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January 11, 2010

Open thread 134
Posted by Teresa at 10:22 PM *

From Smithsonian:

An Assyrian clay tablet dating to around 2800 B.C. bears the inscription: “Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.”
Comments on Open thread 134:
#1 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 09:51 PM:

"...and I feel fine?"

#2 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 09:53 PM:

I've often seen that bit about "...children no longer obey their parents and everybody wants to write a book" attributed to Cicero. I once asked on the latinstudy email list and nobody had a source for it.

(Also: Second! Again!)

#3 ::: Lylassandra ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 09:54 PM:

There's a reason my mother the history prof rolls her eyes whenever anyone talks about the end of the world, or the degeneracy of society.

#5 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 09:56 PM:

i'd be very curious to know how one said "every man wants to write a book" in the assyrian of 2800 b.c., given that, so far as i know, no books had been written at that time.
(certainly no codices. papyrus rolls? stacks of clay tablets with very long staples through the top left corner?)

what was the word used for "book" here? in what other clay tablets of 2800 b.c. does it show up, and what does it mean there?

for comparison: the epic of gilgamesh was not even composed at that time.

maybe the smithsonanian meant "2800 years ago"?

#6 ::: lmashell ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:00 PM:

Miep Gies has died today, one month shy of her 101st birthday. It's people like her that give me confidence that no matter what evil is loose in the world the basic good in humanity will triumph.

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:07 PM:

Plus ça change, plus c'est pareil, eh, Teresa?

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:12 PM:

Yesterday, I discovered, much to my excitement, that in 1964 the BBC had aired its adaptation of Asimov's Caves of Steel, starring Peter Cushing as Lije Baley. Today, much to my disgust, I learned from Paul A that, in the 1970s, that same BBC had wiped out the tapes. Idiots, idiots, idiots...

#9 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:17 PM:

Bartleby has a page labelling the "Assyrian tablet" quote as probably spurious, but the earliest cite they list for it is 1949; Google Books has it in a 1938 magazine that attaches it to a specific source, Dr. Frederick C. Ferry of Hamilton College.

It looks like there are at least two even earlier cites of the quote, one from a 1937 humor magazine and another from a 1928 journal that has something to do with charities, but both of those are limited to snippet views.

#10 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:21 PM:

Yeah, I've seen it attributed to Cicero too.

And then, someone I know wrote an update:

Yes, these are terrible times that we live in

Society is going to the dogs

Children don't obey their parents

And everyone is writing blogs.

(Incidentally--with luck, I can start posting again. Law school kicks your ass in 2L year too, but your ass sort of grows a thicker skin.)

#11 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:30 PM:

@9:

Well, Google-fu reveals that a Frederick Carlos Ferry was president of Hamilton College in the right time frame, but I haven't found anything connecting him with Assyrian writings. Mathematics, Latin, and Greek, yes, but not Assyrian.

#12 ::: Tim Silverman ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:43 PM:

2800 BC sounded very suspicious to me, and bartleby agrees. "Both of the above quotations would seem to be spurious."

It seems to be quoted on the web a lot. Perhaps a significant source apparently is Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts (1979), likely via here.

On the other hand, I think I can antedate bartleby's 1949 source (though it's always difficult to tell with Google Scholar if you can't get the whole article, what with the uneven quality of their metadata). There's apparently a quotation in 1931 (with the 2800 BC date and Assyrian location). But there's also a quotation of it in the Classical Weekly (from an "unfortunately [...] undocumented source") attributing it to an Egyptian priest in 4000 BC (!)—which gives rise to its own little genealogy of quotation.

#13 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:46 PM:

I've found a 1922 quotation, only slightly at variance from the one in the post, from the Report of the State Librarian to the Governor [of Connecticut] that was published the same year. Hathi Trust has this volume fully viewable.

Both this book and another one from 1923 that quotes it don't give any more citation of the tablet other than that is "preserved in Constantinople".

Can anyone come up with an earlier quote?

#14 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:48 PM:

Yes, but it was safer for your purse because they didn't have PA then.

#15 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:49 PM:

And then the Sumerians elected (or something) Urukagina, who made everything better, brought down barriers, installed a whole new police system, and restored justice to all, regardless of funds and power (widows and orphans were specifically mentioned on the tablets describing this.)

Reading about it during the 2008 election cycle was quite fascinating.

#16 ::: Tim Silverman ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 10:58 PM:

In case anybody else is in a position to look up the journals, the earliest quotations in Google Scholar are (allegedly)

Evolution Up And Down (book review) in the Journal of Heredity, 1925

and

The Lawyers' Tool Chest by Fred Y. Holland, Librarian, Supreme Court Library, can't work out where, possibly secretly the same as the following hit ...

and

The Past, Present and Future of the Law Library by G S Godard, in the Law Library Journal 1931.

#17 ::: Tim Silverman ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:00 PM:

It seems to be quoted on the web a lot. Perhaps a significant source is Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts (1979), likely via http://www.abhota.info/end1.htm.

#18 ::: Tim Silverman ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:18 PM:

Aha, and George Seymour Godard was Connecticut State Librarian 1900 – 1936.

#19 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:22 PM:

O tempura, o morels.

#20 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:23 PM:

"Evolution Up And Down (book review) in the Journal of Heredity, 1925"

I can't see the full article from here, but this appears to be a review of two books, one of which is Marshall Dawson's _Nineteenth Century Evolution and After_ (Macmillan, 1923), which was the 1923 book I was referring to at #12. You can read the page with the quote, and the rest of the book, at Hathi Trust.

Frederick Ferry ("President of Hamilton College") was credited with getting the quote from the tablet, in the 1938 source referred to by Julie in #9. Ferry became president of Hamilton in 1917, not long before the early 1920s quotes we've found. I wonder whether this was an anecdote from a speech he made to students or faculty; it sounds like the sort of story that would be tempting to include in an address to matriculating or graduating students (and that might have then made it into a local news account), even if its provenance was dubious.

#21 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:28 PM:

My dog turned around six times before settling into her bed.

Should I call the vet?

#22 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:31 PM:

The earliest cite of the "Assyrian" quote I've found at this point is 1916-- Google Book has it indexed as 1914, but the printing date at the start of the document is 1916.

#23 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:35 PM:

Janet (#17), I don't know, I think people may be more shellfish than in bygone times.

#24 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:44 PM:

"O tempura, o morels."

And now I'm hungry.

#25 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:50 PM:

O tempera, o murals.

#26 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:51 PM:

Tim @15: The Lawyers' Tool Chest by Fred Y. Holland, Librarian, Supreme Court Library, can't work out where

Colorado, according to The American Organization of Law Libraries (Holland was president from 1936-1937). AddAll doesn't have any info about his book, though.

#27 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:51 PM:

If everybody writes a book just before the end of the world, who will read them all?

#28 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:52 PM:

http://sleeptalkinman.blogspot.com/
weblog of strange things a man says in his sleep (as transscribed by his wife)

#29 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2010, 11:59 PM:

@17: tempura, okay, but I have never seen a morel around here. The word is that it is a boom year for chanterelles -- my most avid mushroom hunter friend is inventing new recipes for them. But I haven't even been to the chanterelle patches I used to go to with the nice fellow, since he died before the last season. This year I intend to go -- but can't find anybody who's available when I am who wants to go to Lost Camp or Grey Whale with me. And I don't go into the forest without another person, and for that purpose, a dog doesn't count.

Yeah, well, tangents are the point of an open thread, aren't they?

#30 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 12:08 AM:

Erik @25: The poor guy in the bank vault in "Time Enough at Last," maybe...

#31 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 12:26 AM:

#14: So then the question beomes "What's the Sumerian for 'You kids get off my lawn!'"

#32 ::: Mike McLaren ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:22 AM:

I wonder what they had to say about the good ol' days.

#33 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:30 AM:

D. Potter @ 29 ...
#14: So then the question beomes "What's the Sumerian for 'You kids get off my lawn!'"

I'd have to think that a stick or a broom might well be involved...

#34 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:17 AM:

All knowledge of internet etiquette is contained in the Fluorosphere. So let ma ask this.

Over on Something Awful, a bunch of people are playing through a Fighting Fantasy book I (and others) wrote 25 years ago. They're making comments like "Even by the standards of these books, that was an outstanding piece of dickery", which to a gamebook designer is high praise. Question is this: can I go there and make helpful interjections that set them straight about Bronze Age culture, some subtleties of which are passing them by? Would that be kind of cool, like the Mayor strolling into the library at the end of Series 3? Or helpful and constructive, like Charlie Stross on Crooked Timber? Or would it be a classic Author's Big Mistake?

#35 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 07:18 AM:

Julie L @ 20: Paging up from the source you linked to, it looks like the quote you link to is a report from 1926. (This is a volume of reports to the California state board of education starting from 1914, but the volume-- or at least the scan-- includes reports from many later years as well. The title page for the report with the quote is a few dozen pages back. It's dated 1926, and cites reports and statistics from around that time.)

So it appears that the earliest quotes we have of this are still Godard's from his 1922 state librarian report, and Dawson's from his 1923 book.

It doesn't seem all that likely to me that Dawson would have picked it up from a 1922 state library report, and that report seems like an odd place for someone to simply have made up the quote. So I'm guessing there's likely to be an earlier source that both of them got the quote from. I just don't know what it is. But it may well be a non-book source (such as a newspaper or magazine) that isn't in the mass digitized-book corpuses. Or maybe it's something that is online that I just haven't found yet.

#36 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 07:34 AM:

Interestingly this was found right next to another Assyrian tablet with the cryptic words:
Fck y ! Y ld bstrd!

on it.
These are believed to have some sort of mystical and/or religious significance to them.

#37 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 07:45 AM:

You think we missed the road when we did not
make the right turn and soon were in the corn;
a point of loss, but she was not forsworn

and got us out of there to the right spot;
no loss of time, nor yet reason for scorn.
You think we missed the road when we did not.

Our guide had things to say and just forgot
the proper way; you know her heart was torn,
but still we passed right by where she was born;
you think we missed the road when we did not.

#38 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 07:45 AM:

The best genuine old lament about how rotten the times are comes from Q. Horatius Flaccus (Horace) and it's in Odes Book III, number vi.

What has destructive time not diminished?
The age of our parents, worse than that of our grandparents,
Has produced us, the worst yet,
Soon we will give way to a yet more degenerate generation.

Since that was written in about 14AD, by now we must really really suck. Eh well.

#39 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 07:51 AM:

Happy Birthday, Bill Higgings!
The Rocketeer Corps thanks you.

#40 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 08:15 AM:

Pritchard's The Ancient Near East in Texts and Pictures gives this: "Every mouth is full of 'Love me!' and everything good has disappeared." (The Prophecy of Nefer-Rohu, trans. John A. Wilson; extant copies date from the 18th Dynasty)

#42 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 09:03 AM:

Serge @ 8 -

Today, much to my disgust, I learned from Paul A that, in the 1970s, that same BBC had wiped out the tapes. Idiots, idiots, idiots...

It wasn't so much stupidity as it was economics. Videotape was a more expensive commodity back then and it routinely erased and reused not only at the Beeb but at US networks as well. There's a good deal of early Johnny Carson and other shows that's gone for good.

Even today, with information storage so much cheaper, the idea that we won't ever lose anything is wrong. As long as people make decisions about what's important (and therefore worthy of being reformatted and copied into new media), we will lose information.

#43 ::: AlyxL ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 09:18 AM:

Serge @8 and Steve C @ 40 -

The BBC have recovered some of their early lost radio and TV material with their Archive Treasure Hunt campaign, which collects recordings made by the public. They've recovered quite a lot of stuff, but not, alas, that recording of The Caves of Steel.

#44 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 09:30 AM:

I think I'll take up painting--giant copies of interference patterns.
O tempera, o moires.

#45 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 09:40 AM:

Kind of along the same lines, and of particular interest/amusement to those involved in the book trade, Fresh Eyes Now has some past-predictions/observations on the publishing business.

I particularly liked this 1850's lament:

"the publishers make large fortunes and leave the authors to starve--they are, in fact, a kind of moral vampire, sucking the best blood of genius, and destroying others to support themselves."
So that particular whinge has been around for a good while then.

#46 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:02 AM:

have you tried the japanese batter-fried eels?

o tempura, o morays!

#47 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:07 AM:

Well, that old guy was right--the end of the world was approaching. Still is.

#48 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:09 AM:

Beorht wæron burgræced, burnsele monige,
heah horngestreon, heresweg micel,
meodoheall monig mondreama full,
oþþæt þæt onwende wyrd seo swiþe.

#49 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:22 AM:

Thing is, the music the kids liked back then really was just noise...

#50 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:24 AM:

Steve C @ 40... I understand why they did it, but it's not information that they purposefully lost, it's stories.

#51 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:26 AM:

AlyxL @ 41... According to the article that Paul A linked me to, fragments exist, but that's all they are. Bits. Pieces.

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:33 AM:

David 32: Leaving aside the dizzying incongruity of mentioning etiquette and Something Awful in the same context, I think it would be a minor ABM. 25 years certainly reduces the ABMness, in my opinion, but it's still inadvisable.

I doubt the subtleties of Bronze Age culture will matter to the gamers much. Remember, "The game must be fun shall be the whole of the Law." If they don't have fun playing the game, they won't care about anything else. But even if they do enjoy it, they probably won't admit it. Dissing things is always "cooler" than praising them.

If you can limit yourself to saying something like "I can't believe people are still using this book I wrote 25 years later," that might be OK. But on SA they'll probably use you as a piñata as soon as you appear.

NB: I'm not a published author, and my experience with SA is limited (to pretty negative interactions, as you may be able to tell). Take this with the appropriate-sized container of salt. I hope others more experienced with both SA and author/reader interactions will weigh in.

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:33 AM:

Teresa @ 39...

"Only they can foil my plans to steal Ohio! They must die!"

#55 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 11:30 AM:

David@32: I take the opposite view from Xopher. In my experience, gamers are interested in history. If you offer historical context (as opposed to self-defense) -- and make it clear that you too were a big damn gaming nerd and fan of the game-book genre, I think it would be well-received.

(If you were not in fact a big damn gaming nerd, but just did the things for a paycheck, it might go less well.)

#56 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 11:34 AM:

Caveat: my experience with gamers is not on SA. And my crowd is self-selected for interest in gaming history.

(An excellent recent article on CYOA books: http://samizdat.cc/cyoa/ . Interactive Flash presentation.)

#57 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 11:51 AM:

Amusing fun author Good. Ranting foamy author Bad.

Which is kind of the same as when you're writing an actual book, isn't it?...

#58 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 11:56 AM:

So, Bill Higgin, Seth Breidbart, and I all share the same birthday (I'm something like eight hours older than Seth....)

#59 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 11:59 AM:

David@32: I loved the Altheus series*, so if you could point out the subtleties here, at least, it'd be most excellent. I still remember the Procrustean inn, and the light in the Colossus' eyes slowly fading as the ichor ran out his heel. Ooh, and Hephaestus' avalanche test. Dammit, it's going to take ages to get the 10-year-old me under control again.

*: For some reason, I could never find book 2 or 3, and even now, the second-hand stores have only returned book 1 to me. Note to self: add to shopping list.

#60 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 12:25 PM:

I don't understand the Sumerians
Corruption is everywhere you look
I don't understand the Sumerians
Everybody wants to write a book

#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 01:13 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 56... So does my youngest nephew. And Rush Limbaugh. (When I told my nephew's mom, she exclaimed "Gross!")

#62 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 01:21 PM:

you know, i still think that quote cannot be referring to real books.
(and shame on the smithsonian for not fact-checking its authenticity).

so my new theory is, the assyrian doesn't mean "book" as in "codex"; it means "book" as in "the spoken dialogue of a stage musical."

what the guy is really complaining about is that everybody is trying to get into mesapotamian musical theatre.

you know--"springtime for sargon", "ziggurat's follies", that sort of thing.

#63 ::: martyn ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Serge @ 8 - they wiped a lot of stuff of far greater weight than that. Hancock (Anthony Aloysius) for instance, a lot of early Dennis Potter and his contemporaries. After all, television was worthless and ephemeral, and champagne for the DG was so expensive in those days.

#64 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 01:50 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom@33: So it appears that the earliest quotes we have of this are still Godard's from his 1922 state librarian report, and Dawson's from his 1923 book.

1922 saw the beginnings of the big joint British Museum/University of Pennsylvania excavations at Ur, so ancient Sumer might well have been in the minds of at least some of the day's more erudite coiners-of-witticisms.

#65 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:01 PM:

Particle or Sidelight bait: Al Gore asks for font change for his "Our Choice" book, creator agrees with his suggestion. (Scientific formulas don't work well in Brioni.)

#66 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:09 PM:

The versions I'm finding on Google Books have "latter days," by the way, not "later."

#67 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:11 PM:

I've got my love to keep me warm.

Oh temperature! Amoré!

#68 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:14 PM:

The scariest thing about living in any historical era is watching all of Nostradamus's prophecies coming true.

#69 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:17 PM:

Serge:
Yuck
On the other hand, -he- is not a Making Light contributor!

#70 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:31 PM:

The comments on the Smithsonian article include a response about the provenance of the Assyrian tablet quotation, attributing it as follows: "To answer your question, the quote from the Assyrian tablet has been published in books and articles for nearly a hundred years. Historians attribute the translation to Isabel F. Dodd, a professor of art and archeology at the American College for Girls in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the early 20th century. She came across the tablet in one of the city's museums."

#71 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:38 PM:

@68--

strauss's reply in that comment-thread really does not betray any understanding of what it means to trace something to its source. "books", "historians", and "museums" are all fine things. but referring to them in the collective plural is not the same thing as citing a source.

it would have been better for strauss to say, "yeah, this is just a silly blog post--who knows whether the tablet is real or not."

the nat geo. usually does better. one would hate to have to demote it to "scholarly sources to avoid citing at all costs."

#72 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 02:40 PM:

dunno why i said "@68"--i meant "@70".

#73 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:10 PM:

@71 -- oh, I know, I know. But the bit about Isabel F. Dodd is new, and does suggest that Strauss has some other source in mind that MIGHT be more definitive. I've put a request for more info on the thread, but it's an old comment thread and he might never see it.

There might just possibly be something in one of these articles:

#
Archaeological News
by WN Bates - 1909 - Cited by 1
850 B.C., and although the motives are Assyrian, they seem to be the work of local artists. ... ISABEL F. DODD gives a brief account of certain antiqui- ...
www.jstor.org/stable/497027
#
Archaeological News
by JM Paton - 1907
1450 B.c. Assyrian. Over six hundred tablets and fragments of tablets, chiefly from ...... ISABEL F. DODD describes briefly the ruins of Nicaea in Bithynia ...
www.jstor.org/stable/497037

#74 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:16 PM:

Erik, #26: My ex once woke up out of a sound sleep saying, "It's in the all-important blue pouch." We never did figure out what he'd been dreaming about!

Will, #28: Or the guy with the watch in "All the Time in the World".

kid bitzer, #46: Nice -- but could you provide a translation for the Old-English-impaired, please?

And everyone else has beaten me to all the good puns. Grumph.

#75 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:22 PM:

While we are talking about the end of civilization --

O Tambora, o Mayon

#76 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:32 PM:

Well, I do see an attribution to Dodds providing the "inscription" quote in an endnote of Merrill Peterson's _Starving Armenians_ (2004). But the note said she mentioned it in a letter dated March 24, 1923-- and we've already found published sources older than that. So that can't be the original. (The letter itself is in a set of papers at Harvard that doesn't seem to be online.)

I didn't find any other attributions to Dodds by historians in a quick Google search, though I might have missed something.

Dawson's 1923 book provides some potentially useful clues. He prefaces the quote by writing "The reading of what these ancient records had
to say on this point provoked only humor, a decade ago." Which implies he saw the quote sometime in the nineteen-teens, and that it may well have originally been in a humorous context that was later taken seriously.

Yale acquired a rather large Assyrian collection around 1915, which was the subject of many numerous Daily News articles. (All the ones I can find online are straight stories that don't mention the tablet like that). Yale lists a Marshall Dawson in its 1916 alumni list; state librarian Godard also took a degree from Yale in 1895.

So I wonder if some publication came up with this as a fanciful quote, a humorous anecdote based on Yale's real collection. Possible sources might include the Yale Record or the Harvard Lampoon (both campus humor magazines publishing at the time); or perhaps a Yale alumni magazine. I don't know of online archives that far back for any of those, but they strike me as possible leads, if no other sources can be found.

The _Archaeological News_ volumes mentioned upthread while I was writing this might also be worth checking out, though the snippets quoted simply confirm that Dodds was in Constantinople and was interested in local tablets.

#77 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:38 PM:

The end of newspapers:

O Times! O Daily Mirror!

#78 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:38 PM:

Here's a 2004 book supports Strauss's assertion about Isabel F. Dodd without adding much to our knowledge.

#79 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:41 PM:

#73, #76--

i looked up the "archaeological news" references on jstor ("arch. news" was a column in the american journal of archaeology).

neither reference pans out--they are just brief mentions, saying that ms. dodds had been somewhere of interest or had a few items of interest in her collection. but nothing about assyrian tablets, and indeed not much more than the quotations you have already seen.

#80 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Bill Higgins: Yes, that's the book I was referring to in #76; thanks for providing the link! (I then walked down the hall from my library office to consult a print copy to get the end note.) I don't offhand know of other books that attribute the quote to Dodd.

And, on another note, happy birthday!

#81 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:49 PM:

by the way, those of you who are googling ms. dodd's name may have been struck, as i was, by the record of her corresponding with gutzon borglum, the sculptor of mt. rushmore. she seems to have commissioned a small portrait bust from him.

#82 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 03:54 PM:

#74--

sorry. here's wikipedia's translation of those lines from "the ruin":

Bright were the castle buildings, many the bathing-halls,
high the abundance of gables, great the noise of the multitude,
many a meadhall full of festivity,
until Fate the mighty changed that.

it's just another voice from another century checking in to say that we have always thought things are getting worse.

#83 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 04:05 PM:

On the ancient news of the end of the world, I always liked this exchange:

"Philip Roth: Do you think the destruction of the world is coming soon?...

Milan Kundera: The feeling that the world is rushing to ruin is an ancient one.

Roth: So then we have nothing to worry about.

Kundera: On the contrary. If a fear has been present in the human mind for ages, there must be something to it."

(Great interview in general, although note the utterly meaning-changning typo I discuss here.)

#84 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 04:06 PM:

Another website (This is True) pointed me at Shorpy


"History in HD". A vintage photography blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s (and maybe a few before and after that), including some spectacular Kodachrome color shots. Most of the photos come from high-resolution scans made by the Library of Congress, which are then restored and displayed on Shorpy with captions describing what you're viewing. And you can indeed view them in their high-resolution glory (and if you wish, purchase prints). You can go discover for yourself why it's called Shorpy."

Mike Ford content - a picture of Ouray from Blow-Out Canyon circa 1901 - in some timeline, anyway.

There's also WPA posters, Civil War photos, railroads, WW II, even Zeppelins and Blimps for the steampunk fans.

A major time and bandwidth sink!

#85 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 04:10 PM:

you ever notice that feeling that comes over a company when it starts hiring a lot of temp employees, and the regulars find their pay frozen?

o temp aura! no more raise!

#86 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 04:20 PM:

A project like Pokemon, but with real animals.

#87 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 04:27 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @35: Oops. Thanks for the correction-- I'd noticed similar overlaps in Google Books' indexing of at least one other set of records, but this one slipped by me.

There's probably also a question of how the word "Assyrian" should be parsed in this context-- circa 2800 BC, did it discretely represent either a language or a political unit? It's not even clear to me whether the city of Assur/Ashur was founded until ~2500 bc.

bryan @35: Interestingly this was found right next to another Assyrian tablet with the cryptic words: Fck y ! Y ld bstrd!

Since a few cites identify the original quote-tablet as "Babylonian" instead, I suspect that this one was mixed in from a much later stratigraphic layer from the 6th century BC. (And written in Hebrew.)

#88 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 04:33 PM:

Henry Troupe @ 84 -

I've had Shorpy linked from my blog for a while -- it's indeed a time sink.

#89 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 04:44 PM:

I find myself wondering if Isabel was related to Edwin Dodd of Antonia Forest's _The Ready-Made Family_.

#90 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 05:14 PM:

"For the times, they are a'changin."

Oh Mr. Tambourine Man, oh jingle-jangle morning.

#91 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 05:23 PM:

This bug report thread about goat teleportation in Google Chromium has that je ne sais quoi that says "Making Light" to me. Especially now that the puns have started flying.

#92 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 05:34 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 91: Thanks for that link! I enjoyed it a lot. Baa!

#93 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 05:41 PM:

I happened upon this picture today, and it made think of "Making Light," too. In the very best possible way.

#94 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 05:43 PM:

I wondered who'd gotten my goat since I started using chromium. I'm sure the googlebot is indexing it so that I can find it later.

#95 ::: Rick York ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 05:57 PM:

So, what else is new?

As the French say, "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose".

#96 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 06:03 PM:

Debbie @93. Oh, I like that. Do you know anything else about it? I was googling around a bit but can't find anything but other links to the image - no info on artist or source.

#97 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 06:05 PM:

@36 Hmmm. Isn't it true then that the entirety of Ancient Hebrew is disemvoweled?

#98 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 06:32 PM:

Pieces of Shit of the week:
Political class:

a) AmericanFuturesFund.com -- 3rd party special interest scum rightwing assholes group paying for lying weasel ads promoting Scott Brown for Senate

b) Scott Brown who believes in torturing people and that the United States Constitution should apply only to US citizens.... and who condemns "attack ads" by Coakley but hasn't stopped the ad above... and invokes the US National Guard, which promoted him to Lt Col.... someone whose judgment, by my lights, should have been passed over to promotion to O-3 based on his disconnection from reality....

c) The US Chamber of Commerce, with lying weasel ads promoting Brown....

#99 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 06:52 PM:

As a completely separate aside, I recently came across this photo of the Flatiron Building being built, and thought our esteemed hosts (and perhaps other people) would find it interesting.

#100 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 07:29 PM:

OtterB@96: There are some clues in the picture itself: the portable cassette player dates it to no earlier than the '80s (and the fact that the player is in the attic suggests that the date is later, '90s or '00s) and the bust of Homer says "OMERO"...I'm not sure of what language that is, but Italian seems most likely, with Spanish possible.

#101 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 07:58 PM:

#98 myself

It's AmericanFutureFund.com not AmericanFuturesFund.com ... probably related to the so-called Swift Vets who stuck their oar in in 2005 in the Presidential election....

and yes indeed, they are!

http://iowaindependent.com/4203/secrets-of-the-american-future-fund

"Secrets of the American Future Fund
Iowa-based conservative advocacy group includes masterminds of Swift Boat and Willie Horton ads
By Jason Hancock 8/19/08 12:29 PM"

#102 ::: Wil Macaulay ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 08:03 PM:

#93 He's obviously worshipping the lambent light emitting from his mountain-decked altar, observed by the bust of the bard.

Oh temple-rays, Omero.

#103 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 08:08 PM:

And another one,

http://mediamattersaction.org/factcheck/201001110004

"American Future Fund Airs False Attack Ads "Against Martha Coakley
"January 11, 2010 12:11 pm ET
"misleading, out of context quote, the ad falsely claims Coakley favors increasing taxes. In reality, she said "get[ting] people back to work" would increase tax revenue and reduce the deficit."

#104 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 08:13 PM:

#102--

wow--triple letter score for combining several sub-threads in one!

reminds me of the porridge potentate and the resistor network.

#105 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 08:22 PM:

Open Threadness --

7.0 earthquake hits Haiti sparking tsunami watch

I am hoping the tsunami watch is overblown. Cuba is in the path, if tsunami is in the works.

But -- O our friends, our family, in Haiti.

And Cuba.

Love, C.

#106 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 08:39 PM:

Constance #105: Just learned that an evacuation order has been issued for the Cuban town of Baracoa.

#107 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 08:40 PM:

Okay, Fluorosphere: anybody know how to make TweetDeck play nice with Facebook?

#108 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 08:53 PM:

#106 ::: Fragano Ledgister

I had heard that too.

I'm more concerned for our Haitian friends and family.

Cuba has its shit together for disasters.

Not that I don't care about the disasters, of course, or understand that a disaster is a disaster.

Love, C.

#109 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 08:58 PM:

The sound of a shoe dropping...

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/

"A new approach to China

"1/12/2010 03:00:00 PM
"Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying
degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December...what at first appeared to be solely a security incident...was something quite different.

"....

"These attacks...combined with the attempts
...to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to [be]... no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn...we will be discussing with the Chinese government.... may...mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

"....We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

"Posted by David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer"

#110 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 09:21 PM:

From the last open thread, re: regional driving behavior; in some areas, it is commonplace for drivers to jump the green. In others, it is commonplace for drivers to run the red.

Chicago's a run-the-red jurisdiction, and therefore when the light turns green there's sort of a 1-2 second pause for breath before most traffic starts going (in case some maniac is barreling through); in theory some of the intersections have double-red to avoid collisions, but if the drivers find out about it they just take advantage.

Chicago is also a region where "my turn signal is on" means "I'm coming over RIGHT NOW whether you move or not": on the highways in thickish traffic you'll be lucky if you get three blinks out of someone before they cut into your lane sharply.

We also (I must admit with shame), on the whole, ignore lights-and-sirens, or at most stop and wait at the intersection despite our green, if we see an ambulance/firetruck/etc barreling towards us.

This still, decades later, strikes me as shocking, because I spent a significant amount of my growing-up summers in Atlantic City. I don't know what happens now, but back then, if there was a firetruck heading anywhere with intent anywhere in the city, all traffic lights began blinking red, and EVERYONE just pulled over and turned off their cars until the truck was done with the streets (presumably they called it in to Main Traffic Light Control or some such). By my last summer there, there was enough vehicular traffic that they'd zoned this system, so only the areas the firetruck had to drive through were blinked. It startled the hell out of my now-husband when we were there for a family wedding and he noticed this odd, school-of-fish like en masse behavior, but that was just normal there.

I do at least TRY to pull over to the curb and clear headway for sirens, but it's nearly gotten me rearended more than once when the Important Idiot behind me or in the right lane has decided he can get one more block before he 'has to' stop for it.

#111 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 09:37 PM:

martyn, #63: I've read that the "ephemeral" assumption came partially from the way the British approached TV programs as taped stage plays, instead of films as in the US--you were watching a live event, not a movie. (This is also one reason Doctor Who and similar programs could get away with such cheap special effects. As on the stage, the audience's imagination was expected to do the heavy lifting.)

I also recall reading that there were also contracts with the actors' union stipulating that any show could only be rerun once. The fear was that if the BBC could rerun programs in perpetuity they would eventually no longer need actors to make new material. I'm not sure how reliable this information is.

#112 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:01 PM:

AKICIML, movie edition: I need a copy of the 1936 Anything Goes, which I have been able to find only on Amazon's video-on-demand thingy. Does anybody have opinions on Amazon's VOD?

#113 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:23 PM:

In re Shorpy photos: this one includes a view of the building that today houses my obstetrician's office -- 37th floor. It's the tallest building in the shot (though no longer the tallest one within a block or two, of course).

#114 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:35 PM:

Paula, Happy Birthday!

#115 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:38 PM:

#86: Playing Pokemon with real animals:

Wouldn't they bite each other?

#116 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:39 PM:

#86 ::: KeithS:

Pokemon are optimized for being interesting to children. Animals aren't.

#117 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Anathem. I has finished it.

It was good.

