chimpanzee at the wheel for all I know. But I have seen something even funnier than a stretch hummer: a stretch pickup, with 4 doors on each side of the cab, and a standard 4x6 bed. Also, oversize wheel wells in the back to hold the oversize wheels.

Re: actors looking at things that aren't there. Actors have had to do that since alternating head shots were first used to show a conversation between 2 people. Many times the shots are done with each actor separately, so they have to stare off into space.

#509 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:13 PM:

Wesley @ 480, describing a strange person's "logic":

Telepathy is a really dubious argument for being able to publish something based on another person's characters: if we're all telepathic, why bother publishing? Similarly, if we're really all the same person, surely her other self wouldn't mind and would, in fact, happily give her written permission for what she wants to do.

#510 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:20 PM:

Serge, #501: That sounds right. Did they really call it "Wolf 359"? An early incarnation of the Borg, perhaps...

#511 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:55 PM:

Lee @ 510... It may well be that someone remembered that episode and thought the name 'Wolf 359' was appropriate for the location of the Battle of the Borg.

#513 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:39 PM:

Question for the Encyclopaedia Fluorosphericana:

My partner had a Series of Unfortunate Events last week that caused major computer havoc. While he's been able to recover most of the data, he has been completely unable to reinstall his DVD-burning program, Nero V.7. Since he was having some issues with it even before the crash, he's decided to look for something else.

Specs: He's currently running Windows 2000, but plans to move to Windows XP sometime in the coming month or so. He doesn't require a burner with video-editing capacity. Obviously, one that requires a Vista platform is Right Out. Something that also plays well with Linux would be nice, but not essential. And it needs to be relatively inexpensive -- as in, low-to-middle 3 figures max.


#514 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 05:13 AM:


Not sure I undersood exactly what you want. I'm a bit dizzy right now, but might this help ?

#515 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:16 AM:

It's completely irrelevant to the current discussions, but abi, I thought you might be interested in this bookbinder interview from today's SFGate. (He works in Emeryville, my old hometown.)

#516 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:16 AM:

Lee @ 513:

I'm not quite sure what you're looking for either. Is he just wanting to burn files to disk? If so, XP has that built-in. If you're looking for making video DVDs and other fancy things, you'll have to ask someone else.

#518 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:18 PM:

Report from the New York Times that Stephen Hawking has been hospitalized with a serious "chest infection".

#519 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 12:57 PM:

Ginger @ 518... He's beaten the odds for years, but I hope he keeps doing it.

#520 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:20 PM:

Faren @515:
Wow, neat! Thanks for the link.

That guy is doing what I dream of sometimes: binding things for a living. He's doing a pretty good range of styles, too.

But on the other hand, I like what I do too.

#521 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:50 PM:


Alternatively both sets of writers just looked at a list of nearby star names and thought "Wolf 359" sounded cool, much as Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti show up a lot in SF without direct influence.

#522 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:54 PM:

Abi @ 520... binding things for a living

You could join the Laundry, or the B.P.R.D.

#523 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 01:58 PM:

Serge @517

Poor cat. Translation:
*Flop*: "I wasn't really trying to get the pigeon; I was just creeping belly-down in preparation for flopping"
*Tail lash*: "they're laughing at me. How dare they laugh at me. They were not supposed to notice, and if they did, they were supposed to pretend not to. Like me."

#524 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:13 PM:

dcb@ 523: Ah, I must upgrade my translation program. I had that cat pegged as saying "Drat! Missed again! ARGH!" and then realizing he had an audience.

It was a much-needed laugh, however one translates the Cattese. (And since it is a flexible language, translation of Cattese to English is fraught with similar mispronunciations.)

#525 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 02:22 PM:

dcb... Ginger... "They laughed at me at the Mewniversity! But I'll show them!"

#526 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:47 PM:

Quick name-that-story question...

Guy on a date bravely gets run through by random mugger-guy with sword. Girl on date distraught, until set straight - he wasn't being heroic, he was a literary critic who refused to accept a world with both laser weapons and swords.

Might have been a Spider Robinson short? Any help is much appreciated.

#527 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 03:51 PM:

I have been scolded for my recent absence.

So, um...hiya! What've y'all been up to?

#528 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Hello Skwid! We're fine here. Everything's fine. How are you?

#529 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 04:27 PM:

Pretty darn good! Work has been demanding an increasing amount of my time, and my personal life is crazier than ever, but neither of those are necessarily bad things.

#530 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:44 PM:

Re #513, more about the Quest for Burners: it must be able to convert .avi and .dvx files to standard DVD format.

Hey, Skwid! Good to see your font again.

#531 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:02 PM:

Cat Meadors @ 526 ...
Guy on a date bravely gets run through by random mugger-guy with sword. Girl on date distraught, until set straight - he wasn't being heroic, he was a literary critic who refused to accept a world with both laser weapons and swords.

So speaking of swords, does anybody know what the anticipation weapons policy is likely to be? Either my search foo is weak today, it's an "everybody knows", or it's not there...

#532 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:06 PM:

Re: hyperkinetic CG special effects — I'd assumed the reason was that if the 'prop' were allowed to linger in the frame, the flaws of the modeling, texturing, lighting, and animation would become obvious. By moving the props quickly (as well as moving the camera about), it becomes impossible to fully see the flaws.

There was an odd example a few years ago in a TV film about Merlin (starring Sam Neill in the title row). There had been a scene with some supernatural creatures in the forest, which moved in a sort of rapid/spastic/unnatural manner. On one hand, I thought that it did lend to the 'unworldly' character of these creatures. On the other, I thought it was a cheat to get around that they really couldn't spend the time to animate them convincingly.

#533 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:08 PM:

Yes, I did 'preview' several times ... yet, please substitute 'title role' where 'title row' was written.

#534 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 12:16 AM:

Saturn pics from particle:

Very dramatic camera angles, yet a painter wouldn't have thought of them, being a gravity-dependent person.

Chesley Bonestell would not have set up his easel at that particular vantage point.

#535 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 12:19 AM:


When I was little, my grandfather would occasionally give me pictures of the planets from the promotional stuff at JPL. I loved those pictures. I've seen lots of amazing pictures since, but I've never had quite the same sense of love or wonder for them. I don't know why. All this is to say, thank you for the link to those Cassini pictures in the Particles. They're the first I've seen that have made me feel that way again.

#536 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 12:21 AM:

Rob Rusick @ 532... Sam Neill was the best thing in that miniseries, and I mean that as a compliment.

#537 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 12:37 AM:

xeger @ 531... Speaking of weapons at cons, I remember seeing someone go around 2002's ConJosé dressed in some kind of pseudomedieval outfit, with a sword strapped to his back. Except that it wasn't a sword. What I thought was a sword's handle really was a a giant wooden spoon's.

What's next?

#538 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 12:57 AM:

J Austin... I found out today that all 9 episodes of The Storyteller are available in a single set, for the ridiculous sum of $11. I am very tempted. Right now, I'm waiting for my recently purchased Jack and the Beanstalk: The True Story to show up.

#539 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 01:07 AM:


I started to mention it yesterday, but felt like maybe I would be telling you something you already knew from googling it. I'm very tempted, myself--not so sure about the four Greco-Roman myths they did years later, with a different narrator, though--I've never seen any of those.

Re the giant wooden spoon--in my (original)part of the country, "God willin' and the crick don't rise" is more often heard, "With the grace o'God an' a long-handled spoon." In my head, I always hear "Grace o'God and a runcible spoon."

Oh, and---"Spooooon!"

Those Cassini pictures are so lovely--I'm fascinated by the shadows, and the wakes left in the rings by the passing moons.

#540 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:57 AM:

Seems like Infrarecorder, posted earlier, can do it, thought I can't test it myself (I have never had any use for a DVD burner). Option to write a video DVD appears in the UI though, that I can confirm.

After a quick look in Sourceforge, I found this, which seems like it might just be what you need. Hope it helps.

#541 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:04 AM:

I've just discovered the "Making Lighter" link. Thanks, that's pretty neat.

#542 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 07:32 AM:

J Austin @ 539... It looks like The Storyteller isn't available on NetFlix and so I may well succumb to temptation.

"With the grace o'God an' a long-handled spoon." In my head, I always hear "Grace o'God and a runcible spoon."

That one reminds me of San Francisco columnist Rob Morse who, writing about the change made to the Pledge of Allegiance when he was young, heard the new words as "one nation in a dirigible".

#543 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 07:53 AM:

Forgive me if this is a silly question: What's NSFW about those Cassini pictures?

#544 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 08:08 AM:

David #543: See the hover text. ;-)

#545 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 08:34 AM:

Cat Meadors @#526: Yes, it's Spider Robinson, and the guy who gets run through wasn't "on a date" so much as the girl was taking him out to dinner so he'd push her publishing company to, you know, actually publish her novel. The dead guy's nom de plume was Billy Rubin. I can't remember the title either but I'm fairly sure it was in the same collection as the one about people being taken over by aliens.

#546 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 12:43 PM:

OK, pre-modern grammar mavens:

Shouldn't it be "Unleash thine inner bard?

#547 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 01:06 PM:

C. Wingate @ 546:

According to this page, thine replaces thy before "h" and vowels. I'll leave it to the experts here to correct that if need be.

#548 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 01:13 PM:

I just made my Worldcon reservations for the flight and a room at the Delta Centre-ville. Very excited! I'll be arriving on the 3rd so as to do a little pre-con sightseeing...anyone else coming in early?

There's a couple of Goth clubs within a short distance from the convention; Xopher and I had a pretty excellent time at "The Church" in Denver, would anyone care to join me for an outing this August? It looks like Wednesday night would be best for this...

P.S.: I got a much better deal on the flight and room as a package than I would have paying seperately, so I advise you all to explore that option.

#549 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 01:22 PM:

Skwid 548: Xopher and I had a pretty excellent time at "The Church" in Denver

Yes, we did, didn't we? I'm planning to be at Anticipation, gods and hip willing, though we'll see about dancing. And I'm not sure when; depends on time off and on if I still have a job (which looks good for now, but I am in the Financial Services industry, so nothing's guaranteed).

#550 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 01:36 PM:

Re the LED Throwie Rat Particle, there are a bunch of PETAphiles on the comment thread for it, saying things like "if you think it's OK to kill a rat, that means you think it's OK to kill humans," and "there should be another black death," and another one who wished everyone who thinks the LED Throwie Rat is cool a slow and painful death.

PETA is just annoying now, but someday I predict they'll become full-blown terrorists and start killing people. After which we should hunt them* like the rats they think they're equivalent to, and kill their asses.
*This applies only to the ones who start killing, not to all PETAphiles. People still have a right to be annoying fucktards, thank heavens.

#551 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 02:53 PM:

Since the subject's swung around to cons, I suppose I should ask if anyone here is planning on attending Fiestacon/Westercon 62. I've never been to a con before, and this one seems to have three things going for it:

  1. It's big but not huge,
  2. Our kind hosts will be there,
  3. I've never been to Arizona before.
#552 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 03:08 PM:

Xopher, you are aware that to some extent that has already happened, right? (That said, I didn't really like those pictures myself.)

#553 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 03:10 PM:

No, Unleash thy inner bard is fine.

It might seem to be a euphony issue (because once we've internalised the rule, deviation from them sounds wrong), but it's actually a direct/indirect object relationship.


This is thy cup.

This cup is thine.

#554 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 03:20 PM:

For less of an ick factor than the throwie rat, but still an odd sense of humor, I admit I find
this oddly amusing.

#555 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 03:25 PM:

Yes, one too many "odds" up there, but--
Holy crap, the linky-text thing worked on the first try! Yeah, I know, just follow the directions, but I'm so delighted I haven't killed the computer in the last five minutes I don't know what to do with myself. Unfrozen caveman commenter is frightened and confused by your modern technology, so linked text calls for a little chair-dance. Yay.

#556 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 03:38 PM:

J Austin: I remember doing that. I must have posted half a dozen borked linked before I figured out/someone pointed out what I was doing wrong.

I was full of glee at the bright blue text.

#557 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 03:48 PM:

Raphael, no, I didn't. I'd heard of PETAphiles trashing labs and "liberating" lab animals (most of whom probably met miserable deaths as a result), but not blowing things up and killing people. Got a story or a link about that? Because it would really call for activism on my part.

Terry, it's a period-of-the-language thing. And yes, in the right period it's a sandhi (like a/an). The catch is that the n-bearing form is always used predicatively.

This is thy cup.
This is thine ornate cup.
This (ornate) cup is thine.

Compare (modern English):
This is my cup.
This cup is mine.

In the older language (but I think there was a period before this sandhi appeared, unless I'm confused by h-drops):

This is mine ornate cup. the presence of mine enemies.

So yeah, it should be Unleash Thine Inner Bard.

#558 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:03 PM:

Xopher @557:
Raphael, no, I didn't. I'd heard of PETAphiles trashing labs and "liberating" lab animals (most of whom probably met miserable deaths as a result), but not blowing things up and killing people. Got a story or a link about that? Because it would really call for activism on my part.

The example that springs to mind is older (2000) and British, but here is a fair summary of what was being done to the employees, trustees and bankers* of Huntington Life Sciences. Cars were firebombed, parents threatened about their children, nail bombs sent, and one company official struck in the head with a plank.

The British police took nearly ten years to take the perpetrators, SHAC, seriously. A fair few of them are now in jail. But they're still an active organization, and they haven't renounced their tactics.

* I worked for their bankers at the time; they picketed other offices than the one I worked at, but it wasn't pleasant.

#559 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:11 PM:

Xopher: I don't think so. Yes, the sahndi/euphony issue makes an argument for it, but I've spent a lot of time speaking (and reading Shakespeare, Marlowe, Lyly, Spenser, the KJV, Kyd, Johnson, Nashe, etc., both to myself, and aloud; so the taste of it is pretty familiar), and I'd not say, Unleash thine inner bard. The soft "i" doesn't demand it, just a "h" is conditional for it now; based on region and stress.

Unleah thy hounds. Unleash thine arrow, those seem clear to me, but thine inner bard feels affected.

Like Ye Olde Antique Shoppe.

It may be arguable not wrong, but I don't know as I'd go so far as to say it was correct.

#560 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:14 PM:

J Austin@554

I know one veterinary student who's going to kill me for that. Thank you.

edit: or maybe not, not sure it'll ship outside the US.

#561 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:14 PM:

J Austin@554

I know one veterinary student who's going to kill me for that. Thank you.

edit: or maybe not, not sure it'll ship outside the US.

#562 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:18 PM:

I remember that, abi. I hadn't realized it had gotten so violent.

At the time, I worked for a company that was alleged* to have been the insurance broker for Huntington Life Sciences. Our offices (not the one I worked in) were picketed too, but there was no violence AFAICR.
*Not allowed to say yea or nay, since brokerage relationships are confidential.

#563 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:22 PM:

Xopher @ 557 and Terry Karney @ 559:

For what it's worth: search for thine and search for thy over the texts at

Xopher: Regarding PETA.

#564 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:24 PM:


Somehow I thought you'd like that;) If you mean will the seller ship it outside the US--probably. I don't list international shipping in my Etsy store, either, but I'll do it. Also, if you know anyone who knits, I think it's available as a PDF.

Hey, how do you get the "squared" in your MD?

#565 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:33 PM:

J Austin 564: MD&sup2; gives MD².

#566 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:36 PM:

Xopher @#550: PETA already has the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) as their de facto "terrorist wing".

#567 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:38 PM:

Keith S. I like the results.
A,E,I,O,U, all accounted for.

and allay this thy abortive

As thy eye-beams, when their fresh rays have smote

with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies

Then do thy office, Muse; I teach thee how

Deceived in thy integrity, deceived


I suspect it is more transtional euphony issues. I'd like to have the patience to check chaucer for it, as well as Hoby's The Courtier.

#568 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:41 PM:

Xopher, not only was Huntingdon Life Sciences targeted in Britain and the US (as abi and KeithS ably pointed out, and you saw peripherally -- er, allegedly), but there are also other fringe groups who are firebombing homes. See FBR for more information at a safe site.

The FBI agents who have come to our meetings for presentations on terrorism have all said that animal rightists are the most dangerous "domestic terrorists" on their lists, and they fully expect some human lives to be actually lost, not just threatened, by these people.

#569 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:45 PM:

J Austin@564

Alternatively, you can try the ASCII way: press and hold Alt, then type 0178 on the numpad (I've seen 253 referenced too, but it never worked for me). Or if you're lucky, your keyboard has it already just above tab.

