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December 18, 2009

Open thread 133
Posted by Teresa at 12:12 PM *

Author William Rosen on Justinian:

…It wasn’t merely that pre-Enlightenment Christians drank from a pool of unquestioning faith; during Justinian’s time, they grew drunk on it.

Justinian’s favorite hobby, in fact, was arguing the most obscure points of Christian doctrine (you can easily see where we get the dictionary definition of “Byzantine”). This was brought home to me by way of one really illuminating scene…; an incident that took place at the Hippodrome, Constantinople’s great arena for chariot racing. Justinian was seated in the imperial box, surrounded by 50,000 racing fans, when one of them (no doubt equipped with a megaphone) engaged him directly in a debate about the nature of the incorruptibility of Christ’s body. The emperor and the fan went toe-to-toe on the issue in stanza after stanza of extemporaneous verse on the murkiest kind of Christian dogma, with occasional cheers from the crowd when one debater got in a good one. It was as if New York’s Mayor Bloomberg spent halftime at a Knicks game debating the finer points of string theory with a physicist seated twenty rows away, and not only did no one think anything extraordinary about it, but the drunks in the cheap seats applauded.

Comments on Open thread 133:
#1 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 12:37 PM:

Some open-threaded musical musings -- I saw that "Liza With A Z" was on one of the movie channels, and I was curious. I had heard it was good.

Wow - this was filmed back in 1972, and Bob Fosse directed, choreographed, and co-produced it. It's a great showcase of music and dancing, and it brought back a time when Ms. Minelli was a sensational entertainer.

I understand it's out on DVD -- it's worth watching.

#2 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 12:37 PM:

That would have been an interesting convention.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 12:53 PM:

Steve, I saw an imperfect and partial copy of Liza with a Z a very long time ago, but what I remember was well worth watching.

#5 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 12:58 PM:

Higgledy piggledy
Justinian (Emperor),
what do you think of the Body of Christ?
Corruptibility's
impossibility!
So get down in front. Watch the races. Be nice.

#6 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 01:03 PM:

After following the link through to that author's Q&A, I now desperately want to read more about Justinian. And/or Byzantium. I'm going to have to add yet another book to my ever-growing list of books I really mean to read Any Day Now. (Thank God for the local library, or these would be piling up in stacks; I'm out of bookshelf space as it is.)

#7 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 01:13 PM:

It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Which, for the Byzantines, was pretty often, what with people having their parents, children, or siblings blinded and locked in a monastery on the drop of a hat.

#8 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 01:21 PM:

That quote reminds me of ML threads sometimes. (That is a compliment!)

#9 ::: Jon R ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 01:26 PM:

Fade, if you're in the mood for alternate history with a bit of sci-fi flavor, check out Eric Flint and David Drake's Belisarius series, the first three books of which are available free online. (Here's the first one.) I'm only a layman, but I found the descriptions of Byzantine characters to seem reasonably authentic.

#10 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 01:30 PM:

Has everyone heard the 12 Byzantine Rulers podcast? Steve Eley mentioned it on today's EscapePod but I'd just finished listening to it a few days ago. Lars Brownworth devotes three episodes to Justinian.

The entire series of podcasts is worth listening to. He speaks with such passion about the history of Byzantine Empire that the thousand years of history just fly by. It's also the most heartbreaking story ever. Just when someone competent has stabilized the empire, he dies, someone incompetent takes over and it all goes to pieces again. The final battle and the ultimate fall of Byzantium had me in tears. He ends with a fevered argument for a place for the Byzantine in world history.

In any case, it's inspired me to consider reading Sailing to Sarantium again. That's no mean feat.

(I bought Lord of Emperors years after reading Sailing to Sarantium. I haven't read it though because I don't remember what happened in Sailing to Sarantium. Now, normally, I love Guy Gavriel Gay. Tigana and Lions of al-Rassan are among my most favorite books ever. However, I just couldn't get myself to read Sailing to Sarantium again. It wasn't bad. I finished it the first time. I just felt like there was too much I wasn't getting.)

#11 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 01:44 PM:

Open thread donation begging:

Alpha is a workshop for young writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I've been on staff for three years now. It's a great workshop not only because of the pro writers who teach-- this coming year, Mike Arzen, Holly Black, Tamora Pierce, and Timothy Zahn-- but because of the incredible talent of the students. Alphans have also taken over the Dell Award some; in the past two years, six of them have been runners-up or honorable mentions.

A lot of cross-pollination and inspiration happens at the workshop. In the past, we've had students whose primary social activity was critting each other's stories. I've seen students shocked and thrilled by the discovery that someone else spoke Chinese, knew kung fu, or had spent just as much time in the books they thought no one else had read. The students are amazing.

If you know a young genre writer, send her or him to the Alpha page. Spread the word, please.

And the begging? Well, Alpha is not cheap. We try to give scholarships as needed, but we've had students in the past few years who couldn't come because they, and we, just couldn't raise the money. Alpha's a nonprofit and a lot of volunteer effort goes into it. You can help support the workshop and a seriously talented group of writers.

(why yes, I do fangirl Alpha quite a bit. The two weeks of workshop and Confluence after are the highlight of my summer.)

#12 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 01:49 PM:

With respect to Eric Flint & David Drake, I don't think anyone can argue with Harry Turtledove's status as the most prolific SFF author writing about Byzantium, both directly and in his "Videssos" name swaps.

#13 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 01:49 PM:

The time for holiday songs has returned. I know I've recommended this before, but it's been five years, and it's good stuff, so I'm going to bring it up again.

Tris McCall's Christmas Abstract thoughtfully analyzed fifty popular Christmas (or Christmasish) songs. I enjoy rereading this piece year after year.

Tris is releasing an album today; as a result, he tells me, in the process of reorganization, his Web site dropped the Christmas essay, but it will return soon. Meanwhile, I have linked to the Internet Wayback Machine version.

#14 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 01:58 PM:

John Chu #10:

The thing about the whole Sarantine Mosaic is that it's, well, a mosaic. You can't see up close what you can at a distance--i.e, after reading both parts. There are a lot of things that seem unimportant, or maybe extraneous, perhaps incomprehensible, that come back with a bang as you read the second half. In the first book, he lays out some tiles. In the second book, he puts in more tiles, and the picture changes, becomes impossibly deep and rich. It's not an Alexandria Quartet sort of production. Instead, time proceeds, narrative progresses; some events in the second book are reflections, via very oddly distorting mirrors, of ones in the first, and it's more a thing of many facts and events coalescing into a whole which cannot be totally perceived until you're done.

#15 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 01:59 PM:

My time at Christian Forums and on a few atheist websites has certainly shown me that Christians and other religious and non-religious people still love a good debate. I guess the thing that surprises me the most about that vignette is that Justinian didn't have them executed for disagreeing with him.

Or perhaps he did. I'm not entirely up on my ancient Roman history.

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 02:03 PM:

If Bill can recommend an album, so can I. Mary Chapin Carpenter's Come Darkness Come Light, released in 2008, is beautiful. It's seasonal but mostly secular (if that's a big deal). 7 or 8 of the 12 tracks are new compositions. It's a very quiet album, mostly solo guitar or piano.

#17 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 02:18 PM:

I had an interesting encounter with a door-to-door seller yesterday. He was flogging some magic cleaning substance. His kicker was: "It's chemical-free!"

I said, "Sounds like water to me!" and closed the door rapidly. That amount of laughter would have been rude.

#18 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 02:20 PM:

Spherical Time #15, I had the same reaction, down to "perhaps he did." I like the idea of a dialog, complete with cheers for the accomplished debaters.

Sarah S #5 *applause*

John Chu #10 had an informative post recommending a podcast, but I snagged on misreading the title as "12 Byzantine Rules" and have been trying to puzzle out what those rules might be. It seems like Catch-22 must be among them, followed perhaps by some more arcane bits of tax or environmental regulations.

#19 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 02:20 PM:

I said, "Sounds like water to me!" and closed the door rapidly.

Water? Sounds like vacuum to me, except there is no sound in vacuum!

#20 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 02:22 PM:

Speaking of another Justin(ian), would Timberlake translate into Latin as Lignistagnum? Online Latin dictionaries pretty much suck if you basically don't know what you're doing. heh.

#21 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 02:24 PM:

“Then those absolute ideas which are relative to one another have their own nature in relation to themselves, and not in relation to the likenesses, or whatever we choose to call them, which are amongst us, and from which we receive certain names as we participate in them. And these concrete things, which have the same names with the ideas, are likewise relative only to themselves, not to the ideas, and, belong to themselves, not to the like-named ideas.”

“What do you mean?” said Socrates.

“For instance,” said Parmenides, “if one of us is master or slave of anyone, he is not the slave of master in the abstract, nor is the master the master of slave in the abstract; each is a man and is master or slave of a man but mastership in the abstract is mastership of slavery in the abstract, and likewise slavery in the abstract is slavery to mastership in the abstract, but our slaves and masters are not relative to them, nor they to us; they, as I say, belong to themselves and are relative to themselves and likewise our slaves and masters are relative to themselves. You understand what I mean, do you not?”

Parmenides, 133c-134a. It's a puzzling dialogue that presents a challenge to the theory that Plato believed in a theory of Forms - Parmenides presents excellent arguments against the Forms ("ideas" in this translation), to which Socrates doesn't seem able to respond.

#22 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 02:57 PM:

Ursula L #19:

I would have thought vacuum, too, had it not been for the spray bottle of clear liquid that he was brandishing. Maybe I should have said, "Looks like water!"

#23 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 03:02 PM:

Joann @ 19 - But you gotta be careful around that dihydrogen monoxide.

#24 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 03:13 PM:

Probably homeopathic detergent, which would of course be much more effective than a cleaning solution which actually contained more than merely a memory of chemical substances.

#25 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 03:16 PM:

Steve C #23:

Yeah, I was tempted to remind him that water is a solvent of serious proportions.

#26 ::: Tracey ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 03:16 PM:

@ #11 -- Diatryma: $995 dollars for the workshop?! Jesus. That's more than my monthly disability check! And that doesn't cover transportation to and from the conference, hotel rooms or food costs either.

I heart writers' conferences and workshops. I do.

I just wish that their costs fell within the range of my extremely limited income.

#27 ::: Tracey ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 03:17 PM:

@ #11 -- Diatryma: $995 dollars for the workshop?! Jesus. That's more than my monthly disability check! And that doesn't cover transportation to and from the conference, hotel rooms or food costs either.

I heart writers' conferences and workshops. I do.

I just wish that their costs fell within the range of my extremely limited income.

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 03:20 PM:

#24: A few years back, and probably even now, various Alternative Whatever supply catalogs offered a mechanical gadget that supposedly replaced detergent in your washing machine. It was a float containing a crystal of some sort. How did it work? The ad copy mentioned "structured water."

Years later I learned that "structured water" is a homeopathic concept. As in, the water used to dilute the original ingredient somehow had its molecules rejiggered in a way that duplicated the original's powers.

#29 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 03:38 PM:

I seem to recall reading an article about one of those "washer balls" which concluded that they didn't really do anything, but that the detergent in your washer didn't do much either; the largest part of the cleaning was just agitating the clothes in water.

#30 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 03:51 PM:

I seem to recall reading an article about one of those "washer balls" which concluded that they didn't really do anything, but that the detergent in your washer didn't do much either; the largest part of the cleaning was just agitating the clothes in water.

Another thing is that the instructions on detergent tend to suggest using much more than is strictly needed, and more than is rinsed out in a typical wash cycle. So if you buy this sort of gizmo, you'll find that your wash lathers the first few uses just from the detergent left in the fabric from the previous wash.

It would be interesting to see if people who like the device initially continue to like it after they've washed their clothes without adding detergent several times, and no longer have any residual detergent in the wash.

#31 ::: Avocado of Death ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 03:54 PM:

@10: John, have you thought about reading the book while on a bicycle trip around, say, Istanbul?

@5: Brava, Sarah! Here's mine.

Higgledy piggledy,
Emp'ror Justinian
Set down a law that was
Better upset.
What shall we say to the
Passerbyzantium?
"Christ? Incorruptible.
Christans? Not yet."

#32 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 03:55 PM:

Tracey at 26, I know. The hotel and food are both for the convention after the workshop, and not everyone goes to that. The annual goal is to have two full and two partial scholarships, a total of three thousand dollars, though of course we don't know how many people will need scholarships for another few months.

#33 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 04:10 PM:

#29: I inadvertently tested that hypothesis myself.

No. Swirling water isn't enough to get your clothes clean. It certainly gets rid of surface grit, and maybe some sweat. But . . .

. . . no. If you don't believe me, try it yourself, with a load of socks, undershirts, and underpants.

#34 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 04:14 PM:

Avocado@31: One of the side effects of listening to 12 Byzantine Rulers is that I really do want to visit. (Did I tell you at some point that I read Tigana while touring Italy? Sadly, I read The Lions of Al-Rassan in the United States.)

#35 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 04:16 PM:

I think I noticed something today that said France is charging Google or has convicted Google of copyright infringement (as regard Google's book digitizing).

On the same page of Dear Author referred to in the Candace Sams trainwreck thread, there is a description of illegal, immoral, unethical robber baron behavior of the part of Harper Collins and the rest of the hydra publishing empire it is part of, with respects to electronic publication distribution.... it kept suing and kept losing the lawsuits regarding electronic rights, acting as though it were the owner of electronic distribution rights when it published books in print but which it had NOT included electronic publication in the contracts.... the epublisher it targeted with spates of nuisance lawsuits apparently has caved in and is paying the robber baron troll fees... seems to me that there should be a massive lawsuit against Harper Collins for interference in interstate commerce and predatory /monopolistic business practices and for copyright infringement and harassment....

#36 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 04:16 PM:

Avocado, 31: That's brilliant. Please stick around!

#37 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 04:29 PM:

From previous Open Thread (132)

Bruce #877

I will cheer when Sen. Lieberman (no relation that I'm aware of within the past 1000 or so years) depart the Senate. I too am in that COBRA situation....

#898 Debbie
Pheasants aren't North American natives. The ones I've seen, have been most likely been birds released by fish & wildlife departments as part of the programs which raise game animals (fish, pheasants, etc.) from the sales of fishing and hunting licenses, to catch/hunt. The departments stock lakes and ponds and rivers with fish (a misstep in releasing fish caused the extermination of an entire species of trout in New Hampshire, the species was not interfertile with the released fish, and attempted to interbreed... and that was the end of the golden-eyed trout, I think the species was.), and releasing pheasants for hunters to shoot.

The one which survive the people fishing and the hunting season, wander around where they will....

#38 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 04:31 PM:

#8 ::: Debbie :::
That quote reminds me of ML threads sometimes. (That is a compliment!)


What did Justinian do with trolls?

#39 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 04:34 PM:

John R & Andrew, thanks for the series suggestions; I have added both to my huge and ever-growing list of books I mean to read. (I've had mixed luck with Drake and Turtledove both, but "mixed" in the sense that I'm willing to keep giving them a try when recommended.)

#40 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 04:35 PM:

Last year, two of my friends learned that pheasants were introduced to Iowa by a pheasant spill.

We are very silly people. The discussion eventually became a lament on people tapping the Trans-Iowa Pheasant Pipeline, the price of a barrel of sweet crude pheasant, pheasant refineries, and other memorable spills involving molasses or beer.

#41 ::: Richard Hershberger ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 04:44 PM:

This is a good example of where Amazon reader reviews are really useful. The discussion of Justinian's Flea looked interesting, so I went to Amazon.com. The reader reviews persuaded me to skip it.

My favored author on Roman history is Adrian Goldsworthy, though he hasn't done much with the eastern half. I highly recommend "How Rome Fell".

#43 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 04:59 PM:

Steve @42

Thank you for that link, it's going on the iPod next to St.George and the Dragnet.

#44 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 05:23 PM:

> I think I noticed something today that said France is charging Google or has convicted Google of copyright infringement (as regard Google's book digitizing).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8420876.stm
"A Paris court has found Google guilty of copyright infringement in a ruling which could have ramifications for its plans to digitise the world's books.

The search giant must pay 300,000 euros (£266,000) in damages and interest to French publisher La Martiniere."

#45 ::: Avocado of Death ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 05:23 PM:

John@34: I remember you saying that that was the ideal way to read Tigana. Maybe there's a relationship between a book's Real Year (per a panel at Readercon) and its Real Place, or Ideal Place, to be read.

TxAnne@36: Thanks! Glad you liked it. (BTW, you and I have met IRL. 4th Street, I think.)

#46 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 05:28 PM:

Avocado: Remind me of this come June, eh?

#47 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 05:33 PM:

Answering my own question at 38: maybe he disemboweled them.

#48 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 05:37 PM:

Paula @37, I'm located in Germany, so they've been around here for a long time. There's a very long history of pheasants being introduced, cultivated, and hunted, starting I guess with the Romans. They may be more common than I think, but I hardly ever see them, so this was a neat experience.

Erik @38 - made 'em recite passages from Corpus Juris Civilis without vowels? (Although this would only have been done with practicing trolls. Those who had renounced Trollism and converted to Orthodoxy were safe.)

#49 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 05:51 PM:

Believe the voices falling down the rift
of fading memory, all lost to time;
recall the faces touched with soot and grime
in days so clear and calm they seemed to drift
through subtle air, and now all is too swift.
Hardly a moment between every chime.
The downslope now, but we were on the climb
and had not valued the taste of the gift.
So here the choice is made, and in the cold
dark of the rainy afternoon each deep
cutting word is truly cruel in its burn.
The message is expected: we turn old
and each day must bring reasons more to weep,
even this day at eve of sunreturn.

#50 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 06:03 PM:

Gibbon's got a lot of stuff on the later Roman emperors, though being Gibbon he of course tends to look at everything after the removal of Romulus Augustulus in the West as a horrible process of byzantine corruption and confusion, but he's got some good stories in there.

The Byzantines are often their own best voices -- see if you can find Constantine Porphyrogenitus' treatise on Byzantine foreign relations, or Anna Comnena's history of her father (including some lovely looks at the First Crusade from the Byzantine POV). There's a lot more available than you might think.

Modern historical reading probably should start with John Julius Norwich's three-volume history, or the one-volume condensation.

And Byzantine mosaic art is just stunningly wonderful.

#51 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 07:35 PM:

#906 ::: Jenny Islander, #906, from Open Thread 132:

Marilee #902: Argh, yes.

Is there a name for the persistent tendency to confuse nouns that contain similar sounds and are in the same general class? For me it's artichokes-asparagus-apricots, Judy Collins-Joan Baez, and apparently SSD and SSI.

I think I remember it because I have SSD and not SSI, but I do have some problems like that. I was writing a friend about NBC's Sing Off and couldn't remember the city one group came from and wrote "(something like Obama)" and she came up with the right answer: Omaha.

#52 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 07:38 PM:

The Secret History is an entertaining book about Justinian, albeit an extremely biased and almost certainly inaccurate one. You get the sense that Procopius isn't the most reliable source. For instance, he confidently reports that Justinian's head was, at odd moments, in the habit of vanishing:

And some of those who were present with the Emperor, at very late hours of the night presumably, and held conference with him, obviously in the Palace, men whose souls were pure, seemed to see a sort of phantom spirit unfamiliar to them in place of him. For one of these asserted that he would rise suddenly from the imperial throne and walk up and down there (indeed he was never accustomed to remain seated for long), and the head of Justinian would disappear suddenly, but the rest of his body seemed to keep making these same long circuits, while he himself, as if thinking he must have something the matter with his eyesight, stood there for a very long time distressed and perplexed. Later, however, when the head had returned to the body, he thought, to his surprise, that he could fill out that which a moment before had been lacking. And another person said that he stood beside him when he sat and suddenly saw that his face had become like featureless flesh; for neither eyebrows nor eyes were in their proper place, nor did it shew any other means of identification whatsoever; after a time, however, he saw the features of his face return. These things I write although I did not see them myself, but I do so because I have heard the story from those who declare that they saw the occurrences at the time.

There's an online version here, although I like the current Penguin Classics version better.

#53 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 07:46 PM:

Joann, might he have been trying to sell you electrolyzed water? There was a bit of hype propagating about it earlier this year.

#54 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 08:09 PM:

Ursula L, #30, I don't use detergent in my washer most of the time, only when I have something that's really dirty.

#55 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 08:25 PM:

This is just amazing.

Classical medley on harmonica.

#56 ::: mike shupp ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 08:27 PM:

More Byzantine goodness: Robert Silverberg's UP THE LINE, L. Sprague de Camp's LEST DARKNESS FALL (peripherally, anyhow). And as a straight historical novel, Robert Grave' COUNT BELISAURUS.

#57 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 08:52 PM:

Siriosa... D Potter... I arrived in the Bay Area a couple of hours ago. It looks like the Gathering of Light at Oaskland's "Breads of India" tomorrow at 6pm will have a total of 8 people. See you then.

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 09:21 PM:

(cont'd from #57) Other gatherers of light should include Terry Karney and guests, and Kathryn from Sunnyvale and her Significant Other.

#59 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 09:31 PM:

Lee, 55: Not bad; his Mozart borrows heavily from Raymond Scott's "In an 18th Century Drawing Room," which is based on the original K 545, but it's still great stuff.

Check this out - a Ukrainian virtuoso on the bayan (a Russian version of the button accordion) playing the Bach Passacaglia in C Minor. He's astounding.

#60 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 09:46 PM:

Since this is an open thread, I'm going to insert a comment with no connection to Justinian, Byzantium, or the nuances of Christian doctrine.

While browsing in a local bookstore a few days go, I saw that Georgette Heyer's Regency romances (and her mysteries, too, I think) are being re-issued. I've never been a traditional Heyer fan, never been to a "tea" or a Regency dance, but my mother, bless her, owned damn near all of Heyer in hardcover. I read them in my teens, and kept reading them into adulthood with pleasure.

Just out of curiosity -- to see if it was still readable -- I bought one of her earlier books, These Old Shades. It was once a favorite of mine, though it's pretty much pure fluff, nowhere near as meaty as something like A Civil Contract or (for those who want real history with their romance) An Infamous Army.

I read it, and discovered 1) it holds up quite well, and 2) I know it well enough to identify two missing sentences on page 67 of this trade paperback edition. Before setting it down, I turned somewhat idly to the front matter to see if I could figure out which edition it had been reprinted from -- not the hardcover I knew, or those sentences would not have been missing -- and saw, to my thorough shock, that the book had been copyrighted in 1926. Zowie. It's eighty years old. It feels timeless.

#61 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 09:49 PM:

Lee @55: Now *that's* what you call a mouth organ!

#62 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 10:07 PM:

#60 Lizzy

I measure esp. Regency romances against Heyer.... most of the current production, fails the tests of plot/character/etc. measured against Heyer.

Meanwhile, there is a romance writer who's I think "Lizzie Lynn".... caused me a double take, it did.

#63 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 10:14 PM:

#58: Serge, I'm going to be in Oakland tomorrow afternoon on an IT call and was thinking about stopping by, if there's still room.

#64 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 10:37 PM:

Fairy Tale of New York performed by singers who can enunciate the lyrics.

#65 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 10:53 PM:

Allan Beatty #64: Thank you for posting those. I'm currently posting links on Facebook to my Top 10 Most Depressing Christmas Songs. Fairytale of New York is one of the runners-up, which means there are at least 10 Christmas songs I think are more depressing. I just posted #3, Christmas in the Trenches.

#66 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:19 AM:

The Dark of the Year

Light the match.
The only way out is through.

A scrape, a flare,
the flame blue with heat along the bottom edge,
golden near the top,
its heart dark.
'Lucifers' would seem miraculous to those
who had to struggle with flint and tinder
when the coals went out,
though to be sure, it might have been that steel
would be harder to come by than flint.

Hope is the province of adults.
Children only know the world as it is,
whether fair or restrictive. A child
beaten for things out of her control
would, perhaps, find it only natural.
How rare for such an one to have any
to whom she could account for love.

Fire consumes, and fire changes,
adds weight to what it does not burn,
adds weight to what is left behind.
Children, so light, might flare up completely
leaving behind only the scars in our souls.

Light the match.
In its dark heart, a fascination,
a vision of the happy past,
or perhaps the future.
Impossible to draw your eyes away.

Hope is the province of adults.
The only way out is through.

#67 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:25 AM:

Wesley @52: Procopius's SECRET HISTORY is one of my favourite historical texts. It becomes clear quite early that Procopius was going insane at the time he wrote the book (well, either that or Justinian was a demon who would change shape when he thought nobody was looking). Once you accept that Procopius was mad, it relieves your reading of any responsibility to be accurate. And then you can just enjoy the story, which is like THE HIDDEN meets ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN in ancient Byzantium.

#68 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:26 AM:

#13 Bill Higgins: Thank you for that. I can't stand the run of regular Christmas songs, and he articulates why very well. I used to have the text of a song I wrote* posted online, but I can't find it now.

*I really, really need to record that. It's a trite Christmas song about trite Christmas songs. It originally came about because of some song that I heard and thought, "That's got all the philosophical depth of the back of a cereal box."

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:30 AM:

Lenny Bailes @ 63... Do come by. We'll make sure to have room for you.

#70 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:35 AM:

mike shupp @ 56... Didn't Turtledove write stories abut a spy working for an alternate-History Byzantium? The spy's name was Basileus, I think. Been a long time sine I read them.

#71 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:37 AM:

On Sunday evening, I'll be going to San Francisco's Castro Theater, to see Hitchcock's The Man in Lincoln's Nose, aka North by Northwest.

#72 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:58 AM:

Just got back from Avatar. Damn fine movie-making there. And a deep, deep green. I wonder what that's going to do to the national conversation?

#73 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 01:25 AM:

#72: Obviously propaganda by the Big Climate industry that wants to keep raking in those lucrative research grants by scaaaaring us into giving up our freedoms to the U.N. Damn Hollywood!

#74 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 01:36 AM:

I got this link via Lee: When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar. It's a well-written article, and combined with several articles of Kate Elliot's, I think it's a good look at basic cultural assumptions that [mainstream white American culture]* has.

*My cultural heritage is, more than anything, "American suburbanite." I think that most, if not all, of my friends fit into that category. IOW, I've got a lot of water around me, and I am a fish.

#75 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 02:47 AM:

B. Durbin, #74: Was the entire original anime story lost, then? That's a shame.

#76 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 03:04 AM:

Grinch warning, vexation reaction lyrics warning...

It might have been on Making Light that someone (Serge?) in an on-line forum asked me about the extemporaneous lyrics that occur to me during the annual onslaught of end of the year seasonal music inspired (?) by the Christian slant and commercial Xmasploitation in the USA....

The bad/good news is that such lyrics are ephemeral, not merely extemporaneous. They also tend to be rude and involve terminology which the FCC displays disapproval of by applying financial penalties to....

(However... I just remembered the general tenor of my reaction to Felice Navidad...

You have been warned!!!!

I hate this song
I hate this song
I hate this song
And I wish that it would go away.

I hate this song
I hate this song.
It hate this song
It's the worst piece of shit this time of year.

It is the worst piece of shit I'm hearing
It's the worst piece of shit I'm hearing
It is the worst piece of shit
And bores and it's repetitous too
It is the worst piece of shit I'm hearing
It is the worst piece of shit I'm hearing
It is the worst piece of shit I'm hearing
And I wish it would go away....

I hate this song....
I want to never hear it again...
[etc.]
========

Then there was the worst rendition of Ave Maria I've ever had the misfortune to hear, in a supermarket the other day. I actually like the tonality of it, and the words go along with the tonality harmoniously etc.... but not the particular recording blaring out in the supermarket. Ugh, ugh, ugh! And, it was followed next by a pop-ugh style of something already pop Xmaspoilation, that has a singer singing flatter than a pancack with the leavening and eggs left out of the batter....

#77 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 03:29 AM:

B. Durbin@74: James Nicoll (I think) coined a phrase for that genre of story: it's a What These People Need is a Honky story.

#78 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 03:31 AM:

@58 Serge Other gatherers of light should include Terry Karney and guests, and Kathryn from Sunnyvale and her Significant Other.

So it won't be ultralight after all. That's a respectable-sized gathering, that is.

#79 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 05:49 AM:

Joel @24: on the other hand, if you're serious about committing suicide, you don't want to follow Alexa Ray Joel's example and overdose on homeopathic sleeping pills.

Her mistake was to take eight of them. She should have started with one, divided it in half eight times, and taken one of the remaining halves.

(Suicide isn't funny, I know. But can we have a moment of contemplation for suicide methods that are isomorphic with 'toon physics?)

#80 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 06:33 AM:

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti

The muse departs the scene, the words don't come
So sentiments remained unwrit, unsaid
And I myself sat speechless, stricken dumb
While images stayed locked inside my head.

In times gone by the words had flowed like rain
A verbiage torrent just flooding past.
Then came the drought, and nothing would remain;
It seemed that inspiration couldn't last.

But Christmas-time brings hope that things can change,
As shrinking dark's outweighed by lengthened day;
(To most of you this must seem passing strange -
In northern climes it works the other way)

The solstice marks a time to make a start
When all seems lost, relax, unwind, take heart.


Yeah, this one's just a little bit autobiographical... Hopefully this time around I'll tarry awhile longer.

#81 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 07:23 AM:

#75 ::: Randolph:

The present discussion is about James Cameron's recently-released film Avatar, which is an original story (for at least Hulke's Dictum values of "original") and not based on any anime.

I suspect you're thinking of M. Night Shyamalan's still-forthcoming film derived from Avatar: The Last Airbender -- which I gather will be titled only The Last Airbender, perhaps in an attempt to avoid this very confusion. (Strictly speaking that isn't based on an anime either, since Avatar: The Last Airbender is an American series, but you wouldn't be the first person to be misled by the art style.)

#82 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 08:01 AM:

#74: So, it's "Lawrence of Avatarabia"?

Okay. I guess if the plot worked once ...

#83 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 08:23 AM:

Yesterday afternoon, my development put salt on the sidewalks... they shouldn't have bothered. I just opened my door to find the snow drifted and rising. (But that's certainly a drift -- looking out my window at a parking lot, I can see most of the license plates.)

#84 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 08:35 AM:

Siriosa @ 78... That's a respectable-sized gathering

Respectable? I've NEVER been so insulted.
("It' still early, Serge," Abi whispers.)

#85 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 10:06 AM:

In the Dewey Decimal system, 133 is one of the main locations for works about various paranormal phenomena. There was a time when I was young that I used to haunt that section in our town library.

A friend of mine once recommended a title there on out-of-body experiences. It was checked out when I looked for it, so I asked the librarians there to hold it for me. When it came in, they telephoned home to tell me it was available. One of my parents got the message first, and was rather taken aback by the title. They then had a Concerned Discussion with me, and asked me to promise not to check the book out.

I kept my promise, narrowly speaking. I stopped by the library a few times over the next few weeks, and read it bit by bit there, without ever checking it out.

I lost interest in the whole genre eventually, for various reasons. But I was fascinated with it for a while. And one thing I learned from the experience that's stayed with me as a parent is that trying to outright forbid your child from reading something is generally counterproductive.

#86 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 10:32 AM:

Well, leaving aside casting the movie into the What These People Need is a Honky trope (what these people clearly needed was a Marine who knew how to fight back, an outside consultant if you will, and that's what they got, and I had serious problems with the militarism inherent in that trope, but was enjoying the movie too much to worry all that much) - given that America's national debates are informed by emotions, and given that the visuals in this movie are breathtaking to the point of incipient asphyxia, I think it's going to change some minds.

Stefan @73 - but it would never have changed those minds anyway. It may well have an impact on their children.

Kids 16 and under in America are pretty green to start with. I think this is going to bolster them as they grow.

Now, on the trope casting into racism: What I wonder, Barb @ 74, is when people are going to wake up to the fact that colonialism doesn't just affect the non-white. It's not race, it's privilege. As long as we're restricted only to speaking of external appearance, we're missing the key insight.

(Which is hexapodia.)

No, wait, it's not hexapodia. It's the idea that some people are inherently of greater worth than others because they're richer, or more powerful, or golf at the same clubs. It's not race, it's power. And as long as the powerful can keep you thinking it's all about race, they still own you.

"When will white people stop making these films?" Make your own film. Add to the discussion instead of trying to suppress what others are saying. But if we persist in believing that rich white men should start saying what we want, because they have the megaphone, we're missing the fact that we now have the megaphone. You can make a blockbuster for a thousand bucks nowadays if you're sufficiently insane; people are doing it. So do it.

Also, a story about white privilege being pervasive in the film industry that actually mentions Will Smith kind of shoots itself in the foot. Unless you want to maintain that Will Smith is not sufficiently black. But if you do, then you underscore my point, which is that Will Smith is perfectly black, he's just not downtrodden. So it's not about melanin, it's about privilege.

#87 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 10:44 AM:

I liked Paul Cornell's comment on Avatar:

The natives of Avatar needed, more than their western hero finding his place in nature, a good team of civil rights lawyers and a PR firm. They'd establish not that we could all learn from their mystical one-ness with the universe, but that as people much like us, they have mineral rights.

(I've heard people I respect say it's brilliant, and I've heard people I respect say it's old-fashioned tripe. This may be one of those movies I'm going to have to see right away while it's in theaters, so I can decide for myself.)

#88 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 11:17 AM:

#82 Jon Meltzer: "So, it's "Lawrence of Avatarabia"?"

"Dancing With Smurfs." :D

(NB: I haven't seen the movie, I probably will enjoy it, but I'm really having fun with the snark.)

#89 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 11:23 AM:

Steve C. way back at #1: I will have to look for "Liza with a Z"! Not only does it sound good to watch, I can certainly get behind the sentiment in the title. :-)

#90 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 11:28 AM:

Michael@86: To say, "Hey, white people can identify with Will Smith, there is no race issue" is sort of like saying "Hey, Barack Obama is president, we have no race problem." One can recognize that white people, for whatever reason, put Will Smith into a category of his own (I believe the usual moniker is Transcends Race) without pulling out the "not sufficiently black" straw man. One can also point out that Annalee Newitz's point is that what applies to Will Smith does not apply to all black actors.

While I don't actually disagree with you, I don't see how the issue of privilege denies the part that race plays. There are all sorts of ways one group of people assert privilege over another group. Race is one of the ways we divide ourselves. Obviously, race privilege is not the entire issue, but it's part of it. "Make your own film" is a great idea, but it implies this symmetry in the culture that does not yet exist.

I'm reminded of the Obligatory Race Panel at Readercon 20. [I'm going by half year old memories. My apologies if I misrepresent anyone.] Tempest Bradford and Eileen Gunn were praising Nisi Shawl's collection, Filter House. One of the things they pointed out was that Nisi Shawl's work wasn't aimed at the mainstream audience. One (white, male) audience member reflected this back to them as Nisi Shawl writing works that white readers don't want to read. He was asking whether not aiming at a mainstream audience would create the segregation everyone says they seek to avoid.

What I found staggering was the implication that people didn't want to read works not aimed directly at them. If you're non-white, you read works not aimed directly at you all the time. I don't see this as an exceptional thing, but that audience member clearly did. It seems to me, if there is segregation, it's because he's not willing to read works not directly aimed at him, not because Nisi Shawl isn't writing directly for him.

I should point out here that he can read anything he wants. I'm not telling him what to read. It's really not my business. I'm just pointing out the cultural asymmetry that makes a statement like "Make your own movie" less interesting than it otherwise might be. In race-blind world, "make your own movie" is a fine solution. However, in race-blind world, we wouldn't be having this conversation at all. (i.e., Annalee Newitz would have written a completely different article about perhaps a completely different Avatar.)

Yes, this is absolutely an issue of privilege. That doesn't deny that race plays a part in the development and assertion of that privilege.

#91 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 11:28 AM:

"All right, creep, Now before I untie you, I wanna tell you a couple of things, and I want you to listen, and listen carefully. This has been the biggest bummer of a trip I've ever been on; but if you let me down, or you hurt my friends, especially the broad, I got stuff planned for you that'll take twenty years to kill ya."
"...no pain..."
"...And you'll be screaming for mercy in the first five seconds."

What? Avatar isn't Cameron's remake of Bakshi's movie?

#92 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 11:47 AM:

I credit Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz for avoiding the type of review that must surely have given other critics tennis elbow by now. There were some very key points at which Avatar could have been better, and they don't all have to do with race or privilege -- the worldbuilding itself could have used some nuance (as could the plot's romantic arc).

I'm not saying that I personally could have made a better film. Miyazaki already has, and it was called Princess Mononoke. Cameron's film buried its lead under allegory: it could have told a genuinely original story about the impact of collective intelligence on a global population, but instead it chose to tell us a story we've seen a thousand times before. It could have been a much more interesting story about sentience and emergent phenomena and the evolution of biological USB hookups, but no such luck.

It's not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination. And it's gorgeous to look at, and it's responsible for the birth of a bunch of new technologies. I just can't wait to see those technologies applied to a better script and a more interesting story.

#93 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 11:48 AM:

John @90 - very true, and I know it's an ongoing discussion, and as a white man (though disappointingly unrich) I have no standing. It was a visually stunning film. I'm pretty sure it will have an effect on American culture. Its blue cat aliens are obvious Native Americans.

To me, it spoke of the struggle against corporatism. It did that relatively effectively - not that it broke new philosophical ground, but at least it covered the old philosophical ground with a great deal of competence.

Now comes Newitz and says, "Ho hum, it failed to address my problems, it is a waste of a movie." That upsets me, even though I know that Newitz's issues are important ones. I don't like sackcloth and ashes, I get enough of that from my wife (a classical Eurocommunist theoretical physicist).

It had people flying on dragons, for God's sake, the most believable portrayal I can even imagine, let alone have seen. It had well-thought-out weightlessness. The air shimmers when the two atmospheres mix. It had battle armor, walkers I mean, deployed plausibly. It was a well-told story. That it failed to address race in a better manner may be a failing, but it's a failing of society, not of the film.

I don't want to get into defending this. From a race standpoint, it's just same old, same old. That's not the dimension I was looking at, and again, as a white man, the only real thing I can add to a discussion of racism is to shut up.

#94 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:01 PM:

Although, pace Madeline @ 92, vg ernyyl qvqa'g qb nalguvat jvgu gur pbyyrpgvir pbafpvbhfarff guna gbff vg bhg gurer nf n tvira, naq nyybj fnvq jbeyq pbafpvbhfarff gb evqr va nf gur pnyinel va fhccbeg bs gur juvgr ureb. BX, BX, ohg vg ybbxrq fb qnzarq tbbq. Sylvat ba qentbaf!!!1!

#95 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:05 PM:

I am such a freaking idiot. That really should have been ROT-13'd. I'm so used to seeing things only after they're in the dollar cinemas. One of you mods, if you should see this, feel free to unspoilerize it. I mean, I probably still have the login to ML somewhere in my files if it hasn't been changed since the Great Crash, but it would take ages to sort through all that stuff.

#96 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Liza @ 89 -

Oh, definitely go for it.

Here's a taste.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7XH_ehsN6k
Son of a preacher man

#97 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Michael Roberts @ #93: as a white man, the only real thing I can add to a discussion of racism is to shut up.

As a white woman, I'd like to append ..."and listen."

#99 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:26 PM:

Michael Roberts, #93: Now comes Newitz and says, "Ho hum, it failed to address my problems, it is a waste of a movie."

I read Newitz's review as saying not that Avatar failed to address her problems, but that it failed to address problems inherent in the situation created by the film.

#100 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Michael @95:

Rotthirteenified.

#101 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 01:18 PM:

The discourse of privilege annoys me; it frequently tends to be under-nuanced. Most discussions of it seem to be predicated on the assumption that if you are while and male you have the full package. Can we perhaps draw a Venn diagram, and reserve the "shut the F--- up and listen" darts for the members of the P7[*] lurking in the innermost circle?

(Like Conservative MP Philip Davies, who has distinguished himself in the past few days.)


[*] The P7 are the Pale Patriarchal Protestant Plutocratic Penis People of Power. (If anyone can come up with a synonym for "heterosexual" beginning with "P" I'd be very grateful.)

#102 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 01:26 PM:

Charlie: Potentially procreative?

#103 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 01:31 PM:

Scratch that.

#104 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 01:38 PM:

No, seriously, scratch it -- "potentially procreative" is insensitive even for a joke, and I should have lingered longer on the preview screen. Having relatives who outed themselves post-progeny, I should have known better. I realized this as I was spooning out my much-needed lunch, and now consider myself the possible victim of a low blood sugar moment. Now I exit, to eat and re-consider my words.

#105 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 01:51 PM:

The solution to "What These People Need is a Honky trope," is Postmambism.

You can see the logo here.

The principles of Postmambism were rolled out this week on Boing Boing here.

Postmambosim is serious, but if you want to laugh, that is acceptable!

Love, C.

#106 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 02:26 PM:

Charlie: "poled per predominant predilection"?

#107 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 02:38 PM:

Debbie: that's a little long. Mind you, let's relax the target criterion a little ... anyone got a one-word (beginning with "P") synonym for "male gaze"?

#108 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 03:15 PM:

Charlie@101: Just in case, I didn't intend what I wrote @90 as a "Shut the F--- up" screed. It just struck me that @86 read like Michael was saying that there was no white privilege at play in Avatar (particularly in his last paragraph) while simultaneously admitting to the What These People Need Is A Honky trope. I just wanted to point out that it was possible to make his points about power without simultaneously denying the effect of race.

I totally agree that discussions of privilege tend to be under-nuanced. I'm definitely privileged in some ways, but not in others. That's something I try my best to take into account before I wade into this sort of stuff.

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 03:19 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 101... if you are while and male you have the full package

It takes a while, but eventually the package gets full.

#110 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 03:32 PM:

John, no -- I wasn't accusing you of doing the "shut up" thing; just commenting, that it tends to come up sooner or later.

All it takes is one racist/general-purpose bigot, or one person of self-identified-non-privileged-class getting annoyed and reaching for the sledgehammer, to turn any discussion into a cess-pit. And there is no category of humanity so pure that all members are immune from temptation.

(Me, I am not tempted to go watch Avatar -- if only because (a) the trope is tired and wrinkly, (b) I am not partial to American founding-mythology hagiography, and (c) modern fashionable camerawork does not play well with my battered retinas.)

#111 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 03:36 PM:

#86 Michael

The situation is somewhat more complicated--there's privilege, and then there are power, control, and keeping the power and control. The person most in control of the empire that use to be Viacom/Paramount, is Jewish and a Democrat--however the Empire has pandered to hardline hardline misogynist non-Jewish bigots, and booted out anything smacking of liberalism and progressivism in its infotainment... the goal was maximizing income, minimizing expenses, maximizing ad revenue, maximizing placating and pandering to advertisers, minimizing antagonizing or irritating advertisers, and maximizing the audiences advertisers regard as most worthwhile to them.... Audiences who are not "consumers" and/or not vociferous "newsworthy" groups, get excised from attention and consideration for attention.... Oh, that's another max/min--minimize the content that causes noticeable boycotts and bad press. Thus, all the coverage of Sarah Palin, because she appeals to a market segment which watchs TV, buys from advertizers and is important to advertisers, which makes enormous amounts of vicious and effective noise when it feels offended against/finds something offensive to it, and which when panders to spreads the word and gets the money to the panders who pander to it (and does so on an emotional basis),

I am not one of the people the advertisers regard as their prime targets.... I suspect that few of the regulars here are. That's the explanation for why TV is full of lies or at best misdirection and absent data, pandering to Palin an her equally or worse vile associates, why the hard issue considations and analyses of the 1960s and into the 1970s are entirely absented or disenfranchised otherwise (given the ha-ha-gotcha or Disneyfication or other methods of neutralizing an issue--make it something to snicker at, play up the worst hypocrites involved in it, pick examples of people on the other side who've been gratuitously harmed--last night CBS focused on three wronged biological US national fathers whose children are or were in orphanages (two in Italian orphanages) or in the homes and custody of non-biological relatives (foster father in Brazil who was married to the child's mother, the mother died in childbirth.... the fact that most of the cases of childnapping and such involve fathers, regardless of merit--sometimes there is merit, sometimes not, it depends on the country and state--in Islamic countries the father gets custody, in Texas the mother gets forced by the culture to demand custody and get it whether she internally wants to or not.... I heard a few stories from fathers when I was in the Air Force who either had or were trying to get custody, whose wives were not the fitter parent... they were the minority certainly, but I knew several men who'd been granted child custody--but those decisions were NOT in Texas courts....)

Note that the TV households with single parent formerly married parents with children, almost always involve fathers, and almost never wives--Bonanza, My Three Sons, etc. -- and when a woman is a single parent, she's someone who's had a child as a professional who's not and never had been married. Double standard, viciousness.... since generally the situation is a divorcee or widow with children, rarely a widower or divorced male--and the two latter categories usually get remarried eventually (my next door neighbor remarried years after his wife die, and has a third child now, a decade plus younger than the siblings).

#112 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 03:56 PM:

Paul A., #81: "I suspect you're thinking of M. Night Shyamalan's still-forthcoming film derived from Avatar: The Last Airbender"

Duh. Yes, I was. Me dumb.

#113 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 04:14 PM:

Paul A. @81:

(Strictly speaking that isn't based on an anime either, since Avatar: The Last Airbender is an American series, but you wouldn't be the first person to be misled by the art style.)

So does "anime" necessarily refer to national orgin as well as style? "Magic realism" (or "magical realism") used to refer to a certain subgenre of fantasy of South American origin by definition, but I've heard it used (and by fairly respectable literary critics) to refer to fantasy in the same or a similar style by American, British, and Eastern European authors as well. I'm not sure how I feel about genre or style categories that aren't orthogonal to nationality, race, language and so forth. I suppose it relates to the competing ideas of defining genres by their style and content, vs. defining them by the communities of authors and readers involved; both approaches are valid as long as you don't confuse them.

Re: Avatar: The Last Airbender, I enjoyed the few episodes of it that I watched with some friends, and I'm fairly annoyed with what I've heard so far about the film adaptation.

Wesley Osam @87, quoting Paul Cornell:

The natives of Avatar needed, more than their western hero finding his place in nature, a good team of civil rights lawyers and a PR firm.

This reminds me of Lloyd Biggle's Monument, a wonderful novel that's about the right length to make a good movie without the drastic cutting that most book-to-film adaptations suffer from; though there the natives were human, low-tech descendants of a long-lost colony who used the law to protect themselves from exploitation when they were rediscovered by Earth. Also of Uncharted Territory by Connie Willis, which is set in a similar situation, but later on, when the aliens have already learned how to game the Terran legal system for fun and profit.

mike shupp @56: It's been a while since I read Lest Darkness Fall but I think Procopius actually appears as a minor character.

John Chu @90:

Re: "make your own movie", it seems that with the costs of making and distributing movies and other media art forms going down, the assymetry in power of expression between rich and middle-class is decreasing. (Not between races per se, and not between rich and poor because strictly speaking poor people still can't afford to make movies or produce any media more expensive than text or perhaps comics, but that day is probably coming as well.) It's not likely to disappear, any time soon or ever, but I expect it to keep decreasing for a while.

#114 ::: Bernard Yeh ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 04:46 PM:

Clifton Royston @98

Did you note the minor typo bug in the Cthulhu() function? Was it an intentional error* to prevent poor CS freshmen, naively typing in and compiling the example, unintentionally summoning some unspeakable evil?

Then again, further threats to body, mind, and soul await those CS majors who survive their freshman mistakes... (cf the exercises, also Stross, C., The Atrocity Archive et al.)

* Or was it for verisimilitude, for I seem to recall 1st edition K&R having similar minor typos in the sample code.

#115 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 04:54 PM:

Am I the only one who thinks "airbender" would make a great euphemism for really, really powerful flatulence?

#116 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 06:00 PM:

Serge @84 Respectable? I've NEVER been so insulted.

Is that a challenge, Serge? You've set the bar temptingly low, if so.

#117 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 06:03 PM:

Open threadiness: the new Simon's Cat video.

#118 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 06:11 PM:

Thanks for the heads up on Simon's cat, Pendrift. I just now put it up on my Facebook page.

#119 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 06:37 PM:

siriosa @ 116... You've set the bar temptingly low

A bar like THIS?

#120 ::: immunokid ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 07:07 PM:

Can I delurk to ask for some self-publishing advice, please? My dad's wife has written several ebooks on her acupuncture specialty and she and my dad are now trying to sell them. It seems like the kind of niche topic that could work with self-publishing, but they could do with some advice on marketing. Does anyone know of any decent resources I could point them towards? I started by looking for a book I could get them for Xmas, but they all sounded kind of scammy. Thanks!

#121 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 07:19 PM:

Steve C. @ 97: Thanks!

Avocado of Death @ 45: Then I too may have met you at Fourth Street. Now I'm wondering who you are, and whether you're a Pinkwater fan. (If you'd named yourself "Baconburg Horror" I'd be sure of it.)

#122 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 07:39 PM:

Bernard Yeh @114 oh, thank goodness, I thought it was just me.

#123 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 07:46 PM:

Greg Egan has recently posted an article about his trip to Iran last year to his website.

#124 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 08:27 PM:

Jim Henry #113: The idea that "magical realism" is a specifically South American genre, would require that Cuba be in South America, which it is not*, and that Alejo Carpentier, the Cuban novelist who coined the term "lo real maravilloso" somehow be South American. No disrespect is intended to Gabriel García Márquez or Jorge Amado, but I am pretty certain that Carpentier preceded them both.

*This would, among other things, have required moving Jamaica. I'm pretty sure I'd have noticed that.

#125 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 09:12 PM:

Serge, #71, I'm reading a book that is part alt-hist and there's a place on the planet with eight heads carved into a mountain, two female.

John Chu, #90, I read a memoir recently by a black woman and someone helping her, and it was so massively badly-written that I went to look at the publisher and it was a line for only black women. I do think that implies that I wasn't supposed to read it.

#126 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 09:19 PM:

We're up to 16" of snow, with an inch an hour expected until 7am. I just heard the snowblower machine and they did my ramp, curbcut, and zebra stripe, as well as the regular sidewalk! I don't know if they'll do it again when the snow stops, but this will make the new snow melt sooner.

I have a friend expected to die tomorrow. She had fast-moving cancer diagnosed two weeks ago and the chemo hasn't helped. She's been under enough morphine today that she hasn't been conscious and I'm glad for that, at least.

#127 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 09:56 PM:

Marilee #126: I hope it goes easy for your friend. You have my sympathies.

#128 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 09:56 PM:

Marilee and all others zotzed by the snowstorm: Stay safe!

I'm hoping New York will be dug out by the time I fly out Wednesday.