#118 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 10:51 PM:

Guvf vf whfg gb fnl
V unir erirnyrq
gur fcbvyref
gung jrer va
lbhe zbivr

naq juvpu
lbh jrer cebonoyl fnivat
sbe gbzbeebj avtug

Sbetvir zr
gurl jrer qenzngvp
fb cbvtanag
naq harkcrpgrq

#119 ::: KJK::Hyperion ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 11:01 PM:

David@32: do it, we goons love that shit

Also, fuck Fighting Fantasy in the ass, and I say that with the utmost respect. Nobody will give me back the time I wasted on "Beast of Havoc" (only one I ever played): cool setting and mechanics, okay, but so cheap on the forced backtracking. The appeal of replaying an entire game from the beginning for a choice that wasn't even wrong was and is lost on me

I remember a series of books where you could lose before even starting the game, if you didn't min-max the character's stats correctly at the beginning: games for accountants? wtf?

#120 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 11:22 PM:

Alan Beatty @199: yby

#121 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2010, 11:31 PM:

My father used to say that a perk of driving a big blue terrorist van was that he didn't have to look before changing lanes. Anything not large enough to be seen with peripheral vision and mirrors would move.

#122 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 02:38 AM:

Tweetdeck works for me now; I no longer need assistance with it.

#123 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:24 AM:

David @ 34: Joining in the fun at Something Awful would not be an ABM unless you go in with the attitude of the classic ABM maker toward criticism. Most of SA is a lot more civilised than its reputation suggests. With over 130,000 members you're bound to get a few idiots but on the whole, they're good people. Alas, the evil goons do lives on after them, the good is oft archived with their posts. Despite the charitable works (body armour for under-protected soldiers, Katrina aid fund raising, toys for sick children) they're best known for the pranks and awfulness.

There are neighbourhoods of SA where you don't want to wander at all, but mostly the $10 idiot tax and ever-vigilant moderators keeps the truly unpleasant goons from behaving too badly outside of those areas. If you stick to the specialist forums you will find SA's goons to mostly be quite pleasant and even educational company (I mostly spend time there in the photography forum. Mileage may vary elsewhere but moderation is usually efficient and effective.)

#124 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 05:54 AM:

Who the hell is "Bill Binnie" and who the hell is "Americans for Responsible Health Care?"
[Another noxious political scare ad from an anonymous organization, this one about alleged health care, supporting Scott Brown]

Hmmm

From the IRS:

http://forms.irs.gov/politicalOrgsSearch/search/searchDrillDown.jsp?ck

Based on your Search Criteria of:
Selected Organization: 'Americans for Responsible Health Care'
...the following results have been found:
Current Organization Information
Name: Americans for Responsible Health Care
EIN: 271628685
Address: 3003 Tamiami Trail
3rd Floor
Naples, FL 34112
E-Mail: americansforRHC@gmail.com
Contact: Parker J Collier
Custodian: David Satterfield

...no forms found for specified organization

#125 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 07:15 AM:

Bill Binnie is either a professional hockey player from Quebec, or a former Le Mans race winner running for US Senate in New Hampshire.

#126 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 09:01 AM:

@#7
O tempura, o morels.

My Japanese mother-in-law makes Shimeji tempura that tastes EXACTLY like the fried morels my mom made when I was growing up in Kansas.

Synchronicity or something...

#127 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 10:05 AM:

TNH at #41:

For years, I have intended to write up my account of the Secret Origins of the Clan Heterodyne, to which I was a witness. This is the year. Really.

I recounted the oft-told story at Windycon, incorporating Powerpoint illustrations as well as special hats. It needs to be written down.

#128 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 10:24 AM:

Samurai Knitter writes a lovely blog, including regular reviews of Vogue Knitting. The most recent issue involved an editor's letter, which she also blogged about. And if you check the comments on that post, the 24th one is from that editor, flouncing about how Julie (Samurai Knitter) is all wrong and doesn't appreciate all the hard work!

Yes, ladies and gents, it's an Editor's Big Mistake...

#129 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 10:24 AM:

I am deeply angry that this paragraph didn't wait for me to write it:

Davies said CBS also seriously considered another alternate-reality series called The Man In The High Castle In The Outback, in which 12 women would compete for the love of a Jewish man hiding in Australia under an assumed name because the Allies lost WWII to Nazi Germany. Ultimately, executives deemed the scenario less likely to engage the average American viewer than the post-Civil-War alternate reality.

#130 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 10:37 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 127... It needs to be written down.

It does indeed, including the part about how Mechanicsburg got its name.

#131 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 10:41 AM:

Last week, my interoffice mail showed up with a service-excellence nomination from one of our users (I guess my tendency not to be rude paid off) along with a $25 gift card from my department. I spent it this morning - on gas for our minivan. Somehow that feels anticlimactic.

#132 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 11:27 AM:

Serge -

I got a similar reward a couple of months ago. I spent mine on underpants!

It's no million dollar bonus, but I appreciate the coins tossed in the cello case every now and again. It lets me know that my mindless data entry (and not so mindless analysis) is noted and appreciated.

#133 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 11:33 AM:

I got a similar reward a couple of months ago. I spent mine on underpants!

Terrorist! Grab him!

#134 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 11:38 AM:

ajay @ 133: Grab both of them -- one's got the fuel, and the other has the underpants; clearly, they're in this together!

#135 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 11:41 AM:

...setting fire to ergonomic chair even as we speak.

#136 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 11:59 AM:

He's going to hijack his office building and fly it into the airport!

#137 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:06 PM:

Eh, as soon as I started feeling a burning sensation in my groin area I was tackled by the department temp. So false alarm, I guess. Except for my crotch, which is on fire.

#138 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:07 PM:

Now, now, a total ban on underpants would mean Superman would have to just where the blue tights, which would tend to clearly outline his...

BAN THEM! NO MORE UNDERPANTS!!!

#139 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:09 PM:

*WEAR. Argh²²

#140 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:12 PM:

In the event of an underpant ban, Superman might want to look into a cod-piece or dance belt, assuming they did not count as undies. Otherwise I can see tights getting really uncomfortable. (hint: seams)

#141 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:13 PM:

Paul 123: If you stick to the specialist forums you will find SA's goons to mostly be quite pleasant and even educational company.

Would it be fair to say that KJK::Hyperion at 119 is NOT typical? I'm trying to get a handle on what you mean by 'quite pleasant and even educational company'; if the tone, phrasing, and general attitude of 119 is the kind of thing that's typical in the specialist fora at SA, I (for one) would not find that at all pleasant. Could be educational/interesting, but pleasant? YMMV, I guess.

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:13 PM:

Curses, nerdycellist! We have been found out!

#143 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:14 PM:

nerdycellist, #135: Hmph. When my nether parts set the chair on fire, it's because I've been having Happy Thoughts. Requiring accelerants seems a bit declassé.

#144 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:16 PM:

nerdycellist, Superman wears the red underpants OVER the blue tights. I don't think he'd be any LESS comfortable without them, just more exposed.

And given Certain Things We All Know about Brandon Routh, that wouldn't be a minor problem.

#145 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:19 PM:

Serge -

I think we were doomed from the start. Our workplaces give us just enough incentive to foment an ill-conceived guerilla action, but it ended as so many half-assed work initiatives do: on hold with India, calling in a ticket to repair scorched panties.

#146 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:38 PM:

Paula L (#98)
Yes, I saw that TV ad with Brown saying, in as many words, that "Constitutional protections" shouldn't apply to "terrorists."

Which, considfering the subject in contention, that either he has a hand-wavey manner to tell the "guilt" of a terrorist, he is of the opinion that "if they've been arrested they must be guilty" or he doesn't think much of the express writing of the Founders (in the Declaration of Independents) or of Lincoln (in the Gettysburg Address) , when they declared "all men are created equal)

Of course, when you consider Brown's pro-business stance, and support for the GOP in general, it very well may be thathe disagres with Jefferson, as that phrase was used to refute the then-current dictum of the Divine Right of the monarchy.

#147 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:44 PM:

it ended as so many half-assed work initiatives do: on hold with India, calling in a ticket to repair scorched panties.

nerdycellist has a very interesting (if unsafe) workplace.

#148 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:52 PM:

nerdycellist @ 145... I can imagine the exchange that later follows between you and your boss.

"You did this after the week's agreed-upon deadline for such requests."
"I felt it was worth it to make an exception."
"If we allow exceptions, Chaos will ensue."

That by the way is a near-verbatim exchange I had last year with my former manager. No underwear were involved though.

#149 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:53 PM:

Xopher @ 144... Up, up and in the way?

#150 ::: Zed Lopez ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 12:59 PM:

The JSTOR references above are to bibliographic surveys which, in turn, refer one to Records of the Past, Vol. VIII, pp. 93-96 and Records of the Past, Vol. V, pp. 323-331. That's the journal of the Records of the Past Exploration Society. Google Books has some volumes of that journal online, but apparently not those.

#151 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 01:07 PM:

So a general knowledge question: The daughter turns seven on June 11. Wiscon is two weeks before. The young people's track is for seven-to-twelve-year-olds. What are her chances of getting in?

#152 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 01:07 PM:

Here's a version of Superman that avoids the whole tights/underpants problem: Superman Off The Rack

This was one of the submissions to a re-design competition over at Project Rooftop.

#153 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 01:24 PM:

nerdycellist @145:
it ended as so many half-assed work initiatives do: on hold with India, calling in a ticket to repair scorched panties.

And, presumably, the replacement of half of an ass? Are the two matters related?

#154 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Following up on Joel@133:429, I have received my "Worldmakers" book in the held mail, and the McKenna story is indeed the same story I remembered - but wow, I only remembered a very skeletal form of it! The full story is pretty good! And not nearly as close to Avatar as I had thought.

#155 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 01:55 PM:

Abi @ 153... Speaking of half-asses, do you think there's Hugo potential in a story titled "Doctor Jekyll and Mister Ed"?

#156 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 01:57 PM:

Serge (155): Wouldn't a half-ass be a mule, not a horse?

#157 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 01:59 PM:

Bruce@152 - cool!

#158 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 02:13 PM:

so nobody took me up on this one from #104?

"reminds me of the porridge potentate and the resistor network."

hmph. nothing's any good anymore.

oat emperor! ohm arrays!

#159 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 02:15 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 154 -- I'm glad to hear it.

(I've been mulling over hypothetical plots for Avatar II: The Earthers Strike Back and Avatar III: Return of the Eywa.)

#160 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 02:19 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 156... I refuse to let technical accuracy get in the way of a bad joke. :-)

#161 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 02:22 PM:

John A Arkansawyer (#151)

From experience with conventions I've helped run, I don't think it would be an issue, especially if you e-mailed and inquired ahead of time to verify.

(I almost wrote "called" rather than "e-mailed" but this far in advance, fallible personal memory for con-runners will fall into the WRITE_ONLY error trap.)

E-mail allows for both an aide-mémoire and the ability to forward to the proper people as responsibilities ae taken up.

#162 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 02:53 PM:

re 137: If that's where you're feeling a burning sensation, perhaps you should load your fire extinguisher with Cruex.

#163 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 03:06 PM:

abi @ 153 -

If backfiring corporate directives are truly responsible for exploded rears, than HR would do well to hire only the demi-dupa'd and cut out the middle-man.

Omnia -

I am planning a trip to Poland in October - Mainly Gdansk, Cracow and a bit of Warsaw - with a group of 4 women, from 30 to 60-something. We'd like to avoid renting a car. Any don't miss/over-rated? (and please don't ask "why?" - this is one of my new least favorite questions in response to my trip.)

#164 ::: Michael Bloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 03:17 PM:

How about the one where you notice that the drone instrument in your raga performance is out of tune?

Oh tambura, oh more A's.

Is it a mark of my obsession with music that when I re-emvowelled the Hebrew Sumerian tablet, I first read "ld" as "loud"?

#165 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 03:25 PM:

O tempura, O morels.

#166 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 03:35 PM:

Underwear alight = burning bush?

#167 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 03:35 PM:

My memories of Warsaw are over 40 years old, nerdycellist, so I doubt they'd be much help. It was a pretty city then, but still had too much of it as a memorial to WWII. This probably isn't still the case.

Why wouldn't you want to go, if you had the chance? I can't understand why people would ask why, really....

#168 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:02 PM:

Just found this over on Daily Kos, and thought I'd pass it along here since lots of us have pets:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/1/13/824710/-Veterinary-Drug-Recall:-Are-We-Paying-Attention

Seems there's been a recall on a couple of anesthetics used on animals -- unfortunately while it reached the distributors it didn't reach the veterinarians, and there have been at least 5 deaths due to use of these products.

#169 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:06 PM:

Pat Robertson says Haiti's problems are due to them making a pact with the Devil to overthrow the French:

http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201001130024

Fucking asshole.

#170 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:11 PM:

And in the light of open-threadery, a book description I came across while looking through the Science/Medicine/Nature section of a bookshop's offerings on Abebooks. Read to the end - there's a fun bit there as well:

The Sexual Conduct of Men & Women: A Minority Report.
Lockridge, Norman
Bookseller: Resource Books, LLC
(East Granby, CT, U.S.A.)

Book Description: Hogarth House, New York, 1948. Binding is Hard Cover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: in Good dj. First Edition. First edition. Ostensibly written in response to the Kinsey report, this book is perhaps a more practical guide to the sexual relationships between men and women - not clinically so, but socially. Much of the book is devoted to what men expect of a mistress and/or a wife, including such topics as gold-digging, impetuosity, adventure, cleanliness, nudity, etc. Sections include: What a Man Expects of the Women of His Youth; What a Man Expects of a Mistress; What a Man Expects of a Wife; What a Man Expects of the Woman he works with; What a Man Expects of Woman-in-the- Flesh (i.e. in bed); with a tiny chapter on What Women Expect from Men. Sexist, but interesting reading nonetheless. Tan cloth lettered in gilt, 256 pages, errata slip laid in, printed dustjacket. Book has almost no wear, good hinges, clean pages. Owner name and address on front free endpaper. Mylar protected dustjacket is chipped here and there, some paper loss at the cover edges, some old creases - about five percent paper loss overall. Clipping with a poem entitled "Oh, God! Oh, Kinsey!" from The Lancet loosely laid in at front - we'll leave it there.

#171 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:13 PM:

And Limbaugh claims Obama plans to use the Haitian disaster for political gain: http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201001130018

I've got an idea. Why don't we shove Robertson head-first into Limbaugh's oxycontin-hole? That'll shut 'em both up, at least for a while.

#172 ::: anaea ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:24 PM:

Lori Coulson at 168 - thanks for that. My kitty's one vomiting fit away from needing a feeding tube so that's yet more motivation to make sure she keeps her food down.

#173 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:29 PM:

dcb @ 170... What a Man Expects of Woman-in-the-Flesh (i.e. in bed)

I've met quite a few women in the flesh after interacting with them thru the blogosphere and it's never involved bedding. Or quilts. Or comforters.

#174 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:30 PM:

Thank you, Lori!

Ardala is way overdue for a teeth cleaning. I will check and double check with the vet (and bring print outs!) before handing her over.

#175 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:35 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 169. On the one hand, that is an extraordinarily racist and bizarre thing to say.

On the other, if Tim Powers told the story of that pact, I would buy it in a second.

#176 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:35 PM:

Woman in the flesh but not in bed.

Just for classification purposes.

#177 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:39 PM:

abi @ 176... Yum. What a dish!

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:41 PM:

abi @ 176... Oh, and could I have some Claudia Black beans with that?

#179 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:51 PM:

nerdycellist #132: I got a similar reward a couple of months ago. I spent mine on underpants!

Poor tactics, unless you were in the throes of an underwear crisis. I once got a Christmas bonus, spent it at the specialty shop down the street, and got a dress that was, it seems, so notable and perfect that when it came time for me to leave that place, the parting gift was a gift certificate to that shop. With which I bought something even more notable.

#180 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 04:53 PM:

Patrick, thanks for the particle on relativity and GPS. I noted how the engineers slowed down the clocks before launching them; that way, people who don't believe in relativity can still use the system.

#181 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 05:42 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 168: thanks for that info.

Serge @ 173: Yes, but they didn't distinguish meat-space back then (or rather, they didn't have anything to distinguish it from, other than dreaming).

abi @176: I could have done without that image just before going off to bed & sleep.

Patrick: I'll second PhilPalmer @ 180: an interesting article

#182 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 05:47 PM:

dcb @ 181... But they did have long-time correspondants who relied on snail mail.

#183 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 06:04 PM:

Serge @ 182: Yes, I thought about that after posting.

#184 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 06:11 PM:

dcb @ 183... By the way, snail mail is how I first met the woman who'd become my wife. Eventually, after some meetings in the flesh, bedding did get into the picture, and a mattress too, so maybe that book was onto some thing. At least neither she nor I had to get the flesh of our legs severely burned like Abi did in Spain. The pain in Spain...

#185 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 06:21 PM:

And now I'm off to bed, with my husband. To sleep, perchance to dream...

I'll leave the punning to you!

#186 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 06:38 PM:

Serge @184, I would hope that you would not be one to imply that Abi is plain!

#187 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 06:46 PM:

The State Department says if you text 90999 on your phone, $10 will be put on your phone bill and the money will go directly to the Red Cross for Haiti work.

#188 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 06:57 PM:

Lucy, I'll go a-hunting morels with you. I'll drop you a note on Facebook or LJ, not having a phone# for you.

#189 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 06:59 PM:

#187 I would be VERY CAREFUL about that. Is there a link to news story?

PLEASE NOTE that charity scammers are already using the Haiti 'quake to drum up "donations."

#190 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 07:01 PM:

Oops, shows you what I know about texting. You text the word Haiti to 90999 and get $10 put on your phone bill and the money goes directly to the Red Cross's Haitian work.

#191 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 07:02 PM:

Aha, it's legitimate!

http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.94aae335470e233f6cf911df43181aa0/?vgnextoid=15c0c5a210826210VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD

Thanks Marilee!

#192 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 07:20 PM:

Stefan Jones, #189, the local NBC station is broadcasting it. Here, look at the 12:30 entry.

#193 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 07:37 PM:

The text message option is also on the US Department of State's website.

#194 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 07:43 PM:

I'm giving to Episcopal Relief and Development, as well as Médecins sans Frontières. I was not at all impressed with the Red Cross after Katrina.

#195 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 07:45 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 186...

The pain
in Spain
by plane
back to Britain.

I should stick to the pun.
Anything else is pain.

#196 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 08:33 PM:

Update on the mechanics of the text messaging option for aid to Haiti here. $1.2 million raised via this route by Tuesday evening. It uses a platform called mGive; the company is waiving all its usual fees for its software.

#198 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 09:10 PM:

I just charged a donation to Partners in Health, which is the group set up by Paul Farmer and others to provide health care to poor people in Haiti, in partnership with doctors and hospitals in the US. They've been in Haiti for years, and know the country and the people well. (Farmer and Partners in Health are the subject of Tracy Kidder's book _Mountains Beyond Mountains_).

#199 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 10:20 PM:

Xopher @ 141: As I said, I tend to hang out mostly in the photography forum at SA. The goons there are all happy to share their images, their knowledge and their opinions with the aim of enjoying and improving everyone's photography. Much the same attitude prevails in the cooking forum. Opinions are expressed harshly from time to time, but the same happens everywhere - even here. Is the language or attitude at 119 any worse than we usually use here in bad reviews and discussions of Republican politics? (And, for that matter, is the comment unfair? I don't think so.)

I don't usually go near the games forum but it and its "Let's Play" subforum (the most likely venue for goons to be playing a FF book together) are freely viewable. You can check it out and decide for yourself if its tone suits you.

#200 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 10:31 PM:

Paul, I think I'll pass. I think saying "Fuck X up the ass, and I mean that with the greatest respect" is pretty obnoxious. The "I mean that with the greatest respect" adds nose-thumbing to the disrespect of saying "fuck it up the ass" to diss something.

So yeah, I think the language at 119 is not the sort of thing you usually find here. And most such comments lose their vowels.

#201 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 11:29 PM:

... and I wander back in, to discover that folks have been, with typically flamboyant style, not beating a dead horse, but beating off half an ass...

#202 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 11:33 PM:

xeger @ 201... Wouldn't a flamboyant ass be called arson?

#203 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 11:43 PM:

The article about relativity says that clocks run faster when they are farther away from the earth. Is this why financial companies are headquartered in tall buildings? So their clocks run faster and their interest compounds faster as a result?

#204 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 11:50 PM:

I just sent a donation to Catholic Relief Services. According to their website, they have food and supplies such as plastic sheeting, water purification tablets, and mosquito nets pre-positioned and ready for distribution. They are also in process of purchasing supplies in the Dominican Republic to ship across the border. They've been in Haiti for years and have a solid local organization.

#205 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2010, 11:54 PM:

Here's the Catholic Relief Services website...

#206 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 12:37 AM:

Serge @ 202: "Wouldn't a flamboyant ass be called arson?

Only if suspended at or above sea level . . . say, by enough retained hydrogen to maintain buoyancy, with the surplus leaking out just rapidly enough to maintain combustion in the immediate vicinity. 'Twould make a memorable channel marker in the shipping lanes . . .

#207 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:06 AM:

actually a flamboyant arse would be an arson,
and a flaming asshole would be a rectifier.

#208 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:06 AM:

Would that make an Indian fire-setter's yak-dung rope which he uses in terrorist actions an arson scat cord?

#209 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:07 AM:

actually a flamboyant arse would be an arson,
and a flaming asshole would be a rectifier.

#210 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:10 AM:

in case it helps for me to say so, I got a funky error message trying to post the above comment.

#211 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:27 AM:

Xopher @200:
most such comments lose their vowels.

Nonsense. It's not our usual phrasing, and if KJK::Hyperion were to return I'd have a word about fitting into the local dialect a bit better. But we are not so mealy-mouthed as all that.

A comment like that aimed at a person, particularly a person in the conversation, certainly would be disemvowelled.

Are you quite OK? I've been worrying about you lately, what with the job thing and all. And this seems uncharacteristically testy.

#212 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:47 AM:

#184 Serge

I guess you are not the romance writer in the family!

#181 dcb
Check the copyright date for "Day Million" by Fred Pohl....

#171 Summer
I was contrasting in my thoughts the Katin Charlie Foxtrot response to "the USA has dispatched an aircraft carrier to go to Haiti, and dispatched emergency services workers including healthcare personnel." After Katrina a US Navy ship which had a landing boat a couple hours on its way to New Orlean with clean water and supplies, got orders to haul itself to Biloxi or somewhere elst on the coast of Mississippi, and recalled the landing vehicle.... and then there was the Schmuck with the Photo Op, bringing in a generator to light up the scence for the photo op, and taking it away when he left. @*^$(#@34 grandstanding caracajou....

As for stinks-more-than-Limburger and Robertson, cockroaches are more respectable....


#213 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:48 AM:

Well that was exciting.

We got a knock at the door right as we were getting ready to take the dog out for her final piddle. We didn't want to open it, because 1.) someone was mugged in front of our building last week and 2.) Our door has no peephole. Thank god we did - it was the gentleman next door, confined to a wheelchair, saying that his elderly mother had fallen and wanted help getting up. She is rather elderly and frail and the floor was hard tile - there was no way we were helping her up. I sat behind her with cushions and tried to keep her from rising while the roommate called 911 for the first time. She refused to go to the hospital, but they helped her into her bed (after ascertaining that nothing was broken) and forbade her to get up until tomorrow. We'll check on her and her son before work.

We had been expecting an ambulance, but the fellows who came were in a fire truck. If I had known there were going to be cute paramedics/firemen on tonight's agenda, I would have changed my blue-cheese dressing stained t-shirt.

#214 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:51 AM:

OtterB at #96 wrote:

> Debbie @93. Oh, I like that. Do you know
> anything else about it? I was googling around a
> bit but can't find anything but other links to
> the image - no info on artist or source.

It's from http://forums.cgsociety.org/ where they have occasional competitions on a theme. The theme for this competition was "The Journey Begins". The artist is Daniel Lieske, who came second in the 2D category.

This thread contains not only the final image, but work in progress pictures:

http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=191&t=323093

The winners are at:
http://features.cgsociety.org/challenge/journey_begins/

Finally, while you're there, have a look at the "Grand Space Opera" competition - I love the critter making omelettes with what appear to be eggs from the movie Aliens:

http://features.cgsociety.org/challenge/grandspaceopera/

#215 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:15 AM:

Erik Nelson #210: in case it helps for me to say so, I got a funky error message trying to post the above comment.

Speaking of which, funky error messages that ask you to report the situation to webmaster at nielsenhayden dot com should be corrected to refer to an email address which actually exists, please.

#216 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:57 AM:

Thinking of Christmas just past.

O Tannenbaum, o mistletoe.

Mary Aileen #156:
Medically qualified North American canine meets a sterile empire builder with mental abilities. Hilarity ensues.

Serge #202:
Wouldn't that be the male offspring of a flamboyant ass?

#217 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:10 AM:

Steve Taylor @214 Thank you very much!

#218 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:19 AM:

Still chasing early cites of the "Assyrian" quote and have run across another possible source with particularly amazing fluorospheric properties. Google Books semi-cryptically refers to it as Roycroft (1924) by Elbert Hubbard. Unfortunately, none of this volume is actually available to verify either the quote's presence in it or the date, although some earlier volumes are viewable.

Roycroft turns out to've been a journal issued between Sept. 1917-March 1926, according to another fragmentary Google ref from Contact, a 1932 literary review edited by William Carlos Williams.

Subtitled "Successor to the Fra", Roycroft was edited by Elbert Hubbard II and issued by the Roycroft Press, which had been founded as a vanity press of sorts by Elbert Hubbard Sr.-- there's a rather caustic writeup of EH Sr.'s writing skills here, but also a gallery of Roycroft Press's beautiful binding work here. A larger Arts and Craft community eventually coalesced around the press near Buffalo NY. (Some investors are currently trying to restore what they refer to as the Roycroft Campus.)

The "Fra" precursor journal (1908-1917) had been edited by and semi-eponymous for EH Sr., who liked to call himself "Fra Elbertus". Unfortunately for himself and the long-term fortunes of the Roycroft community, "Fra Elbertus" decided in 1915 that he and his wife should go talk to Kaiser Wilhelm to help bring an end to the Great War... and sailed out on the Lusitania.

#219 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 08:40 AM:

Stefan #169:

I think Pat Robertson lives on the same media strategy as the late Jerry Fallwell--every so often, in order to retain such celebrity as he's managed to acquire, he must come up with some shocking and bizarre statement for the media. This provides harmless[1] outrage fodder for the media, and keeps Robertson and company in the public eye.

[1] Harmless to the interests of the owners of the media companies, and to the politicians and lobbies that they must keep happy. Outrage over Robertson's bizarre comment is not expended on torture scandals, impunity of the powerful, counterproductive foreign policy, economic hardship, etc. See also "nappy headed ho," "Negro dialect," "God damn America," etc.

#220 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 08:55 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 212... No, but the romance writer in the family has often called me a sentimental fool.

#221 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:00 AM:

Just a thought: Would it make sense to put the reputable URLs for donations to help the Haitians on the front page?

--John

#222 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:09 AM:

I see by the Sidelight that Harold Ford is running for the Senate in New York State. And they're welcome to him.

#223 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:48 AM:

abi 211: Yeah, you're right. I guess I was kind of identifying the book with its author (who is in this thread reading people's comments about his book), and feeling kind of protective. I found KJK::Hyperion's comment pretty jarring. It took me by surprise in a way that, for example, "your book sucked out loud" would not have. The hypocrisy of adding "with the greatest respect" infuriated me.

Also, I guess I'm hypersensitive about people using "fuck that in the ass" as if it were somehow worse than "fuck that." As a less-than-serious inversion experience, imagine how you'd feel if someone said "Bind X in a book!" when they clearly meant "X is useless and should be discarded." That's too bizarre to really give you a feel for it, but I trust my point has come across!

Finally, no, I'm really not OK. I'd characterize my current state as "mostly holding it together."

It turns out that you don't have to actually be a loser to feel like one. Even though all my bosses, all my coworkers, all my clients and users, and even outside vendors have made it absolutely clear that my performance has been of the highest calibre, with some expressing outrage that the company wouldn't try harder to preserve such a valuable resource, I'm still losing my job. It's a layoff, not a firing—my whole group is going, to replaced by vastly more junior people in Canada—but I was fired (and I mean FIRED fired) so many times before I went on meds for ADHD that I still feel, quite irrationally, that it's my fault.

I'm feeling kind of discouraged in other areas of my life as well, except for one: I've lost 9 pounds since Monday. That's probably mostly water, and I don't expect that pace to continue, since I'm very much in the honeymoon period for this diet/exercise program and my body is still adjusting. A low-carb diet also helps my mood somewhat, so this is a real bright spot.

So yeah, that was testy. Sorry. I'll try not to let my crankiness come through on here any more than I can help.

nerdycellist 213: If I had known there were going to be cute paramedics/firemen on tonight's agenda, I would have changed my blue-cheese dressing stained t-shirt.

I think they're used to seeing people in emergency situations. If anything they'd appreciate that your priority was your neighbor's safety rather than your appearance.

#224 ::: Tim Silverman ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:08 AM:

Julie L. @218: how the heck did you find that? Also—there is a Wikipedia article on the Roycroft movement which adds some info, though not relevant to Assyria.

By the way, the 2800BC date for a genuinely Assyrian inscription is certainly nonsense. In fact, I'm not sure how advanced writing was at that date, and in particular how much literary text survives from then (not much, I'll wager. If any.) However, in the early 1920's, I don't think absolute dating was very advanced, so if the text were genuine, it could be an Assyrian text from a later date, misdated at the time of translation. Also, it could be some early Akkadian text, although I still think 2800 is impossible.

#225 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:14 AM:

Steve Taylor @214 -- thank you for the extra information! I didn't have any luck with Google myself. Very cool site.

#226 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:27 AM:

Xopher, dear heart, please feel free to bring your troubles to the community. That's what we're here for, as much as we are for puns and poetry, fandom and politics.

Just try to bring them directly, right?

The equivalent I would use, by the way, is actually something Terry has been known to say: "the back of my hand to them." I don't know if it's intended to be a reference to striking someone, but that's the bell it rings in me. So I do know how someone could get that kind of twitch to a figure of speech. I don't need to lecture you about appropriate and inappropriate ways of dealing with that, though, because that's not really the problem. As discussed.

There's no way that it wouldn't be distressing to lose your job, even if you didn't already have emotional scar tissue in that area. I'm glad to hear you're embarking on something positive (well, negative in weight terms!) during such a tough time.

If you are of the nature for such things, have a virtual hug.

#227 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:34 AM:

I suppose that the 'arson' would be the fundamental particle of flaming assholery.

#228 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:34 AM:

Xopher... What Abi said.

#229 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:44 AM:

In the 1960s there was a Dick Tracy cartoon show where each episode started with a view of a busy traffic grid seen from above, cars moving back and forth, until a police siren cut in, at which point all the cars for blocks around pulled over to the side except for the police car and the getaway car they were chasing.

At age five, that became my model of civic duty, and it still is: go about your business until an emergency arises, then co-operate. I didn't know until just now, though, until reading Elliott Mason @110, that this was the actual practice in Atlantic City.

#230 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:48 AM:

Xopher: What abi said. Most especially including the virtual hug.

#231 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:51 AM:

Xopher -- as Ginger said to me not that long ago, I got your back. Hang in there.

#232 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:53 AM:

Xopher, ditto abi & Serge. My husband was laid off in April and is still job hunting (Hoping for success for you much quicker; he has constraints that amplify the difficulties of the current economic situation). This time has been less traumatic than several previous occurrences -- more "crap, not again" rather than "knocked off his foundation" -- but it's still a relentless drag on the energy. Despite having been told that it wasn't him, it was the economy, he spent several months intermittently trying to figure out what he might have done wrong. In the fall, the entire company went belly-up; it really wasn't him. (They had an excellent technical idea and great people in a start-up slammed by the economy. Sigh.)

Do unto yourself as you would do unto friends in similar situations, especially in what you say to yourself.