#570 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:47 PM:


Thank you, but I really am a dumbass when it comes to this stuff (this socializing thing is...exhausting) How does typing "MD²" give you that, instead of, erm, what you wrote?

Seriously, I'm on my second cell phone, ever, and I've been posting like crazy the last couple weeks because of the vague look of horror/pity in the cell-phone guy's eyes when he realized I had no contacts to switch over from my old phone. It occurs to me that if I ever do get published, someone's probably going to want to talk to me about it.


#571 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:51 PM:

It's freaking magic, I tell you! It didn't show up that way in the preview. Sorry to disturb, nothing to see here.

#572 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:51 PM:

Ginger: While I don't doubt that the animal rights extremists are dangerous, I do have some problems with the label, "Most". Because there aren't that many of them (as either groups, or total numbers).

They've also killed a lot fewer people (and, so far as I know, planned to kill fewer people) than the right-wing extremists.

Right-wing types have, in the past few years killed 40+ cops, in 30+ incidents.

Right wing types have been arrested with cars full of bombs designed to release sodium cyanide gas.

ELF/ALF have burned things down. They've made threats, they've been really unpleasant, and I don't doubt they will, sooner or later, cross more line, and do more harm.

But I don't think they are the most dangerous; even without getting into their actual agendas.

#573 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 04:59 PM:

J Austin @ 570:

The people who came up with HTML knew that people would want to be able to type more letters and symbols than you can easily type on a keyboard, so they decided that there should be a special way to get at them. You type "&" then something special, then ";", and, depending on what that something special is determines the symbol you get.

So if you fill in the something special with "amp", you get &amp;, which your browser turns into &. If you fill it in with "sup2", you get &sup2;, which your browser turns into ².

#574 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:00 PM:

Come now, friend Terry, you're cherry-picking. Sandhi go by pronunciation, as you know, and you can't assume Shakespeare was pronounced the same as modern English. In fact it was not:

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
(from Sonnet 116) is a rhyming couplet in Shakepearian English.

There are a lot more in those searches that follow the starts-with-vowel rule exactly, as you know full well.

All that said, I do find those examples curious. I'd be very interested to find out how those individual words were pronounced. If any of them began with glides, for example, they wouldn't get the n.

#575 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:08 PM:

J Austin @570:

Had Xopher really typed &sup2;, then of course it would have appeared as ².

But what he really typed was &amp;sup2;. The HTML encoding systems in Movable Type then translated &amp; into &.

And yes, before you wonder, the above paragraph doesn't actually look the same as when I typed it. I actually typed &amp;amp;sup2;.

And from there it's turtles all the way down.

#576 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:09 PM:


You're the king. With an explanation like that, I can actually remember the info, and not have to look at a notebook every time I want to do something that was probably nifty fifteen years ago.

I took an HTML class in college--because I had to to graduate--and would have failed if I hadn't taken clear notes to very carefully construct my final project from.

#577 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:10 PM:

Glides, like y and w (as they're pronounced). As in "in a universe" not *"in an universe," and "we're a one-car family" not *"we're an one-car family."

#578 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:13 PM:

Thanks, Abi. I knew it was something like that, but it not showing up in the preview sort of threw me. My brain does't wrap very well around processes I can't hold in my hands, watching which gear trips what to throw which lever.

#579 ::: pedantic Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:14 PM:

Abi @ 575... Not turtles. Elephants.

#580 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:17 PM:

But Xopher the same applies, if we can't know how it was pronounced, you can't say it should be Thine inner, and then say "thy intent" can't be compared because we 1: don't know how things were pronunced, and know they were pronounced so differently.

I happen to think, from stress, and context, that the couplet you use was a weak rhyme then (because I can't see, Pruvved/Loved, nor Proved/Luved as strong rhyme paires,and making them both long "O" (and this is where I wish I was more fluent in phonetic notations) doesn't fit with other rhymes in other places.

Further, I agreed that there was sahndi going on, as a function of euphony, just as it does to day. (it's a hospital/an hospital).

If we accpet that it's a matter of euphony, then variation in Shakespeare, of all people, becomes more exemplary, and the "cherry picking" more probative, because we can probaly find him doing both, with similar phonemes, because that gave him the dramatic effect he wanted.

What we clearly have is no hard and fast rule.

#581 ::: Xopher scourges pedantic Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:18 PM:

Nope. The world rests on the back of four elephants, the elephants on the back of a turtle, the turtle on another turtle, and it's turtles all the way down.

#582 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:19 PM:

I heard it turtles. So did Wikipedia, fwiw.

Though actually the most common form of ampersand looks like a rocking playful toddler to me, with its little legs up in the air and its wee tiny hands on the ground.

Just me, I suspect.

#583 ::: Serge (hoisted on his own pedantism) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:27 PM:

Xopher... Abi... I abjectly confess I was wrong although Hawking's original comment first referred to tortoises.

"You look down and see a tortoise, Leon. It's crawling toward you..."
"Tortoise? What's that?"
"You know what a turtle is?"
"Of course!"
"Same thing."
"I've never seen a turtle... But I understand what you mean."

#584 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 05:52 PM:

It's turtles all the way - and a gull.

#585 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 06:00 PM:

Xopher @ 577 and Terry Karney @ 580:

I just did some quick and dirty data extraction from the this version of the Shakespeare text, but if I posted it here for your dissection it would fill up a couple screens and be rather unkind to everyone else. A few examples, though:

5 thy eye
1 thy eyelid
7 thy eyes
1 thy eyes'
31 thine eye
40 thine eyes
1 thy ink
1 thy insolence
1 thy instinct
3 thy instrument
1 thine infirmity
1 thine inherit
1 thine inheritance
2 thine insolence
1 thine invention

#586 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2009, 06:28 PM:

KeithS, #551: I'm considering it. Please drop me an e-mail at the address connected to my name for further discussion.

#587 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 12:43 AM:

[ shameless plug ] Apropos of absolutely nothing other than the fact that I really, really value the input of the various denizens of the Fluorosphere, please feel free to join in on this discussion. I genuinely want to know what others think, and/or how far off base my own thinking might be. [ /shameless plug ]

#588 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 02:04 AM:

Xopher: It was after our time, but I'm sure you remember the so-called "animal rights activist" arson and other destruction of research facilities at MSU in 1992, and the arson at Ag Hall in 1999. And just yesterday the FBI added one of these folks to their Most Wanted Terrorist list for a couple of bombings. They're not activitists, they're just plain terrorists, and unfortunately they have some well-meaning but utterly clueless supporters.

#589 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 08:25 AM:

Your slashfic reference for the day in the form of a webcomic. Safe for work, unless text isn't safe. Funnier if you watch food network.

The answer is always...

#590 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 09:48 AM:

re 557: Some KJV searching shows that at least in the NT they rigidly followed the sandhi-and-predicate rule, and considered "H" to be a vowel for this purpose (e.g. "thine hour").

#591 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 11:08 AM:

Open thread question: are folks here familiar with the movie Contact (Jodie Foster, 1997, from Carl Sagan story)? Any opinions on the depiction of religion and the religion vs. science conflict in it? Just kind of wondering how other people saw it; from what I understand there was a lot of gnashing of teeth by the religious right when it came out. I was living in a theatre-less backwater at the time and didn't see it till recently.

#592 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 12:04 PM:

Janet Croft @ 591... I loved Contact. I still do. I'm not surprised that some people on the Right disliked it, but it does show that Science can be quite a religious experience.

And there is this:

"You're an interesting species. An interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other."

#593 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 12:05 PM:

Janet Croft @ 591:

It's been a while since I've seen the film; I've read the book more recently. I'm still trying to sort out quite what I think of it, to be honest. I did enjoy it, though. Overall, I think it handles the science/religion issue quite well. Arroway doesn't see any particular evidence in favor of religion and she's interested in why Joss believes as strongly as he does. Both of them try to come respectfully to an understanding of each other. Arroway's own experiences don't lead her to be any more religious than she was before, however the framework that Joss gives her helps her cope with them little. What's important is that they respect each other, but they don't feel that they have to share each other's beliefs.

The reason I say I'm still thinking about it is that my own views about religion and science have changed over time. I haven't really seen it or read it since, so I'm not quite sure how I'd react to it now.

I'm not sure quite what the religious right would find contentious about it, but I have four ideas. The first is that they firmly believe that God is active in the world and that plenty of evidence exists for God. Arroway is the main character in the film, and she doesn't believe, therefore she's being willfully perverse and is a bad role model. Even Joss, the believer, doesn't point out God's obviously active presence in the world, relying instead on inner feelings and emotions.

The second is that the Bible doesn't say that God created aliens, so there obviously can't be aliens. Even when the aliens wonder about whether there's a creator, they don't say it's God.

The third is a variant on the first; we see Arroway's experience even though she never has any proof to show anyone else. Since she now has experienced something that she can't prove but we know to be true, they might feel that she should automatically believe in what Joss has experienced but can not prove.

The fourth is that the filmmakers decided to stick Bill Clinton into the film.

(Unrelated note to the mods: there's still some spam at the bottom of the Amazonfail thread.)

#594 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 12:19 PM:

Thanks, guys. I've seen it twice now and I love its depiction of Sehnsucht -- that sense of Joy C.S. Lewis wrote about -- in the delerious delight of Ellie and her team in their discovery. And I find her speech to the committee, where she talks about us being "tiny and insignifigant and rare and precious" incredibly moving, as it builds off the bit Serge quotes. And I especially like the respect Ellie and Josh have for each other, as KeithS points out. There's one scene at the Tidal Pool in Washington where she's talking about having been searching for something her whole life, where he could so easily have taken the token religious way out and say "I've found it -- let me witness to you" -- but he doesn't. Good writing there.

Anyway, I ask because I'm in disagreement with someone I'm reading who thinks the whole movie shows how barren the scientific view of life is -- that Ellie is left lessened by her experience. To which I say wha??? Did we see the same movie?

#595 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 12:26 PM:

Janet Croft @ 594... To which I say wha??? Did we see the same movie?

In the version I saw, it's Doctor Smith who blows up the first Machine. Then the Robot... What? Oh, sorry.

Seriously... We all come into a story with our own expectations and filters. Or we don't pay enough attention: I remember a reviewer who said that the Machine takes Ellie to the Afterlife where she meets her dead father.

#596 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 12:37 PM:

Janet Croft @ 594:

What movie did your friend see, because I'm pretty sure that doesn't sound like Contact? Sagan was very good about communicating the richness of a scientific view of the world. In the film you see it in the excitement the scientists have in observing the universe and trying to figure out what's going on. You see it in the beauty of the galaxy that Arroway gets to see. You see it in the conversation she has with the alien. It's one of the film's main themes.

The only reason that I can really think of that your friend might feel that was is that Arroway is disappointed that people won't believe her. However, she doesn't expect anyone to, because she has no evidence to show them. There is a certain religious mindset that sees the requirement for evidence and trying to figure out how things work as somehow taking away from the grandeur of things. That is the same religious viewpoint that, to me, tries to make the world and their God so small, because a real sense of the numinous can be both awesome and terrifying.

#597 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 12:43 PM:

Serge @ 595:

Those pesky evil scientists, always opening portals to the afterlife. After they open the portal to Hell, the demons take over and it's up to our intrepid Space Marine to stop them. Should make a doomed good video game, right?

#598 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 01:06 PM:

KeithS @ 597... If I remember correctly, the movie Event Horizon was about a starship that used a crossdimensional thingamabob drive. Unfortunately one of the dimensions it crosses is Hell, and undesirable elements hop a ride. I don't think Maximilian Schell manages to get away.

#599 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 01:28 PM:

Serge, I remember that film. Vaguely. (I think I'd been trying to forget.)


#600 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 01:30 PM:

Serge @ 598:

That sounds like the synopses I've read of it. It sounds like one of those movies that are fun to laugh at, but you need to get people together to do that.

#601 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 01:39 PM:

Summer Storms @ 599... KeithS @ 600... I caught part of it on the Skiffy Channel, and that made me glad I didn't pay for it beyond the few wasted minutes of my life that I shall never recover. I think it had Sam Neill possessed by an Evil Entity. If not him, then somebody else is, with the results that one can expect. Not Neill's best turkey. Not Lawrence Fishburne's either.

#602 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 02:18 PM:

I appear to have an atypical response to Event Horizon, in that when I saw it in the theater it scared the living shit out of me. I don't watch a whole lot of horror films, but enough that I'm not really a pushover in that regard, and that movie really hit all the right (wrong?) buttons in me.

#603 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 02:39 PM:

KeithS, I think that describes this person's viewpoint precisely -- somehow science showing how something works takes away glory from God. (But if God created it, isn't it to God's glory to find out how it works? The rainbow is still a soul-lifting sight even if we know how the light of the sun is refracted through raindrops.) It's a point of view I have a hard time sympathizing with.

I recently read a paper on Tolkien written back in the late sixties (I'm indexing a journal from that period) in which the author emphasized that science and mysticism are not in opposition to each other, but complementary and equally necessary ways of looking at the universe -- a very good way of thinking about it, to my mind. We need both to be fully human, and I think that's one of the things Contact shows.

#604 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 02:43 PM:

Skwid... I think one of my scariest moments was in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indy finds himself in the middle of a book burning, and all the monsters of the Nazi Party are there.

As for Event Horizon... Should we cross over to the Ballard thread and ask if it is SF or fantasy?

#605 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Skwid @ 602:

If it makes you feel any better, it took me until my mid teens to not be absolutely freaked out by even the cheesiest movies involving aliens.

Janet Croft @ 603:

What I would argue, and what I think Sagan would argue as well, is that a rainbow is beautiful in and of itself. It becomes something more wondrous once we discover the properties of light and refraction, because we know something more about the world. Other people see it as taking something beautiful apart and leaving the pieces strewn across the floor, as if the fact that being able to reduce something to its component pieces meant that we could never again see it as a rainbow.

I think that there are two thought processes, often but not always intertwined, running here. One is the idea that science is dry and dusty, all about reducing things to component parts and filing them away neatly. Contact makes a good showing for that not being the case. The other is a fear for their idea of God. Some people have wedded their faith to a lot of odd notions that science either has or is moving in on. If you interpret the story of Noah in a particular way, then the knowledge that a rainbow is caused by the refraction of sunlight through drops of water is actually threatening to the belief that God put a rainbow in the sky as a promise to never flood the world again.

I think we'll have to disagree about the necessity of mysticism, although I am sympathetic to the notion. If we're talking about a sense of awe, wonder and beauty, then I'll agree.

#606 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 03:42 PM:

KeithS, you probably shouldn't see Fire In The Sky, then. The most terrifying abduction sequence I've ever seen (and much easier to believe than the cartoonish account given by the real Travis Walton).

#607 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 03:48 PM:

My take on Event Horizon is that someone had been to a lecture on relativity and all they'd taken away was the lecturer explaining that FTL travel would be madness and chaos; it would break time and space and anything could happen. Hence when they try to travel FTL, madness and horror breaks in from the outside.

The timing's tight, but it's conceivable that rather than going to a lecture this hypothetical person could have been listening to me and my friends in the student union in 1994 from the next table, immediately written the screenplay and sold it straight away. It would definitely explain this line :"Right. Well, um, using layman's terms... Use a retaining magnetic field to focus a narrow beam of gravitons - these, in turn, fold space-time consistent with Weyl tensor dynamics until the space-time curvature becomes infinitely large, and you produce a singularity. Now, the singularity... "

#608 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 04:03 PM:

By the way, I understand that Earthlink is toast at the moment (this is unlikely to be in honor of Earth Day). I get this information per Lee's LJ post, which gives new meaning to the term "phoning it in".

#609 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 04:10 PM:

Xopher @ 606:

I'm better now, mostly, but I'll keep that in mind.

Neil Willcox @ 607:

My impression of Event Horizon was that someone decided that they liked the basic story idea behind Doom (yes, it had a story, really!), but didn't want to do the zombies and shotguns.

#610 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 04:15 PM:

My take on _Event Horizon_ was that, as a foil-thin rendition of the "haunted starship" trope that flopped, it spiked any hope of doing a really good movie adaptation of GRRMartin's _Nightflyers_. Which is a shame.

(I know there was already a movie adaptation of _Nightflyers_. I've seen the last 120 seconds. Okay, I couldn't tell from that clip that it sucked, but I'm pretty sure it sucked.)