#129 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 10:21 PM:

Charlie #101:

I'll admit I find the whole line of thought that says some people aren't entitled to an opinion or a voice, because of who they are, deeply stupid. I mean, straight guys aren't likely to have much experience with the day-to-day hassles of being gay, and there's a lot of value in reminding people of that sort of thing--just because you don't see X in the world doesn't mean there's no X, it might be that all the X gets dumped on the shoes of people who are different from you.

But the "shut up and listen" line seems to me like just one more in a whole big set of strategies for shutting the other side up in an argument without having to actually hear what they're saying. Like telling people they mustn't question the war if they're not veterans, or that they mustn't question it while it's going on, or that they mustn't advocate for war if they're not veterans, or....

#130 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 10:23 PM:

Charlie, #107: What about "prurient"?

#131 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 10:59 PM:

albatross@129: I don't think there are many people saying white guys should shut up because of who they are. It's usually directed at the sort of guy who wanders happily into discussions (usually about feminism) involving people who have been reading and thinking about the issues for decades, and starts sounding off, inevitably producing loads of old chestnuts which were dealt with back in the days of the Pankhursts. Guys who are just out of their depth, IOW, and who need to go and study/lurk extensively before they have a chance of playing any part in the discussion other than that of scratching post.

#132 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 11:33 PM:

Jim #113
Earlier this week someone in an online chat was asking what the difference was between Magical Realism and e.g. Urban Fantasy, and what the difference was between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. I said that MR has a degree of allegory in it and involves Hispanic culture generally, while UF there is the willing suspension of disbelief the reader's being asked to treat the magic in the story as story-reality. PNR versus UF, sometime comes down to what imprint the book is, and/or marketing decision. Generally PNR the focus is more on the romance, and in UF, the setting has a major role in the story feel, can even take on in way the role of a character.... and UF doesnt; -have- to have a romantic focus. (On the other hand, there are a -few- multibook series in the romance section which doesn';t have a romance with a Happily Ever After ending in the book for usually a male-female couple who are the leads or most major leads, in the book)

#133 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2009, 11:47 PM:

#129 albatross
The white Christian males tend to grab for control and majority share of every conversation/discussion they're in, and get irate and claim to be being marginalized if they have less than the majority of the speaking time shares of the conversation time. Studies done of group dynamics, show that they perceive women as "talking too much" when the women aren't even near getting 50% of the speaking time.

So, "Shut up and listen" might sound rude, but the reality being that they generally hog the conversation, it's -appropriate- and no ruder than their wonted bahavior.... They've HAD their say, for generations. Time for them to find out what it's like to be -marginalized- for a change...

#134 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 12:31 AM:

Serge @84 Respectable? I've NEVER been so insulted.

Serge is so respectable--
(How respectable is he?)
He's so respectable that his parents were married.

That's how respectable.

#135 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 12:36 AM:

siriosa @ 134... I exude such respectability (and - dare I say it?) maturity that it must be why you thought I was older than I legaly am, eh? Good to see you tonight, Lenny Bailes too, Kathryn & Brad, and D Potter who, I realized as Lenny & I walked her past the rat, is actually taller than me.

#136 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 12:46 AM:

I'm with El Strosso here.

I have seen far too many threads (not on this list) degenerate into a game of Entitlement Whist. Player 1 leads with an opinion. Player 2 plays an entitlement card ("you're white, so your opinion on this concept on racism should not be expressed"). Player 3 plays a higher entitlement card ("ah, but this particular opinion also has relevance to sexual discrimination, therefore your maleness trumps your race" aka "women, including black women, should vote for Hilary Clinton even if they think Obama is the better candidate"). Player 4 plays the Ace of Trumps ("I'm not sure which group should be offended by Player 1's opinion, but here is a list of those who might be offended and if I knock on enough doors I'm sure someone will agree to be offended...") and so Player 4 wins the trick.

At no point has the original opinion been supported or attacked by anything resembling an argument. Nor does anyone in the game recognise that taking a stand against racism, sexism, etc., is hardly helped by criticising an opinion solely on the race, sex, etc. of its holder.

#137 ::: Wil Macaulay ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 01:03 AM:

Charlie #107 - surely priapic?

#138 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 01:09 AM:

One of the things that's really been hammered home to me this year doing research for my pulp project is just how vast my own ignorance about a lot of other people's cultures is, and I started off with a head start in awareness of and respect for people in situations not my own. Frankly, "shut up and listen" is exactly the advice a lot of commentators need, and particularly white male ones. We are, most of us, way, way less qualified to expound than we think, lacking clues about both what the real problems facing others are and what they've already done to fix them and how it all worked. The more I sit tight and listen, the more I begin to understand what's been obvious all along to a lot of others, but was invisible to me. (And along the way, I've learned to see my own situation very differently than I used to, thanks in part to what others are saying that I didn't know I needed to hear.)

#139 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 01:19 AM:

All these years commenting at Making Light, and I finally must confess: I've never read any Lois McMaster Bujold. Where is a good place to start?

#140 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 02:05 AM:

#149 Allan

What sorts of things are your preferred reading? There are a few different entry point to the Nexus (SF) books -- Shards of Honor, which was her first book, which got reissued by Baen packaged up with Hugo-winning Barrayar as "Cordelia's Honor" I think. There is the Nebula Award winner Falling Free, written later but set centuries earlier, and and old-fashioned nuts and bolts Analog story about welding technology...

Both Shards of Honor and Falling Free have romances in them. Shards starts off with Cordelia Naismith, captain of an Betan exploration team, and Lord Aral Vorkosigan, relatively high up in the Barrayaran military, having to make common cause for survival despite being from planets which are not on friendly terms with one another, on a planet suitable for human colonization claimed by both planets. They survive, and then go back to their respective places in their societies, as the interstellar political situation degenerates massively....

Falling Free starts off on Earth. Genetic engineering has developed a stain of humans engineered for living in microgravity--just in time for the development of artificial gravity....

The prinicipal character in ,ost of the Nexus books is Lord Miles Vorkosigan. There are multiple books with him as the lead character and it's possible to use e.g. Miles, Microbes, [and something else] as an entry point, if not interested in a book with a strong romantic plot as entry point.... Miles first shows up in The Warrior's Apprentice, in his mid/late teens trying to get into the Barrayaran military academy despite having some major physical debilitation, in a society with a horror of physical deformity.... there is a lot of wry humor, and lot of "hidden woman in the physically debilitated young man" involved in that, the most of the later, books. It's got action-adventure, with events spiralling out of control for Miles, who find himself running an interstellar shell game and desperately trying to backfill....

There are other books which are unrelated -- Curse of Chalion is one of four books set in a fantasy universe. It's the first published book of the series, but The Hallowed Hunt is the first by internal series chronology.

The most recent books written by the author which are in print, are in a different fantasy universe, once based on the geography and climate and flora and fauna and to a degree attitude in the the central region of North America. It's a four book series, constituting "The Wide Green World" and a continuous series, in which the book should be read in order. There is a strong romance theme with the two leads pairbonding, and the books exploring them, from two quite different traditions and crossing the boundaries between their cultures, and the changes they are making/trying to make on their world.

There is one other book, which is a stand-alone, The Spirit Ring, which is a fantasy alternate univese in which a famed Italian goldmith had a daughter, in a world with magic. The daughter is the lead. There is a romance thread in the book.

#141 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 02:10 AM:

As far as the developing discussion of oppression politics goes, have any of y'all (Charlie Stross @101 and 110, albatross @129, Adrian Smith @131, Paula Lieberman @133, Chris Lawson @136, maybe others I've missed) noticed that you're starting to work yourselves up into a lather over hypothetical and/or non-present cases? It's a pretty mild, dilute lather so far, but I don't want to see it getting any sudsier, y'get me?

I deliberately didn't include Bruce Baugh @138 in that list because of the clear sense of humility that comes through in that comment.

#142 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 02:17 AM:

Jim Henry @113, Fragano @124, replace "South America" with "Latin America" and it works.

#143 ::: Kate Y. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 03:26 AM:

It aggravates me no end that the term "Urban Fantasy" has been redefined as fundamentally equivalent to "Paranormal Romance".

Imagine that books about sex with robots became a "thing" and began to sell really well--and that some bright soul in marketing decided to call this "Cyberpunk". Aargh! Excuse me, already means something, go find your own word....

#144 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 03:49 AM:

Kate Y @143, "Urban Fantasy" has been a changing category. It originally meant stuff like Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar stories (about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser). Later on, it meant contemporary fantasy with a strong sense of real-world setting, like Emma Bull's War for the Oaks.

This happens. "Mannerpunk" aka "fantasy of manners" originally meant SF & fantasy with diverse influences and an emphasis on genre mixing, role-playing and the formation of character, and attention to language. (The term comes from an essay Donald Keller wrote for The New York Review of Science Fiction, and it's long been my suspicion that what Keller was actually noticing in the essay was a group of authors whose work was influenced by the playing of role-playing games, but that Keller couldn't tease out that connection because he wasn't an RPG gamer himself.) Anyway, the term has come to refer to fantasy about social structures, often strongly influenced by the work of some 19th century author.

#145 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 07:10 AM:

Lee @130: "Prurient"

Wil @137: "Priapic"

Okay, I think we now have the working definition of the P9, our shadowy cabal of generic oppressors, and an anti-P9 slogan:

"Death to the pale plutocratic patriarchal prurient priapic protestant penis people of power who prey upon the life of the people!"

Or something like that.

(Unfortunately it doesn't sound quite as inhuman as "fascist insect"; more like Sylvio Berlusconi's masonic lodge, or an obscure model of German automatic pistol. Bah. Are there too many P's, yet?)

Avram @141: I hear ya.

#146 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 07:39 AM:

Charlie, have you forgotten Pope Palpatine and his ilk? You should put in "papist" somewhere. (And if any of those perpetrators see the error of their ways, they shall have taken the P out of themselves.)

#147 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 08:14 AM:

TexAnne @146:

Charlie already has Protestant in there; adding Papist makes it mutually exclusive. And Protestant is still the default power position; most Catholics that make it into the cabal are exceptions.

#148 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 08:23 AM:

Allan Beatty @ 139

Re. Lois McMacter Bujold's books.

For the Vorkosigan/Barrayar books, I recommend starting with Shards of Honor (probably easiest now to get it together with Barrayar in Cordelia's Honor).

Then either continue and read Barrayar, or go on to The Warrior's Apprentice and continue from there, going back to Barrayar.

An alternative (if you think you'd be best hooked on Miles immediately) is to start with The Warrior's Apprentice, then go back and read Shards of Honor and Barrayar, then continue with the rest of the Miles Vorkosigan books. Leave Ethan of Athos and Falling Free until later. There's a chronology at http://www.dendarii.com/biblio.html#timeline

You can read the first 10 chapters of Shards of Honor (as part of Cordelia's Honor at Baen Books, ditto the first 10 chapters of The Warrior's Apprentice as the first part of Young Miles.

In her other series, I think the Chalion books (The Curse of Chalion is the first one) are fantastic. I'm also enjoying The Sharing Knife, but it's a bit more YA.

#149 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 08:28 AM:

Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance

I've found it fairly easy to tell by a glance at the book cover whether it's an Urban Fantasy (quite possibly with some romance in it, but with a strong plot outwith that) or a Paranormal Romance: if the latter, the cover art is of a supposedly sexy-looking man, generally shirtless or with his shirt open to the waist. For the former, the woman on the cover looks capable and generally has a reasonable level of clothing...

#150 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 08:47 AM:

#145: "Life" needs a p-synonym. Unfortunately my thesaurus isn't helping here.

#151 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 08:49 AM:

#149: I notice on the "urban fantasy" covers that the woman does look capable, but she's showing a lot of cleavage and tattoos.

#152 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 08:56 AM:

Marilee@125: *sputters* But I was talking about Filter House. It won the Tiptree. Publishers Weekly called it one of the Best Books of 2008. It, and a novella from it were nominated for the World Fantasy Awards in 2009. It was published by Aqueduct Press. (Yes, it publishes feminist science fiction but, AFAICT, it markets to a general audience.) I don't understand how you're making an apt comparison here.

The way you've constructed your sentence implies "it was a line for only black women" explains "massively badly-written." Did you intend that? I mean, it reads like you're saying if a book is marketed towards black women, then that it's poorly written suddenly makes sense to you. In any case, it's is the equivalent of someone picking up one badly written SF book then deciding she's not supposed to read anything at all in the genre. (Yes, I know. People do that, but is that a practice we condone?)

Obviously, I'm not defending the "massively badly-written" book you picked up, just as I hope you're not saying that book has anything to do with anyone's experience of Filter House. Of course, not all books are equally worth reading, and in any case, there isn't the time. I'm just pointing out how odd to me anyway the idea that because a story wasn't written just for someone, that person summarily dismiss the idea of reading it. The question at the Obligatory Race Panel referred to Nisi Shawl's writing, not Aqueduct Press's marketing.

If you want to talk about marketing though, I should point out that if we all read only books that were within our own target market, the Harry Potter would not have had nearly the success it has. (Scholastic, that huge publisher of adult, mainstream fiction.) It's one of the reasons why I found that question so odd. In other contexts, no one thinks twice about venturing outside their demographic.

#153 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 09:32 AM:

abi @ 147... most Catholics that make it into the cabal

We're three caballeros
Three gay caballeros
They say we are birds of a feather
We're happy amigos
No matter where he goes
The one, two, and three goes
We're always together

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 09:36 AM:

Arvam @ 144... Let's not forget Bustlepunk.

#155 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 09:40 AM:

dcb @ 149... What is now called 'Urban Fantasy' is also referred to as 'kick-ass chick' stories and no they're not about fowl kicking donkeys off the farm's premises.

#156 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 10:37 AM:

Jon Meltzer @151, Serge @155

*grins* Not always on the cleavage and/or tattoos and/or bare midriff (after a quick check through the shelves), even when the lead character is female. And none of the above on the covers of The Dresden Files - which are urban fantasy but are not "kick ass chick" books, although they do contain at least one chick (apologies Murphy, one woman) who can kick ass physically with the best of them.

Seriously, the ones with the "kick ass chick" on the front do not [obviously!] have the female lead character falling in love with the gent on the cover at the drop of a hat, or fantasizing, in detail, in the first two pages, about hopping into bed with him, when all he's done is walk into the restaurant where they are serving.

#157 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 11:32 AM:

On Bujold: I wouldn't start with the Sharing Knife books. Even bad Bujold is good, but I, at least, can be put off an author when I see people raving about books I liked, but not that much. I'd start with Warrior's Apprentice; she handles backstory really well.

#158 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 11:34 AM:

dcb @ 156... all he's done is walk into the restaurant where they are serving

Well, the menu does look good.

#159 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 12:23 PM:

#113 ::: Jim Henry: So does "anime" necessarily refer to national orgin as well as style?

I'm not in any sense an expert, but my understanding is that "anime" is defined entirely by national origin: Japanese animation is anime, and anime is Japanese animation. "Anime style" is a description of style elements common to works already defined as anime, not the prescription of elements a work should contain to qualify as anime.

I have seen the term "animesque" used for non-Japanese works that deliberately use style elements associated with anime, but I don't know how official or widespread it is.

#160 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 12:30 PM:

Allan @ 139: If you were going to start reading LMB's books, would the characters' sexuality make a difference to what starting point you'd choose? Most of her characters are straight. The only exception I can think of in her better-known Vorkosigan series is in Ethan of Athos, where the main character is, well, he's a gay man but he's from a planet where only men exist, so he's not so much a well-rounded gay man as an exploration of what a society without women might be like. Still, he's a sympathetic character and I enjoy reading him.

That could sound like a condemnation of her books, but I actually really enjoy them, they just don't cover as much of the spectrum of human sexuality as I might best prefer. The Chalion books are a little better that way than the Vorkosigan ones, plus I really enjoy the religion/worldview in the Chalion books. My absolute favorite book of hers so far is the second Chalion book, Paladin of Souls--but don't read it before The Curse of Chalion, which gives background and depth to it.

#161 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 12:56 PM:

Allan: I started with Cordelia's Honor (which is really two earlier books concatenated together)--I found it quite good. (I've only read three of her books so far, including the short story/novella collection in Miles, Mystery and Mayhem. All very much worth reading, though I think Bujold does better with longer stories.

#162 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Liza:

There's also a Betan hermaphrodite character on Miles' mercenary crew.

Is Barrayar extremely hostile toward gays? I think I've assumed that, because of the socially conservative society there. But I'm not sure it's ever been spelled out. (By contrast, if you're a mutie, you're fair game.)

#163 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 01:10 PM:

dcb, etc.

There are covers in romance which have That Pose of female with gratuitous tit and other skin (midriff, for example) showing and generous ass and slit skirt/short skirt/skintight leather pants on them that is prevalent in SOME UF (UF when slotted in SF/F), and there are UF covers with males on them (the first three books by Mark del Franco--the lead is male, the Dresden books as someone else has noted, other series with a male lead (blanking on one that I stopped following annoyed with the emotional stupidity of the lead character).

Examples of romance novels with females in That Pose (frontal or 3/4 with torso swiveling for face to be visible in at least profile... example, Deovour by Melina Morel (Signet Eclipse), First Blood by multiple authors (Berkeley), Hunter's Need by Shiloh Walker, Through the Veil by Shiloh Walker, various Jennifer Estep books, Savannah Russe' novels, various Katie MacAlister (McAlister?) books..., the Undead and ... series by Mary Janice Davidson (the last two have rather chicklit-ish somewhat cartoony cover art)...

#164 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 01:20 PM:

On cover art: Then you have Kim Harrison's "The Hollows" series, which has mostly rear views of a comely but slightly scary woman. I'm amused by her titles, paraphrasing Clint Eastwood movies ("The Good, the Bad and the Undead," "The Outlaw Josie Wails").

#165 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 01:25 PM:

Yay, another chance to rave about Bujold!

I finally got my wife to try Bujold this year and she got hooked immediately. I suggested chronological order starting with the omnibus Cordelia volume, so beginning with 'Shards of Honor' and 'Barrayar', and that was clearly a good approach. She ended up buying all the ones needed to fill the gaps in what I owned. I also can't say enough good things about 'The Curse of Chalion' and 'Paladin of Souls', though I haven't read the 3rd in that setting.

'The Spirit Ring', a stand-alone in a Renaissance Italy-like setting, is also good.

#166 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 01:38 PM:

albatross @ 162: It's explicitly spelled out in Barrayar, if you haven't read it. Fbzrobql gevrf gb ubeevsl Pbeqryvn ol gryyvat ure gung Neny vf ov, naq fur ercyvrf freraryl, "Jnf ov. Abj ur'f zbabtnzbhf." Naq gura vg gnxrf ure hagvy nsgre gur raq bs gur pbairefngvba gb ernyvmr jung gur thl gevrq gb qb.

#167 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 01:56 PM:

Barrayar doesn't seem to openly persecute homosexuals, but they're socially held in distaste. There's a scene in I think Barrayar (it might be in Shards of Honor, but I think it's in Barrayar) where one of the political opponents of Aral Vorkosigan says either explicitly or indicatively that Aral had been in a homosexual relationship--the intent was to horrify and shock Cordelia. It backfired, Cordelia being from Beta and not subject to Barrayaran cultural taboos.

Lois McMaster Bujold's works do deal with gender issues but go much less into sex scenes and tend to dwell a lot less on angst about relationships than most contemporarily written books with relationships in them. (For me, the scenes with Ekaterin in the first two books she is in, Komarr ? and especially A Civil Campaign, are full of icky angsty mushy stuff, she's a woman in an unpleasant double bind situation for most of the first book she's in, and while I sympathize with her plight I don't want to participate in it, especially not as supposedly pleasure reading. I couldn't get though ACC, it had a dinner party from hell in it, a trainwreck that the reader sees has its genesis in misestimation and overconfidence, and that it is going to be embarrassing, it is going to massively go wrong... I don't tend to appreciate embarrassment humor, unless I am in a vicious mood and regard it as someone slimy getting their just rewards.... I stopped reading the book during that scene and have never gotten back to reading it for maybe more than a page or two.... )

#168 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 02:27 PM:

Paula, dcb, Liza, Clifton— Thanks for the detailed recommendations. I'll start with Cordelia's Honor. With a writer as prolific as Bujold, I wasn't going to just assume that chronological or as-written order would be the best approach (knowing that neither of those orders would be satisfactory for reading, say, Marion Zimmer Bradley).

#169 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 02:35 PM:

And Diatryma (sorry!). Much of my reading lately has been YA novels, so that in itself wouldn;t put me off The Sharing Knife.

#170 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 02:50 PM:

I don't see Sharing Knife as YA at all-- or at least not more YA than any of her other books. I went back and forth on the books as I read them, with the third the weak point. They're still good, but I was and perhaps am sensitized to Twilight-esque relationships, so some of them made me uncomfortable. That's inherent in the worldbuilding, too.
Which meant, of course, that I spent more time being angry at the books for that badness than I do at worse books for the same.

(and the Civil Campaign dinner party? Painful. It's one thing to yell at Miles for completely stupid professional and military decisions and quite another to do so in social situations.)

#171 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 02:57 PM:

#170 Diatryma

The Sharing Knife the author was apparently consciously trying for romance audience appeal, along with it being fantasy rather than SF. The combination apparently has considerably less attraction for a large chunk of her SF readership than her SF and the Curse of Chalion universe books.

The Sharing Knife is a relationship-focused series, rather than action-adventure plot-focused series....

YOICKS, IT'S FANTASY CHICKLIT!!!!!!

#172 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 03:14 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 165: You could probably safely go on not reading the third book. It's not bad, really, but it just doesn't compare to the first two. (I like it much better when I manage to pretend it's a standalone instead of part of the series.)

Allan Beatty @ various: Come to think of it, I bet my parents would say hi if they knew I was commenting to you. If you're not sure who I am and thus who they are... hmm, first names are probably best as they'll tell you who I mean without telling anyone else anything in particular. Dad is Harold, Mom's name when you knew her was Betty, though she's changed her name since then. Anyway, as I say I'm sure they'd say hi!

#173 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 03:22 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 163

Thanks for the warning. Cover art is not my only criterion, but I am particularly wary when the cover has the semi-naked man posed on the front. The blurb/first few pages/recommendations from other readers I trust have to work extra hard to persuade me this isn't just a fangs-and-fucking novel with about as much likely appeal to me as a sex-and-shopping novel. I like books with a romantic element in them, but I want my lead characters (female, male or otherwise, depending on genre) to have brains and use them (Lord Peter Whimsy and Harriet Vane, for example), and I want my urban fantasy to have a plot other than the female lead becoming a bad-conduct prize for the male lead and/or hopping into bed with him for no reason (other than the fact that these two people who have never seen each other before will instantly have amazing, incredible sex and know at once that they are Destined For Each Other).

Does anyone have an example of a book with a semi-naked male on the cover which turns out to be Urban Fantasy rather than Paranormal Romance?

Clifton Royston @165
The Hallowed Hunt is excellent, in my opinion.

And yes, chronological starting with Shards of Honor is a good approach for the Vorkosigan books. As I recall, I found The Warrior's Apprentice first, went back the next day and bought Shards of Honour, then grabbed the rest as fast as I could find them, until I was forced to start waiting for her to write them!

Re. The Sharing Knife, if it was just the romantic entanglement going on, it wouldn't be so enjoyable. The wider problems associated with the culture clash, as well as the growth of both Dag and Fawn, add a lot.

Re. The Dinner Party, Yes, it's painful. I skipped it from the second time to about the fifth or sixth time I read the book. Paula, I'd recommend trying again with the rest of the book. That scene is supposed to be painful and some of us seem to find it excruciatingly so (as discussed in the bullying thread, if I recall correctly), but the rest of the book is IMO worth reading.

#174 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 03:45 PM:

Re Bujold: I started with the Hugo-winning novella "The Mountains of Mourning" when it was published in Analog and then went back for the things that had already been published at that point. After that I had to wait for them. "The Mountains of Mourning" is available for free at the Baen library and I sometimes recommend that as a starting point to people.

I agree with dcb that the rest of ACC is well worth reading even if you skip the dinner party, at least in part for watching Ekaterin come fully into her own.

If I absolutely had to pick a favorite Bujold, it would be Paladin of Souls, but in a pack close behind would be the Wide Green World books, Memory, and The Curse of Chalion.

I find I have to pick my way carefully through book selection in the urban fantasy and paranormal romance realm. Though the pile for selection is greatly reduced by my knowing that (1) I do not, under any circumstances or by any author, like vampires as angsty heroes or heroines, (2)I can barely tolerate vampires as secondary characters, and (3) I don't like zombies either.

#175 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 03:54 PM:

I realize conversation's moved on, but a practical example of what I've learned by shutting up and listening...

Black nationalism is the name given to a bunch of overlapping ideas about the necessity and desirability of African-Americans crafting their own communities - aiming to employ each other, sell to and buy from each other, be each others' tenants and landlords, and so on, detaching from surrounding white society as fully as possible.

In most of the histories I've read, the emphasis on black nationalism's rise and development is on its contrast with the assimilation-minded goals of people like W.E.B DuBois and the notion of the "Talented Tenth", the African-American natural elite who'd put their talents to work merging in with the surrounding society and transforming it for the good of their kind and the nation as a whole. The advocates of assimilation saw American society as open to change of the sorts that African-Americans would need to flourish as equals within it, while the nationalists were (and are) pessimistic about this, more inclined to judge down the white world around them. In short, black nationalism builds on a more radical criticism of actually existing America and goes on to propose more radical solutions.

But if you read about black nationalism in the works of [i]black[/i] writers, a whole different picture emerges. I first encountered it in side comments in log blog entries by Ta-Nahesi Coates, and then at more length in works he recommended.

There is a dimension in which the black nationalist approach is much less drastic and much more conservative than its rival, in terms of how it approaches African-American life. Nationalist advocates often show a much greater interest in both the strengths and weaknesses of real African-American life, past and present - what individuals, families, and communities have done badly, but also their strengths, what works and why it works and how it could be extended to heal more old hurts. And surely there are ways in which "do more of the best you already have" is less drastic than "aim to be lots more like those folks over there, the ones embedded in the society that set us all up in the first place".

And this is all stuff I know now because of being willing not to jump into discussions among African-Americans (and sometimes other minorities), but to listen about their own varying assessments of the situations they share and I don't.

So that's a big part of why I favor the "shut up and listen" approach.

#176 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 04:16 PM:

Chiming in on the Bujold discussion.

The book Young Miles was the only Vorkosigan book that the bookstore had when I decided I was going to try them after hearing so many recommendations It's an omnibus edition containing The Warrior's Apprentice, The Mountains of Mourning, and The Vor Game. They worked well for me as a place to start. Wikipedia has a list of the books in the Vorkosigan series that are currently in print, many of which are omnibus editions.

I'm planning on picking up more of Bujold's work after I'm moved.

(Speaking of which, thanks again to the people who pointed me at good places to cadge free boxes from.)

#177 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 04:20 PM:

Re the sidelight on "Why Can't Americans Make Things" and the related article linked from it on "Meet Ron Bloom: The Sclub Who Might Just Save American Industry."

I found these really interesting. I'm always interested in practical and effective management and am often frustrated by fictional or nonfictional takes on managers that portray them as solely Dilbert-boss types actively getting in the way of work, Trump-types who think themselves superior to the "little people" who work for them, bureaucratic parasites, paper-pushers out of touch with reality, or people who have had the soul sucked out of them by their corporate existence. I know all these stereotypes have a grain of reality - I've met most of them over the years - but I find it frustrating that there aren't many good managers depicted out there. They do exist, but it seems the hero is usually the maverick outsider.

Despite its many flaws - which I see more clearly now than when I first read it - "Atlas Shrugged" gets this one right. The enemy is not the workers or the managers, it is the people who want to have the appearance and the rewards of accomplishment without having to take the trouble of actually accomplishing something along the way.

An excellent book on the subject is "What Management Is" by Joan Magretta. It discusses how management, done right, adds value to an organization. "The stereotype of the manager obsessed with the bottom line blurs a crucially important distinction between an organization's purpose - what it uniquely exists to do - and the end results of achieving that purpose. Profits are a result, not a purpose." p 131

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Just ruminating, I suppose.

#178 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 04:58 PM:

"The enemy is not the workers or the managers, it is the people who want to have the appearance and the rewards of accomplishment without having to take the trouble of actually accomplishing something along the way."

I think you have just defined, in a nutshell, every person I have ever disliked in my life.

#179 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 06:53 PM:

Paula Lieberman at 171, my issue with the Sharing Knife books isn't that they're relationship-based romancey books-- in the last year, I've read much more romance than SFF, and I think relationships in general are pretty compelling. It's the power dynamic between Dag and Fawn. I read the first book pretty soon after Twilight, so I was really watching for anything similar.

A note on Bujold's Miles books for prospective readers: ignore the covers. Almost every cover is 'bad' with some 'interesting idea, ungreat execution' and some speechless horror (and one 'wait, where's the back end of the cat?'). It may be an extension of the whole Miles thing, that you cannot judge a book by its cover or a commander by his height.

#180 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 06:54 PM:

John Chu, #152, no, I didn't mean it was badly-written because it came from a line for only black women, just that I wouldn't have looked up the publisher (which I didn't recognize) if the book had been better. I hadn't thought twice about reading books written by black women -- I have several on my shelves -- I was just surprised to find it was published by that line.

#181 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 07:13 PM:

Open threadiness:

After being disappointed at not being able to find candied citron today, I was delighted to find fresh California-grown Seville oranges on sale. So I now have half-a-dozen bitter oranges. Any suggestions from the cooking experts and citrus enthusiasts as to their highest and best use?

#182 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 07:22 PM:

#173 dcb
There are books in -romance- with the shirtless males which are readable as fantasy or even SF (some of Angela Knight's and Shiloh Walker's books (Through the Veil is like an Andre Norton cross-alternate-worlds novel, Knight's Time Hunter series is like Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series --but being contemporarily written books in the romance section, there are romance plots that have major on-scene time and explicit sex scenes) could equally be slotted in SF/F, a couple of Elizabeth Vaughn novels would fit well as fantasy in the SF/F section (Daggerstar particularly).

It seems that publishers think -male- readers have a worse case of allergy to perceptions of "girl cooties" than publisher thing female SF/F readers object to sexploitative-of-female covers.... the cover of one of Catherine Asaro's Tor books has a mostly naked male on it, the scene on the cover accurately reflects a situation in the book, where the male had been taken prisoner and was at the mercy of a powerful woman....

=======

My method for determining whether a book is truly interesting to me is to open it to a random page and read or try to read some paragraphs.

I get irritated at a lot of covers. The one that disgusted and revolted me the most in 2008, was it already? was the cover of the first Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse novel, reprinted with a cover with a female head with to man an obscene look on her face with a drop of blood dripping salaciously from a corner of her mouth and her tongue out and curling above her lip.... it totally repulsed, revolted, and squicked me. Runners up were the current covers of Linnea Sinclair's SFR novels with covers supposedly being pitched to romance readers and the books reslotted by the publisher for being in romance rather than SF/F, and that style of to me softcore porn--nude or nudish soft-focus toros looking like they're about to have orgasms or about enter into coitus--outright X-rated stuff I find considerably -less- obscene, actually. E.g, Alicia Austin's unexpurgated "erotic art" art with threesomes, daisy chains, etc., didn't have effect the revulsion/disgust I feel seeing the cover on the Linnea Sinclair books....

At a SMOFCON a couple years ago I showed one of the redone covers that I find so repulsive to Larry Smith, he made a finger-down-the-throat0-barfing gesture to indicate his reaction to the cover, as someone who sells books for a living and looks at covers in terms of appeal to his customer base.....

As for the Mary Janice Davidson Undead books, I personally don't appreciate. They are IMO chicklit lacking in redeeming value to me--Betsy the lead is self-centered, thinks and acts like a bimbo, has a shoe fetish, and gushes worse than Cosmopolitan--and the book is in her subjective judgment gushy girlie voice. UGH!!!!

I mentioned them, though, because they are examples of a romance series with a particular cover art style and which don't have the nearly obligatory HEA (Happily Ever After) in one book, but rather, follow the same character throgh multiple books with a romance occuring with lumps and bumps and perhaps an eventual HEA to come--Susannah Russe's Darkwing series and the Guardi-something-other-other series by someone else, and the Katie Macalister Dragon books have the same sort of deal going on, exceptions to "must have a romance with HEA in each book of a series, and move on to a different M/F couple (or menage.... see e.g. books by Emma Holly, the Ellora's Cave books by Lora Leigh, Flame Seeker--which except for the level of sex scenes and perhaps the fact that it;s menage, could fit in fantasy--by apparent new writer Kay Danellan... also Kate Douglas' Chanku books and stories in such things as Wolf Tales)

#183 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 07:52 PM:

dcb @ 173: Does anyone have an example of a book with a semi-naked male on the cover which turns out to be Urban Fantasy rather than Paranormal Romance?

Neveryóna by Samuel R. Delany, for older values of "urban fantasy" per Avram @ 144.

#184 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 08:16 PM:

@ Bruce Baugh 175:

I think you're not correct with respect to W.E.B. Dubois and the article you referenced: The Talented Tenth, in that it is not an argument for assimilation but for the funding of "Negro public schools" and "Negro colleges."

It's not even an argument for witholding education from ninety percent of African Americans: it's an argument for making as much education available to as many people as possible, in their own communities as well as in schools in the North and elsewhere. The argument is that having as many well-educated members of the community as possible helps the community as a whole.

I believe that "tenth" is an ambitious percentage for the time. I'd be surprised if that many people were going to college in any community at that point.

It's kind of hard to call assimilationist the author of A Negro Nation Within a Nation.

#185 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 08:22 PM:

RE "Why Americans Can't Make Anything":

A-fucking-men.

I got my Masters degree at Carnegie-Mellon. It was an interdisciplinary program designed to turn out manager-developers for the telecomm industry. So, we took classes in programming, networking, and business.

The business classes were offered by the wonkish and well regarded Graduate School for Industrial Administration. What a name!

GSIA had its own building. The facade had a concrete bas reliefs of gears, dams, power lines, fields of grain . . . muscular industry stuff. What a building!

The teachers were great. At least, the ones who taught the classes I took, in economics and technology management. Many of the profs were engineers who went management and then went into academia. Wonks.

Then there were the MBA students.

They wore suits, many of them. They prided themselves in their computer skills . . . you know, PowerPoint and Excel.

They loved buzzwords, because, you know, if you put buzzwords in your papers the professors could see your were With It. My friends and I made up a "my favorite Christmas present" story which included a whole raft of technology buzzwords which by these standards would get an A.

This was 1995, 1996. Advertisements were starting to include web addresses. It was pretty damn obvious that a tidal wave was building.

The MBA's favorite class?

Finance.

I got the feeling, from the guys I teamed up with for case study projects, that knowing about actually making stuff was beneath them. Not making stuff, but just having to dirty oneself with knowing about it. The money end of things was where they wanted to be.

I remember one twit, one of the young guys who wore a suit, answering the current-events question "What is Java?" with a dismissive "It's this language that lets web pages wiggle stuff around." Dismissively, not ignorantly.

At about the same time, my friends and I were writing a chat application in Java. One group implemented an entire video server in Java.

#186 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 08:47 PM:

#173 ::: dcb

Does anyone have an example of a book with a semi-naked male on the cover which turns out to be Urban Fantasy rather than Paranormal Romance?

Naw, they're just Rambo and his posse -- Romance for those who like their's with a generous helping of boom and ammo. :)

Among the problems of the Sharing Knife is that Our Fawn, er Our Spark, er, well, Our Heroine becomes Mary Sue. She's so beloved by her creator that nothing remotely bad can happen to her -- or anyone she cares for -- by the 3rd book. That's one way of describing it anyway.

I recall Octavia Butler describing this happening to her with the protagonist of The Sower novel. She'd gotten her so comfortable by the end of the second volume it was nearly impossible to put her in peril again. Which made it impossible to write the third volume, because, well nothing happened.

Love, C.

#187 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 08:59 PM:

The Hallowed Hunt takes place in a different location and generations earlier than Curse of Chalion.

The next book out is a Miles book, set in the Nexus.

#188 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 09:17 PM:

Elves and AK-47's....

#189 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 09:54 PM:

Stefan Jones #185: The MBAs probably liked finance because in economics, and much of finance, it's easy to bullshit your way through -- you don't have to deal with inconvenient ground truths, much less the "natural perversity of the inanimate".

As for that last twit you mention -- I'd say he was pretty ignorant, as that description is a better fit for Javascript than Java!

#190 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 10:39 PM:

I think the next trend in F/SF will be Urbane Fantasy. You know, Nick & Nora Charles with magic, and Asta is a Familiar.

#191 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 10:45 PM:

Serge, 190: If your wife writes it, I'll buy it.

TNH, "unfortunate artist" particle: My first thought was the cover of Dark Lord of Derkholm.

#192 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 10:46 PM:

Thomas @ 181:

A few days ago, Andy brought home a fingered citron, a.k.a. Buddha's hand, which he first referred to as "zesty lemon Cthulhu."

Then he started looking for things to do with it. He didn't find much besides the suggestion to leave it out to give the room, or area, a lemon scent. So he invented something, and yesterday we had "Scallops with ginger and zesty lemon Cthulhu." It's a good thing. The sauce was pleasantly citrus-y, but the disks of citron didn't have much flavor left. (A good and self-indulgent thing: the fish people at the Greenmarket had bay scallops yesterday. Sea scallops are nice, but not as nice, and the previously-frozen tiny scallops shipped from China are overpriced at $4/pound.)

That didn't quite seem practical, given our cat's fondness for citrus, so

#193 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 10:48 PM:

Please disregard the last half-sentence of my previous comment. I thought I'd deleted it. When previewing, I just read over what I meant to say, and then hit "post" without noticing there was more copy below the white space.

Sorry.

#194 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 11:20 PM:

Hi Liza. Tell your parents and Katy Merry Christmas from me.

#195 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2009, 11:51 PM:

Allan, I will!

#196 ::: truth is life ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 12:23 AM:

Linking old and new (view all by)--Old

#197 ::: truth is life ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 12:24 AM:

And new!

#198 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 12:30 AM:

Huh? No links, but I suspect inept spammery.

#199 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 01:10 AM:

No, he'd talked about doing that on an earlier thread, when he realized he'd changed email addresses some time ago.

#200 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 01:18 AM:

Lucy@184: You're right. My point wasn't really to expound on that anyway - which is not an excuse for bad information - but to explain how listening to black writers discussing and arguing with each other greatly changed my sense of what black nationalism means, because for them it's about how they may wish to live, rather than mostly or essentially about what others are up to. That's true even when I personally don't have clues worth speaking of on a particular evening. :)

#201 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 01:20 AM:

Senate HCR passes first cloture test, 60-40.

#202 ::: truth is life ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 01:43 AM:

Stefan Jones--yes, EClaire has it. I've been waiting some time for this open thread.

#203 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 02:37 AM:

The Four Hands One Guitar clip is amusing. It's a gimmick, of course, but it's quite a fun one. Good fingerpicking.

#204 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 08:25 AM:

TexAnne @ 191... Thanks. On the other hand, somebody must have already written that story, because this sounds like an obvious premise for a fantasy tale. On the other other hand, I seem to remember Patrick once posting how Naomi Novik's idea of combining Horatio Hornblower and dragons is an obvious idea - in retrospect.

#205 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 08:42 AM:

Today is my wife's birthday. Happy Birthday, Sue, and don't forget to buy the Christmas presents I'm supposed to give you.

#206 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 09:36 AM:

I have just been whacked over the head with the wonderfullness that is Joss Whedon: Rossum is the corporation that owns the Dollhouses.

You know, like Rosum's Universal Robots.

Not quite as good as the Atlas Shrugged joke in Blazing Saddles, but still.

#207 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 09:50 AM:

Today I made my first ever snowman. His name is Phil, short for Drosophila, as he is unlikely to live long.

Phil's political and philosophical views are unpopular with the Evil Snoverlords, so they have declared him a loon and put him in a straitjacket.

Happy birthday, Phil and Sue @205!

#208 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 09:51 AM:

Stefan Jones #198: yeah (at my suggestion, actually) but...

truth is life #196-197: Unfortunately, you didn't successfully put in the links -- the text suggests you tried to put in a link on one side, to a "view all by" address, but the link didn't come through.

Also, as Stefan's reaction suggests, you might want to be a little clearer about what you're doing, just for the benefit of bystanders. ;-)

#209 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 10:22 AM:

Stefan #185:

I wonder how much of what you saw had to do with finance being a field that's famously a good area in which to make a pile of money. And how much is that it's truly universal, unlike so much management. (Which financial instruments/arrangements you're making will be different across industries, but the option pricing formula doesn't care whether it's being used in service of making cars or consumer electronics or providing consulting services.

As a weird aside, I was thinking before about the parallels between education and management. So much of both of these jobs is about handling people, and is very local and situational and probably hard to teach in school. And in both jobs, ISTM that we've seen an increasing drive for credentials and long education, without an obvious (to me, as an outsider non-expert) improvement in quality of the work done by the professions. Does that make sense? I've never studied management, and have avoided it in favor of staying on a technical track in my own career, so I could be all wet in my observation here.

#210 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 10:42 AM:

This country we inhabit, which doesn't make anything anymore, somehow managed to manufacture $1.7 trillion worth of goods in 2007.

#211 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 10:53 AM:

Stefan @185, albatross @209
I got an MBA in the early 80s, going part time for several years while working in software development. In my case, I realized that I'd come out of college with an excellent technical education but next to no understanding of business. I'd picked up the belief that real computer scientists worked on compilers and operating systems and only people who couldn't cut it technically worked in applications. Yet here I was, working in a regulated business, and finding that there were some smart people there, doing a pretty darned good job.

I learned a lot. Since my parents were a government lawyer and an elementary school teacher, I didn't even have any discussion of the ups and downs of business over the dinner table to go by. Just stereotypes. My daughter's high school education includes some basic economics, but mine didn't. I still remember being surprised, in my first accounting course, to find out that your debits and your credits were supposed to come out equal. All this time, I thought you wanted credits and you didn't want debits.

Anyway - there was, at the time, a noticeable difference between the full time MBA students, nearly all of whom had gone straight into business school from undergrad, and the part time MBA students, who were nearly all working full time in a variety of industries. I believed at the time, and still do, that the back-and-forth of theoretical discussion in class and practical experience in the workplace made the education more valuable. Students who didn't have that experience seemed to find it all more abstract. Perhaps it's a little like Ender's Game for them - you're playing the game and keeping score without understanding the reality behind the numbers.

#212 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 11:01 AM:

Happy birthday, Sue!

(And to Phil the bondage snowman, too. I don't believe Pendrift's story about politics; I know it's really all about sex.)

#213 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 11:05 AM:

Steve, #210: That's a scalar number, and doesn't mean much without points of comparison. A better question would be, what percentage of our GNP was derived from manufacturing in 2007, vs. 1997 or 1987? Because the answer to that will tell you whether or not we're actually manufacturing less than we used to.

#214 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 11:26 AM:

Lee, the long term trend has been for fewer and fewer people to be employed in manufacturing because of technological advances and relentless pursuit of efficiencies.

What's happening in manufacturing is something of a replay of what happened in agriculture since the start of the 20th century.

#215 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 11:33 AM:

185,209,210:

Following Steve C's point: American currently makes more stuff than any other country does. And until the current recession America was making more stuff than any country had ever made before.


On the other hand, I think there are real problems with the way management is taught. I don't think it's as purely local and situational as albatross does: there are known facts and transferable skills about handling people, as well as the natural aptitude and experience. Even so, there are many management positions that absolutely require technical knowledge as well. I worry about this because I am at high risk of becoming a head of department. Heads of academic departments, and other university management, are a notorious example of people trying to manage with no training or skills in that area, but are also a situation where it would not work to get people without the specialist knowledge.


An example of management skills that's close to home for us all is comment thread moderation. It's absolutely necessary once the number of people with access to the site gets large, and it requires someone to be in charge. There is more than one way to do it (Yog Sysop, back in the day, compared to, say, Abi) and some people are better at it than others. Nevertheless, there are things we know about moderation that transfer from site to site (Boing Boing is not like ML) and even between technologies (email vs usenet vs web). That's why it's useful for TNH to post and talk about how to do moderation.

#216 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 11:39 AM:

Pendrift @ 207: I love Phil - and the origin of his name is wonderful. Here, we just had about an inch of snow fall over a period of an hour, which is amazing for London. I had to drive a couple of miles in it, which was less amazing. But I'm very pleased my husband had finished clearing the ice (remains of the last snowfall-part-thaw-freeze) from our driveway, so I only had fresh snow to deal with while backing the car into the garage.

And happy birthday Sue.

#217 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 11:48 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 187, how do you know where The Hallowed Hunt falls in the timeline relative to the other books? Because I didn't realise it was possible to tell.

I have bought Miles In Love (an omnibus of Komarr, A Civil Campaign and Winterfair Gifts) for my mother for Christmas. This is an experiment. She isn't an SF reader, and she'd never pick up Bujold on her own, but she has enjoyed some fantasy books, and she particularly likes the type of book A Civil Campaign is riffing off, so I think she'll like it if she can get into it. My own experience is that I picked up the Cordelia books while waiting for Paladin Of Souls, read more or less in internal chronological order, skipping the ones I couldn't find, but didn't fall in love with the series until I got to Borders Of Infinity. But I'm a different kind of reader from my mother.

I'm aware I could easily put her off by being too fannish. I'll just have to say, "I think you'll like this. Please ignore the cover" and then shut up, unless she has questions. She'll probably want to know how to pronounce all the names. In many cases I don't know, and I predict this will bother her more than it bothers me.

#218 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 12:05 PM:

217
I think you can tell The Hallowed Hunt is earlier because of the technology - swords, not firearms, are the main weapons. It feels earlier, too, if that makes any sense. (The scenes with the ice bear are worth the price: it's a very different thread from the main story.)

#219 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 12:13 PM:

Tatterbots @ 217

There's a pronunciation guide at http://www.dendarii.com/dictionary.html
This includes (scroll down a bit) pronunciation of names. Enjoy!

Re. fantasy vs. romance. I thought Lois McMaster Bujold was right with her musings (Denvention 3, Guest of Honor Speech, August 8, 2008) on the different expectations of SF readers versus romance readers. In summary, SF readers are most concerned that the political aspects (plot outwith any romantic elements) work out, while romance readers care most that the personal aspects work out well.

#220 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 12:23 PM:

I think you can tell The Hallowed Hunt is earlier because of the technology - swords, not firearms, are the main weapons. It feels earlier, too, if that makes any sense.

I think you must have read a very different Chalion series than I did--the only projectile weapons in either of the first two books are bows and crossbows.

#221 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 01:01 PM:

Another Christian advocates black magic.

Or, how would you describe the action of praying for someone else to die so that you can have your way?

#222 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 01:13 PM:

Happy Birthday to Sue. Pendrift, I like the entomological allusion in Phil's name; I'd probably never have thought of such a name.

On management and credentials: at one point I concurrently worked with four guys who had MBAs, two from U of Hawaii, one from Columbia, and one from Harvard. The UH guys were far more practical and grounded in how to motivate, train and instruct the people they were trying to manage (I was a dept mgr at the time--they were VPs). To the Harvard guy, any previous experience we had had in attempting to do something was blown off as inconsequential. The Columbia guy listened to what we had to say before going off in a different direction.

#223 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 01:36 PM:

Lee #221: Or, how would you describe the action of praying for someone else to die so that you can have your way?

The technical term is imprecatory prayer.

#224 ::: Zemmie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 01:53 PM:

Thomas @ 181
Seville oranges are THE oranges for marmalade. In fact the story goes that marmalade was invented when a Scottish merchant named Tiptree received a shipment of the things and only then discovered that they were too bitter to eat. His wife tried candying them and came up with marmalade. It's still sold under that name, so this may be a commercial just-so story, but it sounds likely enough, given how easy it is to candy fruit.
As to candied citron, if you decide to buy one of those plastic containers labeled 'candied fruit' make sure you read the label. Some of them contain candied rutabaga, for heaven's sake. No wonder so many people hate fruitcake.

#225 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 02:03 PM:

Carrie, The Hallowed Hunt doesn't seem to have crossbows either. (reading it again, but not far into it yet)

#226 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 02:11 PM:

Exactly where are these statistics on manufacturing coming from?

#227 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 02:18 PM:

Serge: I think the next trend in F/SF will be Urbane Fantasy. You know, Nick & Nora Charles with magic ... somebody must have already written that story, because this sounds like an obvious premise for a fantasy tale.


It was Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the story is "A Night at the Opera", and it first appeared in the collection Murder by Magic. Not one of their best stories, though.

#228 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 02:18 PM:

PJ: True, but not relevant; there are no firearms in any of the books. Chalion's world is definitely pre-gunpowder.

#229 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 02:35 PM:

dcb, way back at #173: Yes, the Infamous Dinner Party scene is painful to read. However, for me at least, it avoids being "humiliation humor" by virtue of the fact that Miles sets himself up for every embarrassing bit of it. This is NOT something that was done to him by other people for the express purpose of watching him fail and laughing at him; in fact, everyone else at the party is distressed by what's happened, and most of them are at least roughly sympathetic. And Bujold then goes on and uses that as a lever to make Miles understand that he is not special WRT whether or not it's either smart or ethical to manipulate people for personal gain.

Personally, I think the best result of the party scene comes even a little later than that, when it suddenly dawns on Miles how much better a tactical decision it would have been to let matters take their natural course, and why. Knowing the character, I suspect that this realization may have driven the lesson home more sharply than anything else.

#230 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 02:52 PM:

I like Moff's Law!

#231 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 03:05 PM:

Bruce @ 200:

Yes, and what I should have said, and I don't know why it didn't occur to me sooner other than that I spent the time I would have spent thinking about it re-acquaintingmyself with Dubois' writing, is this: Dubois is actually an excellent example of what you were talking about, anyway: a kind of a nationalist, with some separatist ideas and also some integrationist ideas, completely definable in his own terms.

#232 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 04:04 PM:

C. Wingate @226:

For recent year time trends, the Census Bureau's Manufacturing Trade, Inventories, and Sales
http://www.census.gov/mtis/

For international comparisons, the Bureau of Labor Statistics International Chartbook for 2009, http://www.bls.gov/fls/chartbook.htm, charts 3.7 and 5.9

Sorry about not giving citations earlier.

#233 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 04:58 PM:

OtterB @211: The idea that graduate students with real-world experience have a different view than those who have just had continuous schooling is not limited to MBAs. My brother the rocket scientist (I never get tired of saying that) went on to graduate work after more than a year of working at Boeing. Not only did this make him more attractive to the graduate program, but he realized how much easier it was to tell exactly what was and what was not important.