#233 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:56 AM:

abi 226: Thanks.

I think, however, you didn't quite get what I meant in one part. For your example to be parallel, you'd have to think there was nothing wrong with backhanding a consenting person across the face; you'd have to know lots of people who do like being backhanded across the face; and you'd have to be far from averse to it yourself.

I think the twitch of annoyance is probably the same, and perhaps that's all you meant. But the root of it is different; that's why my example was bookbinding, something you're known to enjoy.

Serge 228: Thanks.

#234 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:58 AM:

Xopher, I have been fired from, I think, every job I ever held (including the Navy) but two (one I quit, one I'm still at). Only recently have I started learning not to take it personally, to see that even when I was actually fired for something I was doing wrong, it wasn't a rejection of me as a person, just a management decision that they'd rather see someone else in that position.

In any culture, I think, your job is an important part of your self-image, so being without one for any reason is going to hurt.

I hope you are getting support from the people around you. I remember a character in a story whose mother blamed her for the loss of her job, even when she was laid off ("You could have made yourself too important to them to get rid of") and even when the company went bankrupt -- absurd, but plausible.

Take care, Xopher. And remember, there are a lot of people in your same situation.

#235 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:58 AM:

Xopher, sorry to hear about the job. No way are you a loser, buddy. Not, not, not a loser, no way, not in a box, not with a fox, nope, iye, non, nyet.

Have a cookie.

#236 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 12:05 PM:

Julie L @ 218 : Nice find! Don't know if it'll get us any closer to the source if it's from 1924, but there's a chance it might mention where they got the quote from.

It looks like there were a number of Roycroft-related journals. Before the Fra, Worldcat tells me there was the "Roycroft Quarterly", which started in 1896, but seems to have only run a few issues. And it looks like _The Roycrofter_ started up pretty much where _Roycroft_ left off in 1926, and ran until 1932 or thereabouts.

Folks who want a taste of Elbert Hubbard Sr.'s writing (or his ghostwriters'?) can find a selection of his books here. The press printed authors besides the Hubbards as well; I've got a listing for one of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's books of poetry that they published.

#237 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 12:17 PM:

Kind thoughts from here as well, Xopher -- and I hope they're giving some job-hunting assistance to you. If it makes it any easier to take, remember that it's the whole department that's going, not just you -- a decentralized sort of rejection rather than personal.

#238 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 12:24 PM:

Xopher -

I totally agree with your objections to FTITA as a violent insult. I get similarly upset when "ccksckr" and other variants are in use. I try not to spend too much time on any site that encourages (or does not admonish) commenters to use such concepts.* That pretty much limits my exposure to here, Shakesville, Slacktivist, Tor, Ask Sister Mary Martha, sometimes Jezebel and my own LJ comms. No big loss.

Good luck dealing with employment trauma. Simultaneous hits to the self-esteem and possible bank account repercussions are awful.

* I think I can trace the seeds of my expulsion from a musical ensemble to my loud defense of ccksckrs. I mentioned that those who used it as in insult should never have their ccks sckd again.

#239 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 12:38 PM:

Does anyone know about charitable organizations' preferences for donations made by cheque vs. by credit card? I'm under the impression that when a donation is made by credit card, the credit card company takes its usual roughly-5% cut, but cheques require more manual processing. I don't have a strong preference for which way I donate, but the idea that MasterCard would be taking a cut of my donation for disaster relief makes me itch.

#240 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 12:47 PM:

A couple of useful links on donations for Haiti:

1) An AidWatch post about choosing organizations to donate to.

2) Interaction.org's list of organizations collecting "for Haiti".

The issues mentioned in the AidWatch post are particularly interesting, especially if you keep them in mind reading the interaction.org list.

#241 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 12:49 PM:

Joel@239: I used a credit card for my donation because the donation gets there faster, and with disasters like the one in Haiti, time can be critical. My credit card bank will presumably take its usual cut (around 2-3%, I think), which I'm okay with.

I've heard rumors that some electronic payment systems are waiving their usual fees for some charities giving aid to Haiti, but don't know specifics off the top of my head.

For less time-critical donations, I'd imagine checks are cheaper to handle on the receiver's end. There are no fees to deposit them, in any case; and you can use the cancelled check or the check image as a handy record of payment.

#242 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 12:51 PM:

Xopher: What They Said. Also, if you need to rant in ways that you think would be less than appropriate here, my e-mail is always open to you.

I fully agree with your language issue; it's a more-explicit variant of saying "That's so GAY" as a way of expressing contempt, and deserves the same level of strenuous push-back.

#243 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:01 PM:

Xopher: Subsitute "Ukraine" for "Canada" and I'm in your position exactly, and my emotional issues with it are similar. What I find is helping is thinking of the layoff as an opportunity; I've been at Digidesign for sixteen years, so maybe it's time for a change, and I should make the most of it.

Whether this attitude will survive the cold shower of an actual job search remains to be seen, of course.

#244 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:08 PM:

Dr. Psycho, Lizzy, Tom, nerdycellist, Lee, Tim: thanks. It helps.

Dr. Psycho: And remember, there are a lot of people in your same situation.

Yeah, there are. That's part of the problem.

Tom: I hope they're giving some job-hunting assistance to you.

They are. And severance. Given the thing itself, they're being pretty civilized.

nerdycellist, Lee: Yes, yes! Have you noticed that men use terms describing things they want as insults for other men? That they diss the suppliers of things they want? I suppose it's the old everything-must-be-ranked thing in male culture, but I've always found it pretty stupid, especially when it surfaces in the gay community.

#245 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:10 PM:

Xopher: What goes around comes around, so now it is my turn to wish you better luck and hope you feel better, too.

I had the same reaction to KJK::Hyperion, and for the same reasons. There's no reason at all to use that expression, and only someone who has real issues with GLBT people would even think to use it. Finally, what would be the point of indicating such extreme dislike? Once you dislike a book, why does it matter how much you dislike it? Feh.

As for my current situation, my partner has been showing signs of depression, and I firmly believe her recent bombshell has more to do with the recent loss of her mother (about 5 months ago, Mom passed; her Dad died 7 years ago this week); this is the first Christmas without her parents. Even when her Mom was in the assisted living facility, declining with dementia, it was still Christmas with Mom. I think it is no coincidence that this came up in her mind over the holidays, and then blew up in our lives.

Of course, the fact that it took me about 5 days to figure this out indicates how distracted I've been.

#246 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:16 PM:

Ginger: Thanks. And:

I had the same reaction to KJK::Hyperion, and for the same reasons. There's no reason at all to use that expression, and only someone who has real issues with GLBT people would even think to use it. Finally, what would be the point of indicating such extreme dislike? Once you dislike a book, why does it matter how much you dislike it? Feh.

There we go. That's what I was trying to say. Thanks.

I continue to send good thoughts about your partner situation. May all be well for you, her, and all others concerned.

#247 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:21 PM:

And yet many people in this conversation have used the less-specific "fuck" in much the same sense ("fuck this" or "fuck [insert name of person]"). Considering the history of an "active"/penetrative meaning of the verb, how is that different?

I suppose it's a word that whose meaning has drifted/been reclaimed over time to include a "passive"/"feminine"/penetrated/other activities role. Is that enough to make it more acceptable?

#248 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:37 PM:

abi -

Good point. I think that a simple F*ck That/This has gained a generic-ness that doesn't make me twitch as much as the specificity of F* This In The [Orifice] or Ccksckr. I'm female, and I would claim to have F*'d someone (in a non-perjorative sense) even when I didn't assume the role of penetrator, violent or no.

That being said, I have often used the phrase "S*ck My D*ck", which I think is funny, as I don't have one. (on my own person) I may rethink that as well.

#249 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 01:41 PM:

Xopher:

Best wishes in looking for a new job. I hope you get something, and that it's good, soon.

Ginger @ 245:

Some things are much easier to see when you're not in the middle of them. I hope you get things sorted out.

abi @ 247:

Part of the issue is that the terms you cite have lost a lot of their sexual meaning in various contexts, whereas the phrase originally used here makes it quite explicit (and is also implicitly a judgement on the particular kind of intercourse and therefore the people who engage in it). Whether the terms you cite should be seen in the same light as the other, I'm not sure.

#250 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:06 PM:

Julie L at #218:
Here are some libraries holding a periodical called Roycroft.

A search on the string "Successor to the Fra" turned up Kim Bullock, someone with a family connection to Roycroft. A commenter on her blog, Jeanette Ahrens, quotes an article in Roycroft.

Archive.org has at least one issue of Roycroft.

(I must confess I didn't expect to find Thomas A. Edison in here:

Everything which decreases the sum total of man's sleep increases the sum total of man's capabilities. There really is no reason why men should go to bed at all, and the man of the future will spend far less time in bed than the man of the present does, just as the man of the present spends far less time in bed than the man of the past did. As a matter of fact, a very simple bit of arithmetical figuring will show that by and by humanity will have to live in double shifts, so that there may be room upon the earth for all the people.
Wow. Widespread sleep deprivation is one of PNH's hobbyhorses. Much blame can be placed upon the guy who introduced incandescent lighting.)

Unless I am mistaken, the earliest known use of the "Assyrian tablet" quote remains the one you cited in #22, namely Report of the Commissioner of Industrial and Vocational Education for the Year Ending June 30, 1914. Which seems a long way from missionaries in Constantinople.

#251 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:07 PM:

nerdycellist @ 248... I don't have one. (on my own person)

"Say, is that a rocket in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"

#252 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:08 PM:

I have tried, and failed, to eliminate such sex-negative terminology from my vocabulary. 'Fuck that' has been weakened through overuse, I think. 'Fuck that up the ass' is too specific for this to have happened, at least yet.

#253 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:12 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 250... Everything which decreases the sum total of man's sleep increases the sum total of man's capabilities.

That Tom Edison, a regular standup comedian!

#254 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Thanks, KeithS.

#255 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:22 PM:

KeithS @249:
Part of the issue is that the terms you cite have lost a lot of their sexual meaning in various contexts, whereas the phrase originally used here makes it quite explicit (and is also implicitly a judgement on the particular kind of intercourse and therefore the people who engage in it).

I am not convinced that it is that stark. Taking KJK::Hyperion's message in its totality (content as well as form), I can make a few reasoned guesses about age, sex, and subculture.

I'm only slightly acquainted with anyone from that set, but the dialect they speak is not...mindful, particularly in its profanity. And since my generation (and my parents') have pretty well knocked the corners off of "fuck", they've tended to reach farther for swear words. It's also a subculture that includes a lot of rap, hip-hop and related music, much of which is profane, homophobic, and violently rude. That's become part of thoughtless usage.

What I'm saying is that although he used an phrase that was offensive to his listeners, that may not have been his intent. As I say, had he returned, I'd have had a word with him about it. But I'm strenuously opposed to jumping down his throat for what I suspect is a little fault proceeding upon distemper rather than a capital crime, chew'd, swallow'd and digested.

I'm fairly sure he also disobeys his parents, though he may not yet want to write a book. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum.

#256 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:33 PM:

I have a dear friend who often uses the phrase "Calling him a ccksckr would be a slander upon the noble art of ccksckng." I must say I enjoy that.

#257 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:47 PM:

abi 255: What I'm saying is that although he used an phrase that was offensive to his listeners, that may not have been his intent. As I say, had he returned, I'd have had a word with him about it. But I'm strenuously opposed to jumping down his throat for what I suspect is a little fault proceeding upon distemper rather than a capital crime, chew'd, swallow'd and digested.

That sounds right. Fair enough.

Jeremy 256: ...the noble art of ccksckng...I must say I enjoy that.

Not to put too fine a point on it, so do I.

#258 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:53 PM:

Xopher, etc.: ISTR Miss Manners, on the subject of "F* that" insults, saying something like "Miss Manners would like to know why references to a presumably delightful activity are so frequently used as insults. On second thought, no, she wouldn't."

#259 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:57 PM:

abi @ 255: "What I'm saying is that although he used an phrase that was offensive to his listeners, that may not have been his intent."

I think you're right that his usage was thoughtless and had no conscious homophobic intent. Still, I am fairly sure that any offense given was if not meant, also not regretted. Tolerance for extreme, hardcore language and the ability to produce it is a homosocial status symbol in parts of the internet, and an inability to laugh at that sort of thing is a mark of weakness.

#260 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:10 PM:

heresiarch @259:
I am fairly sure that any offense given was if not meant, also not regretted.

I don't think we have evidence to back up that kind of assumption of ill faith. He'd need to know that there was something to regret before he either regretted it or not, and that would require more than one comment.

I find this particular assertion to be another form of crying troll and letting slip the dogs of bingo, and I will not have it. People come here from other web subcultures, and we give them the same benefit of the doubt that we ourselves would like to receive, were we to go elsewhere. I keep a wide door for both newcomers and regulars.

#261 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:15 PM:

What Abi said.

A quotation from the front-page commonplace list seems in order--John XXIII, "See everything, overlook a great deal, improve a little.”

#262 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:16 PM:

Xopher @ 257... Not to put too fine a point on it, so do I.

Glandstanding again?

#263 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:29 PM:

I'm fighting off the urge to analyze my own common invitation for other drivers to go fck themselves in terms of a deep aversion to Onanism.

#264 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:36 PM:

Apropos of something on Twitter today:

Some say the web will end in spam,
Some say in flame.
From all the different types of scam
I hold with those who favor spam.
But if another ending came,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction flame
Is also great
And ends the same.

#265 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:45 PM:

@188 Ruth, cool, but I don't know how to find morels. Chanterelles and craterellus, yes -- even boletes, but we missed that season (It's about two weeks long around Thanksgiving).

#266 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:57 PM:

I forget who came up with the idea, but it was posited that FU should be regarded as a form of dominance, which when fully expressed is "(I) FU", similar to one beast mounting another.

We do like our hierarchies.

#267 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:58 PM:

Nerdycellist @213:

Most fire departments have turned or are gradually turning their forces into paramedics plus. And in 911 areas, the dispatcher informs all the closest units. When my husband had his embolism, we got a fire department paramedic engine, an ambulance, and a cop car, almost before the phone call was over(if he could have been saved, he definitely would have been: this is the advantage of the 911 general dispatch system). (I can say confidently that he would have survived if it were possible because my son was giving him CPR from the exact second he stopped breathing.)

Another advantage is that when your firefighters are also paramedics, the same crew that pulls you out of the flames or the collapsed building can start working on you immediately.

In our area, where the ambulances are operated by private, for-profit outfits, it also has the advantage of being less expensive to maintain.

#268 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 04:28 PM:

Steve C. #266: Oh, totally! That is exactly why it's still considered offensive when so many other usages have been de-energized. "Suck my..." and calling someone a "c*cksucker" fit the same pattern -- effort expended notwithstanding, the "receptacle" is "bottom".

#269 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 04:35 PM:

Henry Jenkins has posted the syllabus to his course at the University of Southern California, Fandom, Participatory Culture, and Web 2.0.

He writes:

A key choice I faced was between a course on fan culture, which would be centrally about what fans do and think, and a course in fan studies, which would map the emergence of and influence of a new academic field focused on the study of fandom and other forms of participatory culture. On the undergraduate level, I would have taken the first approach but on the graduate level, I opted for the second -- trying to map the evolution of a field of research centered around the study of fan communities and showing how it has spoken to a broader range of debates in media and cultural studies over the past two decades. As you will see, teaching a course right now, I found it impossible to separate out the discussion of fan culture from contemporary debates about web 2.0 and so I made that problematic, contradictory, and evolving relationship a key theme for the students to investigate. Do not misunderstand me -- I am not assuming an easy match between the three terms in my title. The shifting relations between those three terms is a central concern in the class.

Yes, now you can go to grad school to learn about fandom.

#270 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 04:43 PM:

Lucy @ #267 -

The integration of Fire Dept and Paramedics is good to know. I was pretty impressed with their response time, which was under 5 minutes. We are about .3 mile away from one of the stations, but even so, I wondered if the FD might have other priorities. We felt a bit silly dialing 911, but we were told it was the right thing to do. I checked in on mother and son this morning, and mother was up and about, but at least using her walker rather than her cane.

It is perhaps a sign of how "old" I'm getting that with the exception of the first guy who came in - fireman pants and clipboard - all of the responders seemed so young!

Now I am wondering why such an independent yet frail woman and her physically disabled son insist on living in an upstairs apartment. This is the first we've met the son in the 5 years we've lived there. I know the previous landlord was trying to give her an incentive to move to one of the downstairs units, but she refused. I'm constantly worried that she's going to go tumbling down the (not especially well-maintained) stairs one day, and if we hadn't been home, her son would not have been able to get help - she fell in front of the phone and he was unable to get past. I suppose it is none of my beeswax.

#271 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Open-threaded Facebook musings -- A little thread has been moving its way around, where you change your profile picture to one where you were much younger. Also, you can post the text: It's RETRO WAYBACK WEEK!!!!!! yada, yada, yada.

Anyway, I found my high school yearbook photo. And judging from what I can see of my contemporaries on FB, the 70's were not one of the prime decades for fashion OR hairstyles.

Oh, if anyone's interested, it's also at:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2701/4274449131_b190fb7a96_o.jpg

#272 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 04:57 PM:

abi 260: He'd need to know that there was something to regret before he either regretted it or not, and that would require more than one comment.

Yes, or at any rate evidence that he continued reading the thread. He could have commented at SA about what stuff-shirts we are here, or about how he embarrassed himself here by making an unintentionally offensive remark. As for comments here, we have no way of knowing whether his comment would have been something like

Oh, I'm so sorry my comments were too politically incorrect for you! I thought this was a place where different opinions were welcomed, but obviously I was wrong. Since everyone here wants to censor me, I'll take my opinions to a freer environment.
—or something more along the lines of
I didn't mean that in an offensive way. I guess it never occurred to me that saying "f*ck X up the ass" was homophobic. To us goons it's just emphatic. I apologize to those I offended.
Most likely it would have been something between those extremes, but absent the individual's return we have no evidence. None of which is anything you haven't said, I guess; I'm just pointing out to my fellow offendees that either of those reactions (and a great many others) could have followed the post we saw.

Serge 262: Glandstanding again?

Indeed, when the gland is standing it's ready for the noble art. However, I can testify that sometimes you can go nad waiting for it, or even just waiting til the fella shows you what he's got; waiting for skin to be revealed can be infuriating.

abi 264: That's wonderful. I know someone who's going to LOVE that.

#273 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 05:09 PM:

nerdycellist @ 270: Now I am wondering why such an independent yet frail woman and her physically disabled son insist on living in an upstairs apartment.

Not wanting to admit to themselves that they're getting older/more frail? I've seen it before where it takes time to accept that things have changed.

#274 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 05:18 PM:

abi @ 264: I really enjoyed that.

nerdycellist @ 270: Now I am wondering why such an independent yet frail woman and her physically disabled son insist on living in an upstairs apartment. - Maybe because they feel vulnerable, and think they would be less secure/more likely to be broken into on the ground floor? I remember people being astonished that I'd chosen a ground floor flat (apartment), back when I was a single female living alone, for that reason. I hadn't thought about it.

#275 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 05:26 PM:

Steve C @ #271, I dunno. I think I'm more handsome at 17 than I've been since. (That's me on the right.)

#276 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 05:28 PM:

On jobsearch: anyone who reads my Livejournal is in for a lot of jobsearch whining. I'm looking for a kibblejob now, just something to make it okay for me not to move back to my family, and for career-type jobs. I have a pretty good Spreadsheet of Doom going for job applications.

Sometimes the tough part is staying confident as I apply for job after job I'm not really qualified for. Sometimes it's telling myself that credit for things accomplished and blame for things undone* are not linked; I can say, "The reason I don't have a job yet is the economy, and when I do get a job, it will be because I am awesome," and not be lying or otherwise deserving of bad things*. Sometimes it's a spinal reflex to argue with anyone who tries to cheer me up or encourage me in any way-- "No, brain, the correct response to, 'You're a good person,' is not a numbered list of your own flaws and shortcomings and such. Stop it." Sometimes it's just that a year ago, I thought I'd be employed by now, and if I was wrong about that, I could be wrong about anything.

*that phrase could be picked apart further and I'm not thrilled with what that says about me

Which is to say, jobsearch! Unpleasant! Not your fault, not my fault, will be conquered by force of awesome!

#277 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 05:29 PM:

Ooh, that could be it, dcb. The neighborhood seems to have gotten progressively cruddier in the five years we've lived there. The front windows aren't barred (barring can be somewhat decorative and is common in the area) and the sliding glass door/patio isn't especially secure - 5 ft-ish stucco wall with another three feet of wooden fence/lattice perched on it. The last ground floor neighbors installed an alarm system, but that was after the first landlord, who wasn't as incompetent as the current landlord. AFAIK, the current LL has not made any offers to relocate them downstairs. If I were him, I'd worry about liability.

It appears she fell by tripping over a small rug used to cover the space of floor where the tile and hardwood meet - with about 1/4" of toe-stubbing and tripping potential.

I mean to ask LL about the fire extinguisher, not replaced or charged since we moved in, and maybe give the neighbors the gift of one for their personal use. We will be moving as soon as tax refunds make it financially feasible for us to do so.

#278 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 06:19 PM:

There's no reason at all to use that expression, and only someone who has real issues with GLBT people would even think to use it.

I guess it never occurred to me that saying "f*ck X up the ass" was homophobic.

Why must the expression have anything to do with GLBT people? Straight people can and do indulge in anal activities. Presuming that reference to anal penetration is automatically a reference to homosexuality strikes me as being a tad homophobic itself. Perhaps I am naive, but I have never assumed the expression to be about anything other than what Steve said @ 266 - dominance - with, perhaps, some added discomfort (and maybe a nod to the films of Kevin Smith).

#279 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 06:26 PM:

Another reason that the frail old lady and her wheelchair-using son could be living in their upstairs apartment is that they've lived there for a long time and they won't move away from it unless and until it becomes unworkable for them. And in my estimation, one bad fall doesn't necessarily count as unworkable.

I'm not even sure I'd call it a bad fall if the paramedics let her stay home. If the fall is bad enough, they don't take no for an answer.

The time to wonder about whether a place will be good to live in when you're old and frail is when you're middle-aged and healthy: but I think that even then, the answer is generally "I have other concerns!"

#280 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 06:28 PM:

KeithS, #273: Another strong possibility is that they don't have any close friends or relatives who could help them move, and not enough money to hire professional movers.

#281 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 06:36 PM:

Ants, ANTS! I hate ants;
Ants in the dishwasher, ants in the sink,
Ants in the microwave (don't turn it on!)
I hate ants.

Spray them with vinegar, hit 'em with spray,
Dose them with poison— they WON'T go away.
Ants in my pantry, recyclables too...
I hate ants.

Ants in the cat food (to freezer it goes!)
Ants in the shower— why? Nobody knows.
Ants climbing over the glasses and knives...
I hate ants.

Just before breakfast, what a lovely surprise,
Ants in my cereal. THE ANTS MUST DIE!
I've called in professionals so I can prove
I HATE ANTS.

#282 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 06:38 PM:

Lee @ 280:

Another good possibility.

B. Durbin @ 281:

Ah, reminds me of my dorm room in university.

#283 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 06:49 PM:

Xopher @ 272... the noble art

"Is it Art?"
"I don't know if it's Art, but I know what I like."

#284 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:08 PM:

Paul 278: Presuming that reference to anal penetration is automatically a reference to homosexuality strikes me as being a tad homophobic itself.

Oh, nonsense. This is so naive it almost seems that it must be disingenuous. Men never insult a woman by calling her a ccksckr or a pssy. (They do use the C word, interestingly, but that's different. Have you heard the word 'pussyboy'? Do you know what it means?) They insult one another by imputing homosexuality, which, yes, they see as inferior, but it's not just about hierarchy. You're one-up in the hierarchy over someone you've just beaten at tennis, but you wouldn't call him a ccksckr in that context, or say FU to him just for that.

#285 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:15 PM:

B Durbin @ 281...

Ants?
Yes! Them!

#286 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:21 PM:

B. Durbin: They make Combat for ants. I don't know how well it works. Maybe you've tried it, but just in case you haven't I thought I'd mention it.

#287 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:24 PM:

I've heard that borax mixed with sugar will kill ants. Also, they dont like cinnamon, and putting a ring of powdered cinnamon around their entrance will prevent them from entering.

Xopher, I do hope you find something good relatively quickly. I've been laid off from jobs, and I know how self-crushing it can be. I repeat, there is nothing wrong with you!

#288 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:30 PM:

Diatryma: Right on, and thanks!

Nancy 287: They don't like citrus oils either. No insect does, I'm led to understand.

And thanks.

#289 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:41 PM:

But what about "fuck off" as opposed to "fuck you"?

Xopher @ 284: I make a practice of insulting women who love the patriarchy with words like "prick" and "dickhead". I realize I may be encouraging misandry by doing so, but I like the cognitive dissonance.

#290 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:48 PM:

John: I like it! Note also how incongruous it feels to call a woman an asshole, though I do this every time I'm tempted to call one a btch (that one I've pretty well cleared out of my speech habits, except for humorous effect). The fact that this feels odd also speaks against Paul's argument at 278.

I have no theories about 'fuck off'.

#291 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 08:25 PM:

I think "fuck off" is just a substitution for "piss off", what with the tendency to apply the f-bomb to various expressions.

I do like abso-fucking-lutely and guaran-damn-fucking-tee you.

My favorite was the one spoken by a mechanic who couldn't get a part to go where it was supposed to. Exasperated, he exclaimed, "The fucking fuck won't fuck!"

#292 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 09:08 PM:

We've been battling the ants for the last month. The natural remedies would probably work better if there were one point of entry, but I'm afraid they might be living in the walls.

#293 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 09:14 PM:

B., that's why I suggested Combat. It's a queen assassination.

#294 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 09:28 PM:

Bill Higgins at #269
Yes, now you can go to grad school to learn about fandom.

It's actually cheaper to go to fandom to learn about fandom, and takes a little less time too.

#296 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:13 PM:

Xopher @ 284: Yes, men do insult each other by imputing homosexuality (though I have never heard the word pussyboy, I have heard similar constructions), but I never said otherwise. What I am questioning is the assumption that anal sex is exclusively a gay activity and that a reference to it automatically imputes homosexuality. I know some people who do make that assumption - mostly older people who have had little experience of GBLT people - but anal sex is not gay nor is it assumed to be so by most people I know. It is extraordinarily popular in mainstream hetero porn aimed at straight males and it's a frequent subject of educational material aimed at straight couples. It's something people do without regard to gender or orientation. The assumption that anal penetration is only something that gays do reeks of homophobia to me. Assuming that a comment is homophobic purely because it takes a negative view of anal penetration is, to my mind, silly and just plain wrong.

I didn't think KJK::Hyperion was intending anything homophobic by the original comment and still don't. I assumed it was merely a FU with an intensifer that would make the f-ing more uncomfortable for a less-willing f-ee.

As to 290, I do not find it incongruous to call a woman an arsehole if she acts like one. An arsehole is a source of shit and women can be just as full of it as men.

Maybe I overthink my insults. I prefer to focus on a person's intelligence rather than their sexuality when insulting them. I don't find anything insulting about sexuality.

Maybe you understand those things differently to me and that's OK. I'd just prefer it if you didn't get all ranty and make assumptions about my cultural assumptions while doing so.

#297 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:13 PM:

We've been battling the ants for the last month. The natural remedies would probably work better if there were one point of entry, but I'm afraid they might be living in the walls.

#298 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:14 PM:

Paul, are you aware who you are accusing of homophobia? Just asking...

#299 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:15 PM:

Ignore that; I got a delayed error message.

#300 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:20 PM:

I wonder if Pat Robertson believes his latest round of racist crap. Because if he does, he has made a remarkably neat ethical argument for Satanism:

Given: slaves trying desperately to free themselves. Stipulated: two rival supernatural entities.

Now suppose that one of the supernatural entities, of excellent reputation, ignores all the slaves' pleas for justice and assistance. Suppose further that some of the slaves, in desperation, appeal to his rival. The rival says "Yes" and helps them win their freedom.

So far, the rival looks like the good guy.

Robertson claims, further, that the first entity, rather than admitting error and providing the longed-for help, or simply walking away, held a grudge for generations and then murdered tens of thousands of people because their ancestors, in desperation, looked elsewhere for help to win their liberty.

He's claiming that Satan will help us win our freedom, and God is on the side of the slavers, so much so that he will take vengeance for generations on those who rebel.

Deluded racist, or double agent?

#301 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:23 PM:

Vicki: Yep, and that's pretty much what a Luciferian friend of mine would say, too. I think he'd be right.

#302 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:28 PM:

Tim @224 wrt "Roycroft": how the heck did you find that?

Google kept taunting me with the "Roycroft" cite through multiple searches, and I finally decided to try chasing it down. Whee!

Bill @250: Unless I am mistaken, the earliest known use of the "Assyrian tablet" quote remains the one you cited in #22, namely Report of the Commissioner of Industrial and Vocational Education for the Year Ending June 30, 1914. Which seems a long way from missionaries in Constantinople.

Sadly, as John Mark Ockerbloom pointed out @35, that's a misdated cite from Google-- or rather, the date refers to the beginning of a multi-year compendium, in which the specific cite belongs to 1926. Similarly, a supposed 1916 cite from the Texas State Teachers' Association seems to refer instead to the starting date of their "Texas Outlook" journal; if the quote really does belong to "volume 30", that places its publication in 1946. It also has the "4000 BC Egyptian priest" alternate attribution mentioned by Tim @12.

I'm very curious about another cite from a 1930 Pentecostal book that seems to have a strikingly different lead-in to the "Children no longer obey their parents and everyone wants to write a book" core: instead of "Bribery and corruption are common", it has something something "[...] used to be."

#303 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:44 PM:

When I look at Pat Robertson, the somewhat uncharitable thought that comes to me is that seldom have I seen a man more deserving of a swift kick in the nads.

#304 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:02 AM:

#284 ::: Xopher

Men never insult a woman by calling her a ccksckr or a pssy.

Never? That's news to me....

(They do use the C word, interestingly, but that's different.

Is it? Tone of voice is absent without explicit comments about the tone of voice, in printed words. Referring to people as bodyparts, or sexual acts, is not generally complimentary.


Have you heard the word 'pussyboy'? Do you know what it means?) They insult one another by imputing homosexuality, which, yes, they see as inferior, but it's not just about hierarchy. You're one-up in the hierarchy over someone you've just beaten at tennis, but you wouldn't call him a ccksckr in that context, or say FU to him just for that.

#305 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:06 AM:

(...yeah, wrt the "Assyrian" quote again) It looks like a major propagator may've been the 50th-anniversary conference of the American Library Association in 1923-- which still doesn't address the original source, unless someone can find out whatever attribution may've preceded the quote in the "Proceedings"?

#306 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:13 AM:

At my last job, I saw ants swarming around a crack in the floor. I pointed this out to a co-workier passing by and he said, "Aaaaack, they've followed me here!"
Commiserations, Xopher, and I hope something good turns up real quick.
Language--I can cuss the spines off a cactus, but sometimes manage to find creative substitutes. About the best I can come up with now, though, is that the people who backstabbed me out of that job were stucking fupid.
In unrelated but better news, increasing the beam ratio of my first trebuchet has increased its efficiency--same distance but with decreased weight ratio. That is, shortening the end that has the counterweight results in needing less counterweight. I'm so glad to have it back in action again. Further experiments are expected...

#307 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:37 AM:

Summer Storms @ 298: I'm not accusing anyone of homophobia. I'm accusing several someones of accusing someone else of homophobia without any real evidence.