#611 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 04:40 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 610... I saw Nightflyer, but I remember very little of it. That, coming from someone whose brain is filled with junk, probably means it was mediocre. Not good. Not bad. Just blah.

#612 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 05:03 PM:

The UN has a collection of scans of cool primary documents from ye ages - it's just gone online over here.

#613 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 05:27 PM:

abi, #608: I'm back. With dead-perfect comedic timing, my partner came in to announce that we were back up exactly as I was hanging up from making the voice-post. But it had been 3 hours, and we didn't know anything about what was going on. (Apparently at least part of what was going on was a DDOS attack.)

#614 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 05:37 PM:

Headlines found today on Comcast's site:

Woman's underwire bra deflects bullet

Bride sues guest for ruining wedding

#615 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 05:58 PM:

Serge, you came incredibly close to owing me a new keyboard.

#616 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 06:16 PM:

KeithS @ 615... I guess I shouldn't mention that the first headline sounds like something that should be tested by the MythBustiers.

#617 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 06:34 PM:

The rheumatologist called today and the CT I had on Monday has the same kind of beading as the cerebral angiogram so I have to stay on the high-dose predisone and probably add an additional immunosuppressant when I see her next Wednesday. At least she didn't say "brain biopsy."

#618 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 06:45 PM:

Thank you, spammers on old threads and flaggers of old rudeness - I've discovered many an interesting discussion that way!

(And no, I don't mean to equate flaggers of old rudeness with evil nasty spammerssss, lest my statement be misread.)

Serge @614, the second tale gave me a headache. Also, couldn't the guest have done it before the I do's? (How does one punctuate that? "I-dos"? "I do's"? "Exchange of vows"?)

#619 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 06:56 PM:

@618: I would use use-mention quotes: 'I do's. You could use use-mention italics instead, but then it's harder to show that the s is not part of the mentioned text.

#620 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Serge @ #614, oh, rats. I was hoping those two stories were connected: first the bride's bra deflects the bullet, then the bride sues the shooter.

Ah well, it was too much to hope for, I guess.

#621 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 08:13 PM:

Or the bride shoots the guest, and the GUEST's underwire deflects the bullet. Since it was supposed to be a celebratory murder, the wedding is ruined, and the bride sues.


#622 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 08:17 PM:

Xopher @ #621, Since it was supposed to be a celebratory murder

Ah. The BRIDE has hooked the groom out from under the nose of the guest. I see.

Hmm. This has the makings of an awful devolution; I think I'll stop right there.

#623 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 08:33 PM:

I just read A Tiny Feast and now I'm absolutely paralyzed with shame that I ever attempted to write fiction of my own. What's the point of trying to write, and write well, if never in a thousand years of life-extension treatments, nanocoded cognitive enhancements and drug-induced psychotomimetic episodes will you ever, ever chance to write anything half so good? Oh, I feel so wretched.

On a related note: I always knew there was something magical about Buena Vista Park. It's not the only magical park in the City, of course, but it's one of them. Now, it's all so clear to me.

#624 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 09:30 PM:

Mary Dell #612, Thank you; thank you; thank you!
(And of course to the people who've thought and set it up.)

I am a nag about going back to primary sources, and this makes it much easier to do for some. The Flickr 'Commons' is a different kind of example. Another good spot is Yale Uni's Avalon Project. Aladdin's cave when I first stumbled on it.

#625 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2009, 09:51 PM:

610, 611: Oh, Nightflyers! One of the rare awful movies that I've actually seen! Well, part of it. I fell asleep about 2 hours in, and we'd only just gotten through the beginning of the movie. My housemate stayed up to watch it, and as I recall, he said nothing much ever happened.

There was some hot babe -- Catherine Mary Stuart? -- wearing dark sunglasses. Yes, on a spaceship -- you never know when someone's going to suddenly turn on the lights. You know it has to be a bad movie when even a hot babe in sexy sunglasses doesn't keep you awake.

(Did she also have a leather jacket? My memory is vague.)

#626 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 03:31 AM:

from A Tiny Feast: "Vaqvssrerapr jnf gur xrl gb ure zntvp; fur pbhyq qb abguvat sbe fbzrbar fur ybirq."

Ubbbcus. V pnaabg vzntvar n zber greevoyr phefr.

#627 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 06:42 AM:

It's Thursday night here now, when my local viddie shop has their $2/week special. Strolling thru' I glimpsed Event Horizon – my major memory is Sam Neill's riff on a future flag – & was tempted; resisted for now.

#628 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 07:52 AM:

Serge @604: A book burning you say?

Berlin, Schloßplatz, 10 May 1933:
... And in the year of 1933 my books were burned with dark festive splendor in Berlin, on the large square next to the Opera, by a certain Mr. Goebbels. He triumphantly called out the names of twenty-four German writers, who symbolically had to be eradicated for eternity. I was the only one of the twenty-four who had appeared in person to witness this theatrical insolence.
I stood in front of the University, jammed between students in SA uniforms, the flower of the nation, saw our books lying in the flashing flames and listened to the sentimental tirades of the little consummate liar. Funeral weather hung over the town. The head of a smashed bust of Magnus Hirschfeld, on a long stake, swung up and down over the silent mass of people. …
[Das Erich Kästner Buch, p23]
(Via, and thanks to, harrie verstappen at the looniverse and Mez for pointing to it.)

#629 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 08:49 AM:

Epacris @ 628... Yes, a a book burning. The monsters may have been eradicated, but they seldom are completely. They eventually come back wearing new suits.

#630 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 09:26 AM:

Ginger @ 625... Yes, that was Catherine Mary Stuart. I don't recall whether or not she wore a leather jacket, but the sunglasses were supposed to make her enigmatic. I think. If I remember correctly this oeuvre from 1987, Michael Praed was someone's clone who spent most of his time in bed because he'd grown up in free fall, and the ship's computer acted like Norman Bates's possessive mother.

#631 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 10:33 AM:

j h woodyatt @ 623 - that is just what I was feeling, exactly.

heresiarch @ 626 - it is a perfect encapsulation of faerie magic.

I am stunned by that story, and now must try to work anyway.

#632 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 12:09 PM:

Someone who is a regular here tweeted recently about writing the last of his regular term essays, and thus being free. I sincerely hope he did not write anything like this in it: "Most of the time their cries fell on death ears because of the harsh laws and exams that were administered before the voting process could even begin." It's amazing what one near-homophone can do to a cliché.

#633 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 12:25 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 632:

How does Death keep his ears on? String?

#634 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 12:34 PM:

KeithS #633: Epoxy.

#635 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 12:40 PM:

Fragano@632: It's amazing what a homophone can do to two clichés, too. I ran into a mention of someone going "behind the veil of tears" a while back.

#636 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 12:45 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 634:

That seems a little modern for Death, don't you think?

Dan Hoey @ 635:

That's actually a rather evocative mental image. I doubt very much it was intended, though.

#637 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 12:53 PM:


My history teacher recalls a paper in which a student wrote about the United States as a hole.

#638 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 12:54 PM:

KeithS #636: Death, as we learn in Meet Joe Black, is an agent of the IRS. Can't get more modern than that.

Dan Hoey #635: That's an, ahem, flowing immage.

#639 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 01:12 PM:

I rather liked Event Horizon, actually. OK, it wasn't SF, it was horror with an SF premise*, but even so. I'd rank it as a good, competent B-movie.
(*Or, alternatively, it was all hard SF, and all the supernatural phenomena were just hallucinations produced by stress and hypoxia, and/or Sam Neill having a full on psychotic breakdown due to the stress of deep space flight and other trauma - remember that they're running out of breathable air for most of the film.)

Woman's underwire bra deflects bullet
Bride sues guest for ruining wedding

That's a much happier version of the plot of "Kill Bill", but it wouldn't have made nearly as good a film.

#640 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 01:38 PM:

As I grade, I come across the plaintive (there is no other word for it) query "Why does voter turnout the US rank low among developed countries in?" Is there an answer?

#641 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 01:41 PM:

Sure there is, Fragano. "Because the American public is ignorant their history and careless their rights about of."

Actually, that looks like someone was swapping words around in that sentence with Word and was too tired to notice that s/he missed one.

#642 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 01:49 PM:

Xopher #641: That's a much better explanation than having a somewhat dopier version of Yoda as a student. It didn't help that several sentences were similarly mangled. I did come across one that made inadvertent sense though not, I think, what was intended: "To the Hispanic immigration was the flue to their fire."

#643 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 02:10 PM:

ajay @ 639...

Sam Neill having a full on psychotic breakdown?

#644 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 02:41 PM:

640: I thought it was just badly translated from the original Latin, but that would have been: "Why among developed countries the US in voter turnout low does rank?"

#645 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 02:46 PM:

ajay @ 644...

"What's this, then? 'Romanes eunt domus'? People called Romanes, they go, the house?"

#646 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 02:56 PM:

Heading out for Conestoga in a bit. Catch you on the flipside!

#647 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 02:59 PM:

Lee @ 646... Bon voyage!

#648 ::: Jesse M. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 03:15 PM:

I got on the Web today and Livejournal cheerfully informed me that it was "Talk Like Shakespeare Day".

Without thinking, I answered out loud, "You mean ELI-3 Day!"

I miss you, Mr. Ford.

#649 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 04:41 PM:

White space
Is my friend.

A paragraph full of instructions with the expected results all interspersed in the verbiage of the directions and explanations is difficult to read and difficult to follow.

And it's even more difficult to perform.

Monotonicity has value.
Particularly, it has value
When trying to follow
Step by step

Rewrite, revise, redact, reiterate...

#650 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 04:42 PM:

ajay @644:
I thought it was just badly translated from the original Latin

Sorry, no, with that preposition at the end of the sentence, it's clearly Dutch.

Inranken must be a separable verb, meaning that the preposition only sticks to the verbal form in the infinitive (and, with an infix, the participle, probably ingerankt, possibly ingeranken, probably not ingeronken)

In its conjugated forms, the ranken must stand alone while the in goes to the end of the sentence.

(If you believe all that, I have a charming brug to sell you, connecting Nieuw Amsterdam and Breukelen...)

#651 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 04:49 PM:

Jesse 648: [*]

#652 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 04:50 PM:

I have something which relates to fighting entropy, and waste and short sighted gain. I'd have put it in the post about coming in last, but that feels attention grabbing (though I need to remember to read the poem more often too, not just the last line).

Anyhow, this is all about a woman who figured out some really potent recycling; of the kind which has ripples, spreading to far shores.

Builders of Hope recycles houses, creates green jobs and provides affordable homes

#653 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 05:17 PM:

I just looked at the business card particle.

What a load of bollocks. If I got handed that card... "the best he's ever seen", I'd chuck it. Too big to keep track of, too busy and so full of itself I'd be certain working with the guy would be more trouble than it's worth.

Which might just be influenced by the way he led up to it.

#654 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 05:18 PM:

The best business card in the world (and that isn't) doesn't make up for being a flaming asshole (which he is).

#656 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 05:55 PM:

Terry Karney @ 653 and Xopher @ 654:

I'm pretty sure that that was supposed to be funny. Teresa's link text certainly was. If that was actually for real, I'm afraid.

A business card like that given to me would be binned (they're a standard size for a reason). Anyone who acted like that to me would be shown the door. Or quicklimed, rolled in carpet, and binned.

#657 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 06:49 PM:

KeithS @656:

The guy exists but he says in his blog that

This video clip (featured here on a top-rated Australian Television Show) was extracted (not posted by our offices) from a movie short I ACTED in over a decade ago. It features an over-the-top personality style I developed for the director of this film.

He looks much older in recent videos posted on his website too, but is just as annoying.

#658 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 07:07 PM:

Pendrift @ 657:

From his website he looks like your typical annoying motivational speaker and teacher of how to be an obnoxious memorable salesman. I can imagine that clip being from an over-the-top demonstration of the latter.

Fortunately, the vendors I deal with are interested in selling good products, instead of attempting to charm me with their idea of a winning personality.

#659 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 07:17 PM:

I went and looked at the blog... It may be the clip was from a script someone else did, but the blog doesn't really change my estimation of him as someone I couldn't work with.

His "About Joel" page is full of the sort of pap and pablum I'd expect from the guy who had, "the best business card in the world".

#660 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 07:19 PM:

dont understand what eli3 means

#661 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 08:00 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @ 655 ...
xkcd overflows with humor

Humour which I unfortunately quoted recently, and in context, as I watched a different species float back and forth across my underwhelmed success at sleeping...

#662 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 08:22 PM:

Does anybody know when the 4th season of Eureka will begin or even if there'll be a 4th season? The lack of of advertising on the SciFi Channel's site does not bode well.

I want my summer dose of mad science!

#663 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 09:00 PM:

Something really stupid has been driving me crazy all day. As far as I can recall, there are exactly two names which can be given to a dog and ONLY to a dog (anyway, around here): Fido and Rover.

Does anyone know of any other names which automatically mean the named being is a dog?

#664 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 09:17 PM:

Xopher @ 663:

Rin Tin Tin?

I'd offer Bowser, except that Nintendo borrowed that for something that's not a dog.

#665 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 09:26 PM:

Hmm, I mean general names...Rin Tin Tin is a specific individual dog. Bowser is pretty good.

#666 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 09:46 PM:

shaggy? sparky?

#667 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 09:57 PM:


#668 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 09:58 PM:

Oh wait, have we had "Rex?"

#669 ::: Jesse M. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 10:18 PM:

Erik Nelson@ 660:

Sorry, that was a pretty awful geek check.

ELI-3's out of John M. Ford's The Princes of the Air. ELI-3 was a...well, I'd guess you'd have to call it a weaponized court language, refined by the book's diplomatic corps to gain the ultimate rhetorical advantage.

So what was ELI-3?

Ford writing perfect Shakespearean prose.

#670 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 10:25 PM:

As readers of Eponymously Yours, W. Skeffington Higgins will already be aware, not long ago I uncovered startling photographic evidence that an elaborate ballet was performed on the set of the film Destination Moon in December of 1949.

I would really like to know more about who staged this performance, and why. I've now made a page summarizing what I know about the mystery, and offering photos of the dancers, in hopes that someone might be able to identify them.

So please take a look. If you know scholars or enthusiasts of dance, movie musicals, Forties Hollywood, etc., pass the link to them. There must be a nest of experts somewhere on the Net who have a fair chance of identifying these people.

#671 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 10:28 PM:

Paula Lieberman #649: Heh. I like it!

Ubuntu 9.04 upgrade: Bad fonts, no points for you!
And my first trial CD just failed, too. At least it didn't hang K3B. :-(

Buy hey, I'm off hiking again tomorrow, so I'm going to leave it for the moment.

#672 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 10:45 PM:

Dog names: Spot doesn't always mean dog, but it strongly suggests dog. Not as good as Fido or Rover, though. DOG, pronounced Dee-OH-jee, unless you're dealing with someone with that kind of sense of humor.

#673 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 10:49 PM:

"Buster" is apparently the new "Rover," although it doesn't scream dog-only to me. Keith's parents foster boxers (dogs, not large men in gloves and shorts), and they got one who had previously been named Buster. The boxer rescue asked them to pick a new name for him, because they had way too many Busters already. They picked "Norman." ("Norman"?)

"Spot," honestly. I've only seen it given to a cat ironically.

#674 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 11:16 PM:

'Spot' given to a cat is, I believe, traceable to ST-TNG's Data, whose cat was called Spot.

#675 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 11:40 PM:

Serge @662

Why yes, SciFi just showed three Eureka reruns tonight, with ads promising that there would be new episodes in July.

July of what year wasn't specified. Last spring they were saying July as well.

#676 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2009, 11:50 PM:

Names which evoke dog sounds: Ruff.

Snoopy is a specific individual dog but there've been a lot of dogs named after him.

#677 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 12:59 AM:

Nearly forgot! Good
Pixel-Stained Technopeasant
Day, everybody!

What? Haiku count, too,
In this celebration of
giving away reads.

#678 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 01:45 AM:

Diatryma @ #672, Have you not heard of Dog the Bounty Hunter?

Regrettably he's based here, and our local TV stations are fascinated by him. He turns up in our newscasts fairly frequently.

#679 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 02:46 AM:

Dog the Bounty Hunter makes me think of what might happen if someone gave the Austin City Lights public access TV crew tasers and handcuffs.

#680 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 02:50 AM:

Someone shot at Dog the Bounty Hunter here this week while he was taping a show. They missed.