At the graduate level, I think it's a good idea for students to understand the why of things, whether English or economics or engineering. I would even go so far as to recommend that students not go on to graduate school directly from college but to work in a job— any job— for at least a year afterwards, especially if they can do it on their own, not living at their parents' places. It will give them a different perspective.

#234 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 05:17 PM:

Earl Cooly #223: There's imprecatory prayer, then there's this.

#235 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 06:03 PM:

Linking two subthreads, I note that the morality and theology of imprecatory prayer is one of the themes of Bujold's Curse of Chalion.

#236 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 06:34 PM:

Having worked my way up from typing pool to low level management, having dealt with small company management and corporate management, I think a summer spent as a temp in the mail room, or the typing pool, or on a construction site as the gopher, is a must take course for any who aspire to an MBA.

I have an acquaintance, a professor of Business Communications, that I challenged to a summer as a temp, taking no assignment longer than two weeks, and accepting every assignment he was offered. If he wanted to know what Business Communications was like, that was it. He turned me down, prefering to follow "the rules" as handed down from on high, which were wordy and obfuscatory, and more on focusing on the number of spaces there were between a bullet point and its bullet rather than on content.

#237 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 06:40 PM:

Moff's Law: ohdearghods YES!

That is a keeper.

#238 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 06:49 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #234: There's imprecatory prayer, then there's this.

That link seems to be having troubles at the moment, but the Google Cache of it is still there.

The bit about "Cursed is he that removeth his neighbour's landmark" means that the people who allegedly stole the Arbeit Macht Frei sign are just hosed.

#239 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 07:02 PM:

Back in open thread 132 (comment 783) I posted of my mother's final illness. I'd like to thank everyone for your comments and thoughts. Sadly, my mother passed away in the evening of December 17th (last Thursday). The hospice was able to manage her pain, so I am grateful for that.

My mother, Carolyn, read voraciously her whole life. She was particularly fond of history and religious study, and would I think have loved the Making Light community if she had ever been interested in venturing online. She was an attorney who spent the last half of her career working in the legal process for civil involuntary commitment procedures in Washington State, trying to make the system function better for mentally ill people who needed to be hospitalized in the midst of crises. I am proud of the work she did and I am proud to be her daughter.

#240 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 07:08 PM:

oliviacw #239: My condolences. Your mother sounds like a wonderful person.

#241 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 07:10 PM:

Condolences, Olivia. Sounds like a life well spent.

* * *

Aside: I'm so glad that conservatives haven't managed to find something Evil about hospice care. I wouldn't put it past them.

#242 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 07:40 PM:

olivecw, #239, I'm sorry for your loss, but glad for your memories.

The death goddess quiz Teresa has up gave me:

Miru - This Polynesian Goddess of Death dwells in the fiery underworld. There she holds a net to catch all the evil people that try to enter. Those she catches, she burns in her ovens. You strongly believe in good and will do anything for what you believe is right!

#243 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 08:05 PM:

On MBAs -- One of the failings I've seen in many graduates of MBA programs is that they think that the same styles, techniques and motivations can be used in all management contexts and audiences.

This leads to disasters in the ranks, where organizational value and productivity takes a nosedive and the MBA holder gets raises and promotions.

When the organization the MBA "managed" falls apart they get to jump ship, and their resume shows the steps they took up the corporate ladder as credentials of "success."

#244 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 08:37 PM:

oliviacw: My condolences.

#245 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 09:07 PM:

My condolences, oliviacw @ 239.

Marilee @ 242: I am also Miru, apparently. What are the odds?

In the open-threadiness category, has Garrison Keillor always been this nasty and I've just managed not to hear about it? Or is it a recent development? (Found via Pharyngula.)

#246 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 09:13 PM:

Thomas #215 there are known facts and transferable skills about handling people, as well as the natural aptitude and experience. Even so, there are many management positions that absolutely require technical knowledge as well.

and Craig R #243 One of the failings I've seen in many graduates of MBA programs is that they think that the same styles, techniques and motivations can be used in all management contexts and audiences.

I agree that there are generally applicable management skills having to do with communication, analysis, and leadership. Ideally, you have a mix of those plus the relevant technical knowledge. Somebody who doesn't have the technical knowledge, but who is willing to listen to those who do, can often manage better than someone who knows all the technical details but hasn't learned to delegate, run a meeting, set goals, etc. BUT this is dependent on the people who do have the technical knowledge being willing to offer it, and that in turn depends on their being listened to.

When it works well, it can work really well. When it breaks, it's hard to repair.

#247 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 10:21 PM:

#219 dcb

Sherwood Smith has said that SF/F focuses on the personal, romance on the intimate. There is a thread weeks ago at http://sartorias.livejournal.com

#248 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 10:27 PM:

Monetary value of manufactured goods can be misleaading--US labor compensation, at official exchange rates, is many times the compensation of what people in China, Vietnam, Estonia, Latvia, etc.... so the same object made in the USA has a "value" sometimes ten times as much as its exact counterpart in China, or other countries....

#249 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 10:39 PM:

#245 Syd

I've never appreciated Prarie Home Companion and its to me fakesy-folksy style. I can't tell in that article if Keillor is being serious or not--it might be a dysfunctional attempt at humor, I can't tell.... either way, articlefail....

#250 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 11:25 PM:

The Amazon oddities list:

After a few items about digestion and excretion, there's one about "passing the statue of liberty."

Passing the statue of liberty would be somewhat painful.

#251 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 11:32 PM:

oliviacw @239 Sadly, my mother passed away in the evening of December 17th (last Thursday).

I am sorry for your loss, Olivia. Be kind to yourself in the coming weeks. Let people do things for you. Don't drive if you can help it. Keep current on your crying. Grief stinks on ice.

#252 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 11:41 PM:

oliviacw @239: My condolences.

Death goddesses: I also got Miru. I suspect that she receives large swaths of the input space based on some few questions that get reflex responses from lots of us. It might be amusing to look at the percentages of various results from the general population, but I can't be arsed at this hour of night. (Off to bed RSN.)

#253 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 12:19 AM:

I'm Nebthet (#2 is Eriskegal). But I got a bit contrary with some of the answers (said "yes" when asked if I actively seek to destroy, for example -- I think I meant something different by that than the quiz did, but still).

Syd @ 245, every now and then he does something that shocks me, like the bizarrely anti-gay-parenting column that ran -- last year, two years ago? This is another one. As before, I can't decide if it's badly miscalculated humor, or calculated nastiness.

oliviacw @ 239, I am so sorry for your loss. Your mother sounds like a fantastic woman, a person I would have been honored to meet. I am glad hospice care was able to help your mother have less pain; they helped my grandfather, too, in his final days.

I wish I could say anything that would make it easier, but I can't. It might help to hear that grief can be weird and strange sometimes, but it's normal/okay to feel and experience all the parts of it, even if they're unexpected or don't seem like what you should be feeling.

Sleep when you can, eat when you're hungry, and drink water (or juice or herbal tea) even if you don't feel thirsty.

It's hard to show in this little box, but my thoughts are with you.

#254 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 01:07 AM:

On the Death Goddess quiz, I'm split between Coatlicue ('twisted') and Proserpina ('pathetic'). I liked how the quiz was set up with sliders.

On grad schools and real-world experience... I have a Master's now and keep finding myself in the weird space of over- and under-qualified. Lots of education, no experience. It gets really disheartening, all the jobs I would like but for the experience requirement*.

I'm not sure about taking a couple years off before grad school. Looking at environmental engineering departments in general, having not experienced one, I would have said yes, go for it-- but that's assuming that the only reason anyone comes to environmental engineering is to run a wastewater treatment plant or something like that. I'm more on the science end of things. I think if I'd taken a year or two off, I would have found some job I liked, gotten used to adulthood with that salary, and possibly not have gone to grad school period-- or, if I did, I would have done it as an adult rather than the half-thing I still think I am, and thus been more successful.


*I apply anyway. I've heard over and over that men apply for jobs they aren't qualified for and women don't, and I'm not going to do that. Whenever I feel like I'm wasting HR's time, I remind myself that I am fighting for my sex/gender/pronoun! Grr! That makes it okay.

#255 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 02:18 AM:

#253 Caroline

Syd @ 245, every now and then he does something that shocks me, like the bizarrely anti-gay-parenting column that ran -- last year, two years ago? This is another one. As before, I can't decide if it's badly miscalculated humor, or calculated nastiness.

I suspect that both apply. As above, I've never trusted Prairie Home Companion, it's always felt to me like there is some amount of dishonesty and false witness involved in it--that it's a mix of paean to a north central US "heartland" part of the USA, mixed with some utterly obnoxious self-congratulatory smug snide narcissistic intolerance and disdain for the rest of the US and other cultural traditions and attitudes and lifestyles. It's always rankled me, particularly the smarmy smug oily (as I perceive it) delivery.

oliviacw @ 239, I am so sorry for your loss. Your mother sounds like a fantastic woman, a person I would have been honored to meet. I am glad hospice care was able to help your mother have less pain

Echoing the above.

(I find it discomfortable trying to assemble words to give to people suffering losses and severe emotional distress from bereavement, progressive medical deterioration with poor prognoses, etc. -- the words sound trite, or the sentiments mechanical and scripted--and especially given my habit of pedomangy.... I fear the results of attempting to try to say word I want to try to provide comfort with, won't/don't.

(I want to give simple, elegant, and short response, expressing sorrow and regret and sympathy. The implementation, though, tends to fall short of the intent...)

#256 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 02:31 AM:

I apply anyway. I've heard over and over that men apply for jobs they aren't qualified for and women don't, and I'm not going to do that.

As long as bullshitting's not beneath you.

Whenever I feel like I'm wasting HR's time,

They deserve it.

#257 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 02:35 AM:

Paula Lieberman #255: pedomangy

Interesting. A bunch of different search engines haven't indexed that word yet. Typo or neologism?

#258 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 02:45 AM:

Adrian, I don't see it like that; there are different shades of meaning for "qualified". They could interview and figure out that the candidate is such a great culture fit that it would be worth while to hire them and bring them up to speed on other qualifications. I've seen that in action; during one hiring action, we ended up grabbing the guy just out of college with the worst GPA of the whole lot; he was the only candidate to laugh or smile during the interviews. It turned out to be a great decision. Lack of on-paper qualifications doesn't always imply intent to defraud.

#259 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 03:23 AM:

My condolences, oliviacw.

#260 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:15 AM:

I never meant it was *always* thus, but there appears to be quite a lot of resume-massaging going on out there, and I imagine the men are doing it a bit more assiduously.

#261 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:30 AM:

oliviacw @239:

I'm sorry to hear about your mother. It sounds like she was a wonderful woman, and she does seem to have raised good offspring.

#262 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 06:34 AM:

Oliviacw, my condolences. Sending good thoughts your way and thanks for everything your mother has done for others.

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 07:20 AM:

Pendrift @ 207... Thanks! She had a grand time.

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 07:21 AM:

oliviacw... My condolences.

#265 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 08:57 AM:

I'm not sure about taking a couple years off before grad school.

I think it's more valuable/necessary for business school than it is for technical fields, to have experienced business from the inside. As Diatryma says, people in technical fields tend to get out in the workplace and then not go back. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but can be frustrating if they hit a dead end later.

And re qualifications, yes, do what you're doing about applying anyway, because you never know. A job description never covers everything and you might turn out to be perfect on things they didn't mention. And it will depend in part on who the competition is, and you never know that either. Speaking as one who has screened resumes in an organization too small to have HR, you're not wasting their time until you send out badly-photocopied resumes with a generic one-sentence cover letter that clearly indicates that the job you are seeking has nothing whatsoever in common with the job that was advertised. (I advertised for someone with a degree in psychology or education to help with data management for a research study on career choices. I got more than one cover letter that must have keyed off the word "psychology" telling me how much they looked forward to providing therapy to my clients.)

#266 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 09:19 AM:

#257 ::: Earl Cooley III:

My guess is it's a neologism, from the Latin ped-, the foot, and the French manger, to eat.

#267 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 09:30 AM:

re: The Garrison Keillor article linked to in #245

Wow. I mean, just...wow. What does he think he's doing? Either he means it and is a bigoted sonuvawhatsit or he doesn't mean it and is so unaware of how many people *do* mean it that he's capable of thinking that kind of thing is funny.

Either way, as a hybrid Unitarian-Jew, I am horrified.

I'm also wondering why people are picking on the Unitarians this year. There was a recent, totally irrelevant slam at Slate and now with Keillor on board, I'm starting to feel as nervous as Jan Huss on a hot tin chalice.

#268 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 09:58 AM:

I keep thinking Keillor is about one fit away from turning into a Upper-Middlewestern Andy Rooney, and I've felt that way for a couple-three years now.

#269 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 10:03 AM:

olivicw, my sympathies--I remember when my father died, the sense of relief that he was no longer suffering from something that couldn't be fixed, and the sadness of parting from him.


#270 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 10:26 AM:

Paula @255--"I've never trusted Prairie Home Companion, it's always felt to me like there is some amount of dishonesty and false witness involved in it--that it's a mix of paean to a north central US "heartland" part of the USA, mixed with some utterly obnoxious self-congratulatory smug snide narcissistic intolerance and disdain for the rest of the US and other cultural traditions and attitudes and lifestyles."

It's very difficult to manage to produce a loveletter to your native region without getting up people's noses because they suspect that you are, at the same time, sticking your finger in the eye of other regions of the country that are not the one you love and feel great nostalgia for. Most other regionalists, humorous or otherwise, have the same difficulty.

Also, please stop and consider this: You seem to prefer New England (especially Massachusetts) to most of the other places you have lived in the US. Please consider that it's possible that other people have the same feeling of attachment to their own favored regions, however inexplicable it may seem to you, and they are no more likely to be appreciative of the vituperation I have seen you dump on these other parts of the US than you are of people who want to slam your home as a bastion of immoral, godless, commie-loving weirdos. Loving where you happen to live, or where you grew up, is a blessing, and I don't think it's a good idea to slag people for having received that blessing.

Also, when you encounter some of the more outlandish put-downs of your native soil, you might consider this comment of Teresa's, and think about how it might apply to entire states and regions, rather than just neighborhoods. Because a lot of those remarks that can set your teeth on edge are exactly the sort of thing she describes, and deserve an eyeroll rather than a rant.

#271 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 10:41 AM:

olivicw: my condolences on your loss.

Word definition (my friends use this): Woobah— means, in general, "Wow, that's really terrible, I am very sorry that happened, and I don't know what to say." I could wish that it sounded different from "woot" but it apparently pre-dates it by a number of years. Feel free to use as necessary.

In regards to Garrison Keillor, he's been getting pretty frothy in recent years. I don't know if that's a sign of increasing age, or if these are attitudes he used to mask better, but it truly appears that he's not trying to be humorous.

Can't cite specific examples off the top of my head, but I do recall at least one article where he expressed joy in the idea of large groups of people dying off because they held opinions he didn't like. I don't care how obnoxious people are; I don't wish death on people's heads.

#272 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 11:49 AM:

oliviacw: my condolences

#273 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 11:52 AM:

olivicw, my condolences.

WRT to Garrison Keillor, I wonder if the minor stroke he suffered a little while back might be impacting him emotionally.

#274 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 11:52 AM:

Paula Lieberman@248

Monetary value of manufactured goods can be misleading (because of different wage rates).

Yes, but:

1: If you don't have some scale for comparing widgets to doohickeys, the statement that America can't make stuff isn't even wrong. Sales value works better for manufactured goods that for services, since they are more likely to be compared by actual buyers. Also, the intent of the original article seemed to be that everyone else was getting better at making more valuable stuff and the US wasn't, which is directly addressed by sales value.

2. The problem doesn't apply to the time trend data, since real wages of manufacturing workers have been pretty stagnant.

#275 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 12:49 PM:

oliviacw: My condolences on your loss. It's never easy to lose someone you love, even when you know it was the best thing for them.

Steve, #273: Not just emotionally, from the sound of it. I didn't know he'd had a stroke; that explains a lot.

I've had a lot of friends who thought Prairie Home Companion was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I never got the appeal (for reasons similar to Paula's but with considerably less vitriol attached), but I thought it was just another aspect of my general distaste for Comedy. Now I'm rather glad of that, because it means I don't feel betrayed by something like this.

#276 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 01:31 PM:

Garrison Keillor lost my respect years ago. I came to sympathize with him again after his recent health troubles, especially after he wrote a couple of compassionate opinion pieces on health care for the New York Times. (I'm happy that he's now in better health, and I hope he stays well.) With this new column, I am again disappointed.

My take on A Prairie Home Companion is close to Homer Simpson's: "Stupid [radio]! Be more funny!"

#277 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 01:41 PM:

Garrison Keillor is a complicated fellow filled with conflicts of many kinds.

However, whatever his faults of whatever, of which he does have many, I will always keep his back for this:

When one and all fell over themselves racing away from the designation of Liberal and Democrat in politics with the Ascension of darthvader and the Criminal Family Syndicate, when everyone in every part of the broadcast media couldn't follow the ass ahead of them bending over to the Criminal Family Syndicate, Garrison Keillor, out there in the North Heartland, said on National Public Rhetoric that he was proud to be a Liberal and proud to be a Democrat and proud to be an English major. That battle re-invigorated his creativity and wit -- I'd stopped listening to PHC for quite a while before that. We started tuning in again BECAUSE it was the only place where we could find any reflection of our views.

Whatever anyone wants to say about GK, he's got a lot more balls than just about anyone in the Senate and the media, print, television, and radio.

Except George Clooney and Michael Moore.

Garrison Keillor and Michael Moore, fat guys from the northern midwest, they were the only ones with balls enough to call the bull we were ordered to suck up for what is.

He also had stroke or heart attack or something (the press release was rather vague) this fall, and had to be flown to the Rochester clinic. He was back on the radio in three weeks. The medications he's taking are surely affecting his tone.

Love, C.

#278 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 01:58 PM:

oliviacw: My condolences on your loss. Please take care of yourself.

#279 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 03:26 PM:

oliviacw @ 239 My condolences. I'm glad the hospice was able to manage her pain. She sounds like she was a wonderful person.

#280 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 03:44 PM:

oliviacw: I'm very sorry for your loss.

As for Garrison Keillor, his asshole streak is getting wider by the month. With "liberals" like him, who needs conservatives?

#281 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 03:54 PM:

re 232: Thanks. I poked around but wasn't finding quite what I was looking for. Any idea of where long-term (50 years or so) data might be found?

re GK: I personally lost interest in GK's writing because I really don't need to let another brittle, angry commentator into my life. That said, it's (depending on your temperament) a bit tedious or annoying or amusing to look around at the reaction to GK's Rooney-ish rant from the UU/secularist world, and to note the more-or-less-uniform resistance to the notion that Christians have as much right to their own traditions as, well, native Americans to theirs. For my part it's not the sort of thing to get that riled up over, but there is something immoral about (to take a different and commonly-encountered example) the Mormon Tabernacle Choir mutilating "Holy, Holy, Holy" because the Mormons aren't trinitarian. It's a sin that I laugh at, the same way I laugh at their bowdlerization of "Sleigh Ride", but on a serious level it plays into their misrepresentation of themselves as having much in common with orthodox, Nicene Christianity. Part of the reason the UUs come in for such contempt/ridicule is that they do have origins in what (from a more dogmatic viewpoint) is a bowdlerization of Protestant (and especially Congregationalist and Anglican) Christianity. there's a grain of truth inside all his puffed-up anger.

#282 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 03:58 PM:

A holiday bauble, seen in the wild, shaped like an eggcorn:

"for a fractal of the price"

#283 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:09 PM:

Tchem @ 282 -

I guess the price could be considered scholastically self-similar.

#284 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:10 PM:

Or even stochastically.

#285 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:12 PM:

#277 Constance
Phyisicians for Human Rights went on doing what they had been doing, minus the attention that they sometimes got before Ted Koppel got booted. (There had been segments on Nightline when he was there, which had footage from PHR MDs who had gone into Afghanistan, under quite adverse circumstances, with the begrudging allowance of the Taliban-controlled government in 1990s and gotten hold of videotape footage which Afghan women had taped at quite literally the risk of their lives from under their burkas, regarding how horrible life was for especially women there. PHR and Afghan women and even Eli Wiesel were pleading for international military intervention to get Taliban out of control and put people in charge who would allow girls to go to school, women to have jobs with income to avoid starving to death, and end the torture and murder of anyone, male or female, who dared openly object to Taliban rules....

It sounds like Keillor may be suffering from mental deterioration caused by e.g. a lack of oxygen to the brain... a friend who's medically disabled and who'd had open heart surgery, said that he suffered from "pumphead" after the operation--but was grateful to be alive, if not for the operation he wouldn't be.

#286 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:19 PM:

So far as I can tell, most humorists are gloomy and depressive sorts, always only a couple of bad days away from mutating into angry curmudgeons. (As opposed, for example, to horror writers, who taken as a group seem to be remarkably cheery in their nonwriterly personae.)

#287 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:24 PM:

FWIW, Keillor's brother dropped dead on him this year as well.

tPHC always ribbed Unitarians, but in a fairly mellow way, e.g., celebrating Christmas with a panel discussion on the aspects of Santa.

#288 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:37 PM:

Olivicw @239: my condolences on your loss. I agree wtih Siriosa @251.

After my father died, I learned here is no timeline or pattern for grief except the one that becomes visible long-after when you look back. Also, in the weeks after, a small notebook or recorder is useful for when people tell you their memories of her (I found grief intensified the memory of having had conversations, but not always the content).

#289 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:38 PM:

GK also makes fun of NoDaks of which I R 1 -- or was 1, once.

It's a humor that is idigenous to people who grow up in very difficult climate conditions, weather and emotional.

Paula L. -- What all that has to do with GK sailed right by my comprehension. Obviously I'm missing something.

Love, C.

#290 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:41 PM:

Garrison Keillor now ranks with cheney, lou dobbs, o'reilly, limbaugh, etc.

Who knew?

Love, c.

#291 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 04:56 PM:

oliviacw @ 239

With deepest sympathy for your loss.

((((( Olivia )))))

Remember all the good times, and take care of yourself.

#292 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 05:18 PM:

Paula, before you make another response about GK, I suggest a little self-examination of your responses thus far, as to how well they fulfill the stereotype that Keillor paints of your fellow Cambridgians.

#293 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 05:20 PM:

For my part it's not the sort of thing to get that riled up over, but there is something immoral about (to take a different and commonly-encountered example) the Mormon Tabernacle Choir mutilating "Holy, Holy, Holy" because the Mormons aren't trinitarian. It's a sin that I laugh at, the same way I laugh at their bowdlerization of "Sleigh Ride", but on a serious level it plays into their misrepresentation of themselves as having much in common with orthodox, Nicene Christianity.

C. Wingate at 281, thank you very much for this. I had never thought of it quite that way, but you have clarified for me one of the many reasons why I find the claims of the LDS to be Christians so irritating -- because as I understand the term, they aren't, they can't be, their Scripture and their theology don't permit it. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...) One doesn't challenge the claim, even if there were a forum in which it would be possible to do so, because to do so would be rude, and probably pointless. But the issue is still there, not going away.

#294 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 05:44 PM:

This is rich. Michelle Bachmann, uber-conservative firebrand, has a family farm that received a quarter-million in agricultural subsidies.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/1209/Antisocialist_Bachmann_got_250k_in_federal_farm_subsidies.html#

Michelle Bachmann subsidy

Hey, at least she's not a socialist, right?

#295 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 06:27 PM:

IIRC, GK some years back got thoroughly fed up with the same old, same old at PHC and walked away from it. Published a couple stories in the New Yorker, fumbled around a bit, found in order to make a living writing he was going to have to shoehorn himself back. It's a grind coming up with something fresh and new each week for a live broadcast, even if you have plenty of others with regular shticks. A friend who sang on the show numerous times said when he walked in, even at casual rehearsals, all attention went to Mr. PHC.

I find his folksiness tedious, and don't listen much, though admired his courage in the Dubya days. I don't envy him where his life has gone.

#296 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 08:13 PM:

Lizzy L @293 said: C. Wingate at 281, thank you very much for this. I had never thought of it quite that way, but you have clarified for me one of the many reasons why I find the claims of the LDS to be Christians so irritating -- because as I understand the term, they aren't, they can't be, their Scripture and their theology don't permit it. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

DISCLAIMER: I am not LDS myself; all my knowledge of their theology comes from documentaries and moderately-extensive reading.

However, it is my understanding that they believe their holy book's description of history involves Jesus coming over and making a second (third? Fourth? N + 1, anyway) revelation to them, making their book additional to the OT and NT in the same way that the Muslims say the Qur'an is. However, one of the necessary (if not 'sufficient') attributes of a Christian faith is the admittance of the, well, divinity of Jesus, which Mormons do (and Muslims don't, to my knowledge). Unitarians don't, necessarily, making some Unitarians non-Christian, by their own admittance.

I mean, Muslims don't say they're Christian, but the Mormons do, and it's my own basic rule of politeness to use people's own descriptions of themselves, whether it's pronouncing their first names the way they do or calling Mormons and Messianic Jews Christian.

#297 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 09:18 PM:

Erik@250 mentioned the Amazon Oddities List, and one thing in there along with the general Bigfoot UFO crankery was "A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates". Hey, now! That was a classic book back in its day, and I occasionally checked it out of the company library when I needed it. It was one of those things you'd keep around, like the Chemical Rubber Company handbook and Knuth (and since Charlie's here, the Necronomicon :-) It's surprising that it's still in print, because good computerized random number generation has been around for decades, though so has *bad* computerized random number generation.

#298 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 09:43 PM:

Bill Stewart #297: Hmm, I saw that on the list, and wondered: what are "normal deviates" in this context? Are they digits biased to fall under a bell curve or some such?

As I understand it, random number generation is still pretty easy to screw up -- IIRC, even several attempts at cheap /dev/random hardware (thermal noise and such) have turned out to have drastic flaws.

#299 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 09:48 PM:


"Holy, holy, holy" come out of Judaism, from before Christianity was around.... I can't remember exactly where in the services it it, but it's Hebrew... and now I'm being earwormed by "Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh" and the rest of it which I can't even remember well enough to try to transliterate... kadosh = holy.... normally written "kadesh" but the pronunciation is o not e... (as opposed kaddish, which is a different prayer....)

#300 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 10:07 PM:

oliviacw... My condolences for your loss.

#301 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 10:18 PM:

re 296: There are some contexts in which one has to acknowledge that the Mormons are Christians, but that context is "groups in which Jesus is a central figure." Other than that, they are about as closely related to the Nicene Orthodoxy that comprises 99.9% of 1st/2nd world Christianity (Africa throws the 3rd world off a lot) as Buddhism is to Hinduism. One of Jesus' most central questions is "who do you say that I am?" and the Mormon answer to that question is wildly divergent, even more so than the JWs or maybe even someone like Elizabeth Clare Prophet's answer.

However, if you go to the LDS website, they are rather shy about the vast differences in theology and cosmology between themselves and orthodox Christianity. Searching for "Kolob" on mormon.org produces no real result, for instance; a search for "Lamanite" doesn't produce a particularly revealing result either. Of course, one may consider this to be as important as arguing with Justinian at the races, but I suspect that the main reason why this stuff has to be researched elsewhere is that people tend to find it a bit ridiculous.

#302 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 10:28 PM:

Well, to be picky, Paula, the thrice-holy was there before Adam. (It's Isaiah 6:3, BTW-- "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory" if you like NASB English, or transliterated from the Hebrew, "Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh, [hashem] tz'vaot m'lo kol haaretz k'vodo".) However, I speak not of the Sanctus but of the Protestant tune invariably sung to the tune "Nicea".

#303 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 10:39 PM:

Open threadiness... I've been comparison shopping for a heating pad. Almost every local store I've checked sells essentially the same items made by Sunbeam, in some cases house brands labelled as "made by Sunbeam". There are a few other models around. Canadian Tire's website seems to show that they've switched to units made by a different company but haven't properly updated the site to reflect the changes.

Every model I've seen has instructions which specify that one should not sit on or against the heating pad, and that one should place the pad on and not under the "affected body part".

This is bizarre. It seems to be very close to "any plausible use of this device will void its warranty", since most of the pads are definitely not designed to be wrapped around the body nor can be conveniently attached to it. I've got back pain -- am I supposed to lie on my stomach and try to keep the pad positioned on my back? I've been to physiotherapy sessions and massage sessions in which I was lying on a heating pad -- were those "professional" units?

#304 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 10:53 PM:

Hmm. I remember Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh Adonai, tsvaot mlo khol ha'aretz kvodo. Baruch haba b'shem Adonai, but that's a) from Bernstein's Mass and b) over 30 years ago now.

I think Paula saw 'PHC' and thought it was a reference to Physicians for Human Rights, rather than Prairie Home Companion.

#305 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 11:01 PM:

C. Wingate, there's a traditional melody for that bit of Hebrew you transliterated, too, and now I'm earwormed as well. It's part of the regular service as I learned it -- first the Sh'ma, then the V'y'hafta, then... That Thing That Comes Next, which is mostly davened silently, but you always do the "kadosh, kadosh, kadosh" bit out loud, and you go up on your toes for each "kadosh." Paula, do you remember the name of it now?

And it's been decades since I went to such a service, but it sticks in my head.

#306 ::: Jon Ault ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 11:02 PM:

Joel @303: One of the reasons I've heard for that is that they're worried about the pressure damaging the wires/heating elements within the pad, particularly if you laid the pad on a surface that wasn't smooth. Once you've damaged the wires, they could start poking through the pad & give you an unpleasant shock.

I remember a waterbed I had many years ago - the support under the mattress was three pieces of plywood, and the heating pad went between the mattress & the plywood. There were warnings on the heater to not lay it across the seam between the plywood pieces, because if they didn't line up exactly (and they usually didn't) the sharp edge of the wood would damage the pad.

#307 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 11:03 PM:

303
I think it's so you don't fall asleep on one and get burned because you can't move off it without help - the worst-case scenario.

#308 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 11:40 PM:

Constance:

Ted Koppel was someone who on Nightline was investigating things the hardliners (who today get called "moderate" by the infotaintment crowd claiming to produce "news" today) refuse to give any air time to... you were praising Keillor for standing essentially alone againt the tide... Koppel tried as best he could, and got removed for his efforts.

#309 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2009, 11:55 PM:

My point is that there is a tradition of that 3X repetition of "holy" as "Holy, holy, holy" in Judaism, long before Christian trinitarism was around. Unitarianism is a movement that arose out of Christianity which rejected the trinitarianism--but started off with people who mostly were using Protestant prayerbooks.... which arose out of protesting against mainline Roman Catholicism, and the prayer books of Protestantism, had the bases of Roman Catholic ones--which have a lot of basis in Judaic texts.

Also, the founders of Unitarianism were familiar with the Hebrew origins of a lot of the prayers used in Christianity, including trintarian Christianity.

#305 Rikibeth--the traditions of two and a half millennia or so have -staying power-.

#310 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:13 AM:

P.J. Evans @ 307: I think it's so you don't fall asleep on one and get burned because you can't move off it without help - the worst-case scenario.

The instructions have separate warnings about those cases: don't fall asleep while using the device; don't use it if you can't operate the controls or remove it.

Likewise Jon Ault @ 302, the instructions warn to inspect the thing for wear/damage before each use. I suppose that it could somehow be damaged internally, with nothing showing on the outside, such that it could short out.

#311 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:15 AM:

Keillor's new essay suggests that he's switched to a more smoothing grade of haemorrhoid ointment:

http://www.salon.com/life/christmas/index.html?story=/opinion/keillor/2009/12/22/christmas_baby

#312 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:33 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 310: thread about heating pad warning labels: I always scoffed at the warnings, until a friend fell asleep on one, and ended up with a back covered with blisters. The heating pad had a timer to shut it off after 20 minutes, but that wasn't fast enough. I still use heating pads, but with more caution.

#313 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:48 AM:

Paula, are you aware of exactly what the Mormons do to the hymn?

#314 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:59 AM:

Coming back to the thread after my self-imposed hiatus (I was awfully close to flaming out there, and sorry, assuming anybody noticed, but I'm short on sleep this week as everybody in the world tries to get all their translation done before the holidays and I foolishly fail to say "No" enough) - but I have one Avatar-related question for the brain trust.

Long, long ago, I read either a short story or a book that basically included Cameron's entire world (biologically speaking): the trees on the world were intelligent (can't remember whether that was known beforehand or discovered during the story), their leaves were butterflies that the humanoid natives called something like the "thoughts of Gaia", the human protagonist falls in love with a female native, fights off ... somebody, presumably Earth military, realizes the trees literally are intelligent and that they themselves (the human and the native humanoids) are also thoughts of God - really, the entire biological point of interest about Avatar.

So of course somebody here will know what I'm talking about - who wrote this? Was it an entire book? Was it a short story in one of the magazines? It's utterly impossible that Cameron could have recapitulated this story so exactly, so I'm assuming that in addition to Dances with Fern Gully Wolves, this movie was also that story.

#315 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 01:01 AM:

Oh, darn, I forgot: Oliviaw, my condolences as well. I've only lost grandparents and uncles; I can only imagine your loss.

#316 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 02:00 AM:

Michael Roberts@314: That maybe sounds a little like Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Word for World is Forest", but it's been a long time since I read it so I can't say for sure. If not that, then I don't know it.

#317 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 02:37 AM:

#314 ::: Michael Roberts:

It sounds like something by Phillip E. High.

#318 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 03:07 AM:

#292 C. Wingate

"Cantabridgian" ... also, I was a student, not actually a Cambridge resident....

#319 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 03:33 AM:

#313 C. Wingate
No. I don't koiw what LDS does to it... What I think of when I see "Christian hymn" and "holy, holy, holy" conflated includes "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." I don't remember what Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh Adonai, tsvaot mlo khol ha'aretz kvodo translates to, or rather, I forget what tvaot is. Adonai ~ My Lord, mlo could be m'lo m = from, and lo = no or not; khol = all, ha'aretz = the land, and I forget what kvodo means.

My perpective is that the Christian hymns are excursions off of monotheism Judaism.... the look on the faces of nuns at an interfaith service at the synagogue my family belonged to, when I was a child, was very entertaining...they were almost stunned in some cases, looking at the translation text and comparing in their minds to the prayers they knew... (the silver adornments for the Torah scrolls also, made a considerable impression on them).

I suspect that the Judaic prayers go back much farther to being descended from traditions and conventions from earlier religions, for that matter.

#320 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 04:19 AM:

(dredging from the deeps)

Charlie Stross @ 101: "The discourse of privilege annoys me; it frequently tends to be under-nuanced. Most discussions of it seem to be predicated on the assumption that if you are while and male you have the full package. Can we perhaps draw a Venn diagram, and reserve the "shut the F--- up and listen" darts for the members of the P7[*] lurking in the innermost circle?"

I don't think it's that there's a particular group of truly priveleged who're the ones who really need to be told to shut up and listen, and everyone else is fine. Rather, everyone needs to learn to shut up and listen when people who aren't like them are talking about experiences they aren't familiar with. White and male speakers tend to be reminded of this necessary habit more than others because not having to learn how to shut up is one of the particular privileges of being white and male. It's not all privileges that accrue to white males--just that one.

#321 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 04:58 AM:

Joel Polowin @310: I don't know if this could work for what you need, but a good old-fashioned hot water bottle tucked under the small of the back does the trick for us around here. We also use them to warm up the bed in winter.

#322 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 05:43 AM:

Open thread question where I don't know how to google it: A while ago, I read a blog post- I think it was on digby, but it might have been another blog- about one person who was kind of "central" to the Beltway insider crowd- media, lobbyists, think-tankers, staffers, consultants, politicians etc.- not so much because he or she- I think it was a he, but I'm not sure- is particularly powerful or well-known, but simply because that person had so many connections to the various circles and networks in the Beltway that you can almost measure someone's standing in that crowd by checking how many connections he or she has with that person.

So, does anyone remember that blog post (or perhaps it was an article; again, I'm not sure) and who that person is?

#323 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 07:07 AM:

Seeing the highlighted sidebar particle on odd academic journals reminded me of something related that I ran across a few days ago.

Do academic publishers actually have any sort of quality control?

I ask because this guy here:
http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/17/wegman-report-ghostwriter-revealed/

demonstrates that one bloke who has recently had this:
http://www.springer.com/environment/global+change+-+climate+change/book/978-3-540-76586-8

published by Springer Praxis books, copies chuncks of the WEgman report on MBH '98, without attribution, and the book itself is nothing more than a junk science attack on the actual science behind our understanding of global warming. This is obvious from his references to the likes of Gerhlich and Tscheuschner, Jaworoski and MAcintyre. These ideologues get great play in the book, (to judge by the google book preview that is available) but their work is either irrelevant, (MAcintyre) or totally wrong in every way. (Gerhlich et al, Jaworovski)

So are academic publishers really so desperate for cash that they'll print any old rubbish?

#324 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 08:02 AM:

[in passing]

Sean Paul Kelley (the Agonist) in defense of Avatar: "The archetype is a common foundational myth, pops up in many national literatures and historical writing for a reason."

On the other hand Ross Douthat is convinced it is pagan.

Still haven't seen it, though.

#325 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 08:14 AM:

Open threadiness: Meet The Shaggs, by way of Octopus Pie and Google. (Warning to Jim: the article picks on New Hampshire towns. ;-) )

#326 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 08:49 AM:

C. Wingate @281

Unitarian Universalism has its roots in a bowdlerization of Christianity? A bowdlerization that protests against the selling of religious offices, the use of the power of the church to make war, the selling of indulgences, and the withholding of communion in both kinds from the congregation?

Those are the Hussite roots, anyway.

Or do you mean a bowdlerization that believes in the possibility of revelation through reason as well as through faith? In the innate goodness of the human soul? That believes that "God's sovereignty is limitless; still man has rights."

Those are Channing's contributions to our roots.

Or do you mean the bowdlerization that led to the congregation that I grew up in to recently throw a party--hosted by the church--to celebrate the 40th wedding anniversary of three men whom I have known and loved for my whole life?

If that's a watered-down, edited, bowdlerized faith in action....I guess I'll take it.

#327 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 09:23 AM:

guthrie:

Different journals and conferences have different editors and program committees and standards. And most of the heavy lifting in enforcing those comes from volunteer labor--people who agree to review papers they're experts in. If the reviewers don't notice plagarism, say, then the plagarized papers will be published[1]. If the reviewers don't notice that the underlying arguments are screwy or the data is questionable, then that also gets by. If there's some ideological or political split in the field, some journals and conferences will be on each side of that split, and what's publishable will depend on which journal you submit to.

Academic publishers probably can't be expected to distinguish good science from bad, as they're publishers, not (in general) scientists working in the relevant fields. And you wouldn't want publishers to exercise too strict a gatekeeper function on academic journals, as this would be a barrier to new and interesting areas of research. Worse, at least one publisher with a good reputation (Elsevier) has produced an astroturf journal which was effectively advertising for Merck.

Shorter me: The relevant thing that has a reputation is the journal or conference or series, and its editors, program committees, reviewers, and authors. The publisher probably exercises some quality control--I expect most academic publishers would rather not publish something obviously silly--but not all that much.

[1] This is not a good thing for the career prospects of the authors.

#328 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 09:28 AM:

Raphael #322:

I have a feeling that in any well-connected group, there are always a few people who could fill that role pretty well, and one or more best ones. (I'm thinking of this as a graph theory sort of problem--some nodes are more "central" than others, and one or a small number have, say, the minimal sum of distances to all the other nodes.)

#329 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 09:51 AM:

C. Wingate @313--
Why should she be? It's a Christian hymn, although, as she and Rikibeth note, the title is a clue that it has great big strong roots in Jewish religious traditions.

Here's an approximation of the original hymn what I learned as a wee tyke* among the Methodists**

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning my song shall rise to Thee
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty
God in three persons, blessed Trinity

Holy, holy, holy, all the saints adore Thee
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea
All the cherubim and seraphim are falling down before Thee
Which wert and art and evermore shalt be

Holy, holy, holy, though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eyes of sinful man Thy glory may not see
Lord, only Thou art holy and there is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love and purity

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.


Distinctly Trinitarian, although most of the rest of the text wouldn't cause King David to raise an eyebrow, unless he was wondering what had "inspired" the writer.

*When I was small, we had a minister who was singularly devoid of imagination when it came to picking hymns for the service--we started every single blessed Sunday service with this hymn. Every. Single. Blessed. Sunday. I thought it was a required part of the service, like the Lord's Prayer and the readings from scripture, and was singlualrly disoriented when his replacement decided to start out with another hymn. Part of this may have been the organist; she was a woman with definite ideas about How Things Should Be Done--as I recall, she used the same set of stops every time, and never considered altering them to better suit different pieces of music or parts of ceremonies.

**I wonder how much the Wesley brothers' love of music and hymn-singing improved the spread of the Methodist congregations in Wales, and how much the Welsh love of choral music caused the early Methodists to step it up in the hymn department.

#330 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 09:53 AM:

heresiarch #320:

Yes, this is exactly right. There's this really useful insight that is easy to miss, especially when you're in the dominant/privileged group in a society: It's easy to become convinced that various things aren't problems or don't exist, because you simply never see them. This is an old problem--it's behind stuff like the stories of kings dressing up as commoners and walking around town, exposes that show the respectable citizens what the underside of their society looks like, "let them eat cake," respectable people being shocked to learn of the existence of prostitutes in their city, the impact the book "Black Like Me," the impact of books written by people who've lived in your society and seen a very different face of it than you do, etc.

Recognizing this is like getting glasses to correct a visual problem you didn't know you had. And becoming aware of this area in which you were formerly both ignorant and unaware of your ignorance does keep you from saying silly things in some discussions.

The pity is that this useful insight is often turned into a bludgeon to shut someone up, or into discussions about who has a right to a voice or an opinion in some conversation. I think that's what some of the commenters above were describing (at least, it's what I got) with phrases like "entitlement whist." In general, when the conversation shifts from the original question of facts or morality or ideas, to a meta-question of who is allowed to speak or hold certain opinions, it seems to almost never turn out well.

#331 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 10:15 AM:

The mouse-over for today's XKCD is relevant to the Garrison Keillor thread. "Culfvpvfgf jub jnag gb cebgrpg genqvgvbany Puevfgznf ernyvmr gung gur bayl jnl gb xrrc sebz punatvat Puevfgznf vf abg gb bofreir vg."

#332 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 10:45 AM:

#308 ::: Paula Lieberman

ooops. Guess eyes glazed over before that part, since there was no intro to that diatribe of names as to what it was in response to.

I still praise Keillor. He could have gotten fired too. He didn't. Because National Public Rhetoric still needed to respect his audience's wishes, because they still provide some of NPR's funding. Unlike the wholly owned corporate beings that vomited Koppel upon instruction. That his audience did not turn on him for what he said says volumes in response to your put down of the northern heartland doesn't it?

Love, C.

#333 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 11:45 AM:

Fidelio@329: on Holy, Holy, Holy.

And the Eastern Christian Churches use the three-fold 'Holy', the 'Trisagion' in a way that isn't specifically trinitarian: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

[Well, there's apparently some theological disagreement about whether it's really trinitarian]

#334 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:07 PM:

guthrie@323:
So are academic publishers really so desperate for cash that they'll print any old rubbish?

I'm not sure that Praxis really qualifies as "academic publishers". If you look at their web page, they look a bit borderline. Springer is their "partner", with whom they "co-publish" books.

In the end, printing books doesn't make money, it costs money. Selling books makes money. The book you described doesn't sound as though it is intended to be make money by being sold to academic readers.

There are two issues

1. How much do they see it as their role to review for accuracy/quality rather than just saleability?

2. How well do they do the filtering?

There's more filtering for academic quality (and often less for saleability) from the purely academic university presses such as Cambridge University Press, more filtering for saleability (and often less for quality) from publishers such as Wiley or Springer.

In any case, a lot depends on the specific editor as well -- Springer Statistics is very good, for example, and their main US acquiring editor is very highly respected.

In statistics, mathematics, and public health, the publishers are looking for authors: there isn't much academic reward for writing books. They don't pay advances, but they do pay similar royalties to the commercial non-fiction world and they obey Yog's Law. Authors write an outline and sample chapter and these are circulated to reviewers who are asked who is likely to want to buy the book. The author usually suggests some reviewers; the publisher usually contacts others as well. This usually weeds out most of the real crap.


In the humanities, book publishing is an important part of 'publish or perish', and there are perfectly respectable books that are subsidized by the author (more precisely, by some body with money, via the author). Again, there's a review mechanism, probably a much stricter one since more people want to publish books.


#335 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:10 PM:

I don't think Garrison Keillor has a whole lot to do with NPR. It's produced by a separate company (american public media) and carried by many stations that are NPR affiliates, but I think that's the extent of the relationship.

#336 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:22 PM:

Sarah, #326: Oy. Your post convinced me to go back and re-read in detail the one to which you were responding, and I am 100% in agreement with you. Either my understanding of the definition of "bowdlerization" is completely wrong, or that's a clear-cut example of "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

#337 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:33 PM:

re 324: No, Douthat says that it is pantheistic, which is entirely different.

re various: Well, it's probably just the way I tend to memorize music, but I've very alert to people changing lyrics. Anyway, the offensive line is, naturally, "God in three persons, blessed trinity." So they change that. I don't think this is the same as the way that Christianity repeats the texts of Judaism, though of course YMMV. I would have a problem with appropriating a familiar Jewish tune and text (if for instance someone decided to make a Christianized version of the dreidel song); I'm not really comfortable with a recent insertion of a conspicuously Jewish tune into the Hymnal 1982.

Sarah, no doubt you feel I've dissed what I gather is your religion. And I'm not sure what Jan Hus is doing in there anyway. But Channing fits into the pattern: the Arlington Street Church began as an orthodox (not Orthodox) Presbyterian congregation and ended up rejecting various offensive Christian doctrines along the way-- not morally offensive, but intellectually offensive. I don't need to get into a pissing contest about whose morality is more advanced-- after all, I'm C of E (well, Episcopalian). Anyway, in 1819 advances in sexual morality were not yet on the program, and personally I don't think of the French revolution as a moral advance over the American one-- or for that matter, remaining a Tory. Just my opinion there, of course. "Bowdlerize" is also my opinion, but the origins of Unitarianism within Christian churches through a process of doctrinal rejections is just the way it happened, for better or worse.

#338 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:37 PM:

C.Wingate, #324: so tell me about these non-pagan pantheists.

#339 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:40 PM:

"Trisagion" would be a great-sounding monster name. Trisagion the Terrible, Destroyer of Mercy.

#340 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 12:49 PM:

I read that Douthat thing, and comparing the pantheism of Spinoza with The Force or The Lion King's Circle of Life is, IMO, laughable. A mouse isn't an elephant, even if they're both four-legged mammals.

#341 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 01:27 PM:

They are both, however, luminous beings. A lightsaber cuts through Spinoza's verbal calisthenics any day of the week.

#342 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 01:29 PM:

Randolph (# 324) --
It seems that Douthat is, as seems usual, chanelling directly from his rear end. (IMNSHO, YMMV) -- And yes, I have preconceived opionions about his views and writing, and it certainly does color how I read what he has written)

In order to keep his "cred" with the right-wing religious supporters I feel that he has to find *something*, at least once a month, to rail about How The /Y/o/u/n/g/ /A/r/e/ /S/p/o/i/l/i/n/g/ /E/v/e/r/y/t/h/i/n/g/ Liberals are misleading us all with some anti-xtian conspiracy

#343 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 01:44 PM:

PHC is part of the PRI CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) network, but also carried by much larger number of NPR CPB affiliates, which receive many pledges during pledge drive when PHC is on. PHC, like all the CPB star programs, creates special pledge drive shows and / or pleas for the stations to run during pledge drives. As they are large fundraisers for the individual stations, NPR doesn't want to drop them.

Love, C.

#344 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 01:47 PM:

C. Wingate @337--most of the various demoninations of Christianity have been formed through processes that include that you are pleased to call "a process of doctrinal rejections", including your own.

Given that the roots of Unitarianism* (as a concept, rather than a specific demoniation) go back all the way to the ante-Nicene period, it might be considered a courtesy to avoid trivializing this theological position with such terms as "bowdlerize", which I assume you intend in the second definition: "to modify by abridging, simplifying, or distorting in style or content", with, given the tone of your comments, the emphasis on "distort".

By the way, I was under the impression that the dreidel song was not a piece of liturgy, but a children's song. You might want to strive for a better example, unless the idea that you're on fairly weak ground when it comes to gerring cranky the general origins of Christian litrugical traditions has sunk in, in which case dropping the matter and addressing the rest of this community in a more seasonally appropriate manner might be a good idea.

I will add, in passing, that I think "Christmas" as a Christian holy festival in less endangered by the threat presented by Unitarians and Mormons (and others--there is, after all, the Unity Church and their ilk, and the Quakers, and all those Orthodox Churches who can't bow down and change the dates they celebrate the various feasts, plus the remains of the Monophysites, and anyone else I've overlooked) getting their grubby hands on Christmas traditions than it is by rampant merchantilism. Got any snark to spare for the cashbox version of Christmas, or is it more fun to gripe about the Unitarian Threat (after all, they have a jihad, with funny names)?

Also, Ross Douthat as any flavor of expert source on religion? Dude.

*Cliff-notes version available at Wikipedia, Unitarians and theologians will probably wish to address the inevitable shortcomings of that source.

#345 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 02:08 PM:

This may be a bit too hand-wavy, but I've thought of the Unitarian Universalist church as a place where an agnostic could attend services and not expect to be tolchocked in the parking lot afterward.

#346 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 02:19 PM:

Randolph @ 324: "Sean Paul Kelley (the Agonist) in defense of Avatar: "The archetype is a common foundational myth, pops up in many national literatures and historical writing for a reason.""

So national and historical literatures aren't political? Um, okay. Also, I'm pretty sure that the 12th century Turkish poem isn't about a technologically superior, capitalist enterprise stripmining the land of a primitive--yet spiritual!--native people. Just a guess, though.

"On the other hand Ross Douthat is convinced it is pagan."

OH NOES! WE IZ DISCOVERDED! RUN

More seriously, I think Douthat going a little batty when he writes "We stand half inside the natural world and half outside it. We’re beasts with self-consciousness, predators with ethics, mortal creatures who yearn for immortality." He persists with a conception of nature that cuts humans out of it, as though nature was possible to escape. That's a terrible mistake: humans are a part of nature, as is everything material. The disharmony emerges from that misunderstanding, not from an inherent disconnect.