Maybe my wording wasn't as well chosen as it could have been. The assumption that only gay people fuck arses is ignorant to the point of strongly suggesting homophobia. It demonstrably does not reflect reality*. Therefore I do not think it is right to assume anyone referring to arse-fucking in a negative way is a homophobe. Some people just don't like anal sex because it can be uncomfortable, because the risk of injury is higher or because they're squicked by faecal thoughts. Whatever the reason, it has the reputation of being something a lot of people don't want to be on the bottom of. Add that to the dominance thing and you get fucking someone up the arse as worse than just a plain "fuck you" without any need for homophobia.

I'm not saying homophobes don't use the expression, just that using it does not automatically equal homophobia. It is true that men do insult others by suggesting homosexuality but we don't actually know that KJK::Hyperion is a man.


*Google image search for anal sex and see how many hetero couples are depicted in the results - it's a lot. I got 18/20 on the first page of results with only one gay couple (and a portait of Anne Hathaway for the 20th).

#308 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 03:51 AM:

What's going on with this year's NASFIC? Their site's last update was during last year's worldcon, after they'd won the bid. Since then... There's still no way to confirm that one is a member, nor can we make hotel reservations.

#309 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 07:08 AM:

Xopher, Andrew, others - thank you for advice on the ABM conundrum. My apologies for having inadvertently started the FTUTA controversy. I didn't take KJK/Hyperion's comments as aimed specifically at my book, and I think they're really a compliment to the genre - we _like_ being able to lure people in and waste their time ...

Mike@59 - thank you for having fond memories. I think the other books still float around the internet as pdfs, with our at-least-tacit blessing. The consensus on the webs seems to be that you might want to skip number 3, though I obviously disagree. The context I would have added had my hand not been persuasively stayed boils down to a couple of things, viz:-

Lots of people are noting how unfair it is that every choice you make pisses off some god or other, so that they take a long and protracted revenge. Yup - that's how it was.

Some elements in this score a resounding wft? That's because we were writing about Bronze Age Greece from a vantage point of 1980s Britain, with the Thatcher government engaged in rewriting the nation's OS. Some of the byplay has bled in from the times we were living in; we didn't anticipate (though are grateful to find) that people in far-away countries would be reading the books in 2010. We apologise for any bizarre reality distortions that result. ("We" because co-authored, not because Royal.)

And Xopher@job situation - solidarity and courage and this-too-shall-pass from this mostly-lurker, as well.

#310 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 07:21 AM:

Book to be self-published if author gets 100 pledges from people to buy it:
http://cyclingedinburgh.info/2010/01/10/be-part-of-cycling-history-for-25/

(I doubt many Making Light readers want a book on the history of cycle racing 1867–1903, but I thought more would be interested in the publishing model. Similar things have been done before, I know.)

#311 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 08:31 AM:

Julie L writes in #302:

I'm very curious about another cite from a 1930 Pentecostal book that seems to have a strikingly different lead-in to the "Children no longer obey their parents and everyone wants to write a book" core: instead of "Bribery and corruption are common", it has something something "[...] used to be."

Here is more of the passage from The Christ of Every Road: A Study in Pentecost by Eli Stanley Jones, obtained by a little Dead Sea Googling:

Someone has facetiously said that when Adam and Eve were going out of the garden of Eden Adam turned to Eve and said, "My dear, this is an age of transition." The oldest known bit of writing in the world is a piece of papyrus in a Constantinople Museum. On it is written : "Alas, times are not what they used to be. Children no longer obey their parents and everyone wants to write a book.

Bennett Cerf apparently quoted it a few times in his joke books, which probably helped a lot in spreading the quote around.

#312 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:46 PM:

nerdycellist @248 said: That being said, I have often used the phrase "S*ck My D*ck", which I think is funny, as I don't have one. (on my own person) I may rethink that as well.

I've been known to use "[person/situation] can bite my pasty white ass" in similar instances; conveys the same contempt and causes (metaphorically) the contempt-ee to do something generally considered to be fairly humiliating (even by people who LIKE doing it; that's why they like it :-> ).

abi @225 said: Taking KJK::Hyperion's message in its totality (content as well as form), I can make a few reasoned guesses about age, sex, and subculture. I'm only slightly acquainted with anyone from that set, but the dialect they speak is not...mindful, particularly in its profanity.

I've been surprised to see the rise in use among teenagers I have some connection to of the phrase "Die in a fire/hole", which startles me both for being nicely graphic in a useful way, and entirely non-scatological/sexual. Shows some ingenuity on someone's part.

Steve C. @266 said : I forget who came up with the idea, but it was posited that FU should be regarded as a form of dominance, which when fully expressed is "(I) FU", similar to one beast mounting another. We do like our hierarchies.

So do dogs, and mine display quite distinct (and to me, amusing) differences in the way they use mounting on each other. My older, more hyper, crazier dog, Ajax, mounts his foster-brother Boston when he's feeling vulnerable; it appears to reassure him. He also occasionally humps to orgasm, which I've never seen Boston do. However, whenever Ajax isn't in the best wanna-play mood and Boston wants to really get him worked up for a run-and-chase, Boston grabs his hips just to piss him off and make him growl-jump at him.

Very silly, my boys. :-> Our pack is "little and broken, but still good, yes, still good."

In re embarrassingly-old pictures of ourselves, this picture of me from high school has been referred to as my "Lyle Lovett hair period," which is extra funny as at the time I had no idea who he was. My hair has a tendency, between about 2-8" in length, of going into a large-radius stiff sort of puffy afro-like helmet thing; if I put a headband on it it puffs out BEHIND the headband and we have sort of a bad-perm version of Londo Mollari. Very flattering. So this period was an attempt to NOT have totally shorn-short hair, but not have ENOUGH of the longish stuff up front to give it a chance to misbehave.

A previous attempt at the same set of problems involved a mullet ... a section at the nape of my neck left long for braiding/playing with, with the rest being shorn. Um. Yeah. It was the late 80s, that sort of thing seemed like a good idea back then? Luckily, few pictures of it survive.

#313 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 01:08 PM:

#306 ::: Angiportus ...were stucking fupid.

My favorite (though seldom used) epithet is "demifuckwit". For those not competent enough to be full-fledged.

#314 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 01:23 PM:

I just tried to post the following as my Facebook status:

"WTF, Facebook? You've nuked my profile pic, and keep trying to force me to choose one specific pic that I would never use. When I try to go into my Profile pic album (which you spontaneously renamed) you ask for my birthdate (which you already have) and then claim I am younger than 18 (I'm not) . THEN when I try to click the "contact us" link you so unhelpfully provide in that message, IT DOESN'T DO A GODDAMN THING."

I couldn't, but Facebook kept telling me to try in a few minutes. I kept trying, to no avail. I then tried logging out and back in, to be greeted with this: "Your account is temporarily unavailable due to site maintenance. It should be available again within a few hours. We apologise for the inconvenience."

Yet I *am* getting FB updates on TweetDeck. I just don't know how to update FB *from* TD. And of course this has to occur when I was using FB to make some plans...

Is anybody else having FB problems?

#315 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 01:35 PM:

Bill @311: Here is more of the passage from The Christ of Every Road: A Study in Pentecost by Eli Stanley Jones, obtained by a little Dead Sea Googling:

Ah yes, walking keywords up/down through a passage; I like to think of it as Google PCR. I hadn't managed to walk this one backward this time, though-- thanks!

Someone has facetiously said that when Adam and Eve were going out of the garden of Eden Adam turned to Eve and said, "My dear, this is an age of transition." The oldest known bit of writing in the world is a piece of papyrus in a Constantinople Museum. On it is written : "Alas, times are not what they used to be. Children no longer obey their parents and everyone wants to write a book.

Papyrus, eh? Another one for the "Egyptian" side. It certainly looks as if the antiquity of the quote is bogus, but I still wanna know whose fault it is....

#316 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 02:01 PM:

Related to homosexual language being used as an indicator of hierarchy, male/male sexual harassment is on the rise, and it is very clearly being used as intimidation tactics from one straight man to another. I wonder how closely this ties in to most men who molest young boys self-identifying as straight?

#317 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Lee @316: It certainly contributes to the horrific stats on teenage male suicides caused by such harrassment (whether or not the harrassees are actually gay/trans is immaterial; the bullies find accusations of such to be very successful).

#318 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 02:30 PM:

On an entirely separate open-threadish front, Apple has threatened legal action against a website (Gawker) that is suborning folks to reveal secrets about the new Apple Tablet. Slate has an article on it here.

#319 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 02:34 PM:

Bill and Julie: Thanks for the Dead Sea Googling! The book in question has a renewed copyright, so it won't get turned on full view, but it's nice to be able to drag out the sentence.

I find these kinds of quote hunts fun myself; it's nice to play the game with other folks who are interested. (And it's nice to see that we've already pushed back the date a good 25 years from the published reference source that includes it.)

In case my Yale hypothesis has any merit, I've just put out a Twitter notice for folks in that area who like archive huntsm to see if they'd like to join in. We'll see if there are any takers.

#320 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 02:46 PM:

B. Durbin @292: Besides Combat, there's a liquid called Terro that works well on ants. They gobble it up and take it home to kill the colony.

#321 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 03:05 PM:

Another interesting quote variation--

"The times are decadent. There is lawlessness everywhere. Children no longer obey their parents. Every one would write a book. It is manifest that the end of the age is at hand."

-- though Google may've misdated the context again: The Methodist Review, Volume 84 doesn't seem consistent with the date 1924; frex, this bibliography has a cite for "The Methodist Review 107 (March-April 1924)".

#322 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 03:12 PM:

Forget Avatar -- go see the Hubble repair mission in IMAX instead!

#323 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 03:57 PM:

David #309: Lots of people are noting how unfair it is that every choice you make pisses off some god or other, so that they take a long and protracted revenge. Yup - that's how it was.

Sounds like POWDER, the roguelike I've been playing lately. You're not just dealing with monsters, you're also trying to survive the gods, as no matter which one(s) you try to follow (or just keep happy), at least two of the others will be smiting you regularly. (If anyone wants to try it, you really want to check out the Unofficial Wiki for hints....)

#324 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 04:06 PM:

Apropos of... well, nothing, I guess, but this is an open thread, right?

I went to Roger Ebert's website to read a review of a movie, and found this:
A Letter to Rush Limbaugh

I don't get it. I don't know how people can be so small and hateful and mean. Is he (Limbaugh) really not sane?

Ebert's blog has a few good entries about the health care issue, also.

#325 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 04:26 PM:

On the ants— apparently the key ingredient in ALL the colony-killers is boric acid, which doesn't poison them but desiccates them. The different brands just have different suspensions, so they recommend that you buy several different types. You can have up to 8-10 queens per cubic yard. Argentine ants in America are all from the same group, which is why they're so dense— they don't kill each other like the colonies in Argentina. The supercolony we live over is about 600 miles long, and unfortunately it's going to be another few decades before lack of genetic diversity is going to affect it. Ants will not cross diatomaceous earth and will avoid talcum powder after the first exploration. (We've lined the pantry with it. Why not?)

At any rate, we have done all of the things we can do on our own and now we're bringing in the big guns. Blech.

Oh, and on the thread of epithets— I work with high schoolers, and have noticed the distressing prevalence of the word "gay" to mean something disparaging, "that's so gay" being the most common use. Of course, this is at its worst in the schools that make a point of being enlightened and progressive, and it seems that they are totally unconscious to the irony (not that that's surprising when dealing with the general run of teenagers.)

Of course, I'm not in a position to say anything, but it makes me want to smack them upside the head whenever I hear it.

Otherwise, I tend to retain my curses for inanimate objects. (And just about taught the little man a new word yesterday when I found the ants in the microwave— thank goodness he can't do terminal consonants yet.)

#326 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 04:33 PM:

Cheryl, that's exactly what open threads are for!

And no, unfortunately the Limbaughdenburg is cold sane. He's just unspeakably evil and incredibly greedy. When he dies I will dance a happy dance.

#327 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 04:38 PM:

Does anyone understand today's xkcd? I keep looking at it and finding it incomprehensible. What were they trying to do? What are the objects in the middle? In the last panel, what are the round things being pushed along?

I think it's supposed to be a Mythbusters reference, but I can't figure out anything beyond that.

#328 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 04:48 PM:

Xopher @284

I can assure you that I have been called both of those things by men, as well as a variety of other insults related to sexual practices that produce plenty of mutual delight but are, apparently, shameful to have engaged in when considered in retrospect.

#329 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 04:51 PM:

Hmmm, a punditsort from less to more sane. We'd have to circumspectly avoid biasing those with whom we agree as being more sane than others. Appearances can be deceptive as well: who is more sane, Glenn Beck or Perry Logan?

#330 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 04:55 PM:

Xopher -- that refers to a robot designing contest (most famous one at MIT?). The winning robot in the comic sends a telescoping arm with a lighter up to the ceiling, where it activates the sprinkler system. The water shorts out the other robots and their controls, but thanks to the built-in umbrella, the winning robot isn't affected. I think those round things are demolished competitors.

#331 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 04:58 PM:

Ahhh! Thanks. See, if he'd put "Robot Warz" at the top or something, I probably could have figured that all out eventually. I just had no idea what they were all trying to do.

#332 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Xopher @ 331:

It took me a while to figure out what was going on too, and it didn't help that I first looked at it about half an hour after I should have been in bed.

#333 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 05:11 PM:

Xopher @ 327 -- I had to do a bit of digging, first on the xkcd forums and then elsewhere, to figure it out. It's referring to this year's FIRST Robotics Competition.

#334 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 05:20 PM:

Summer Storms @314: If you want to post to Facebook from Tweetdeck, click the Facebook box on top of the window where you type your updates/tweets to turn on the "post from Facebook" feature. You'll want to click on the Twitter box (the one displaying your Twitter username) to turn it off, if you don't want both Facebook and Twitter accounts updated with the same message.

#335 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 05:56 PM:

B. Durbin #325:

Just don't do the obvious and microwave the ants. Not if you want to avoid what we're still calling "that unfortunateness with the crockpot" decades later.

Ants will turn up in the weirdest places, including a Brita pitcher we kept out on the kitchen counter.

We finally dealt with them by going to the local Self-Chem and getting some sort of bait-traps (not Combat) that they recommended for pharaoh ants (the teeny-tiny things that will go for sugar for a while, then switch to fats, and then to water--or maybe in the other direction).

#336 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Xopher @327 -- maybe they were at the World Fantasy Convention this year, where the dealer's room on the second floor got partly flooded from a leak in the pool on the third floor? (read the crawlover, or whatever that little hidden comment is called)

#337 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 07:07 PM:

I've had pretty good luck with Grant's Kills Ants, plus it earworms me with John Fogerty every time.

#338 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 07:20 PM:

Joel @ #333: my daughter was on her high school's FIRST Robotics Competition team last year. Their first time, and they ended up going to the World competition and making a respectable showing there. I really love the "cooperative competition" design of the thing.

#339 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 07:27 PM:

#305 Julie L writes:

(...yeah, wrt the "Assyrian" quote again) It looks like a major propagator may've been the 50th-anniversary conference of the American Library Association in 1923-- which still doesn't address the original source, unless someone can find out whatever attribution may've preceded the quote in the "Proceedings"?

It doesn't enlighten. It's an essay by George S. Godard, State Librarian of Connecticut, entitled "Development of the State Library."

Multiple versions of this piece have been scanned by Google Books. Looks like George revised it at some point to insert, or remove, our quote. A version without the quote is available as full text.

Here's some context around the quotation:


Now, the very thought of the individual possession of my ideal state library, just described, is to most states unthinkable, except possibly to New York under Dr. Dewey. The area of human knowledge is unlimited and getting more so. Books! Books! Books! See how they grow. A dozen or more new ones every hour, twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days in a year. Good books and bad books. Large books and little books. Picture books and scrap books. Standard books and books to stand, and someone, somewhere, desiring to see, not necessarily read, each one sometime. A tablet (Assyrian, 2800 BC), preserved in Constantinople, says:

"Our earth is degenerate in these latter days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.
Think of it! From eternity to eternity is a long time, and each decade must learn and unlearn so much, but apparently print it all. It is no longer possible within any sort of reason for any one library — town, county, state, or national — to think of enveloping everything printed. The expense of purchasing, collating, cataloging, and housing is prohibitive. Therefore, is it not desirable — as has in some instances been done — that each state library select its departments or fields of work which may thus be made approximately complete, leaving the other departments of knowledge which are thus either neglected or deficient to be covered by other librar1es which may in turn be deficient or neglected in some lines covered in this?
#340 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 08:13 PM:

Angiportus@306, many years ago, we were having a cricket infestation in New Jersey that summer, and not only was there constant cricket noise from outside, but there'd be occasional crickets sneaking around the screen doors, into the airlocks, and occasionally into the house, and I'd have to find the things and evict them before I went bonkers or the cats ate them. So one evening I was at work (on the fourth floor of a large glass-box building), and heard crickets - arrgh!

Eventually I tracked them down - they were part of a screen-saver on a Macintosh, which a few employees used. Computers with sound cards were relatively new in those days, and of course they only happened when the miscreant had been out of his office for a while (and IIRC, only after the Mac decided it was evening, though that may have been the wolf-howl that did that.)

#341 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 08:29 PM:

B. Durbin @325 I work with high schoolers, and have noticed the distressing prevalence of the word "gay" to mean something disparaging [...] Of course, I'm not in a position to say anything, but it makes me want to smack them upside the head whenever I hear it.

What do you do, that you're not in a position to say anything? I am conflict-averse, and wary of explicitly and vigorously arguing a position which I know many of my students' parents would find contrary to the morals they are teaching their children, but I do stand on requiring respectful language in my class. I've gone as far as (eyebrows meeting hairline) "Excuse me? Did I just hear you use the word 'gay' as if it were an insult?"

The smoothest I've heard was from a fellow teacher basically playing dumb: "What did you say? I don't understand; what does that mean? Oh. If you mean 'weak,' could you say that, please?" Gets the point across that "gay" and "weak" are unrelated concepts, without sending anyone home telling their parents that Ms. T is indoctrinating them in Satanism.

#342 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 09:07 PM:

I found a specific (and almost certainly bogus) cite for The Quote's archaeological origin! There's a chain of cites starting ~1949 (afaik so far) that rewords it to "Everyone wants to write a book, and children are no longer obedient to their parents", and attributes it to the "Presse Papyrus" (the correct name is "Prisse") "in the municipal museum at Istanbul".

(It's not clear to me whether the Prisse Papyrus has ever been in a museum in Istanbul. I am inclined to doubt that it contains any exact analogue to The Quote.)

#343 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 09:23 PM:

*moderate dancing about* Also, a pushback cite to 1908, from The Cincinnati Lancet-Clinic:

7000 Years Ago: The "good old times" seemed as bad to the "good-old-timers" as the present times seem to the modern man, as shown by the following translation on a tablet in the Imperial Museum at Constantinople, Turkey:

Naram Sin, 5000 BC

We have fallen upon evil times, the world has waxed old and wicked. Politics are very corrupt. Children are no longer respectful to their elders. Each man wants to make himself conspicuous and write a book.

#344 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 09:58 PM:

A pannier question for the cyclists of the Fluorosphere:

I recently bought a bike. It was surprisingly easy to pick up again after *mumble* years of never having ridden one.

For basic grocery and other around-town shopping, would I be better off going with a pair of basic, open-topped, grocery bag panniers, like this, or something a little more general purpose, like this or this? I'm rather enamored of the ones in the last link, but worried they might be overkill.

(And here's a plug for the Open Road Bicycle Shop in Pasadena. Excellent service, good prices.)

#345 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 10:45 PM:

B. Durbin @325: Argentine ants in America are all from the same group, which is why they're so dense— they don't kill each other like the colonies in Argentina. The supercolony we live over is about 600 miles long [..]

If they learn the secret of fire, we shall have to leave Earth (a reference to Simak's City, to explain the 'joke').

I recall reading an article years ago about fire ants forming supercolonies. E.O.Wilson was quoted as saying this was the biggest advance in ant evolution in several million years.

#346 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 10:45 PM:

Invoking open-threadedness. I'm in the throes of a cross-town move. It is going weirdly, when it isn't going batshit crazy. For instance, after two months of hassle, painting, packing, partially moving, respiratory infections, holidays and more hassle, yesterday my landlady called me in tears at 8 am to tell me that not only do they not have the money to replace the dog-pee saturated carpet (blacklights don't lie), they don't have the money to keep up the house payments, so their giving "my" house back to the bank, and their own house is in foreclosure. I'm now talking to their bank. The old house has sold, we have to be out by the end of the month, and the moving crew is still scheduled for this weekend. The dogs will be barracaded out of 2/3 of the house until the carpet is replaced. I actually feel more hopeful now that I'll be dealing with the bank, which presumably has enough money to replace the carpet, and should welcome reliable tenants for a few years, until the market rebounds. (If they don't, they can go back to the kind of tenants who let their 5 dogs use the carpet to relieve themselves rather than letting them out into the back yard.)

On a brighter note, while packing, I unearthed my copy of The Madhous Manor Pleyn Brown Wrapper Songbook, 2nd edition. Anyone else have a copy? Heh heh.

As I was sitting drinking beer,
Doun, hey doun, hey doun, hey doun,
I spied twa perverts sitting near,
Wi' a doun...

#347 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 10:46 PM:

Invoking open-threadedness. I'm in the throes of a cross-town move. It is going weirdly, when it isn't going batshit crazy. For instance, after two months of hassle, painting, packing, partially moving, respiratory infections, holidays and more hassle, yesterday my landlady called me in tears at 8 am to tell me that not only do they not have the money to replace the dog-pee saturated carpet (blacklights don't lie), they don't have the money to keep up the house payments, so their giving "my" house back to the bank, and their own house is in foreclosure. I'm now talking to their bank. The old house has sold, we have to be out by the end of the month, and the moving crew is still scheduled for this weekend. The dogs will be barracaded out of 2/3 of the house until the carpet is replaced. I actually feel more hopeful now that I'll be dealing with the bank, which presumably has enough money to replace the carpet, and should welcome reliable tenants for a few years, until the market rebounds. (If they don't, they can go back to the kind of tenants who let their 5 dogs use the carpet to relieve themselves rather than letting them out into the back yard.)

On a brighter note, while packing, I unearthed my copy of The Madhous Manor Pleyn Brown Wrapper Songbook, 2nd edition. Anyone else have a copy? Heh heh.

As I was sitting drinking beer,
Doun, hey doun, hey doun, hey doun,
I spied twa perverts sitting near,
Wi' a doun...

#348 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 10:47 PM:

Ooops.

#349 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 11:02 PM:

Tracie @ 348 ...
... when you said it was going weirdly, I was thinking "the move", not "posting to making light"... ;D

#350 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 11:06 PM:

xeger @349: I thought so too, but you're right. Everything is going weird. And the weird, having turned pro some time ago, are now coming out of retirement.

#351 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 11:08 PM:

Julie L: Congratulations; great find! This version has different wording, but all the basic elements from the versions from 1922 onward are there. That pushes the quote back 14 years (and the purported origin back another 2200 :-)

I can push it back one more month, with some additional background. The Cincinnati Lancet-Clinic issue you cite is dated August 22, 1908. The quote also appears in the July 25, 1908 issue of The Medical Fortnightly out of St. Louis, where it's in a column of miscellany titled "Byron Robinson's Note Book".

Byron Robinson is described elsewhere in the volume as "Professor of Gynaecology and Diseases of the Abdominal Viscera, Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery." From information elswhere on the Web, it looks like he lived from 1854 to 1910.

So it looks like the quote had a previous life as medical journal filler. (There's another occurrence of the quote, in the same wording, in a 1910 druggist review.)

Regarding the Papyrus Prisse, which you note as a "citation" that shows up in later versions: there's a translation online. On a quick skim, I don't see anything that seems close to the quotation.

So I wonder if we've found the origin, or something close to the origin, in Dr. Robinson's miscellanea. Or if there are earlier versions yet to find. It's an interesting hunt in any case.

#352 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 11:27 PM:

KeithS @344, what I found the most versatile back in college, and have installed on my current bike (and I havn't ridden a bike in mumblety-mumble years either) is folding metal panniers, which can easily be found on Amazon among other places. They are always there if you want them, but neatly fold away when you don't, and you don't need to worry so much about someone stealing them while you're at work or in a shop. You can stick anything from grocery bags to briefcases in 'em. They do add a bit of weight, though, and you want to install them far enough back that your heel won't hit them.

#353 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 11:42 PM:

Open Threadness -- How vomitously disgusted by the bs perky news media's take on the singing that's going on in Port-au-Prince right now.

Sick almost unto death by their fuckin ignorance of what they think they are reporting on.

No wonder no one spends money on newspapers or any other reporting media these days.

#354 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 12:06 AM:

Zelda @ 341: "What do you do, that you're not in a position to say anything?"

Photographer with the contracted company. As a peon, I have to play really nice with the students since a number of them are the type to complain to their parents and get policy changed* just to suit them.

On the weird side, I can physically threaten them ("I will run you down and sit on you") and nobody seems to blink. Okay, it's true that they know I'm not really going to come after them with a baseball bat if they don't stop making faces behind the photographer, but it goes over without protest while social notes go over like a lead balloon.**

*Which is why we had to photograph girls in spaghetti straps in spite of the written school policy that such garb was not allowed for the ID photos.

**I think the best trick I ever pulled was when I was about seven months pregnant with Gareth. We were taking one of those senior photos where everybody forms the year, and this one kid decided to sit outside the number. I told him he couldn't do that and he said he would if he wanted, so I grabbed him by the hand and pulled him to his feet with one arm. He was so intimidated by this pregnant lady slinging him around that he meekly joined the group, never realizing two things: 1) He was one of those lanky teenagers that probably weighed 120 at best and 2) He was so startled by the movement that he put his feet under him and did most of the lift himself.

On that note, I found the best way to get obscene gestures out of the photos is to call out loudly and repeatedly that we have Photoshop and will remove any such gestures, and the hands attached, if necessary. We actually had one senior photo with no gestures whatsoever, a first in decades.

#355 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 12:08 AM:

KeithS @344: I live in a rainy climate, so I've gone with the ballistic nylon waterproof variety. One of your photos showed someone putting a paper grocery bag into a pannier. I've never wanted to do that. I take the panniers into the store with me, and load the groceries into them (after paying, that is).

The downside of the clip-on variety is that you can't leave the on the bike without worrying about theft. I wasn't tempted by the metal kind because of the rain here, but also because then the weight is always on the bike.

A variety that you didn't mention is a sturdy plastic milk crate, either mounted on the rack behind the seat, or in front of the handlebars. I see a lot of those around Portland.

#356 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 12:23 AM:

Keith@344: all the modern bike carrier things look far too small to me. When I was a kid we put an ordinary pair of wire baskets (very heavy wire), each of which was big enough to take a briefcase on end (which the things pictured aren't). They were thoroughly attached, so theft wasn't an issue.

#357 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 01:06 AM:

I have lots of terrible memories of a front-end basket on a bicycle, since it was used daily to carry my 40+ copies of The Washington Star six blocks to my paper route. Tippy, very tippy.

My memory is that side baskets for the rear weren't big enough to hold all those copies, which is why I lived with the front one.

#358 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 02:09 AM:

Janet Croft @ 352, janetl @ 355, David Dyer-Bennet @ 356, and Linkmeister @ 357:

Thank you for your opinions and experiences.

I thought about mentioning the milk crate option, but, in my mind at least, that winds up pushing the center of gravity up a bit higher than I'm comfortable with. It does have the saving grace of being cheap and being able to hold a goodly amount of stuff.

#359 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 02:11 AM:

Nancy C. Mittens is in town to spend a long weekend with her brother so I took her to dinner tonight, after which we went to the local SF club's monthly meeting. She can be seen here, knitting a shawl. Or was she crochetting one? No matter what, believe it or not, the weirdo sitting next to her didn't utter a single pun or joke.

#360 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 02:14 AM:

#343 and #351:

The 1908 versions of the quote cite a particular museum, the Imperial Museum in Constantinople or İmparatorluk Müzesi.

Its successor, the Istanbul (not Constantinople) Archaeology Museum, has an English-language site. Possibly the museum staff could shed light on this century-old citation. It may even be an FAQ for them...

Do we still think Isabel F. Dodd is involved?

In further news, Prof. G. T. W. Patrick, of the State University of Iowa, claims to have seen the inscription himself. ("The New Optimism," Popular Science Monthly, vol. LXXXII, no. 5, for May 1913.)

In the museum at Constantinople the writer saw an inscription upon an old stone. It was by King Naram Sin of Chaldea, 3800 years B.c., and it said,

We have fallen upon evil times
and the world has waxed very old and wicked.
Politics are very corrupt.
Children are no longer respectful to their parents.

This old and ever-recurring complaint does not depend upon any actual deterioration of the times, for the times are constantly growing better. It comes usually from older people whose outlook may be biased by subjective conditions due to decaying powers and by the tendency to regard all changes as changes for the worse, the only really good times being the bright days of our own youth. It is encouraged also by the fact that, since the springs of progress are in the human mind itself, it comes about that the present times are always below the standard set by our ideals and are regarded, therefore, as bad, being compared not really with the past, but with the ideals of our constructive imagination.

Googling on "and the world has waxed very old and wicked" is instructive. Lyndon Johnson used it in a speech in 1965.

#361 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 02:29 AM:

"The sons of the people are not so righteous as their parents were" is a variant that shows up in some books on politics, the kind a presidential speechwriter might have on a shelf.

#362 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 03:48 AM:

That quote is probably from some time traveler jerking us around.

#363 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 04:11 AM:

I live in a very different pannier universe than American cyclists do.

For instance, I not only leave even clip-on panniers on my bike, but I leave my rain suit and seat cover in them. I probably wouldn't if I cycled into central Amsterdam every day, but around my village and into Amsterdam Noord, it's perfectly fine.

Dutch panniers come in two varieties: single ones you clip onto your bike (weakness: the clips are often plastic and therefore break. That plagued my laptop pannier and cost me an old iPod. I rigged a replacement.) or double ones that flap over the back rack (weakness: their corners bend inward and play the spokes like a marimba if the load isn't just right). The doubles are usually fastened to the back rack with straps and little metal sliding buckles that make them impossible to remove quickly.

I used to use clip-ons and carry them into the grocery store, but they tend to be boxy and bulky even when empty (among other things, this means I can't pop a kid on the back rack, because they stick out and up in a most awkward configuration). So now I tend to bring cloth bags in my double panniers. I then bring the grocery cart to the bike, put the cloth bags into the panniers, and load the groceries into them in situ. That way I can balance the load in each one to avoid the marimba effect, and carry the cloth bags into the house when I get there.

#364 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 04:43 AM:

abi @ 363... I can't pop a kid on the back rack

Now, Cardinal - the rack!

#366 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 10:29 AM:

Bemused by assumptions dept.:
If a quote is old enough, it's got to be real.

Half-remembered anecdote, from a "savage" visiting the Smithsonian, and the curators taking advantage of his presence to see if they'd assembled a shrine correctly. He cracked up. "What's the stuffed rat doing in there?"

#367 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 01:34 PM:

Vicki @ 300: Did I mention that your response is brilliant? Don't matter--let me say it again:

That was brilliant.

#368 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Serge @359

Albuquerque, right?

Love, C.

#369 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 04:52 PM:

I have an Open Thread story-finding request, for as we all know, AKICIML! It's a longish short story or shortish novella, 1950s to early 1980s. It involved a team of five people (or possibly four) who'd been mind-linked in some way and sent to deal with a dispute between two nations on a colony planet, one of which was very Earth-centric and the other vehemently rejected anything Earthlike.

Any pointers will be much appreciated.

#370 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 06:08 PM:

Constance @ 368... Yup, Albuquerque. If you include nearby Santa Fé and Los Alamos, the population probably counts more F/SF writers than you can shake a stick at. Not that I'd want to shake a stick at any of them.

#371 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 07:03 PM:

abi @ 363:

Thank you. I hadn't thought about that aspect of the double ones.