#681 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 03:03 AM:

J Austin @ #680, yes, and it led (led!) our 10:00pm news that night.

As I said, fascinated.

For a while there one of our sportscasters would put Mike Tyson into his segments at any opportunity, too. Bah.

#682 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 03:23 AM:


Right? And yet someone else actually gets shot, and it's somewhere after the weather. I actually had no idea he was based here until you said--I thought he was just shooting (har) here.

#683 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 03:31 AM:

Never mind me. You are in Hawaii. I am not.

Okay, well, I can see why it would lead here, but it was the top story there? Ew.

#684 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 04:02 AM:

There are lots of "bad dog" names like Fang, Ripper, Spike, Butch, Killer, Cujo, and Tyson.

Plus a few literary ones like Huan, Gaspode, or Montmorency.

#685 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 04:28 AM:

#663 ::: Xopher said:

Does anyone know of any other names which automatically mean the named being is a dog?

to which #667 ::: J Austin responded:


Fifi's not a dog-only name, surely? It is au-pair Fifi in Archer's Goon who says (from memory, details may be blurred) "We seem to have somebody's goon".

#686 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 04:31 AM:

pericat @ 631: "it is a perfect encapsulation of faerie magic."

Yes, exactly. If your magic worked like that, you'd have to develop a personality like Titania's--it would be the only way to survive.

I worry what will happen to her,* now that she has learned (or remembered) how to care.

*Oh yes, it's that good.

#687 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 05:38 AM:

Oh wait, have we had "Rex?"

As in "Harrison"?

Literary dog names: you could go for one of the animals from "The Once and Future King" - Toby, Diamond, Bounce, Beaumont, Cavall, Cully, Balin, Archimedes...

#688 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 06:23 AM:

Niall McAuley @ 684... Montmorency? Who'd make into a bad-dog name the waterfall that's only a few miles from where I grew up?

I am amused that, when they learn that our youngest (and smallest) dog is named Cagney, some in the younger generations have assumed that it was a girl dog.

#689 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 06:42 AM:

OT- ajay, do you know- or does anyone else know- wether Alex is ok?

#690 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 07:36 AM:

689: Alex Harrowell? I don't know - I don't actually know him IRL, but I haven't seen him around the blogosphere recently, and he's normally fairly active...hmmm.

#691 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 08:31 AM:

Tough-dog names usually become tough names-- I named the piranha Spike. I think Killer might be the most dog-centric of them.

There are some human names that are mostly dog names-- Sadie comes first to mind, but Cassie is up there. I have met/met people of as many canine Cassies as human.

#692 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 08:33 AM:

Serge@688: "Montmorency" is the name of the bull-terrier in Three Men and a Boat (which if you haven't read already, you definitely should. It's one of my reliable cheer-me-up books.)

#693 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 09:11 AM:

Debra Doyle #692: Er, that's Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog). Indeed one of the cheeriest books ever written.

#694 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 09:12 AM:

Dog & other names: Reminds me of an Irish joke about a Dublin zookeeper who named his favourite zebra Spot.

*runs away*

#695 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 09:30 AM:

Debra @ 692... Fragano @ 693... Thanks for the recommendation. Two of my favorite authors each have a novel coming out on the same day next week. I'll look for Jerome's book too.

#696 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 09:36 AM:

Making "Irish stew" from the leftovers of their food hamper, in Chapter 14 of Three Men in A Boat:

"I forget the other ingredients, but I know nothing was wasted; and I remember that, towards the end, Montmorency [the dog], who had evinced great interest in the proceedings throughout, strolled away with an earnest and thoughtful air, reappearing, a few minutes afterwards, with a dead water-rat in his mouth, which he evidently wished to present as his contribution to the dinner; whether in a sarcastic spirit, or with a genuine desire to assist, I cannot say."

I gave a copy of this book to an acquaintance who is not much inclined to read anything "old". She called me about half-way through and accused me of trying to murder her with laughter.

The anecdote of the cheese is quite wonderful as well.

One of Jerome's later books Three Men on the Bummel (about a bicycling trip through the Black Forest in Germany) appears to have been read as a Book at Bedtime by Hugh Laurie. There's a bit in there about souvenir shopping which involves an unfortunate misunderstanding based on false cognates.

#697 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:28 AM:

Found today in

It seems hard to imagine that the best use of Republican National Committee members' time is, as Greg Sargent reports, pressuring their chairman, Michael Steele, to adopt the following resolution:
RESOLVED, that we the members of the Republican National Committee call on the Democratic Party to be truthful and honest with the American people by acknowledging that they have evolved from a party of tax and spend to a party of tax and nationalize and, therefore, should agree to rename themselves the Democrat Socialist Party.

Sargent spoke with RNC vice chair James Bopp, who told him that Steele has said "on several occasions that he agrees with the substance.”

Comrades, our cunning plans have been exposed.

#698 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:33 AM:

Xopher @ 663: "Ginger".

It's common enough in the south that it can be found as an example name in catalogues of veterinary and canine supplies, along with "Rusty" (who can also be a cat, though).

(/sardonic smile)

#699 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:44 AM:

Ginger (698): But 'Ginger' suggests 'cat' to me, not 'dog'! ;)

Although you're the second human Ginger I've known, and my feline examples are only from literature.

#700 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:44 AM:

Ginger @ 698... Did you say 'Ginger'?

#702 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:53 AM:

Fragano@693: I stand (well, sit, actually) corrected. That's what I get for typing from memory and before coffee.

#703 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:58 AM:

We have a cat named Spot. He's all white. We didn't plan it that way -- he DID have a grey spot on his head as a kitten, I swear.

Gaspode is a great dog name, because you can shorten it to Spode and teach him to roll over and play dead when you say Eulalie.

#704 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:59 AM:

On dog names: There are 3 Maggies at the doggie daycare near my house. One of them is my 12 year old dog (came to us as Magdalena Magpie), and another is a young hooligan. My poor sedate girl suffers a bit from the cries of "Maggie! NO!".

On "Three Men in a Boat": Connie Willis' novel "To Say Nothing of the Dog" is in that universe, and is a fabulous romp.

#705 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 11:01 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 699: Oddly enough, I've met only one feline Ginger (of the appropriate color, too), whereas I've met at least a half-dozen of the canine type. Rusty is the name I associate with both cats and dogs.

Serge @ 700: blah blah blah Yes blah blah Serge.

(Nne of the many reasons I loved Gary Larson was his clear understanding of the superiority of the name..and his frequent use of it. Remember the missing snake?)

#706 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 11:21 AM:

Ginger @ 705... I don't remember Ginger the snake, but I remember the cartoon where God is creating snakes off a block of putty and thinking to Himself "These things are a cinch to make."

#707 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 11:24 AM:

C Wingate @ 701... And Ginger could do it backward, in high heels.

#708 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 11:44 AM:

Debra @ #702, while we're at it, Montmorency was a fox terrier.

#709 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 12:06 PM:

Xopher @ 633: In Japanese, "Pochi" is the stereotypical dog name.

#710 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 12:49 PM:

Fifi's not a dog-only name, surely?
And always a poodle, it seems.

#711 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 01:03 PM:

Thanks everyone...what I'm really looking for is names that immediately make you think "dog" when you hear them. There was a human Ripper and a (sort of) human Spike in Buffy, and I knew a guy named Butch in college. 'Cujo' is definitely a dog name. 'Fang' is Phyllis Diller's (standup persona's) husband, and one of the cardinals nobody expects. 'Tyson' is either Tyson Beckford or Mike Tyson, the latter of whom is a Very Bad Dog, but not actually Canis familiaris.

'Ginger' makes me think of a) the Ginger here; b) my colleague Ginger, who died on 9/11; c) Ginger Rogers; d) the MOOOVEE STAH!; in approximately that order. Could be a dog, but not especially evocative of caninity—no more than 'Chloe', which is the name of a dog I met recently. Rusty makes me think of a red-headed (human) kid.

'Fifi' is not exclusively a dog name, but does make me think of a pampered toy poodle. So right now my list is

...which is, as they say in certain bits of the English-speaking world not including the one I live in, enough to be going on with.


#712 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 01:05 PM:

J Austin @ 710:

When it's not a poodle, it's offten some froofie little dog like a Shih Tzu.

#713 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 01:15 PM:

Then there's always the marvelous
Fifi Abdo

#714 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 01:24 PM:

And better film quality here

#715 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 01:29 PM:

Fifi makes me think of pampered little dogs, and of Pippi Longstocking because her name in French was Fifi Brindacier (Fifi Bitofsteel). There's also the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he's being chased by lumberjack Blacque Jacques Shellacque and, to distract the latter, pretends that Fifi from Montreal is asking for him on the phone.

#716 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 01:32 PM:

Would "Lassie" count?

#717 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 01:39 PM:

We named our childhood (pre-ST:TNG) cat Spot because in the two months after he adopted us we could not make a name stick. Finally, my dad - who had been in the hospital for weeks due to knee surgery and post-surgical infection, and was only acquainted with the kitty by our crayon drawings - officially named the gigantor-cow cat Spot, on account of his spots. Sadly, because Spot was a timid cat and dad had been gone for those important early weeks, he never quite took to dad.

Spot did quite outlive his sister, a grey tabby we named Generic, by over a decade.

My current dog - a corgi-ish GSD mix - is called Ardala, after the Buck Rogers character of the same name. She was called Ester by the morons who turned her in to the shelter. We had a short list of possible names which we spoke to her until she responded. I was hoping for Boudicca, but Ardala suits her just fine. She also answers to "Monkey Butt".

#718 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 02:24 PM:

Does anyone have advice about researching police procedure? -- specific books or websites on the subject, for instance? Googling turns up Police Procedure and Investigation: A Guide for Writers, by Lee Lofland, and said author's website with a few articles that look generally interesting but don't (as far as I can tell so far) address my specific questions. I reckon I'll buy said book when I have some money to spare, unless someone has a better suggestion.

In particular:

1. If police are responding to a 911 call, & find the door of the house locked; no one answers the door when they announce themselves but they hear muffled shouting from somewhere inside -- they're going to break down the door at that point, right?

2. If, having broken down the door, they find no one upstairs, and investigating sounds from the basement they find no one there but a tunnel entrance in a wall of the basement -- would they investigate the tunnel right away (these being the first 1-2 cops on the scene) or wait for reinforcements to arrive? Would the answer change if they were shot at when they first started to descend the basement stairs? I'm figuring they probably wouldn't go down the tunnel until they have backup -- but the story would get a lot more interesting if I can find an excuse for one or both of those first couple of patrolmen on the scene to charge down the tunnel at once. Possibly one of them is new & inexperienced & impulsive, or has been around a while but has a reputation for violating procedure at times...?


On species-uniqueness of pet names: About 20 years ago my brother and I had two cats named Snoopy and Woodstock. When we visited our cousins whose cat had just had these and other kittens, we found one sleeping on top of the large basket the other kittens were sleeping in at whiles; at some other point early in our acquaintance with them, another kitten was sleeping on top of the first-mentioned. Thus the names.

#719 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 02:29 PM:

All those dog names and nobody's said "Lassie"? Pretty much every collie I've ever met has been named that, and I don't think I've ever known a person who was.

In completely unrelated news, I had what I think is a very encouraging experience yesterday and thought people here would appreciate it. I go to a regular Thursday-night gaming group - insert your mental image of a stereotypical middle-aged gaming group, and you've got the cast of characters pretty much down.

I walk in to the middle of a... conversation? Discussion? Argument? Bunch of guys talking about torture at the top of their lungs, not really listening to each other. The libertarian cowboy is all in favor of it (and doesn't actually know what waterboarding is, which - what? How can you not know what this word means today?) The Overthinker is spouting all sorts of pseudo-philosophical rationalizations. The Joker is trying to keep things light (but, um, torture's not light, seriously.) I am VERY UNCOMFORTABLE, but don't really know where to begin.

Luckily, Navy Dave walks in shortly after me. He quickly assesses the situation and in about two minutes, shuts it down. Yes, torture is always wrong. No, there's no excuse for it. The fact that our government has trained professional torturers is utterly shameful. "But what if--?" "No, wrong." It was truly a thing of beauty to watch him work. And he *has* done the SERE training, so nobody was left with a leg to stand on.

It made me feel warm and fuzzy towards our uniformed servicefolks, which is - well, kinda unusual. But in a good way.

#720 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 02:43 PM:

the story would get a lot more interesting if I can find an excuse for one or both of those first couple of patrolmen on the scene to charge down the tunnel at once.

Though I'm certainly no expert, I suspect they'd be vastly more likely to go down the tunnel if they thought there was someone in it who was in trouble. So if you can arrange for something that sounds like screaming or the like to come from the tunnel, your job in explaining* why they violate procedure (if it is a violation of procedure) will be much easier.

* I cannot tell you how much it annoys me that it's "explain" and "explaining" but "explanation".

#721 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 02:48 PM:

Just popped by MSNBC and their "Breaking News" is about a CDC press conference on a swine flu outbreak.

Seems new flu is a combination of swine/human/avian, and it has killed 61 people in Mexico. There are 1,000 known cases in Mexico, not sure how many in USA, and so far CDC doesn't know how it jumped the border.

#722 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 02:53 PM:

nerdycellist @ #717, "She was called Ester by the morons"

When our late much-loved Tigger arrived in our house on Christmas Day 1993 she had been given the name Cocoa. We decided that was due to her spots and saddle coloring.

She became Tigger within two hours of arrival, because she bounced.

#723 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 03:24 PM:

Tigger looks bouncy! I like her unique saddle and speckles markings. Did anyone ever get confused that Tigger was a spotted dog, and not a tabby cat?

It will soon be Ardala's 3rd anniversary with us, and just as my mom calls me every year on my birthday to recount her labor, my birth and my toddler-hood, I will make an annual post on my LJ about How We Got Ardala. Damn, I wish we could bring pets to work!

#724 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 03:34 PM:

Niall@708: Memory. Coffee. Mea culpa.

#725 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 03:40 PM:

Lori Coulson #721: so far CDC doesn't know how it jumped the border

You mean the border between species and not the border between nations, right?

#726 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 03:47 PM:

Xopher #711: One of my hiking buddies is named Rusty, but he's no kid! his hair might have been red a few decades ago....

Cat Meadors #719: "Lassie" is just a British-ism (not sure of the exact scope) for (a) "girl", either human or metaphorical. It's just that TV show which attached it to Collies. Oddly, ISTR that "colleen" is Irish for the same idea, though perhaps not used to address one.

#727 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 03:52 PM:

Cat Meadors@719

Although "Lassie" also brings to mind a Scottish (at least the TV/Movie variety) way of referring to women.

(I seem to recall Star Trek's Scottie frequently using the word "Lassie".)

#728 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 03:59 PM:

David 726: Yes, cailín, IIRC. It means a girl (as in a little girl) in Irish. The word literally means "little hag," I'm told, which is very odd and I wonder how it came to pass.

#729 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 04:04 PM:

Earl Cooley III @725:

Both -- the strains of swine flu show types from different continents, which is rather unusual. The fact that avian is in the mix is even nastier.

And they haven't determined the chain of contacts taking the disease from Mexico to California and Texas, which they'd like to do. Right now, they just know that it's popped up here.

More bad news: target population seems to be those age 25-44, rather than children or the elderly, and that is the ones it's killing.

#730 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 04:17 PM:

I need to start a flickr account, just for the handsome doggie pictures.

S. Baldrick*, a dogsbody, picked us out at a shelter in San Angelo,Texas, five minutes before closing time on the eve of his scheduled destruction. With a bacterial infection in his skin, and a secondary fungal infection, he was just as scabby and gross as his name suggests. In the ten years since, everyone always asks us what kind of dog he is, because he's just so appealing, they figure he has to be something . When people won't accept "mutt" I say he's a Rottweagle, which is worth it just for the puzzled/thoughtful expression. Those who do hear "mutt" usually say, "They never look like that when I go to the shelter."

Well, duh.

* Also known as Darkmatter Dog, for his mutant ability to become heavier than a body that size can possibly contain (much, I'm told, like a toddler.) Or that tiny chick in Circus of the Stars that Matt Biondi couldn't lift.

"The dog won't get in the car--I'll have to pick him---ooomph!"

#731 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 04:24 PM:

CDC report (the weekly MMWR), and the press briefing from yesterday afternoon.