So when he says "This is an agonized position, and if there’s no escape upward — or no God to take on flesh and come among us, as the Christmas story has it — a deeply tragic one," he's proposing theism as a solution to a problem he created for himself.

albatross @ 330: "The pity is that this useful insight is often turned into a bludgeon to shut someone up, or into discussions about who has a right to a voice or an opinion in some conversation. I think that's what some of the commenters above were describing (at least, it's what I got) with phrases like "entitlement whist." In general, when the conversation shifts from the original question of facts or morality or ideas, to a meta-question of who is allowed to speak or hold certain opinions, it seems to almost never turn out well."

I go with Oppression Olympics myself, but yes--obsessing over who gets to say what about which forms of oppression, and which oppression is the worst is a dangerous trap to sink into.

re: the Scientific Research Publishing sidelight - My guess, given that it seems to be sourced in China, is that it's a dummy journal to help graduates of Wuhan University get published in an English language journal. In China it's standard (I hear) to require English language publication in order to get a PhD, and very few science students have English good enough to pull it off. So there would be a big use for a dummy journal to help Chinese scientists get "published." That's my guess, anyway.

re: Crowdsourcing - from the article: "Crowdsourcing's power to compartmentalise and abstract away the true meaning of tasks turns human intelligence into a commodity. Zittrain's thought experiment shows how it could potentially entice people into participating in a project that they otherwise wouldn't support."

Shocking! Everyone knows you should PAY people if you're going to use human intelligence as a commodity in pursuit of goals they otherwise wouldn't support! What are we, communists!?!1?!

#347 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 03:56 PM:

"I will add, in passing, that I think "Christmas" as a Christian holy festival in less endangered by the threat presented by Unitarians and Mormons getting their grubby hands on Christmas traditions than it is by rampant merchantilism."

Heh. Did you know that the church fathers finally got rid of Midnight Mass because people would be drinking and gambling in the back? Think Mardi Gras in New Orleans and you'd probably have it pretty close. Dickens popularized the idea of Christmas as a family holiday and one for charity, but Scrooge might have actually been closer to right about the purpose of Christmas in his day.

Also, in Catholic tradition, Christmas is not one of the two high holidays. In fact, there's a lot of discussion about why it shouldn't be (including various discussions of incarnation theology and whatnot.)

The mercantilism annoys me a bit, but mostly because of its ever-increasing lead time. I'll try to keep Christ in Christmas but I don't begrudge anyone else Gift-Giving Winterfest. Why not.

(Holiday evolution in general is fairly amusing, with Valentine's Day being one of the weirdest.)

#348 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 03:57 PM:

"The church fathers several centuries ago."

Preview works only if you think about what you've written.

#349 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 04:14 PM:

338: Of course "pagan" can be used to mean pretty much anything except for the Abrahamic religions, but it's boring to do that unless you're into casting aspersions.

344: Fidelio, if what you're saying is true, it is so through interpreting "doctrinal rejections" in a completely different sense than I intended. Historically the tendency in orthodox Nicene Christianity isn't to reject doctrine, but to adopt it, albeit often at the expense of established doctrine. Now doctrines tend to form in response to (perceived) error, so most doctrines take the form of rejection of this or that notion. So in that sense, yes, it's through "doctrinal rejections", that is, "doctrines that reject things". That's not what I meant, though: I specifically meant "rejection of doctrine".

I'm looking at Channing's Baltimore Sermon now, and I see that he was an Arian, if even so strong a doctrinal commitment could be attributed to him (not having read everything he wrote, it's possible he could have been an adoptionist). Again, I see in "A Letter on Creeds" a rejection of the notion of doctrine. I have lots of problems with his approach, beginning with his neglect of the already-extant theology addressing his positions and continuing on through philosophical rejection of his principled opposition to doctrine (because I don't agree with his philosophical principles). "Bowdlerize" represents my personal opinion as to the worth of this; as I said, YMMV, and I'm not going to mount a defense of that in the face of what would undoubtedly turn into a pile-on.

346: It's OK to use "nature" that way if you are willing to keep that difference obscured. In practice people don't (e.g., when they talk about ecology).

#350 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 04:20 PM:

"[I'm] very alert to people changing lyrics. "

Then I'd imagine your alerts go off a lot whenever you go to church. The church hymnals I'm familiar with are *full* of changed lyrics, new lyrics written to old tunes, and all kinds of other alterations and folk processing, over the course of hundreds of years. I'm not just talking about recent "PC"-ish changes, but lots of older linguistic, doctrinal, and artistic adaptations as well. Or, to twist an old saying, the most prolific hymn-writer credited in the hymnbooks I pick up has nearly always been "Alt."

Certainly, some changes are more, or less, graceful than others. But I'm not aware of any time period since the dawn of print where hymn-writers haven't been swiping and re-working other people's songs left and right. Is your experience different?

#351 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 05:40 PM:

Thomas @333: Interesting. That aired as the Three O'Clock Prayer on most TV and radio stations when I was growing up in the Philippines, a predominantly Roman Catholic country. It always concluded with Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy on us and the whole world, repeated thrice.

#352 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 06:00 PM:

B. Durbin at 347, Did you know that the church fathers finally got rid of Midnight Mass because people would be drinking and gambling in the back?

Huh? I don't know in what country the "church fathers" eliminated Midnight Mass, but it isn't this one. I'm planning to attend Midnight Mass at my parish, as I have for years. Can you clarify?

fidelio, I agree with you entirely that consumerism presents way more of a threat to the survival of Christmas as a holy day than the various doctrinal disagreements among Christians does.

#353 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 06:08 PM:

Albatross and Thomas - thanks. That does rather confirm my impression of praxis publishing. It is rather hard to see what the market is though, because who wants to spend a lot of money on a small print run book which is less about science and more about politics? Unless the denialists are more subtle in their long term plans than we give them credit for, which is unlikely. I guess its just a case of someone trying to make a buck or two out of a political hobby horse of theirs.

#354 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 06:15 PM:

Pendrift@351: In eastern churches it's used at (I think) every service; in the western Catholic church it's used very specifically on Good Friday (in Greek, as well as Latin or the vernacular). Its use as the three o'clock prayer presumably grew out of that.

#355 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 06:56 PM:

Andrew M @354: Ah, thank you. I don't know if any other countries actually have national broadcasts of the 3 o'clock prayer, also known as the 3 o'clock habit. I misremembered the prayer, though - the first text here is the one that's actually read out.

In some places they also read out the Angelus over a loudspeaker at 6 o'clock. When this occurs in a shopping mall, people actually stop dead in their tracks until the prayer is over.

#356 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 07:11 PM:

Darn, that's the first time I've ever seen a mention of an older science fiction story without three people here instantly knowing what story it was. I don't think it was LeGuin, but it could have been High. A quick perusal of his memorial Website tells me it doesn't appear to have been any of his books, but the short stories have no descriptions, so ... maybe.

#357 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 07:37 PM:

Joel Polowin, #303, I have two of those and I sit against them -- between me and the recliner. The cats sit on them but I don't think they know I've turned the hot off.

Randolph, #324, the WashPost's black columnist, Courtland Milloy, who mostly writes about black things, thinks it's about blacks.

#358 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 10:52 PM:

Lizzy L.: It was gotten rid of for some period several centuries ago, in a time period before Oliver Cromwell cancelled Christmas for similar reasons. It crept back over time, after everybody had forgotten about the traditions of wining and wenching. I wasn't very clear about that, sorry.

I love Midnight Mass. Unfortunately, most parishes these days have moved it to earlier in the evening, which misses the point. If my parents' parish, with its new resident priest, moves it back, I will be very happy to attend. My parish has "vigil" masses. Feh.

#359 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2009, 11:59 PM:

A pretty good article on China by Christopher Hayes.

#360 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 06:45 AM:

MMichael Roberts #314/ 356 - I have "The wordfor world is forest" somewhere in my library but can't find it and can't quite recall enough detail of the story. So I'm no use I am afraid.

#361 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 07:38 AM:

C. Wingate, #349: "[...] unless you're into casting aspersions."

Isn't that exactly what Douthat is doing? I can't imagine a conservative Catholic like Douthat making much of a distinction between pantheism and paganism. For him it is at most a technicality. If he recognizes Christian pantheism, he probably regards it as something even worse than pagan--as heretical.

heresiarch, #346: what is odd is that most actual pantheism has a transcendental element. Rather than denying human spirituality, it extends spirituality to the rest of living world, sometimes all of the physical world. Douthat, not thinking clearly, is arguing just the opposite. Oh, well, not my problem.

#362 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 09:54 AM:

C. Wingate @337: Appropriate the dreidel song ALL YOU LIKE, as long as you don't sing it around me! I am fed to the TEETH with that one, since it got put in holiday concerts EVERY YEAR in the spirit of inclusiveness, and there was no alternative. Even in Hebrew school, there were only two alternatives: Ma'oz Tzur (Rock of Ages) and some trifle that went "Oy Chanukah, oy Chanukah, let's light the menorah," which wasn't any more appealing.

Now I'm curious as to what obviously Jewish melody got included in the 1982 hymnal.

#363 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 09:58 AM:

"If it's something I used when I was younger, it doesn't belong in a museum."

That's pretty much what Siriosa said during Saturday's Gathering of Light. I had mentionned that card punchers, which we both used in olden days, were never seen by a younger co-worker of mine outside of a technology museum.

#364 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 09:59 AM:

Are you looking for Love?
If so, on my way to the office yesterday, I saw a billboard you might be interested in.

"Sofa and Love - $400."
#365 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 10:02 AM:

I'm pretty sure the Dreidel Song has been Chipmunked, but... I hesitate to confirm it. I typed the words into the search engine, but could not bring myself to.... No, it's too painful.

#366 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 10:14 AM:

The truth is out there... including chipmunks.

Be _very_ afraid.

#367 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 10:21 AM:

A very different take on the Dreidel song.

Put down your drink and get the cat off your lap before you click.

#368 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 10:22 AM:

B. Durbin @ #358: Ah, thank you. And sorry to hear that your parish has no Christmas Midnight Mass. It's not always easy for me to stay up late, I confess -- but I love the liturgy for that Mass, and the church is always packed.

And to all who frequent Making Light: Merry Christmas! Joy and comfort to you and yours.

#369 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 10:35 AM:

The Pocket Elvis iPhone app rocks. Thank ya, thank ya verra much.

#370 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 10:47 AM:

When my older son, now in his mid-20s, was small, I took him to a pre-school at the local YM/YWHA. As a result, one of the first songs he learned was The Dreidl Song. It embarrassed his mother when he asked her to sing it, and she couldn't.

#371 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 10:53 AM:

#332 Constance

Minnesota had elected Paul Wellstone to a Senate seat, and to the governorship an Independent who had been an entertainment industry wrestling media personality; those indicate a certain level of beliefs and values and attitudes that are emphatically not hardliner repressionist intolerance/intolerants! I doubt that Prarie Home Companion encapsulates the totality of the culture/cultural values--it appears to have some/sufficient celebration of some of them and sufficiency of congruence to have that area as part of its (gag for the hackneyed phrase) "core constituency."

Trying to translating into less formulistic language:

Prarie Home Companion's offering are like a meal with comfort food. It includes stuff which people grew up with and are used to. It may or may not be their consciously chosen restaurant meals and acquired taste, but it has a big heap, for some of the midwestern homeland, of home cooking to it. That includes stuff that might or might not bear close critical examination....

Close critical examination of what one grew up with and didn't question, can get extremely painful. The path of least resistance and greatest convenience and least upset, is to take it on surface appearance and accept it and not poke at it--sort of like reading certain types of literature, start doing in-depth critical examination rather than enjoying it for the flow, and it becomes a lot less satisfying and worthwhile.

I don't have the native culture resonance to Prarie Home Companion, I didn't grow up in a society which nurtured me in the childhood cohort.... that almost automatically, therefore, sets up a negative automatic response to assumptions that Prarie Home Companion rests on.

From where I'm looking, PHC has as one of its basic assumptions, that the listeners grew up in a culture which didn't beat kids up for being "above average." The show explicitly states that all the children of the culture it celebrates are above average. So, from the get-go, PHC sets up a negative response in from that particular claim, because its bases, and my growing up experiences, have massive impedance mismatches. It's on a very different set of frequencies transmitting, that my inculcated-in-childhood receptors, accept without critical analysis, input on...

PHC's comforting to-those-who-grew-up-in-the -culture-it-celebrates platitudes and affectionate self-deprecation, don't work for me because to me it celebrates a mostly alien culture. It depends on/assumes not only familiarity but comfort from that culture. I could accept it better if I didn't have automatic distrust of the assumptions about the comfort level assumed for the audience and the self-deprecation based on it.

Since the culture is not one I'm a native of, and since my tendency is to not accept real world culture I don't know at face value--I'm an NTP on Myers-Briggs-- PHC grates on me. It's not the PHC is "wrong," it's that PHC has a tuning that's a scale that to me is way out of key, my experience/training is with tunings that the PHC tuning sounds -wrong- for....

Bottom line

Bottom line: PHC is like an instrument tuned to a scale which is native to a lot of people, positively resonant with others, but which for me is off-key. Its assumptions and style are unpleasurably out of congruence with my childhood in both implicit and explicit training and familiarity, and interpretation... ( There are things in my past, which the exact same trait, got me in trouble with some types of people, and got me accolades and regarded as heroic by others... same traits, different culture/values and regard for...)

There is a scene in Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's most recently published novel, Fledgling/i>, where Theo Waitley, the protagonist, relatively late in the book, is in a classroom and the instructor describes a situation.... Theo discovers that her training/assumptions give rise to her view of what results from the situation and how the story should end and who the villian(s) and hero(es) in the story are , being very different from than her classmates' views. The cause of the differences primarily are what cultural values the students in the class grew up with, which directed their perceptions, expectations, and their very definition of desirable, appropriate behavior and action and aspiration. The cultural values and the characteristics and character traits her birth culture valued and celebrated, and her classmates' native cultural values, are for many things contradictory....

That stuff all comes into play when listening to something like Prarie Home Companion--but those things are not generally what people think about as influences on whether someone "likes" or dislikes something. Unexamined assumptions of values sit at the base, and the consequences mutiply.

#372 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 11:06 AM:

#363 Serge

I have very little in the way of fond memories of card punches, and have essentially negative nostaglia for them. The clunk-clunk noises they made amused me a bit (but then, I like the feel and sound of snow crunching under my booted feet in the winter....) (pedant note--when there is crunchable snow, it requires snow of certain characteristics including the snowmass having a certain crustry consistency which facilitates crunching when walked upon--but not too crusty or it becomes icy, or instead of compacting satisfyingly when stepped on has to be stomped on to avoid being put off balance... ), but having to use them for loading date and instructions into a computer, ugh, ugh, ugh. There were/are even more unpleasant/excrutiating loading mechanisms, such as toggling instructions and data into a machine by using toggle switches... but that does NOT make keypunches things I appreciate or ever wanted to, much less still would want to, use, in computing operations....

My preferred usage of cardpunches, was for, in conjunction with timing device, determining building height. That is, drop the cardpunch off the building, time its descent, and convert the descent time into distance... this is indicative of the appreciation I held for cardpunchs as data input tools....

I greatly appreciate modern technology for data input (if not the -way- that GUIs have been implemented. What Jobs didn't steal from Xerox, is the type of GUI I want--not the icons and mice and pointers, but the relational constructs that the Xerox Star had...)

#373 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 11:10 AM:

Midnight mass discontinuance?! That's heretical! (And I'm not even Christian, let alone Anglican/Episcopalian or Roman Catholic!)

(Note, I was part of the choir for the Roman Catholic services up in Thule, Greenland....)

#374 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 11:25 AM:

This is for all the people that call the "Twilight" books a saga. I know that four books add up to, in Merriam-Webster's definition, "a long detailed account" but I also expect something better than Sparkles in Forks.

#375 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 11:29 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 314: Your story seemed naggingly familiar, but the closest thing I could track down was "The Winged Dreamers" in Star Trek: The New Voyages, which featured butterflies with a collective intelligence. So I asked on rec.arts.sf.written, and got a reply: "Hunter Come Home" by Richard McKenna. A follow-up message lists collections which include the story.

Serge and Paula: I have a mechanical hand-operated 1-card punch in the basement. I didn't use it, myself (my high school had electric keypunch machines); it was a gift from my B.Sc. project supervisor, who found it while he was cleaning up his office and knew that I appreciated "classic" technology.

#376 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 11:49 AM:

On Midnight Mass:

The Catholic Church (English-speaking subset, at least) specifies a distinct set of readings, prayers, etc, specifically for "Mass during the night" on Christmas Eve. This is what used to be the Midnight Mass.

The decline of mass at midnight is a combination of aging congregations and shortage of priests. If the same priest who presided at the evening mass and the midnight mass is going to be up bright and early for the morning mass on Christmas Day, and the attendance at midnight keeps decreasing, it's easy to see why 9pm looks attractive.

Cathedrals and parishes with large congregations or enthusiastic musicians still do tend to go for midnight.

#377 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 12:01 PM:

Serge @363 -- Imagine my surprise the first time I saw a piece of artwork (an original print by John Taylor Arms, "Loop the Loop") that I had at home in a museum's proud "New Acquisitions" display.... Almost as great as when at 16 I saw a book I'd been reading at home on a rare book dealer's table (The Opener of the Way by Robert Bloch in the original Arkham House edition).

#378 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 12:04 PM:

Our twin parishes aren't very big, but we are doing Midnight Mass as usual (and at midnight, thank you very much). I'm singing with our choir at both that one, and the 8pm vigil mass beforehand. There are, as Thomas noted, distinctive readings for both Masses, different from what you get during the day on Christmas.

Given that our kids are likely to wake us up as soon as they can the next morning, I hope to get caught up on sleep on Christmas itself or the days that follow.

And last I checked, Christmas was still the second-most prominent focus of the year in the Catholic calendar. (First, of course, is Easter.) Christmas and Easter both are distinct in having special seasons of preparation (Advent and Lent, respectively) that are very noticeable in the liturgy. There are a number of other important holidays, but a lot of them tend to orbit around these two. (I'm including Pentecost in Easter's orbit here, though it's some distance out, and in some ways marks a transition into the rest of the year.)

#379 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 12:07 PM:

Paula L. -- What are you expecting I shall take away from your lecture to me on the matters of PHC?

Love, C.

#380 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 12:27 PM:

PL -- Additionally: PHC is like an instrument tuned to a scale which is native to a lot of people, positively resonant with others, but which for me is off-key.

This is gobblygook to the ears and eyes of musicians. You cannot "tune" a scale "offkey."

And, may I presume to add, Unexamined assumptions of values sit at the base, and the consequences mutiply.

Love, C.

#381 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 01:00 PM:

There are four (4) "Hebrew melodies" in the 1982 Hymnal. The first is the well-known Maoz Tzur, disconnected from any Hannukah text at #393. Dozens of versions.

The second (which I suspect C. Wingate doesn't like) is called Torah Song [Yisrael V'oraita], #536. An arrangement for children's choir.

The third, Leoni aka Yigdel, appears twice at #372 and #401 - it is a wonderful vigorous tune in F minor. This guy does a terrific job of conflating it with any number of other rousing minor marches - well worth a listen.

And the fourth is the round Shalom chaverim at #714.

A very Merry Christmas to all!

#382 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 01:50 PM:

Bruce, #374: Heh.
Q: "You HIT me! Picard never hit me!"
Sisko: "I'm not Picard."

Mark, #381: That third one, Yigdel, I immediately recognized as the melody called "March of the Kings" on one of my Christmas albums.

#383 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 01:59 PM:

Hi Lee - actually, that's his "introduction" march - Leoni appears about a minute in, soloed out on the Tuba.

The Bach/Vivaldi A minor concerto also shows up later. In F minor. Hijinks ensue.

#384 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 02:20 PM:

#378 & #379 Constance

Not a lecture, musings....

As for the tuned to a scale--consider a harp. There are LOTS of different scales apparently that harps can be tuned to (or perhaps, I am using the term "scale" incorrectly here.... no I am not being sarcastic or ironic. I may be using the term inappropriately, or not.... not sure which--perhaps I should be using the term key? Um. ) Some of them can sound -wrong- to people not used to them.

Somewhere around here is a book which objects to "equal temperament" tunings. Standard pianos don't have e.g. a difference between A-flat and G-sharp. In equal temperament they are the same. On some other tuning types, they are -not-....

My point is that someone used to hearing the one, is likely to regard the other as to some degree off-key, because it sounds -wrong-. Different people will find it differing levels of offkey sounding--some won't notice, some will find the difference excrutiating.

One of my friends made the observation than most people going offkey tend to be -flat-, but that I tend to go -sharp-... I mention this because, again, different people really do -hear- and perceive and respond in not the same ways, to the exact same stimuli.

And this is a very longwinded way of attempting to explain what I was trying to say.... that "sounds wrong" can be a very individualistic experience, for reasons that including all of training, experience, and even organic internal hardware and processing modes....

And while I'm being (as often I am... ) longwinded--

John Oliver when he was conducting the MIT Choral Society and and when I was in it, was tellling an anecdote of a famous singer, who kept starting at part at a recording or practice session, and kept being told to stop because she was offkey. FINALLY, what came out, was that she was singing in European concert A, and not in the concert A ued in the USA 00 a difference between I think it is 440 cycles per second, and 444 cycles per secon -- one part in a hundred, but sufficient for trained classical musician ears to hear it as unacceptably offkey.

Again, that is what I was trying to communicate about PHC, that it is in a wrong key for -me-

#385 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 02:36 PM:

Various:

There are some very unclear issues with the tunes of Jewish liturgical music.... 2500 years of wandering around a significant percentage of the world's geography and cultures, brings in all sorts of syncretic stuff, including musical traditions. The same tune that the Israeli national anthem has, Moldau used for Ma Vlast, for example.....

There are specific tunes for singing Torah and Haftorah portions and I-cannot-remember-the-general-term-involved with actual marks indicating the tune segments, for teaching people who are learning to sing the portions.... (the musical transcription stuff appears as markings in printed text versions, they're not on actual Torah scrolls.... I strongly suspect that some of it, is that -tune- forms one type of memory aid, just as in verses, rhyme helps as memory aid....)

(De facto I seem to have one or more of the musical-math genes, and it's/they'/re also tied into what makes it so easy for me to versify in here... on the downside it probably also ties into the longwinded perambulating posts. It also makes the "music" on airplanes stuck on gatehold, drive me into almost violent irritation, and be the impetus for making up scurrilous lyrics when assaulted with Christmas season music in stores....)

#386 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 02:49 PM:

And, digging myself in deeper --
What bothers me the most about PHC is the actual sound quality/tonality of Garrison Keillor's narrational voice. To me kinaeshetically it's the vocal equivalent of Muzak--what it feels like/sounds like to me is homogeneously predigested no-dynamic-range verveless monotonic degerminated pablum... and however ironic it may sound, what I suppose is supposed to be soothing to most people, has the exact opposite result, eliciting which is considerable irritation, in me!

So, anyway, that all boils down to, "Prarie Home Companion, quite literally, sounds wrong to me--literally."

#387 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 03:11 PM:

Leoni aka Yigdal is in the 1935 Methodist Hymnal (#5, 'The God of Abraham praise'). #1 is Nicaea ('Holy, Holy, Holy').

#388 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 03:52 PM:

Paula Lieberman, #372: now me, I remember paper tape not-fondly. And Teletypes, bang, bang, bang.

#389 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 04:01 PM:

I learned long ago not to eat/drink while actively reading ML. However, munching my way thru "lastest comments" sucked me in to the comments on comments on comments thread. And caused me to put face cream on my newly washed hair.

#390 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 04:33 PM:

Paula @384: There are LOTS of different scales apparently that harps can be tuned to (or perhaps, I am using the term "scale" incorrectly here.... no I am not being sarcastic or ironic. I may be using the term inappropriately, or not.... not sure which--perhaps I should be using the term key? Um. ) Some of them can sound -wrong- to people not used to them.

Diatonic scales? (a.k.a. "musical modes")

#391 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 04:36 PM:

Humor for the season:
The HR department where I work thinks my contract expires at the end of June, and the paperwork I have (of which they should have a copy) says New Year's. Not that they didn't wait till the last minute last year, also.

#392 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 04:39 PM:

Randolph @ #388, Hey, now. I loved paper tape. Being able to read those holes fast was like being a member of a small secret society. You weren't quite Mensa-eligible, but you were smarter than the average swabbie.

#393 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 05:07 PM:

Linkmeister #392: I envied people who could read telex tape. That was an arcane skill.

#394 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 05:20 PM:

Fragano @ #393, samples (from a blog post I wrote thinking back on Navy days).

#395 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 05:37 PM:

Some things I've used in my career should be in museums (at least it keeps them out of the landfill). When I first entered Powell's Technical Book Store, sometime in the early '90s IIRC, there was a display of old computing devices lined up along one long wall. One of them was an IMSAI 8800, a model that I worked on as a technician at the IMSAI factory for 6 months. The primary entry device was in fact a set of toggle switches. If you have a handy dimensional portal I'd suggest pitching the 8800 through that as alternative to display in a museum.

It's not even my worst memory. I'm reserving that title for the IC test computer I used for awhile at Intel. You toggled the bootstrap tape loader into the switches on the front panel, that ran the paper(!) tape reader which loaded the OS, then you plugged a teletype into the serial port and typed commands into that. Did that every morning when I came into work for several weeks; alas, no portal available.

#396 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 05:46 PM:

Way back when, in a prior millenium, I once stood in front of a card reader and ran a million cards through there, dumping them to tape. This was for an insurance company, a client of the service bureau I worked at as a computer operator.

360/30, 32K of memory, three waist-high disk drives that held 7 megabytes of data. Lotsa pretty blinking lights.

The card reader would read 1000 cards per minute. There were 2000 cards in a box, and 5 boxes to a case. There were 100 cases. Such was the glamorous world of IT in 1977. That poor card reader wasn't quite the same after that weekend.

#397 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 05:50 PM:

Bruce Cohen, #395: "You toggled the bootstrap tape loader into the switches on the front panel, that ran the paper(!) tape reader which loaded the OS, then you plugged a teletype into the serial port and typed commands into that."

Hee. We found a high-speed optical read & had to pull the tape through, but then we had a cable run from our development system (a PDP-11/45). Wasn't so bad.

#398 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 06:17 PM:

Best thing about Avatar... The coming attraction for Clash of the Titans... 'nuff said.

#399 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 06:27 PM:

Fragano @ 393:

Maybe an arcane skill, but not one that was much respected in the comm centers where I worked in the '60s (when 5-bit code teletypes were all the rage). All the RF, facilities control, crypto, and other more technical people called the tape handlers "tape apes". Mostly snobbery based on the amount of training required, I think.

But they took it well. One time one of the tape shift chiefs brought a monkey in to work and put it up on a perch with a banana and a sign saying "tape ape".

#400 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 06:34 PM:

Open-threadiness -- Oklahoma City area is getting SLAMMED with winter. Ice, snow drifts, huge winds. Everything's shut down. What did we ever do in the days before our friends could update their Facebook status from their smart phone en route, with pictures? Worry ourselves to even worse frazzles, I guess.

#401 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 06:35 PM:

Paula #384: One of my friends made the observation than most people going offkey tend to be -flat-, but that I tend to go -sharp-...

Somehow, I am not surprised. :-)

#402 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 06:45 PM:

Steve C @ #396, when I was in the Navy, every day at 0000Z we ran a 500-card deck through an IBM 360/20 to change the date. Heaven forbid you drop the damned box which held the cards.

#403 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 06:54 PM:

Paula @385: Is the term you're looking for "cantillation?" I remember that the only way I learned the marks properly for my Haftorah portion was to see the phrase for each mark written out in standard musical notation, play it on my flute (or I might have used my recorder, not sure) and get it into my memory THAT way.

And, just to make it even MORE special, there are two separate cantillation schemes, one for Torah and one for Haftorah portions. This was a major factor in my decision NOT to do the Torah portion as well as the required Haftorah portion at my bat mitzvah. I didn't think I had the brainspace. Just to show that I wasn't a complete slacker, I chose to lead the "additional service" as well. Primarily so I could guarantee we'd use my favorite tune for "Adon Olam." No, I did not use any of the myriad popular-secular tunes it can so easily be sung to, either. My grandparents would not have been amused to hear me sing it to "Suicide Is Painless," and I was going through the whole charade for the grandparents in any case.

#404 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 07:30 PM:

#403 Rikibeth
ROFLMAO!

#401 David
Snicker!

#389 Lin
Snark/snerk!

Various:
Paper tape and Teletypes rank higher on the respect list for me than cardpunches and toggle switches. Teletypes had rubout keys. Cardpunch one had to start a new damn card in the damn cardpunch for any wrong keystroke (who, me accurately typing? ha, ha, ha, ha...). And if messing up with the damn toggle switches, start all over again! Bah! Papertape once punched could be used again and again...

Of course, the discussion in here has been bringing back memories of booting a PDP-11 with toggles and then papertape and then a Teletype and then the highcost Tektronics graphics display terminal, which system was controlling something or other on Alcator and doing data collection....

#405 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 07:30 PM:

#403 Rikibeth
ROFLMAO!

#401 David
Snicker!

#389 Lin
Snark/snerk!

Various:
Paper tape and Teletypes rank higher on the respect list for me than cardpunches and toggle switches. Teletypes had rubout keys. Cardpunch one had to start a new damn card in the damn cardpunch for any wrong keystroke (who, me accurately typing? ha, ha, ha, ha...). And if messing up with the damn toggle switches, start all over again! Bah! Papertape once punched could be used again and again...

Of course, the discussion in here has been bringing back memories of booting a PDP-11 with toggles and then papertape and then a Teletype and then the highcost Tektronics graphics display terminal, which system was controlling something or other on Alcator and doing data collection....

#406 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 07:59 PM:

I played a Star Trek game unto the rank of Admiral (the FORTRAN version) on a Teletype before it was renamed "Super Star Trek", and updated it to use assembly language for I/O for our local copy of the game.

I have played music on a PDP-11 by holding a transistor radio near the blinkenlights. I have witnessed that very same machine creep across the floor due to drive thrashing. I have affectionately caressed the toggles of a PDP-8, which did deign to present prime numbers to me, by way of thanks.

I have touched, with these, my bare hands, the paper tape of a Mergenthaler VIP phototypesetter.

These things I have seen and done may not be as stellar as some, but they are special to me.

#407 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 08:05 PM:

I just saw Avatar with my mom. I loved it.

Yes, it's a "Mighty Whitey" story, and that's kinda icky. But the characters are real and act like people, and the scenery is AMAZING. I'd love to see another story set in that world, if it didn't mean a [shudder] sequel.

#408 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 08:38 PM:

406
I remember watching someone playing Trek on an IBM portable terminal (1976 - it used cassette tapes).

Frisbie has - or had - an Imlac with a diode-matrix boot ROM and ferrite-core memory. And a simple version of Spacewar, loaded from paper tape.

#409 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 09:18 PM:

Paula @386:

There was a course I didn't take in college because the teacher's voice bothered me enough that I knew I couldn't tolerate a semester of it. This was not the main reason Yale had the policy whereby, for the most part*, you handed in your course schedule two weeks into the semester--that was more about making sure you were in the right level physics class, and whether you could get from the 10:30 Spanish class to the 11:30 biology on the other side of campus in the 10 minutes alloted, and which 4 or 5 of the nine things that looked good from one-paragraph descriptions in the course catalog you liked best in practice--but it did mean I could leave quietly, and take a different course instead.

The thing is, this is something about me, not about her. As far as I know, other students didn't have this problem, and took that class, or not, based on the syllabus, assigned reading, and other factors mentioned above. Even if I remembered the instructor's name, I wouldn't post it here, because I don't consider it a flaw in her, much less a major one, that her voice happened to grate on me. I have no idea if she teaches well on any other axis, such as clarity, completeness, or accuracy.

If she was a radio presenter, I wouldn't listen to her program (not that I listen to much radio these days), but I would realize quickly that I wasn't going to keep listening, and not have an opinion beyond that.

* Exceptions were classes that had officially limited enrollment, for which people had to sign up and in some cases compete for room (all art classes, some writing classes, at least some music, probably other things) or be assigned to a section in advance (such as calculus or the first-year English classes). Even then, you could drop without penalty until well into the semester.

#410 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 10:43 PM:

I'm singing at our parish's midnight mass and then at the morning one tomorrow. I would be less cranky if a.) the midnight started at 10:30 rather than 11 pm, b.) the Xmas morning would be scootched back just a tad to 11 am rather than 10:30 am. As it stands, call is 9:30 tonight, I expect to be home somewhere between 1 am and 2 am, and call time for tomorrow morning is 9:15 am. Not as bad as Holy Week, but getting really annoying.

Next year I'm asking Santa for a professional alto soloist so I'm not the one mangling the St. Nicholas Mass bright and early Christmas morning.

#411 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 11:16 PM:

Vicki @409 said to Paula @386: There was a course I didn't take in college because the teacher's voice bothered me enough that I knew I couldn't tolerate a semester of it. [...] The thing is, this is something about me, not about her.

There are several graphic novels of great reputed merit that I cannot stand to read, because I find the art repulsive. Several parts of Sandman actually fell under this, but I squinted and forced my way through because I was already committed. I should probably note that one of the artists that squicks me is Dave McKean, so I've had to put all my Sandman collections in plain brown wrappers so I don't have to look at his reissue covers.

I have many friends that love the stories I cannot read (which include, inter multi alia, Transmetropolitan), but I will never know if I like them or not, alas.

#412 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 01:21 AM:

Paula Lieberman #386 & Vicki #409:

The BBC has an interesting report on "the perfect voice" (using British samples) with examples: "It found the best female voice to be a mixture of Mariella Frostrup, Dame Judi Dench and Honor Blackman. Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons did best for the men."

There are also examples of simulated perfect male & female voices. YMMV. I thought that they were pleasant, but I have no idea what my perfect voice would be.

#413 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 10:27 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 372... I have no fond memories of punched cards either. Presumably neither does Siriosa. What we were commenting on is that we don't need to be reminded that we've been part of this Earth long enough that some of the tools of our youth now can be found in a museum. Now, where did I put my cane?

#414 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 11:19 AM:

#413 Serge

I think in this case you and I have somewhat different views of museums, perhaps.... E.g., Intel produced a very elaborate museum exhibit of one of its at -the-time in production microprocessors, as edutainment/infortainment/marketing. It was a brilliant move on Intel's part, a synthesis of entertainment, education, technology promotion, sense of wonder provocation, inveigling people into being interested in technology for the sake of curiosity and for the applications and uses to put tech to, AND it promote Intel Inside, too. Intel was promoting its latest and greatest and working to get people understanding the technology, understanding what it was important for/useful to, and using the exhibit to try to sell people on buying products with microprocessors in general and Intel Inside particularly....

This was/is NOT dead civilization and obsolete endeavors stuff, this was state of the art reality, buy products with in in stores and understand what's inside!!!! stuff.... That's one of the streams of museum philosphy in the area (Musuem of Science, Children's Museum, Discovery Museum).

The Dead Artists and Civilizations museum meme is also around, I admit, with e.g. the Museum of Fine Arts a particularly cogent example of that (ancient Egyption relics, dead artists, classical Greek artifacts....).

This is an areas with a lot of tech focus, though, and tech types like the latest and greatest stuff to play around with and show off--and that thread, again, runs through various of the museums, and the displays that some universities have.

#415 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 02:38 PM:

Linkmeister @ 402:

Which causes me to give thanks to the gods of computing that by the time Y2K raised its ugly head we didn't have to deal with decks of cards anymore. Just imagine ...

#416 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 04:51 PM:

JMO: "And last I checked, Christmas was still the second-most prominent focus of the year in the Catholic calendar."

Focus does not necessarily indicate the thrust of the official teachings— I'm sure that priests will focus on days that get the congregations in the pews (C & E Catholics, we used to call them.) Easter is a high holiday; Christmas is not. I'm pretty sure the other high holiday is Pentecost.

For that matter, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (not of Jesus) may be more important in the eyes of the church. I don't know; I didn't study for a religious vocation, I only had friends who did. (Fascinating discussion topics, really.)

#417 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 06:47 PM:

Open-threadiness: just finished Brust & Bull's Freedom and Necessity, and while TNH may have been the ideal reader for that book, I appear to have come pretty close to that Platonic ideal. I was thoroughly charmed.

#418 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 07:01 PM:

Bruce @ #415, Imagine, indeed. Yikes.

#419 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 07:03 PM:

Bruce Cohen, #415: steampunk Y2K?

#420 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Dammit, another trifecta. Three people I know have died in the last 3 days. One (a local contradancer) was elderly, and died of a massive stroke/heart attack. The second (a fannish acquaintance from my Nashville days) was a little older than me, and died of cancer. The third (the father of a friend's fiancé) was again around my age, healthy and vigorous, and died unexpectedly in his sleep.

None of these were close friends, but still... not feeling so much in tune with the Christmas spirit at the moment.

#421 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 07:52 PM:

Lee, I'm so sorry.

#422 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 08:17 PM:

Oh! Joel Polowin @375, you may be my hero! I've ordered one of the collections containing McKenna's story just to make sure (and because the entire collection looks great), but timing-wise it looks like a winner; I would have read it from the library in the late 70's.

Won't get to read it for a couple of weeks, though - we're leaving for Puerto Rico tomorrow to visit friends, obtain a replacement title for the van, and see our son's nephrologist.

#423 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 09:44 PM:

Serge @413 I have no fond memories of punched cards either. Presumably neither does Siriosa.

Oh, I have fond memories of punched cards. The ones that arranged the schedule for my senior year in high school gave me 6 home rooms and yearbook committee. After a couple of days I asked the guidance counselor if I could actually graduate with this schedule, and it got fixed.

I knew then that as long as there were computers, there would be work for the people who clean up after them.

#424 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 09:45 PM:

Michael Roberts @ #417, I may not be the ideal reader, but I sure did fall in love with James in a hurry.

Lee @ #420, my condolences. Meanwhile, in yet another blow to the Athens music scene (2009 has been a terrible year), Vic Chesnutt died today.

#425 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 09:56 PM:

Lee @420 Dammit, another trifecta.

It's like hearing bullets whiz past. When I think about it, I'm glad they missed me, but the closeness of it, the breeze on the skin: that's hard to feel serene about.

Sorry sorry. I hope the next trifecta isn't for another decade, at least.

#426 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 09:59 PM:

Lee @ #420: My condolences!

#427 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 10:03 PM:

I think the last time I actually used a card punch was about 1981, when I had to run a program at school on a computer that didn't understand anything else yet. I was happy not to have to use them for the rest of my stuff.

#428 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 10:35 PM:

"Focus does not necessarily indicate the thrust of the official teachings— I'm sure that priests will focus on days that get the congregations in the pews (C & E Catholics, we used to call them.) Easter is a high holiday; Christmas is not. I'm pretty sure the other high holiday is Pentecost."

Pentecost is definitely up there; personally I'd rank it third, but I can understand arguments for ranking it higher. I'm not aware of an official designation of "high holy days" in Catholicism that includes only a handful of days, though there is a longer official list of Holy Days of Obligation. If you look at the Vatican web site's own Liturgical Year index, though, the three holidays specifically shown in the high-level view are Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.

The early 20th century Catholic Encyclopedia's article on feasts includes some notes on historical precedence, noting Easter and Pentecost as the first universal feasts, followed in the fourth century by Christmas and the Epiphany, with various others following later on.

Christmas is, as you note, very popular even among folks who don't ordinarily go to church. But it's also very theologically important in current Catholic understanding. The notion of the Incarnation, the Word made flesh, and God "humbl[ing] himself to share in our humanity", is central to our whole sacramental philosophy of worship, where we commune with God through very tangible media: water, wheat, oil, wine, and various kinds of ministers, including both priests and spouses. All of these rely on imperfect and human elements, and can be seen as extensions of God's own reaching out to us as a human Himself.

So Christmas, in Catholic tradition, is nothing to be disdained (as it sometimes has been in some more puritan traditions). I've quite enjoyed celebrating Christmas today with my family and my parish, and wish a blessed Christmas today as well to all here who celebrate it.

#429 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 10:51 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 422: Glad to help! The story sounded kind of familiar from your description, but as it happens, I have a copy of the original F&SF publication right at hand (donated to the Ottawa SF Society about a year ago) and read it yesterday. I'm quite sure I haven't read it before. It was quite good.

It's a pretty close match for your description. The viewpoint character is from a militaristic planet; they're trying to colonize the world in question to have a place to raise the dinosaur-like creatures whose ritual killing is his culture's rite of manhood. The character is a "blankie", lacking the forehead tattoo which goes with completing the killing, and sneered at by his colleagues because he is, by their culture's standards, not a man. The female character he falls in love with isn't a native, but part of a research team from another planet, there to study the native life.

#430 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 11:23 PM:

Lee, my condolences as well.

Joel @429 - well, we shall see how well I remember it all. I sure don't remember the dinosaur creatures, but it's been a long time. All I really remember is those butterfly leaves and the fact that Boy and Girl end up taken into the great circle of life on the planet, but ... the mind is a malleable thing given enough time.

The collection I ordered, incidentally, was Worldmakers: SF Adventures in Terraforming (Gardner Dozois, like about 90% of collections, it seems). It should be pretty cool.

#431 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 11:27 PM:

Lee, I'm sorry for your losses.

#432 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 01:28 AM:

Lee, I'm so sorry.

#433 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 01:39 AM:

Open thread query:

Mom was given an ASUS eee netbook, Windows 7 for Christmas. I'm trying to get it to connect to my pre-existing network (Ethernet, DSL, DYNEX Wireless-G router). It gets as far as locating the network, but then when I select it and click "connect" it asks me for a PIN from the router display screen. This router has no display screen. It offers me an alternative: "enter security key." I don't think I set up a password for the router, so what could it want here?

Any ideas?

#435 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 07:43 AM:

My condolences, Lee.

#436 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 08:22 AM:

Linkmeister, #433: does the router perhaps have a default password which you have forgotten?

#437 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 10:08 AM:

Linkmeister at 433: My router came with a pre-set security key that was included in the setup booklet. It may also be on a label on the back of the router. I've had to type the long key in a couple of times when other people wanted to use my connection.

#438 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 10:31 AM:

Linkmeister @ 433 ...

Are you sure that you're setting up WIFI rather than bluetooth?

#439 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 10:37 AM:

Lee: My condolences.

#440 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 12:34 PM:

In the year 3020 of the Third Age, all of Middle-earth had been overrun and occupied by the forces of Sauron.

... No, not all. One Shire of indomitable Hobbits remained free, and held out against Sauron's orcs. Asterix the Hobbit, and his friend Obelix (who fell into a cauldron of Ent-draught when he was a baby) and the druid Mithrandir, fought valiantly to free their land from Sauron's legionnaires...

#441 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 01:40 PM:

Randolph @ #436 and Janet @ 437 have it right. When I set up the router I created a password which I promptly forgot, since I've never had to use it again. I had to go into the network map to get access to the router's security settings, but once I did I saw that password, entered it into the netbook at the correct prompt, and Bob's your uncle.

I'm sure there will be disadvantages to this little machine, but the major reason for getting it was its weight: under 3 lbs. When the end user is stuck in bed 24/7, the 6 or 7 lbs of a normal laptop was just too much. We tried that.

#442 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 01:40 PM:

Lee @420 -- condolences from here as well.

On a different thread, not yet started, the article on Corporations and Octopodes got me thinking about the evolutionary biology of corporations. The hiring away of people from other corporations is like genetic reassortment (and attempting to use the other group's "fitness" to improve one's own); there's a parallel with island biogeography as new markets open up, both in physical space and in mental space; and though there's one primary selection pressure now (economic growth) I think we're seeing a need for recognizing different selection pressures. Hmm ... since Darwinism grew out of an economic theory anyway, perhaps it's time for another spin around the helix on applications.

The whole thing about new behaviors appearing that are unexpected is, of course, one of the reasons that I think the Internet is already sentient in ways we can't comprehend (just as one of my cells couldn't comprehend the functioning of my whole body, and the communications potential of hormones released for one local problem [e.g. histamines] ends up having global body effects that are unexpected in some cases, or even fatal [anaphylactic reactions]).

But that's another essay.

#443 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 02:46 PM:

I'm reminded of a song from Hebrew school: [invented transliteration]Ayai M'kom K'vodo (the whole earth is full of His glory). It's a round in a major key, and I can't find anything resembling it online.

As for the McKenna story, it's from a category of science fiction that I don't think is written any more-- you find out that the world is deeply better than you thought.

David Duncan wrote those (this isn't Dave Duncan, the fantasy writer). So did Philip High. Arguably, Heinlein's "Lost Legacy" is an example. "Darwin's Radio" was in the sub-genre, but the science was so awful it didn't work for me.

Any others?

#444 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 05:23 PM:

Hm, seems to be "respond to Paula Lieberman" day:

299, 319: It's the Kedusha (or Q'dushah depending on how you transliterate). And "qadosh qadosh qadosh Ad-nai tz'va`ot m'lo ha-aretz k'vodo" is roughly "holy, holy, holy: the glory of L-rd of Hosts fills the world". ("m'lo" is not the combination of the particle "m'-" with "no", it's the verb root מלא!)

Then at 385: the markings are cantillation/trope, the musical style is nusach.

(And Rikibeth at 305: v'ahavta.)

And then we have 384, and I go all music/physics-geeky: "1 in 100" is a rather poor characterization of the difference between 440 Hz and 444 Hz, because the scale is exponential. I get a 16% difference, which is not inconsequential.

#445 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Lee, #420, I'm sorry, but if things come in threes, maybe there won't be more deaths near you for a while.

Lila, #424, Vic Chesnutt died? I have a lot of his CDs; I'll have to have a listening day.

#446 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 05:30 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @443:
"Ayeh maqom k'vodo" ("Where is the Place of His glory?").

#447 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 05:35 PM:

My condolences, Lee.

I see that in the wake of the most recent airline incident, some airlines are saying that you must stay in your seat in the final hour before landing, and can't have anything in your lap during that time.


More security theater

#448 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 05:53 PM:

Lee - my condolences. Looking back, it's been not that great a year, and not that great a DECADE.

To the Fluorosphere - there was a link to a story months back which was an elegant and startling take on the Santa/Krampus meme: a man gets a surprise package from a distant relative and discovers he's next in line....

Can anyone point us to it? It was a knockout, but I didn't bookmark it and would really like to re-read it this season.

Thanks in advance.

#449 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 06:07 PM:

Steve @ 447

While I probably shouldn't find it so amusing, the recent terrorist plot involving
explosive underwear reminds me of the Goon Show episode "Tales of Mens Shirts".

#450 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 06:42 PM:

From now on, due to the recent air flight security incident, foreign passengers on US flights will just have to urinate on themselves if they need to get up and use the restroom during the last hour of the flight.

"Thank you for observing all safety precautions."

#451 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 06:50 PM:

the measures "are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same thing everywhere."

Which reminds me of some part of the conversation over on the Peter Watts thread. #415
In Romania, there seemed to be no fixed rules...

#452 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 07:04 PM:

Earl Cooley @ 450 -

foreign passengers on US flights will just have to urinate on themselves if they need to get up and use the restroom

It's all good, right? That'll just contribute to short-circuiting the detonators on the underwear bombs.

#453 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 07:12 PM:

It's going to help the airlines so much. /s

One more reason to drive or take a train ....

#454 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 07:19 PM:

#444 Geekosaur

It's 4 cycles in 440 or 444.... that's one percent. Hz = cycle per second. I wasn't analyzing in it terms of e.g. energy or power density and such....

Peudo-Serge alert...

The conversation that hurts....

#455 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 07:35 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 454...

"I'm not sure, but I think we've been insulted."
"I'm sure."

#456 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 07:53 PM:

I won't be able to read a book during the last hour of my flight? WTF?! How is this going to make things more secure? As long as they're implementing arbitrary and nonsensical security measures, how about they let all of us with no testicles to hide powder behind to read, text, grab carry-ons, etc. at any point of the flight? Not looking forward to my next flight at all.

#457 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 07:53 PM:

444 Hz is about 15.7 cents sharper than 440. In most musical contexts, that's going to be noticeable even to untrained ears.

#458 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 08:12 PM:

FWIW, A=415 is about a half-tone below A=440. It makes a huge difference, esp. in the countertenor/alto/mezzo range. I shudder to think what 444 would feel like.

#459 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 08:49 PM:

#456 and above:

What bright boy thought this one up?

So now the terrorists just set the bomb off 1.5 hours from landing. Or in the middle of the flight. Or 30 minutes after takeoff. Or do it by kicking the bag under the seat in front of them.

This is about as pointless a piece of security theater as I've ever heard of.

(My favorite was the TSA person who looked at my ticket & my passport and missed the completely different last names. Isn't that what they're supposed to be looking for?)

#460 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 09:40 PM:

Lee, I add my condolences.

Re flying: sounds I'm not going to be able to a)go to the bathroom, or b) read during the last hour of flight Are the flight attendants going to come through the aisles and collect the seat pocket magazines? Are they going to eliminate them? Will we be forbidden to bring books on board for flights that are under than two hours flying time? That howl you hear is the collective wail from the airline executives who have to try to make a profit while TSA goes all loony tunes.

#461 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 09:48 PM:

When were these new regs proposed, written, voted upon and put into place and by whom?

What about my baby?

We're just told in the NY Times and yahoo etc. that this new layer of regs has been laid upon airflight passengers via homeland security.

Love, c.

#462 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 10:41 PM:

Well, you could read a book held in front of your face or placed on the tray table. Presumably you'd be less likely to make mischief if your hands were in site.

I'm flying back to Oregon next Saturday. I plan on spending my time making sketches of an automated wedgie machine for the jackass who made this security hobgoblinerry necessary. Eight hours a day for life sounds about right. Testing of the device would be performed on the TSA officials who made up the actual rules. Periodic calibration, too.

#463 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 11:16 PM:

#450: The picture on that link shows a TSA guy in blue gloves (one assumes latex/nitrile). But my first thought was Firefly/Serenity, and the frightening guys in blue gloves River was afraid of.

uh...

#464 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 11:19 PM:

My favorite quote regarding the failed hijacking thus far:

"Weenie roast in first class."

#465 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2009, 11:52 PM:

Paula Lieberman @454:
I'm not talking about power or etc. You don't add a value to a note frequency to get the next note; you multiply. The correct comparison by percentage is done on a logarithmic scale1, which gives you about 15.7% (as noted by Tim Walters above).