For the most part, the bike is stored in a safe location, and when it's locked up because I'm in the store it's in as visible a location as I can make it.

#373 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 08:57 PM:

re: the sidelight with R.A. Salvatore weighing in on Martha Coakley (and thank you for highlighting that, Patrick): If you're wondering where all the fuss from liberals is coming from, Coakley's campaigning in Boston and environs at least has been pretty terrible. See this ad analysis a friend of mine put together (which incidentally talks about lots of good reasons to vote against Scott Brown). I know why politicians do negative campaigning, and I'm fine with it, but in a place like Boston she should be able to combine negative, lowest-common-denominator campaigning with enough actual, factual material so as not to insult the voters' intelligence. It's not like there's any shortage of reasons to vote against Scott Brown -- photoshopping him in next to Bush isn't one of them.

#374 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 09:10 PM:

Speaking of security, here's a set of detailed photos of an ATM-card skimmer found in the wild. I might catch something like this at my bank's ATM, because I use it all the time and know what it looks like. But I damn sure wouldn't catch it at the ATM in a mall! I understand they also make this kind of thing that slips over the card slot on a gas pump.

#375 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 09:38 PM:

KeithS @344, 371 --

Arkel make a number of paniers designed to be detached and carried about with you in the fashion of shoulder bags.

Not cheap but you get what you pay for and then some. Even better design-wise than the MEC cycle bags which have a sort of iterating-ruthless-practicality about them.

#376 ::: Distraxi ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 11:48 PM:

Vicki @ 300.

Double agent. But one who's in trouble with his boss.

#377 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 01:32 AM:

#370 ::: Serge

In my yoot, I was a fledging member of that community. Then I got married and moved to NYC. But the ties remain, and some of them are very strong still.

Love, C.

#378 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 01:51 AM:

Constance @ 377...

I took the risk of approaching the community in mid-2008 and I've never regretted it.
Let me know if ever you come visit.

#379 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 01:53 AM:

Constance @ 377...

I took the risk of approaching the community in mid-2008 and I've never regretted it.
Let me know if ever you come visit.

#380 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 03:26 AM:

Bill Higgins @360: Do we still think Isabel F. Dodd is involved? In further news, Prof. G. T. W. Patrick, of the State University of Iowa, cclaims to have seen the inscription himself. ("The New Optimism," Popular Science Monthly, vol. LXXXII, no. 5, for May 1913.)

Interestingly, GTW (George Thomas White) Patrick may be wrapping the trail back toward Isabel Dodd again-- he's listed here as a donor to the American College for Girls in Istanbul for the period 1892-1893. Page 4 of that report lists Isabel Frances Dodd in the faculty as the Professor of Literature and Art.

And in yet another example of Fluorospheric overlap, GTW Patrick was apparently a pioneer in sleep deprivation studies. There's a partial biography of him here and the University of Iowa has an archive of his papers; it looks like Patrick mentions the tablet again in his autobiography?

#381 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 03:38 AM:

A milestone of sorts in book marketing:
The video-game tie-in re-release of Dante's Inferno

If it actually gets a few (or a few thousand) gamers to read the Inferno and go "Whoa cool!", I'm going to call that a good thing.

(Credit to Penny Arcade & Kotaku for bringing it to my attention.)

#382 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 03:39 AM:

...Whoa. GTW Patrick's sister Mary was the "founding president" of the American School for Girls in Constantinople, where Isabel F. Dodd was a faculty member. Mary Mills Patrick remained the president of the school for 35 years and wrote a history of the school, though its table of contents doesn't immediately suggest any context for mentioning The Quote.

#383 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 04:52 AM:

Animated stereoviews of old Japan. Following the flickr links is pretty fascinating, too.

#384 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 07:31 AM:

I will likely be in Iowa City sometime relatively soon. (Nice place, except in winter.) If there's some relatively simple task to be undertaken in the archives there, let me know and I'll try.

#385 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 09:18 AM:

Debbie @383, the stereoview of geisha looking at stereoviews is satisfyingly meta...

Are there other Fluorospherians in Albuquerque in addition to Serge? I will be there in mid-February for a conference and it looks like I have some free time Saturday afternoon (13th) if anyone would like to get together!

#386 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 09:25 AM:

Janet Croft @ 385... February 13? That sounds good. See you then.

#387 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 10:21 AM:

Serge -- great! I'll pencil you in and be in touch when it's closer to the date. I don't know yet if I'm giving my annual talk to the University of New Mexico Hobbit Society (great group!) Thursday or Saturday night. It's usually Thursday.

#388 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 11:01 AM:

Janet Croft @ 387... See you soon then. The only day that's not fee is Friday, Februart 12. That's when we're implementing a bunch of changes to our computer system. Mine are fairly simple, but I'll have to babysit the stuff put together by the newbies. Bummer too, because that's the evening the local SF club meets. :-(

#389 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 02:58 PM:

#379 ::: Serge

Absolutely!

But so far no one at UNM seems interested in bringing us in to do what we do, etc. But then it is in the desert and we do tend to the culture and hsitory of the U.S. southern Atlantic coast, Africa, the Gulf and the Caribbean. But there is a strong Cuban activist community there.

It would be fun to be back.

Love, C.

#390 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 02:59 PM:

Though, I just now recollect, someone at UNM named a collection of folk recordings and their translations after the Spouse.

Love, C.

#391 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 03:22 PM:

Oh My Gods. Poor Charisma Carpenter. Her career is over.

#392 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 03:40 PM:

Is it just me, or does the Texas political suicide particle make anyone else think of a Tim Powers novel? There's a secret reason all those politicians killed themselves, and it would be interesting to see what it was....

#393 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 03:55 PM:

Xopher@391 -- what, because she's in a sciy-fiy-channyl saturday special? Many reasonable TV actors jump in there for fast gigs between real jobs.

#394 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 04:00 PM:

Tom @392

Once they find the Higgs Boson, the LHC will be put to work finding the Texas political suicide particle.

#395 ::: David Bratman ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 04:00 PM:

Thanks for posting the link to the news of impending publication of the "fourth Titus book" by Mervyn Peake's widow.

Here's some background and commentary on that.

#396 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 04:09 PM:

Andrew, I hope you're right. I like her.

I watched that thing. It was horrible. She managed to say the most awful lines just as if she were really sincere about them.

#397 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 04:20 PM:

Xopher @396: That's why she's an actor.

#398 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Cadbury Moose @ 394... Once they find the Higgs Boson

I know where he is. He's in the middle of this page.
("Serge, it's the Higgs Boson, not Bosun Higgs.")
Oh.
Nevermind.

#399 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 05:14 PM:

Kevin, yes, of course. But it's too bad she had to do something so schlocky. I wonder what immediate cashflow problem that solved.

#400 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 05:48 PM:

Xopher @ 396

That's the mark of a professional actor/actress.

I take it you've never experienced Mike Cule doing the readings at Thog's Masterclass Live?
There are some things Moose were not meant to know, and Mike giving a straight reading
of passages from Fanthorpe (etc.) is definitely one of them.

(I had to leave the room, hold onto a marble column that supported the roof, and
wait until my ribs stopped hurting and the urge to roll on the floor went away.)

#401 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 05:59 PM:

Well, she didn't have to say anything like "lithe, opaque nose," but it was pretty horrible.

#402 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 06:13 PM:

Just a quick note on the Irish blasphemy Sidelight: it's not so much that it got done per se, it's that the powers-that-be decided that this was the most important thing that they could do at this particular point in time.

As the link points out, it was punted back to the legislature in 1999, and has been hanging in mid-air since then. That's 7 or 8 years of "omigod, we have more money than we know what to do with". In 2009 - a year that gave rise to two budgets, more scandals that you could shake a moderately-sized stick at, a highly-localised bank bailout, a property market collapse, soaring unemployment, etc, etc et-bloody-everything-everyone's-lived-through-except-on-a-smaller-scale-c, and blasphemy is what they think is the highest priority to deal with?

I'm local: I'm allowed scoff. "Look, over there, a heffalump!"

#403 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 06:53 PM:

Xopher, #399: Maybe she's of the same mind as Christopher Lee, whose motto is, "An actor who isn't working isn't an actor." And ghod knows Lee has done some damn schlocky stuff in his time.

#404 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 07:01 PM:

Lee @ 403... What was the title of that 1970s movie where he played a priest in a convent that turns out to be the secret lair of aliens planning world domination or world destruction or something of that sort?

#405 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 08:01 PM:

Cheryl at 324: Is Rush Limbaugh sane? That depends what you mean by sane. I make no statement regarding his mental health. I believe he knows what he's saying. Does he believe it? Who knows? It doesn't matter. Other people will believe it because he said it.

Is he rational? Does he have or does he show sound judgment? I say, No. Does that matter? Probably not, since the folks who habitually listen to him don't either.

I need a cookie...

#406 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 08:29 PM:

Thanks to everyone who chipped in with experience and suggestions on panniers. After reading them, and talking to some people offline, I decided to go with a pair of these. Should keep me set for a while.

Serge @ 404:

Christopher Lee's IMDB page is quite impressive.

#407 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 08:50 PM:

KeithS, #406: Ooh, they're doing a sequel to The Wicker Man, and they've got him back! That should be interesting. I just recently bought this shirt, and can't wait for it to be warm enough for me to start wearing it at cons!

#408 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 08:57 PM:

Lizzy @405:

Generalizing from Limbaugh: Treating "sane" as a yes/no question collapses multiple questions (I'm not sure how many) and oversimplifies the answers to at least some of those questions. "Does he know what he's saying?" for example can be "does he understand what the words he's using mean to most people?" and "…to his expected listener(s)?" and "Does he realize people are taking him seriously, rather than thinking he's joking and/or exaggerating for effect?" and probably a few other things. Both of those are different from "Does he believe he's telling the truth?" and "Does he care whether what he's saying is true?"

All of those are somewhat connected, and would be different from, say, "is this an appropriate scale of reaction to this event or statement?" which is something else that people might mean when they ask about someone's sanity. "Appropriate" is itself a judgment, of course: but there are times that I consider myself to be overreacting, in which case it makes sense to stop, take a deep breath, go get some protein, and then reconsider. (And someone else saying I was overreacting would be a different thing.)

All of that, I think, has to take into account that there is no ISO standard human being or set of appropriate reactions (and watch out for people who want you to believe that there is, especially if their standard is like them and not like you).

[I'm going to stop here, because otherwise it would take hour or weeks and want to be a post on my own journal, not a comment in an ML open thread.)

#409 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 09:05 PM:

<voice=Monty Python falsetto> Well, I'm a simple soul: I don't understand all that. All I know is, Rush Limbaugh is a turd in humanoid form and I hope he dies in a fire.</voice>

#410 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 09:20 PM:

Teresa, in your Particles you list a "Giant many-fauceted scarlet emerald".

I am crushed! How could our maven of all things grammatical and stylistic say such a thing? Please, say you were looped on cold medicine or something!

#411 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 09:28 PM:

Brenda @ 410

Teresa was referring to the amazing story "The Eye of Argon", which includes just such a jewel. To read aloud from it, carefully pronouncing all the typos, is an old fannish party game. I, myself, can seldom get past the phrase "her lithe, opaque nose".

#412 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 10:06 PM:

The deluge has arrived and Ardala and I are negotiating her banana ensemble. For the record, a giant golf umbrella, a leash, house-keys and a full poop bag are incompatible with a narrow walkway and stairwell. Maybe we'll try the compact umbrella tomorrow.

Unrelated, but a mere 7 months after being confirmed I find myself on the Vestry, possibly heading up the music committee. Wish me luck!

#413 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 10:11 PM:

Congratulations, nerdycellist! My dad's just finishing up his second term (and is therefore ineligible for the next little bit). It ate his life, but in a good way. You'll do brilliantly, I know! And a musician heading up the music committee? Radical, but it just might work.

#414 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 10:20 PM:

Re the particle about our coming rain in California: I'm a little dubious when the fellow, expert as he is, says he thinks it looks like more activity in the next 2-3 weeks "than any 2-3 week period in recent memory": how recent is recent? Because I'm thinking 1995, it rained and rained and rained -- and 1982 -- it rained and it rained and it rained and it rained.

Well, I guess it's not a drought year after all, anyways.

#415 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 10:30 PM:

414
I remember the spring of 1969, when someone wrote the newspaper at UCSB wanting to know the length of a cubit (they got five different cubits, followed by 'Have fun with your ark'). It rained something like 20 inches in six weeks.
And 1998 and 2005 weren't exactly fun, either. (LA Civic Center got 36 inches in the rainy season of 2004-2005. Second wettest year on record, in a city where the records go back to the 1880s.)

#416 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 10:48 PM:

nerdycellist @ 412... Best of luck!

#417 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 10:55 PM:

P.J. Evans, #414: Houston got 36" of rain in 4 days during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Even for us, that's a lot; now I measure rain by what parts of the freeway system have flooded. We have not had another I-10 Regatta since Allison.

#418 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 11:09 PM:

Lee, the median annual rainfall for LA is 12 inches. The mean is something like 14. There have been times when we got half of that 14 inches in one day. (Really.)
The storm drain system has trouble handling that kind of load, and the LA River ends up wild enough to scare a white-water kayaker (besides flowing at 35mph).

#419 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 11:35 PM:

Lee @ 417 -

I do remember Allison. One of those storms where you look out at the frickin' 12th hour of nonstop rain, and think, oh hell, it's just going to rain for the rest of my damned life, and it keeps on coming down.

#420 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 11:49 PM:

I'm loving the weird jargon in that El Niño warning. "Tremendous dynamic lift", "persistent kink", and "a strong Pineapple-type connection". I'm guessing that last refers to this.

#421 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 12:09 AM:

Went to the store tonight -- stocked up on basics: bread, rice, milk, dog and cat food, toilet paper, and so on. We haven't had a really monster El Nino storm in a while.

#422 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 12:16 AM:

Cally@411:

Thanks for the enlightenment. I've heard of the Eye many times, but I've never managed to listen to it.

#423 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 12:17 AM:

I lived in the Peninsula south of SF in the El Nino winter of 97 / 98. The area got whacked with storm after storm, with lots of flooding in the hills. Emergency broadcast warnings were common. The winds were awesome; if I wanted to air out my hillside apartment I just opened up windows on either side and let the wind blast through. It also whipped around the eucalyptus trees outside my balcony. Lovely to watch. Glad the place was built on bedrock.

One of the odd, delayed side-effects: Lots of rain meant lots of vegetation meant lots of deer and lots of coyotes.

#424 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 12:25 AM:

Stefan, they were renewing the inside of the railroad tunnel under the Santa Susana pass that winter, and between that and the rain, the commuting was interesting. (It's a 7000-foot tunnel, single track, and they had to push the new rails into it. Took nearly three weeks to get all the work done.)

#425 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 01:07 AM:

I suspect that our mild, springlike January (lows in the high 40's, not all that wet) in the PNW is somehow the reaction to the cold in the UK an the rest of the US.

#426 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 01:21 AM:

Avram@420: Right you are.

Lee@417: Having driven a number of those freeways in the last six months, all I can say is -- wow. (And I hope it'll be a long time before I have to deal with things like that!)

#427 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 01:54 AM:

Lee @407 -- I have one in black, and scored serious nerd points when I wore it to the opening of the most recent Star Trek film.

#428 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 02:01 AM:

#373 Kevin

A friend of mine, at Arisia described Brown in terms that "lying sleaze" was less negative than--without using any individual words which the FCC individually objects to.

And his ads are smarmy slime, and he himself, got print time as supposedly good-looking in the buff in Cosmopolitan (he's not what I consider good-looking, I consider his looks with his demeanor, a cross between smirking ex-President and Mitt Romney the lying two-faced hypocritical flatfish that flipped over with time and lives on the bottom....)

And he has the temerity to use attack ads using his daughter(s) with "how day anyone attack My Daddy!" -- not quite as bad as those two blonde twins who spout White Supremacist lyrics who perform as part of their family's family values of white supremacist etc., howsomever....

Talk about surface appearance sleaze and dishonorable tactics, especially with the ads from the Swift Boat types and the stinking Chamber of Commerce lying weasel ads, etc....

Brown's campaign is poisonous, at the same trying to claim high moral ground... and using his literal height, to intimidate directly and indirectly.

#429 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 02:13 AM:

Weird compressed version of The Quote, from a 1913 travelogue that describes "a Chaldean inscription in black granite assigned to 3800 BC" in the "Imperial Museum" of Constantinople: "the world is very evil and even children write books!"

#430 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 02:15 AM:

@eric, 425: it's not cold down the coast in California, not relatively anyway. And it hasn't been wet until now.

There was some concern about another dry year, actually, at least locally, where we get all our water locally (not from the Sierras like some people I could mention).

@Stefan, 423: What we worry about with sustained heavy rainfall is erosion (from the water coming to hard and fast to be taken up by plant roots or to percolate down to the water table) and fire (from all that greenery) followed by more erosion (from the fire burning up all that greenery so it can't hold the dirt).

#431 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 02:59 AM:

An open thread request for pointers:

later this month I'll be traveling to Alpine country (and countries containing said biome).

What are good brands of shoes (or where would one look for shoes) that are 1. warm, 2. good for lots of walking (including big museums) and 3. don't look like hiking boots (are not completely informal). Note: in any truly icy or snow situations, I'll have Yaktrax along, so the shoes themselves don't have to have all-weather tread.

In warmer climes I'd wear black sneakers and be happy, but those aren't at all warm and waterproof. Rainboots and various types of apres-ski boots are warm and weatherproof, but not at all good for all-day walking. Are there brands that specialize in boots with lots of foot support inside?

#432 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 04:39 AM:

I just found what may be one of the shortest 419s in my spam folder ever: "I am [..]. A dying woman who had decided to donate the sum of $10,500,000.00 to you for charity works. Please contact my lawyer through this email: [..]. His name is Mr.[..]. Sincerely, [..]"

That is all. What is the world coming to when even scammers don't take their craft seriously anymore?

(Then again, perhaps the point was simply to frame the email address?)

#433 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 08:05 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 431 ...
I've had good luck with Merrills of varying sorts, including wearing a pair of their mocs through all of a snowy, slushy Ontario winter.

#434 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 09:22 AM:

eric @ 425: You may be on to something; it could be a knock-on effect of the polar displacement reviewed in last week's Arctic Britain sidelight.

#435 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 09:52 AM:

@434/425 (weird weather)

Q: was early 2005 a particularly cold/stormy season in the UK?

I ask because that was my last winter and spring in Oregon (I moved to Maine in May of that year) and I distinctly remember it being one of the winters when all the storm systems tracked south toward the California coast leaving the PNW with what we all called "California Winter" - clear, warm and beautiful. It was uncanny - and inconvenient because I'd pre-packed all my spring clothes ahead of the move, not anticipating it would quit raining before I left.

#436 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 11:17 AM:

My favorite weather blogger (the only one I follow regularly), Jeff Masters who cofounded the "Weather Underground" weather site, notes that there was less drought than usual in the U.S. in 2009. He hasn't checked in on the California predictions here yet; his next post will be tomorrow, from the American Meteorological Society meeting.

On the mild PNW connected to cold in much of the rest of the country, I wonder if that connects to the Arctic Dipole, a pattern of pressure differences between Siberia and Canada that has developed in the last few years, with new wind patterns over the Arctic.

#437 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 12:06 PM:

Brenda, Cally:

You may be interested to know that it is now possible to view, online in the comfort and safety of your own home (if "safety" is an appropriate word to attach to any exposure to this text), a facsimile of the original printing of "The Eye of Argon". Thrill at being able to see the very typos of which legend speaks in hushed voices! Not to mention... the illustrations!

Dave Langford's Eye of Argon page has the link.

#438 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 12:12 PM:

Avram @ 420: That's funny, your link doesn't mention 1986, which is the closest that Sacramento has ever come to a major levee breach.

What happened is there was a Pineapple Express in mid-February, which filled up Folsom Lake. By itself, that would have been fine, but the earthen diversion dam for the Auburn Dam (which has since been shelved due to pressure-induced earthquake scenarios) decided to melt away and put all that water in the system as well.

The American River levees are designed to withstand 115,000 cubic feet per second. In February of 1986, they were sending 130,000 cfs downstream and praying.

Another indication of how bad this was is the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers. A strong flow from the American (the smaller river) can make the Sacramento run backwards above the juncture for a short period of time, usually measured in minutes.

In 1986, it ran backwards for days.

I was in third grade at the time, and I learned a lot of things, such as how "water right-of-way" can mean your drains are clear but still won't empty, and why you should never buy a house with a street drain in front in a semi-arid climate. And why it's important to look at FEMA flood maps before you buy.

Never underestimate the dangers of flooding. Just look up "Big Thompson Canyon flood" sometime.

#439 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 12:21 PM:

Julie: I love what you're digging up on the quote. I'd like to see it shared, especially if you can get back to the actual Case Zero for it. It feels like you've got the makings of a book there, or at least a really interesting magazine article somewhere.

#440 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 12:31 PM:

Cally@411 - Canada's entry into the all-time worst writer stakes is the Cheese Poet.

(Inspired by the comparison to my home town hero McGonagall on one of the linked pages.)

#441 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 01:07 PM:

Cally @ 411 re: "lithe, opaque nose" -- There's yer problem right there; the phrase isn't supposed to have a comma.

#442 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 01:26 PM:

Ho -- somewhere in my file cabinets I have my very own copy of The Eye of Argon. I have, back in the day, participated the Ritual Reading. Very fine silliness. Good times.

Re: rain in California. Yes. It is raining in the Bay Area: steady, comparatively warm rain. It's not windy at the moment. Lots of blocked drains already in my neighborhood. The house smells of wet dog, and the cat, after some time staring balefully out the window, is asleep. Oh, and my umbrella is sporting a hole and a broken rib. Time to go buy either a new umbrella -- I hate umbrellas -- or a slicker with a hood.

#443 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 01:26 PM:

Julie L in #429:

That's two accounts that pin the inscription to the Imperial Museum in Constantinople.

Seems likely that the artifact was on display, dated 3800 B.C., and carrying a translation about degenerate times and disobedient children. G.T.W. Patrick visited the museum, presumably on the occasion he also visited his sister's school, and saw it for himself. The author of the 1913 travel book is familiar with it as well.

Here's an 1899 book review summarizing circa-3800-B.C. inscriptions stored in the Imperial Museum, though it has no mention of "our" inscription. The 3800 date comes from similarities between some of these inscriptions and others written during the reign of Sargon I of Akkad.

I continue to be puzzled about the reference to writing books. Surely nothing like a book had been invented yet, and literacy cannot have been widespread, so what was the translator thinking?

#444 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 01:58 PM:

General question of advice from the ML brain trust: I have a daughter; she's 15. Her life goal - still - is to be an astronaut. She's taking flying lessons, and a friend of ours gave us some pointers in getting commercial rating in pace with birthdays, etc.

Also, she's utterly brilliant, academically.

But her plan at this point is to join the Air Force - they have the best planes. Also college money.

You probably know my politics, and you should also know that I'm best described as a Quaker atheist at this point in my life. I have a natural problem with an organization whose actual stated goal is to kill people by spending lots of money. (But, of course, I have the natural geek's love of an organization whose money is spent on really cool gadgets, so I'm torn.) Also, I read stories about widespread rape in the American military, and naturally this does not fill me with confidence.

On the other hand, she is an incredibly stable, focused person - where I entirely trust that my son will find out about the dangers of college the hard way, I know she won't; trouble will have to seek her out.

Some of the folks here have done military service. How worried should I be? Also, in terms of eventually getting hired to drive spacecraft, would the Air Force be any more advantageous than an aggressive pursuit of commercial flying experience? Especially given that she's female? (I don't know how relevant that is now.)

#445 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 02:44 PM:

Michael Roberts, the path to astronaut used to be military test pilot in the Mercury program, and the Apollo program was still heavily military, I think. Scientists are weighted pretty equally in today's space program, so maybe she should keep flying but get advanced degrees in life sciences (if she leans toward them at all).

#446 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 02:45 PM:

Possible gold mine: a book from 1908 with a fairly detailed (but not nec'ly exhaustive) description of the displays at the Imperial Museum of Antiquities in Constantinople. The pertinent section seems to start ~p132, though I don't see any specific references to The Quote.

#447 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Michael Roberts:

NASA info on astronaut selection

Bottom line, as I read it: military pilot experience seems necessary if she wants to be a pilot candidate; flight experience helpful if she wants to be a mission specialist, but it could be private experience - and for mission specialist, she should pick the science/engineering field she likes best and excel in it.

Best of luck to her.

#448 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 03:54 PM:

How important is NASA going to be, though, I wonder? Note also she's got dual citizenship, so ESA is an option for her.

#449 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 03:57 PM:

Cry for help from the Fluorosphere: Anybody out there have a spare invite to Google Wave they'd care to pass my way, pretty please?

#450 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 04:06 PM:

Oh, and there's that slow drip from the kitchen HVAC vent. Guess I'll move the trash bin.

Infirm neighbor update: She has refused to talk to us since Thurs morning when I stopped by to check on her. She had a visitor today, and shortly thereafter a parade of people tromped up the stairs, unfolded some sort of bed/carrier and took her down. There were no sirens, but I did hear her voice, which did not sound overly distressed. I did not poke my head out the door because she's already cranky with me anyway.

#451 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 04:13 PM:

Paula @428: Oh, I'm completely in agreement with you that Brown is a lying sack of shit. I just wanted to point out that Mr. Salvatore's piece didn't really address the complaints I've heard about Coakley's campaign.

I'll be voting for Coakley tomorrow if I have to shovel my way from home to the VFW to do it. The Republicans should have to run someone even a little more progressive than Generic Neoconservative Clone #592 to win in Massachusetts, and Brown is every bit Clone #592.

#452 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 04:13 PM:

Michael @444,

One of my colleagues is a former astronaut-- I'll ask their take on it next time they're in the office.

An institution which now plays an interesting role in the world of space is International Space University, which has an annual nine-week summer program (which moves each year: last year's was hosted by NASA Ames in California) and masters and MBA programs in France.

#453 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 04:36 PM:

#446--

Julie L., you are doing amazing work on this.

none of the discoveries so far, to my mind, makes it any more plausible that there really is or ever was a tablet (or papyrus) from 2800 b.c. that complained about everyone wanting to write books, or children writing books, or even bookies making books.

but it will be fun to trace the urban-legend to its source. and then maybe it can be added to the snopes data-base, so that outfits like smithsonian will not embarrass themselves in the future?

#454 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 04:48 PM:

On the tablet from 2800BC: it might have used a term that could be translated as 'book' for some purposes. (Especially if you were translating into something like modern English, where 'tablet' and 'scroll' don't mean what they used to.)

#455 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 04:58 PM:

Jacque #449: Cry for help from the Fluorosphere: Anybody out there have a spare invite to Google Wave they'd care to pass my way, pretty please?

Sent. I have 24 invites left now, by the way.

#456 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 05:01 PM:

As long as people are asking for assistance from the ML brain trust:

I'm working on settling the estate of our friend Anne Braude who passed away last year. No will, so her nearest relatives are the legal heirs. I found contact info for an aunt and an uncle on her father's side, and have been working with them (they were agreeable to my being the Personal Representative for the estate).

But I also need to make at least a good-faith effort to find if there are surviving relatives on Anne's mother's side of the family, as well.

I tried sticking a toe into ancestry.com, but my search-fu there (I'm a very slow adapter/learner with new software) only went so far as to lead to the name of Anne's maternal grandfather, rather than to aunts or uncles or cousins that might still be alive.

Any advice here? There are funds available in the estate to pay for a professional search, but what's the best way to go about that without paying too much?

Thanks in advance.

#457 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 05:07 PM:

Sudden thought: we have been looking at the history of The Quote in English literature.

Has it been translated into other languages as well? Does it have enduring popularity in non-English versions? Does its history go back further?

#458 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 05:12 PM:

Michael Roberts #444:
Wanting to be an astronaut when you grow up.

That's like saying you want to be a star athlete. Numberswise, not everybody can. So you need a plan B. Even if you become one, you still need a plan B, because you can only be one while you are young, so you need a next thing to be later on.

And there are hundreds of professional athletes, but perhaps only ten astronauts at a time, to hazard a guess within an order of magnitude or so.

#459 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Bill, and Earl: Thank you thank you thank you!! (Wave wave! Get it?)

#460 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 05:20 PM:

Not-so-sudden thought: As I have written in these environs before, I have a favorite book book about quotation-chasing.

[Robert K. Merton] wrote one of the most peculiar and wonderful books I ever read, On the Shoulders of Giants. It's a highly-digressive romp through space, time, and literature, questing for the source of Newton's aphorism.

OTSOG's page at Google Books.

#461 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 05:32 PM:

Michael @ 444: Also, particularly if help with her college expenses would be useful, check with your Congresscritter's local district office (and those of both your state's U.S. Senators) for information on service academy appointment criteria and application processes. Each Senator and Member of Congress can nominate a very limited number of candidates each year, for each of four academies (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Merchant Marine). Of these, the Air Force and Navy probably offer the best career path opportunities for aerospace careers.

This approach also has the benefits (provided she qualifies) of providing a completely free college education in a technical field, guaranteed employment (at least in principle) thereafter, and, very commonly, the opportunity to acquire employer-paid graduate degrees in exactly the kinds of fields likely to be of interest to astronaut selection boards.

#462 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 05:35 PM:

Bruce, have you asked that aunt and uncle who they know who might be a relative, or know of any others? That's the basic first step; Ancestry only helps once you have some names. (Speaking here as someone who does dig through it - and although the city directories and newspaper images are nice to have, the indexing of them is still crap. And my sister-in-law has at least one interesting ancestor: Russian Jew, writer, patent-medicine manufacturer, and winemaker.)

#463 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 06:00 PM:

California El Nino particle: awkward the article has no date, and source not clearly marked on it.

Should I worry about people I know who have houseboats in Sausalito?

Or am I being someone who heard Chicken Little say the sky is falling?

#464 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 06:39 PM:

There are astronauts who went to MIT and other schools who were in Air Force ROTC....

Even becoming a test pilot is no guarantee, I remember one fellow who was one, he had been a B-52 pilot (a plane which I never heard anyone say was high up on their choice of what they would fly if they had a choice....) and said, "I want to be an SR-71 pilot (they got astronaut wings....). How can I do that?" "Get into test pilot school and become a test pilot." So he got himself through that hoop to jump through, became a test pilot, but wound up continuing to fly "heavy" aircraft, and despite being a test pilot, didn't get to fly the SR-71, and didn't get to be an astronaut, which he also applied for....

There -is- another way to become an astronaut, or rather, a space tourist--the first space tourist was a space scientist who figured out "I am highly unlikely to get into space by being a scientist, there is way too much competition... however if I become a rich rich financier, I can BUY my way onto the space station, given the Russian economy's desperate search for income and revenue!" And so in return for him giving the Russian government $20 million, he got to be a space tourist....

Hmm, another possibility, get a job with one of the commercial companies that is going into the space tourism for profit business, or into the X Prize in space competitions....

#465 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 07:57 PM:

Michael Roberts #444:

I forwarded the question to a friend who has worked for NASA and been through many of the pre-astronaut hoops. His answer echoed some of the previous comments:

The hardest question about becoming an astronaut, is trying to figure out where NASA is going to be in 15-20 years, which is what would matter to her.

NASA started out only taking only test pilots, so you had to be military at some point (Neil Armstrong was actually a civilian when he was accepted, but had been a military test pilot).
But now NASA accepts two kinds of astronauts, Pilot astronauts and Mission Specialist astronauts. The pilots are trained to fly the space shuttle and are all military test pilots. The MSs are scientists and engineers.

Personally I wasn't willing to agree to kill anyone I was told, so I never was going to join the military.