#732 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 04:56 PM:

I'd love a Rottweagle! Ardala looks to us a bit German Shepherdy and corgi-like maybe with some Australian Cattle Dog or Dachshund thrown in for good measure, but also a lot like a Swedish Valhund, which we're fairly certain she's not. People always want to know how old our GSD puppy is and also where we got her. We've taken to telling them she's a Teacup German Shepherd or San Gabriel Cattle Dog.

That she's a shelter dog always surprises people, because I guess shelter dogs aren't supposed to be friendly? The shelter we picked her up from had actually been her second shelter; on the intake papers from her first shelter she was listed as a grey terrier mix. I understand that "terrier mix" is usually the designation for a medium-ish mutt at shelters, but she must have been just filthy for her sleek tri-color to be mistaken for grey.

#733 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 05:08 PM:

Has Fox News called for closing the borders and interning everyone who Looks Mexican yet?

Has Michele Bachmann figured out the link between liberalism and swine flu?

#734 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 05:49 PM:

If I may avail myself of the local fount of knowledge...

In England, do people use different words than in the USA for "great-grandfather" and "great-great grandfather"?

#735 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 05:58 PM:

Serge @ 734:

Not that I'm aware of. The OED agrees.

#736 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 06:00 PM:

There's some fairly good tracking of the swine flu story on I've been following the story for a few days, and my personal gut feeling is that we're looking at a fairly big problem. I really hope I'm wrong.

#737 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 06:07 PM:



#738 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 06:41 PM:

Linkmeister, #678, he's featured in the WashPost Gossip Column, too.

Janet Croft, #703, I used to have a tuxedo cat with a black spot on his nose, which is why I named him Smudge. When he first saw the vet (came in from outdoors), it turned out it wasn't a skin/fur color, it was a rare benign virus and after about a year, it went away.

Jim Henry, #718, that will differ on the jurisdiction, and is frequently changed depending on whether something goes bad and is found out or not. For example, here's an article on how the Columbine police have changed their procedures.

#739 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 07:04 PM:

Serge @695: The main character of a popular French comic book is named Jérôme K. Jérôme Bloche, after the author of Three Men in a Boat and Hieronymus Bosch.

The swine flu strain sounds like bad news, but the major European news outlets don't seem to be covering it yet. They're more interested in Susan Boyle's 50-dollar makeover.

#740 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 07:29 PM:

KeithS @ 735... Thanks. It's one of those things the answer to which seems obvious, but it's better to be sure than to wind up looking stupid.

#741 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 07:32 PM:

Pendrift @ 739... Thanks for the recommendation. I'll be in Québec City the week before the worldcon, and there's this bookstore that carries a lot of European stuff. I'll make sure to look for it.

#742 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 07:33 PM:

J Austin -

That does it; my next dog's going to be a Rottweagle. Either that, or one like the dog across the street who is a Wiener Pit.

#743 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 07:41 PM:

J Austin @ #737, that looks more like a rotBAT to me, from the wings' structure and shape.

#744 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 08:04 PM:

Xopher: re colleen. In Russian the word for grandmother, and the word for old hag, are different only in the stress.

#746 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 08:14 PM:

In Russian the word for grandmother, and the word for old hag, are different only in the stress.

If your grandmother causes a lot of stress, it affects the way you think of her.

#747 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 08:16 PM:

A rottweagle? This reminds me of the trout hounds in that episode of Adderly.

#748 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 08:22 PM:


Yeah, I like bats in general, and Asian representations of them in particular. I always try to do something with the harness that won't bug him too much for Halloween. The four stuffed black-and-tan spider legs were less successful.


Wiener Pit! Give me a stubby, stout little guy with character any day over a statuesque show dog. Fun, cheap idea for the holidays: go get a caricature of yourself done, and take a pic of Ardala with you to include in the sketch. They make great greeting cards.

#749 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 08:37 PM:

Re rottweagle. We have no idea what he is (I think Pug somewhere) but he's black-and tan, small, solid, with a beagley butt. So, Rottweagle.

#750 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 08:47 PM:

J Austin @ 749... Our Nahla is half basenji, half whippet, which makes her look like a whippet on steroids. You can see her here, on the right, with Cagney the terrierist whom we also call Monkey Boy. We call them the blondsters.

#751 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 09:03 PM:

Serge@750: Awww. And, James Cagney was totally a terrier.

This thread got me look through my pre-digital photos, and now I'm scanning dog pictures for Flickr instead of working on "important" stuff. If I had the talent, I'd paint a series of pictures from our cross-country drives to see the relatives. It's always the same: Framing windshield, stunning prairie, black dog head right in front of me. Framing windshield, Mt. Hood, black dog head in front of me. Framing windshield, charming Victorian houses, black dog head in front of me.

He's not as black as he used to be, though, and it makes my nose prickle that the last one in the series is going to be: Framing windshield, striking scenery.

#752 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 09:14 PM:

Sigh... Jim Carrey is saying (at HuffPo) vaccines might be dangerous.

In this growing crisis, we cannot afford to blindly trumpet the agenda of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) or vaccine makers. Now more than ever, we must resist the urge to close this book before it's been written. The anecdotal evidence of millions of parents who've seen their totally normal kids regress into sickness and mental isolation after a trip to the pediatrician's office must be seriously considered. The legitimate concern they and many in the scientific community have that environmental toxins, including those found in vaccines, may be causing autism and other disorders (Aspergers, ADD, ADHD), cannot be dissuaded by a show of sympathy and a friendly invitation to look for the 'real' cause of autism anywhere but within the lucrative vaccine program.

The comments seem to be (from my skimming) mostly against him, with some well-informed stuff right at the top, but it's depressing.

#753 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 09:21 PM:

Nerdycellist: Happy Barkday to Ardala from Bella, also corgish, who turned 11 on April 22. I tell people she's mult-ethnic (Welsh corgi & chow). Or Mongolian Cheesehound. Fletcher Doodle says Hi to everyone! Now, throwtheball throwtheball throwtheball!!!

#754 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:16 PM:

Terry Karney @ 752:

Sadly, the Huffington Post has been full of cranks and denialists for a while now.

See Phil Plait's take on the Jim Carrey drivel and his latest post on the subject.

#755 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:44 PM:

Debra Doyle #702: We seem to have encouraged Serge to read it.

#756 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 10:45 PM:

Scanning dog pics instead of doing important stuff... I've been there. I need my parents to scan in some pictures of Spot for me too.

What's even worse is when you buy a camera for the sole purpose of filming your doggie in motion. I've made Ardala a youtube channel ostensibly so her "grandparents" can see her from Illinois.

#757 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 11:07 PM:

I love the one of her running for the camera. That's a good-looking dog.

I actually did buy my last camera because it had video, but the brat dog always stops making with the cute when I pick it up.

#758 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 11:29 PM:

J Austin @ 751... He certainly acts like he's a full terrier even if he has a mixed heritage. He's from Roswell, by the way. That might explain his ability to jump straight up nearly 4 feet high.

#759 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2009, 11:33 PM:

Fragano @ 755... And Connie Willis's novel too.

#760 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 12:27 AM:

J Austin @ 751... I don't know how I managed to misread your comment, but that I did. Anyway, yes, that's why James Cagney became the spiritual godfather of our youngest canine. Edward G Robinson would have been a good inspiration too, but few people would have gottent eh joke about a dog called Robinson. Besides, we already have similarly-sounding Jefferson, a cat thus named because we rescued him on the Fourth of July.

#761 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 01:46 AM:

Serge # 760: It's been a long time since I've read Connie Willis' book. I recall her diving into the world of Three Men in a Boat, and then adding in allusions to lots of other good things. I seem to recall Lord Peter, but the rest are fuzzy. Oh, good — I'll read it again!

#762 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 02:20 AM:

nerdycellist @ #756, tell me you staged the squeaking video to coincide with "Wild Kingdom" on the TV. That's almost too cute to be coincidental.

Tigger the pointer was never given to pull games, but she'd chase a tennis ball everywhere, and if no one else would throw it, she'd take it to the top of the stairs and throw it down herself.

#763 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 02:25 AM:

nerdycellist @ 717

She also answers to "Monkey Butt".

"He would answer to 'Hi!' or to any loud cry,
 Such as 'Fry me!' or 'Fritter my wig!'
 To 'What-you-may-call-um!' or 'What-was-his-name!'
 But especially 'Thing-um-a-jig!' "

#764 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 02:36 AM:

The Swine Flu story has got onto the BBC Website this morning.

The number of deaths sounds bad, but it's hard to get a sense of scale. How many people have been infected? 8 cases in the USA and no deaths sounds a little reason for hope, but it's not enough cases to judge on.

#765 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 06:52 AM:

Dave, it's worse in Mexico--59 deaths and 854 cases of pneumonia in Mexico City. WHO has the story. The Raven has an Oxdown Gazette post with a few more links & poltical commentary.

#766 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 08:17 AM:

Yes, that's the problem. The few cases in the USA could all be "lucky". They don't tell us anything useful. But without even a rough idea of the total amount of infection in Mexico, all we have is wild guessing.

#767 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 11:25 AM:

Flu: Regardless of the exact case details, we do seem to have a human-infectious swine flu on the loose, and that tells us that the question now is when, rather than if, we'll have a real problem.

#768 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 12:10 PM:

David Harmon @726: '"Lassie" is just a British-ism (not sure of the exact scope) [...]'

Predominantly Northern English and/or Scottish. Northern English are probably more likely to use "lass" for the same meaning. The words are parts of stereotypes of these regions' accents, so actual usage may be less common than fictional works would lead you to believe.

Serge @734: 'In England, do people use different words than in the USA for "great-grandfather" and "great-great grandfather"?'

Expanding on previous answers in case this is useful: the words you quote are (as others have said) used. The abbreviations "great-granddad" etc are common. "Great-granddaddy" and/or "great-grandpa" much less common. The former would be thought strange, the latter probably would be identified as an Americanism by most people.

#769 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 12:49 PM:

Jules @ 768... Thanks.

#770 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 01:02 PM:

Dave Bell, #766: it's being discussed by the doctors, who are probably drafting a statement right now. The Mexican government has practically shut down the D.F. (the Distrio Federale, "Mexico City"), BTW. How much the citizens will obey--how much good it will do--is hard to say. But even the Mexican government doesn't know how many cases there are in Mexico, or where the center of infection is, though the D.F. does seem likely. One difference between D.F. and the US sites: the D.F. is 2,240 M (7400 ft) above sea level; the US sites are both near sea level. That could make a difference with a respiratory infection.

#771 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 01:50 PM:

It will be interesting to see how an Obama-administration-led FEMA & CDC deal with a pandemic. And how the nuts interpret it.

I'm very glad I didn't have to see the Bush administration deal with such.

#773 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 04:01 PM:

Marilee, that's cute. My last attempt at crafty things was probably plastic lanyards at scout camp 40 years ago, but I can admire what I can't do.

#774 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 04:15 PM:

Reading at Kos about the flu, it seems to have two centers in Mexico, one in the D.F., and one around San Luis Potosi. There are only a few cases elsewhere, so far.

#775 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 04:22 PM:

Help with Wood - I have a computer desk that's designed to look like a regular desk (and is all wood) from the front, but from my side has a divided top drawer on the right where the left half has some kind of formica on the top for the mouse and the right half is a regular shallow drawer.

The day I came home from the hospital, I moved all the accumulated mail onto the right half of the drawer and a chunk of wood that was attached to the front bottom of that half came off. There's one at the same place on the left half, plus one each further back.

The problem is that the front right now sags and I worry about the rail thing coming off. I can see and feel that there was just goopy glue sticking the wood chunk to the drawer, so do I just sand that on the drawer and the chunk, and then glue it back in place? What kind of glue? Thanks!

#776 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 05:00 PM:

If you can clamp it while it sets, PVA glue can be stronger than the wood. Any good contact adhesive should work.

Industrial fake wood can be awkward, since the veneer may not be so well stuck to the rest.

#777 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 05:08 PM:

I'd also like to know what they're defining as "mild."

Is mild a scratching throat and a few sniffles?

Or is "mild" a full blown case of influenza, knocks you flat for a week, and makes you feel like you've been run over by a freight train? -- But the docs call it "mild" because you can recover at home without any special care. i.e., severe would be "your lungs are liquefied and you're bleeding out via all your orifices."

Normal, garden-variety influenza could have some pretty serious supply chain and general economic repercussions, and kill lots of vulnerable people, even if it's just ordinary flu, if it hits the entire country basically at once.

Kansas, BTW, is apparently confirming two more cases.

#778 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 05:42 PM:

See this article:


"The first case was seen in Mexico on April 13. The outbreak coincided with the President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico City on April 16. Obama was received at Mexico’s anthropology museum in Mexico City by Felipe Solis, a distinguished archeologist who died the following day from symptoms similar to flu, Reforma newspaper reported. The newspaper didn’t confirm if Solis had swine flu or not."


#779 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 06:17 PM:

#718 et seq

(with a nod at #738 - there are no Columbine police it's strictly the name of a high school in context - unincorporated Jefferson County using the Littleton (Arapahoe County) mail center and so sometimes referenced as Littleton. The only relevence is that it was a new from scratch community with everybody having come from someplace else quite recently and this may have affected personal actions.)

Try browsing the bookstore at any convenient college esp. community college with a Criminal Justice program.

I'd post more links but we know that goes. See Mas Ayoob on Backwoods Home Magazine for Columbine: Lessons Learned, Lessons Lost 2009 and Among The Cops And Their Instructors currently at

John Farnam at has an extensive list of his own thoughts and observations going back many years - very good indeed for mindset. Hilton Yam at maintains a discussion board for current issues where the registration is limited to the truly knowing.

To come a little closer to answering specifically the first reaction on scene might well include an element of history at that addess and nature of the call.

The current general rule is mount up and ride to the sound of the guns - but everybody goes in the same door - marked never mind how and if possible manned - and maintains communication backward by something better than cookie crumbs - if you're not actively shooting you're both moving and talking. Nobody goes around back and comes in that way so the blue forces are never converging each expecting to confront a gun(wo)man head on.

Specific details are little more obscure in these times.

#780 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 06:33 PM:

#718 Reviewing the question more specifically -
1. If police are responding to a 911 call, & find the door of the house locked; no one answers the door when they announce themselves but they hear muffled shouting from somewhere inside -- they're going to break down the door at that point, right?

Breaching gun in hand no doubt? Actually they would be responding to a dispatch order if such things matter - the 911 call mostly goes through the fire department because time is more important for fire and ambulance services than for crimes likely over before reported.

I'd expect an entry would be made - I would not be so confident the entry would be funnelled through the front door - again depending on history, neighborhood, architecture, nature of the call which might have been patched to the first responders along with additional information - the first and all of the responders will have lots of additional and confusing information in this information age.

#781 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 07:02 PM:

Guys, I guess this is nothing more than a naked bid for sympathy, but if any of you have heard of the triple murder that occurred in Athens GA today, I witnessed it, along with my husband and our teenaged daughter.

Jim, God bless you and every EMT, cop, and fireman who walks the face of the earth. I could never do what you do.

I'm going to go turn into a puddle of quivering goo now. Prayers, please, for the dead and those left behind, including one little girl who saw her dad killed, two young kids who lost their mom and a woman who's lost her husband of many decades.

One final thought: I've said some really stupid things about bystanders' reactions or lack of same in situations like this. I will never make such comments again.

#782 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 07:16 PM:

Lila.. You very much have my sympathy.

#783 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 07:24 PM:

Lila #781: You have my sympathy.

#784 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 08:16 PM:

Lila #781: How terrible... you have my sympathies as well. This was in a theatre? Feel free to skip the rest of this comment, but I investigated a bit:

This was in a theatre? There seems to be a story here -- it seems the suspect is a UGA professor named George M. Zinkhan III. (Faux News yuck, but oddly, The Guardian also has a story.)

#785 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 08:22 PM:

Lila, that's awful. My sympathies as well.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also has a news update.

#786 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 08:34 PM:

Lila: All the comforts and sympathy in the world, and no shame in making a naked plea for same.

#787 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 08:52 PM:

Linkmeister #785: Hmm, from your link it seems one of the victims was the suspect's wife. They have two children (currently in police custody).

Why do I have a feeling that this story will be one of the old ones?

#788 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 09:05 PM:

Lila @ 781:

You have my sympathies. I wish I had something helpful to say beyond that.

#789 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 09:06 PM:

Many sympathies, Lila. Thanks for coming to us in your distress.