(feel free to skip the footnote unless you're a physics geek or a pedant...)
1 It's log-12 because the tempered chromatic scale is based on dividing the octave into 12 equally-sized notes, but that "equally sized" is on an exponential scale. As a result, to get from a note to the next half-note up, you multiply by 21/12. Conversely, to figure a percentage difference, it must be done on a logarithmic scale, and with the tempered chromatic scale this means a base-12 logarithm. To wit:

(logBase 12 444 - logBase 12 440) * 100 / (logBase 12 466 - logBase 12 440)
15.763268617736921
giving a 15.8% difference. As I said earlier, nearly 16% is nothing to sneeze at, and is easily audible.

#466 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 12:00 AM:

Or, according to the note I have in my Handbook of Chemistrty, marking the page with the scales (three tunings, A=440, A=435 and C=256), the nth semitone above a note of frequency f is f*(e^((n/12)*ln 2))

And an octave doubles the frequency.

#467 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 12:05 AM:

I should probably add that the "2" in the preceding gobbledygook is the reason why the scale is exponential: the note an octave above any given note has precisely twice the frequency. So, using our example: we are comparing 444 to 440, but if you step both up an octave it is now 888 (not 884) to 880. This is why linear comparisons don't work.

#468 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 12:36 AM:

geekosaur @ 465: The correct comparison by percentage is done on a logarithmic scale1, which gives you about 15.7% (as noted by Tim Walters above). ... As I said earlier, nearly 16% is nothing to sneeze at, and is easily audible.

That's 15.7% of a semitone, though, which is an arbitrary unit, so you can't really tell anything from the raw number.

#469 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 12:41 AM:

I should like to hear some classical music (pre-Bach) done with chromatic tuning. Are there any groups out there doing that? These days, we don't have the same differences between, say, B-flat major and A major that chromatic tuning did.

Equal tempering is what we're all accustomed to, so I'd expect the music to sound strange and out-of-tune, but wonderful nonetheless.

—For you non-music geeks, there didn't use to be an equal distance between notes, because there was no way to measure it reliably. People tuned to resonant frequencies— a fifth was really a fifth, a fourth really a fourth, and so on. I actually have a chart somewhere where I did the mathematical "errors" between an equal tempering and the old-fashioned tuning. A fifth is pretty much the same, but fourths and seconds are fairly different, and minor keys became seriously strange to modern ears.

Bach is not the exact divergence point, but the invention of the pianoforte is a pretty good measure of when tuning started to change, and Bach has a famous piece entitled "The Well-Tempered Clavier," which basically means The Piano That Uses Modern Tuning.

#470 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 12:46 AM:
[...] we should all be glad that Richard Reid wasn't the "underwear bomber." ***

Sigh.

#471 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 12:49 AM:

Oh dear. My condolences, Lee.

#472 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 12:59 AM:

B. Durbin @ 469: There is actually a bewildering variety of pre- (and post-) ET tunings. The Well-Tempered Clavier was written for "well temperament" (of which, to add to the confusion, there is more than one flavor). It's close to ET but not quite there.

Wikipedia has a pretty good brief history of intonation.

#473 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 01:05 AM:

The Just Intonation Network has some MP3 examples of the difference between just intonation and equal temperament.

#474 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 01:07 AM:

Tim Walters @468:
It was "arbitrary" back when the tempered chromatic scale was introduced, and is "arbitrary" to the extent that the singer in question was obviously trained in a different chromatic scale. I suspect that the comparison between standard 440 Hz A, the "off-key" A, and standard A# is "natural" for most people here, though.

(Bonus trivia: the standard US dial tone is based on the 440 Hz A, which is the official standard calibration frequency for the standard tempered chromatic scale.)

Here's a (somewhat slanted) discussion of the 440 Hz vs. 444 Hz A issue. This is the sanest one I found on a quick check; the others liked to focus on the fact that the C above middle A is 528 Hz instead of 523 Hz in the 444 Hz-A system, and how this number has some mystical resonance or other. Nobody talking about how natural middle-C-plus-an-octave is 512 Hz, though. *eyeroll*

#475 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 01:27 AM:

I meant arbitary in the sense that it would be just as reasonable to base cents on (say) whole tones instead of semitones, in which case the difference would be 7.83 "cents". Whereas the actual frequency ratio (1.00909...) is unitless.

For those looking for more detailed info on historical intonation than the Wikipedia article provides, Kyle Gann's got it (with plenty of opinions as well).

#476 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 01:38 AM:

On reflection, I see what you're saying: that 444 is 15.7% of the way to (440-based) B-flat. So: "arbitrary" isn't quite right.

#477 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 01:38 AM:

God save me from people with perfect pitch.* If I were tuned to A444 and the other 40 people in the orchestra/choir were tuned to A440, I would be out of tune and it would be incumbent upon me to match the ensemble. Assuming pitch isn't varying widely at more than a whole step, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg for me to shift just a bit. Well, I suppose it might break my A string, but I doubt the difference between 440 and 444 is going to do that.

And to tie it in with the shiny new TSA regs, if I can't futz around with reading material for the last hour of my flight back from Poland, perhaps I should lead the coach section in some rousing drinking songs. Or maybe some Lieder or sea shanties.

*OK, so that's a little sour-grapey.

#478 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 02:15 AM:

Nerdycellist @ 447:

You could sing the TSA drinking song:
"One hundred IEDs on the wall,
One hundred IEDs,
If one IED should happen to fall
( ( ( { { { BOOM! } } } ) ) ) "

#479 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 02:43 AM:

Three people from my household are going to be flying to the US from Schiphol in the next fortnight. The first of us is my dad, flying the same route as the leg guy*.

Not looking forward to this at all. Even less forward-looking is going on than before, when the only barriers were jet lag, sitting in the tiny loud place for hours, and US border security.

-----
* Must learn his name now that news sources have probably settled on one. We compared notes across four online sources in two languages and got six different names.

#480 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 02:51 AM:

By the way, Bruce Schneier wins at least one internet with this:

"I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks."

#481 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 03:40 AM:

#469 B.

I think that the Boston Early Music Consortium uses period tonalities. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston sometimes has concerts with people playing actual period instruments, and therefore, also, the tonalities are the period tonalities for the instruments....

And when one hears music played with e.g. sackbutts and krumhorns....

As for the all "It HERTZ!" discussion (some audio is painful, too....), I again point out I was pointing at it in terms of frequency comparisons of the type used in e.g. communications, where typically the information rate is around 10% of the carrier frequency if I remember that stuff correctly.... so if the carrier is 440 Hz, there's approproximately 44 bits of data per second transmissable... or maybe it's 22... on second thought....

Oops, that's irrelevant. (Irrevelant red herring discussion left below... irrelevant because digital audio discussion musings excursion I went on is irrelevant to analog audio discussion about off-pitched-ness....).

I was not comparing an concert A US or concert A European to a B-flat, I was comparing the two A tones in terms of cycles per second off from one another--that is, relative pitch of A to A, not what percentage of a step to a B-flat!


http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=11273

440 or 442?
Orchestra: Which does your orchestra tune to?

[Sample excerpts:]

From Nate Robinson
Posted on May 11, 2007 at 07:08 AM
Lots of orchestras tune to 442. According to a well known orchestral violinist I know, Boston Symphony Orchestra tunes to 444, NY Phil tunes to 443, and Berlin Phil tunes to 445. I personally really don't like 440 - I tune usually to 443 or 444 when I practice.

From Ben Clapton
Posted on May 11, 2007 at 01:38 PM

....Good fun for the oboists is to tune the winds to A=440, the brass to A=441 and the strings to A=442 to see if anyone notices

===============================

Music gore:

http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/harmony/pyth.html#intro1

Thinking back to digital audio stuff, standard old CD 44.1 kilosamples per second of two channels of 16 bit data had 96 dB dynamic range, with 6 dB of dynamic range per bit.

The 44.1 ksamples/sec corresponded to sampling at 44.1 kHz, and could reproduces sounds to about 20 kHz...

#482 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 04:25 AM:

Joel Polowin @440 - With Legolas living in a nearby tree and singing badly?

#483 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 04:49 AM:

I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first glass (sic) and giving them free drinks.

In a better world, trying to make this happen would be the premise of a screwball comedy. A real terrorist plot would be foiled in the process.

#484 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 07:22 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @443: As for the McKenna story, it's from a category of science fiction that I don't think is written any more-- you find out that the world is deeply better than you thought [..] Any others?

John Brunner's The Stone That Never Came Down comes to mind. I recall an interview where he said he been writing novels which all came to unhappy conclusions, and set himself to writing one with an optimistic ending.

#485 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 07:38 AM:

geekosaur @ #474

"Nobody talking about how natural middle-C-plus-an-octave is 512 Hz, though. *eyeroll*"

That's probably because Middle C of 256Hz was/is the scientific one used for teaching Physics in schools.

Somewhere I have a 256Hz tuning fork....

#486 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 09:17 AM:

Cadbury Moose @ 485... I have a 256Hz tuning fork

Me, I got two sonic screwdrivers on Christmas.

#487 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 09:47 AM:

abi @ 480: I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks.

I was just thinking that a logical ultimate step would be to incapacitate all the passengers, either by sedation or booze. Clothing can be fabricated from nitrocellulose -- that was one of the earliest uses of the material; see "mother-in-law silk" -- and there are many ways to create a spark.

#488 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 10:04 AM:

O dear Lord, and here I am, flying tomorrow. I'm going to bust a gasket. I'm going to read a book the whole time, and will report on my experiences here.

I hate morons. (By which I don't mean the one that tried to set off fireworks in a plane.)

#489 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 10:33 AM:

Well, I think it's up to the individual airlines on how silly they're going to be, honestly. Some of them have a modicum of good sense.

#490 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 10:33 AM:

It appears that the new regulations apply only to international flights. For now.

#491 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 10:39 AM:

I can hardly wait for this summer, then (trip to Hungary). Also we'll see tomorrow whether or not they consider Puerto Rico international. (Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.)

#492 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 11:01 AM:

#484 ::: Rob Rusick: Brunner's The Infinitive of Go is an even stronger example.

But is there anything recent?

#493 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 11:29 AM:

I6t's pretty clear to me that the policy makers at some level has decided that the US doesn't need an airline industry, doesn't need air travel, doesn't need tourism, doesn't need foreign exchange . . .

On the other hand, I need air travel, at least one round trip from Eastern Europe to the US a year for half my offspring (and preferably one round trip from the US to Eastern Europe for me to visit him, but that depends on finances). I've already had the sickening (fortunately false alarm) experience of not finding him after the plane landed, with the knowledge that they could take him any time they wanted to and if they did they'd never tell me that they had him or where they were keeping him.

"They" meaning the TSA, not the Eastern Europeans.

#494 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 12:17 PM:

Lee: condolences.

Linkmeister @ 441: I recently got myself the XP version, with 10 hour battery, to save weight while travelling. So far, my biggest gripes have been the shiny, show-all-the-fingerprints case and the shiny reflect-well-in-bright-light screen. I solved the screen by buying a screen protector which makes the screen matt (£10 from Proporta in my case). Considering collecting stickers to stick all over the case. Need to decide a theme first.

The only think I'm having problems getting used to are the Home/End/PgUp/PgDown) keys (and that's only because I like to go from End to Home to choose a line of text to copy, so I'm having to use Fn and Shift at the same time), and the Delete key which I keep wanting to use by Shifting - but that's due to my brain getting it confused with the Psion's Delete key, which is backspace/(shift)Delete.

And yes, we had the same problems when we tried to add this and other machines to our home network: password, what password? Network key, what network key? Luckily the network key turned out to be the default one given on the modem.

#496 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 03:54 PM:

Came in after the last round of shoveling snow, ice and other assorted crud and wrote this:

On the fifth anniversary of the Tsunami, and the occasion of a massive snowstorm in the Midwest US.

Some say the world will end in ice,
Some say in snow.
And if we have to pay the price
I favor ways that will be slow.

Atomic fire haunted me
Until the Berlin Wall came down.
Now global warming holds the key;
We freeze or drown
We cannot flee.

#497 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Music pitch/scale thread: I was over at a friend's house and saw "The Ill-Tempered Clavier" on her piano. I wasn't familiar with it, but with a title like that it could only be P.D.Q. Bach, and of course it was.

A friend who plays Baroque recorder music says that often the early pieces were played at slightly lower pitches, maybe A=438 instead of 440.

If I remember correctly from college (long ago), Barbershop Quartet singers apparently use perfect scales as opposed to tempered scales - if you can do continuous-pitch, like human voices, violins, and trombones, then you might as well, and there's a nice exposition of this in "Lies My Music Teacher Told Me". Some other sets of traditional instrumental music use them as well - in Irish music, for instance, you're almost always playing in keys that are friendly for violins. For others, it can depend more on how well your instrument is made - in our local jam session, the bagpiper gets to play in whatever scale he likes, though there's a bit of adjustment possible. With ukuleles it depends on a lot on how new your strings are as well as whether you're playing a $100 uke or a $10 uke. And in general, instruments made of wood are going to change pitch a bit with temperature and humidity, so if it's cold or very hot outside, instruments will need retuning a few times during a session.

#498 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 04:56 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 483:
In a better world, trying to make this happen would be the premise of a screwball comedy. A real terrorist plot would be foiled in the process.

Oh my, yes. Starring Stanley Tucci, George Clooney, and Tony Shaloub. By the way, they're also my choice cast for a biopic about the Marx Brothers: Tucci as Groucho, Clooney as Harpo, and Shaloub as Chico. I'm still looking for Zeppo.

#499 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 05:16 PM:

She has fallen toward this moment all her life.
The elements within her, air and fire,
causing her to burn, now light her pyre;
they've left behind a trail of smoke and strife.
As short and dark as she, so is the arc
of trouble that she followed down to here.
As hot and bright she burned, so love and fear
fueled fire that consumed her; left no spark.
I cannot lay before you only praise;
there's much of her gave others pause to scold;
it's certain that her ending came not well.
Some through life a mortared castle raise.
Others build a ship for travels bold.
Judith rose and burned and then she fell.

#500 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 05:24 PM:

Bill, 497: Most Baroque ensembles that use period instruments and performance practice tune to 415. It makes an enormous difference to singers. Less so for instrumentalists, of course--you just get an instrument built for 415 or 440. (You can't tune winds a half-step down or up; stringed instruments can be arranged, kind of, but it's a big enough difference that it really doesn't work too well.)

#501 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 05:34 PM:

Bill Stewart @pitch thread:

I was in a performance of Monteverdi's Vespers where it wasn't until the orchestral rehearsal two days before the concert that it was realized the organ where we would be performing was tuned incompatibly to all the nice period wind instruments.

We ended up with the organ part played on a synthesizer, after some hurried reprogramming effort from our accompanist.

#502 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 05:36 PM:

Bruce Cohen @498 -- you're leaving out Zeppo?

#503 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 05:43 PM:

I suddenly and unexpectedly took the train home for Christmas, to avoid (not) flying in last weekend's great Northeastern storm. (Arrived ten hours late, but at least we got through.) I had been kicking myself for not trying to hang onto the return flight, instead of taking the train both ways. Now I'm very, very glad I didn't fly today. What a mess.

#504 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 05:51 PM:

Tom Whitmore:

No, I just haven't figured out who should play him.

#505 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 06:00 PM:

Bruce @ #504, judging from the Wiki photo of Zeppo, how about Timothy Hutton? Hutton played Archie Goodwin in the short-lived A&E Nero Wolfe series, and he cultivated that same look.

#506 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 06:28 PM:

Linkmeister @ 505:

Hutton might work. He'd have to play Zeppo with a lot less snark than Archie Goodwin; Zeppo, in the movies at least, was the straight man.

Which reminds of another project I'd love to see: a mini-series of Randall Garret's "Too Many Magicians". It's got patiches of Wolfe, Goodwin, Holmes, and Watson (only in Garret's version, they're not "consulting detectives", they're the cops themselves).

#507 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 06:40 PM:

WRT a Marx Bros. biopic, I'd go with Johnny Depp for all three. It could happen.

#508 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 07:34 PM:

Here's an update on the PeeGate Scandal: on Korea Air Lines, now you can't use the restroom during the last hour without a flight attendant escort. Sorry, but I don't think I'd be comfortable squeezed into a tiny airplane loo with someone standing right there watching me urinate.

#509 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 09:14 PM:

Texanne #500: Although you can't (usually) tune wind instruments up or down a half step, you could and still can can buy wind instruments with interchangeable parts that allow you to play in a variety of pitches. Baroque flutes sometimes came with a corps de rechange (set of interchangeable sections) of as many as 7 different sizes.

#510 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 09:48 PM:

Open threadiness, and an appeal to Denver-area Fluorospherians:

I visit my family in Colorado a couple of times a year. I've been flying, but we're all noticing how that's getting worse and worse. I've noted the California Zephyr goes from not-far-from-where-I-am to Denver, in 32 hours and change. It arrives in Denver at Union Station (in theory) around 7pm the day after it leaves California.

My problem is that my family's in Fort Collins, and none of them are up to driving to pick me up. Greyhound has, apparently, one bus a day between Denver and Fort Collins: it leaves after 11pm, arriving around 1am.

It would be a sad thing to minimize my carbon footprint at the cost of 32 hours out of my life, only to break down and rent a car for the last 60 miles. Should I somehow make my way from Union Station to DIA (which has regular shuttles to Fort Collins, even door-to-door service)? Is there something more copacetic?

#511 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2009, 11:28 PM:

Tracie, 509: Good to know! I play recorders, which aren't susceptible to cool tricks like that. I briefly had the chance to noodle on an Albert-system clarinet, as well, but its tuning was also fixed.

#513 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 12:43 AM:

Bruce Cohen@499: That's lovely, but I can't help feeling that I'm missing something. Judith who?

#514 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 01:33 AM:

Tim, #512: Ouch. Dammit, I did NOT need to hear this on top of everything else.

#515 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 02:25 AM:

Tim Walters @512: Sad indeed about Tim Hart. Thanks for the great video on that link of Steeleye playing in 1975 ("All Around My Hat") -- if (like me) you don't usually click through, I'd recommend this one.

#516 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 04:26 AM:

Bruce @499:
Ooooh. Nice.

#517 ::: SSJPabs ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 07:05 AM:

Norwich called this an oriental passion for theology.

#518 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 11:38 AM:

My short take on Avatar: A visual spectacle, should be seen for that basis alone, intermittently emotionally engaging, best 3D rendering yet, no real surprises in the story.

#519 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 12:51 PM:

Re varying pitch standards in music: the relevant Wikipedia article is interesting; from this it appears that the outer limits of pitch-standard variation over the past few centuries amount to several semitones. I find it difficult to reconcile this with the confident assertions one often hears about the emotional effects of different keys: my 1947 edition of Teach Yourself To Compose Music (four-part harmonies, SATB, dominant sevenths and none of this damned jazz nonsense) says:

"Many writers have endeavoured to classify major and minor keys according to their different characteristics; the results may be crystallized thus:

Major keys.
C ... Bold, vigorous.
D flat ... Sonorous, elegant.
D ... Majestic, grand.
E flat ... Dignified, soft."

and so on for the other major keys, and then the minor ones too. But over the timescale of centuries we're clearly not talking about the same keys...

#520 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 01:10 PM:

Still have my original vinyl of All Around My Hat. The song even survived being the test data I used in a (failed, hence rather drawn out) attempt at repairing a big reel-to-reel tape deck ("survived" meaning I could still enjoy it).

Original 1975 promotional video, eh? I wonder where that was shown then; that's 6 years before MTV for example.

#521 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 01:19 PM:

Steve with a book @ 519: In pre-ET tunings, the various keys had differences in relative tuning of their intervals that would persist regardless of absolute pitch. So a concordance between key and emotion would not be impossible.

From the Kyle Gann essay I linked to earlier:

I've done experiments with students at Bard and Bucknell, playing preludes from the W.T.C. in different keys on a sampled piano tuned to Werckmeister III; say, playing the C major prelude in B, C, and D (computer-sequenced, so that the quality of the transposed performances wasn't a factor). Especially at Bard, the students could invariably pick which was the appropriate key for each prelude. In keys with poor consonances, like F# major, Bach will pass quickly by the major third, and the slight touches of dissonance give the prelude a bright, sparkly air. In more consonant keys, as in the C major prelude, the tonality is much more mellow, and Bach can afford to dwell on the tonic triad. Each key has a different color (as opposed to the uniform color of all keys in equal termperament), and even (or especially!) the unpracticed ear can hear appropriate and inappropriate correspondences between the character of each prelude and the color of each key. Of course, there are preludes that sound fine in more than one key; but it's disconcerting to move a prelude to a distant key, such as from Bb to B, or C# minor to Eb minor.
#522 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 01:24 PM:

David Dyer-Bennett @ 520: There weren't many outlets for music video in the Seventies, but there were some. Top of the Pops (in the UK) showed music videos for those bands that had them (e.g. Queen's famous "Bohemian Rhapsody" video). Those that didn't mimed in the TotP studio. I saw Span doing "All Around My Hat" on TotP; it may have even been this video.

#523 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 01:46 PM:

According to KLM's excellent blog, the TSA has lifted the one-hour restriction. You can now have a blanket on your lap or work on your laptop until landing restrictions come into force.

The pilot is no longer allowed to tell you what you're seeing out your window in US airspace. I can't say I'm deeply outraged at that omission, to be honest.

Expect security delays, pat-down searches, and detailed bag searches on international flights into the US, still.

I'll post a report from my secret agent dad when he arrives home again.

#524 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 01:48 PM:

Bruce Cohen #499: Cool, but yeah... Judith? The poem made me flash on the short story "The Wind From a Falling Woman", but I don't remember the name of the protagonist there.

#525 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 02:41 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 513 & David Harmon @ 524:

Oh, well, I wasn't sure how much explanation was really warranted, and so went with none, not even the disclaimer that it isn't about anyone close to me or any recent event. So now I'll go the other way; here's probably more than anyone will care about.

This poem was sort of a mind-worm. I woke up about 3 AM on Sunday morning, and my mind was running and wouldn't let me go back to sleep. I can't remember the chain of association that led to it, but the need to write the sonnet came out pretty near fully-formed, so I got up and spent an hour or so writing it. The idea came in the form of a question: what do you say in eulogy about someone who died young after, as far as most people can see, squandering all her gifts in adolescent rebellion?

Let me back up a bit. There was a television show in the US called "Joan of Arcadia", running from 2003 to 2005. The premise was that a 15 yo girl, Joan, begins to receive frequent visits, advice, and requests for actions from God. I think the show was written partly in reaction to the dominationist Christian atmosphere of the Bush administration, trying to set out a liberal theology that would appeal to Christians, Jews, and Moslems and give them a position from which to critique right-wing fundamentalist politics.

In any case, I watched it regularly because it showed a family struggling to be functional and loving in the face of great stress both within (3 teenage children) and without (father the new chief of police in a corrupt city). Popular media in the US doesn't show functional families in realistic situations much, so I watched despite my reservations about the theology. It didn't hurt that it had a really fabulous cast (Joe Montegna, Mary Steenburgen, Amber Tamblyn, etc.) and very good writing.

Syfy ran most of the first and second seasons of the show a month or two ago, and we recorded them. Last week we watched the episode in which Judith, Joan's friend, is killed while trying to score a couple of hits of ecstasy on the way to a club. Judith is the subject of the sonnet; she's in complete rebellion against her parents (both shrinks with little time for her), school authorities (she's been at 3 schools already this academic year), and most other kids. She's mostly antisocial, often a thief, heavily into marijuana, liquor, and pills, and has pretty much been given up as a bad job by everybody who might be able to help her. She's already been to the emergency room for alcohol poisoning in the weeks before her murder. As Joan's boyfriend says when Joan objects to him saying that Judith commtted suicide, "Some people do it all at once. Some do it a little bit every day."

It took me awhile after I posted it to realize why the sonnet was so important to me, and then I remembered a girl I knew in high school who was a lot like Judith, though she didn't die while I knew her. If I'd thought of it sooner, I would have used Cookie's name instead of Judith's.

#526 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 02:57 PM:

abi @ 523: The pilot is no longer allowed to tell you what you're seeing out your window in US airspace.

Are passengers allowed to carry GPS devices? Or would that mark one as a terrist?

#527 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 03:00 PM:

So is the TSA going to require that all window shades on planes be permanently locked in the down position so no one can figure out where they are by looking out at landmarks?

#528 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 03:18 PM:

Random political open-threadiness:

Shocking revelation: Opposition party has strategy of opposing government leaders! Or at least that's how this story looks like to my parliamentary-system-trained eye. But while it shouldn't be shocking or surprising that the opposition party acts as an opposition, it is pretty fucked up that, while they do that, they can pretend to be all for bipartisan compromises, and all those centrist types take them at their word (or pretend to take them at their word) and expect the Administration work together with them.

#529 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 05:58 PM:

Tim Walters@521/2: thanks for the quote (I'd missed the link the first time around). I can certainly see how pre-ET tunings would have given a special flavour to different keys, but can't quite see how such flavours could survive the transition to ET...

I heard a delightful story a few years ago that when The Wombles hit the charts in the mid-70s and Top Of The Pops wanted a 'live' performance from them, their producer Mike Batt talked his other big act of the time, Steeleye Span, into dressing up in Womble costumes and performing. I rate this rumour as far-too-good-to-check... much early Steeleye does definitely have the thumpa-dumpa-dumpa-dumpa beat of A Wombling Merry Christmas, anyway.

#530 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 05:59 PM:

A bogglement of interspecies communication. Notice that the brown, furry one is completely naked.

#531 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 06:14 PM:

abi @523: I flew more-or-less twice a month for business for most of the last four years, and I can't recall the last time the pilot told us what was outside our windows. I feel like that's another part of flying that remains only as a joke in Airplane, like the religious folks in the lobby.

Joel Polowin @526: Wouldn't using a GPS device while airborne violate the FAA's 'no transmitter or receiver' policy? While I'm not entirely a fan of some of the limitations on electronics while on planes, it seems that there is already a policy in place to stop 'bad guys' from using those tools if needed. (If the policy extends only the transmitters and GPSes don't feature one, this argument falls apart and should be discarded.)

Bruce Cohen (StM) @527: Except, of course, that flight attendants always are telling me to open my window shade during takeoff and landing for some reason. Makes it difficult to nap on flights featuring daylight.

Of course, this might not stop the TSA--I don't find that all of their policies are created with reality in mind.

#532 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 06:31 PM:

Except, of course, that flight attendants always are telling me to open my window shade during takeoff and landing for some reason.

I looked this up some months ago, and this was the best answer I found after a quick dig.

#533 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 06:59 PM:

Jacque @ 530: That video of interspecies communication is, in a sense, NSFW. If tearing-up at work isn't appropriate. Beautiful.

#534 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 07:46 PM:

Joseph M #531:

In contrast, on flights around New Zealand & Australia, we normally get cockpit announcements of sights of interest as we fly by or around them.

#535 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 08:28 PM:

Walking back to Open-Threadiness, who would be interested in a Making Light Denizen Convocation at Arisia (Boston) in a few weeks?

Arisia is one of the very few conventions I can attend on a consistent basis, between the demands of work and finances.

#536 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 08:54 PM:

The last time I was told what I could see out the window, it was on an Amtrak train. One of my fellow passengers happily started taking pictures of the Manhattan skyline. Until the conductor made the announcement, she hadn't glanced out (at least, not since the train reached the point where we could see the skyline).

But I have had pilots in the last few years note particularly good views.

This one seems pointless, since the "things you can see out your window" mostly fall into the categories "pretty obvious" and "not remotely a target anyhow." You don't need to know the name of the building to tell a skyscraper from a few scattered buildings, and a hypothetical terrorist who cared which building they set off their bomb near would probably have at least looked at a picture postcard. (I had written "particularly pointless," but it doesn't actually stand out from, say, the rule that I can't bring a can of cranberry sauce on the plane with me.)

#537 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 09:10 PM:

I think the last time a pilot pointed out a landmark on a flight I was on, it was to show us Meteor Crater.

#538 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 10:35 PM:

I expect the tsa will create rules that make flying less and less pleasant until they manage to kill off the airline industry.

#539 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2009, 11:01 PM:

Then I suppose one thing to do would be to monitor TSA and DHS executives and their stock ownership choices, to track potential conflicts of interest.

#540 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 12:05 AM:

Texanne #511: You can get recorders with interchangeable joints for A-415 and A-440, like the Mollenhauer Dream Recorders. I've only seen the interchangeable joints on larger recorders, however. I think with smaller ones, it's just as easy to have recorders at whatever pitch you need. Carrying around two sopranos is certainly easier than two basses.

#541 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 12:26 AM:


http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811172.pdf

The number of traffic [cars, trucks, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, etc.] fatalities in 2008 reached its lowest level since 1961. There was a 9.7-percent decline in the number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States, from 41,259 in 2007 to 37,261, according to NHTSA’s 2008 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
...
In 2008, an estimated 2.35 million people were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, compared to 2.49 million in 2007.

http://www.ntsb.gov/PressRel/2009/090929.html Aviation deaths increased slightly from 550 to 572. Marine deaths increased slightly (from 766 to 779),
=========================
About a third of the traffic fatalites result from drunk drivers....

#542 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 12:26 AM:


http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811172.pdf

The number of traffic [cars, trucks, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, etc.] fatalities in 2008 reached its lowest level since 1961. There was a 9.7-percent decline in the number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States, from 41,259 in 2007 to 37,261, according to NHTSA’s 2008 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
...
In 2008, an estimated 2.35 million people were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, compared to 2.49 million in 2007.

http://www.ntsb.gov/PressRel/2009/090929.html Aviation deaths increased slightly from 550 to 572. Marine deaths increased slightly (from 766 to 779),
=========================
About a third of the traffic fatalites result from drunk drivers....

#543 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 01:05 AM:

Looking up vehicular deaths in the USA for 2008 got me wondering about the number of homicides in the USA in 2008--which according to e.g. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_02.html is 14,180; 11,059 were male; 3078 female, and 43 unknown. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_03.html has murder offenders as 10,568 male, 1,176 female, and 4,533 gender unknown (total 16,277) ... so much for "woman in refrigerator..." (Most murder victims, and most perpetrators, are male...

http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_10.html

577 spouses murdered their wives, 119 spouse murdered their husbands, 492 girlfriends were murdered, and 145 boyfriends murdered by their significant others.... 577+ 492 = 1069 / 3078 = roughly a third of the females murdered, were known to have been murdered by their spouses or sigificant others...

#544 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 11:01 AM:

I've heard it said that the number one indicator that a woman is at risk of murder is that she is in, or has recently left, a relationship.

Of course, that's not taking into account any other factors at all, because the vast majority of women who are in or have recently left a relationship are in no danger whatsoever. But there's a reason the husband is usually on the short list when a woman is murdered. Oy.

(Thankfully, I have NEVER had this come up even two degrees away. I must live in the vast majority.)

#545 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 11:37 AM:

I'm really amused by the Magic Forest Tarot. It's got a lot of Robin Wood's version of the classic Rider-Waite, only interpreted through superdeformed chibi animals. Very cute.

#546 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 11:57 AM:

Pendrift @532: Thanks. That actually makes a lot of sense, but none of the attendants that I've asked has ever been willing (able? I don't know) to explain why. If that's all it is, it seems like a pretty safe thing to tell a traveler.

#547 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 12:49 PM:

B. Durbin, #544: Another high-risk factor for women is being pregnant or having a newborn. This is only recently beginning to be recognized, because until a couple of years ago nobody had thought to ask the question and there are still a lot of jurisdictions that don't track it; the researchers are having to go by media reports. But apparently a significant number of those women murdered by present or former husbands/boyfriends are in fact killed because they are inconveniently pregnant.

I have known someone who was murdered by a man she'd recently left; I didn't know her well, but we sang in the same community chorus for a season.

#548 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 01:22 PM:

B. Durbin @ 544: When I started my undergrad degree, there was a lab technician in the department whose work had been problematic for a number of years and was getting worse. Eventually he was fired for cause. Unfortunately, people in the department didn't know that his marriage was also deteriorating, and a few months later, he murdered his wife and then committed suicide.

Only a few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned to one of her work colleagues that she hadn't had a reply to a note she'd sent to their department's HR person a few weeks earlier. The colleague had to explain that that was because the HR person had been brutally murdered by her husband.

So yeah, it does appear to be a major factor. Ottawa's not that big a city, not particularly crime-ridden, and I don't have that many social contacts. I shouldn't be so "close" to two such events.

#549 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 01:23 PM:

Lee @547:
Another high-risk factor for women is being pregnant or having a newborn.

Over the past few years, the (British) Royal College of Midwives has been adding domestic violence screening to their antenatal health checks. It's increasingly clear that it's one of the largest causes of death or injury during pregnancy, and addressing it is as important as treating pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.

#550 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 01:40 PM:

Lee @ 547: Another high-risk factor for women is being pregnant or having a newborn. This is only recently beginning to be recognized, because until a couple of years ago nobody had thought to ask the question

Maybe they finally read the "folk songs are your friends" thread?

#551 ::: Paula Liebeman ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 02:35 PM:

#544 ::: B.

there's a reason the husband is usually on the short list when a woman is murdered. Oy.

The reason is that in the USA the mostly likely candidate for murderer of a woman who's married, divorced, divorcing, involved in a love/sex relationship with a man, or trying to get out of such or recently out of such, is the husband/partner/ex.... I wonder what the statistics are elsewhere in the world.

The USA doesn't have e.g. bride burning as a cultural spotlight, but I wonder if e.g. Iceland has the types of statistics and skewings about murder that the USA has.

That is, to what degree are there likely correlations between the status of women in society and the cultural values regarding women; and types of violence against women and who commits it and murder statistics?

The USA tends to not have bride burnings--the economic primacy of dowries and payments of a bride's family to the groom's family, are not part of general USA culture. Therefore, the basis of bride burnings of "the bride's family's payments to the groom's family are smaller than that the groom's family can get from another prospective wife's family. Kill the existing bride and get rewarded with payment from another family for making a marriage with the widower!" is not a factor generally in the USA (except for any families which might bring that particular piece of noxious cultural attitude with them immigrating here.... some extremely obnoxious all the way up to and including murderous, habits have immigrated with people not leaving such attitudes at their port of departure...).

The USA does have the "til death do we part!" Love Mythology which gets extremely lethally toxic, however. The toxicity on the female side mostly shows up as fiction, with high demand for Happily Ever After ending in romance novels, and other genres if there is a romance involved (eg. science fiction and fantasy romances, where a lot of readers, and especially male ones want happily ever after endings. The lethal toxicity is "I love you so much that I'm going to kill you rather than allow you to leave," or a just as abominably twisted relative of that "I'd rather kill you than pay alimony/child support/any sort of support to you/see you involved with anyone else/no long have you around to abuse."

There are women who do the same things, but between cultural inculcation and power (im)balance issues, it's a lot rarer for it to happen, and a lot rarer for the murder to be for financial gain or control and power and narcisistic spoiled brat giant continuing tantrum reasons. The woman who takes the kitchen knife to the sleeping husband in the middle of the night who's been beating her up and belittling her and raping their children, is a lot less frequent than than violent abusive husbands are, or husbands that murder wives who the husbands find out are planning to leave them, or are in the process of doing so/have vacated the premises recently. There are goldigger women caught as serial murderers of affluent husbands--but there there are similar male parasites ho move in with affluent women, who often don't survive the experience....

My perspective is that it is NOT organic gender differences, but cultural memes and taught matricies of value and attitudes and perceptions and (internalized) values and options and behavior patterns, involved, mixed with varying levels of susceptibility and receptivity.

What would S*r*h P*l*n have been like if born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts? What would Deepak Chokra have been like born and raised in Texas in a polygamous Christian or Mormon sect? What would Margaret Thatcher have been like born and raised in the latter type of background, and what would that Mike Tyson have been like raised in a different society in an intact family with responsible adult male role models?

Some people turn out vicious and abusive even without neglect and abusiveness present in their childhood, some people raised in vicious abusive homes and societies don't turn out vicious and abusive.... but taught and displayed behaviors, tend to be the path the people follow as examples in front of their faces to copy and to internalize as "normal."

#552 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 02:58 PM:

Jacque @ 530, amazing. Thank you for sharing that.

I'm reminded of an episode of a travel show on public television ("Equitrekking," I think), which turned into an episode on horse training when they traveled to Wales and visited a Welsh Cob breeder. The breeder taught the show's host how to train a horse to be led around a ring. Even though horse and human were both novices, and complete strangers to one another, the horse was responding to the human's body language and simple verbal commands within minutes. I've never been much around horses, but that made me realize just how smart they are.

#553 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 04:57 PM:

Through Jesus' General, the story of how a "sushi-eating testicle" saved Avatar from the stupidity of Egyptian censors.

#554 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 05:24 PM:

Perfect movie-watching for the Holidays... Ray Milland's post-apocalypse movie Panic in the Year Zero. Not only do we get Frankie Avalon being chastised by dad for enjoying the shooting of bad guys, but we get Ray slugging a gas-pump owner who tries price-gouging on him by jacking up the cost from 34 cents a gallon to $3.

#555 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 05:30 PM:

Serge @ 554 - X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes would make a good double feature with Panic in the Year Zero.

#556 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 05:36 PM:

Steve C @ 555... By the way, I never saw the movie in which Ray Milland's head is grafted to Rosy Grier's shoulder. Should I remedy this gap in my knoweledge of Cinéma?

#557 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 05:44 PM:

Assorted news watching local NBC affiliate news--

o One of this week's heroes:

- 14 year old boy who used a subterfuge to rat out his drinking and driving uncle, after a New England Patriot's game

o Moronicity

- Couple who decided in locality of cold, ice, and snow, to take a backwoods GPS shortcut on a non-primary road in a region with no cell phone coverage , and got stuck there. They got rescued by people looking for them.

[Note, I did something similar that was stupid, when I was a couple years out of college in Colorado, and decided to take Pass Creek Road into New Mexico--but I filled up the gas tank before taking that road... and had initially left the Interstate for the purpose of filling the gas tank.... )

o Religious idiot

- fellow who saw it as his Christian Duty to walk over into North Korea without visa, etc

============

o Open Choice (from NPR/PRI affiliate WBUR, on radio)

- Boston's Mayor Mennino who -wants- that asshole full body scanner at Logan airport. I'd suggest that HE go on full Monty display, but he's got more the body shape of someone I DON'T want to see with their clothes off....

#558 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 05:59 PM:

Couple who decided in locality of cold, ice, and snow, to take a backwoods GPS shortcut on a non-primary road in a region with no cell phone coverage , and got stuck there. They got rescued by people looking for them.

There's a horror movie about that called Wind Chill. I did not watch it, but I channel surfed past it. I suspect that a) the depiction in the movie might be accurate as far as what happened in real life (the guy saying "hey, it's a shortcut" and the woman saying "don't be crazy, it's the middle of nowhere") and b) in the movie they do NOT get rescued. Unless they fall in love. Then they would.

These are, mind you, conjectures based on what I know of human nature and (contrastingly) of movies. I neither have nor claim any evidence beyond that.

#559 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 06:10 PM:

Serge @ 556 - I don't know -- is that the one where Ryan O'Neal says "Love means never having to say you're sorry you have two heads"?

#560 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 07:59 PM:

Paula Lieberman @557: Couple who decided in locality of cold, ice, and snow, to take a backwoods GPS shortcut on a non-primary road in a region with no cell phone coverage , and got stuck there.

Wasn't something like this national news two or three years ago?

A family driving in Northern California (IIRC) went down some logging trail that looked like a road on their GPS mapping app. They got stuck in the winter snow. Dad left the car to look for help, and died. Mom and baby were later rescued.

#561 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 08:15 PM:

Rob, #560: That's a known problem with GPS units, especially in sparsely-settled areas. When we were on vacation last summer, our GPS kept trying to route us across dirt roads over the Navajo reservation! Take-away: never rely solely on the GPS for navigation in strange areas; take along a hard-copy road atlas as well, or at least have scanned your route using Google Maps, so that if the GPS is recommending something wonky, you'll know to ignore it.

#562 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 08:41 PM:

Lee, #547, also for pregnant women -- other women who want their baby. We had that happen locally a couple weeks ago where a pregnant woman in a homeless shelter was "befriended" by another woman. The pregnant woman went to the other woman's apartment where she was duct-taped up and the other woman stabbed her all over. She took a break and the pregnant woman was able to get away and into the hallway, screaming and bleeding. The doctors were able to save her and the baby (named Miracle Sky); the other woman went to jail.

#563 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 09:22 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 560: That sounds like what happened in Oregon. A couple with two kids took a back road through the coast range. They weren't using a GPS. A logging road that should have been blocked off for the winter, wasn't, and looked wider and more like an official road than the actual road. They were stuck for days before James Kim went for help. He died of exposure.
The car was found with mom and two little girls still alive because a guy at a cell phone company triangulated the location of the last text message they received, and yelled at the emergency services until they finally listened to him and narrowed their search region.

#564 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 09:24 PM:

#562 Marilee

Horrific case of that happened within the past few months, in Worcester. Woman was found -butchered-, and another woman found with the infant....

#565 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 09:44 PM:

Bruce Cohen #525: Thanks for the explanation! Yeah, some people really do seek their own personal doom... stories like this make me think of the old Norse saying "no man can escape his weird" -- the "weird" was their term for a sort of personal destiny. Even today, we see that many people have their lives pretty much scripted ahead of them, for good or ill -- but these days, we talk in terms of psychology instead of Fate.

#566 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 09:52 PM:

Steve C @ 559... "Love means never having to say you're a pain in the necks."

#567 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 10:21 PM:

Xopher #553: the story of how a "sushi-eating testicle" saved Avatar from the stupidity of Egyptian censors

The story link has been deleted from the Sun-Times website, but reposted elsewhere.

#568 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2009, 11:10 PM:

Weird (or wyrd) is an odd term -- it's not so much "the way things are fated to happen" as "the way things inevitably work out", which is subtly different.

#569 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 12:18 PM:

By the way, I found this by following the links on Daily Kos. It's a very interesting portrait of Federal dollars spent on the states; note how the "red states" are high on that list. So much for "saying no" to Federal interference. This page has additional information on the analysis, and the DKos diary that started my trail is here.

#570 ::: Lori R. Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 12:29 PM:

Breaking News:

Times Square Bomb Threat?

#571 ::: tw ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 02:42 PM:

Shorpy blog has a beautiful image of the Flatiron building under construction 1902, today.

#572 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 04:04 PM:

On the Evil t-shirt particle: Ack, my eyes!!

Lee @547, Abi @549: In the Philippines (where abrtn is illegal and contraception strongly opposed by the very influential church), we heard many tales at the hospital of women with unwanted pregnancies asking their partners to punch them in the belly in the hopes that that would trigger a miscarriage, usually after attempts by other, less violent means (herbal concoctions, misoprostol) had failed.

#573 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 04:20 PM:

And now for something completely different:

Ardala the WonderMutt unwraps a present.

#574 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 04:24 PM:

Rob Rusick @560 -- A family driving in Northern California (IIRC) went down some logging trail that looked like a road on their GPS mapping app.

Ha! Sounds like what we managed once with an old-fashioned AAA map, also in Northern California, but in summer. The interstate was obnoxious, nature beckoned, that thin grey line was surely a road.....?

Well, it was at first. But it got thinner and increasingly more "natural" before we made it out, more or less suddenly, a couple of hours later and after dark.

I have never been so happy to see a pancake house in my entire life.

#575 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 04:46 PM:

Ginger @ 569:

More on the "keep government spending low, cut taxes — but give me some of that" front:

Bill Sizemore is a fellow who failed several times as businessman, and then discovered a new career. He puts anti-tax ballot initiatives on the ballot in Oregon, and lives well on hefty donations from conservatives. He's been found — in a court of law — to have violated the law about handling political contributions, and using them for his personal expenses. He stopped filing state income taxes 3 years ago, because of a court order that required him to provide copies of tax forms to the people that he owes money to based on court decisions.

His ballot initiatives are all about cutting taxes and government. So how are he and his wife handling being charged with tax law violations? She's asked to be defended by a free, court-appointed lawyer. Oh, yeah. What makes me happy is that he's chosen to defend himself in court. I've heard that always goes well.

news story

#576 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 04:48 PM:

Debbie @ #573, I did that once in Chiricahua National Monument in a rental car. About 10 miles of dirt road, too narrow to turn around on. Eventually it came out someplace else, and I found my way back to paved roads, but it was a little unnerving.

#577 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 05:16 PM:

Linkmeister @575: When we visited Maui we encountered some intrepid Texans who had driven all the way round the island in a rental car.

Apparently they got to Hana and decided that the car rental company didn't really mean it when they said not to take the car past that point.

Heck, we weren't willing to attempt the drive to Hana...the one up to the top of Haleakala was unnerving enough for us.

#578 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Roads that aren't there.

When I learned to drive in Louisiana (1989-ish), it was general knowledge that just because there was no road marked on the map didn't mean there wasn't a way to get through, if you poked around a bit.


When I moved to Oregon (1997), I learned that if there's no road on the map, there really is no road.


When I moved to Maine (2005), I learned that just because there's a road marked on the map doesn't mean it's still there.

(Usually what happens is that the township decides they aren't going to repave/regrade/plow a little-used route, and after some years they 'discontinue' it - meaning it's not an official town road anymore. Usually this is somewhere past the last used building on the route. Beyond that there'll be a dirt grade fading into ruts that deteriorate into a jeep trail that either comes out the other side or disappears into a bog or stops where a failed bridge hasn't been replaced.)

I find this immensely fascinating and spend as much time as I can get away with on GoogleMaps and the like, tracing where the fat lines become thin lines and then stop entirely while, in the aerial photo, a thin trace - a fold in the tree canopy, or a pair of faded ruts - shows Where The Road Used To Be.

Drat. I need to go exploring, and it's supposed to snow all weekend.

#579 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 06:41 PM:

Pendrift @571:

Confiteor. I sent the Evil T-Shirt link to Patrick and Teresa.

I found out about the shirt when one of my colleagues wore it to the office last month. Unsurprisingly, a self-storage building nearby caught fire shortly afterward and burned to the ground, destroying the treasured possessions of hundreds of families and forcing us to evacuate the area.

#580 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 06:54 PM:

abi @ 578... I hope you and yours are ok.

#581 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 07:15 PM:

Serge @579:

Thanks, but no one was hurt in the fire. We all had to leave the office for the afternoon, but I had work I was going to do better at home anyway (fewer interruptions).

It was spectacular. It turned this into this.

#582 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 07:30 PM:

Let's hear it for Sir Patrick Stewart!

http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/Patrick-Stewart-Actor-tells-of.5946933.jp

#583 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 07:34 PM:

WTF department.... or "methodology I am contemptuous of.

S*r*h P*l*n got voted second-most-admired female in the USA. The Schmuck got the male edition. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were each in first place. I presume the rectocranially inverted "research" did the obvious inanity of doing an alleged survey NOT by giving people a lit of people and saying, "rank each of these people by how much or little you admire them on a scale of zero to ten," or, "list the people you admire the most and rank order them, and list the people you least admire and rank order them.

P*l*n in on my most revolted by list, along with *nn C**lt*r, M*ch*ll*e M*lk*n, that piece of excrement from the W*sh*ngt*n T*m*s, the Schmuck, Ch*n*y, the two senators from South Carolina..

Most admired of 2009 would include the pilots who successfully ditched the plane in the Hudson without one fatality...

#584 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 07:38 PM:

Steve C @ #581, Congrats to the man, but I thought this was a little odd: from the article

"The left wing actor. . ."

Who the hell cares and what does it have to do with his acting career and his knighthood?

#585 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 08:22 PM:

Linkmeister, that is a bit strange. I just pasted in one of the first links I found on a search.

#586 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 09:17 PM:

Yeah, I was grousing at the reporter who felt it was necessary to include (the reporter's perception of) Stewart's political leanings.

#587 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 09:40 PM:

I for one like knowing the political leanings of actors.

#588 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 09:45 PM:

Pendrift, #571: I understand that conditions may be different for women who live elsewhere. I wasn't talking about the Philippines, and I don't think abi or B. Durbin or Paula were either.

Debbie, #573: Were you starting to hear banjos? :-)

I once managed to miss the last turn off the (dirt) road in deep-rural TN on my way to an SCA event, and ended up on what, in retrospect, I think must have been an off-road vehicle track. Thank the goddess for front-wheel drive is all I have to say about that; I managed to turn around and get back out again without getting stuck.

#589 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 11:08 PM:

On a different line of travel-as-an-adventure, tonight's trip home was orchestrated by Murphy.

First, a much earlier train hit and killed a pedestrian at a crossing. Tracks closed from just before 2 pm to, as it turned out about 5 pm.
As a result, we had to take a bus from Burbank Airport station to Van Nuys, Northridge, and Chatsworth - the full width of the San Fernando Valley. On surface streets. During rush hour.

Second, a powerpole apparently was hit and damaged (if not knocked down) a block west of the Northridge station, closing the street for two blocks, and, incidentally, blocking the most direct route between there and Chatsworth.

Third, an underground transformer died, and the utility trucks working on it had traffic jammed on that street. (Also, it took out the power to two blocks on the other side of the street, which includes a lot of fast-food places, but not the shopping center with the supermarket.)

And last, as we got to the last signal before the train station, there was a stalled car in our lane.

We were just glad to get to the station, even though we were nearly an hour and a half late.

#590 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2009, 11:23 PM:

The angels and octopodes particle:
L. Frank Baum had an octopus character who was upset at always being compared to Standard Oil.

#591 ::: ianracey ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 12:06 AM:

Linkmeister @583: He's certainly used his celebrity as a platform to speak out on political issues--most notably his opposition to the Iraq War and to the Blair and Brown Governments' attempts to roll back certain civil rights. Certainly not Martin Sheen type activism, but enough that his politics have become part of his public persona, at least in Britain. He's also talked about what a big part of his life his socialism is, ever since he marched (with his father) for Labour in the 1945 General Election.

I can't see the article for myself because the Yorkshire Evening Post's website seems to be down right now, but if it's just a single passing reference to his political inclinations, I'd say that's appropriate. Especially in the YEP, for whose readership any profile of Sir Patrick (hehe) must surely carry an air of "local boy receives knighthood".

#592 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 12:54 AM:

re 569: I've ground some numbers on that and the correlation between red-ness (which I measured via Bush-Kerry votes in 2004) and rank isn't very strong. Hawaii and Maryland, for instance, are both right up there; Utah, the reddest state, is at #29 by spending/tax. I'm wondering how they are computing spending, because the presence of DC, MD, and VA at 0, 18, and 10 suggests that fed payroll itself is a big factor.