But, that is currently the only way to pilot or command a space shuttle. However note that the Space Shuttle is unlikely to be flying beyond another year or two, so the question is who is going to fly the next vehicle. But given the politics in the astronaut office it is very likely that the commanders and pilots will be military pilots. For a while MIT produced the 2nd largest number of alum astronauts after the Air Force Academy. In some cases there is also a lot of overlap (ie Buzz Aldrin was a military pilot, got his PhD in the MIT aero/astro dept and then became an astronaut).

On the other hand, I think that it is probably more likely a way to get into the astronaut program as a civilian with a relevant PhD. Then, on top of that, having a bunch of flying experience is then very helpful. I think that being a flight instructor was probably a big benefit to me in terms of how far I got.

So, my advice, to someone who really wants to become an astronaut would be to be very good at what you do, and to do something that you like so you can stick with it to the point of getting a PhD. Then, also, do a bunch of flying. Get a number of ratings so that you can standout that way. Many of the MS astronauts do fly some, before being accepted, but not that many have flown a lot.


#466 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 07:59 PM:

To Michael Roberts @444, in re Air Force careers ...

Something else to keep an eye on is that, in the last 10-20 years, extremely evangelical, unseparate-church-and-state 'Christians' have taken over the Air Force academy and quite a few of the high-brass jobs further up the chain of command from there. When The Passion of the Christ came out, there was a flyer advertising it affixed beside each place-setting in the mess hall FOR WEEKS.

Your daughter may be aggressively evangelized at by classmates, superiors, teachers, and she may not be able to effectively get the power tructure of the school to stand up for her. If she's thick-skinned enough to not mind, fine, but it's still something to keep in mind.

One documentary that touches on this issue (and is very well-made) is Constantine's Sword, but there's a lot more info out there about this. It blew up in the early 2000s with a Jewish alum and father-of-students suing them, but so far as I know no serious changes to policy have been made, and Saddleback is still sending shuttle busses to the Academy three times a week to take cadets to services.

#467 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 08:29 PM:

Elliott Mason @ #466, Tolerance is improving at the AFA, at least a little. When Mikey Weinstein agrees, you know there's been some effort toward climate improvement there.

One of the Academy's most vocal critics is Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), but even Weinstein seems impressed. "This is the first time we feel positive about things there," he said. Weinstein gives Gould props for the change in atmosphere.
That blog post is dated December 17, 2009.

#468 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 09:08 PM:

Erik @ 455 - yes, of course. Her academic favorite is chemistry; she's doing AP Chem right now in 10th grade (also AP Calculus). And she's 15, so nothing is set in stone. I just specifically want to know whether I should be trying harder to dissuade her now, at an early stage, from joining the Air Force - or perhaps preparing her now, at an early stage, to defend herself if that's truly the best way to reach her goal.

And to be honest, 15 to 20 years out, you have to think that the game will have changed. NASA won't be the bottleneck, surely. (Sigh. And I'll have a flying car, too.)

Elliot @ 466 - that had already occurred to me. We live in Indiana at the moment (I'm from here) and she's already boggling at some of what she hears from schoolmates. But that sort of stuff has always been entertainment for her, not something that gets on her nerves. So that doesn't worry me, as long as there's no systematic harassment. From what I read, there may be some problems with isolated people in the system, but the system as a whole is a pretty well-tuned machine.

Leroy @461 - thanks! I'll certainly keep that in mind if she does stick with this plan. It's going to be another two and a half years before she even goes to college, let alone make a firm decision on ROTC or a service academy. Personally I'd much rather see her doing her undergrad at Purdue, followed by graduate work at MIT.

Thus David @465 - thanks particularly for that. I'm going to start talking more specifically about mission specialist training, and I'm going to make sure she stays on track for commercial pilot's ratings by the time she's 18. I figure commercial flying will be an excellent college job anyway - more lucrative than waiting tables, I should hope.

#469 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 09:12 PM:

Re: California's El Nino event.

I took this video out my garage this afternoon. (Garage being located in Oceanside, CA, near the El Camino Real/78 interchange).

We've had worse storms here. One some years back caused a flood down the street bad enough that the water was several inches deep in the middle of the road, and the car that was parked where that minivan (in the video) is was fanning water 4 meters into the air.

That said, current forecasts suggest this storm is only just getting started. Floods like this will get worse the more saturated the ground becomes.

#470 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 09:29 PM:

469
The next block down on my street gets like that after a half-inch of rain (inadequate storm drain system). Six inches deep at the curb and six feet wide is not good for travel. (There are places in the other direction that are worse.)

#471 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 09:43 PM:

Michael Roberts, #444, buy her a shuttle!

#472 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 09:59 PM:

Whoa, Marilee, that would go so well with my house!

#473 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 10:26 PM:

Michael Roberts: I tend to be very much in favor of the Air Force as my dad was in it for pretty much his entire career (active duty until around the time I was born and then Reserves + "civilian contractor" for the rest, but he still got saluted.) His job was "Program Management Consultant," something I didn't understand for a long time, but he basically made sure that planes got fixed by pulling all the disparate groups together.

He also went to the Pentagon once a year, which I finally found out was to explain finances. He was the guy for two reasons: 1) He could make the explanation clear to people with a lot of different backgrounds and 2) He wasn't afraid to tell his superiors when they were being stupid.

On that second point, it can be a very valuable trait in the military in certain sectors, especially those that have to do with hard numbers such as engineering and finance. You have to choose your battles (the military has idiot managers just as many businesses do), but you pick the right person and it's a good thing.

As far as the military anti-female culture goes, the more technical branches often have less of a problem, especially the more technical you get. Doesn't mean you can't get a bad sector, but geeks are geeks the world over.

At any rate, if she wants to be an astronaut, in 10-15 years the answer might not be NASA. Piloting experience is likely to be important again as private space development matures. Though it's always possible her goals might change— my brother wanted to be an astronaut, then he ended up with a family and being an astronaut didn't seem as important. So he's just a rocket scientist. :D

#474 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 10:38 PM:

She wants to fly, in space. But yes, she's 15. Goals change. On the other hand, she's always been a strange child. Very self-assured and, in a quiet way, implacable. It's going to be interesting seeing what she'll do now that she's becoming an adult.

I'm really and truly just trying to gauge the appropriate amount of worry on my part, and this discussion has helped immensely. At this point, no matter what her ultimate path will be, her main focus will be keeping her grades good (it's hard to improve on her current 108% in AP Chemistry, but she says she'll try) and continuing to fly.

I'm trying to be a responsible parent, you see, by imagining futures further in advance than our usual three-week horizon.

#475 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 11:44 PM:

PJ Evans #462:
"Bruce, have you asked that aunt and uncle who they know who might be a relative, or know of any others? That's the basic first step; Ancestry only helps once you have some names."

Asked the aunt and uncle, no information from that side of the family. So all the information I have to go on is Anne's mother's maiden name, and date and place of birth.

#476 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 11:54 PM:

Paul A. @437

Thank you! I've now had a chance to feast my eyes on the fabled illustrations! (Actually, they aren't nearly as bad as I'd imagined. Funny, that.)

#477 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 11:56 PM:

Joel @441

That's what I get for quoting from memory!

#479 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 12:39 AM:

Julie L. @ #429:
Weird compressed version of The Quote, from a 1913 travelogue that describes "a Chaldean inscription in black granite assigned to 3800 BC" in the "Imperial Museum" of Constantinople: "the world is very evil and even children write books!"

This might be your most interesting discovery yet, because the odd transformation suggests to me what you'd get if the traveler - clergyman wandering the Middle East and writing up columns for a magazine from memory and his casual notes - had paused in the museum, jotted down something like "world v. evil, children dis, all write books", confident that he would remember the whole thing, and then tried to reconstruct it from those notes a month later.

It suggests to me there really might have been an Ur-Quote at the museum. We now have two apparent references to forms of the quote appearing there, and other independent references to it containing plaques and tablets dated specifically 3800 BC.

#480 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 12:43 AM:

*timid meep of embarrassment at being praised*

...the 1913 travelogue's description of The Quote as "an inscription in black granite" (@429), cross-referenced against the 1908 museum walkthrough (@446), strongly suggests a connection with this stone carving of Naram-Sin-- the material is variously described in places as "black granite", "basalt", or "diorite"; the artifact is variously described as a "bas-relief" and/or "stele" (the Naram-Sin stele in the Louvre is a completely different object). The only other Naram-Sin-related artifacts mentioned in the museum walkthrough are "moulds for [mass-producing clay] tablets".

The linked Hilprecht reference mentions on p88 that when the Constantinople stele was first discovered in 1892, an initial report was published in the French journal Recueil de Travaux Relatifs a la Philologie et a l'Archeologie Egyptiennes at Assyriennes, Vol XV pp 62ff, in which "various characters were not recognized at all, or were incorrectly read". Hilprecht follows up by saying that he had now published his own evaluations of the relief/inscription in The Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania (Vol I, Part 2). Annoyingly, neither translation is actually reproduced in this particular article.

Hilprecht was eventually embroiled in a surprisingly public brouhaha about possible ethical shortfalls in his archeological work and resigned from the University of Pennsylvania, so it's possible that his translation (whatever it is) can't be trusted either. There seems to be an entire book about the development of Assyriological studies in the US to provide social context-- no obvious invocation of The Quote in there, though.

#481 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 12:57 AM:

Julie @480

When I put "The Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania" into Worldcat.org, I come up with a number of hits. The first one looks very promising. Unfortunately, none of the libraries listed as holding it in my area are particularly easy for me to get to (and I know from experience that a couple of them need special ID). Perhaps an intrepid Flourospherian can track down a copy at some university library near them?

#482 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 02:10 AM:

Julie, look at the preceding page of the book you just cited for an interesting possibility as to where the "everyone wants to write a book" meme might have come from. Quoting a Sumerian inscription found on one tablet by a Turkish expedition to Abu-Habba or Sippara:

That is, "Whosoever has distinguished himself at the place of tablet-writing [that is, at the school or university of the Bablylonians] shall [literally "may"] shine as the light.

Perhaps "write a book" = mistranslation of "write tablets", meaning to become a scribe/scholar?

#483 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 02:33 AM:

Another fruitful avenue to pursue might be contacting the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago: John P. Peters at the University of Chicago was the original head of the 1887-1888 American expedition which Hilprecht joined and was writing about in the earlier part of the article linked above. The Oriental Institute still has a massive collection of artifacts from that expedition and others; they might well have some information on The Quote.

#484 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 03:03 AM:

Marilee @471 (on the availability of retired space shuttles for purchase)

Thread crossing. Is this the 21st century equivalent of a retired caboose? At millions of dollars per, I don't suppose anyone is buying a few to turn into a hotel. Perhaps they're only comfortable in zero-G.

#485 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 03:33 AM:

Julie: Here's your Scheil translation of the Naram-Sin tablet, in raw OCR text:
http://www.archive.org/stream/recueildetravau05maspgoog/recueildetravau05maspgoog_djvu.txt
Search for "Naram-Sin" until you find the start of the translation.

My French is pretty crummy, but it appears to me that it says this tablet falls into the common format of "I, Naram-Sin, powerful king, beloved of Goddess X, favored of Goddess Y, have constructed a temple. Whoever breaks this tablet or destroys this statue..." That suggests that either this tablet isn't the one actually associated with the Ur-Quote, or if it is the one, that the quote may be something that somebody just made up and stuck in front of it.

While I'm at it, a National Geographic article by Isabel Dodd on Hittite ruins. She's a vivid writer; I wonder if she was a prankster.

#486 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:28 AM:

OtterB writes in #484:

Thread crossing. Is this the 21st century equivalent of a retired caboose? At millions of dollars per, I don't suppose anyone is buying a few to turn into a hotel. Perhaps they're only comfortable in zero-G.

There's precedent. A structural-test prototype of the Soviet Buran shuttle (remember the Soviet Buran shuttle? it only flew once, unoccupied at that) wound up at Gorky amusement park. It has suffered badly from weather, but in the past year it's been under restoration.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin Dells, a spare Mir space station module was purchased for Tommy Bartlett's Robot World, a world-of-tomorrow tourist trap appendage to Tommy Bartlett's Water Show (Ride the Ducks!).

I was once given a fascinating postmodern analysis of Tommy Bartlett's Robot World, a popular-culture master's thesis, which tried to make sense of the jumbled juxtaposition of scientific and entertainment exhibits having the form, but not the spirit, of a science museum. I don't think it's online.

#487 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 09:07 AM:

Paula #464:

Something about that story (the scientist who went into finance to make enough money to get to space) represents one of the things wrong with our society, somehow....

#488 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 09:19 AM:

Cally @ 481, I haven't gotten involved in this discussion yet but my library has two volumes of that report. I'll pull them off the shelf and give them a skim when I get a chance.

#489 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 09:21 AM:

albatross @ 487 - now that you mention it...

#490 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 09:24 AM:

#486 Bill
Just think what could have been if the US Government had -sold- the surplused Saturn V rockets to Disney etc....More money in the federal government, space movies, and ???

#466 Elliott
The Evangelists and the Republican faith-partisan Initiative are highly correlated. The White House 2001-2008 had an open door for the likes of Dobbs to be an "advisor" on all sorts of things, including, I expect/suspect, influence on Executive Branch picks for promotion and assignments for various positions in the military... there were those religious partisan events in the Pentagon that were invasive of non-consenting personnel, for anther example.

With a change of administration, the top of the Executive Branch no longer is championing and partnering with aggressive sectarian proselytizing persons and organizations and causes. That is, the likes of James Dobbs don't have the influence and control they had in 2001-2008 anymore. The results include a drop in the abuses he and his buddies promote and have perpetrate inside the US Government, including the militry.

The appartchiks and judge appointe 2001-2008 and a large (majority?) appointed under the Republican majority Congress before 2001, however, I regard until proven otherwise as suspect and corrupt in terms of having neocon/proselytizer/misogynistic goals as their values and have the attitude "the Constitution is just a piece of paper" (quote attributed to the person who infested the White Houe 2001-2008), and dismiss it and the Bill of Rights, particularly the ban on state religion....

#491 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 09:33 AM:

Open-threadiness: I wonder how many news stories have been released or allowed to come out in the last few days, specifically to hide in the shadow of the Haitian earthquake.

I don't see how the timing could be related to the Haitian earthquake, but this story on the alleged suicides of three US prisoners at Guantánamo should be getting more play than it is getting. (But maybe nobody cares that much--that story has always smelled wrong, and I guess it's not that politically damaging to be guilty of torturing and murdering prisoners and committing other war crimes. Not like getting a blowjob from an intern, or being gay, or something serious.)

Maybe this story fits the pattern better. But again, does anyone really care? I mean, spying on Americans without any warrant or oversight is kinda bad, like speeding or jaywalking. But it's not really important, like talking about Obama's "negro dialect" or something. Let's keep this in persective, after all.

I think the Iranian scientist was blown up before the earthquake--I can't imagine how you'd have coordinated such a bombing on the same day as a big news-eating disaster, anyway.

Is there some example of bad news being dumped right after this disaster?

More generally, has anyone studied the correlation between politically embarrassing news stories and other big news stories? (I've never been clear on whether releasing your embarrassing news right after some big disaster would work out--won't more people be watching CNN to see about the earthquake that leveled Port-au-Prince and also see your scandal story?)

#492 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 09:56 AM:

Wow, Julie L's been doing some great Quote-research over the long weekend!

Based on the various sources that have emerged, I suspect that the Quote does trace back to the museum in Constantinople somehow, though I'm dubious there is actually an ancient inscription that's as described, especially given the reported variations in origin and date.

GTW Patrick may have reported seeing "the inscription" in 1913, but it's not clear to me that he could read it himself, as opposed to having it "translated" for him by someone or something else. Isabel Dodd was around by then (actually, was around back to before 1908, which if I'm reading the thread correctly still remains the earliest confirmed sighting of The Quote, in somewhat different form). So perhaps it's possible she was involved somehow.

I've been on more than one campus tour where the tour guide told stories about the campus (sometimes even pointing things out) that turned out to be tall tales. I wonder if something similar was going on at the Constantinople museum.


#493 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 10:26 AM:

Michael Roberts (#468)

Well, if you can find a willing auto-body shop, you could make your own flying car -- NASA will let you have a retired shuttle engine for just the cost of shipping and handling.

(Now *that's* what NASA should have done -- have the infomercial industry handle the disposal sale of th retired shuttles and artifacts...)

#494 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 10:45 AM:

Michael Roberts, I hope your daughter and mine end up on a spaceship together. (Mine's 17 and wants to be a mission specialist on Mars--aiming for a dual major in geology and microbiology.)

#495 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 10:45 AM:

Har, yes, perhaps I should have specified a "flying and stopping car".

Just to hijack this already-sufficiently-hijacked open thread, I note that the NYT is telling us today of Citigroup's very large loss in 2009. And I further note that part of that loss was 10 billion dollars "due to accounting associated with returning the bailout money". So, like, a penalty for early withdrawal or something.

So what I'm putting together there is that the management of Citigroup gladly incurred a 10 billion dollar loss for their company, just so they could get their bonuses that the government wanted to curtail.

Is that overly cynical?

albatross @ 491, speaking of cynical, I think you're on to something.

#496 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:02 AM:

Michael @ 495: I'm still very uneasy about Citigroup. Their credit card division still seems to be in turmoil; not only did they have a default rate of over 10% last I checked, but they also got some attention a few months ago for imposing annoying terms on most of their *reliable* customers, including jacking rates sky-high for folks who'd always paid on time (and in many cases always in full), and in some cases adding new fees.

Given that my reaction, and that of many others, was to move most of my business to other banks' cards, and that they must have anticipated that, I can't help but think that they're using desperation tactics for causes that aren't entirely visible at this point.

#497 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:29 AM:

Michael Roberts -- another plug here for the Air Force (I'm an AF brat) but also the Navy has some pretty decent pilots too.

If I'd had better eyesight, I'd have signed up -- astronaut was the goal, but I'd have settled for a seat in a Thunderbird. (I still think of them as mine.)

Suggestion: Get your daughter into a good martial arts school, she'll get both self-defense and the discipline of staying in shape. If she goes to one of the service academies it will help in many ways.

#498 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:36 AM:

Open threadiness: Teach For America is looking for a NYC-based Front-end developer / web designer

#499 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:46 AM:

John Mark @496
Our rate was recently jacked up to extortionate on a Citicard in my husband's name because of a single late payment. We paid off the remaining balance on that card and it's been relegated to backup status.

But the same thing happened with Citi on a card in my name more than 5 years ago, so it's a long-term policy, not something resulting from the current crisis. When we transferred that balance to another card, they sent me a form letter saying they hoped the recent large payment didn't mean we were unhappy with them. People unclear on the concept.

Sigh. My MIL, in her last years of managing her own finances, had a remarkably good banker with Citi. I hope he's gone elsewhere.

#500 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:47 AM:

albatross, #487: Not that different from "The Man Who Sold the Moon" except that he made his own money to do it.

John, #496: Yes. I'm profoundly glad that I finally got my 401k-rollover money OUT of Citi and into my own bank... and Citi really didn't want to let go of it. While I'm in sympathy with the "Move Your Money" movement, I basically did that 10 years ago; my accounts are all with a regional bank whose ratings are very sound indeed, and that had been the only exception, which has now been rectified.

#501 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 12:32 PM:

Lee:

True! The frustrating thing is, in Heinlein's imagined futures, it's easy to see the stuff that's wrong and scary and weird about his societies. In our own society, it's often much harder, and you have these weird interactions where otherwise-decent people can't really grasp that, say, torturing alleged terrorists is evil, or that no-knock raids on alleged small-time drug dealers are nuts, or whatever.

#502 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 12:49 PM:

Does anyone know anything about Sutton Hart Press? We've had a fringey medical issue pop up on the Wikipedia fringe theory noticeboard and I see this publisher pop up in connection with it. I personally don't see signs that it is a vanity publisher, but it does give off some vibes of being a woo-woo promulgator.

#503 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 01:04 PM:

re 495: Maybe a flying and controlled landing car? Stopping is easy.

#504 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 01:20 PM:

Albatross at 501, every once in a while, some little detail will pop up and I'll think, "If I were writing that, it would be a bad sign." Most recently, this weekend I realized that the commentary people for NFL games all wear the same flag pin. If I were reading a story that included that detail, I'd have a pretty good idea what it meant. Less so in my own life.

#505 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Clifton @485 & 482: [Isabel F. Dodd]'s a vivid writer; I wonder if she was a prankster.

Perhaps "write a book" = mistranslation of "write tablets", meaning to become a scribe/scholar?

I've been speculating about similar mistranslations-- the original inscription might've been something like "in these times, many children turn away from their fathers' (professional) examples and apprentice themselves as scribes (instead of perpetuating the family farm/trade)"? (For that matter, irc one of the ancient Egyptian documents encountered earlier in this search had a passage along the lines of "if you wish to become famous, then do good works so that the scribes may write of them and record your name for posterity".) Or there might be some connection to oracular tablets and oracle priests?

Naram-Sin seems to have a curse legend attached to him, but so far I haven't found any text from it along the lines of "Naram-Sin's reign became corrupt because he failed in his piety toward the gods, disregarding many oracular tablets from the priests."

I'm inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the original translator(s) as having made mistakes in good faith, according to what was known at the time-- many of those early references, frex, refer to Naram-Sin as the son of Sargon rather than his grandson, as seems to be the more recent consensus. There may've even been multiple layers of mistranslation from Assyrian to some intermediate language(s) to English.

Clifton @483: Another fruitful avenue to pursue might be contacting the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago: John P. Peters at the University of Chicago was the original head of the 1887-1888 American expedition which Hilprecht joined and was writing about in the earlier part of the article linked above.

That's definitely a connection of interest, considering that Byron Robinson (the contributor of the (so far?) earliest example of The Quote) also lived in Chicago.

Or if we fall back to the Constantinople museum walkthrough, then even if The Quote isn't related to Naram-Sin himself, it's probably based (however loosely) on some other artifact in the same area?

(Also, surely a source inscription would be the Akkad-Quote rather than the Ur-Quote? Haha.)

#506 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 01:46 PM:

Diatryma@504, if I were writing it, it would definitely be time to leave the planet.

C. Wingate@503, I'm pretty sure that's one of those turtles-all-the-way-down questions. Flying, controlled, landing car with doors to get in it.

#507 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 02:15 PM:

i'll be damned. kate mcgarrigle has died.

but she's just a baby, her and that sister of hers. they can't possibly be old enough to do stupid things like dying off.

sad.

#508 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Spenser is no longer for hire. Robert B. Parker died.

http://www.sarahweinman.com/confessions/2010/01/robert-b-parker-is-dead.html

#509 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Quick refsplat: Cuneiform inscriptions: Chaldean, Babylonian and Assyrian collections, 1908. No immediate signs of The Quote in there, but it may provide negative confirmations of unrelated inscriptions.

#510 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 03:08 PM:

Mike@402: In 2009 - a year that gave rise to two budgets, more scandals that you could shake a moderately-sized stick at, a highly-localised bank bailout, a property market collapse, soaring unemployment, etc, etc et-bloody-everything-everyone's-lived-through-except-on-a-smaller-scale-c, and blasphemy is what they think is the highest priority to deal with?

Possibly it's prompted by the same imp of the perverse that compels SFWA, in years when the issues facing working writers are large, complex, and productive of more controversy than enlightenment, to set about fiddling with the Nebula rules again. If your big important problems are firmly rooted in things that are well-nigh unchangeable, there's a certain consolation in messing around with something small and stupid that you can change.

#511 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 03:34 PM:

Patrick's pointer to Jo Walton's piece is really annoying, in a cool kinda way.

Cool, because I was just this morning pondering these very ideas and processes in preparation to critiquing a friend's story.

Annoying, because there is no way in this lifetime or the next that I could have articulated it as clearly as Jo does.

#512 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 03:54 PM:

Debra #510:

I was wondering if this might reflect the folks in power going to greater-than-usual lengths to build coalitions, perhaps in order to address especially hard problems.

#513 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 04:29 PM:

Robert B. Parker (the "Spenser" mysteries, and a lot more) is dead. He died at his desk. He was 77.

#514 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Michael Roberts: I have no experience at all of what it takes to be an astronaut. Looking at the biographies of those already around, it looks like "be damn good at every damn thing" is a prerequisite; forex, the bio of Julie Payette, former Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency, is kind of impressive:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/payette.html

#515 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 05:03 PM:

The Pat Robertson Voodoo Doll has been removed from eBay already -- the power of the blogosphere! Unintentional, in this case, I expect.

#516 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 05:41 PM:

Michael @ 474: Especially if schools in your area participate in a "science fair" or similar type of program, your daughter might be intersted in the Intel Science Talent Search program (formerly the Westinghouse Science Talent Search). With awards ranging up to a USD 100,000 four-year college scholarship for the yearly national grand prize winner, there are incentives for a bright and motivated high school student, on several levels.

Also, regardless of other outcomes, a well-executed project on a well-chosen topic could serve as a very useful "special individual achievement" to cite in college application documents, helping your daughter distinguish herself from the rest of the herd.

#517 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 06:39 PM:

Tom Whitmore (514): It was there when I looked a few minutes ago.

#518 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 06:40 PM:

Jacque @511 said: Patrick's pointer to Jo Walton's piece is really annoying, in a cool kinda way. Cool, because I was just this morning pondering these very ideas and processes in preparation to critiquing a friend's story. Annoying, because there is no way in this lifetime or the next that I could have articulated it as clearly as Jo does.

I found it cool and annoying for a different reason -- I've been looking for months for a way to get Tor's website to give me JUST columns WRITTEN by a given contributor (i.e. not their most recent five comments, which is what the profile page shows), and thought it impossible. However, down at the bottom of the post, he does it. And I can't figure out how to do it again for the one or two Tor columnists I like to read.

Now if only I could subscribe to *individual columnists* as RSS feeds (i.e. not 'the whole Tor front page,' which includes rather a lot more than I want to keep track of), I would be in a place of bliss. It amazes me how many multiple-columnist websites only offer one RSS feed for the entirety of all their content, all eighty-posts-a-week or whatever. I wonder if it's hard to do it the other way, or merely thoughtless of the website coders?

#519 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 06:54 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @431:

My favorite option for comfortable all-day walking footwear has got to be Doc Martens with extra arch support insoles. I buy my Docs on eBay, both to save money and to get ones made in the UK rather than in China, as I know multiple instances of the Chinese-made ones not being durable. My favorite insoles come from The Walking Company.

Doc Marten boots look something like dress shoes if you wear them with trousers outside the boots. I like them with skirts as well, but this may not suit your fashion requirements. They're not especially warm, although they're warmer than sneakers, but warm socks can take care of that.

#520 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 07:17 PM:

Mary Eileen @516, the article is there but the link to the eBay auction goes to "this item has been removed" rather than to an auction. Did you actually check eBay, and if so can you add a working link? Thanks!

#521 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 07:27 PM:

I called the Scott Brown campaign office and told them I objected to Mr Brown, regarded him as a hypocrite, and was very much against him....

Not exactly hate mail, however.... I do not want him as Senator. I object to him. I do no support him, I object to his causes, I object to his methods, I object to his valued, I object to his actions... he thinks waterboarding is reasonable. Again, I want his commission as a Guard officer stripped, because he thinks cruel and unusual punishment/torture is reasonable to apply to prisoners, that the Constitution's values should apply only to US citizens and that the values it has are inapplicable to the rest of humanity..... I regard -him- as cruel, abusive, and unfit for any position as an official of the US Government--and an oathbreaker for his views about waterboarding and the non-applicability of the Constitution. I didn't say -all- that on the phonecall....

What I don't understand is all the people who refuse to notice and act on his hypocrisy and his spite of the values on which the USA is supposed to be based. -- and as for the "news media" I don't have anything polite to say about their promotion of him. I would love to see their broadcast licenses stripped, and the parent networks sanctioned similarly....

#522 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 07:50 PM:

#520: But, but, he looks like a Real American!

Other Real Americans will vote for him on that basis, just like they voted for Bush because they thought he was the kind of feller who'd have a beer with them.

#523 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Alas, he's tall for having a beer poured -on- him..... [I was present for one infamous dousing incident at an SF convention, and missed a different one by a few minutes....]

#524 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:18 PM:

All Things Considered today had a remarkably friendly and restrained interview with John Yoo. I do believe Tiger Woods would have gotten much harder questioning.

What the fuck happened to my country?

#525 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:30 PM:

albatross, #523: What the fuck happened to my country?

Rupert Murdoch.

#526 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:34 PM:

Edgar Allen Poe's birthday went untoasted this year. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/books/20arts-ISPOETOBETOA_BRF.html (and other wire service stories) says that the visitor who's left roses and cognac on his grave for the last 60 years didn't show up this morning.

Hmmm - none of the brandy in my cupboard is from Cognac, and the sherry's not from Amontillado, and there's no basement to look in for another cask of it, but cheers to him anyway!

#527 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:37 PM:

Tom Whitmore (519): No, sorry, I meant the article was still there.

#528 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:51 PM:

I've just discovered that I've been quoted in an Icon Group book, or perhaps it would be better to say "book."

I felt bewildered, until a faint recollection triggered a googlespasm that dredged up explanations, of a sort.

Thank you, Professor Philip M. Parker.

By the way, the Nielsen Haydens are mentioned in several of these sausage-machine "books." Maybe you are, too.

#529 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 09:17 PM:

I have decided not to re-set the clock on the kitchen stove until the storm cycle is over. The power goes out for a moment every couple of hours and it's getting boring.

My brother in law sent me a link to a site that shows Western river flow levels:

http://www.dreamflows.com/

#530 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 09:24 PM:

C. Wingate @503: My joke: I've known people who have been in flying cars. They don't want to do it again.

#531 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 09:35 PM:

Lee:

Rupert and Rush and the rest are like drug dealers. They'll sell us what we crave, but they didn't make us crave it.

#532 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 09:49 PM:

To say that limbaugh and etc don't have an affect upon what we the people are thinking is to deny that lobbyists giving stupendous amounts of money to get their agenda passed by the senate don't have any affect, that the stupendous amounts spent on advertising have no affect on what we crave and buy. If these tremendous outlays of cash had no affect on us they wouldn't do it. Advertising employs the same beatbeatbeat that commercials and other advertising do.

So, no I don't aqree, particularly as there is no fair doctrine in broadcasting any longer. Fox noose is broadcast to the military, it's in all the airports and on planes, it's on your gym wall televisions and on the equipments tiny screens. It's everywhere, just like limbaugh's talk shows are everywhere. Most people don't look for information. Thus they've passively absorbed what these outlets and the primary media have force fed all these decades.

And now stupendous numbers of people are furious about all kinds of 'real' issues, not just gay marriage, and these places feed that anger, and anger fueled without real information as to how they lost their house to foreclosure in the first place.

The dems have not gotten their act together a single bit to counteract this ongoing process. It was like, o Obama's elected, they stop. No they don't ever stop. But we do.

Love, C.

#533 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 10:32 PM:

Paula L, #520: "What I don't understand is all the people who refuse to notice and act on his hypocrisy and his spite of the values on which the USA is supposed to be based."

Most people don't vote on issues, unfortunately. Also, Numerian over at the Agonist points out: "It appears polls are showing that the voters, especially independents who would normally vote Democratic in a liberal blue state like Massachusetts, have instead run to support the Republican candidate as the agent of change."

We're about to have our contradictions heightened, big time.

#534 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 10:56 PM:

Yeah, "change" like NOT having health care reform.

MA independent voters who voted Republican: you are stupid idiots and I hope you all die.

#535 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 10:59 PM:

#507, 508
My very dear friend, Dennis, my computer guru, died on the 18th. It's nice to know he went with such marvelous company.

#536 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:02 PM:

Constance, #531: "The dems have not gotten their act together a single bit to counteract this ongoing process. It was like, o Obama's elected, they stop. No they don't ever stop. But we do."