Spending several different day/nights in the local Casualty (Accident & Emergency) wasn't nearly so traumatic, but gave a new depth to my respect for ambos, coppers and medical staff. (Firies is a longer story.)

This is the story I've found, from the local area. Involving Town and Gown Players, and 'Professor Zinkhan'. Different but the same as so many others of these sad stories.

#790 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 09:52 PM:

Sympathy and good thoughts for your own recovery. Seeing that must have been so terrible for you. I can't really imagine, but wish for your healing (and your husband's and daughter's) with all my heart.

#791 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 10:07 PM:

Lila @781,

My deepest sympathies to you and your husband and daughter. I cannot imagine how horrifying this day has been for you, every part of it.

I wish there was something I could say, other than to continue to ask for and have sympathy and help from everyone you can.

#792 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 10:28 PM:

This says it was his EX-wife.

#793 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 10:38 PM:

Lila @ 781 ...
Guys, I guess this is nothing more than a naked bid for sympathy, but if any of you have heard of the triple murder that occurred in Athens GA today, I witnessed it, along with my husband and our teenaged daughter.

Nothing at all wrong with asking for sympathy and empathy -- it's a hell of a shock to the system, to put it mildly!

I'm going to go turn into a puddle of quivering goo now. Prayers, please, for the dead and those left behind, including one little girl who saw her dad killed, two young kids who lost their mom and a woman who's lost her husband of many decades.

Aye -- and for you and yours as well.

One final thought: I've said some really stupid things about bystanders' reactions or lack of same in situations like this. I will never make such comments again.

It's -really- hard to guess how you (or anybody) will react until the proverbial hits the fan, and I'm just glad that you're here to write about the shock (and that this place is here to willingly listen, empathize and sympathize).

#794 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 11:03 PM:

David @ #784 & epacris @ #789, that is the correct incident. Actually it was in front of the theater. We were having a picnic.

The two wounded were my husband (bullet fragment in foot) and daughter (tiny graze on lower leg), both from ricochets. Everyone the shooter aimed at is dead. The toll could have been much, much higher.

#795 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 11:22 PM:

Thank gods their wounds were minor (from the sound of them)! You must have been out of your mind with fear and worry. You're more than entitled to turn int o a puddle of goo if you want to, let alone asking for good thoughts.

May you all heal with all speed.

#796 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2009, 11:37 PM:


How horrible! FWIW, you and your family are in my prayers, too.

#797 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 12:02 AM:

Lila: I am so sorry. What I said before, and thanks be it was minor.

There isn't much else to say, not from here. I am sure you did what you could, such things are never really the sort for which one can predict. All our models (assuming we have quiet lives) are based on things which differe funamentally from life: They have scripts.

Life is messy.

#798 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 12:18 AM:

Lila, my prayers are with you and your family. I didn't know any of the victims, but I know Ben Teague's wife Fran. Thank God you're all okay.

#799 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 01:26 AM:

Cripes, Lila . . . best wishes for quick healing on all fronts.

* * *

This puts the local excitement that had me double-checking door locks in perspective.

While walking the dog before noon I heard police sirens and shouted commands and saw backed-up traffic by the shopping center across the street.

A bit later I drove past the shops. There was a cop with a shotgun ambling about, and another officer handling a German shepherd who was snuffling the landscaping. Two more cops were questioning a young guy. I kept going.

Got home. Checked the news websites. Apparently the bank across the street was robbed this morning. The armed robber is still at large. Glad I have a big scary dog.

#800 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 01:29 AM:

Lila, best for you and yours. I hope you all recover well from this horrible shock.

#801 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 02:47 AM:

Lila, you and your family have my deepest sympathies. I'm glad that your physical wounds were minor, and I hope that the mental, emotional, and spiritual consequences of the shooting are equally minor for you and yours.

And turning to emotional goo after it's all over is absolutely the best time, and is a very common and completely blameless reaction.

#802 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 03:34 AM:

Lila, what a horrifying thing to be involved in. Sympathy, prayers, and best wishes for healing, for you and yours.

#803 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 03:39 AM:


Remember that even Jim, in one of his Trauma and You exams, includes the expectation that you're going to go somewhere and shake. It's a natural and necessary reaction.

Go gently with yourselves and each other for a while. You're in my prayers, along with the dead and bereaved.

If you want a friendly environment to talk things through, please don't hesitate to post here. I haven't had any experiences that would help you deal with this, but I know others here have.

#804 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 04:02 AM:

My sympathies, Lila. How terrifying this all must be. I hope your family heals quickly, both physically and emotionally.

#805 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 06:17 AM:

Thanks for the support, everyone. Still reeling here, but I did manage to get a few hours of sleep after I stopped being scared of nightmares (compared to yesterday, all the nightmares I've ever had rolled up in a big ball fade to insignificance).

Tracie @ #798, Fran was there and I believe she saw it happen. Two of the theater folks went home with her so she wouldn't have to be alone.

Lessons learned:

1. Don't put off anything you really want to do. None of us knows how much time we have left.

2. Practice CPR until you can do it with 1/10 of your brain working, because believe me, that may be all you have.

#806 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 07:15 AM:

Lila @#794, #805: Your family were the wounded? Yikes! <shudders in sympathy> I'm glad (and impressed) that you got some sleep, and still wishing you and your family strength to heal.

And don't worry about being goo for the time being, like others have said, it's a perfectly reasonable response. This might be a good time to take the family to a petting zoo, or to visit the SPCA kennels, or something like that.

Are you all done with talking to the police?

Xopher #792: That Yahoo account adds more cringe-worthy details... those poor kids!

#807 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 09:12 AM:

David: I doubt we're done talking to the police yet--they haven't asked us to sign statements. But we've talked to them twice, once at the scene and once at the hospital.

We have 4 dogs and 4 cats, so getting plenty of cuddles, and family and friends are being supportive.

#808 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 10:47 AM:

Lila, our best wishes for a speedy recovery from both physical and emotional wounds.

#809 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 12:17 PM:

Lila: What a terrible thing. My sympathies. Take care of yourself.

#810 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 04:28 PM:

Lila: Adding my sympathies and best wishes to the rest.

#811 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 04:43 PM:

Best Wishes, Lila, and good luck.

#812 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 05:16 PM:

lila #807: Best of luck with the statements. Wow, 4 dogs and 4 cats? You are the SPCA! :-) It must be great to have that many fuzzyfolks around, you're in good paws.

#813 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 07:41 PM:

And this is why Neil Gaiman is just cool:

Reader: Can you please send me (or direct me to) the *full* lyrics for your "Ballade of the _Fantastick_" which _1602_ provides large excerpts from? I would like to learn it -- and sing it to fellow filkers and other friends. (I have already found a tune to fit it, both as to meter and as to mood.)

NG: I don't even know which notebook it was in. Argh. I think you should engage with the folk tradition here, and make it up.

#814 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 09:30 PM:


GoodThoughts going out for you and your family, and for everyone affected by this.

#815 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 10:35 PM:

Dave Bell, #776, yes, I can clamp, so I'll just use white glue. Do I need to sand the old glue off first?

Lila, #781, I'm so sorry this happened and that you had to see it.

When my brother was in his early 20's and still stuttering dramatically, he went to pick up his fiancee and found the door open. Her father had killed the family and then himself. He was so upset that he stuttered so much that dispatch finally talked him down to saying the address. (It turned out the mother wasn't dead, but was severely brain-damaged and the older sister was away.)

Like so many we're seeing in the DC area, the father, a retired admiral, had been living above his means and decided death for everybody in the family was best.

#816 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 01:43 AM:

So... for the strange. I was on the phone with my father, and asked if he had heard about the shooting.

He said he had, and thought he was acquainted, in passing, with the shooter. When I said I was acquainted with the wounded.... black laughter at the smallness of the world.

#817 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 03:20 AM:

Lila: "Tout plein de bonnes ondes" as my friend say. Mind-sending some mango/chocolate cake for you and the family (been saying that for weeks now... I should try fedexing a cake to see if it'd work).

Terry Karney: Sorry, I laughed.

Serge@604: I think one of my scariest moments was in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indy finds himself in the middle of a book burning, and all the monsters of the Nazi Party are there.

This had me thinking all week-end. I'm always amazed at how much different non-directly visceral fear (or humor in general, for that matter) can be from one individual to the other. My most scary movie moment ("Sunshine Through The Rain" in Kurosawa's Dreams) is generally not considered anything scary at all by most. That scene in The Last Crusade I remember as somehow grotesque and ironic. Certainly not scary.

On the security circus (like security theater, but with a different focus on the elephant in the room) front, a Paris-Mexico flight was forbiden to fly American airspace because one of its passenger (Hernando Calvo Ospina, a journalist, was on board (and on the air flight security list, woot! zeugma).

#818 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 03:55 AM:

MD2 S'ok, was meant to be a bit of dark humor.

#819 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 07:45 AM:

Something a little less dark...

The Guardian reports on a PoD machine at Blackwell's Charing Cross Road branch, in London.

Buried in there is a reference to authors publishing their own books. Dare one hope that some of the less reputable agents touting for business get squeezed out of the market?

Of course, we all know where we can already get this done. The average reader of The Guardian probably doesn't.

#821 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 01:45 PM:

janetl @ #704, thank you for mentioning the Willis book To Say Nothing of the Dog. I got it from the library and am halfway through; it's a riot.

#822 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 02:20 PM:

Dave Bell @819/820 - a couple of years ago, I decided that my "if I win the lottery" dream was to open a coffee shop that had a POD press in the back - buy a fancy espresso drink and a copy of a book and get 'em at about the same time. (Although back then it was I think 15-30 minutes to print and bind an entire book, so either the technology's improved or they're using a fancier machine than I was looking at. Probably both. Woah - definitely both, now that I see the price of their machine.)

I don't think it'd ever make money, but it would be fun. And I'm glad to see it's actually being done, even if they're not selling fancy beverages to go along with their literature.

#823 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Citibank locked my credit card for my protection today. Some shady woman named Merriam Webster in Maryland used my card to renew an online subscription of some sort.

As she does every year on the same day.

#824 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 05:20 PM:

J Austin: at least you were at home. WaMu locked the card that we specifically used for foreign trips (because they didn't charge such a ridiculous commission) halfway through our Calgary trip for WFC last fall; apparently it didn't occur to them that people travel, and that thieves usually don't charge museum&zoo admission&giftship bills. Not happiness-making. (Maybe also an indicator of the incompetence that broke them down not long after?) Fortunately, this time we were able straighten them out after an hour on the phone -- unlike the LA trip many years ago where I \could/ \not/ reach the bank because a storm had taken down the phone lines (yes, that does seem ridiculous, but 26 years ago it was less so).

#825 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 05:42 PM:

J Austin @ 823 and CHip @ 824:

I have to wonder what it is that makes the banks decide to lock cards, as I've never had it happen to me. Use my card for little stuff on the other side of the US? Nope. Use it sporadically across a completely different continent? Nope. Use it in a part of the Caribbean that isn't much of a tourist spot? Nope.

I know my parents had a card that would get locked once a year because they only used it when travelling and never at home.

I did have to call Citibank recently and have them take me off their mailing list for those obnoxious balance transfer checks. They were very helpful about that, which is good, but the copy on the letter that came with the checks is some of the most slimy and obnoxious stuff I've ever seen. They are most certainly not extra cash that I can use to go on holiday, they're extra debt that I don't want at all, thank you very much.

#826 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 05:44 PM:

When I went to England last November I was very diligent and called the folks at WaMu so they could put a travel alert on my card. They gave me the usual spiel about how not all ATM cards work in all countries (I had visited the UK a couple of years before with that card - I wasn't concerned) and asked which countries I would be visiting. After 15 minutes on the phone running through the standard boiler plate I was assured I was good to go.

Two days into our stay in England I needed to suck out a bit more cash, at which point I found out I wasn't allowed. A few pounds spent at an internet cafe trying to track down which #$&*!@! phone number to call from outside the US, and 10 minutes in a payphone booth that smelled like piddle and they finally unlocked the card - after transferring me to the fraud department, who understood that the card had been used in London, and my billing address was California and I had to explain it all again. Honestly, it's like computers don't exist.

#827 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 06:03 PM:

I don't know if you could do it with the fragile kinds of cake, but I've sent brownies via FedEx and USPS Priority Mail. It used to be kind of fun to hand over the box and have the startled clerk ask why it was warm, but I don't think it's worth it nowadays. (And letting it cool completely before wrapping will probably improve the texture, even though it means you can't ship it quite as soon.)

#828 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 07:31 PM:


I really have no idea. We drive through several states for the holidays, not always the same states, and a few months ago I used one of those "convenience checks" to paint my house, but they locked it for a suspicious online dictionary subscription for, like, $20.00.

I actually had it paid off (yay!) but we're probably going to have to move in September. I have several thousand dollars of things to do to the house before we can sell it, and plastic money is the only kind we have. Sigh.

#829 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 07:56 PM:


Five years ago, before a trip to Australia, I called my credit card company to let them know that I would be traveling internationally, and gave them the dates so they wouldn't lock my card.

I then made the mistake of buying a burrito during my stopover at LAX. They had me in their system as being in Australia starting on that day, you see, and it never occurred to them that a purchase at an airport might be consistent with international travel, or that a fraudulent burrito purchase might be followed by a larger buy, rather than an attempt to use the card in Australia (where they knew I was supposed to be.) They locked the card, and I had to deal with it from god knows how many timezones away, over pay phones.

#830 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 08:58 PM:

Coincidentally, our credit card company called us about a week ago to inform us of charges that really did turn out to be fraudulent. So our card's been cancelled. Second time in about 3 years this has happened.

#831 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 09:32 PM:

A few weeks ago I paid for two things on my credit card a reservation at a hotel in Groton, CT and preregistration for Redemption 2011 in England. I remember thinking that this was just the sort of thing the credit card company would check up on.

Indeed, about 15 minutes later, I got an email that they had attempted to call me on my home phone, so I called them back and reassured them that yes, I had charged those things.

But this is the sort of event that I'm glad they caught, and they (Citibank) have always checked first before locking my card, which I appreciate.

#832 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 09:44 PM:

I've travelled a fair bit, and never had a problem using my credit union card (Germany, England, Ukraine, Ecuador).

So when it was refused for a purchase in Ottawa I thought I'd misremembered how much was in the linked side of the account. I logged in and moved enough money to be sure I could cover the cost of the framing I needed to do for the show I was having while I was in Ottawa.

And the card was refused. So I called the bank.

Seems that Canada is on Visa's list of, "only with prior approval and one's first born son, beloved dog and promises of eternal fidelity". I was told Canada was a hot spot of card fraud and then connected to Visa who said it was fixed..

Nope. For the next month I was denied access to my card. I finally gave up on the entire idea of trying to use it. Visa's loss (as I am certain they make a pretty piece of change on the exchange rates; esp. as they have enough money in both currencies that the differences are, effectively, a surcharge on the customer).

#833 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 10:10 PM:

Terry Karney @ 832:

It's a nice moneyspinner for them, yes. Visa and Mastercard both charge 1% for foreign exchange fees last I looked. A lot of banks are adding their own percentages on top of that these days, which is why I just got myself a new credit card from a bank that doesn't do that. I still have a hard time imagining Canada as a place that has more credit card trouble than other countries on your list.

#834 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 11:17 PM:

KiethS: The one percent is in addition to them, almost certainly, taking advantage of having the cash to be their own bank when conducting the exchange (basically moving it from one account to another), and using the best times of day to do each direction.

In effect they get squeeze the exchange; be currency traders, making money in both directions.

#835 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 12:47 AM:

#781 Lila

You and your family had a horrible, traumatic experience. Reporting in here to say that you and your family witnessed a murder and that you were going to turn into a pile of goo [in reaction] and later mentioning that your husband and daughter were injured as a result, aren't what I'd call a naked bid for sympathy. Yes, there's reaching out for support, but you were also letting people know that you and you family were unwilling parties and witnesses to really horrible events, that you were still functioning despite the trauma, and that you could still/were reaching out to ask for a touch of emotional support, and to let people know--and to thank emergency services people for their care and effort and competence and emotional generosity.

That's all more than a bid for sympathy, it's signal of someone the antithesis of the went-socially-insane murderer--you reached out both requesting, but also giving, emotional strength. The murderer reached out to worsen the world. You reached out, to reinforce and strengthen society and help make the world a better place.