#593 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 12:57 AM:

ianracey @ #591, Ah, that does put a different perspective on it. It is that sole adjectival clause (phrase?), no more.

And if it's his home county paper, then I'll retract my grousing.

#595 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 02:38 AM:

Lee @588 et al I know you were making the statements in a different context; I just wanted to provide a data point because it made me wonder if there were similar cases over there. Money was a big factor—punches were free, back-door jobs weren't.
(Domestic violence is a much bigger problem there too, FWIW.)

#596 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 07:58 AM:

What is this site's contact email address for teeth-achingly technical error reports? It turns out that "webmaster" isn't it.

#597 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 11:19 AM:

Roads that aren't there: back in the early 90s, I took a bike ride from my home in the western Chicago suburbs on a route I hadn't used before. The map showed a typical suburban neighborhood of winding streets and cul-de-sacs. Well, no. I got off my bike and pushed it through the farm field (corn already harvested, fortunately) to the road I could see in the distance, because that entire subdivision didn't exist yet, except on the map.

For those of you who like the road less traveled, but still in a regular rather than off-road vehicle, I recommend the DeLorme series of Atlas & Gazeteers (they have a map book for each state). I've used them to successfully travel back roads in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and New York, including following some of their suggestions about scenic points and hiking trails.

#598 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 01:32 PM:

Found in the UK's Register...

Russia may deploy defensive spacecraft against the Apophis asteroid, which is almost certainly not going to hit the Earth, according to remarks by the head of the country's space agency.

"I don't remember exactly, but it seems to me it could hit the Earth by 2032," said Anatoly Perminov, quoted by AP.

They should instead ask for the help of General Jack O'Neill. He knows how to deal with scumsucking snake-assed Apophis.

#599 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 03:11 PM:

Bizarre and interesting cloud formations.

There's one not too far from the top that could easily be the background for a Roger Dean painting -- big "floating island" lenticulars that just beg for alien plants and flying cars to be added.

#600 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 03:29 PM:

Lee @ 599... the background for a Roger Dean painting

The floating mountains in Avatar is the one moment when I went 'Ooooooooh'. Mind you, they never explained how that was possible, but if the bad guys were trying to dislodge the natives because of a deposit of unobtainium, maybe the mountains had some upsidaisium inside. Nevertheless that was an awesome sight.

#601 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 04:35 PM:

Check out my Flash animations! http://captaincormorant.com/oldgeo/chickenanimation2.swf
and
http://captaincormorant.com/flashstuff/morphingtargetgame.swf
Nothing very fancy but it's a new skill for me so it's a milestone.

#602 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 06:30 PM:

Well, it's half past next year here, so Happy New Year, dear people of Making Light!

#603 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 06:45 PM:

Happy New Year, Abi and everybody else!

#604 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 07:10 PM:

Best wishes for you all too in 2010.

We're preparing to get our heads washed by our houngan later, celebrating our annual Haitian vodún New Year's Eve rituals.

Love, C.

#605 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 07:25 PM:

Half past next year in the UK now, or near enough as makes no difference. Happy New Year, and may it be better for you than last year.

#606 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 07:59 PM:

Wishing the Fluorosphere much shine and brightness and a good (or improving) start to 2010.

#607 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 09:55 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 606 ...
Indeedly -- may the coming year be better than the last in all aspects, rather than 'interesting'.

#609 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 10:37 PM:

Lori @ 577: I didn't drive up Haleakala (though someday I'd like to see the downhill bicycle ride), but driving back from Hana after dark was quite a trip. I was amused that the rental car companies handed out free maps that simply omitted the roads they didn;t want you to take their cars on.

#610 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 10:45 PM:

Paula @ 371: I see why you implied in another thread that Twitter is not for you.

Your explanation of Prairie Home Companion (and do you especially mean the Lake Wobegon stories?) as comfort food for people of a culture that you did not grow up in makes a lot of sense.

I do have one little bit of nitpickery though. You wrote:

PHC has as one of its basic assumptions, that the listeners grew up in a culture which didn't beat kids up for being "above average." The show explicitly states that all the children of the culture it celebrates are above average. So, from the get-go, PHC sets up a negative response in from that particular claim, because its bases, and my growing up experiences, have massive impedance mismatches.

Well yes, that's in the closing formula without which the audience might not know the story is over. But in fact the Lake Wobegon stories are full of parents telling their children not to put on airs and think they're special.

#611 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 11:58 PM:

And, the New Year sweeps over the Eastern Time Zone right about... now.

#612 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 11:59 PM:

The Road to Hana's been overrated since they did some decent repaving back in the mumbledty-60s or 70s. The first time I went around the bottom of the island, in the early 80s, we used a jeep, but a year or two ago when I was out there visiting my sister, we drove around in a regular car; there's about 100 meters of well-graded gravel road and it's otherwise all paved.

If you want to find a "drawn in dotted lines on the map but doesn't really exist" road, there's been a plan for years to complete a connection from about Kula down to Makena or Wailea somewhere; it's only about 4 miles and there's an unpaved road on private land that does that, but it's behind gates so I've never been on it.

#613 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 12:03 AM:

#611 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 11:58 PM:
And, the New Year sweeps over the Eastern Time Zone right about... now.

... for fairly approximate values of now, that is ;D

#614 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 01:23 AM:

Bill Stewart @ #612, there are those of us who've so religiously followed the rental car companies' restrictions that we've never driven the Saddle Road on the Big Island, despite numerous visits.

#615 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 02:23 AM:

So: fought with a router to get it to take WiFi locked to Mac addresses for the computers around here. Went to meet a friend to go to a movie hours late. Movie has moved from five theaters to one, and is at horrid showtimes there. Start driving south on I-5 by myself to get to a theater near home and I'm rear-ended at freeway speeds (good thing we were travelling at nearly the same speed). Driver crunched in my rear bumper and when we look at his front bumper says "I'm willing to forget it if you will." First insurance info he gives me is expired until the State Patrol gets him to cough up something current. Get home and figure what the hell, it can't get worse and install Snow Leopard: half my favorite utilities won't work and the OS updates are something like 12 hours worth of downloads at my crappy DSL speeds.

Go out for New Year's Eve? Are you kidding? I may hide under the bed

#616 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 03:56 AM:

Back from a New Year's contra dance to wish all here a happy New Year and a better decade to come. We may be living in the early days of a better nation -- I hope so. It'll take work to get there.

(and for the pedants who claim the decade doesn't start until next year -- look, a decade is any ten-year period, and there's no implied starting point as there is on numbered centuries.)

#617 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 05:28 AM:

I'm willing to give any year that starts with a long weekend the benefit of the doubt. Here's hoping 2010 lives up to this, and wishing the Fluorosphere all the best.

Bruce E. Durocher II -- glad you're OK; hopefully all of that was just the last bluster of 2009.

#618 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 09:15 AM:

I'm starting the new year fresh with even more outrage fatigue.

#619 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 10:47 AM:

Anybody available to answer a tech question?

How do you brighten the screen of a laptop that runs Windows XP?

#620 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 11:33 AM:

Serge@619: I'd look at the laptop first to see if it has any keyboard controls for brightness. Usually they're indicated by a little sun, either growing, or with an arrow. Sometimes I forget that I minimize brightness to conserve batteries, and need to raise it again when I get back on the wall wart.

Assuming you've done that and maximized brightness with those controls, then:

1. Navigate to the Control Panel.
2. Click "Appearance and Themes" when prompted in the "Category View" panel. If you're in "Classic View," choose the "Display" icon.
3. Select the "Settings" tab from the Display Properties window.
4. Click the "Advanced" button. This will take you to your monitor's properties.
5. From there, look around for brightness controls. (e.g., choose the "Color" tab if your machine has an ATI graphics card.)
6. Play with the controls until you are satisfied with the brightness of your screen.

(generalized slightly from the directions here.)

Hope this helps.

#621 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 11:46 AM:

Linkmeister@614, I don't remember my rental car contract saying anything about the saddle road. It was just fine, though IIRC some of it was poorly paved, and we had a good view of the snow and rainbows up there the trip we went that way, but the trip downhill to Hilo was in pounding rain in the dark and really more difficult than the saddle road.


Serge@619, if you install Linux it'll be more intelligent, but may not emit any more lumens :-) More to the point, under Windows it really depends on the vendor tools. When I've had IBM machines, the utility that controlled screen brightness just worked, and with my current Dell it behaves fairly unpredictably. There's an automatic brightness control you can turn on and off (turning it off helps), and keyboard controls that usually behave if you've got the automatic turned off, and if you're running on batteries it depends on which power control mode the machine's arbitrarily switched itself into.

#622 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 11:46 AM:

Serge -- Smile at it?

#623 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 12:16 PM:

Bruce Aselsohn @ 620... Bill Stewart @ 621... It looks like I'll have to take it to the store/repair place where I bought it, because there's no tab (or button) to control the color. This problem appears to have started this morning when I accidentally unplugged its power cord while taking away the Christmas decorations. I rebooted the laptop, to no avail. Drat. Well, my wife can use my old clunker until this gets resolved.

Debbie @ 622... "Smiles, everyone... smiles!"

#624 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 12:39 PM:

Serge #623:

Have you tried Fn-uparrow? Although my Samsung has a dedicated Fn key, and the Dell does not, both respond to Fn-uparrow/downarrow keys

#625 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 01:16 PM:

After many years of using a Mac someone gave me a PC. So now I just downloaded a game program and I can't tell where on my hard drive I'm supposed to put it.

#626 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 01:21 PM:

Serge @623: One more thing to check before going back to the shop are the Power Options. There's the default WinXp version in the Control Panel, and there could be a vendor-specific version too. Generally, there'll be an icon on teh bottom right of the task bar: something that looks like a battery, possibly with a plug beside it while it's plugged in? A random combination of right- and left-clicking on such an icon should do something.

#627 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 01:42 PM:

Erik Nelson@625: Depends on what sort of file it is. If it's the actual game executable, then it probably should go into a folder under C:\Program Files.

More likely, it's an installation file. That can be saved anywhere you find convenient, and then run. That should install the proper files into the proper places.

If it's a .zip file (or .rar file, or equivalent), it's an archive containing the actual files. In that case you'll need to save it somewhere convenient and then unzip it, again to someplace convenient (it could fall into either case above, in which case treat the contents of the archive appropriately).

I suppose it's possible that you downloaded a CD/DVD image (.iso, most likely) file. If so, burn it and let the CD/DVD autoplay.

Whew. That's a lot of options. I hope I covered the right one for you.

#628 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 02:19 PM:

My Thinkpad sometimes decides not to listen to brightness commands, but I've gotten around it by setting plugged-in and battery brightness levels permanently. More bothersome is that the computer keeps reactivating the trackpad-- I'll unsleep it, then have a lot of trouble with extraneous clicks and selections because the ball of my thumb touches. It's not a huge problem, but boy do I wish the tickybox would stay unchecked.

Semirandom question: I'm not thrilled with the amount of stuff that came with the computer, all Thinkpad-specific programs that I don't use but which I think could clutter up the computer. Would switching to Windows 7 from Vista a) work at all easily, and b) get rid of some of them? Or should I actually use them sometimes?

#629 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 02:26 PM:

It's New Years, and I'm cleaning out the house and the book shelves.

I've got a copy of John M Ford - The Final Reflection which would make a good trade for his How Much for Just the Planet. Anyone?

#630 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Thanks for your suggestions, everybody. The solution was staring me in the face. It turns out that there is a brighness-control button - the 'Fn' key with 'F9' to increase it, and with 'F8' to decrease it.

Goodness, do I feel red-faced.

#631 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 03:02 PM:

Happy new decade, everybody. We're running late this morning because of staying up late, not so much to see in the new year (we're guardedly neutral on whether this will be a good year, based on how the last one went into the toilet), as because there's always someone who has to set off a bunch of fireworks at midnight on NYE, and we wanted to be in position to reassure the dogs. Turns out the bangs bothered Spencer, but Jemma just got pissed off and growled and barked at them. Good attitude, I say.

Staying up wasn't such a bad thing, though; I discovered a couple of good canape recipes on the web, so finger food was the order of the night.

#632 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 03:40 PM:

xeger #613: Yeah, checking against time.gov, it seems my computer is about 2 minutes slow -- presumably its Network Time Protocol use is borked.

#633 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 03:53 PM:

OK, while everyone's answering computer questions, I want to disable the trackpad on my Samsung. (Yes, I already know how to do this.) It looks like it goes away completely if I do so, rather than just disabling itself until the mouse is unplugged. Since I've occasionally had issues with my USB mouse going temporarily non-functional until I go standby/restart, it looks like I've not got any escape route short of total shutdown/restart/pray if I disable the trackpad. OTOH, my typing position is such that I can't avoid hitting the damn thing, usually with results detrimental to the last paragraph I just typed.

What may I be missing?

#634 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 03:53 PM:

Happy New Year, everyone. The illegal fireworks here in Kalihi valley were bigger than I've ever seen them. These were not just the usual illegal aerials, but full-scale professional-display-sized illegal aerials from about 8pm on. Some of the biggest at midnight appeared to be nearly filling the valley. Shortly after midnight, you could not see the opposite ridge of the valley due to the smoke, and it was getting hard even to see the aerial bursts.

Fortunately there seems to have been a little rain and enough wind to clear all the smoke out overnight.

#635 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 04:40 PM:

I am enjoying the new year by attending to Ardala the Wondermutt's annual Festival of Emesis. Poor thing gets stressy or doesn't eat enough and she barfs bile. Which then stresses her out and empties her tummy. Hoping we can call the vet tomorrow and find out if/how much a pepcid might help, and also that our Nature's Miracle and laundry quarters hold out until then.

#636 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 05:14 PM:

nerdycellist @ 635:

Spencer, who's now 7, has an occasionally sensitive stomach, and our vet suggested regular dosage with over-the-counter pepcid, ½ pill per day. It's been working fine, no negative reactions or side-effects, and his appetite is a lot better now. It helps that we discovered part of his loss of appetite was boredom: he gets tired of the same old food everyday, and wants a change every few weeks.

#637 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 05:44 PM:

Happy New Year, all, from Puerto Rico! (Next week we'll be returning to the colder climes, but for now, aaaaahhhh.)

Bruce, our dog was a stray and we thought for a long time that any food would do. Not that we gave her particularly cheap food, but we didn't vary it, because when shopping it's easier to write, pick up a case of dog food. But it turns out she also gets bored with any one brand or flavor very quickly. I figure it's because, as a stray, she always ate something different every day.

Her favorite, as a good Puerto Rican, is of course Burger King. But she usually gets IAMS canned, of which she normally will only eat chunky, not ground. Presumably because it looks more like people food.

#638 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 07:17 PM:

We've been managing Ardala's reflux with a pretty strict routine and 3 small meals a day, rather than giving her medication. This works great until right around the holidays, when her routine changes just enough that it stresses her. Maybe we can dose her for two months a year. She hasn't hurled since 10 am, and we've given her a handful of kibble twice since then. Crossing my fingers for an end to the festivities!

#639 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 08:17 PM:

Somebody just set off a long string of firecrackers across the street. The phrase "a day late and a dollar short" comes to mind.

At least we didn't have any idiots firing guns this year.

#640 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 08:46 PM:

Happy New Year, everyone.

#641 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 08:51 PM:

Happy New Year!

#642 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 09:57 PM:

I meant to post this here, but put it elsehwere.

I was the recipient of a poem, for New Year's.

I was going to write you a love letter tonight.
But I was restless
and I missed you
And I knew you were
coming soon.
So I washed your sweater and
aired out your coat and
waterproofed your boots and
hung up
your pants and found your socks and
all I wrote was I love you in cotton
I miss you in wool
Come back in black
shoe polish.

I don't get poems written for me, often, and this one was to nice to keep to myself.

#643 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 11:18 PM:

Terry @ 642, that's beautiful! One of those poems that touches something true.

#644 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 11:22 PM:

Terry @ 642 ...
That is a most excellent and lovely poem!

#645 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 11:26 PM:

Hmm, perhaps GPS receivers need to be used in conjunction with Google Earth pictures....

#646 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2010, 11:34 PM:

... and on a completely different, yet openthreaddy note, I've just tried dealing with the ferocious growling noises in my chimney by applying a jar of ammonia in the fireplace. Something to my surprise, 30 minutes later there's significantly fewer noises, and most of those seem to be related to something(s) moving about in the chimney.

I'd have to say that leaves me feeling cautiously optimistic (and in need of a chimney sweep).

#647 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 01:24 AM:

xeger @ #646, a line from a bad war movie comes to mind:

"They got Santa! The bastards got Santa!"

#648 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 02:47 AM:

Openthreadiness, in re strict comment-moderation policies and blowing off steam: a blog composed entirely of removed-for-violation comments, somewhat anonymized. Sort of staring-at-car-wrecks fascinating; there is a grand variety of dickery on display.

#649 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 03:11 AM:

And in other news, here's warm wishes for a very happy birthday, PNH!

#650 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 09:59 AM:

Already? Well, Happy Birthday, then, Patrick!

#651 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 10:35 AM:

Patrick: happy birthday!

Terry: you are a lucky man.

Everyone: happy 2010.

re: dog foods--our dogs eat mainly the same food every day, but they get a variety of small treats: diced apple, baby carrots, pork rinds, dehydrated sweet potato, dried cranberries. Aside from giving them all the habit of trying to stick their heads into the crisper drawer, this seems to work well.

#652 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 10:59 AM:

Prompted by an LJ post by James Nicoll, I watched 2010: Odyssey Two on New Year's Eve. And then did some browsing in the book, which (on the whole) I prefer. One passage which I found, referring to Dr. Floyd having a little chat with one of his colleagues about the importance of discretion in relationships in a small group of people in a restricted space: "So the intervention had been worthwhile, whatever the impulse behind it. Even if, as Floyd sometimes ruefully suspected, it was no more than the secret envy that normal homo- or heterosexuals feel, if completely honest with themselves, toward cheefully well-adjusted polymorphs."

Clarke appears to be using the word "polymorphs" to refer to those who are now called "bisexuals" hereabouts. I don't recall seeing this usage elsewhere, and a bit of a net search isn't turning up any other references for me. But the book is almost 30 years old, and was written by a non-straight English man who'd been living in Sri Lanka for many years -- it this just a matter of terminology from a different cultural group from my own?

#654 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 12:18 PM:

Joel Polowin: #652: It's a reference to "Polymorphous perversity" (there's also a few references in Time Enough For Love). As I understand it, the original theory was that this ("if it feels good, do it") was the natural sexual state of young children, and/or of the ancient cultures. As you may guess from my tone, I'm not so sure I buy it, especially on the cultural level.

#655 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 01:22 PM:

From PNH's Sidelights:

Rain of fire, dogs and cats living together, David Brooks making sense

This reminds me of one of those "name the question" jokes; I'm imagining the answer as along these lines:

"Name an unusual form of precipitation, a common situation for households with multiple pets, and a sure-fire sign of the apocalypse."

#656 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 01:31 PM:

Terry -- Those are the most lovely of sentiments. So plain, yet purely lovely. She made 'wool' a lovely word, a lovely idea. Though not really like Emily Dickinson, she is brought to mind.

Happy Birthday, Señor PNH!

Love, c.

#657 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 01:46 PM:

Still, "cheerfully well-adjusted" must really infuriate the blue-noses. Nice phrase. heh.

#658 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 01:53 PM:

I hope everyone's New Year has been promising so far, and will continue to be an improvement on 2009.

And Happy Birthday to PNH!

Terry, I agree with the consensus here--it's lovely.

I am currently in Kansas City, where they appear to have achieved a discount on arctic cold by the carload lot--the weather is supposed to change every few days (if not every few hours) in Missouri, but this feature appears to be currently disabled. Tech support is no help at all.

#659 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 02:10 PM:

xeger, #646: Sounds like you've had at least one raccoon move into your chimney. I haven't the foggiest idea how to get them out; I doubt that a chimney sweep will want to deal with them, and Animal Control generally doesn't tackle wild critters. But once you do get them out, what you're going to need is a heavy mesh chimney-cap. REALLY heavy mesh, and very firmly secured -- raccoons are both strong and determined, and they'll tear up anything lightweight.

Stephen, #655: *snerk*

Joel, #652: Somebody appears to be in serious denial there. It's possible to be (1) straight and (2) fully accepting of gay/bi sexuality without being the least bit envious; in fact, envy of that type is one of the things I consider a potential marker for closeted bisexuality.

Open threadiness: Oh no, they didn't.
WordBridge Publishing has performed a public service in putting Joseph Conrad's neglected classic into a form accessible to modern readers. This new version addresses the reason for its neglect: the profusion of the so-called n-word throughout its pages. Hence, the introduction of "n-word" throughout the text, to remove this offence [sic] to modern sensibilities. The N-word of the Narcissus tells the tale of a fateful voyage of a British sailing ship, and on that voyage the ability of a lone black man to take the crew hostage. The ability of this man to manipulate an entire ship's crew can no longer be seen as a mere exercise in storytelling. Conrad in fact appears to have been the first to highlight the phenomenon of manipulation based in white guilt.

#660 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 02:11 PM:

Happy birthday, PNH. Also to Tobias Buckell if he's reading this.

#661 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 02:28 PM:

Happy Birthday Patrick!

#662 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 02:31 PM:

I intended to start out the New Year with vigorous action on many fronts: exercising and losing weight, getting more organized and catching up on late-running tasks and obligations, clearing out the last few financial obligations and being debt-free (mortgages don't count) for the first time in years.

So, of course, I've spent the last two days with a honking, dripping, sneezing head cold that leaves the rest of me feeling like I've been beaten with the ugly stick, and a headache that currently feels like a tight leather belt wrapped around my head. (Which is better than yesterday, when it felt like a tight studded leather belt around my head... turned wrong side in.)

Thank you, Tazo company, for your Wild Sweet Orange herbal tea.

#663 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 03:25 PM:

Stephen Frug @ 655...

"Mulider! Frogs are falling from the sky!"
"Parachutes must not have opened."

#664 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 03:25 PM:

Stephen Frug @ 655...

"Mulder! Frogs are falling from the sky!"
"Parachutes must not have opened."

#665 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Lee @ 659 -- I don't know if that would be Clarke being in denial about the psychology of straight people, or his character being in denial.

For me (straight and having had little luck with relationships), on some level I'm "envious" of my bi friends, since I can see that being more flexible would improve my chances of finding a partner; likewise for being poly vs. being monogamously-oriented. If I had a partner, it wouldn't be an issue -- the "envy" is a rational "well, it would improve my chances" thing, not an emotional desire to be other than what I am (or what I perceive myself to be).

(A few years ago, a friend-of-a-friend told me that she thought that I was gay-but-in-denial, after I made it clear that I had no interest in *her*. I took that as an attempt to salvage her own self-esteem.)

#666 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 05:04 PM:

Happy birthday, Patrick.

#667 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 08:41 PM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

We were at 26F today and the wind chill at 9F. The winds were strong enough to scoot my van when I was on a bridge (luckily, not into the other lane).

#668 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 09:21 PM:

Constance @ 656: I was going to keep my big mouth shut, but being compared favourably with Dickenson doesn't happen every day, um, year, um, decade.

I'll be over here. Blushing furiously.

#669 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 09:45 PM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

#670 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 10:32 PM:

Happy Birthday, PNH!

#671 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 11:32 PM:

I just had the delightful experience of being 419 scammed on Facebook. In chat. Hilarious. Poor sod had no clue. No, no money changed hands, nor any good personal information. I've blocked him on facebook, the email address I gave him is a temporary one. And I told him I was so broke, I no longer had a fone number. If he has decent GoogleFu, and is vindictive, he may find me. Then again, maybe not, as "Lin Daniel" is a name with many many different people attached to it.

Anyway, watch out for Dumasi Tawiah asking to be your friend, when you have no friends or groups in common. Unless, of course, you like baiting scammers. teehee

#672 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 11:41 PM:

671
Starting the new year with a bang, I see. Or possibly with the whimper of the 419 scammer ....

#673 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2010, 11:55 PM:

Ok. I'm proud now. My oldest has gone from basically no reading to completing a 100 day set of lessons today, and to celebrate, he's gotten his first library card.

He went in, read me a book, then checked a few out. This feels like a successful day.

#674 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 07:52 AM:

Eric #673: Wonderful! Congratulations!

#675 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 09:46 AM:

eric @ 673... Another young mind being corrupted! Bwahahahah!!!

#676 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 11:09 AM:

#655:  Brooks started out making sense, but blew it near the end:

At some point, it’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t the centralized system that stopped terrorism in this instance.  As with the shoe bomber, as with the plane that went down in Shanksville, Pa., it was decentralized citizen action.  The plot was foiled by nonexpert civilians who had the advantage of the concrete information right in front of them – and the spirit to take the initiative.
It’s clear that this particular piece of BS is going become an urban myth and/or a right-wing icon.

(1) The civilian (singular, I believe) who jumped on Mr Hot-Shorts did so only after he’d tried to explode his bomb.  He was still there to be jumped on only because it didn’t work.

(2) IMHO, the last thing we should be encouraging is decentralized citizen action.  For every decentralized hero who jumps on a real terrorist, there will be 1,000 decentralized morons who jump on or otherwise harass perfectly innocent people who happen to be dark-skinned or (worse) wearing a turban.

#677 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 12:01 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 662: Sympathies. Hope the headache has continued to improve, also the head cold. Remember, having to put off starting the exercise etc. for a few days does NOT mean you've failed and should just give up now. I started off the new year with a 75 minute run, only to have the side of one knee start hurting just as I slowed for my jog home (so I walked home instead). Seem to have upset a hamstring tendon (could be worse - doesn't seem to be the dreaded iliotibial band syndrome). No more running for a few days until it settles down, just ice, rest and ibuprofen. What a waste of several days of clear skies while I'm off work and have the time to run.

#678 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Up In The Air is an excellent movie, sharp and funny, and Clooney does a terrific job. Highly recommended.

#679 ::: Lori R. Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 02:11 PM:

On December 31, 2009, His Imperial Highness, Moonshadow Bandit of Rosepark, departed for the Summerlands.

To his family, Bandit was the most wonderful Japanese Chin in the world -- and we are hoping his silver-haired lady was waiting for him at the Bridge. Ma'am, thanks for the loan of your special boy.

While we were not first in his heart, he let us know that he loved us as much as we loved him.

#680 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 03:17 PM:

#668 ::: Marna Nightingale

Do not blush for providing a lovely experience made of words, not only to the intended destination, but to so many others!

Love, C.

#681 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 03:19 PM:

Lori, sorry to hear of your loss. It sounds like he lived in style with you.

#682 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 03:28 PM:

For your open-thread pleasure, an amazing video for an amazing song: Lucklucky by Veda Hille. I watched it three times in a row this morning.

#683 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 07:30 PM:

Because AKICITF:

Having recently become addicted to "Criminal Minds", I'd like to know if there are good nonfiction books about profiling. Not technical works (i.e., not textbooks on forensic psychiatry) but something intended for a lay audience that's non-sensational and reasonably accurate.

#684 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 07:34 PM:

Lori R. Coulson, #679, I'm so sorry.

#685 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 08:25 PM:

Wow. This is one ginormous wabbit. I'd seriously be afraid to come near the thing, lest it suddenly become carnivorous or mistake me for a cabbage.

#686 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 08:43 PM:

I've mentioned before that my Mom has been entering various art shows and such. Well, a little while back, I helped her (techie-stuff & handholding) submit to an online juried exhibition, called Abstract Exposure. And she just won Best In Show!

#687 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 08:43 PM:

Lori, #679: My condolences on your loss.

Xopher, #685: It's hard to tell for sure without other images to compare with, but I suspect some of that size (especially around the head) derives from false perspective. I've noticed that you can easily get that effect with small digicams, and it does look as though the rabbit's head is significantly closer to the lens than the body of the man holding it.

#688 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 08:44 PM:

Xopher (685): Good Lord!

#689 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 09:06 PM:

Lori #679: My condolences!

Xopher #685: I call shenanigans, specifically forced perspective -- the guy's hand would appear to be larger than his head! Not that there aren't some darn big bunnies out there, but this one isn't quite as large as the photographer wants you to think.

#690 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 09:16 PM:

Lori, I'm sorry for your loss.

Lee and David, I see what you mean, now that I look at the photo again. It IS a pretty big bunny, but not THAT big.

#691 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 10:31 PM:

Tim Walters @682: Wow! That was gorgeous! Thanks.

Lori R. Coulson @679: You did good for your fosterling. And now he's with his first love. No regrets; as it should be.

David Harmon @686: Hooray for your mom. That should boost her confidence nicely.

#692 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 10:55 PM:

Xopher, #685: The girlfriend says "That's a Flemish Giant." And so it is, and they are big rabbits, but not as big as that perspective makes it appear.

#693 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 11:10 PM:

And also, it turns out, an example of Wikipedia fail, see:

It is believed that the Flemish Giant rabbit is the modern descendant of the Patagonian rabbit of Argentina which was brought to Europe by 16th and 17th century Dutch traders. [...] opponents of this theory point out that the Argentina Patagonian rabbit is actually classified as a Cavy and association with the Flemish Giant is very doubtful.

The "Patagonian rabbit" is more properly called the "Patagonian mara, family Caviidae." It is in fact a cavy, just as the later remarks said, and I don't see how it could be interfertile with any rabbit, family Leporidae. (Taxonomy confirmed by the Encyclopedia Britanica.)

Opinions differ on shape of earth.

#694 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2010, 11:56 PM:

http://www.vinsonfarm.net/thule.html

has a picture of an Arctic hare--and of a couple "archies" (arctic foxes)

http://www.vinsonfarm.net/photos/two_foxes.jpg is a larger shot of the foxes, showing why I sometimes refer to them as "furry footballs on feet."

The radar site does NOT look like what it looked like when I was tere....

http://spotted.stripes.com/photos/index.php?id=2205641 Arctic hare next to a barrel, for size comparison. Arctic hares are LARGE.
http://www.thule.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-061106-037.pdf

"Jeep & bodies in Crystal Lake, myth or truth?
"The story goes that three GIs were Thule-trippin’ up near Crystal Lake during storm season and drove onto the ice, the jeep broke through and they all drowned. Crystal lake is very deep, several rescue attempts immediately following
and recovery efforts were made in the days and years afterward. Truth is, nothing was ever found of the jeep or the three bodies."

"Thule drip, can I catch it?
"No, it's not a communicable disease! You may have noticed that each of the buildings on base, especially the flattops, have quite an accumulation of snow on top of them. You may have even seen the eight foot ice sickles hanging off the side of the APO building, caused by the warm interior of the building that warms up the roof. When the spring sun starts shining again and the temperatures rise above freezing, the snow on building rooftops will start to melt and water will find its way into buildings trough the roof, walls and windows. This is the Thule Drip! So be aware, when the sun comes up, things will start to get wet around here, plan ahead and keep things covered and also off the floors in your buildings."

#695 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 12:16 AM:

#694
Ice sickles? For harvesting frosted wheat?

#696 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 01:42 AM:

For Teresa: KIA hamsters!

#697 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 01:42 AM:

And on a different topic....

An excerpt for Red Mike!!!!

One of the email lists I'm on mentioned someone having a book nominated on the Editors & Preditors site for SF/F novel... while poking around, I got curious as to what, if any, demarcations there were separating out romance, SF/F, and erotica--since there were books listed n the SF/F list that could as easily be in the other two categories. I came across one book listed on the erotica list with the title Lust in Space from Ravenous Romance. The excerpt LustInSpaceExcerpt.pdf (via http://www.ravenousromance.com/breathless/lust-in-space.php )

really wants Red Mike to go take a look-see....

I'm sitting here laughing hysterically, half of it being, "Oh wow, this is so vile it's hysterically funny!" and that other half being, "Is it intentionally funny?"

Some excerpted sentences, as samples:

The vessel presently underwent last-minute tests, as well as compartment-by-compartment fumigation for space roaches; while the crew anxiously awaited the commencement of their assignment.

Seven people sat at the captain’s table, proudly wearing their officers’ and managers’ uniforms while sipping from glasses of red wine. Capt. Nora Bradley, a stunning woman with dark skin and long, sleek limbs, sat at the head...

The two kept in touch over the years, following one another’s career as they shamelessly flirted over the telecom. Now face to face, both worked hard to drop the pretense. Nora and Robert addressed each other with the utmost of professionalism, masked only by an intermittent blush here and there.

Um. Er. It's much easier to read out loud/hear Eye of Argon, or read an entire book of Feghoots, with a straight face! (I actually did the latter, on a bet long ago).

Space roaches. Space roaches... as opposed to the Benedict Breadfruit anecdote about a problem with "Space Lice" published long ago as one series of such, in F&SF.... (remind me at Arisia or Boskone, and I will give two examples of Benedict Breadfruit, one of them being about the Space Lice, just remember, You Have Been Warned....)

#698 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 01:48 AM:

#695 Rainflame

It was from the official base newspaper in 2005 or so, and demonstrates and quality [ahem] of literacy of those accessioned and promoted during the misadministration. It also has "it's" used incorrectly, and other glaring grammatical errors (and material which needed better researching.... but the misadministration was not concerned with validity all that much....) (The piece about the jeep, for example... the way I heard it, it was an Arctic cat, and someone with a broken leg was being taken from the radar site to the base. The lakes are near the road, go off the road, and uh-oh....

#699 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 05:51 AM:

And an SF/F-relevant snippet from the latest Bruce Schneier interview Sidelight:

*People have stymied sense of denial about the situation. It's very neurotic, anxious, and repressed. It's feeding into a strongly Gothic political temperament where popular culture is haunted by vampires and zombies. The population *identifies* with vampires and zombies, wants to marry them, settle down with them.

Sound like any authors you know?

#700 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 07:12 AM:

Xopher #685:

That may be Herman the German Giant rabbit, who weighs 7.7kg according to this BBC News article.

This examiner.com article links to a video.

#701 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 10:08 AM:

Re: Particle about police officer tasering man in diabetic seizure:

ARGH.

I've heard of other cases where someone was having a medical emergency that resulted in them being nonresponsive or belligerent with police when they were pulled over driving. Tasering is not the appropriate response, but you can at least see some sort of reasoning for an officer thinking they might be a danger.

This case wasn't even that grey -- a guy having a grand mal seizure in his house can't be mistaken for belligerent. He's having a seizure. 911 was called because he's having a seizure. What in the world makes it logical to taser him?

Police in my city are now equipped with tasers. Frankly it makes me nervous about interacting with them.

#702 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 10:26 AM:

Lee @ 696... It almost makes one want to see a remake of Night of the Lepus.

"Attention! Attention! Ladies and gentlemen, attention! There is a herd of killer rabbits headed this way and we desperately need your help!"
#703 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 10:31 AM:

Thanks very much, folks -- really appreciate the sympathy. There's a Chin-shaped hole in our universe, and our Sheltie, Brandy keeps looking for his mentor.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what might help the little guy?

#704 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 10:54 AM:

Lori, my condolences on your loss. I hope Brandy does find a way to fill that Chin-shaped hole.

Lila, there are at least two books by John Douglas, and Robert Ressler is another of the original FBI profilers. Here is a listing of some books you might like.

#705 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 10:54 AM:

Open-threadiness request:

My security system is expiring. What do you run? Norton, MacAfee, Trend...

Any particular benefits or drawbacks?

#706 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 11:01 AM:

Carol, on my Windows machine I run the free version of AVG. Since I got my iMac, though, I haven't been using Windows very much.

#707 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 12:00 PM:

Caroline, #701: It's becoming distressingly clear that far too many police officers view tasers as something which can be used at will because they are "safe" -- which is to say, not immediately lethal. The flaw is in the equivalency.

I see 3 possible solutions to this problem, none of which are likely to be implemented:

1) Remove tasers from their status as routine LEO equipment; issue them only under special circumstances.

2) Equip all tasers with a "governor" control which makes it impossible to fire them more than twice in 10 minutes. (Possibly not physically feasible, but would at least prevent situations like the one under discussion from happening.)

3) Make the use of a taser subject to the same consequences as the firing of an officer's gun. The officer gets to go on administrative leave while the incident is investigated to make sure that the use of the taser was justified.

#708 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 12:09 PM:

705
I've been using Kaspersky for the last year. It seems to do a good job.

#709 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 12:12 PM:

Lori Coulson: sympathies for your loss; having lost one of our two cats recently I know what you mean about the hole left behind. Regarding Brandy: a while back when one of my family's two dogs (brothers) died, the remaining dog pined very badly - depressed, barely eating etc. In the end, we had to buy him a puppy. *grin* It worked superbly. We got a bitch due to the potential problems with a young dog trying to take over top dog position from the older dog at maturity. Of course, when the old dog died we got the young bitch a (male) puppy...

Carol Kimball @ 705: AVG Free version.

#710 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 12:30 PM:

Carol, I use Avast! which is free, and well-behaved, and seems to work – that is, I’m not aware of having a virus – although I get very, very few virus alerts nowadays.  I get a few e-mails with viruses attached, but by the time I see them they’ve been filtered as spam, so I never open them (though I sometimes look inside without opening, to see if they are viruses, and sometimes they are).  And as far as I can tell, my firewall blocks other attacks, and I don’t go to the kind of web-site that asks you to download dubious software.  (Yes, it’s all very unexciting.)  Avast! and AVG are apparently rated as effective, and importantly, they’re also less resource-hungry than Norton (Symantec) or McAfee products.

#711 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 12:39 PM:

Lee @707 --

You may carry a taser as a peace officer if and only if you are fully qualified, which means you have done your little course which absolutely requires that you be tasered, twice, with the exact taser you will be issued to carry. You will be tasered once with, and once without, warning.

Tasers are not, and cannot be made, safe; any idiot with a grasp of a normal distribution could tell you that. (The amount of shock effective on the middle of the distribution won't work so well on one end of the distribution and will kill those on the other end.)

Since the folks who make them can bafflegab that point more or less indefinitely, the trick is to make the evil things much less attractive to the police.

#712 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 01:04 PM:

Carol@705: Avast, or AVG, seem to be decent anti-virus free versions for Windows. I must say that in 15 years or some such of having windows boxes connected full-time to the internet at home, I've never actually had my anti-virus software block a virus (or let one past, either :-)).

I am behind NAT, not directly exposed to the net. I don't run Internet Explorer. And I don't run Outlook Express. And I don't go to that many dodgy websites, and run no-script in Firefox these days. But anyway.

#713 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 01:09 PM:

Thanks to all who responded on virus-protection programs. I decided to go with Avast! I rarely visit, much less download from, questionable sites and have very few email that even trigger the spam filter.

Idle curiosity dept.:
How do you look inside an attachment without opening it, and how can you tell if there's a virus there?

#714 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 01:12 PM:

Lee #707: Equip all tasers with a "governor" control which makes it impossible to fire them more than twice in 10 minutes.

That would probably result in a change of tactics to one of gang tasering by police, which also has the cynical strategic advantage of diluting guilt if it turns out to have been a bad idea.

#715 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 01:23 PM:

Carol Kimball #713: How do you look inside an attachment without opening it, and how can you tell if there's a virus there?

You could bypass that problem with the Delete key. I avoid opening email that has an attachment that I am not very specifically expecting, even if that means not reading email from someone who isn't using all text and probably just has one of those durned scraggly vcards hanging off it like a loose scab. Thunderbird has a feature (ctrl-u, which is also good for looking at the source code of web pages in Firefox) that you can look at the raw text version of an email; that's a way that I can look at email that is sloppily web or MSWord generated in relative safety; it's also good for sleuthing embedded web links that have been obfuscated with malefic intent.

#716 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 02:35 PM:

I watched David Gerrold's "Blood and Fire" yesterday. I was rather amused at the scene where Peter Kirk (Jim's nephew) is resting in his cabin until his boyfriend sneaks up behind him.

"Guess who?"
"Lt. Sulu?"
"You wish."

#717 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 03:10 PM:

Graydon, #711: I would be relieved to hear that LEO personnel are required to undergo that type of training, were it not that we keep hearing about this kind of shit. Why is the training not working? Why do we see videos of the cop going "Stand up! *ZAP* Stand up! *ZAP* Stand up!" as if the cop is not aware that a tasered person probably cannot stand up? WHAT IS FAILING HERE?

David, #712: You don't have to go to dodgy websites to get nailed by a virus, only to a site that's been hijacked by something. I ran into the "Windows Anti-Virus" fake error message (the one that downloads if you click anywhere on the box) on a furniture-store website once.

#718 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 03:27 PM:

Just moved into a new apartment. Boxes everywhere. It turns out that I can't get internet service there until the 11th. Thank you so much for not closing your account in a timely fashion, previous tenant.

#719 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 03:40 PM:

#715 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 01:23 PM:

Carol Kimball #713: How do you look inside an attachment without opening it, and how can you tell if there's a virus there?

You could bypass that problem with the Delete key... Thunderbird has a feature (ctrl-u, which is also good for looking at the source code of web pages in Firefox) that you can look at the raw text version of an email; that's a way that I can look at email that is sloppily web or MSWord generated in relative safety; it's also good for sleuthing embedded web links that have been obfuscated with malefic intent.

Yeah, the Delete key is my current system, and Mozilla my good friend. Email with attached nasty stuff is rare and obvious. Nice to know about ctrl-u for peeking.

#720 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 03:52 PM:

Lee @ 717 --

Sorry, I was unclear. That was my proposal for what they *should* do; it's not what is done.

(For one thing, it would kill significant numbers of police to do that. Which is one of the only things I can think of that would crack the "tasers are non-lethal" legislative position.)

#721 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 04:02 PM:

I like the idea of having taser use be regarded as the firing of a service firearm.

The taser, along with other "less-lethal / non-lethal" weapons has, anectdotally at least, given rise to an increase in the willnigness to use weapons. (it isn't all as humorous as Bujold's description of "stunner taq" where "fire first and ask questions later" *is* seen as a viable option for law enforcement.)

But you get cases where people are tasered because, as mentioned in another Making Light" thread, the subject doesn't cring enough.

I'm recalling a case where a motorist, essentially, told a traffic cop, "give me the d*mn ticket" and got tased anyways. And the highway patrolman, apparently completely oblivious to the presence of an activly recording dashboard camera, boasted to another officer, while laughing, that the victim "took a ride on the taser bus."

Repeat taser shots "just in case."

Tasing children.

Tasing people in wheelchairs.

Tasing people in obvious seizures.

Tasing people who physically *cannot comply* with demands from the police officer, especially after the person has been repeatedly tased.

This is what you get when the attitude of law enforcement personell is that the use of the taser is a policy of first, instead of last (or even middling) resort

#722 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 04:03 PM:

I like the idea of having taser use be regarded as the firing of a service firearm.

The taser, along with other "less-lethal / non-lethal" weapons has, anectdotally at least, given rise to an increase in the willnigness to use weapons. (it isn't all as humorous as Bujold's description of "stunner taq" where "fire first and ask questions later" *is* seen as a viable option for law enforcement.)

But you get cases where people are tasered because, as mentioned in another Making Light" thread, the subject doesn't cring enough.

I'm recalling a case where a motorist, essentially, told a traffic cop, "give me the d*mn ticket" and got tased anyways. And the highway patrolman, apparently completely oblivious to the presence of an activly recording dashboard camera, boasted to another officer, while laughing, that the victim "took a ride on the taser bus."

Repeat taser shots "just in case."

Tasing children.

Tasing people in wheelchairs.

Tasing people in obvious seizures.

Tasing people who physically *cannot comply* with demands from the police officer, especially after the person has been repeatedly tased.

This is what you get when the attitude of law enforcement personell is that the use of the taser is a policy of first, instead of last (or even middling) resort

#723 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 04:41 PM:

heavy-metal lace particle: I was picturing something else; i e lace you can wear like chainmail.

#724 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 05:39 PM:

Fluorosphericals who enjoyed the C Programming Language 4.10 sidelight, and who followed all the jokes all the way to the bitter end...

Recursion may provide no salvation of storage, nor of human souls; somewhere, a stack of the values being processed must be maintained. But recursive code is more compact, perhaps more easily understood– and more evil and hideous than the darkest nightmares the human brain can endure.

...may be interested to cast their search engines forth on the phrase "Cheney On The MTA" to learn how it's possible to use the stack as a nursery for the collector.

If I ever finish the runtime environment for my stupid language project, I'm going to add the following quote to the header comments in the collector sources: That is not dead which can remain eternally reachable, and with strange recursion, even death itself may be collected.

#725 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 06:15 PM:

Ginger @ #704: thank you! _Mindhunter_ looks like what I'm after.

#726 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 06:32 PM:

Lee@717: you have top be running dodgy software for that sort of thing to work, though. I don't let just anything pop up fake dialog boxes, and I'm also probably not running the anti-virus they suspect, so a message from software I'm not running is inherently suspicious.

For whatever reason, I don't really, emotionally, believe in viruses. I hear about them from other people, but I really couldn't testify to their existence from personal knowledge.

#727 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 06:59 PM:

Carol@705, PJ@708 - I've had trouble with Kaspersky. It insists on creating huge logfiles in C: (which meant I'd either need to repartition or else keep deleting them.) Worse, Windows NTFS apparently has a mechanism similar to the Mac Resource Fork, so many of my files have file-like things named :KAVICHS attached to them, which show up any time I'm copying to a non-NTFS file system (such as a memory stick.) Snarl - that feels almost virus-like, which is not what I want from an anti-virus system, even though Kaspersky has a reputation for being one of the best at detecting viruses.

#728 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 07:38 PM:

Greg Costikyan begins a review for a boardgame:

'A House Divided is unquestionably my favorite game about the Slaveholder's Rebellion (better known to many as the American Civil War, and to Reb sympathizers as "The War Between the States," or in sad and extreme cases as "The War of Northern Aggression").'

Thank you, Greg. I'll be using that name for the conflict as often as possible.

It's been 135 years. Why the hell didn't anyone else come up with that before?

#729 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Constance, #680, I'm catching up on my Smithsonian magazines and was reading August 2008 last night. Imagine my pleasure when I turned the page to find an article by Ned on Bo Diddley.

David Harmon, #686, tell your mom Congrats!

Stefan Jones, #728, you mean A House Divided? That's been used in critical books for quite a while.

#730 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 08:41 PM:

Marilee, #729: I think Stefan is referring to "the Slaveholders' Rebellion". And I find it every bit as brilliant as he does; it's a dead-perfect description of what happened.

#731 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 08:56 PM:

From earlier this year (but I just came across it), a gallery of entries in a woodturning competition.

The radiolarian vase is spectacular.

#732 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 09:22 PM:

Bill, I just looked through my system drive and can't find any files like that. (On the other hand, I uninstalled Google Earth because it kept starting up its '.MSI' (debugger?) at random intervals.)

#733 ::: Nathaniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 09:34 PM:

For anyone else looking for even more information on the life and works of Pearl Fryar, brilliant topiarist and subject of a recent Particle, the Human Flower Project has an excellent article. What a cool and inspiring guy.

#734 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 09:34 PM:

Lila @ 725: You're very welcome! I know I have Mindhunter in my bookcases (somewhere around in one of them), and I've been slowly getting addicted to Criminal Minds myself, although I still prefer A&E's The First 48.

#735 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 10:02 PM:

DDB @ 726, I think you underestimate the sneakiness. My (desktop support) department spent most of last week cleaning up computers that had somehow managed to be infected by a virus despite the fact that the computer users' accounts were utterly locked down, the lowest priv-level we have--no matter what tempting boxes popped up, it *should have been* impossible for the viruses to install.

#737 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 10:38 PM:

Stefan Jones #728: Thank you, Greg. I'll be using that name [the Slaveholder's Rebellion] for the conflict as often as possible. It's been 135 years. Why the hell didn't anyone else come up with that before?

The term was actually in use at the time of the conflict; for example, here's something by Frederick Douglass.

#738 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 10:49 PM:

My newest Flash animation: http://captaincormorant.com/flashstuff/soundexperiments.swf My whole collection: http://captaincormorant.com/flashstuff/index.html I will add new stuff there as I make it.

#739 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2010, 10:57 PM:

Due Props to Frederick Douglass.

#740 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 06:14 AM:

Stefan @739: No wonder he was so good in his debates with Lincoln!

(/tongue-in-cheek)

#741 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 07:37 AM:

I wonder how good Oliver Wendell Douglas would have been in a debate with Lincoln.

#742 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 07:43 AM:

David @ 726, I'm going to echo Liza in that I think you're underestimating the sneakiness of malware. Malware can be used in advertisements--I know of more than a few cases where a company in one of those advertisement rotation deals turned out to be not-so-benign, with their ads full of embedded nastiness. They get removed from rotation as soon as the rotation service notices... which is after people are infected and someone who knows what to look for complains.

Yes, using flashblock and noscript is a good idea, but a lot of people have no idea that those exploits are even possible, much less know that such plugins exist, what they do, or that they can use a browser other than what came on their computer. It's not willful ignorance, they don't even know that they should know!

#743 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 08:34 AM:

David #726, Renatus #742:

Amen to Renatus -- I managed to convince Mom to switch to Firefox (and regularly check over her computer), but I can't stick her with NoScript because she simply doesn't have the background to decide what scripts or sites are necessarily plausible. I wound up just installing AdBlock Plus (and trusting that she won't be looking for kinky porn or pirated software).

For myself, I use NoScript and AdBlockPlus, along with FireBug. On Linux. ;-)

#744 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 08:45 AM:

And Open Threadiness: The Oatmeal's Spelling Guide. Most of them are among my own favorite gripes, and his commentary is hilarious.

#745 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 09:59 AM:

David@743: I've considered running a Linux virtual system, and doing my email and web reading from it, to protect the desktop system a bit more (I need to keep the desktop system running Windows for a while yet; Photoshop, and various other mostly photo-related software that doesn't exist in Linux versions (or in adequate Linux versions) keeps me nailed to windows or Mac, and I don't like Mac, and can't afford it).

I probably would have done this -- if it weren't for the fact that I haven't gotten infected with anything on my home computers in 15 years of full-time internet connectivity. (I've had infections on several different work computers, none of which were ever tracked to a source. Probably Outlook-related, though.)

#746 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 10:02 AM:

Liza@735: That may be. But, um, does this mean you're allowing Flash or something in ads on a system allegedly "locked down"?

#747 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 10:19 AM:

Stefan @ #728, it's also been called "The Late Unpleasantness" by certain genteel Southerners.