"Change lobsters and dance!"

#537 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:05 PM:

albatross, #530: Two words: Overton window.

Murdoch, Limbaugh, et al most assuredly have had a major hand in shifting it so far to the right that Richard Nixon would now be considered a liberal! They have worked very hard to create and enhance the market for what they sell, and cannot by any means be considered merely agents of response.

#538 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:19 PM:

533
Xopher, have you seen the electoral map for this election (it's in the NYT)? She got western Mass and the bluest areas in the eastern half. (One theory is intraparty squabble: the eastern bosses wouldn't support her because she was from the western part.)

#539 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:20 PM:

The last time I felt this pissed off at the electorate was when Bush was (re)elected.

I invested heavily in the stock of companies whose made booze, fast food, soda pop, and gambling equipment.

And I did pretty well!

Invest in stupidity, greed, and gluttony, folks. America will never let you down.

Anyone know any pharma companies branching out into homeopathic cures, home high colonic sets, and DIY surgery kits? I figure that's the next boom market.

#540 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:26 PM:

Elliot Mason #517:

You could edit the URL. Replace Jo Walton's profile number in the URL with the profile number of the person whose columns you'd like to show.

Worked example:
Jo Walton (user number 284):
http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_comprofiler&Itemid=284&task=displayAllConversations

Pablo Defendini (user number 101):
http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_comprofiler&Itemid=101&task=displayAllConversations.

Now save it to your bookmarks. HTH.

#541 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:40 PM:

Hang on, that link doesn't work the way you think it does...

#542 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:50 PM:

A report from on the ground:

If you're looking for someone to blame, you could do worse than the Massachusetts Democratic leadership, which put all their muscle behind one of their own in the primary, and then took the general election completely for granted. As reflected in the person of their chosen candidate, who seemed unable to project a clear impression that she wanted the job at all, let alone reasons why.

Among the goofs: she failed to stake out strong, specific positions on particular issues, instead letting the election turn into a personality contest. Then she lost that by appearing out of touch and disconnected from the electorate. (In a baseball-mad state, she unaccountably referred to Red Sox great and staunch Republican Curt Schilling as a "Yankee fan". I haven't been listening to local sports-talk much, since it so often veers into right-wing politics, but I'm sure they had a field day.) It didn't help either that she apparently failed to do any decent oppo research, which meant that her hard-right-wing opponent got to play the moderate nice guy unchallenged for weeks.

Why all the lack of preparation? Well, it can't help that she took six days off in the middle of the campaign for a vacation in the Caribbean.

This is what happens when a political party takes its own base completely for granted. Naturally, the soi-disant moderate Democrats in Congress will feel the need to do much more of this. If you want to know why, tune in to the news tomorrow morning and they'll tell you all about it.

#543 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 11:59 PM:

541
I remember relatives from Mass, who were liberal Democrats at one time; you would expect them to vote blue, but they wouldn't vote for a Kennedy.

#544 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 12:05 AM:

Fuck. So the stupidity of the Mass Dems and their idiot candidate costs us all our healthcare.

Since I'm now struggling not to wish death on an even larger subset of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I place where I have many friends, perhaps I'll now go to bed.

#545 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 01:18 AM:

Lin Daniel, #535: Sympathies.

#546 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 01:39 AM:

The health care plan was headed for irrelevance no matter who won. People vote; money votes a hell of a lot more often.

#547 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 02:24 AM:

Elliot @518: Here's a workaround for you.

Jo mentions her Tor.com posts on her LiveJournal blog. On LJ her user name is "bluejo"). And you can subscribe to an individual LJ via RSS without needing an LJ account of your own.

The feeds for Jo's journal are
http://bluejo.livejournal.com/data/atom
or http://bluejo.livejournal.com/data/rss

Of course, you'll also get her other posts, and just links to her Tor.com posts, but her journal is a very enjoyable one (just go to http://bluejo.livejournal.com and look around).

#548 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 02:27 AM:

Sorry about the extraneous ) in that last post. It was left over from a previous edit of that paragraph.

#549 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 03:27 AM:

#542

"Moderate" Democrat in Congress my ass, they're hidebound recidivist to the old Southern Democrat model.... they're "moderate" compared maybe to James Dobb, but they're far to the extremist side from the policies Bill Weld, Gov Rockfeller, Tricky Dick Nixon, etc. had been, regarding tolerance and the idea of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and self=determination in everything from fertility control to freedom of religion and respect and compliance to the letter and spirit of the US Constitution and Bill of Right. They resemble Anton Scalia and Alito far more than Olympia Snow....

Calling them "moderate" is but one more of the whole Big Lies mode of the US mass media... and acceding to the abasement and deceit, is also vile.... call a fascist intolerant control freak bigot, a facist intolerant control freak bigot....

Meanwhile, where were the likes of Senator Kerry, the Representatives from the state, the Governor, etc., they all seemed to be ignoring the situation....

I expect a bunch of the assholes who voted for the LSOS to be howling in a few months about the LSOS actions in Congress.... I am -so- hoping tht there is some juicy horrible scandal that his about him.... I want him GONE, GONE, GONE from the USA, called to active duty and WATERBOARDED in Afghanistan or Yemen, since he likes waterboarding and torturing prisoners and claims the US Constitution shouldn't apply to those who are not US citizens. I'm completely nauseated. To spite the Democratic Party, more than a half a million temporary or permanent shitheads who were too fucking stupid to recognize fucking lies and media fucking spin, fucked the entire country....

#550 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 03:48 AM:

Lois Fundis #547:

I thought Jo's LJ was http://papersky.livejournal.com/?

#551 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 04:00 AM:

Please tell me the Democrats have a contingency plan for the Scott Brown disaster. A list of impeachable conservative US senators in vulnerable districts who can be removed from office and replaced by progressives while the governor stalls on Brown's certification, at least.

#552 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 04:13 AM:

Scott Brown posed for a nude centerfold for Cosmopolitan magazine in the 1980's; can he be disqualified from holding national office on this basis?

#553 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 08:22 AM:

Earl Cooley III: "Please tell me the Democrats have a contingency plan for the Scott Brown disaster."

Move to the right. (This has always been their contingency plan.) If you're talking about health care, they're probably going to push the House to pass the Senate bill unaltered, quickly.

"Scott Brown posed for a nude centerfold for Cosmopolitan magazine in the 1980's; can he be disqualified from holding national office on this basis?"

IOKIYAR (= It's OK if you're a Republican.)

#554 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 08:26 AM:

Paula, I said "soi-disant moderate Democrats"... probably should have stuck to the English "self-proclaimed", but it was late. Nous sommes d'acco... never mind. We agree.

One of the truly sad things is that the second-place candidate in the primary, Capuano, would have made not only a better general candidate (he looks and acts the part of a dumpy, working-class guy from Somerville --- more or less what the voters were looking for --- because he is one), but also a vastly better Senator. But he couldn't beat establishment GOTV efforts in a special-election primary with very light turnout. Too late now.

#555 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 09:02 AM:

Elliott Mason @518: This URL

http://www.tor.com/index.php?blogger=Jo_Walton

will bring up all the posts written by Jo, most recent first. (Such links to the posts of Tor bloggers can be found on the left of the Tor.com front page.)

#556 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 09:13 AM:

Charlie #542:

I'm always amazed at how, even in struggles for power at the highest levels, incompetence and apathy on the part of the candidates and parties is still such a big part of the story.

On the other hand, maybe this defeat will be the clue-by-four that convinces the Democratic leadership to do better. (But I fear that, as The Raven commented, they'll interpret "do better" to mean "move right in such a way as to abandon all their good ideas, while hanging tightly onto their bad ones.")

#557 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 09:15 AM:

Janet K @555 said: Elliott Mason @518: This URL -- http://www.tor.com/index.php?blogger=Jo_Walton -- will bring up all the posts written by Jo, most recent first. (Such links to the posts of Tor bloggers can be found on the left of the Tor.com front page.)

Wow, so THAT'S where they were hiding it! Now that you've told me where to look, I can find the quite small names to click on. I wonder why they're not also linked from each blogger's profile page? I could've sworn I'd searched the whole site, including the site map page, and not found this functionality.

Thanks to the other person who suggested linking in from Livejournal, but I DO read her lj already, and there are other TorBloggers I'd like to follow as well.

#558 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 09:19 AM:

Hey, me, I want to found the Progressive Populist Libertarian Party, just so I can join the PPL party.

Am I serious? Well, not exactly. But we need something, and the current two major parties aren't cutting it. The Republicans are a rump party, and the Democrats are being torn apart by their corporatist/populist split.

...a three-party system? Progressive, conservative, far right?

#559 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 09:29 AM:

Look here. The areas that supported Brown in Mass. are almost exactly the ones that went for Clinton in the 2010 primary. (Observation due to David Wasserman.)

Anyone have any ideas as to why?

(Also posted on FDL.)

#560 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 09:58 AM:

I'd like to join a party where I can vote to give Paula Lieberman some significant political power.

#561 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 10:56 AM:

560: time for another takeover of the Connecticut For Lieberman Party?

#562 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 11:01 AM:

The demeanor of tall white males who for SOME people exude charisma, for others, they are the unctuousity zone.... but the former outnumber the latter. And the media always literally did video and sound clips to make LSOS look heroic, and the Attorney General look like an effectual shrewish bit....

The media has NOT mention the misogyny angle, but I'm sure it's there....

#563 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 11:10 AM:

#552 Earl

No. But does someone have a copy of that? LSOS claims to accede to viewing the US Constitution as applying to (and only to....) US Citizen. Parody is protected free speech -- that that image and he being a public personality, is fair game for use of that image as caricature and political commentary....

But first the image has to be available to be copied and THEN applying parody perts.... Hey, rememeber Steve Utley's story, Hung like an Elephant That one is PERFECT, the elephant head and ears and truck instead of gonads handing down, and appropriate captioning -- Scott Brown, man of false front! But needs a copy of the original Cosmpolitan picture to start with for the image reworking....

#564 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 11:27 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 562... The demeanor of tall white males who for SOME people exude charisma

Not when I'm done with my workout at the gym.
:-)

#565 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 11:52 AM:

Xopher: Since I'm now struggling not to wish death on an even larger subset of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I place where I have many friends, perhaps I'll now go to bed.

My feelings exactly. Boston is my favorite city and I still hope to live there someday; I'm upset and mad.

This morning I'm mostly angry and raging against defeatism, but with a sick sense that I'm wrong.

Just, goddammit all to hell.

#566 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 12:33 PM:

Here it is (NSFL)

Drat. ML sanitizes the Title attribute and the Acronym HTML tag. I hate having to explain something like this but the L stands for "Lunch".

#568 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 12:55 PM:

Yes, I'm aghast at the Brown election.

The day of the election the radio news had an item saying that the indipendent candidate had been forced to shut down his e-mail accounts because they were being flooded by Brown supporters telling him to back offe and endorse Brown.

If mentioned at all in the main stream media it will be quicklyu forgotten.

If it were Coakly's campain supporters doing it, the GOP talking heads would be eating out on it for years, whether she won the election or not.

Brown had the gall to declare that he thought that his election was a reaction to the "gridlock of partisan politics." What, they they want to *continue* the gridlock?

For "gridlock" is all that the GOP has been doing.

ANd that turkey had the gall to tell everyone that he will be the "41st" vote, and that he's really "independent" of the party.

Jesus H Christ on a pogo stick, what is *wrong* with these idiots.

I think a certain sector of the Massachusetts electorate is going to be having buyer's remorse Real Soon Now.

The b*st*rds.

#569 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 01:00 PM:

re 562: From 1987-1993 we here in Maryland had both the tallest and shortest congresscritters ever (as best anyone knows). Mikulski (she of shortness) is currently the senior female senator; McMillen (ex-NBA and Olympic medalist) was gerrymandered out of a seat after three terms. (That was the election we got stuck with Al "my ex-wife is my opponent's campaign manager/what I really want is to be a lobbyist" Wynn.)

#570 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 01:26 PM:

Meantime, Representative Steve King (R-ΓQ) claims that Brown’s victory was divine intervention.

TPMDC is a good place to watch the chaos and panic in the Democrats.

#571 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 02:03 PM:

If Brown is so "independent" of the Republican party, let him apply to join the Democratic Caucus with the promise to support Health Care Reform, to honor the legacy of Ted Kennedy, whose seat he intends to warm with his muscular jock ass.

#572 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 02:26 PM:

Dave Bell @ 567: "'To us, this suggests a reproductive advantage for farming males over indigenous hunter-gatherer males during the switch from hunting and gathering, to farming - maybe, back then, it was just sexier to be a farmer.'"

Goodness but that's a rose-tinted view of history. Let's think, under what circumstance would an expanding, high-population group preferentially spread Y chromosomes when interbreeding with a low-density hunting-gathering group? I guess farmers are just sexier! I mean, obviously those Neolithic women had a choice, right? They interbred with the culturally and linguistically foreign farmers cause they just couldn't keep their hands off of them! I'm sure that's what happened.

#573 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 03:18 PM:

Dave Bell @ 567.... it was just sexier to be a farmer

"I'm nothing but a hoe to you!"

#574 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 03:40 PM:

You rake!

#575 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 03:57 PM:

Get a handle on yourself!

#576 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 04:09 PM:

Ginger @133/969: I Googled that article. Thanks for the pointer. Her response to her husband was very Shamu.

(Making Light is so neat!)

#577 ::: Steve C. sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 04:14 PM:

Let's see the quality of your fertilizer, farmboy!

#578 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 04:15 PM:

Sorry about the name - I forgot to clear it!

#579 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 05:56 PM:

Let's see the quality of your fertilizer, farmboy!

As you wish.

#580 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 06:09 PM:

I hope it's really good shit -- we could use some smoke around here.

#581 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 06:21 PM:

Re: The Arabica Brewing and Extraction Apparatus particle,

I think they're being cheapskates and the brew would taste of rubber from the latex tubing.

Someone can do it properly with Quickfit glassware, surely?

#582 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 06:25 PM:

Because this day has been generally depressing, I present you with a live webcam of 5 day old Swedish Vallhund puppies.

#583 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 06:53 PM:

I have to disagree with the Sidelight labeled "It's high time this sort of thing stopped happening."

It should have stopped happening forty years ago.

#584 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 07:24 PM:

I can't find it in google news, but we got a tornado warning of our own in Central California this afternoon -- they downgraded it after we moved the children into the hallway to get them away from the windows, but it was educational.

We know what to do for earthquakes and fires, but this was our first tornado drill. It went well. The children were bemused, not panicky, and their parents came and got them expeditiously.

#585 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 07:46 PM:

NOAA Storm Prediction Center Convective Outlooks

First tornado warning of the decade

#586 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 07:54 PM:

Satan's Garage Sale By Tom Cahill

Not long ago, Satan happily realized there were enough politicians, bankers, and corporatists in the world doing his work and that at long last, he could retire. So he decided to sell his collection of the tools of his nefarious trade. He invited the public to preview the tools in his garage the Friday night before the sale.

Murder, Theft, Corruption, Lying, Greed, Hypocrisy, Intolerance, Blasphemy, Vanity, Temptation-all had price tags that were reasonable to the mostly legislators, bankers, businessmen, attorneys, lobbyists et all attending the preview.

But one seemingly insignificant tool was priced way above all the rest combined. When the CEO of a large US investment firm asked Satan why, the Devil replied, "This one works when all others fail."

The name on the price tag was "Discouragement."

#587 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 08:22 PM:

Serge, #564: You're not tall. :-)

Earl, #566: Damn, he was quite the hunk 20 years ago, wasn't he? Too bad he couldn't have turned out to have brains too.

#588 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 09:13 PM:

Soon Lee @550: OOPS! You're right. It should be
http://papersky.livejournal.com/data/atom
or http://papersky.livejournal.com/data/rss

#589 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 09:37 PM:

Lee #587: Earl, #566: Damn, he was quite the hunk 20 years ago, wasn't he? Too bad he couldn't have turned out to have brains too.

His bland features are marred by a damned jock entitlement smirk. Yes, my irrational disdain for jocks is fueled by envy. That's one character flaw that I expect I will cherish unto the end of my days.

#590 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 09:49 PM:

Teresa, re your William Blake's Inn particle, snap up a copy of that book if you get the chance. (I used to have a copy when raising my first child; I should get a new one.) While it disguises itself as a book for children, the illustrations are lovely, and the poetry is simple, beautiful, deep, and moving.

#591 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 10:09 PM:

Lee @ 587... Really? At six feet?

#592 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 10:25 PM:

And a caption occurred to me for the elephant head and trunk "USA Hosed by Repubics"

#593 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2010, 11:55 PM:

Lee #587, Earl #589: I have to agree with both of you. Nice body, serious case of jerkface.

*sigh* what's HAPPENED to my home state?

#594 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 12:17 AM:

One fun thing to come out of this election. The manifesto of the American Pirate Party.

Croak!

#595 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 12:50 AM:

Not only did Carl Sagan have a raygun, but he knew how to use it against a Horror from Beyond Time that had literally come out of Lovecraft's head.

#596 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 01:07 AM:

Earl, #589: Believe me, it wasn't his face I was looking at!

Sadly, we probably won't see "former centerfold" becoming a phrase widely associated with his name.

#597 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 05:41 AM:

Somewhere, in another, happier, timeline, Scott Brown (the new "heck of a job, Brownie" guy) would have a satisfying career as a male model and television sports commentator instead of being known as Mr. 41, the Destroyer of Health Care Reform.

#598 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 07:43 AM:

Earl, is that the same timeline in which Peter Watts got home safely and without incident?

#599 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 09:49 AM:

Yes. They're in the first term of the Santos Administration now.

#600 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 09:54 AM:

Well, it looks like at least the UK parliment members would like to see what the international copyright "negotiations" details are, but can't.

Money quote, for me (added emphasis is mine):

...The secrecy surrounding ACTA has prompted speculation the agreement will be favourable to the music and film industries, whose lobbyists are party to the discussions....


So, the lobbyists can direct discussion, but the responsible elected members of government, representing the people of the nation, cannot. Where have we heard of this before?

#601 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 11:18 AM:

CraigR:

I wonder how much of this had to do with:

a. His opponent's personal flaws (particular being involved in keeping an obviously-innocent man in prison).

b. Disillusionment with the Obama administration and the Democrats.

Personally, the only enthusiasm I have for Democrats right now is that they seem less crazy and corrupt than Republicans. I expect the Republicans can manage to be crazy and evil enough to get me to vote for Obama over whatever whackjob runs against him in 2012 (Palin/Beck, anyone?), but I have little enthusiasm for it.

Electing a Democratic majority to Congress in 2006, and a Democratic president in 2008, has almost certainly made things better than they'd have been under a Republican regime. But the improvements don't amount to reversing the crazy war-on-terror policies, or the Bush administration power grabs. At best, they amount to sanding off some of the rough edges. We continue working toward a police state at home and an empire abroad, albeit one run by corrupt amoral technocrats instead of corrupt evil insane clowns.

I don't know how much this result in MA reflects any of that--I gather that my concerns are not reflected by many of my fellow citizens. But a major lesson I've taken from the last couple years is that overwhelmingly voting the bastards out has had a lot less effect on our actual policies than I'd expected. (And it's not like I was expecting unicorns and rainbows.)

What I've seen of the proposed health care reform, particularly the process by which it was produced, makes me very skeptical that it will have many of the advertised benefits. Instead of an open process that got us something sensible (say, setting up a Medicare-like program that anyone can buy into for an income-and-age-adjusted fee), we had a murky, secretive process that looks, to my not-all-that-informed eye, like it was much more about protecting existing interests (particularly health insurance companies) as about making sure people can get healthcare.

On civil liberties, executive power, and the war on terror, Obama has been an improvement over Bush, but the improvement has been damned thin and damned dismaying--actively preventing disclosure of details of our war crimes, actively trying to suppress independent investigation of them, making it clear that essentially nobody will face any consequences for either spying on Americans or torturing prisoners, no matter what the details. (Glenn Greenwald has been covering this stuff very well.)

I do wonder how many people feel like I do--like the practical difference between united Republican government and united Democratic government has been much smaller than we expected, and like this makes us much less excited about getting out of a warm bed to vote for another Democrat.

#602 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 11:37 AM:

Albatross @ 601... Obama has been an improvement over Bush, but the improvement has been damned thin and damned dismaying

Not as dismaying as having McCain and Palin in the White House would have been.

#603 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 11:47 AM:

Albatros (# 601)

What I feel might be happening is that there has been a mobilization, by the GOP, of more voters than usually show up at the polls, similar to what happened with Newt's "Contract o/n/ with America"

That "revolution" brought in many freshman GOP congresscritters who didn't know, or were uninterested in the art of compromise, and who were generally inexperienced. And that inexperience made them easy prey for lobbyists who said, in effect, "don't you worry you head about it, my staff will gladly write that bill for you."

Those incoming congresscritters, and their successors, had/have a singular lack of wanting to gain the willing cooperation of those across the aisle. (witness the threat of the so-called "nuclear option" [which, at times, I almost wish they *had* exercised] and that in their hubris named one of the most influential PACs the "committee for the permanent majority")

What I think we saw in Massachusetts is the rise of the "tea b/a/g/g/e/r/ party" mobilization. People who generally do not bother to come out and vote, but appear to be easially motivated by demagogues and the Easy Lie ("the other guy is evil, and you don't need to look at my candidate, 'cause the other guy is evil")

They can seemingly either reconcile the uttered contradictions of "their" candidates' positions (we don't need constitutional protections for those accused of terrorism cause they're accused of *terrorism* and are therefor actaul *terrorists*! whle at the same time touting their National Guard service, which requires an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution) or just refuse to see that there *is* a contradiction.

And they are easially influenced by slogans and soundbites like "Keep the goverment out of my medicare!"

And I see this as all playing into trhe hands of those who are the most cynical and able to fund the dissemination of those sound bites, including a media that is so geared toward corporate and conservative interests that "free press" is all but an oxymoron.

And I think that, if anything, these "vote 'em all out" crowd will be worse for the nation than Newt's "contract" was.

Hmm, I wonder if we will ever see a Thermidorian Reaction?

#604 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 12:01 PM:

So, I'm trying to play this audio file, and I get "not available in your area." What's up with that?

#605 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 12:27 PM:

Jacque @ 576: It is a neat article, and I keep reminding myself of that conclusion. I'm hoping that things will at least not get worse, and will someday get better. In fact, last night was my second night back in bed (I'd been sleeping on the couch since the Proclamation), and we've been sharing nicely. It's such a stark contrast to what she said in therapy that I am convinced she is seriously depressed and needs me to just hold on, be a rock, and suffer the slings/arrows, etc. I think I'm a handy scapegoat for her anger and grief.

Anyway, I'd better not compare her to Shamu, although I plan to see if the library has a copy.

#606 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 12:37 PM:

Ginger @ 605... Glad to hear about the improvements.

#607 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 01:35 PM:

Damn. The Supremes have removed the edict against corporate political donations. As if money didn't already speak loudly enough.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/01/21/campaign.finance.ruling/index.html?hpt=T2

Campaign finance ruling

#608 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 01:49 PM:

They've retained the restrictions on direct support of individual candidates, though; don't know just how much that will help.

#609 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 01:52 PM:

#608: You can bet that consultants are falling all over themselves in a rush to come up with corporate interest adverts them appeal to the Tea Baggers.

"My pappy and his pappy 'for him always hated that mountain. Now them tree hugging liberal fag environmentalists want to get in the way of DynamiCorp Coal's plan to get rid of that mountain once and for all." Vote No on the Liberal Tree Hugger Evil Mountain Preservation Plan. This message sponsored by Americans for Freedom Inc.

#610 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 01:55 PM:

Ginger:
I'm so glad for you that things are going better.

I think I've recommended it on ML before, but probably not to you - Don't Shoot the Dog is a good book on positive behavioral training, and (among other things) how people do crazy things to their relationships in frustration because they can't figure out how to make the positive changes they want. (Weird title from the one limited repertoire many people have to solving problems: Dog barks too much? Put up with it or shoot it. Relationship is having problems? Break up. etc.) It might be that right now, if she's depressed, the small things that you do which drive her crazy - every couple has some of those - seem like intolerable and as insurmountable as mountains, and that she needs to know that you and she can change things as needed to make it work.

Anyway, hope this is not too intrusive, and I truly wish you both (and your son) all the best.

#611 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Well, with today's SCOTUS ruling all elective offices in the country are now up for open auction (and these are "judges" who declared they would be "sensitive" to prior judicial decisions, eh?

A pack of comglomerate-owned curs is more like it.

#612 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 02:13 PM:

Steve, #607: Cyberpunk society, here we come! In 20 years, our political entities will be corporations rather than countries. Actually, it may not take as long as 20 years.

Does anyone else think that this is a direct result of the fallacy of considering a corporation to be equivalent to a person? Because that's the only way the "freedom of speech" argument can apply.

#613 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Lee, it's that exactly. While it makes business sense for a corporation to enter into contracts, take on debt, employ people, and so forth, it violates public policy to treat them as human beings.

#614 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 02:38 PM:

Lee:

I don't know. It sure seems like any kind of regulation of political speech at all is questionable, to me. And I say that as someone who thinks big companies have way, way too much influence on politics in this country.

#615 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 02:52 PM:

The particle on Gen. Schoomaker is part of a thread almost worthy of ML. Have a look at the comment immediately following the picture of the then-new USAF uniform.

Incidentally, the alternative suggestion, a few comments later, is slightly reminiscent of RAF full dress. See the history of RAF bandsmen's uniforms. Go on from there to look over the current uniform, and then remember that the pictures are of NCOs.

Here in the UK, we're accustomed to seeing the DPM battledress, either worn by soldiers or army-surplus. There's been a lot of slight shifts in colour, and differences in the detail of the uniforms, since it was introduced in the 1960s. But now it's on the way out. See the BBC's report, with a video clip

The more formal uniforms aren't going to change. And the British Army isn't as dependent on fossil fuels as some might be [video]

#616 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 02:52 PM:

Oh, dear. I've given Justice Stevens my "Croak of the Day" award for:

While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

He also wrote:

The Framers thus took it as a given that corporations could be comprehensively regulated in the service of the public welfare. Unlike our colleagues, they had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individ­ual Americans that they had in mind.

#617 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 02:53 PM:

I don't buy -- and never have -- the idea that money automatically equals speech. That might be naive, but I think those are different things.

#618 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 03:16 PM:

Today is Update Your Internet Explorer day. Even if you don't directly use IE, some of your Windows software may still use the Trident rendering engine.

Comments along the line of "ha ha, ur doin it rong cauz i gots a mac/*nix/misc puter" are worth negative brownie points, by the way.

#619 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 03:17 PM:

Open Threadiness:

I first heard about this story on Vincent Racaniello's This Week in Virology podcast, a few months back. This strikes me as one of those stories that should be getting way, way more attention.

Apparently, an experimental flu vaccine which was supposed to have human H3N1 also included live H5N1 avian flu vaccine. This was sent to labs in Europe. What the f--k happened *there*? (Helpful hint: Nature has done fine with coming up with its own pandemic flu strains; we don't need to help the process along.)

The news reports I've been able to find via Google are all pretty obviously rewrites of a press release of some kind--does anyone know more about this?

#620 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 03:21 PM:

albatross, #614: I'm with Steve on this -- I don't think that "freedom of money" is the same thing as "freedom of speech" at all. And the other piece of this is "checks and balances"; it is absolutely not right for corporations to be able to flood the campaign process with more money than all the individuals put together can begin to be able to donate.

America has just been sold, pure and simple.

#621 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 03:26 PM:

The Raven @ 570:
Brown’s victory was divine intervention

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. Still I, personally, refuse to believe in any god or other divine entity who made that sort of intervention. Let 'em disappear for lack of worshippers.

#622 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 03:26 PM:

I understand that the Supreme Court's vote was divided along ideological lines, with the conservatives (aka Republicans) voting to remove those restrictions from companies.

Hmmm...

so much for the Democratic Party being the same as the GOP.

#623 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 03:29 PM:

Clifton @ 610: I will take a look at that book too. The funny thing is, I'm a veterinarian with experience in training animals -- and she's a research psychologist with even more experience in training animals. Of course, it's always easier to see someone else's problems.

I think she's been overwhelmed with too many stressors including the recent death of her mom, and she wants something to change. She clearly thought we needed to break up, but after that she doesn't seem to have any plan or motivation. She's made some progress in cleaning out her old stuff from the guest room, and if we need to convert it to her bedroom, well, progress in that direction -- but she hasn't made any apparent progress in the threatened move out of the house, and I don't sense that she really wants to. I think -- and granted, I didn't see this coming, so my "expertise" is potentially flawed -- but I sincerely think that she wants a protective cocoon within the house. I'm happy to provide that to the best of my abilities, and then back off, zipped lips, etc.

I mean, what else can I think after our first therapy session, in which she unloaded all her unhappiness (my fault, all of it, for the past umpteen years) and walked out, got into the car, and asked what we needed to do next, i.e., shopping; made dinner that night, and in general, acted quite pleasantly towards everyone?

I keep reverting to my veterinary training, looking for trends over snapshots, reviewing all my diagnostic steps to see if I come up with an alternative diagnosis, and I end up at the same puzzling conclusion. I don't know if I'm right; I'm guessing -- but I'm acting on this as if I am right, because I have nothing to lose.

So far, we've had no fights, no breakdowns (other than mine), and really have been quite ordinary towards each other. I keep checking and rechecking, and waiting for more information. I keep waiting and hoping. It's all I have at this moment.

#624 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 03:37 PM:

Lee:

Perhaps not. I'm sure I don't like the outcome, but I'm not sure whether this is just a consequence of following the first amendment. Along with not selling the country's government to the highest bidder, I'd also like it if we broke with recent tradition and didn't ignore the bits of the constitution we found inconvenient.

#625 ::: Leroy F. Berven sees apparent spammishness ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 03:45 PM:

albatross @ 623: "I'd also like it if we broke with recent tradition and didn't ignore the bits of the constitution we found inconvenient."

Yes. Perhaps we could start with a few Supreme Court appointees who are willing to admit the existence of the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution . . .

#626 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 03:47 PM:

Arrrgh . . . forgot to correct the name block data back to its default value before posting. Apologies to all.

#627 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 03:49 PM:

Gods, this has been a depressing couple of weeks. Haiti; Massachusetts; America given over to corporate control. Everything sucks.

Except Ginger's given us some good news. Thank you, Ginger! Needed some. I hope things will continue to improve for you.

#628 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 04:15 PM:

If corporations are people, I say we need a federal death penalty for them. Liquidate their assets; provide employment/retraining/relocation assistance for non-officer employees; use the liquid assets to pay to repair the results of the corporate crime; if the assets aren't sufficient, fine the Board of Directors and the principals of the company any amount necessary, up to and including everything they have or control.

THAT would slow down corporate malfeasance, I bet.

Oh, well, it will never happen. Now the corporations will run the government, if there's anything left of it; they'll be, if anything, a protected class of citizen. Rejoice, Libertarians! Your lawless survival-of-the-fittest paradise is nigh! See how long you survive once it's fully implemented.

Hey, albatross, do you think corporations as such have Fourth Amendment rights?

Rmmbr Clrk . Myrs? H sd t cmmnt hr; kpt tryng t fnd pr-gn pstn tht ws t xtrm fr hm, nd fld, r rthr gv p whn h sd h wld hv n prblm wth gns nd mm bng sld t f vndng mchns n hgh schl cftrs. ( rlly thght tht cld dstngsh btwn Clrk nd "gn nt" wth tht ntn, whch M s prfctly bsrd; bt thn h sd h'd hv "n prblm n prncpl" wth sch sls, nd rlzd tht cld n mr dstngsh btwn Clrk nd gn nt thn cld btwn Clrk nd Clrk.)

wndr f Clrk thnks tht nw, wth ths rnfrcmnt f th (rdcls) d tht crprtns r ppl, tht crprtns shld hv th rght t prchs (fr "slf-dfns," f crs) tnks, bmbrs, vn nks? sspct h wld hv "n prblm n prncpl" wth tht d.