#836 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 01:32 AM:

We usually get a call from our main credit card company every year when we go to the Tucson Gem Show, since that usually entails a lot of charges, in a few hours, for companies that -- even though they're selling in Tucson -- tend to be listed as operating from Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia, New Jersey, and other strange, exotic places.


I discovered on my last Discover card bill that the interest rate had been raised to more than 12%. This was after having it raised last year from the original 5% to 8%.

I called Discover, and was told that the new rate was the minimum rate they now charged to ALL their customers. (I suspect this was bullshit.) And that it was put in place "to stay competitive in the market."

Right. You stay "competitive in the market" by driving away your customers. Got it. Goodbye, Discover.


First post from the new netbook. Actually bought it several months ago, but hadn't gotten around to unpacking it until tonight, when the main desktop computer's hard drive died.

#837 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 04:22 AM:

When my credit card company called me to check a possibly fraudulent transaction, the problem was that they called me, on my mobile, then wanted me to prove my identity. I pointed out that I had no way of proving who they were so why should I give them information which would help someone fraudulently pretend to be me? They accepted this and told me where there was a number on my card which I could call to continue the conversation. All very well, but that meant it went on my mobile phone bill. Really they ought to have a password set up which they have to say to verify they are indeed from the card company before you go spilling your account details/mother's maiden name/DOB etc.

OTOH, they had correctly deduced that it was unlikely I would be simultaneously setting a hotel bill in the toe of Cornwall (card owner present for transaction) and buying £200 worth of shoes in north London (card owner resent for transaction). Me being me, of course, I wouldn't be buying £200 worth of shoes anyway.

#838 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 05:11 AM:

Carrie, #720: I get similarly annoyed about "pronounce" vs. "pronunciation".

Linkmeister, #722: My first cat was the victim of an unfortunate incident at birth; the umbilical cord was wrapped around her left hind leg, and when the mother cat went to separate the cord she got the leg with it, just above the hock. The owners of the mother cat had been calling her "Peggy" (short for "peg-leg"), which I'm sure they thought was just precious. F*ck that, said I (though not aloud), and renamed her Genevieve. The only person who had a problem with that was my father, who refused to understand that her name was NOT "Jenny" no matter how many times it was explained to him.

J. Austin, #737: After looking at the running photo, I don't see how anyone could mistake him for a puppy. His ears and feet both fit the rest of him, and his body is much too cobby to be that of a puppy.

Lila, #781: Very late to the party, but you have my sympathies and GoodThoughts as well.

KeithS, #825: After my first major splurge at an Intergem show, I got a call from my bank; they were concerned because of seeing a number of charges, on the same day, from companies based all over the country, and wanted me to confirm that I had made all of them. This struck me as very reasonable! It has also never happened again; I suspect that there's a note in my file, because I explained to the nice anti-fraud person what had been going on, and that it was likely to recur in the future.

Bruce, #836: YOU GO TO TUCSON?!! *naked envy*

Open Threadiness: Check out The Hunt for Gollum, a fan-made film filling in a chapter untold in the Ring trilogy. Whoever is doing the music is channeling Howard Shore very effectively, from what I heard in the trailer.

#839 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 06:00 AM:

Nice work; I hope they don't lose their houses or go to jail over it.

#840 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 08:15 AM:

Thanks, Paula and Lee and whoever I missed.

Crisis team debriefing tonight. It will be the first time I see the others who were there since the event. Both looking forward to it and dreading it.

I'm living in a really weird universe right now. The word "picnic" affects me like "graveyard" affects a susceptible 4-year-old on a campout.

Shooter still at large, though both his employers (U.Ga. and Vrije University in Amsterdam) have fired him. He has a plane ticket for 5/2 to the Netherlands and his passport is missing. He hasn't used his credit card, ATM card or cellphone and his car (red 2005 Jeep Liberty, Ga. license AIX 1376) has not been found.

#841 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 09:09 AM:

Lila: my sympathies and I hope this evening's debriefing goes well.

#842 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 09:14 AM:

Lila #840: Hope you're bearing up. All of that has got to have been hell. I hope they find the shooter quickly. I've been following the story in the AJC, since it's big regional news.

#843 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 10:19 AM:

Lee @ 825:

I did have my bank call me once because I made a small gas purchase at the rip-off place on the way home, then I filled up when I got home, which struck me as a very reasonable thing to do.

Also, welcome back.

#844 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 11:39 AM:

Lila, my sympathies and prayers are with you, and your family, and everyone else affected.

#845 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 12:38 PM:


Although a lot of people make that mistake with Baldrick, too, your comment may have been for nerdycellist @ 732 with her "GSD puppy" Ardala;) I always find it strange that anyone could mistake him for a puppy, but he acts like one on purpose to get the high-pitched cooing and rubs that come with it. Ears slick back, lower and scrunch up a little so your whole butt wags--good, good--now make utterly miserable noises like you haven't been fed in forever. He'll play ball for a twenty-year-old college student, but the minute she walks away--"ptuiah!, those things gross." Shameless.

#846 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 01:17 PM:

Wow-- my state goes from two Republican senators two years ago to two Democrats: Specter to switch parties.

#847 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 01:19 PM:

Lila-- my prayers and sympathies are with you and your family as well.

#849 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 02:49 PM:

#835 ::: Paula Lieberman [responding to Lila's "bid for sympathy" post]

Beautifully put, Paula.

Lila: what Paula said.

#850 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 05:31 PM:

John Mark #847:

Wow. ISTM that this directly links to my #333 above. As the party has shrunk, it has moved sigificantly right, enough so that it is no longer possible for Specter to stay in the party.

If I were a Republican, I'd be very worried about this. This looks like a feedback loop, and I have no idea how far it will continue, but when combined with the very effective within-party control they've developed, and the lack of any adult supervision at all in leadership positions in the party, I think it could go very far indeed--perhaps far enough to wreck the party.

#851 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 06:04 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom #847, albatross #850: Wow indeed -- I'd say the Republican Party is already spiraling toward the ground.

#852 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 06:29 PM:

David Harmon @ 851 and previous:

One thing that's always both intrigued and puzzled me about US politics is that there only seem to be two big parties at a time. This makes certain things easier, I'm sure, but it also means that it's hard to tell a particular politician's professed positions at a glance. You wind up with a lot of internal variation underneath one banner, not to mention some extremely strange bedfellows.

If more and more Republican politicians jump ship, the Democratic Party label will be even more broad than it already is. Do you think that the Democratic party will eventually fission into two parties and the Republican party fall off to the wayside? There's a lot of inertia behind those two names.

I am rather naïve about these things. From what I remember of my US history classes, there have in the past been third parties that managed to gain a good chunk of the vote, but that was in a different time with different attitudes and different media.

#853 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 06:29 PM:

Lila #781 and following:

You did well.

A Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is a good thing; I'm glad you're going. Take advantage of all the resources on offer, and (if they have donuts, like they do around here) eat a donut for me.

#854 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 06:31 PM:

And now for something completely different:

I just made a room reservation for ConQuesT in KC over Memorial Day weekend. I got a room with two beds. Is anyone else here going who'd be interested in a roomsplit? I don't smoke, but I do snore (and carry earplugs for the comfort of my roommates); I also have no objection to a mixed-gender room.

#855 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 08:24 PM:

KeithS @#852: One thing that's always both intrigued and puzzled me about US politics is that there only seem to be two big parties at a time.

Yes, this is a side-effect of our election rules, which have a strong tendency to shut out third parties (among other issues). IIUC, the only times a third party has ever gained power in America were when one of the two "major" parties had self-destructed, and in those cases the third party usually replaced the broken one. And yes, that's exactly what's likely to happen to the Republicans over the next decade or so.

Do you think that the Democratic party will eventually fission into two parties and the Republican party fall off to the wayside? There's a lot of inertia behind those two names.

As I've said, parties have been replaced before. Rather than a real split of the Democrats, I'm guessing the "paleo-conservatives" will start a new party, presumably with some new allies. In the process, they'll take away the right wing of the Democrats, especially "escapees from the nuthouse" like Spector.

#856 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 08:27 PM:

Me #855: Hmm, that last bit didn't come out right. "s/escapees/refugees"?

#857 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 08:48 PM:

David Harmon @ 855:

I'm not entirely sure that there's anything that prevents third parties from taking seats in the House and the Senate, apart from a failure of organization. Parties like to shoot for the big positions rather than slowly building up local support first, since that could take years. Much easier to join one of the big two. I am not an expert, though.

Your scenario does sound plausible, but it will probably still take some time.

#858 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 08:53 PM:

#852 etc
I'd expect so. My feeling is it would be between the conservative (aka 'moderate') and the liberal sides, although my unreliable source claims otherwise.

#859 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 11:13 PM:

Now that the Democrats have Arlen Spector, does this mean that they can finally trebuchet "Independent" Joe Lieberman over to the other side of the aisle?

#860 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 11:46 PM:

Earl, I wish!

#861 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 11:59 PM:

Referring to 'bad things happening in late April' in another thread, as well as the ghastly events in Athens, Georgia *offers Lila, family and friends calming hot drinks + muffins, hand-holding*, April 28th is the anniversary of the worst mass murder in Australia* (35 dead), in and around Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996 (good archive here). It was important politically too, happening shortly after a change of government.

*Leaving aside arguments about massacres of Aborigines, which happened up to the 1920s, I believe.

#862 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 01:23 AM:

Earl: The problem is Joe (I-Lieberman) is one of the 60 they have (when Franken gets seated).

So they are going to hope he starts to piss outside the tent.

#863 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 02:13 AM:

Yeah, you're right, getting to 60 is pretty important; it's just that I think that one of the line items for Peace In The Middle East is "Joe Lieberman retires from politics".

#864 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 02:14 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 835

Well said; wish I could have been as eloquent.


I hope you're holding up well, and that the Stress Debriefing relieves all your stress. I also hope they catch the shooter soon; having him out of circulation is bound to relieve you.

#865 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 02:32 AM:

And speaking of stress relief, I'll be offline for an uncertain number of days, probably at least 3 or 4. I'm having carpal tunnel relief surgery on both wrists tomorrow, and won't even be able to use the trackpad, let alone type, for a few days. It's a routine procedure, and I've had this surgeon work on me before, and I know he's very good, so it should go well. Why am I having both done at once, leaving me an invalid for a few days? The surgeon told me that's how he had it done to him, and it worked out very well: less total recovery time, and less total cost for the operation (even when you have good insurance, it doesn't pay the entire amount).

Of course I wouldn't even consider it if Eva wasn't willing to take care of me for the time I have no use of my hands. It has been an interesting case of pre-planning, making sure we've set things up before hand, since I won't be able to drive for a week or two, and Eva can't. So we've had to make sure we have everything we need, and that I have a way to get in (and out!) of the shower (there's a rather deep tub with grab bars, but I won't be able to grab the bars with my hands for several days). I am learning great respect for people with reduced use of hands and arms.

The only real problem that we haven't been able to solve is that the surgery is in the afternoon, and we can't be home until about 6 or 7 at the earliest, thus missing the dog's dinner time, and irritating them no end. They're still new enough rescues that changing schedules causes them anxiety and confusion. They'll probably wonder why I'm just lazing around the house for a few days rather than taking them up to the park on top of Council Crest as I do every morning. Humans have too many bizarre constraints and rituals that cause a dog a great deal of inconvenience.

#866 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 02:50 AM:

Bruce, one of the features of life in Britain is that the some of the supermarkets will take orders over the internet and do deliveries. It's not the same as the old-style village shop of my youth, but I figure it's worth reminding folks of.

You're prepared for being temporarily disabled. But even a minor auto accident could have a similar effect on your household.

#867 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 05:38 AM:

Bruce Cohen, good luck!

#868 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 08:15 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers): May all go well!

#869 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 08:47 AM:

Bruce Cohen: best of luck!

#870 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 09:09 AM:

Bruce Cohen: are you having carpal tunnel release surgery? May recovery be uncomplicated and relief be total!

#871 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 10:30 AM:

Bruce Cohen, #865: may your surgery and recovery go well.

#872 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 10:51 AM:

Jim @ #853: no donuts--in fact they told us to lay off stuff like that. They had fried chicken and salad, but I just drank a Coke.

It was...cathartic. We needed to hear each other's perspectives. Some of us are a little more able to forgive ourselves for what we didn't do as we see that someone else did do whatever it was.

I was relieved to find that my daughter had had a good hard cry immediately afterward. By the time I saw her at the hospital she was very, very composed, and hadn't cried since. That worried me. (I really cried for the first time last night.)

Good crisis team. They worked Ground Zero and Katrina. No info overload, but some good specific pieces of advice. Just the beginning of the process, but a good beginning.

Bruce: best of luck with the surgery; may recovery be swift and uneventful. My sister broke both her wrists at the same time a few years back and the logistical challenges of no hand-use at all were considerable.

#873 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 10:55 AM:

Bruce - Safeway delivers in the Portland area.

#874 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 11:24 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 865:

I hope everything turns out well for you.

Lila @ 872:

I'm glad to hear you're feeling better. I still wish I knew what else to say, but if you do need to talk just ask.

#875 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 11:30 AM:

Lila #872: If you want a friendly voice to talk to who's not too far away you can reach me at onagarf at gmail dot com.

#876 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 12:23 PM:

Lila@ 872: May the healing process continue as smoothly! It's a process, to be sure. One of the things I found to be helpful in reducing PTSD* is just talking about the incident, over and over again. I've read about studies that show this is the "better" method for preventing severe forms of PTSD, as seen in returning veterans and the like. It's the strong silent types who come out more damaged.

*In just about 3 weeks, it will be 15 years. For me, the first year was the hardest, and then everything just subsided. My reflexes are still really good, though.

#877 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 12:49 PM:

Bruce, best wishes and good healing!

Lila, I'm glad it helped, and may you and your family continue to heal.

#878 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 02:40 PM:

Bruce: hope the surgery goes well. Sympathies for the no-hands stage; one hand/arm out of action is bad enough.

Lila: glad the meeting went well; hope the healing process continues to progress for you, your family, and the others involved.

#879 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 03:47 PM:

Bruce, best wishes for a speedy recovery!

I found an interesting post at Edge of the West from an historian who created a companion website to go with his book about the 1871 Camp Grant Massacre (Arizonans, take note). He notes some of the tribulations that came with that effort ($3K-$5K from pros to create the site? Wow.) and worries about the publishing industry's possible decline and the effect that might have on historians.

#880 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 04:21 PM:

Tom Deitz (Master Dylan ab Aneirin y Breuddwydiwr in the SCA) passed away Monday of heart failure at his home. There will be a celebration of his life Sunday, May 3, 2-4pm, in the memorial garden next to the student center at Gainesville State College, Gainesville, Georgia, where he taught. There will be fellowship, food and music, and attendees are encouraged to come a little early and stay a little late.

The Locus obituary.

#881 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 05:02 PM:

No, I couldn't wait until the 4th...

I've done some careful driving, the first time since my accident on the 4th December. Things went OK, and the replacement car is pretty good. I haven't told my father yet. He is worrying a lot.

I have a feeling that my back is going to be a bigger problem than my ankle. I've got into a habit of sitting very stiffly, and you need to twist rather more to look around.

Of course, I wasn't expecting a pandemic.

#882 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 05:23 PM:

Some of you probably know and use it already, but I just discovered the Hyperwords add-on for Firefox via Stephen Fry's Twitter feed. I am delighted! It makes my brain happy!

#883 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 05:59 PM:

Pendrift, w00t! Never heard of it till you mentioned it, but I like it.

#884 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 06:09 PM:

Dave Bell @ 881: Nobody expects the Swinish Influenza.

#885 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 07:52 PM:

Tracie, #880: That's sad. I knew him before he was a published writer. My sympathy to his family and friends.

#886 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 08:02 PM:

I am trying to identify a mysterious bird I saw on the Charles river today. It was swimming. It swam with its neck and head upright and most of its body under the water. It was black and had a longish neck and a beak with a shape sort of like a gulls. It dove underwater.


#887 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 08:18 PM:

Erik @886: I'm not much of a birder, but my first thought is some sort of grebe. Was it smaller than a mallard?

#888 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 09:04 PM:

hard to say. much of its body was close to the waterline. i think a little longer.

#889 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 09:06 PM:

Bruce, #865, will a neighbor feed the dogs that day? I hope all goes well!