#748 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 10:43 AM:

Last year, I bought my mother a University Surplus computer-- nothing really fancy, not good enough for the university to still use, and all of them have Linux on them. She was iffy on that last part until I convinced her that she'd have to learn a new operating system anyway and that this version was closer to XP than Vista was, and that if she got Linux, she would never have to worry about viruses again.
Mom has a thing about having to buy antivirus more than once ever. I think that to her, it's a fence: once you've paid for the fence, it stays there.

The computer itself is good, just about exactly what she wanted. Enough to buy things from Amazon, email me, and organize pictures.

#749 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 10:46 AM:

My absolute favorite OMG you're going to download a virus story:
Late 90s, head of IT was complaining that the programming department was downloading stuff off the internet and might *gasp* download a virus.

Programming department wanted to be able to download needed software, info, whatever, right now. They didn't want to submit a request to IT, and wait until IT got around to doing it for them.

Debate raged for a while. Finally, a meeting was held. Decisions were made. Meeting broke up.

Dennis, a programmer, asked Jim, head of IT, to speak to Perry, IT minion, to get back to Dennis on a particular project. Jim said he would. Everybody headed back to their respective cubicles.

Dennis was/is one of those "can fix everything" kinda guys. So his trip back to his desk took about an hour, as he was waylaid by assorted "DENNIS! Halp!" calls.

When he got back and opened his email, there was an email from Perry. It said something like, "I haven't had time to work on this, but here are the files you wanted." And an attachment. Dennis clicked on the attachment. I mean, it's Perry, from IT, right?

The decisions made in that meeting became moot. It was a virus. It ate every Word DOC file, Excel file, Powerpoint, and some other stuff I don't remember because I didn't have any to be eaten, all across the network. It came in via Perry in IT, from an outside IT vendor. I don't know who released it the first time, but several of us clicked that attachment.

We never heard another peep from Jim, head of IT, on downloading viruses.

#750 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 10:57 AM:

Me @749
Of course I know who clicked on it first. Perry. I'm not tracking well this morning.

#751 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 01:34 PM:

It's ironic to see someone saying "look at my Flash animation!" with a few posts down, someone else advocating a Flash blocking utility....

I have a bunch of tracking tag sites

(the track tags are NOT sugar-laden starch-containing edibles, they exist mostly for the convenience and revenue enhancement support of entities which use them to spy on website visitors and to collect information at a minimum about the visitor's web browsing habits.... I object to being spied on by tags that are on my own hard drive, among other things I object to other people selling that information and me not get any cut of the proceeds--it's called "exploitation")

blocked -- adclick, doubleclick, etc.
And who the hell is gigya.com or is it giya.com -- their stinking tracking tags are EVERYWHERE...

I have the settings on this machine set to notify me every time there is an attempt to run a script or stick a tracking tag on my computer... log onto Facebook and something like EIGHTY FIVE of the damned things are involved before one can finally actually navigate around on the page. Go to a Note page and then tens of the stinking things from rad.msn.com want to infest your computer.

As for ad revolvers, I consider those responsible for coding those things deserving of cruel and unusual punishment...

The problem with blocking the damn tracking tags is that it prevents a lot of sites from being accessible/usable.... (but, blocking the ad revolver tracking tag, and most of the ads get blocked semi-automaticcaly)... or even crashed the web browser. Or some sites, one finds oneself outside the website content door after having been in the room, if not telling the damn ad revolver NO!!! quickly enough...

A continuing source of annoyance for me is that on Internet Explorer

(which I use because employers use it generally, and expect employees/prospective employees to use it... I got burned from not using "standard" software and OS products years ago, I would never had been out of work for so many years, had I gone over to Windows instead of stuck with Amigas.... '"better"
is the enemy of "good enough"' Also, I dislike Firefox more than I dislike IE, and SeaMonkey has as the online support the sorts of asshole bigots who tell you you should read the help files instead of asking questions... even the the help file is not quite damn useless for finding things that are hiding in obscure places in it that OUGHT to be in clear instructions and in the basics of "how to use this software" (It was something about the IRC client, that I had trouble finding and then couldn't find again.... and I decided Sea Monkey was Excessively Annoying to use--and the proponents, even MORE Excessively Annoying....)

does not say what the script which wants to run is.... Is it going to try to write something on my hard drive? Is it opening onto a new website, and what website? Is it going to run a Flash animation? (I depise dancing body ads etc.)

I want that information presented to me, and I want to be able to block -selectively-. (E.g., ny Flash animation from site That-site-is-scum.assholes. I want to be able to block tracking tags based on expiration date (2037? I am not going to be using this computer in 2015 I expect, let along 2037).

Yes, SOME tracking tags are removable by going into the Tools > Options options and deleting all temporary tracking tags, going into the Privacy settings and noting what is and what isn't allowed or blocke, and going to (in gagola, Vista, [computer name]\appdata\roaming\microsofot\windows\cookies and the subdirectory low and delete the damned things -but the .dat file also includes some and that is not a file for users to muck around with...

But the point is that external organzations are sticking stuff onto people's machines, modifying their operations, spying on them, etc., without the end user having control -- it's as it a GPS device on a car, allowed someone at a remote site, to monitor where you were going, how far you drive, change the settings in the engine also with monitor the engine setting (a lot of script stuff...), and rewrite the software in the microcontrollers in the car....

#752 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 02:41 PM:

#737 ::: Earl Cooley III

Also the non-copperhead newspapers and members of congress referred to the war very often as The War of Southern Aggression -- even before secession, since shooting began by the southern slaverholders via Missouri migration into Bloody Kansas long before -- sparking then, John Brown's plan.

Love, c.

#753 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Paula, IE and Flash are problems because they are designed to be remotely controlled. IE, in particular, is a platform for networked application delivery and is not well-secured against malware. I suggest purchasing a script blocker for IE, as well as cookie removal software and Flash cookie deletion software. And, yeah, it's amazing how many people want to run stuff on your system.

#755 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 05:05 PM:

#753 The Raven

If I were someone who liked to program and were energetic, I would write software to intercept those things and write modified tags onto my computer, and applets which when detecting the incoming material from such sites, randomly send out noxious -noise-. They have no rights to invade my privacy and put spyware and data mining tags into MY computer. If their SPYING attempts were to get a shitload of painted NOISE from their attempts ot put e.g. miniature cameras into my bedroom, and the cameras got treated to abstract ugly art.... that's what I would do were I more energetic and someone who enjoyed codemonkeying....

I'm something of a cotrol freak, and the sort of software you'd advocated, I'd really rather have open source applications for, and see what the source code listings are, what it's doing and capturing....

It's not that I've never programmed e.g. code with e.g. fseek in it, it's that with the style of tools and methodologies and memes and implementation of software development these days, that is NOT how I think/do things/can work without going into screeching paroxysm of brainpain, ranting on about insane obnoxious stupid etc etc etc paradigms... (as opposed to, "what fucking shitheaded moron....").

SethB of course would be vastly amused at it (he thinks me in a towering rage is hysterically funny... this is an opinion shared by few other people, however!)....

If I were less annoyed and less irritated/more atuned to the way programmers do things/think, I could be a lot more dangerous than I am.... it makes me a good software tester ("what happens if?...) but the particular brand of ADHD-relative/relational-based memory and processing and laughbly bad handeye coordination I have, makes codemonkeying excrutiating.

#756 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 07:43 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 755 ...
... and you'd be quite successfully targeting and fouling up a large number of civilian bystanders, much like, say, yourself. Friendly fire... isn't.

#757 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 08:27 PM:

I have recently coined the phrase "uncivil obedience" to describe a certain kind of nauseating behavior that seems to me to be the common observable thread between the following two Digby posts: Standing Their Ground (especially in the case of the update at the end) and Queen Of The Pride.

Now that I have a pejorative phrase to describe what a certain kind of person does, I'm searching about for another phrase to denote what that certain kind of person is. I can think of plenty of phrases that sound too clinical. I'm looking for pejoratives, the nastier the better. Anybody have any suggestions?

#758 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 08:34 PM:

David @ 746: What's locked down is the users' privileges. Flash is not blocked; I'm sure there was a decision made about that with arguments pro and con, but I am not privy to such things.

#759 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 08:56 PM:

j h woodyatt @757: Not only am I not sure what behavior you're complaining about, I don't see anything in common between the two links you posted? Maybe I'm just being dense, I can't construe any of the actors mentioned in those posts as participating in 'uncivil disobedience.'

#760 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 09:44 PM:

In open=thread glee, I note that Tesco's is helping a small bookstore survive.

It's an isolated instance, but still...

#761 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 10:06 PM:

#729 ::: Marilee

Thank you on behalf of The Spouse! He wrote that directly from the heart, as he does everything he writes, of course.

When it was published we wondered who read the Smithsonian Magazine and learned the best people read it, including one of the co-owners of our splendid local wine store. You have just re-proved this is so.

Love, C.

#762 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 10:38 PM:

j h woodyatt @757 -- "Rambo-wannabees"? Or possibly "Rambo-wankers".... (An over-the-top attitude of "Let's go over the top of the trenches at 'em" seems to be the thread, to me, between the folks who passed the "stand your ground" law and the person who wants the social secretary fired.)

#763 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2010, 11:31 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 759 asks for clarification.

Actually, the phrase I coined was "uncivil obedience," not "uncivil disobedience." Here's what I see as the common thread in the two stories that Digby is writing about:

p1. In the case of the Standing Their Ground story, particularly in the case of the people described in the update, whom a friend of mine describes as The Cult Of The Open Carry, you see people who have opted to register their political protest by making a rather uncivil display of intent to use force— inappropriately, I'm prepared to argue— while simultaneously adhering as closely as possible to the minimum requirements for obedience of the law. They are not protesting by engaging in civil disobedience. Exactly the opposite. They are making an uncivil statement by strict obedience.

p2. In the case of the Queen Of The Pride story, it seems to be that there is a collection of Washington D.C. insiders who are insisting on strict obedience to a cherry-picked set of norms, that when combined according to their essentially uncivil plans, can be used to argue for sacking people who are just doing a job, when it's their bosses who are the real objects of their displeasure.

In both cases, I see people behaving in an essentially uncivil manner by engaging in the strict obedience of law or protocol, even where inappropriate, simply because by doing so, they can make a political statement or obtain political influence over their adversaries. That kind of behavior really annoys the hell out of me, and I'm looking for a good pejorative to hang on people when I find them engaging in it.

#764 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 12:01 AM:

#756 xeger

How so? How would sending mangled tracking tag data to specificlick.com hurt -me- or cause "friendly fire" ?! I want them gone, they are not doing anything beneficial for -me-, they are not providing -me- any service, and they are tryig to insert their shitty bugs onto MY computer, like spraying my bed with fleas or bedbugs equipped with RF ID tags reporting every time I get in or out of bed....

#765 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 12:01 AM:

#756 xeger

How so? How would sending mangled tracking tag data to specificlick.com hurt -me- or cause "friendly fire" ?! I want them gone, they are not doing anything beneficial for -me-, they are not providing -me- any service, and they are tryig to insert their shitty bugs onto MY computer, like spraying my bed with fleas or bedbugs equipped with RF ID tags reporting every time I get in or out of bed....

#766 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 12:14 AM:

Lori, I'm sorry for your loss. Somehow the little ones seem to just worm their way in. Chins are silky little bundles of personality. I'm sure he left a hole in your household.

It's too late, I'm sure, but I always make a point of letting the surviving dogs see/smell/touch the dead body. If possible, I like to have them there at the time of death. They are very clear, turning away almost at once, and I've never had a dog who saw the body look for their missing buddy, as they will do if one just doesn't come home.

#767 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 12:32 AM:

The 'Vaccines work' sidelight showing time series of measles cases:

Hib (Hemophilus influenzae Type B) meningitis is a more recent and equally dramatic example of what happens when you introduce a vaccine (eg in Australia). The Australian example is worth mentioning because Hib meningitis has been reduced tenfold even among the Aboriginal communities in Central Australia, whose general health and economic situation is otherwise pretty much f*cked. Vaccination really is a cheap and easy way not to kill kids.

#768 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 01:53 AM:

j h woodyatt @ 763:

How about "sticklerback", because it sounds like a bug?
Or maybe "wiener of the law"? No reason it has to make sense as long as it sounds nasty. Perhaps "agressionmonger" or "intimidationist".

#769 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 08:18 AM:

Aren't they just bullies? Treat them like tantrum-prone children instead of Important People. They'll *hate* that.

#770 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 09:01 AM:

Cool stuff: A guide to writing in Suetterlin script here. I took a look at the sample at the bottom of the page and went "Oooooooh this I gotta learn." It's better than a sekrit code*! Just look at Hausschlüssel!

Also, since AKICIML, does anyone know what holden refers to in the following passage:

"It can't be any more than five hundred sixty years. The Hold is only that old."
"The firepit was constructed long before the Hold," the Master said. "The garden was built around the firepit much as the Hold was built over the holden".

A colleague is translating a book from Dawn Cook's Truth series, where this passage appears, and isn't sure what holden means**. She doesn't recall seeing it elsewhere in the book. Based on her description (I don't have the book at hand) the Hold in question is a sort of fortress that's now used as a school for dragonriders. Is holden some sort of stronghold? A settlement? A reference to the network of underground galleries used as stables and storerooms under the current Hold?
Any help is welcome.


*OK, so I was born in the wrong decade and country.
**Although we did find that it was the archaic past participle of "hold", not that that fits.

#771 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 10:04 AM:

Isn't that close to what's called a white mutiny? Not doing anything against the rules, per se, but sticking to them ad absurdum?

#772 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 11:19 AM:

Juli Thompson @766: Thanks -- I finally showed Brandy the blanket that Bandit had been wrapped in when we took him from the vet's office to the funeral home. Apparently, something clicked then, he stopped looking (Thank Goddess I hadn't put it in the wash.)

dcb -- We got Brandy a playmate earlier this fall, a 3 pound tri-colored Longhaired Chihuahua. Honey is a living doll, and I love her.

I want another Chin, and I hope to be able to afford to get a puppy one of these years. Maybe after I retire (2012).

#773 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 11:28 AM:

As a job action it's called "Working to Rule." That's not "in order to conquer" but "in exact accordance with the rules."

It strikes me that, for some of these people, comparing them to union members in a job action might add to the offense.

#774 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 12:29 PM:

Hmmm. How are the Open Carry people any different from "flash-ins", where multiple photographers will congregate on a site where authorities have been trying to say photography is banned or illegal?

- - - - -

Working as a security guard, I've only had to deal with one guy packing a gun on his hip. The gun stayed on its holster while I tried to help settle the aftermath of a fender bender; no problem. The gun stayed in its holster when the police showed up; no problem for them either. Even though this guy was a stereotypical Scary Black Dude, with prison-style neck and hand tattoos, a vocabulary that was about 50% "M*****F****ing M*****F***ers!", and two -- count 'em, TWO! -- pit bulls in the back seat of his car.

(One of the pit bulls was so big, and so densely muscled, that I figured it came with its own gravitational field and didn't need to attack anyone. It could just open its mouth and suck puppies and kittens and small children -- *schloop!* *schloop!* *schloop!* -- straight down into its stomach.)

I didn't ask the guy what he did for a living, but I got the impression carrying a gun where everyone could see it was part of his business attire.

- - - - -

Speaking of photography, the mixed-use development where I work has a "No unauthorized photography" clause in its Standards of Conduct poster. While we make some allowance for people taking snapshots of themselves or friends after having dinner and such, when we see someone taking photos of the buildings, one of the things we have to do is go check to make sure they're not professional photographers taking stock photos for commercial use.

Which they are, about 75% of the time. If they're going to try and sell photos of our development, Management wants a cut, dammit!

That's the overall management's attitude. Now, the Apple Store... those people are nuts. They don't want anyone taking any pictures of their building. While it was under construction, they even built a 30-foot high fence around the site, draped with black mesh fabric. AND we weren't supposed to tell anyone, at all, ever, that it was an Apple Store being built under there, even though it was common knowledge in the area.

(Leading to memorable conversations like: "Is that where the new Apple Store is going to be?" "M-m-m-m-m-m... maybe." I never answered that question with "I'm sorry, but if I answered that question, I'd have to kill you," but I was tempted by the thought.)

I can tell you why people want to take pictures of that building: because it's Ucking Fugly. Everything, everything, in the building is made of straight 90o angles; to me, the design reads "customer-unfriendly" and raises my hackles.

(There are lots of pictures on Flickr, by the way.)

#775 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 12:34 PM:

Open-threaded musing...

High Concept Movies I hope to never see: His Dork Materials: The Golden Transformers. Just like The Golden Compass, except the souls are stored in little robots that can transform into different forms.

#776 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 12:40 PM:

j.h.@757: You find open carry nauseating, apparently. I find the pattern of attempts to forbid self-defense (in clear contradiction to the laws) nauseating.

#777 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 12:44 PM:

Bruce, #774: How are the Open Carry people any different from "flash-ins", where multiple photographers will congregate on a site where authorities have been trying to say photography is banned or illegal?

One difference which immediately springs to mind is that it's a lot harder to kill someone with a camera if something goes Drastically Wrong. Not impossible, mind you, but a lot harder.

#778 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 12:54 PM:

777: ah, but you can steal a part of their soul. Obviously the rationale behind photography bans on public buildings: they're repositories of the National Soul, and if too many photos are taken of them, then the Nation will be weakened.

#779 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 01:00 PM:

ajay @ 778:

That's probably the most sensible explanation of that policy that I've ever heard.

#780 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 01:34 PM:

Hmmm; I think it's precisely the photographing of the memorable buildings that KEEPS the national soul in them. If nobody photographed them, they'd be forgotten.

#781 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 01:43 PM:

Ingrid Newkirk and the rest of the PETArds can't resist pissing off someone who should be an ally.

#782 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 01:48 PM:

John Cale, "Paris 1919," live with orchestra. Seriously majestic!

#783 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 01:49 PM:

Lee@777: Much easier to kill somebody accidentally with a car than with a gun, though, and nobody seems to worry about that much (no move to ban cars, or particularly ugly cars, or whatever).

Dropping my camera on your foot would do a LOT more damage than dropping my gun on it. Neither would be close to killing you, but my camera outweighs any of the guns I carry by a lot. (No, the gun cannot discharge when dropped; any modern handgun has safety mechanisms preventing that, generally requiring the trigger to be pulled back before the firing pin can be moved. You can put it in a vise and beat on the hammer with a real hammer, and nothing will happen except you mess up the finish and maybe fracture the gun's hammer.)

Meanwhile, people successfully defend themselves with firearms in the USA somewhere in the 400,000 to 5,000,000 times a year (it's a hard question to study, as well as politically charged).

#784 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 01:50 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ 776: "I find the pattern of attempts to forbid self-defense (in clear contradiction to the laws) nauseating."

It seems to me as though the percentage of situations in which having a gun would make you safer is considerably outweighed by the percentage of situations where it would put your life in more danger. In fact, the only situation that having a gun would make you safer (where someone is coming at you with a lethal weapon and clear intent to kill you, and you see them coming) strikes me as almost absurdly unlikely.

I think the San Diego government should soberly thank the open carriers for pointing out this admittedly silly loophole and make it illegal to openly carry unloaded firearms as well. (Speaking of pissing them off.)

#785 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Bruce @ 774 asks: "Hmmm. How are the Open Carry people any different from "flash-ins", where multiple photographers will congregate on a site where authorities have been trying to say photography is banned or illegal?"

The difference most relevant to the point that I'm making is that the photographers are engaging in civil disobedience, i.e. they are sending an entirely unthreatening, civil political message by their disobedience of a stupid law, whereas the Open Carry cultists are sending an uncivil political message— by escalating to an excessive level of defensive posture for their situation— while insisting that their behavior is strictly within the bounds of absolute obedience to the letter of the law.

Hope that helps.

#786 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 02:23 PM:

Re: Avatar review sidelight -

Persuasive apologetics, making about as strong a defense of the film as can be made--but still apologetics.

*some spoilers*

Kaveney makes much of the limitations imposed on the film--"it is hard to see how a film with any other plot structure [than a standard neo-colonialist one] could be scripted, let alone made in Hollywood at vast expense"--but doesn't acknowledge the extent to which these limitations are the point of the post-colonialist critique of Avatar. If the film's failings were purely a product of James Cameron's personal psychological quirks, then they wouldn't matter. It's because the film reflects industry- and culture-wide problems that this critique is necessary.

In defending the movie, her interpretation of the plot is at times overly forgiving: "To see Jake's riding of the great red dragon-creature, the Tokkar, simply in terms of his ascending to godhood is to fail to understand that it is only thus that he can get the Na'vi to listen to him at all." In other words, the plot requires Jake to be Even Better at Being Na'vi Than the Na'vi because of...a situation the plot engineered.

She also plays up the difficulty of making a less YTPNIAH*-driven movie: "It might be superficially appealing to reimagine the story so that it could have been about a Pandoran coming to understand the degradation of human society.... We would need to have an entire alien world and society shown us in what would end up being "As you know, Bob" conversations, and with the risk that such a protagonist's naivete about human institutions would end up being portrayed in a way best described as minstrelsy." As if nearly a century of sf, and cinema, and sf cinema haven't come up with more effective narrative tricks than "As you know Bob," as if the only alternative to this kind of racism is another kind of racism.

That said, I do think Avatar is worth seeing. Its virtues, which Kaveney describes eloquently, greatly outweigh its flaws. But appreciating its successes does not require us to minimize its failings.

*What These People Need Is A Honky

#787 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 02:25 PM:


The recent Lord of Light Sidelight alludes briefly to the 1980 escape of trapped American diplomats from Iran, posing as location scouts making a film of Zelazny's LoL.

For more, see Joshuah Bearman's dramatic 2007 article for Wired.

To establish their cover story, the CIA provided the escapees with preproduction drawings of sets and characters by the great comics artist Jack Kirby, as discussed here in 2003.

#788 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 02:31 PM:

I think I'll go with upstanding barbarians until I get a better suggestion.

#789 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Lee @ #777:
"One difference which immediately springs to mind is that it's a lot harder to kill someone with a camera if something goes Drastically Wrong. Not impossible, mind you, but a lot harder."

Killing someone with a camera (if it was an SLR or one of the larger "pro"-type models) and killing someone with an unloaded gun strike me as being fairly equal.

(Yes, unloaded. The Open Carry guys, to stay within the letter of the law, keep the gun and ammo separated. I don't have a problem with that.)

#790 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 02:59 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 787... a film of Zelazny's LoL

A version of Zelazny's book where all the parts are played by LoLcats has potential. Does anybody know the phone nbr of Mister Tinkle's agent?

#791 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 03:06 PM:

I've been thinking of making a single DVD file out of the various MP4 files of David Gerrold's Star Trek story "Blood and Fire". I'm not sure how to go about it though. Any tips?

#792 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 03:28 PM:

Serge @ 791 -

I'd recommend Pinnacle Studios products.

http://www.pinnaclesys.com/PublicSite/us/Products/Consumer+Products/Home+Video/Studio+Family/Studio+HD+14.htm

#793 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 04:07 PM:

Steve C @ 792... Thanks!

#794 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 04:58 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 789: "(Yes, unloaded. The Open Carry guys, to stay within the letter of the law, keep the gun and ammo separated. I don't have a problem with that.)"

Separated by a few inches and a couple seconds--the article makes it clear that they also have loaded clips on their belts.

Regardless, there's a manifest difference between bowie knives and pipe wrenches despite the fact that they can both inflict grievous bodily harm. Carrying something that is clearly and unapologetically a weapon constitutes an implicit threat, and will make anyone who notices it feel less safe. That is even more true of guns: if I see a group of men walking down the street with holstered pistols I'm not going to ask them whether they're loaded, or assume that they aren't. I'm going to walk the other way, fast.

What those Open Carry men are doing is publicly indulging in their fantasy of being a dangerous, violent man,* and forcing everyone else to play along. It may be legal, but it's rude as hell.

*In the words of one of their own: "This whole open-carry movement, for me, is really about more than just guns; it’s about liberty and what it means to be a free man." [emphasis mine]

#795 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 05:04 PM:

I just dropped by the Japanese Chin Rescue group and found out they're in dire need of foster homes.

If anyone out there can help foster one or more of these lovely little dogs, please go to:

japanesechinrescue.org

I'm already consulting with family members to see if they're willing to open our home.

"Do not hesitate to welcome strangers, for many by so doing have entertained angels, unaware."

#796 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 05:23 PM:

Lori Coulson @795: Late but sincere sympathies for your loss, and thank you for trying to find new homes for rescues.

"Do not hesitate to welcome strangers, for many by so doing have entertained angels, unaware."

Do you know who said this? I've seen it in a different form, attributed to George Whitman of Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris: "Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise." It's the shop's motto and is painted on the wall.

#797 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 05:33 PM:

Pendrift, it's based on a Biblical verse, Hebrews 13:2, IIRC.

Thanks for the condolences, it's getting easier, but I miss him still. Bandit was a rescue, and JCCare helped with the bills.

I try to "pay it forward." After all, I got 11 years of love and affection -- priceless!

#798 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 05:45 PM:

Serge @ #791:

If you're looking for a prosumer product I'd recommend Canopus Procoder 2.x or Grass Valley/Thomson Procoder 3.x.

If you're looking for freeware, have a look at
http://www.afterdawn.com/guides/archive/avi_to_dvd_avi2dvd.cfm
or
http://www.videohelp.com/convert
for more general information

I'm assuming your source files are XVID or DIVX, but other formats can be converted as well (they require different software and techniques).

Or if you've got plenty of bandwidth and can send and receive files via Rapidshare or similar, I can do the conversion for you.

#799 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Heresiarch@784: The experience to date doesn't seem to support the existence of situations when you're in more danger with a gun than without. Well, except for legal jeopardy, or violent enforcement of prohibition.

Whereas having one, that protects something like 400,000 to 5,000,000 people in this country from attacks each year. Figures which I gave in the previous message, and you ignored.

People carrying don't swagger around; mostly they make a special effort to maintain situational awareness, and avoid trouble. That's quite specifically part of the curriculum we taught when I was doing MN carry permit training, and it's basic to what high-end places like Lethal Force Institute and Gunsite teach, too.

Having a weapon is no kind of threat to others. Carrying it openly is mostly viewed as LESS threatening than concealing it (which is why concealed carry is much more tightly regulated than open carry in most states). And a Bowie knife is as single-purpose a weapon as a gun is. For that matter, so is a golf club or a baseball bat -- if you're walking down an urban street.

#800 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 06:08 PM:

Bruce@789: I'm often carrying a Nikon D700 with 24-70/2.8 lens. And a Kahr K40. Even with two spare magazines, the camera is MUCH heavier :-).

We won't even talk about the Kel-Tec P3-AT.

#801 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 06:34 PM:

Concealed carry or open carry or whatever, one of the main points of a civilized society is that you shouldn't feel the need to carry a weapon.

#802 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 06:36 PM:

David Dyer-Bennett @ 798: Whereas having one, that protects something like 400,000 to 5,000,000 people in this country from attacks each year.

Given that 1,382,012 violent crimes were committed in the US in 2008, those figures are counter-intuitive, to say the least. Where did you get them? Also, you said "successfully defend themselves with firearms," not "successfully defend themselves with firearms while carrying." I would guess that home invasions would constitute most of the successful defenses.

I'd also like to know if it includes the guy who fired off eight rounds at a car thief on my crowded urban block a few months ago. That's the sort of "successful defense" I personally could live without.

#803 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 06:48 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ 798:

Those figures are by no means agreed to by a consensus of either researchers or studies. If you're citing the Kleck study, its methodology looks dubious to me. The NCVS study reports a figure more like 70,000 per year.

I don't want to get into an argument about statistical methodology; I realize that supporters of each study will find reasons to disbelieve the other. Nevertheless, in the interest of rational discussion, I think it's unfortunate that you gave figures without a citation or a caveat that these figures are not undisputed.

#804 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 08:07 PM:

Lori #795, the Chins at the rescue site are just adorable. Too bad my apartment complex doesn't allow pets, but I'll keep it in mind in case I move!

#805 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 08:30 PM:

WE ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE A GUN CONTROL ARGUMENT.

Seriously, I will start deleting posts wholesale.

No getting the last word. Stop this now. Thank you.

Signed, The Mgt.

#806 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 08:46 PM:

Steve C @ 800 writes: "Concealed carry or open carry or whatever, one of the main points of a civilized society is that you shouldn't feel the need to carry a weapon."

I feel some responsibility for inserting this controversy where it perhaps wasn't welcome, so in the interests of helping to keep the discussion from escalating into a flame-fest, I'd like to make explicit that I don't actually think that openly carrying a firearm or other weapon is always a rude thing to do. Just sometimes, under certain circumstances, e.g. the aforementioned case.

My complaint about the upstanding barbarians in San Diego is not that they're openly carrying, but that 1) they're flourishing their weapons inappropriately [uncivil], and 2) they're complaining about laws and policies of which they disapprove without mounting an effective display of resistance [obedience].

One or the other alone would be bad enough, but the combination is really disgraceful.

#807 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 08:49 PM:

Oops. Didn't see the warning from The Mgt. until too late. Also, not wanting to have GCA either.

#808 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 08:56 PM:

The Mgt. hears your beseechings and is merciful.

Now, look, an interesting hamster.

#809 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 09:11 PM:

Hamster!

(Goes back to sleep.)

#810 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 09:21 PM:

Serge @ 790: "He nevr claimd 2 be ceiling cat. But den, he nevr claimd not 2 be ceiling cat."

#811 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 10:21 PM:

Open threadiness: Laura Miller writes about lit fic authors who refuse to use quotation marks for dialog and mentions more than one of our topics: "If the intention is to make the thing harder to read, why not disemvowel it and really give 'em a good workout?"

#812 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2010, 10:27 PM:

"Disemvowelment, after all, is a technique used to warn readers away from something they probably don't want to read anyway. Maybe literary fiction should think twice before sending the same message."

If only Arthur Hlavaty were alive today.

#813 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 12:05 AM:

Roz Kaveney's review of Avatar mentions, but doesn't really address, one of the things that most annoyed me: The way that Sully is set apart early on as a Magical Chosen One by the Na'vi deity, via those floating jellyfish things. There's no explanation given for this; one can only conclude that Eywa is a literal deity with foreknowledge of Sully's special destiny.

#814 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 12:17 AM:

@811 and quotation marks: I am sad that the writer didn't list Edward Whittemore, as one of those literary writers who didn't use 'em. We like Whittemore.

I've written Whittemore pastiche (http://eblong.com/zarf/uru/story/lara-memoir.html), so I am one of those guilty of leaving out quotation marks... for a specific effect. Like any kind of constrained writing, it's harder; it focuses attention on some choices by eliminating others. It works for some stories, and doesn't work for others. None of this is surprising.

#815 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 12:21 AM:

Or knew what was in his heart. That's a pretty huge brain, Avram. It might well be a better "consciousness engine" than a human brain, by quite a wide margin. It might have powwahs, or it might just be lots better at reading a person's character than any human being.

Maybe Eywa saw that Jake was worth keeping around. She wouldn't have to know the whole outcome, just get an insight into the depths of his character.

#816 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 12:30 AM:

Xopher @815, considering that the first jellyfish incident occurs well before Sully has met any actual Na'vi, interfaced with any Pandoran wildlife, or displayed any evidence of his eventual change of heart, and is still reacting to Pandoran animals as if they were enemies, and also that Eywa also doesn't otherwise display any understanding of human motivations or comprehension of the level of danger that humans pose, well, your suggestion requires a level of prediction equivalent to magic.

#817 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 01:35 AM:

"Avatar" = Fantasy.

I mean, floating mountains? Come on!

#818 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 01:44 AM:

Patrick,

My apologies. My post was inappropriate.

#819 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 02:01 AM:

Avram@816: I would be pleased to imagine that the floaty-tree-seeds clustered around Sully because they liked the smell of fresh growth-tank juice(*). In other words, no meaningful reason at all. This story trope -- the different parsing of events into stories by different character viewpoints -- is one of my favorites, when well-handled.

But I *don't* imagine that Cameron thought of this interpretation, at all.

(* Handwave, handwave, other "young" avatars would have experienced the same thing, but not in sight of Navi. If you can't make that fit, just blame Sully's favorite shampoo, it comes out the same.)

#820 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 03:01 AM:

Andrew @819, see, that would've been awesome, the tank-juice thing, but there's no hint of it in the film. It's just excuse-making.

Other than that, there's a splendid irony in the movie: The Na'vi religion, which resembles the very essence of anti-technological spiritual woo-woo, is actually based in empirical, provable fact. The Na'vi are really hard-headed rationalists whose society is built around a massive computer network. Compared to them, the capitalistic impulses driving the humans are religious. But the appearances, the signifiers surrounding the two cultures, paint the Na'vi as religious and the humans as secular.

Except for that jellyfish thing.

Soon Lee @817, speaking of which, I'm amazed at the number of people I've seen complain that there's no explanation given for the floating mountains. Apparently none of them noticed the chunk of "unobtainium" floating above Evil Corporate Guy's desk, despite the camera focusing on it at least twice.

#821 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 07:37 AM:

Avram @ 820... I thought the mountains floated because of rogerdeanium, or maybe cavorite.

#822 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 08:44 AM:

Bruce@803: I see I didn't explicitly say the numbers were controversial this time; I usually do. But it's implicit in the range I cited, I would think. It's a very difficult area to study, for both inherent and political reasons. I certainly agree that the numbers are controversial.

Perhaps even posting this is going too far on the dead discussion, though this is meta rather than directly on the topic.

#823 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 11:02 AM:

Re the quotation marks particle - I'm getting ready to submit a manuscript that not only eschews punctuation, but it gets rid of all those pesky little words, which as far as I can tell, just imposes textual rigidity on the reader.

#824 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 11:26 AM:

j h woodyatt @763: Thank you for clarifying; that is indeed a useful common thread. I think part of my problem was that the latter story was so confusingly written I couldn't figure out what the poster was actually trying to talk about. :->

Bruce Arthurs @774: Speaking of photography, the mixed-use development where I work has a "No unauthorized photography" clause in its Standards of Conduct poster. ... one of the things we have to do is go check to make sure they're not professional photographers taking stock photos for commercial use. Which they are, about 75% of the time. If they're going to try and sell photos of our development, Management wants a cut, dammit!

I'm not certain that sort of policy would be legal, in Chicago -- unless they're standing on your land while they're doing it. Anything 'clearly visible from the public way' is fair game, just as police can act on information they saw while going somewhere to talk to someone (say, if a paper is sitting on a desk in plain view) without a search warrant being necessary.

Which doesn't stop people from trying to prevent it -- as when Anish Kapoor's lovely sculpture, 'Cloud Gate' was bought by the City of Chicago for display in Millennium Park. However, Ms. Kapoor tried to retain the legal right to photographic reproductions, which meant for about six months the CPD had to try to prevent tourists from taking pictures of themselves in front of this gorgeous huge chrome jellybean. It was painfully futile, and eventually Ms. Kapoor and the city reached some sort of legal rapprochement. This agreement means that you can now buy postcards and the like bearing it, whereas back when it was newly-unveiled, the only way to GET a picture of it (to show to your relatives who didn't come on vacation with you, for example) was to snap one yourself.

Those idiots * suing Google for Streetview showing their houses are another example. Google Streetview's pictures are generated by a van with cameras in the sides driving slowly along public streets (I know, I saw them do our neighborhood), and if it's legal for a car to do that without cameras, it's legal for it to do it WITH cameras, as a general legal principle.

* Where the idiots went wrong is claiming a public street owned by their locality was made into a 'private road' by posting a sign saying so; it wasn't their property, they just thought it was.

#825 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 11:30 AM:

Avram, I was actually positing that the worldbrain called Eywa was a weakly-godlike emergent intelligence. I know I can intuit things about people that most people can't; there are people much, much better at it than me (the degree of this shown on The Mentalist may not be outside the realm of human capability, in fact).

Grace talks in the movie about how many more "neural" connections the worldbrain has than ours, so I'm not making this up.

With that degree of intelligence, and full-spherical observation of Jake, I'm speculating that she may have been able to evaluate him better than we can. So YOU didn't see anything in his behavior that would indicate he's a suitable candidate for integration into the Na'vi; that doesn't mean SHE couldn't. Small children are amazed by the deductions adults can make; something as far beyond us mentally as Eywa might similarly amaze us.

Then again, the scientists weren't taken in because they knew too much to be willing to learn the ways of the Na'vi (according to the Na'vi wisewoman). One thing that may also have been a factor is Jake's sheer physicality: he's used to working his body hard, and doing whatever it takes to survive (and that we all saw as he battled the wolf-things). Perhaps he's just the first Dreamwalker Eywa saw as having a chance to survive induction into the Na'vi.

Supposing she was able to evaluate Jake by one of the above means, what's her motivation in doing so? Well, she has to have been aware of the base and the mining operations going on. It would hurt, for one thing. Perhaps she'd been looking for some time for a way to communicate with these strange disconnected beings, to get them to stop killing her. Or maybe it's a non-conflict-based immune response: once he gets deep in the forest, she wants to incorporate him as best she can.

This is what I love about good speculative fiction: it doesn't tell you everything, and leaves room for you to speculate on the gaps!

#826 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 12:47 PM:

Xopher: I know I can intuit things about people that most people can't; there are people much, much better at it than me (the degree of this shown on The Mentalist may not be outside the realm of human capability, in fact).

I've been assuming all along that The Mentalist is based on Derren Brown:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derren_Brown

So, yes, it is within the realm of human possibility.

#827 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 01:26 PM:

Most of the books I've read without quotation marks use an em-dash to mark dialogue. Usually I don't find it better or worse, just different; but in a book like Great Days by Donald Barthelme, which consists entirely of dialogue, it's a distinct improvement. Quotation marks would be way too fiddly.

I've read a few books with neither, and adjusted quickly enough that it didn't bother me. That doesn't mean it's a good idea, of course.

Then there's Appleseed by John Clute, which (IIRC) uses quotation marks for spoken dialogue, and em-dashes for machine-mediated pseudo-telepathic dialogue. That worked quite well.

#828 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 01:53 PM:

I have had a great deal of trouble understanding dash-as-dialogue writing, but then, it was in Spanish to begin with.

#829 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 01:56 PM:

Avram #820:

I did notice the floating 'unobtainium' and at the time assumed that it was a Meissner (superconductor) effect. If unobtainium had antigrav properties, then surely the most concentrated deposits are in the floating mountains, and not under Hometree where RDA was aiming to mine? I should give up trying to make the story fit some sort of internal consistency.

BTW, anyone else notice that then the humans were being escorted off at the end they were breathing Pandora atmosphere without the aid of breathing gear? Perhaps all will be explained in the sequels.

#830 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 02:00 PM:

Avram @ 813: "There's no explanation given for this; one can only conclude that Eywa is a literal deity with foreknowledge of Sully's special destiny. "

It's after his run in with the big panthery creature, right? Maybe it had downloaded its experiences to Eywa and she'd tagged Sully as someone impressionable enough to be integrated and/or warrior enough to know how to fight these weird blank people. I don't think Eywa would mind that he fought back--she certainly condones violence and predation.

@ 820: "Other than that, there's a splendid irony in the movie: The Na'vi religion, which resembles the very essence of anti-technological spiritual woo-woo, is actually based in empirical, provable fact. The Na'vi are really hard-headed rationalists whose society is built around a massive computer network. Compared to them, the capitalistic impulses driving the humans are religious. But the appearances, the signifiers surrounding the two cultures, paint the Na'vi as religious and the humans as secular."

That's a great take on it.

Re quotation marks - I think it can be used sometimes to good effect to mimic spoken storytelling: "And he said I'm not going and I said what! Why not?" But yes, doing it just to make the readers work is litwank.

#831 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 02:24 PM:

heresiarch @ 830: But yes, doing it just to make the readers work is litwank.

I noticed, though, that none of the writers quoted offered that as their justification. What they said was more to the effect that they're ugly and unnecessary. They may be wrong about this, but I completely sympathize with the desire not to have something ugly and unnecessary cluttering up one's work. I feel the same way about lyric sheets, for example, and have gotten into similar arguments because of it.

#832 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 04:12 PM:

I am incensed at what I'm hearing regarding the latest "security" stuff--nobody was deprecating nd damning the Schmuck for not firing anyone in the wake of 9/11, in the wake of Katrina, in the wake of Al Qaeda attacks around the world, the in the wake of IED bombings in Iraq and Afghistan etc. against US citizens and property, but the stinking bigoted "news media" is speading alls sorts of noxious insidious screed attacking/questioning Obama and his administration actions and activities and not firing anyone...

Nobody got air time from CBS/NBC/ABC in 2001-2008 to case aspersions and blame and point at the US Executive Branch and the FBI and CIA from among political opponents to the Schmuck and his regime regaring "intelligence failures" and failure to do data [can't think of the term, not data fusion, but something similar] effectively.... airtime not given to questioning the reorganizations and the lack of firings of anyone, etc. etc. etc.

HYPOCRISY
And the screed regarding the announcements that Dodd etc. are retiring and how the @(*^&@O#@ Republithugs are going to get control... and in this state, the stinking lying weasel commercial from the slinking Republithug misleading mouth running for Senate--ads showing JFK announcing a tax cut, without ever noting that he was reducing what had been a 90% marginal rate for the ultrarich, and NOT a rate far below 50% marginal for the ultrarich... I have NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING polite to say about Mr Brown and the pandering pimping broadcasters promoting him and his misleading sleaze....

#833 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 04:31 PM:

On Particles:

I must confess that, having reached an age when most men dandle grandchildren upon their knees, I have never yet learned the rules of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

On Sidelights:

In contemplating the days when letters-page editors were blunt, I am pleased to be reminded of an excellent word I always use to refer to people who converse with me online: correspondents. It covers Usenet posters, Livejournal commenters, blogophiles, and e-mailers just as well as it does people who write papermail letters to the Times.

In other news, I don't quite understand what's going to go on whose tombstone.

#834 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 04:42 PM:

Morbid open-threaded rambling...now that the estate tax is zero, I wonder how many rich old men (or ladies, for that matter) will meet their ends this year under suspicious circumstances. The payout would be considerably larger.

#835 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 05:29 PM:

Bill @833: The article on quotations includes comments about disemvoweling. I'm assuming that's what will be on their tombstones. If that wasn't what Patrick was thinking, someone else will let me know, I'm sure.

Steve C. @834: Paul Krugman agrees with you.

#836 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 06:42 PM:

I feel the same way about lyric sheets, for example, and have gotten into similar arguments because of it.

As a close friend of a hearing-impaired person, and a mildly HOH person myself, I find lyric sheets very helpful for songs I enjoy at all (because when I'm alone I like to sing along, or sing the songs myself while walking, showering etc.). Few singers enunciate clearly enough for me to get all the words, and if the lyrics are in a foreign language I don't have a shot at all—would you hear "Jah dootch uh wahryeh" and write "Dia duit, a Mháire"? Not if you didn't know Irish.

That's assuming the lyric sheet is printed legibly. If it's in purple Sevai Cursive Italic on a speckled red and blue background, or 6-point anything, it's worse than useless. I take that kind of thing as indicating that the artists don't want old farts like me listening to their music. Or maybe that some wacky contract provision requires a lyric sheet, but they really don't want anyone to know the lyrics.

#837 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 06:46 PM:

Oh, not, the effing Tea Party fanatics are the latest abominable pressure group where the fanatical angry types drive out anyone who's not a fanatic.... Pushing aside the likes of the woman who converted Hewlett-Packard from a tech-driven company into a marketing shell game offshoring its R&D to India along with its customer support, is not in my opinion a bad thing to do, but putting merciless ideological fanatics with moronic anti-intellectual attitudes and promoting S*r*h P*l*n as champion, I find totally obscene, appalling, abominable, and quite literally a danger to democracy.

#838 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 06:51 PM:

Perhaps an avatar spoilers thread would be in order?

#839 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 07:22 PM:

Bill 833: I must confess that, having reached an age when most men dandle grandchildren upon their knees, I have never yet learned the rules of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

It's roughly equivalent to a coin-flip, but with the illusion of superiority for the winner (to be fair, it also doesn't require fishing out a coin). It's for exactly two people (usually male*) to determine which of them "wins."

1. Both participants pound their fists into their other hands in the same rhythm three times.

2. On the third pound each participant can choose to do any of three things: a) keep the hand in a fist ("rock"); b) straighten it to a flat palm ("paper"); or c) extend two fingers ("scissors").

3. If both participants make the same choice, the sequence is repeated.

4. Rock beats scissors; scissors beats paper; paper beats rock.

It always produces a clear winner; it has the virtue of being quick; it's pretty damned hard to cheat; and it's arbitrary enough that the outcome feels like a cointoss. Often used to decide who goes first in a turn game, who's going to carry the front of the couch down the stairs (the loser of RPS), etc.

It figures prominently in FarScape, where Crichton and D'Argo use it to decide which of them gets to risk his life doing something stupid. The alien D'Argo doesn't understand it at first: "But rock would smash through paper! It is not realistic!" There's a terrific scene where the two John Crichtons are using RPS to decide which of them is the "real" one; the point that they're absolutely molecularly identical is made by the fact that they spend hours looping on the first three steps.
____
* It didn't occur to me until I just wrote that that I don't think I've ever seen a female do RPS. I've certainly never seen two females use it to decide any kind of disagreement, however small. I'm not quite sure why that is.

#840 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Xopher @ 836: As a close friend of a hearing-impaired person, and a mildly HOH person myself, I find lyric sheets very helpful for songs I enjoy at all

That's a fair point I hadn't thought of. I try very hard in the recording and mixing process to make sure the lyrics are intelligible, but you're quite right that there will always be cases, due to hearing or language barriers, where someone will be able to read them but not understand them when sung.

For that matter, I recently wrote a song that has a line that's ambiguous in spoken but not in written form (involving inaudible quotation marks, to bring things full circle). So there are reasons to like lyric sheets.

But what I don't like is when people read them without listening to the song (as I find myself unable to keep from doing when confronted with a lyric sheet). My lyrics aren't poetry, they're lyrics.

I'm considering getting over myself for the next album, though.

#841 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 07:45 PM:

I take it the tombstone reference would be something like "TNH & PNH, Inventors of Disemvoweling".

#842 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 07:52 PM:

Xopher (839): I'm not sure I've ever seen Rock/Paper/Scissors used for decision-making. In my school-days, we* used it as a game, with repeated iterations ending when we got tired of it (or the bell rang to end recess). I seem to remember doing it in groups, but maybe the active pair simply had witnesses. Did we switch off pairs? Maybe the winner of one round matched someone else next? I don't remember.

*girls as often as boys

#843 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 07:53 PM:

Allan, 841: TNH nd PNH, nvntrs f dsmvwlng

FTFY!

#844 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 08:19 PM:

Mary Aileen @842, We played RPS as a recess game, too, with more than two people, but I can't remember how. Since mainly I played with girls at recess, that's who I remember playing it.

#845 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 10:00 PM:

Soon Lee @ 829: ...surely the most concentrated deposits are in the floating mountains, and not under Hometree...
But how much can you dig out of the floating mountains before they cease to float and your mine collapses rather dramatically?

#846 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 10:38 PM:

I thought they said the mountains were floating because of magnetic fields. I remember thinking it would be damned hard to fly steel ships around in them if that were true.

#847 ::: JCarson ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 10:55 PM:

Xopher @839 - At the women's college I went to, Rock/Paper/Scissors was a fairly common method for deciding who got to choose where we were going to dinner/which movie to see/whose room to hang out in/who had to walk across the quad in the cold to get snacks. So women do it too - just not the women you're around, it seems.

#848 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 10:58 PM:

OK, I'm refuted. I thought it was pretty weird I'd never seen women do it. I still can't account for that datum, but it appears my experience is skewed or anomalous.

#849 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 11:02 PM:

I think the technobabble was that the flying mountains were "where the flux vortex is strongest".

The Avatar wiki entry on Unobtanium has a lot of creative nonsense about its properties. I don't know if any of it is sourced in any official material -- the only source I can find, the "Scriptment" for the movie, merely says that Unobtanium is a natural high-temperature superconductor, the planet has an incredibly high magnetic field, and the flying mountains have enough Unobtanium to levitate in the magnetic field as superconductors are known to do.

Yeah, that kind of magnetic field would be hard on... well, any conductor passing through it, not to mention charged particles including ions in solution, etc.

#850 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 12:04 AM:

Xopher @839 said: 4. Rock beats scissors; scissors beats paper; paper beats rock.

Unless you're playing the Star Wars variant, which is fun to play in front of clueless observers so you can watch their heads explode.

The hand-shapes are named differently in the Star Wars variant, which makes the victory-sequence go exactly backwards: X-wing (scissors) beats Death Star (fist) beats Star Destroyer (flat hand), which beats X-wing, of course.

#851 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 12:06 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 764 ...
How so? How would sending mangled tracking tag data to specificlick.com hurt -me- or cause "friendly fire" ?! I want them gone, they are not doing anything beneficial for -me-, they are not providing -me- any service, and they are tryig to insert their shitty bugs onto MY computer, like spraying my bed with fleas or bedbugs equipped with RF ID tags reporting every time I get in or out of bed....

I think we've got a term confusion/misinterpretation going on. I read randomly send out noxious -noise- as something substantially different from "changing the content of the tag data going directly back to the offender in a way that renders the content unhelpful".

Diverting into analogies for a minute, I'd read your intention as being the general equivalent of putting up loudspeakers all over the place in order to blare out the sounds of somebody learning to play the saxophone -- but I now suspect that your intent was more along the lines of "If somebody calls, annoys me, and won't hang up, they should be able to cope if I then practice my saxophone into the telephone at them".

#852 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 12:09 AM:

Xopher @ 848 ...
OK, I'm refuted. I thought it was pretty weird I'd never seen women do it. I still can't account for that datum, but it appears my experience is skewed or anomalous.

Perhaps there's a skew for same-sex groupings? ;)

#853 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 12:23 AM:

... and speaking of bookbinding, Lost Art Press had some special editions made

#854 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 12:36 AM:

I always liked Rock-Paper-Anything, myself. We played it in the dining hall in college (with whoever else was at the table deciding whether, say, the Sunday New York Times beats Half a Moose).

You did have to think well on your feet, though.

#855 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 12:52 AM:

Japanese for "RPS" is "jan, ken, po" and there are a couple of episodes of Sailor Moon in which the girls use it to resolve disputes amongst themselves.

#856 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 12:54 AM:

xeger 852: Perhaps there's a skew for same-sex groupings? ;)

Seriously, it may be that people don't typically do RPS in mixed-sex groups. But now that I've said that all kinds of people will say they do it with their opposite-sex partners, or o-s sibs, or whatever. This is because I am worng, and my worngnese is intrinsic, not topic-dependent. :-)

#857 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 01:14 AM:

jankenpo is what Rock Paper Scissors is called out here in Hawai'i, and it's very common.