#890 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 09:13 PM:

Erik Nelson @888: The grebes I've seen, while floating low in the water, are rather smaller than mallards. If the bird was longer than a mallard, low in the water, and had a black head, it might be a loon. But loons have a white collar (with pinstripes!) and a strikingly striped back, which you'd probably have noted, so that seems unlikely. So I've no idea what it is. Told you I wasn't much of a birder!

#891 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 09:16 PM:

Do grebes outgribe?

#892 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 09:37 PM:

Earl @ 891: Grebes outgrabe. Says so right there.

#893 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 10:03 PM:

I am not so much interested in how much various cantankerous wildlife species outgrabe in the past, but whether or not they outgribe now, even as we speak, behind our unsuspecting backs. You can't be too careful about that sort of thing. Outgribing: Threat or Menace?

#894 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 10:07 PM:

We all know this song! :-

"We Didn't Start The Flamewar"

#895 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 10:19 PM:

Grebes: sinking birds. Srsly.

Maybe a cormorant? They're dark all over and can sink quite nicely. (They catch fish underwater.)

#896 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 10:43 PM:

Tracie @ 880 ...
Tom Deitz (Master Dylan ab Aneirin y Breuddwydiwr in the SCA) passed away Monday of heart failure at his home.

Thank you for posting this -- and I'm very sorry to hear of his passing. I've enjoyed his writing -- and never made the connection to his membership in the SCA.

#897 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 10:47 PM:

A year or two ago, a friend and I walked along a manmade lake thing, looking at ducks and talking.

"Look, Goth ducks!"

"Little gothy ducks DUDE."

"Where'd it go?"

"Underwater like a seal!"

"That is an awesome gothduck. Look! It pops up!"

Not as good as an outgribing grebe, nor a groovy grebe outgribing gravely in a grove, nor even a grebe which has outgribben, but hey, gothducks.

#898 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 11:23 PM:

me @#894: Whoops, didn't think of it, but that song & video are likely NSFW -- excessive profanity & slurs.

#899 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 11:29 PM:

I don't know the range of cormorants, but they are dark, usually with dark beaks.

I have three pictures of them here.

They have a short wingflap, tend to stay low to the water and surface dive for their food. They are tolerably long on the surface.

Grebes are stout bodied, usually have white beaks, and sit high in the water, even though they ride low.

They have funny looking feet (long toes, no web).

#900 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 12:05 AM:

Erik Nelson @ 886:

This post has some pictures of a double-crested cormorant seen in Auburn Lake (Mt. Auburn Cemetery, which I'm guessing is sort of near the Charles River[?]). The author also mentions that she sees "lots of them" in the Charles River.

#901 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 12:51 AM:

Pendrift @ 822: I just installed the Hyperwords Firefox add-on. Wow! I highlighted "grebe", click, click, click and I'm looking at a page of images of the little critters. Searching without cutting & pasting is a particularly beautiful thing for me because I use a Windows keyboard at work, and a Mac one at home, and my fingers just aren't smart enough to keep those control/command keys sorted out.

#902 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 11:43 AM:

A font request: We have a thread on our blog for people to ask mathematical questions. Yesterday, we got the question "What is the font used in Publications Mathematiques de L'Institut Hautes Etudes Scientifiques?" That seemed like a good question for Making Light so I'm reposting it here. Here is a sample publication (large PDF).

#903 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 11:52 AM:

DavidS @ 902:

That looks an awful lot like Computer Modern to me, especially as the paper has all the hallmarks of being typeset using some variety of TeX.

#904 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 12:11 PM:

DavidS @ 902:

Now I'm confused. The document's original publication date says 1960, so it can't be Computer Modern. The pages are so perfectly aligned and the text is selectable, so I thought it was computer typeset. It looks like it's been scanned extremely well and OCRed.

So, no, I don't know what typeface that is.

#905 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 12:40 PM:

DavidS @ 902:

Three posts in a row, I know, but I'm now taking this as a personal challenge. Identifont says that it's Baskerville and that seems as right as I'm ever going to get.

That paper looks beautiful, by the way. I should have said that up front.

#906 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 01:02 PM:

Lila -- I hope you and your family are continuing to heal, and giving yourselves time and space to do so.

Bruce Cohen -- I hope the surgery goes (has gone) well.

News on the Scraps homecoming front: our friends Helen and Howard came by over the weekend, and bought us three big BILLY bookcases from IKEA. I believe that for the first time in years, all of our books are on shelves.

All except the row or two of paperbacks that decided to plunge from their shelves and onto my head two nights ago. They are now sitting on the floor, where they can contemplate the error of their ways, while I decide where they're going to go.

And yesterday we got more paperwork from the New York State Department of Temporary and Disability Assistance to be filled out. Still, there is more sunshine, the days are getting longer, and I feel much more hopeful than I have in a while.

Did I mention that after two months of nothing, he's gotten a little bit of voluntary control of his right hand back?

#907 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 01:06 PM:

KeithS: Thanks!

#908 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 01:19 PM:

Congratulations, Velma. I hope your head is ok. And I hope Scraps will keep getting better.

#909 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 01:43 PM:

Velma@906 (And Scraps!) Volitional hand movement? WOW! That's incredibly super news! May the good stuff increase!

#910 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 01:48 PM:

That's GREAT news, Velma! If there's a little, that means that there could be more and more. You're both in my thoughts.

#911 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 02:46 PM:

Wow, Velma, that's fantastic news! As others are saying, any volitional movement at all means a good prospect for getting more back. The brain is a strange and wonderful thing. I'm sure you can't wait for the prospect of Scraps' homecoming.

#912 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 02:48 PM:

Velma @ 906: Wonderful news!

#913 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 03:29 PM:

Velma and Scraps, hooray!

We have Billy shelves, by the way, and they are good. They kind of vanish into the wall and let the books take priority, which is useful in a bookshelf. Much better than calling attention to themselves by dumping books on your head.

Bruce, good luck.

Dave, I haven't said it before, but I'm delighted to hear of your recovery.

Here in the Netherlands, we're all a bit shocked and shaken. A car drove through the crowd at the Queen's Koninginnedag appearance in Apeldoorn, killing four* and injuring several more. It did not hit the open-top bus holding the royal family, but crashed into a monument nearby. The police say it's not terrorism, but that could just be soothing noises.

All official events and celebrations for the day were canceled. (We still went to the local beach, and my neighbors two doors down are still having their party. But everything official was stopped.)


* Another bystander died later for a total of five

#914 ::: Alice Bentley ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 03:53 PM:

Possible page problem - I directed a fellow grad student to the post on Swine Flu by cutting and pasting the link. When she opened it on her machine it launch multiple reloads of the page. It was up to over 40 copies by the time she shut the machine down.

I don't see any problem on my machine, and I'm not in a position to check out hers, but I thought it might be useful to know.

#915 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 04:40 PM:

abi, I was just about to post and ask how you and your friends and relations are; I saw the news on the BBC website headlines. Any information yet on possible motives, beyond the probable "crazy in the head"?

#916 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 05:04 PM:

Clifton @915:
This all took place in Apeldoorn, which is several hundred kilometers away from us. All is well for us, and indeed everyone I know. (That's still a very low number here in NL.)

The Dutch papers say that he was a security guard and had recently lost his job and his housing. I believe he's now in a coma and they're not sure he's going to come out of it. In the footage I saw of them cutting him out of his wrecked car, he appeared to have head injuries.

The current status is five dead (three men and two women) and thirteen injured, five of them seriously.

#917 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 06:23 PM:

Velma, #906, great news!

abi, #916, the news just said that he wanted to kill the Queen and her relatives, and that he confessed while still in the car.

#918 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2009, 07:06 PM:

Velma, great news! Tell Scraps congratulations!

#919 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 06:49 AM:

The Dutch car driver has died.

(Initial reports from the BBC website had headline-quotes on dies, which looked odd, but it hadn't been confirmed at that time.

And Carol Ann Duffy has been appointed Poet Laureate. The first woman, and the first Scot, toget the post.

#920 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 08:05 AM:

Velma @ #906, what wonderful news!!!

Got through the first day of work and the first of the memorial services (well, the actual first one was out of town and I found out too late to make arrangements to be there). My boss doesn't yet appreciate how impaired I am, but she's allowing me to cut back to 1 day next week due to my husband's surgery, so hopefully after that I'll be more functional.

Have not even contemplated going back to my volunteer work, which involves disabled children and horses, and so demands that you be fully present, alert and ready for an emergency, which I am SO not right now.

Several of us are looking into taking first responder or crisis team training once we're back on our feet. So perhaps some further good will come of this irremediable evil. Shooter, BTW, still at large; no car, no ATM/phone/credit card trail, no sightings.

#921 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 08:17 AM:

Just got a reverse 911 call. They found his car last night--here in Clarke County.

#922 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 10:20 AM:

Since 100 seems to be a theme in the Particles today, I offer the classic story of the In-N-Out 100x100.

#923 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 05:28 PM:

A longer obit for Tom Deitz.

Good night, and joy be to you all.

#924 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 06:23 PM:

There was a seventh casualty in Apeldoorn; a Dutch military policeman died in hospital today.

I look at the picture of the Queen, standing in the open-top bus with her hand over her mouth, and I find myself thinking of Lila.

Scary stuff.

#925 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 06:35 PM:

I think there's a way to extract font metadata from a PDF. Like in certain versions of Acrobat, select the text and it will tell you.

#926 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 07:25 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 925:

I did that, but all it told me about was the front material added to the paper (LaTeX, Times, etc.). The actual paper itself has been scanned very well and not remade. Your advice is good in general, it just doesn't help in this particular case.

#927 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 07:25 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 925:

I did that, but all it told me about was the front material added to the paper (LaTeX, Times, etc.). The actual paper itself has been scanned very well and not remade. Your advice is good in general, it just doesn't help in this particular case.

#928 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 07:28 PM:

Prepares the wet noodles for a celebratory, first double-post flogging.

#929 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 07:40 PM:

Abi #916: My dissertation adviser was from Apeldoorn.

#930 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 07:53 PM:

Totally off on a random tangent (that's what open threads are for, right?): Musical Tesla Coils

#931 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 08:16 PM:

Erik Nelson et al: when I was bicycle-commuting along the Charles (26 to 18 years ago, before my job moved out to the periphery) there was considerable excitement about cormorants (re?)establishing themselves there, so I suspect that's what you saw. They're easier to recognize when flying -- the crooked neck and IIRC very low-pitched call are distinctive. The original settlers were ousted from the boat dock they were busy fouling; it's good to hear they found other places to gather.

#932 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 08:21 PM:

Suzanne @ 930:

I posted another musical tesla coil on the Midnight in the Computer Lab thread, but I hadn't seen that one before. That one's pretty good.

Now I'm wondering whether I should try to make a small one. I don't have access to the right tools right now though, unfortunately.

#933 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 09:13 PM:

How nice: we just celebrated Mayday with a small shake-rattle-roll. (From the feel of it, it was in the mid-3s.)

#934 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 09:22 PM:

USGS is currently saying 4.4, 7 miles south of Thousand Oaks. (I've filed my 'did you feel it' report already.)

#935 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 10:11 PM:

P J Evans @ 934:

It felt fairly mild where I was. Nice reminder of living in California.

Cooking question:

Does vegetable oil not hiss and spit when heating in a nonstick pan? It did after I put the chicken in, but not before.

(The chicken turned out very tasty, by the way.)

#936 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 10:17 PM:

I picked up a copy of F. N. Vanderwalker's Wood Finishing Plain and Decorative today -- and while starting to read through the introduction, was struck by the following sentence:

Italian Walnut came in after the world war and also the renaissance styles for furniture.

I wonder if that was changed for the later editions of this book...

#937 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 10:53 PM:

KeithS, it's water droplets that cause hot oil to hiss and spit, as the immiscible water boils off. So there would be no reason for oil in a dry pan to hiss and spit, and perfectly normal for the moisture in the chicken to produce such noises.

#938 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 11:11 PM:

xeger @ 936:

We can only hope.

Rikibeth @ 937:

Ah, yes, thank you. That makes perfect sense. I don't fry things often enough to think about how it works, and butter tends to sizzle a bit when you heat it up.

#939 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 11:24 PM:

Need a video test from some kind soul out in the Fluorosphere:

I'm at work scrambling to get our county assessor website for our protest value protest period (which started today, of course).

Would someone be so kind as to go to our county assessor website, click on the video link, and let me know if it runs?

#940 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 11:48 PM:

KeithS, butter is about 80% fat and the other 20% includes milk protein solids and... water! So, naturally, it sizzles too.

#941 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 11:55 PM:

Jacque @ 939, it started to load, then froze my browser. I'm using the Safari 4 beta, on a Mac (OS X 10.5.6). I do have Flip4Mac installed.

On Firefox (version 3.0.7) it freezes up as well (with a message "Waiting for" in the bottom of the window).

So for a Mac, the answer seems to be No.

Answer may be different for a PC.

#942 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 12:18 AM:

Jacque @ 939:

Mac without Windows Media stuff on it, so it doesn't work. WMP 9 on Windows sits there trying to connect to the server, then says it can't find it.

Rikibeth @ 940:

Right. I think I just wasn't thinking about the 100% oil case.

#943 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 12:18 AM:

Jacque @939, I even tried diving into the .asx file to run the .wmv file directly, and it wasn't accessible, so it doesn't seem to be a client platform issue, but something you should be able to test from any internet-connected computer. Not sure how helpful flooding the tail-end of this thread with neepery is going to ultimately be, unless someone pops in with an aha moment.

#944 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 12:57 AM:

Jacque @ 939: Using MS XP and IE 6.0, going into the site automatically brings up WMP, which hunts fruitlessly for a while, then announces "Windows Media Player cannot find the specified file" and also reports more specifically "0xC00D1197: Cannot play the file".

Oh, Webmaster . . .

#945 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 01:46 AM:

I have a suggestion for the next Supreme Court nominee: since there are no Constitutional restrictions on who is qualified to be a Supreme Court justice, let the nominee be an extremely young radical progressive, one who can reasonably be expected to outlive the entire conservative wing of the SCOTUS. Repeat this plan for any other openings in the court.

#946 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 04:10 AM:

*Pictures Bruce Cohen in old Pasha imagery, unmoving from a pile of cushions while an army of servants goes on to do anything to keep him satisfied*

*Implications of Reality kicks in*

Hope everything goes well.

@Velma: one Snoopy Happy Dance for you.

Musical Tesla Coils: ooooooooooooohhh shiny !

#947 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 08:55 AM:

KiethS @932: Ooooh, I missed that! Will have to go back and look. I'm assuming that part of the range of sound that's generated has to do with the rods being struck on the ground?

#948 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 12:49 PM:

Suzanne @ 947:

The rods are there to serve as a target for the electricity. Having different rods is mostly for entertainment value. All you have to do is switch the tesla coil on and off at audio frequencies, and the sound will propagate through the air. I would expect that you can get a pretty full range of notes out of a tesla coil, but I don't know for sure.

I am told, as I have never experienced one in person, that it's loud.

#949 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 11:30 PM:

P J Evans: The idea of a nice mild earthquake has me a trifle homesick.

#950 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 12:55 PM:

Belated thanks to all who tested the video. I think we got it fixed, finally.

"In the future, techology will work!"

#951 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 01:13 PM:

KeithS @ 948, if you ever find yourself in Boston, go out to the Museum of Science and take in a show at the Theater of Electricity. Not only do they have multiple Tesla coils, but they also have the world's largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator. I can't find exactly how tall it is, but I would guess fifty feet (including the spheres).

The Tesla coils are very loud. So far I have not heard the MoS play music on them, but I think they should.

The demonstrations are way cool. The presenter is in a large metal birdcage, the better to demonstrate the skin effect as it gets struck repeatedly by bolts of lightning. If I thought it would pay enough to live on, I'd go and demonstrate the giant Van de Graaff generator all day.

#952 ::: Renatus sees probable spam in Russian @ 954 ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2010, 08:45 PM:

With something like serial.php in the url in the main body, it's almost definitely spam (pirated software?).

#953 ::: Terry knows there is SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2010, 11:56 PM:

That name/url have spammed before. Again, it's not "BUY BUY BUY" it's vaguely topical to something, but not this.

It's actually talking about hair color.

#954 ::: Cadbury Moose detects a spam probe ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2011, 09:22 AM:

Post #957 - no links or anything, not even any relevent comment.

(It may also be worth excising the link in the poster name of #954.)

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