'Course, so is Pog (or POGS, as Wiki calls it). That one goes in and out of fashion.

#858 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 01:18 AM:

RE Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock:

I was just sorting through some old boardgames.

One extremely strange item (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/343877/annihilatorone-world-review) used Rock, Paper, Scissors as a combat system.

#859 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 01:24 AM:

Stefan @858, Looney Labs' Cosmic Coasters also uses rock-paper-scissors for resolution.

#860 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 02:29 AM:

Xopher @825, yeah, I got that about the godlike super-intelligence. My point was that Eywa generally doesn't display that level of intelligence. It doesn't show any sign of noticing, for example, the squad of massive tractors plowing through the forest towards the grove of link-up trees. It doesn't seem to occur to Eywa to try any kind of massed multi-species attacks upon the humans until Sully mentions it.

#861 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 02:55 AM:

Miscarriages of justice....

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/4/judge_dismisses_all_charges_against_blackwater

Guest:

Scott Horton, attorney, international law expert, and Harper’s Magazine contributor.

.... It almost looks like the Justice Department prosecutors here wanted to sabotage their own case [prosecuting Blackwater employees for murder]. It was so outrageous.

...It was a decade of gross prosecutorial abuse. We saw lawyers at the US Department of Justice issue opinions attempting to justify torture and mistreatment of prisoners. ....

[There is a current]criminal investigation [looking at] Blackwater ....interview ...with Vanity Fair... suggesting [Blackwater will out] state secrets involving the CIA and ....the Special Operations Command of the military, if criminal cases are brought against [Blackwater executive and Blackwater] ....this is a classic case of graymailing [indicating the lack of wisdom of hiring contractors to engage in] some of the most secret and most confidential matters of the nation’s intelligence community.

a) De-neoconization NOW in the US Government. Purge the [expletive deleted]s IMMEDIATELY.

b) If Blackwater starts spewing secrets, hit them with the same legal gags that were applied 2001-2008 to everyone who tried to speak out and was stomped on by federal order citing national security--in this case it really is national security, and not corruption... or send them to the FISA court sort of thing....

c) Charge the Schmuck, Cheney, etc. with high crimes and misdemeanors, obstrution of justice, conspiracy to commit murder, and war crimes.... remove their citizenship, and turn their ranches into sites of federal penitentiaries and cemetaries... Robert E. Lee was an honest man of integrity, who however chose to give his loyalty to a secessionist state which chose to secede to continue the practice of slavery.

When the war was over and the rebellion had failed, the United States government left Lee permanently stripped of United States citizenship, and turned his estate into Arlingto National Cemetary.... Cheney etc. are neither honest nor honorable persons, and do not deserve better treatment than Robert E. Lee received.

Lee took command of secessionist forces and waged war against former classmates, former commanders, and former subordinates. He did not however make a mockery of the rule of law, make a mockery of the US Constituion, or lie, cheat, steal, and protect those who did. He fought on the side of slaveholder and on behalf for them, as a loyal resident of Virginia, putting his loyalty to the state he was born and raised and resident of, over the country he had given his oath of service to as a military officer. His home state seceded, and again, he put his loyalty to Virginia, over his oath to the country which Virginia declared secession from.

Cheney etc. also swore oaths to protect and uphold the Contitution of the United States of America--and failed spectacularly to match their action to the words they swore. Should they be treated better than Lee?

Meanwhile, the Schmuck era Department of (In)justice federal prosecutors-against-the-innocent- and-defenders-of-the-oligarchs remain in office, including the POS who went after Don Siegelman--who the DO(I)J has refused to grant justice to... Ted Stevens of Alaska's conviction to overturned, the Blackwater alleged murderers go free, Siegelman who was witchhunted by Karl Rove allegedly and convicted unjustly, gets no judicial review....

Welcome to Amerika....

#862 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 03:26 AM:

Xopher #825:
This is what I love about good speculative fiction: it doesn't tell you everything, and leaves room for you to speculate on the gaps!

For me, good speculative fiction tells you not everything but enough to make you want to fill in the gaps. Bad speculative fiction omits so much that it renders the story structurally unsound, and you end up trying finish constructing the story instead of enjoying it. "Avatar" had too many gaps to be a satisfying story experience for me. As a spectacle though, I was blown away.

Paul Duncanson #845:
I don't know, but wouldn't it be fun to find out? I assume that you'd get a gradual loss of altitude as the unobtainium is removed (assuming that the floating mountains are indeed full of unobtainium & it confers levitational properties).

Joel Polowin #849:
Pandorapedia the official Avatar wiki doesn't have anything in the entry for unobtainium.

Stefan Jones #858 & Avram #859:
Stuperpowers uses rock/paper/scissors as an alternative to flipping a coin for combat resolution.

#863 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 04:39 AM:

It sounds like the only recourse for justice against Blackwater is in wrongful death civil court action against them; I don't think they'll be extradited to Iraq to be retried under Sharia law any time soon.

This is an unambiguous example of why good people despise America.

#864 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 05:26 AM:

David Goldfarb @855: Japanese for "RPS" is "jan, ken, po"

*lightbulb* Ooooh, so that's why we called it "jack en poy." We had a rhyme to go with it.

Jack en poy,
Hale hale hoy!
Sinong matalo
siya'ng unggoy!

(Jack en poy, hale hale hoy! Loser's a monkey!)


#865 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 07:06 AM:

I take it the tombstone reference would be something like "TNH & PNH, Inventors of Disemvoweling".

S MNMNTM RQRS, CRCMSPC!

#866 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 07:39 AM:

Soon Lee #829 - I suggest that mining the base of floating mountains could be a bit difficult. Afterall, the more of the floating unobtanium you take away, the less there is holding up the mountain, leading to it crushing you and your equipment. It sounds a bit like a nice puzzle for someone to spend weeks over, with ideas about braces, superstructures and so on, until the management says "sod that, we know how to mine, and mine cheaply, just start digging."

#867 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 10:18 AM:

Xopher@839: "It always produces a clear winner". Well, no; as you describe it (and as I know it) it includes a tie case, and no mechanism to insure that the tie doesn't persist indefinitely.

As a detail, I know the explanations of the rankings as "scissors cut paper" and "paper wraps rock", rather than just "beats" (doesn't change the rankings).

#868 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 10:36 AM:

From the Gettysburg National Military Park site:

[ "It was a bleak time for the general. Branded a traitor by many who wished to see him imprisoned and hanged, Lee quietly remained at his home in Richmond caring for his ailing wife. Yet there were many who held a high regard for Lee and responded with generous offers of financial help and employment. In the autumn of 1865, Lee accepted a position as president of Washington College (today called Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia. With the help of an enthusiastic faculty, Lee brought the school up to a high standard of education. He also set an example for the south, working to rebind the wounds of a divided nation by obedience to civil authority. He quietly encouraged his veterans to return to their homes and rebuild their lives as Americans.

The aged Lee never discussed the war nor wrote about his war-time experiences. He was given many offers of money for his memoirs, which an adoring public wished to read, but turned everyone down. Lee was sincere in his feelings in not discussing the war or the results of it, letting the record of his army speak for itself. On October 12, 1870, General Lee died after a short illness and is buried in the chapel of the university that bears his name."

He died in 1870. President Grant considered him a well-respected, admired colleague, and wrote respectfully of his opponent in his Memoirs.

Love, C.

#869 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Nine strange things found while searching for Waldo. Apparently they have been excised from more recent editions.

#870 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 11:04 AM:

David 867: "It always produces a clear winner". Well, no; as you describe it (and as I know it) it includes a tie case, and no mechanism to insure that the tie doesn't persist indefinitely.

In practice it seldom takes more than three repetitions to resolve it with a clear winner. What I primarily meant by that statement is that there's no ambiguity: you either repeat, or someone wins. The win, when it occurs, is always definite.

As a detail, I know the explanations of the rankings as "scissors cut paper" and "paper wraps rock", rather than just "beats" (doesn't change the rankings).

Yes, I learned "rock smashes scissors," too, though it was "paper smothers rock" where I come from. I was trying to describe it strictly in terms of resolution/victory conditions, rather than the in-game color descriptions.

#871 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 11:54 AM:

Sure, the probability of a resolution goes up quite quickly with the number of iterations. But there's no guarantee, just a probability. (I trained as a mathematician and then went into computers.) Another way to put it is that it's not technically an algorithm for resolving a 2-way choice, because it's not guaranteed to converge on an answer in a finite number of steps.

I'm not surprised there are variants in the exact description of how one implement beats another. We may have had something like "smashes" for scissors and rock as well; I don't remember for sure. In fact, I'm more surprised that the same three basic implements seem to be standard everywhere.

I have a vague memory involving a "knife" (one finger), but I don't know if this was a fourth object, or replaced scissors, or was something unrelated that I'm conflating with this.

#872 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 12:04 PM:

I can now report that Mindhunter by John Douglas is an excellent read, and that several of the less-likely-seeming scenarios in "Criminal Minds" are in fact based on real (and even less plausible) cases. Thanks again, Ginger.

Also, thanks to everyone whose Bujold recommendations pushed me to check out Komarr from the library. There are few occasions so agreeable as discovering a prolific writer whose work you like.

#873 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 12:07 PM:

Right, David, but we're talking about a practical implementation of a good-enough solution, not about mathematical completeness or anything. With human brains involved, there's also the fallback that after three repetitions, the length of the chain of ties would itself become remarkable, and they'd probably forget all about whatever they were trying to decide.

Shorter: as a formal algorithm for resolving a two-way decision, it has serious flaws. In practice and using human brains, however, these flaws are pretty much irrelevant.

#874 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 12:39 PM:

Lila @ 872: I'm glad you enjoyed it -- and Komarr, too. I just finished re-reading those books and now am re-reading the Jude Devine mysteries (written by Rose Beecham). Alas, there are only three of these books.

#875 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Soon Lee @ 862 -- That official Avatar wiki is weird. It really is official, registered to 20th Century Fox, but there's not much on it, and that content appears to have been added mostly by fans. I can't find an entry there for unobtanium (or unobtainium), though it's mentioned (with both spellings) in a few other entries.

#876 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 05:18 PM:

So, end of an open thread may not be the best place to ask, but our new years resolution is to finally achieve that trans-Atlantic move we've been pushing toward for 10 years. Involved in this will be shipping all our belongings, transporting two cats and one toddler, and probably a career change for my husband. This leaves me wondering:
1) Does anyone know much about training to be a paramedic/emt in the UK? We're presuming the cost will be considerably less than it would be to transfer his helicopter pilot license, which is why we're thinking it may be necessary.
2) Does anyone know how good the mental health care provided by the NHS is regarding depression?
3) Any hints regarding the logistics of the move? We'd probably end up living with family either in rural Wales or Reading, initially. The legalese on the Home Office website is clearer than it was on the INS website, but if anyone has any tips on blogs with good reading, those would be much appreciated as well.
Especially worrying is the prospect of trying to pass the UK drivers test. No, I can't start on a hill using my handbrake, and my parallel parking abilities are incredibly rusty. This leaves me worried by how isolating living in Wales might be.

(I would rather just move back to Portland, OR, but G is unimpressed with the idea of living even further away from his entire family.)

#877 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 05:51 PM:

EClaire @ 876:

I was too young to know or care about a lot of the logistics of such things when my family moved there, but hopefully I can help you with some of it.

Be aware that there are quarantines for pets that you want to bring into the country. I don't remember the duration, but it's probably longer than you'd like.

You can drive on your US license temporarily while you're there. I'd recommend that you find a local driving school and explain your situation to them. The big three are parallel parking, turn in the road (what gets called a three-point turn in the US, where the roads are wide enough to make it), and reverse around a corner. Unless things have changed since I was there, touching the curb during any of these maneuvers is a quick route to failure, so you'll want to practice.

If you take the driving test in an automatic, your license will be good for driving automatics only.

Get a copy of The Highway Code and have a look through it.

International movers will be able to help you with the logistics of transporting things.

Some things you may or may not know, but I'll stick in in case:

I wouldn't bother to take your car, unless it's vintage or something like that, as you'll be driving on the wrong side. Similarly, remember that mains voltage is 240V over there versus 120V over here, so you'll probably want to get new small appliances rather than taking yours with you. Most lamps are fine; you'll simply replace the plug and buy new lightbulbs.

Just about any modern British TV and VCR should play American video tapes. You might have to look around a little bit for region-free DVD players, but not all that hard, and then your DVDs will work too. You can not play British video tapes or DVDs on standard American TV equipment; you'd need to invest in multi-system TV stuff if you ever returned to the US and wanted to keep videos you bought or recorded there.

Best wishes.

#878 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 05:55 PM:

Also, be ready for a bit of culture shock. I didn't really have any when I moved there (but, you know, I was nine), but I did when I moved back to California in a way that I didn't have when I was only visiting. It passes after a month or two, but it can add to the feelings of frustration or disorientation that you have after a move.

#879 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 06:26 PM:

My husband is British, and we've been visiting yearly. We're planning on abandoning all of our electronics, some of our furniture and none of our books. I don't think we'll manage moving with nothing but two suitcases, as he did, when he came here in 2000, but hopefully we won't end up moving every single thing we own...

#880 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 11:42 PM:

Soon Lee @ 849 and Joel @ 875: When I searched for Avatar sites I found this and assumed it was the official one. I is certainly the better one.

#881 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2010, 11:49 PM:

That link should probably have been to the front page of the wiki. The link above leads to spoilers.

#882 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 12:06 AM:

Pendrift, is the rhyme you learned in Malay or Filipino (Ilocano), or ??? I can't recognize the language.

The proper follow up phrase in Japanese, if you have to do it again for a tie (any number of times) is "Ai ko ra sho!" Here in Hawaii that turned into the partial homonym "I ..can.. show!"

I love watching the slow evolution of playground games and rhymes. It's amazing how they persist over generations.

David Dyer-Bennett:

While Jan-ken-po doesn't have a deterministic run-time, it has interesting bounds; the probability of it taking more than N turns is 1/3^N, so you can achieve an arbitrarily low probability of it failing to resolve by setting N high enough. That seems to me a fairly close analog to the probabilistic primality test, if I'm recalling how that works correctly.

#883 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 02:12 AM:

KeithS @877:
Many of the cheap off-brand DVD players sold in the US (for example, most Apex players) can easily be configured to do on-the-fly PAL-to-NTSC conversion.

#884 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 08:50 AM:

Clifton Royston @882: It's in Filipino. The first half doesn't mean anything; "jack en poy" is, I now realize, a corruption of the Japanese, while "hale hale hoy" is nonsense.

Filipino and Ilocano are very different languages. The former, based on Tagalog, is the national language. I can't understand the latter at all.

I don't know much about Philippine languages aside from the fact that there are a lot (over 150), although I can speak two fluently and get by in a third. This isn't rare in the Philippines, though, and explains why many Filipinos are good at code-switching.

When people ask me how different the regional languages are, I tell them that the word for dog is aso in Filipino/Tagalog, ido in Hiligaynon, and ayam in Kinaray-a.

The following is my favorite answer to "Say something in Filipino!"

Let's say you're in front of the elevator on the 6th floor, and the door opens.

Q: Bababa ba? [Going down?]
A: Bababa! [Going down!]

#885 ::: Teemu Kalvas ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 09:26 AM:

EClaire@876: Importing cats (and dogs) to the UK used to be incredibly complicated, and is still not something that I would know how to do without asking an expert--despite owning cats, and having lived in the UK. I recommend you try to figure out the current requirements in advance, so you know the steps to go through.

The stated motivation of the bureaucrats is to avoid letting rabies on the island, but I'm not so sure about their claims that there isn't any. I mean, they claim that, sure, but I'm not so sure about the facts on the ground.

#886 ::: Teemu Kalvas ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 09:54 AM:

EClaire@876: Here is a DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) page which I think is a good starting point on this kind of thing http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/procedures/support-info/otherinfo.htm

#887 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 10:29 AM:

It used to be a 6 month quarantine period -- a friend moved to the UK with their cat, and ended up moving back to the US after 8 months, and just before the quarantine period changed...

#888 ::: martyn44 ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 12:05 PM:

EClaire @ 876 - anyone with a nonEU driving license has 12 months to acquire an EU - ie UK - license, passing the standard tests. Any departure and return to the UK resets the 12 months from the date of return (which accounts for the dreadful standard of driving among certain communities)

Rabies is (or was) endemic in continental Europe. It isn't (or wasn't) in the UK and Ireland. Hence the quarantine.

#889 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 01:59 PM:

Filipino and Ilocano are very different languages. The former, based on Tagalog, is the national language.

Sorry, I used to know that, but got it swapped around mentally.

#890 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 03:03 PM:

EClaire@876: you might find it useful to look at the NHS Choices page about depression to see how the NHS views it and treats it. Bear in mind that the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies have some powers over the NHS in their areas, so there are regional variations—for example, getting prescription drugs costs you a flat fee of £7.20p per prescription in England, but in Wales it's free. And local health authorities within each country, controversially, have different treatment policies (Google "NHS postcode lottery" for more information than you probably want), and individual doctors' surgeries will have different ways of doing things.

I also recommend the mental health blogs on the NHS site, written by users of the services available.

#891 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 03:10 PM:

Rabies does not exist in the UK, except I believe someone died from it after an encounter with a bat.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/2509375.stm

I recall reading a decade ago an article how rabies was endemic in western europe amongst foxes and similar creatures, except it was being rolled back by vaccinations hidden in dead chickens and suchlike.
Defra (The department for the elimination of farming and rural affairs) has this to say:
http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/monitoring/documents/poa-rabies080310.pdf

Basically dog affecting rabies has been wiped out in western europe. Still a few cases from people importing infected animals. But you can now get a passport, and mainland US inhabitants (or rather their pets)can qualify as long as they meet the criteria, which obviously includes vaccinations of various kinds. As per the link given by Teemu above.

ECLaire #876-
I do not suffer from clinical depression, merely some mild stuff. Therefore I am not totally familiar with the system here, but as usual the first port of call is your GP who can then pass you on to specialists who will get you the correct treatment. There are also all sorts of local things which can help, although I don't know that there would be so many out in rural Wales. For example here's one in Ediburgh:
http://www.health-in-mind.co.uk/inforesource.asp?page=3

You can get perfectly good treatment, but sometimes might have to push a bit for it.

If you can't do a hill start or parallel park you will have a bit of a problem. IIRC you don't have to do a perfect parallel park, just avoid hitting the kerb or being at a non-parallel abngle to the kerb. For hill starts all I can say is practise as long as necessary in the exact car you would be sitting the test in. On the other hand I don't recall being asked to do a hill start on my 2nd, successful test.
For emts i think you would have to dol, some sort of course, but i can't recall what i heard about it lat - i used to be aqainted with a Texan emt who was thinking of moving to scotland, but that was a while ago. blogs with good reading, those would be much appreciated as well.


#892 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 04:16 PM:

Clifton Royston @889: Oops, sorry if that sounded waspish; I didn't mean to.

Back to "Jack en poy", that was the Filipino version. The Hiligaynon version just goes "Pick, pick, papel, gunting, bato!*"

*Pick, pick, paper, scissors, rock!

#893 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Just heard in the wild: "I worked [wherever] from the early nineties to the early thousands, and ..."

Watching the terminology for the nine-or-ten years just past shake out in public usage fascinates me.

#894 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 06:04 PM:

Elliott Mason (893): I'm equally fascinated by listening to the pronunciation of this year shake out. I decided a while back to call it 'twenty-ten' (last year, by contrast, was 'two thousand nine'*). So far, I've heard roughly equal numbers of 'twenty-ten' and 'two thousand ten'. I suspect that 'twenty-[whatever]' will eventually win out, but it might take a few years.

*my boss said 'two-oh-oh-nine', or occasionally (and I think accidentally) 'two-oh-nine'

#895 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 07:32 PM:

I normally use twenty-oh-[whatever], and now, twenty-ten. Two-thousand-[whatever] didn't fall trippingly off my tongue, and felt awkward speaking it.

#896 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 07:34 PM:

I'm going to say twenty-ten and twenty-twelve, but I can't resist twenty-'leven. Remember that old John Denver song?

It was nine feet high, and six feet wide,
And soft as a downy chick.
It was made from the feathers of forty-'leven geese,
Took a whole bolt of cloth for the tick.
Actually I'll probably pronounce it "twenny-leven."

#897 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 07:49 PM:

Xopher (896): Or maybe you'll say twent'-eleven. Sounds the same, right?

I've always loved that song.

#898 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 07:52 PM:

"Hold eight kids and four hound dogs!"
Fun song.
Which is now running unstoppably thru my head.

#899 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 08:11 PM:

I just heard a sad bit of news which a few people here will care about. Mog Decarnin has apparently died, of a heart attack, just recently. Brilliant letter-writer, astute critic of Samuel R. Delany (among others), and a very nice shy person. She'd have fit in well here. Her health had never been particularly good. I have no other details at this point.

#900 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 09:00 PM:

OT: to be filed under "Crap I Didn't Need To Hear Ever" -- my partner of 14 years has just called us quits. The end. I'm still processing the news, but it has effectively stopped me from worrying about my patient. Nothing else has been decided at this time.

#901 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 09:02 PM:

Anyone suffering in the antipodean heat is invited to come swim in my pool. Very brisk right now.

#902 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 09:08 PM:

Ginger #900: Raasclaat! You have my sympathies. That's hard.

#903 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 09:13 PM:

Ginger, I'm so sorry.

#904 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 10:02 PM:

Ginger, that's terrible news. I'm so sorry.

#905 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 10:06 PM:

EClaire@876:

Re paramedic/emt license: if you don't get any other replies you might want to ask the author of http://randomreality.blogware.com/blog

He's an EMT for the London Ambulance Service and was previously an A&E (ie, ER) nurse. I mention him because he linked here to some of Jim Macdonald's medical pages and recommended spending a few hours browsing the ML archives as a way of handling a London heat wave.


#906 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 10:21 PM:

Ginger... We're here for you.

#907 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2010, 10:52 PM:

Oh jeeze Ginger, I'm so so sorry. Sending you good thoughts.

#908 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 12:02 AM:

Ginger, I'm so sorry.

#909 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 01:01 AM:

I happened to have had WCVB -- Boston ABC affiliate on, with the news on. After the news... there was this really inanely choreographed bad swordfight scene with people in pseudo-medievalish costuming, and then dialogue which the last time I heard more banality, was in Attack of the Clones (the only one of Star Wars Revisisted #s 1-3 that I've seen). What it was was some episode of Legend of the Seeker. I've not read the book(s) it's based on, and this only reinforced my opinion of not wanting to....

It's sort of like PDQ Bach TV fantasy, what appalling thing will happen next with the banal dialogue, the peculiar costuming, the idiot plot (covers both plot AND the characters) and the cardboard acting....

#910 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 01:13 AM:

{Handing ginger virtual chocolate, and a clementine (I've been eating them since I got home tonight...)

#911 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 01:14 AM:

{Handing ginger virtual chocolate, and a clementine (I've been eating them since I got home tonight...)

#912 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 02:01 AM:

Ginger: That totally sucks the big green wienie. Be kind to yourself. You're probably in shock just now.

#913 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 03:51 AM:

Ginger,
I'm so sorry. Do look after yourself.

Pendrift #884:
Interestingly, ayam is the Malay word for chicken.

#914 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 04:38 AM:

EClaire@876

It wouldn't surprise me if "helicopter pilot" were easier to transfer than EMT. Standards are pretty well international for aviation. Medical stuff, not quite the same level of regular working contact.

#915 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 08:10 AM:

Ginger: sincere sympathies.

EClaire:

1) I'll ask my sister-in-law if she knows where you should look (she is a paramedic);

2) Bit of a post code lottery probably - very good in some places, less good in others. But free on the NHS (although you can pay to go privately if you wish). I see others have answered that in more detail

3) Driving test. Hill start IS important (particularly in rural Wales!) I'd start practicing (also those indicated by KeithS @ 877).

4) Quarantine I think is still six months even with certified rabies-vaccinated pets. And that doesn't come cheap. Information (not including costs) is available at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/quarantine/procedures/qprocs.htm. The UK is rabies-free (except for European Bat Lyssa Virus in bats - different from the USA where the bats carry classical rabies virus isolates) and is extremely keen to keep it that way (the quarantine period also keeps lots of parasites etc. from getting imported).

5) Re. "abandon all the electronics": not necessary for a laptop, of course, and most shaver sockets can be switched for USA voltage (but you/your husband probably knew that).

6) Culture shock. Yes, expect it. If you cook, find some good conversion table online before you get here (every time I come across an American receipe using "cups" I have to get the conversion tables out) and somewhere giving simple translations/equivalents of common ingredients (you'd be surprised at some of the differences). Some things you're used to won't be available over here - probably you wouldn't have noticed on a vacation, but will notice when living here.

#916 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 10:41 AM:

Ginger: I'm so sorry. Take care of yourself.

#917 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 11:06 AM:

In re American cooks moving to England: it's not just weights/measures/volumes/temperatures that change (sometimes bafflingly -- gas point 3, anyone?), though those are the differences easiest to address with a quick googling.

Things like what vegetables and cuts of meat are called change wildly, too. Those links both go to a blog I greatly enjoy on the subject of US/UK spoken-language differences.

#918 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 11:15 AM:

Ginger: I'm so sorry. Hang in there.

Paula Lieberman: very apt description. My kids watch "Legend of the Seeker" occasionally, the same way they would watch "Plan Nine from Outer Space", with howls of laughter. I can only take about a minute of it before I shriek "Who WRITES this crap???"

#919 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 11:27 AM:

Ginger
If the phone line had the bandwidth, I'd hand you some dark-chocolate-with-sea-salt (Lindt is making it).
Sometimes life is hard.

#920 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 11:43 AM:

Ginger -- I'm very sorry to hear it. Yowch.

#921 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 12:43 PM:

cool: 'white' lizards at White Sands!

#922 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 12:44 PM:

#900 ::: Ginger

I'm so sorry. This is grief and agony unique to itself. Nor does it help you while in the process that just about everyone you know has experienced it also.

Love, C.

#923 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 01:51 PM:

Thank you all for your kind words. It has been a really crappy day, and to top it off, one of my patients took a sudden turn for the worse -- in 24 hours going from awake and stable to dying. I will not tempt fate by asking if it could get any worse because there are worse things than the current mixture of agony, but I really wish I could get some good news right about now. I mean, besides all the wonderful people saying supportive things, which is helpful in so many ways. Having to euthanize a patient is bad enough for a normal happy day. I really didn't need to have this happen now.

#924 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 02:19 PM:

Ginger @ 923: Double sympathies and a zen hug. Having a crappy personal life and stuff like patients dying at the same time is -really-unfair. Hope you get something good in your life soon.

#925 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 02:38 PM:

Ginger... Consider yourself hugged since I'm too far to do it in person.

#926 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 02:52 PM:

Ginger, I'm so sorry. I know how hard it is to lose a patient (and that's just as a receptionist in a vet office!) and I can only imagine the pain of losing a relationship. Take good care of yourself, in any way you can. Any chance you can do some new puppy/kitten visits? That was always a favorite trick of the last doctor I worked for.

Thanks all, for the advice. It's not that transferring the pilot license would involve a lot of training, just a few hours in a helicopter to prove he knows his stuff and then ALL the JAA standardized tests. Unfortunately, a few hours in a helicopter to train in the UK is many thousands of pounds, as are the tests.

#927 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 04:09 PM:

Ginger, I'm very sorry, about both losses.

#928 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 04:57 PM:

Ginger,

I'm sorry. Take care of yourself.

#929 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 05:10 PM:

Ginger, I'm so sorry for the news at #900 and #923.

Tom, just heard about Mog. I only recently learned how sick she was. Sad.

Just heard on NPR; it's snowing at Disneyworld in Orlando Fl.

#930 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 05:16 PM:

Ginger, #900: Sympathies.

#931 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 05:54 PM:

Ginger, going through it myself and sending sympathies. I advise alternating chocolate and exercise.

Has anyone else here fallen victim to that nasty virus that poses as a virus scan? It seems to come from just random websites -- last time it was a site I visit every day. I got it twice at work, and now my home laptop has it, in spite of fully up to date MacAfee protection. So far Binky the Netbook is okay, and I've just bought and run AdAware on it. Any suggestions for something that will block this bugger?

#932 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 06:32 PM:

I've talked to a counselor today, and she wants us in counseling together; she said it couldn't get any worse, and you never know what will happen. We'll also need to include our son for some therapy as a family. That's my plan now, and it feels good to have one.

EClaire, somewhere up there: you're right, puppy/kitten visits are the best non-drug induced happiness in vet med. Although I'm no longer in small animal practice, just remembering the ones I did back then is making me smile. Plus, I have a cat on my lap and two dogs hoping I will throw the ball. And a cup of tea. No, I have the tea; only the ball gets thrown. Phew.

#933 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 06:43 PM:

Janet @ 931: I have never had much time for McAfee products, though that's mostly due to very annoying trial versions being dumped on some machines I had to work with once.

For my day-to-day Windows protection I use the free version of AVG plus Spybot Search & Destroy and don't recall ever getting an infection (lots of viruses detected in incoming mail, none getting through).

#934 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 06:50 PM:

Janet @931: I got your back..and thanks. WRT to your other problem, I have had good results with Spybot Search and Destroy.

#935 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 07:01 PM:

Janet:

Is this the one that calls itself "Windows Protection Suite" or something like that and starts reporting fake virus infections? It's particularly hard to get rid of. The first thing it does when it runs is disables all common antivirus programs, so from then on they're no help.

I was successful in stripping it off a client's notebook by installing and running Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, followed by installing and scanning with Microsoft Defender (free Microsoft download) which found a few residual files. Norton's own tech support recommends Malwarebytes for this infection.

#936 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 07:37 PM:

Ginger, #932, I hope Honey will be agreeable to the counselor!

#937 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 07:57 PM:

Clifton @935, yes -- one of the first things I noticed was my toolbar icon for MacAfee disappeared. And all the fake virus warnings have grammatical errors. I'm giving Malwarebytes a try now.

Ginger @934 (and Paul @933), I'll give Spybot a try too. One of the side effects of my situation is I have to do all my own computer security now...but you'd think the IT department at work would be on top of this!

#938 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 08:30 PM:

Ginger: Yes! Disinterested third party, and family therapy to help the offspring. Janet's prescription of alternating chocolate and exercise is right on.

#939 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 11:42 PM:

geekosaur @ 883: Many of the cheap off-brand DVD players sold in the US (for example, most Apex players) can easily be configured to do on-the-fly PAL-to-NTSC conversion.

Really? Because that involves redoing the frame rate (and also the resolution, but that doesn't matter so much). It's my understanding that fake NTSC to PAL works because there's enough slop going that direction, but it doesn't work going the other. I'd be happy to learn I'm wrong, though.

Ginger @ 900:

I'm so sorry.

#940 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 12:20 AM:

I'm sorry, Ginger. May everything be the best that it can, and sooner rather than later.

#941 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 09:02 AM:

Ginger: My sympathies.

#942 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 09:26 AM:

Ginger: *hugs*

KeithS @939: Most DVD players are already set up to handle both modes so that the manufacturer can sell the same model all over the world with minimal changes. The only thing preventing the use of this function is a software lock usually tied to the region code, if that (often the PAL/NTSC option is visible, but you need a code to get in and change the region code).

#943 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 09:31 AM:

Janet @931 --

An IBM Fellow got a major maths prize in the early 1990s for proving that virus scanning was effectively impossible. (Equivalent to the halting problem, for those with a CS background.) So all virus scanners necessarily use heuristics and necessarily have holes; they'll all fall to various zero-day and unknown exploits from time to time.

The only real fix is to get on a platform that insists on cryptographic signing for all loaded content and controls executable rights at a fine level of detail; the full general case of that platform doesn't exist. (Expensive, slower development, etc.) You can do it on Linux, if you're stubborn about it, but no major distro ships that way. (YouTube stops working, for one thing.) Mandating such a platform has the problem that doing it without handing the global economy to the phone company is not obviously possible.

#944 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:17 AM:

Hilary Hertzoff @ 942:

That makes sense. The TV still needs to support PAL, though, otherwise the picture will be strange, right? Or are modern American TVs now capable of displaying the signal?

#945 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:53 AM:

Ginger: Deepest sympathies. I rub virtual baby guinea pig tummies on your face. (There is nothing more kissable than baby guinea pig tummies.)

I got nailed by the pseudo-virus-protection at work a couple of weeks back. We've been told by IT: if a warning window comes up, just hard-reboot the computer. Don't click on ANYTHING. I think I narrowly avoided one this morning: came up just as I had activated my bookmarks drop-down, and Explorer froze.

#946 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 12:22 PM:

Extreme geo-statistical coolness from the NYT:

mapping app of Netflix rentals

Two divisions that jump out from the DC-area maps:
1. Race is really easy to map, if not to explain in its tastes.
2. The soldiers and airmen at Ft. Meade and Andrews AFB have distinctly different tastes from the rest of us.

#947 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 12:37 PM:

Jacque @ 945: [insert virtual GP purr]

#948 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 12:48 PM:

EClaire@876: I've driven in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK as a tourist, but haven't gotten a license in any of them. I found it reasonably easy to adapt, personally. I'm used to a manual transmission in the US; I found doing things with the opposite side of my body made a bigger difference than I expected, and especially having both the clutch and the gearshift on the left instead of it being cross-body made a surprisingly big difference. But I dealt with it, so you probably will too.

And pushing the shift AWAY FROM YOU to get to first gear is just wrong :-).

I don't know exactly what the test requirements for the hill-start are, but using the parking brake to simplify starting on a hill is something I use even here in the Midwest where it's largely flat. You can practice that before you move, if your car has the right kind of parking brake control (lever in the center console).

Similarly, you can practice parallel parking (on both sides, while you're at it). My instructor in highschool gave me some key angles to watch for, which helped a lot; I'm sure that information is online, if you need a little help on technique and not just practice on implementation.

Have fun with the adventure!

#949 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 02:47 PM:

Ginger -- A good counselor in these times is beyond price. Best of fortune with this, particularly as I realize there's a child's interests involved as well.

As you are doing, petting cats and doggie love are also valuable therapies.

Love, C.

#950 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 03:33 PM:

EClaire:

The British driving test is much more difficult than the American one. Not only must you fail to crash the car, break laws, or be demonstrably stupid, but you also have to do these things in the approved manner.

For instance:
* You must not turn the wheel hand over hand. You no longer need to keep your hands precisely at 10 and 2 on the wheel, but hand over hand is either an automatic fail or a serious fault (can't recall which now)
* You can fail your test for putting your turn signals on to indicate motive before checking your mirrors for opportunity.
* If you are to be idling at a stoplight for at least 30 seconds, you are expected to set the handbrake and take the car out of gear.
* (On the upside, you're allowed to use the handbrake on uphill starts.)

I suspect you'll need at least a few driving lessons to get the protocols required for the test (I called them the "tea ceremony" elements.

#951 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 03:47 PM:

Abi @ 951... Not only must you fail to crash the car, break laws, or be demonstrably stupid, but you also have to do these things in the approved manner.

Wha?!
I have the right to be stupid in the manner I so choose. Besides, I don't need no govt to tell me how to achieve the goal of stupidity.
:-)

#952 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 04:15 PM:

Somewhere out there is an editor who needs to come forward and claim their shiny new internet. Let us praise this person together.

Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo

#953 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 04:33 PM:

Ginger, you are in my thoughts. Be gentle with yourself, and try to stay hydrated and fed.

#954 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 04:35 PM:

re 950: On most of the US northeast coast, locking your car down at a light like that would stand a high probability of setting off road rage. Also, how do Brit traffic lights announce how long they will be red?

#955 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 04:42 PM:

KeithS @944 The DVD player takes the PAL information from the DVD and converts it to an NTSC signal for output to the TV. Or vice versa. So the TV isn't involved at all.

#956 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 05:04 PM:

C. Wingate @ 946:

Cool link. I must play with that later tonight (assuming the cable installer ever bothers to show up).

Andrew Willett @ 952:

That editor gets a drink from me for sure.

C. Wingate @ 954:

The lights cycle green → yellow → red → red and yellow → green.

Hilary Hertzoff @ 955:

Thanks. I'm glad to have my knowledge of the field updated.

#957 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 05:22 PM:

EClair:
Re. Helicopter. Any chance of his finding a job where his employer-to-be will fork out for the hours and tests to prove he can do it, if he agrees to sign a contact saying he'll work for them for a certain length of time?

Re. EMT, I suggest (having spoken to my paramedic sister-in-law) checking on the London Ambulance Service website - http://www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/ - there's some info. on careers there (http://www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/working_for_us/career_opportunities/ambulance_staff.aspx) including an e-mail link. My sister-in-law warns that there may be some extra training involved in moving from one ambulance service to another within the UK, but relatively minor, and the London one is pretty much "standard". Hope that helps.

Re. Driving test:
You can also fail for driving like an experienced driver: when taking your test, you'll fail if you don't come to a full stop at a "Give way" sign, even if you can see clearly there's nothing coming.

I advise finding a sensible driving instructor who will drill you in the essentials and teach you what you need to do "beginner style" to pass the test.

You also have to pass a theory test...

C. Wingate @ 954: UK lights always cycle through red-and-amber before going green. The full cycle is green, amber (stop unless it isn't safe to do so; if driving in London assume the car on your tail will not stop, so you'd better not), red, red-and-amber, green.

#958 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 06:23 PM:

How does going red-and-amber let you know how long you'll be there? I can see why you'd want to prepare to go when the red-and-amber comes on, but when you stop on red, how does that help you know how long it's going to be?

They couldn't do that in America. Everyone would peel out on red-and-amber. They go to some lengths to prevent you from seeing the crossroad's light, in fact.

#959 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 07:41 PM:

Xopher @ 958:

It turns red and amber for only a moment before then turning green. It's just long enough to make sure you're in gear and the brake's off, and not any longer.

I can see the lights for the cross-streets just fine here, but that's in California where they put the lights on the far side of the intersection.

#960 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 07:47 PM:

KeithS, I understood that part. What I don't understand is what difference that makes to abi's assertion that you're expected to take your car out of gear if you're going to be at the light for more than 30 seconds. I see how it makes that vaguely practical, and frankly I see how having that as a rule would help prevent accidents (because you can't very well peel out on the red-and-amber if you're not in gear), but I don't see how you know, when you first stop, how long you're going to be there.

#961 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 08:03 PM:

Xopher @ 960:

Ah, yes, I see what you're asking now. You pretty much figure that unless the light's already been red a long time, it's going to be long enough. However, that said, I don't recall that being mentioned when I was having lessons, and I can't find it in the online version of the highway code, so either that's something that they used to do but don't care about any more, or I'm not remembering very well.

Also, I seem to recall that these days they are (reluctantly) allowing hand-over-hand turning of the steering wheel, rather than shuffling it around, but I could be mistaken on that, too. I haven't been there for a while.

#962 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 08:19 PM:

Ginger: My sympathies -- indeed, condolences.

#963 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:58 PM:

Regarding the anti-virus scareware scam, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center ("IC3" for short) website says, "If a user receives these anti-virus pop-ups, it is recommended to close the browser or shut the system down. It is suggested that the user run a full, anti-virus scan whenever the computer is turned back on.

"If you have experienced the anti-virus pop-ups or a similar scam, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.IC3.gov."
http://www.ic3.gov/media/2009/091211.aspx

One of the problems of working with a public library computer lab -- in our library, it's right next to the Reference Desk, so that computer help has become a big part of our Reference service -- is that we've been known to get these messages on several of our public-access computers, often when the computer is being used by patrons who are not very computer savvy.

#964 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:32 PM:

Funny, I always try to remember to put my turn signal on BEFORE I check my mirrors, in the (probably vain) hope that it'll give the driver in my intended lane a hint to hold back or speed up past me so as to give me a space. If I don't, there's invariably someone hanging just on my quarter, blocking my lane shift.

Also, that keeps me from doing the annoying thing of putting on my turn signal after I'm already moving into the lane.

#965 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 12:10 AM:

I've just had Google Chrome flash a window on me about a virus scan. Shut it down ASAP, but since I've got a Mac I doubt they've got anything that's going to annoy me...

#966 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 01:10 AM:

Ginger,

My condolences and best wishes in this trying time for you. I hope things work out well, and I'll be here to listen and sympathize no matter how it works out. Remember that there Is no greater fellowship than of those who have inflicted their puns on each other.

#967 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 01:38 AM:

Ginger @900: my sympathies

#968 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Ginger: sincere condolences

Virtual hugs, if they'll help. Supportive thoughts and energy, in any case.

#969 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 12:19 PM:

Things are looking slightly better -- we have an appointment for counseling (just the two of us) on Sunday afternoon. Someone also pointed me to the New York Times article from August 2nd, 2009 (the one by Laura Munson, on her husband trying to tell her he no longer loved her). Very helpful, that article. I forwarded it to my partner (no comment from her..).

Friends and family are being very supportive, and I thank you all again for your kind words. They help more than you know.

#970 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 01:26 PM:

Ginger, my sympathies. I hope everything works out okay for all of you.

#971 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:24 PM:

Xopher, #958: They go to some lengths to prevent you from seeing the crossroad's light, in fact.

There may be regional variation on this, because everywhere I've ever been driving it's been relatively easy to see when the cross-street's light is changing, except for the occasional intersection where the placement is unusual. I sometimes take advantage of this as a way to know when to be ready for my light to turn green.

KeithS, #961 (or anyone else who would know): What exactly is the problem with hand-over-hand turning? This makes absolutely no sense to me.

And now I can't recall how I turn the wheel when I'm going around a corner. It's not something I normally think about -- I just do it.

Rikibeth, #964: I was thinking much the same thing. You put the turn signal on first because it lets people around you know you want to move over, and this increases the chance that someone will give you a space. There's some regional variation on this, though -- in some localities, putting on your signal at all will cause people to move to actively prevent you from changing lanes. My partner grew up in a place like that, and I occasionally have to fuss at him about it ("You'll never get over if you don't let people know you want to!"). Maybe England is like that?

Ginger, #969: That's good to hear. I'm late to the dance here (having been mostly offline all weekend), so my sympathies as well.

#972 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Remember, using your turn signal is not giving information to the enemy!

Also, one of my favorite bumper stickers, "Visualize using your turn signal".

#973 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:52 PM:

Lee @ 971:

There are places where they put the lights on the near side of the intersection, rather than the far side, which would make it really difficult to see the cross-street's lights. I've heard stories of people from a state that does one over/undershooting the intersection when visiting a state that does the other.

I'm not quite sure what the rationale for disallowing hand-over-hand turning is; I think I recall claims of safer vehicle handling, but I'm not sure. Since hand-over-hand turning gets you sharper turns, and is also more powerful (something to consider when you don't have power steering), I like it much better. I believe that's also the way they teach people like police officers, who have reason to have better vehicle-handling skills than average.

You're also not allowed to let the wheel slide in your hands to allow the car to recover from making a turn.

The Highway Code says that you have to check that you're capable of making the maneuver before signaling your intent to maneuver. I would guess this is for safety. When I was there and where I was driving, the drivers tended to be more polite than they are here in the LA area, so I wouldn't think that signaling to let people back off would be much of a problem. I'm just happy when people signal.

#974 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:12 PM:

I sometimes take advantage of this as a way to know when to be ready for my light to turn green.

That's exactly why they try to prevent it (with shading and polarized filters) in places like New Jersey that are overcrowded with crazy drivers. There are people here who will honk if someone ahead of them doesn't get going before the light turns green. One of my friends, when honked at in those circumstances, counts to ten before moving.

#975 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Xopher@974: I've worked on it enough years that I now have a trained-in reaction to hearing a car horn: hit the brakes. Slow down or even stop. Look around to determine what's going on. And proceed if it's safe.

Annoys the hell out of impatient people behind me :-).

#976 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:48 PM:

Keith@973: "I would guess this is for safety" But is it in fact safer? My immediate guess is that it is less safe, because it means you'll be moving almost instantly after starting to signal. This means people around you have no time to respond to your signal.

#977 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 04:00 PM:

David #976:

Sounds like the intent is first to make sure there isn't anybody around who might conceivably need to take evasive action. Of course we all know this is total rot in practice ... It's beginning to sound as if I should never ever think of trying to drive in England.

#978 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 04:16 PM:

A survey over the net seems to show that the issue with hand-over-hand is that when they started putting explosives in the middle of the steering wheel the crossed-over arm became vulnerable to being broken as a result of the explosion. The whole business of good/bad technique seems to be heavily governed by theory over fact; for example, I found some places worrying about thumbs getting broken if you hit a pothole while gripping the wheel with the thumb wrapped around. Personally, I expect that hitting a hole with that sort of force is going to set off much worse problems, and besides, keeping your thumb out of the grip is going to produce a lot of fatigue quite quickly.

I stupidly paid attention to what I actually do on the way to work and discovered that any decision about method co-opted by the fact that I'm driving a 5-speed over Md. backroads, and therefore often have to downshift in the middle of a turn. One-handed is therefore the only option.

I have to say that the whole exercise sounds like a great deal of niggly effort for almost no improvement in safety.

#979 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 05:24 PM:

Lee @ 971: What exactly is the problem with hand-over-hand turning? This makes absolutely no sense to me.

It does if you ever drive over really bumpy ground and up/down/across/around hills in a Land Rover. If the wheel suddenly spins the other way on you, you're looking at a sprain at the least, quite possibly a broken arm. In general, it puts you at a mechanical disadvantage, and you get to a point where you cannot move the wheel further without letting go with at least one hand - probably when you least want to do so (like in that aforementioned lurching Land Rover that's going over a bump while on the side of the ridge).

#980 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 06:22 PM:

Ginger, I hope you have a good counselor who helps you both figure everything out. As for me, the divorce hearing was this morning and took about 30 seconds; the advantage of divorcing a lawyer well-known to the judge, I guess. All over now but the paperwork.

#981 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 08:09 PM:

re 979: I'm afraid this is failing my "driving off the end of the bell curve" test: off-road driving and street driving have rather different issues as to what you have to react to. Also, there's no technique that doesn't involve letting go of the the wheel with at least one hand some of the time, unless you have a much faster steering ratio than I've ever seen in a car.

#982 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:15 AM:

One delayed comment about PAL-to-NTSC conversion (and vice versa): both specs are based around reading a DVD at 1x, whereas for some time both DVD readers and CPUs have been considerably faster. In many (most? all? I don't think the compression standard DVDs use requires much processing) cases, modern equipment has *lots* of time to adjust the resolution, and is going to be doing a lot of busywaiting on sending a frame; simple frame rate adjustment is trivial (at the price of dropping some frames), and with a sufficiently fast CPU it should even be possible to do some interpolation between frames.

Also note that quite a lot of DVD content is anamorphic, which basically means it's designed specifically to support different frame rates and resolutions. This allows ordinary US DVD to adapt between 4:3 and 16:9, and also means the same video content can be used for NTSC, PAL, SECAM, etc., just changing the region code. I suspect this ties into the previous paragraph: MPEG-2 and successor video standards support "delta frames" (containing only the changes between the previous and current frame), so I'd imagine anamorphic content sends full frames at points where the different video standards are synchronized, then delta frames for each standard's frame times. I haven't looked into this, though, so may well be talking through my hat.

#983 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:23 AM:

FWIW, most dvd drives (on the mac at least) will let you switch regions some small number of times. I have one in an external firewire case that I have used for UK disks that get sent from the in laws. Also, at least in the linux world, regions seem to be ignored, and whatever dvd ripper/vlc player combo I have on my linux box works perfectly with every (non hideously scratched) dvd that we've got. My interpretation is that the PAL/NTSC thing is completely irrelevant in the computer world.

#984 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 01:26 AM:

I'm rather fond of smiling and waving in an earnest yet somewhat confused way at people who insist on honking or yelling impatiently...

#985 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 08:24 AM:

C. Wingate @ 981: I gave an extreme example. More day-to-day relevant: if you've just turned the wheel as far as you can by crossing your arms, for whatever reason (say turning a sharp bend in the road) - and then need to take evasive action by turning the wheel even further in the same direction, NOW, you're in trouble.

Shorter version: if you always feed the wheel through your hands/shuffle your hands on the wheel while turning, you can ALWAYS wrench the wheel in either direction in an emergency.

#986 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 08:24 AM:

C. Wingate @ 981: I gave an extreme example. More day-to-day relevant: if you've just turned the wheel as far as you can by crossing your arms, for whatever reason (say turning a sharp bend in the road) - and then need to take evasive action by turning the wheel even further in the same direction, NOW, you're in trouble.

Shorter version: if you always feed the wheel through your hands/shuffle your hands on the wheel while turning, you can ALWAYS wrench the wheel in either direction in an emergency.

#987 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 09:20 AM:

Well, I only pressed the "Post" button once - but the cat walked over the keyboard immediately afterwards, so I'm blaming her. (Sorry Freya, but you do need to learn that "no walking on the keyboard" also includes the mouse keys at the bottom).

#988 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:10 PM:

xeegr @ 984... I absolutely can't visualize you doing that. Heheheh

#989 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 06:31 PM:

Janet: Just wondering, did you succeed in resolving the PC problems?

#990 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 09:07 PM:

Cliff, it was so locked up I wound up taking it to a computer shop and getting them to clean it off the hard drive. Everything was hunky-dory when I got it back (well, except my checkbook) and the first thing I did when I got home was download AwAware and Malwarebytes. (If you're ever in mid-Oklahoma and need some good, fast, unpretentious computer service, I recommend Norman Computers highly.)

#991 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 05:48 PM:

Late, lazy reader's link to Open Thread 134.

#992 ::: Earl sees spam at 992 ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 05:41 AM:

dating spam

#994 ::: Cally Soukup sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Masonic spam?!

#995 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Now there's a conspiracy -- all the spam out there is actually Masonic, trying to spread their ways insidiously (and finance their plots by getting money using Nigerian laws). Have you noticed that much of the Nigerian spam is based on helping Miriam Abacha -- a widow? And thereby helping the Widow's Son! Don't tell anyone that we've discovered this, or we're likely to be assassinated in our beds....

#996 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Tom @ #998

...by being drowned in spam?

Or pressed to death under the weight of Canadian Pharmacy ED adverts: Penis forte et dure?

You may be on to something, quick, dial the number of this post and alert the police!

#997 ::: Melody thinks she sees Swedish SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 03:26 PM:

Now there's something you don't see every day.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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