I'm not sure I shouldn't be making plans to flee this country. The craziness is really out of hand.

#629 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 04:28 PM:

Ginger @622 --

Sounds like you've been made responsible for her emotional state.

Some Quaker brutality might be in order, such as asking "what are you not responsible for?" or "who is responsible for your happiness?" or "how do you benefit from your current stuck state?"

#630 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 04:43 PM:

Xopher @628:

Sighs, pinches bridge of nose, wishes she had glasses to peer over in some kind of intimidating manner...

Xopher, please don't go picking fights with people who aren't here based on a loopy conversation half a decade ago on Electrolite, while simultaneously bringing the topic of fucking gun control into an already stressed and contentious atmosphere. Just don't.

I'm going to disemvowel the worst of what you've said. I really can't let it stand. It's not just rude—it's poison. We're all depressed and upset. It's been a set of very bad days for American politics, but it's not the fault of anyone who has ever commented on Making Light.

I love you dearly, and I know you're under a lot of stress, but I really do need you to do a little better here. The light and love in this place only exist because we don't do shit like this.

#631 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 05:00 PM:

Something to make you smile*, via Torie Atkinson on Twitter: That is Priceless suggests more, um, interesting titles for paintings.

-----
* OK, I giggled at a few of them.

#632 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 05:11 PM:

abi @ 631... Spanish thumb-wrestling generals? Heheheh

#633 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 05:19 PM:

abi @ 631 - Humping Dog tavern. *giggling myself*

#634 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 05:44 PM:

Michael @444,

On getting to space...
My colleague the astronaut gives this advice (paraphrasing):
"One: She should find something she loves to do--absolutely loves to do. That it may apply to space activities has to be secondary, because she'll need to be dedicated to it before she can find how to apply it to space (example: an expert on blood oxygenation and the brain who used this to apply to the astronaut program)."

"Second: she should be dedicated to at least one high-activity sport, so she is in shape, and one high-thrill [not his words, but my paraphrase] sport. All astronauts have this- rock climbing, sky diving... deep see diving is good, too."

#635 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 05:48 PM:

I'm sorry, abi (and everyone). Thoughtless and stupid. Even though CEM isn't here anymore.

I'm genuinely terrified about what this will mean. When the worst president ever gets to appoint two Supreme Court justices, disaster can be the only outcome.

Meanwhile...Aphrodite golfing, smirk.

#636 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 05:54 PM:

I'm not sure if this is good news, bad news, or both. With the talk here (both recently and not) of abuse by police, I wondered if anyone would be interested in this:

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2010/01/21/calgary-police-charges-assault-taxi.html

Bad that it happened at all, of course; good that they will be held to account, it seems?

#637 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 06:11 PM:

Ginger -- This sounds hopeful, and that is good to hear.

Love, C.

#638 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 06:46 PM:

Oh look, Jessica Hagy's http://thisisindexed.com/ has some welcome distractions, also all your graphing & venn diagram needs.

#639 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 06:52 PM:

Lee @ 619:

I agree. The corporation == individual person notion has been a primary cause of the political and economic fix the US is in. And to further argue that corporations shouldn't have human rights, consider that the control of corporate money, influence, and public relations gives the officers of the company vastly more political power than any other non-government citizens, with no personal cost or accountability. The corporation itself does nothing that its officers don't order or condone, why should they not be responsible? And if corporations are individuals with rights, why don't they have the responsibilities of citizens as well (for instance the obligation to defend themselves against allegations of criminal behavior¹ and be punished upon conviction)?

I also agree with the argument that the power to spend money is not equal to the power to speak freely. In fact, it is often the cause of the inability of other citizens to speak freely. Consider, for instance, the case of corporate oligopoly of mass communication media. This is clearly an obstacle to the free speech of those who disagree with the owning corporations. By analogy, it is not acceptable for the guy with the megaphone to stop someone who disagrees with him from also using a megaphone.

1. Note that corporations in general are not accused; their officers may be. And there is "anti-death-sentence" legislation in some states which disallows civil or criminal penalties that would result in bankruptcy of a corporation.

#640 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 07:07 PM:

The most discouraging thing about the corporate speech screw job:

Con-suite libertarians claiming it's blow for freedom and fairness.

Clueless assholes. Useful idiots. Dupes.

#641 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 07:14 PM:

If corporations are people, shouldn't they be limited to the $2400 or whatever it is that natural persons are limited to for campaign donations?

#642 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 07:18 PM:

#582 Thanks for the puppies.

#643 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 07:20 PM:

#641: The lovely loophole that was opened today isn't about contributions. It's about running unlimited political advertisements.

Think the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," which wasn't running ads for George W. Bush but against John Kerry.

#644 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 07:30 PM:

By some strange coincidence, today a friend's blog got spam praising the hemorroid-removal skills of a proctologist in Kiev.

#645 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 07:36 PM:

Jacque, #604: Much of the content on BBC websites is only available in the U.K., because the BBC is supported by TV license fees which the rest of the world doesn't pay.

#647 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 07:49 PM:

I've got it. KAOS has won and we didn't even notice.

#648 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 07:50 PM:

I heard a Kentucky Congressman point out that in his district it was entirely possible that a corporation could buy up all the available commercial time on the TV stations in Louisville, thus effectively shutting out competing ads.

It's possible that could happen in Hawai'i too, come to think of it. There are no TV stations originating from the Neighbor Islands, just from Oahu.

#649 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 08:11 PM:

For those of you in or near Baltimore, there will be a Steampunk Ball this coming weekend.
This is a fundraiser for research against Multiple Sclerosis.
I found out about it here in Susan de Guardiola's blog.

#650 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 09:14 PM:

Stefan, #640: In the midst of all the bad news, I have to admit that the phrase "con-suite libertarians" gave me a giggle. I love a good snark, and that one is prime.

#651 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 09:41 PM:

Graydon @629: Those are extremely useful questions, and far better than the ones I had in mind. One trend I've noticed from friends commenting is that her unhappiness is not necessarily related to things I did (i.e., did wrong), or did not do. I keep reacting to the examples she'd brought up, and I have to stop myself, because I sense that will not be the most helpful approach for us.

Yes, it certainly seems better than I first felt, almost two weeks ago. Small victories, deeply cherished. I feel like I have a patient instead of an ex (and somewhere I have the button which reads "I still miss my ex...but my aim is improving!" I will not go dig it out of storage. No, really.), and I can deal much better with a patient.

#652 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 09:46 PM:

My very short analysis of the Democratic reaction to the Massachusetts loss.

#653 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 09:46 PM:

Ursula Vernon had a briefly political post (along the lines of, "Wow, I am tired of this, and I hope it's gone away when I come back,") followed by bird things, so lately my response to anything politically negative, either wrathful or bleak, has revolved around what the crows were doing when I walked by their trees, Dad's new birdfeeders and the likelihood of woodpeckers, and that I live in a river town so I see bald eagles often enough that I don't *need* to remark on them (I still do. BALD EAGLES!).

#654 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 10:46 PM:

A vaguely-sfnal artwork: "A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter (2009) - Caleb Larsen"

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=190365249352#ht_2138wt_1061

It's a black box with an ethernet port that perpetually tries to sell itself on EBay.

#655 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 11:01 PM:

I guess the rest of the functionality will be revealed when someone buys it and plugs it in?

#656 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 11:22 PM:

"I guess the rest of the functionality will be revealed when someone buys it and plugs it in?"

No, that's all it does. You plug it into a network. Once a week, it checks to see if it's listed on Ebay, and if not, it lists itself for sale. That's the art part. As part of the 'art'-ness, each buyer has to agree to honor the ebay sale and pass it on to the next person if it sells.

It just seems to me to be like a benign version of a cursed item from fiction or roleplaying, the kind that magically convey themselves from owner to owner, wreaking havoc along the way.

#657 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2010, 11:51 PM:

#650: I can't claim to have come up with "con suite libertarian." I first heard of it here, from Teresa.

* * *

Over on a gaming board I frequent, folk are huffing and puffing and getting red-faced over the idea that someone would be upset about corporations trying to have free speech and protect themselves and anyway, Wal-Mart donates money to the community.

Future Loyal Peons of Tomorrow.

#658 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 12:19 AM:

I've heard of that black box -- it was invented at RISD, which is in the greater Boston metropolitan art world, more or less.

I think it's the greatest idea in the history of ever. Or one of 'em, anyhow.

#659 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 12:28 AM:

Jon:

I was trying to work out the havoc part. Like, inside, there is a very slow simulation of a malevolent genius, who slowly plots the newsworthy and spectacular demise of the box's current owner, with the demise occurring just after the box arranges to be sold off the the next victim. Or even, the box has a huge list of exploits for as-yet-undiscovered vulnerabilities in widely-used software. When plugged in, it slowly probes other machines on the same network, till it finds a few weak points, where it installs software that encrypts all the data on the machines under some random secret key. The software continues to work until the day the box stops communicating with it for a week, at which point it irretrievably deletes the key. Or perhaps, the box contains software for detecting its own address and its owner's name. It also has information which allows it to access several numbered bank accounts, and secure contact information for several hitmen. Or....

#660 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:06 AM:

"I was trying to work out the havoc part. "

Maybe it listens for the sound of the buyer farting, and posts the audio online.

#661 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:13 AM:

Or, perhaps, once it's sold (and hooked up to a new network) it sends a message to Trojans it's planted on the original network causing the original network to be taken over by the Great Old Ones...

#662 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:25 AM:

"Or, perhaps, once it's sold (and hooked up to a new network) it sends a message to Trojans it's planted on the original network causing the original network to be taken over by the Great Old Ones..."

Well, if it's from Providence, you never know. The name is certainly suggestive.

Maybe it's a Mi-Go brain container.

#663 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:53 AM:

Some cuteness to lighten the general mood: Rabbit fashion show (in Japan, of course.) (Courtesy of Deb Aoki)

#664 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 02:39 AM:

I wrote this yesterday at 11:19 AM:

Huh. The American Pirate Party has a platform I can pretty much get solidly behind. Methinks I'll be looking into helping out.

I hit Preview, and then forgot to post, and I just looked up from helping out, and it's 2 in the morning. This is the early days of a better country! I always hoped it would be!

Wiki here - most of the chatter has been on IRC and Reddit, and it's been a heady blur of activity, not too much acrimony, and a lot of people working kinda in the same direction. Moving very, very fast.

#665 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 04:49 AM:

albatross @ 659... I was trying to work out the havoc part. Like, inside, there is a very slow simulation of a malevolent genius

I thought Havoc was Scott Summers's brother. True, he used to hang out with Polaris, who may be the daughter of Magneto.

#666 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 05:13 AM:

Here are some aerial photos of the Bay Bridge's east spans as they stood on September 29, 2009.

#667 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 08:06 AM:

Stefan Jones #657: Wal-Mart donates to the community? Oh absolutely. It would be so egalitarian and American if the Waltons* would, in exchange for their donations, be given some, purely honorary, title, like say, Earls of Arkansas, to recognize how generous they have been to the little people.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the Dukes, in exchange for their contributions to the Republican Party, might also convert their surname to a title -- again purely honorary.


*No relation to Jo, I hope.

#668 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 08:19 AM:

Fragano @ 667... The Waltons?

"Good night, John Boy."
"Good night, everyone."

#669 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 08:40 AM:

I've been noticing the past few days that paranoia about "terrorists," supporting Brown's abominable claiming that the Constitution applies/should apply only to US citizens and nobody else should have any of the rights mentioned in it, and complete disregard and dismissal of the concept of "innocent until prove guilty" is rife amongst the [expletives deleted] who voted for the LSOS.... The past nine years have promoted mass delusion, especially the media industries with all the law enforcement an military fictional characters acting in intimidating and abusive and intolerant and disrespectful and impolite and inconsiderate fashions towards civilians, authorities, the public, foreigner, and suspects.
The LSOS partisans act like Fux TV faithful, a half-step away from foaming the mouth that the terrorists are after the USA and must be stopped by any means possible, that stopping potential terrorist attacks trumps any other consideration that force is necessary....
The healthcare situation was NOT a main driver. Misperpections, delusions even, are. Another is LSOS' campaign involve Cargo Cultist--his commercial which started off with JFK announcing a tax cut, seguing into LSOS announcing how important it is to cut taxes, is Cargo Cultism--Kennedy cut the top marginal tax rate from 90% down to 70%, in a time that there was no deficit, "entitlements" were a much smaller part of the US federal budget, and healthcare as a percentage of GNP was what, less than half of what it is today?, healthcare was much more affordable for private citizens who had to pay out of their own pockets, and the insurance industry wasn't sucking anywhere near as much of the money supposedly spent on "healthcare" into the wallets of it executives and stock holders in what is nearly pure parasitism....
LSOS never provided any material on how to pay for services.... Haiti is a really cogent example of "small government" effects, of having a national government that's been completely ineffectual and friendly to the rich and powerful, who get to keep their income; and that made noises sympathetic and sometimes outraged and sometimes somewhat apologetic about all the unfortunate impoverished majority of the citizens, how poverty-struck and indigent the country is.... but the corruption went on and the rich continued to live well while everyone else there has been the poorest citizenry in the western hemisphere....

#670 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 09:53 AM:

Fragano 667/Serge 668:

Damnit. Now I've got the Waltons' theme song stuck in my head. Argghhh!

#671 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 10:35 AM:

albatross @ 670... Bwahahahah!!!

Speaking of horror... I notice that the movie Legion just opened, without a single critic being given a pre-screening. That sounds inauspicious. Meanwhile, Paul Bettany, who plays an angel with a gun in that movie, also has another movie opening today, Creation, in which he plays Charles Darwin.

Finally, another movie opened today, in which the Rock plays the Tooth Fairy.

Decisions, decisions...

#672 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 10:50 AM:

Diatryma @653 said: ... I live in a river town so I see bald eagles often enough that I don't *need* to remark on them (I still do. BALD EAGLES!).

On our Christmastide trip to Toronto, I was exceedingly wigged out to see, while waiting at a stoplight in Leaside -- at what is to all appearances a boringly normal mid-density urban intersection -- a GOLDEN EAGLE circling on thermals about a block away. My husband was surprised at my surprise, was all, "Yeah, we have goldies, so?"

To me, goldies are NOT CITY BIRDS. Before this trip I had only seen them (barring bird sanctuaries and other zoolike situations) on fenceposts or circling in SERIOUSLY rural areas of road trips, the parts where you play corn-corn-soybeans-corn-cows-corn-corn-horses!-corn-corn-eeeeeewpigs out the window.

There are advantages, wildlife-wise, to having a huge, very wooded, steeply-banked river valley going through your city, methinks.

#673 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 10:58 AM:

Elliott: The downside to having a wildspace go through your city is that predators come too. We haven't had a cougar down the American River Parkway for a few years, but it is heavily used by the vulnerable (joggers and moms with kids), so it's a worry.

(I love in-city wildspace.)

#674 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 11:01 AM:

Bookman's roof collapsed in Flagstaff from the snow. I know there's probably some other Arizona residents on the list familiar with the store. (Wonderful place. Every time I'm in the area I try to visit their stores. I am wincing at the thought of all those books ...)

http://www.bookmans.com/content/bookmans-flagstaff-roof-collapses-due-snow

I don't think they have an official total on the storm yet, but there was 2-3 feet of snow on the ground already, and then they were forecasting 2-3 feet more for this storm. And there were very high winds. Flagstaff gets snow, but that is a bit more snow than is typical.

Ah, yes, it's an El Nino year. We need the precipitation, but not all at once, kthxbai.

#675 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 11:42 AM:

I'm not sure I'd be able to identify a golden eagle. I'm still in denial about birdwatching. Anything soaring that is not identifiable as a bald eagle is a red-tailed hawk or a buzzard depending on how many I see at once. If it's swooping and bluish on the right part of my walk to town, it's the Cooper's hawk.
Then again, part of me is sure that golden eagles don't actually exist. It's the same part of me that is so gleeful to see bald eagles or the one urban fox.

#676 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 12:07 PM:

Decisions, decisions...

What's to decide? You can stay home from all of them at once.

#677 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 12:18 PM:

Xopher #628: If corporations are people, I say we need a federal death penalty for them.

A fairly unambiguous implementation of this idea exists, and has actually been used more than once: a state Attorney General can issue a charter revocation against a business which operates in their state. It would likely be more complicated to implement this at a federal level, however.

#678 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 12:25 PM:

albatross #670: Damnit. Now I've got the Waltons' theme song stuck in my head. Argghhh!

I'll see yer Waltons and raise you a Paranoimia by Art of Noise featuring Max Headroom...

#679 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 12:28 PM:

Diatryma @ 675 --

I'd be suspicious of a bare eyeball ID of a golden eagle in Toronto at this time of year; we do get them during migration, but at about a tenth the rate we get bald eagles. It's certainly possible, but I'd bet on an immature bald eagle as being more likely than a golden. (All this is modulo Elliot Mason not being a very experienced hawk watcher or similar with regard to the bare eyeball ID.)

Toronto *does* get interesting raptors in strange places; I've seen a first year Cooper's chasing something across a busy street at windshield level (from a windshield level viewpoint!) and a mature goshawk rowing steadily across the sky from the intersection of Yonge and Sheppard.

Why and how can one be in denial about birdwatching?

#680 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 12:34 PM:

Xopher @ 676... That may be what I'll wind up doing because "Creation" isn't playing here. It'd have been nice to see Bettany as Darwin after he played a proto-Darwin in "Master and Commander".

#681 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Graydon, it's the "this is not a hobby" denial. I'm not really serious about it, I just keep track of birds. I'm not really obsessive about it, it just makes up a fair amount of conversation when I'm at home. I don't really seek it out, I just sit where I can see the new birdfeeders outside and try to attract birds to my own backyard. I don't have bird books, I just read the ones we got Dad for Christmas.

I think I can get away with this until I spend money on something bird-related.

#682 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 12:51 PM:

680: A good film about the Voyage of the Beagle, in the Master & Commander vein, would be great. It would have...

earthquakes!
cowboys! (well, gauchos)
pirates!
jungles!
coral reefs!
entirely artistically necessary and not at all gratuitous beautiful Tahitian women not wearing very much at all!
savage tribes!
storms at sea!
a mad captain!
a city in flames!
botany!
volcanoes!
icebergs!
slave traders!
giant rhinoceroses! (in fossil form)
civil war!
duckbilled platypi!
immense mountains!
beautiful sailing ships!
a daring escape from a besieged city!
Darwin on horseback chasing giant birds and accidentally lassooing his own horse's front legs and falling off!

I'm sorry if that sounded a bit like one of CMOT Dibbler's film posters, but it really is all in there. The only thing it's lacking is a thousand elephants.

#683 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:07 PM:

For a movie version of the voyage of the Beagle, the writers would just swap out the Galapagos fauna for elephants with differently-shaped trunks. There, thousand elephants, and nobody can tell the difference between the stupid finches anyway, right?

#684 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:11 PM:

Could we have the Rock as Darwin?

#685 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:17 PM:

In the past year I've had a chance to observe quite a few bald eagles perched in trees and soaring over head. I'm always thrilled to see that impressive bird.

I've been going on nature walks with a local group--I live in Washington DC--that includes knowledgeable birders who are eager to help the rest of us sharpen our eye for birds.

#686 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:20 PM:

Diatryma @681 --

I think you are customarily safe until you've made a binocular purchase; bird books as such are mere research materials without moral weight.

#687 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:38 PM:

I think Darwin needs a hot young female sidekick for the movie. Make sure she's good at martial arts, for the scenes where they have to fend off the Galapagos Ninja Turtles.

#688 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:42 PM:

albatross @ 687... Maybe Darwin rescued Kelly Hu from evil pirates on his way to the Galapagos.

#689 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:43 PM:

Earl:

...See that girl,
watch that scene,
diggin' the dancing queen....

Wait, wasn't everyone exposed to high doses of 8-track-administered Abba as a child?

(The worst part is that I now have displaced Paranomia with this song in my head.)

#690 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 01:55 PM:

albatross, that was the hit song the summer I spent in Germany. Danced to it a lot that year.

But also...Mamma Mia has been on TV a lot recently. I have it on when I'm doing something I need my full concentration for.

#691 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 02:04 PM:

Elliott Mason @ #518: I've been looking for months for a way to get Tor's website to give me JUST columns WRITTEN by a given contributor (i.e. not their most recent five comments, which is what the profile page shows)

Prepare to be annoyed (at yourself, or at the site designers, as your fancy takes you): It turns out that the heading just above those, the one saying "[Contributor]'s Conversations", is itself a link...

#692 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 02:05 PM:

@682: Believe it or not, Robert Charles Wilson's *Julian Comstock* has exactly that Darwin movie in it. Plus a giraffe.

#693 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 02:16 PM:

After fighting off the evil pirates, Darwin finally makes it to the Galapagos, where the ground starts shaking and suddenly Charles finds himself before a giant robot that survived the sinking of the Continent of Mu.

#694 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 02:17 PM:

myself @ #691:

Only that link goes to the same page Soon Lee pointed out @ #540, and as Soon Lee @ #541 points out, it isn't actually what we're looking for. (For some reason, it has posts by other writers mixed in.)

Bother.

#695 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 02:19 PM:

albatross@687: Galapagos Ninja Turtles

At least the obligatory slow motion would make sense there.

#696 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 02:33 PM:

albatross/Xopher, #689-690: Dancing Queen... a slightly different version.

#697 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 02:42 PM:

The Oregonian ran an editorial today in favor of the supreme court ruling.

For the last week, the front section of the paper has been wrapped in a paid advertisement by a group opposing Proposition 66 & 67, which would raise the minimum tax on corporations and raise the tax rate on the higher brackets ($125,000 for singles). The advertisement loudly notes that The Oregonian and many other papers oppose the propositions.

When I got to work this morning I canceled my subscription.

#698 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 02:42 PM:

albatross @ 687: ...Galapagos Ninja Turtles.

I am exceedingly glad that I'd just swallowed my drink when I read that.

#699 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 03:00 PM:

Julian Comstock is so much fun that it felt slightly sinful to get paid for editing it.

#700 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 03:01 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 697:

Thinking about canceling mine. It was never a very good paper, it's dropped most of the good columnists over the last couple of years (and kept a lot of the bad ones), and as soon as Obama was inaugurated it started a steady drift back to the right from whence it came.

Om the other hand, I've gotten some good recipes out of the Food Day section on Tuesday. Hmmm ... doesn't seem like such a great tradeoff.

#701 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 03:04 PM:

Bruce Cohen (700): I bet your local public library gets it; you could read the recipes there. Or is it available online?

#702 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 03:49 PM:

Paul A. #694:
Repeating Janet K. #555, the left hand sidebar (second from top) of tor.com's mainpage has a list of links to bring up all articles by individual tor.com bloggers.

Page listing tor.com bloggers:"click name to view all posts (articles) by a blogger".

#703 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 04:05 PM:

ajay@682 -
And 1000 Fossilized Elephants, ranging from woolly mammoths to Loxodonta, Elphas, Sirenia, and Hyracoidea!
Ok, we can save a bit on the budget by making most of them Hyracoidea built out of styrofoam or tusks sticking up from the sand, but tweak the lens a bit and nobody'll really notice. And you could probably stand a few of them on the back of that big turtle over there...

#704 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 04:22 PM:

Stefan #697:

For some reason, I don't think they're going to miss the money much.

Actually, I'm pretty sure newspapers depend *way* more on ad revenue than on subscription revenue--that's one reason this recession has been so hard on them.

My limited understanding of the SC decision, based on reading some news reports (NYT and NPR) is that it seems broadly defensible. The first amendment doesn't have anything in there about how Congress can't make a law restricting freedom of speech, except when that speech is by a class of people/groups with unhealthy levels of influence in the US, and at least some subset of the ruling seems to be driven by a pretty specific concern of that kind.

I expect this will have a bad effect on the US, but I'm not convinced it was a bad decision. The SC isn't a lawmaking body, and it should no more decide a free speech case on fears of too much corporate influence than it should decide a detainee rights case on fears of terrorism.

#705 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 04:25 PM:

Stefan@640 - it does seem to be a pretty sweet con. But it'd be nicer if you didn't call people "Cllss sshls"* and "dts" when we're around. (One of the few good things about "spam" is that it replaced "libertarianism-vs-socialism" as the default internet discussion sinkhole a decade of so ago..) Freedom of speech is a

Hey, look! Over There! It's an article about how Sobering up is tough on hamsters! They drink more after dark, and when they've been on a bender they have trouble telling what time of day it is! Cute hamster picture! (even though it's of course the usual random stock photo unrelated to the article, and perfectly sober)!

*(vowels removed by me, not by our hosts.)

#706 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 04:53 PM:

Albatross @704: that involves, however, deciding that the metaphor of corporations as persons carries with it the right to freedom of speech. It's once again confusing a symbol with a reality, one of the pervasive errors of our society. And it's privileging metaphor above sense.

#707 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 05:36 PM:

If the SC had made the decision and specified groups or organizations, that would have been a bit different. But a corporation is a legal fiction, defined by law, that exercises some of the functions of a person, but is not a person.

That both a corporation and a person may enter into a contract, for instance, doesn't mean that rights, as defined by Constitution, applies to the corporation.

#708 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 05:39 PM:

Albatross, 704: Glenn Greenwald agrees, and I respect him. I'm not sure about money equating to speech, myself, but he brings up some good points about that.

Although, looking at the text of the First Amendment, I'd try to argue that corporations necessarily lack the power of speech per se, so that according them freedom of speech is nonsensical.

Maybe another possible answer is to disallow all monetary expenditures for electioneering purposes? I think we'd have to be clear on what "electioneering" means, though. I dunno.

This episode supreme law of the land was badly written!

#709 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 05:57 PM:

Diatryma: Golden eagles are actually pretty easy to identify, because they're BIG. Bigger than bald eagles.

We were driving to Spokane (lo these many years ago) and were driving on US 97 towards the Oregon border when I started tapping the window, absolutely tongue-tied. It took me a couple of minutes to say, "Eagles!" There were, I kid you not, one or two dozen golden eagles topping the telephone poles to the left of the highway. Like I said, BIG birds. We must have hit a migration.

#710 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 06:33 PM:

albatross @ 704:
For some reason, I don't think they're going to miss the money much.

Newspaper advertising revenue is directly proportional to circulation, so canceling a subscription will have a very small effect on income. Bitching to a lot of other people and having them cancel their subscriptions will have even more of an effect.

In any case most newspapers (definitely including The Orgoreynian (sic) IMO) are locked into a death spiral of reductions in circulation causing cuts in coverage, causing more reductions in circulation. I can just stand over here and watch the train wreck without having to do a thing.

#711 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 06:35 PM:

Bill, #705: I'm with Steve on this one. Anyone who can defend that decision as a "blow for freedom" on Libertarian grounds is a clueless asshole and a useful (to our new corporate masters) idiot.

#712 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 06:48 PM:

This is a free speech issue in the same way that slavery was about property rights.

#713 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 08:07 PM:

Good to see the word "raptors" used correctly.

Not in the sense of a Jurassic-Park style dinosaur.

#714 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 08:10 PM:

Aside from the dubious issues of corporate personhood and money equaling speech (both of which I dispute), I'll be really interested in seeing if a bloc of activist shareholders can successfully launch a shareholder derivative suit to enjoin their corporation from spending money on political advertising they don't agree with.

#715 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 08:27 PM:

I'll be really interested in seeing if a bloc of activist shareholders can successfully launch a shareholder derivative suit to enjoin their corporation from spending money on political advertising they don't agree with.

The Magic 8-Ball says: doubtful.

It's an attractive idea, though...

#716 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 08:30 PM:

Steve C @ 707... I think the ACLU should apply for personship. Maybe it could then run for office in the Senate. Or for the Presidency.

#717 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 08:35 PM:

Lee @ 711... A blow job for Freedom, say the Teabaggers?

You know, is it me, or are Conservatives not very conservative? I mean, the way they dismiss precedents...

#718 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 09:26 PM:

David Wald @695: albatross @687: Galapagos Ninja Turtles

A recent BoingBoing post describes a sloth attacking a biologist, moving "upside down along a vine, as fast as a cat would run along the floor".

A commenter suggests that the most embarrassing thing about this would be explaining to the EMT about the sloth attack: "It all happened so fast!"

#719 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 09:45 PM:

Mark @714, Lizzy L @715: I recall in the Reagan 80s conservatives protesting union political spending on the basis that all members of a given union didn't agree with the political viewpoints of the leadership; therefore it was unfair for the leadership to use union dues to advance a particular agenda.

By the same token, I doubt that all shareholders in a corporation, or all employees of a corporation (who I regard as stakeholders, if not shareholders) would agree with the viewpoint of the corporate leadership. Why are the CEOs the only 'voice' determining how the corporation 'speaks'?

#720 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 09:57 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 719...

You people are nothing but America-hating commies!
(C'mon, someone had to say it.)

#721 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 10:12 PM:

Speaking of birds, and especially raptors: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service, used to publish a three-times-a-year magazine called Birdscapes. It's now out of publication; the Fall 2004 issue was its last, though the back issues are all online at http://library.fws.gov/Birdscapes/birdindex.htm

The Spring-Summer 2003 issue had a feature called "Name that Raptor", which is online in the middle of the page at http://library.fws.gov/Birdscapes/sprsum03/Inaegg.html

You see silhouettes of 8 birds in flight, wings outspread -- "You hear a raptor call from above; you look up; the Sun is shining in your eyes; all you see is a silhouette. Can you name that raptor?" -- with four possibilities for each, then a link to the answers.

I was pleased that I got most of them right.

#722 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 10:15 PM:

#714: I own stock in maybe two dozen companies.

I got lots of proxy statements.

Most of the check boxes you check Yes, No, or Abstain are about board members and auditors.

But sometimes you get to vote on motions brought by shareholders, which include demands for environmental reviews and human rights standards.

I don't specifically recall motions about political funding, but there might have.

I always vote yes on these motions.

Maybe I should start looking into how to introduce these motions.

Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

#723 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 10:18 PM:

I think what we're seeing here in the reaction to this decision is more of an unease with the privileges and power of for-profit corporations than a problem with free speech per se.

Corporations aren't just arbitrary organizations; they're organizations that have been granted certain privileges by the government (limited liability and the like). Privileges generally come with restrictions to balance them out.

For example, tax-exempt non-profit organizations remain prohibited from campaigning for particular candidates, though they can advocate on issues that are relevant in a campaign. That is, in fact, a speech restriction, and one that in practice does have some challenging edge cases (i.e. deciding when advocacy shades over into electioneering). But the general ban against campaigning is seen by most as justified; basically, it's a tradeoff for the privilege of tax exemption. (And indeed, some churches and other nonprofits who object to not being allowed to campaign have in fact renounced their tax-exempt status to be free of that restriction.)

So the worry I think a number of us are seeing is about whether for-profit corporations have been granted or acquired all kinds of legal and practical privileges over ordinary sets of human beings, to the extent that they, too, should accept certain limitations in exchange.

I'm not sure that should necessarily include the limitations in the laws that were recently struck down. Greenwald's arguments are well worth considering. But I am worried about arguments that simply *assume* corporations should of course have all the rights of human beings, without question. (Okay, they don't have the right to vote, but neither do some humans.) Corporations should be the agents and servants of humans and their societies; they should not be their masters.

#724 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 10:46 PM:

One of the concerns about the recent Supreme Court ruling is that it will be difficult (if not impossible) for Congress to restrict political spending if it is equivalent to free speech.

Maybe it will be possible to pass laws and regulations to make sure that we can know where the money is coming from.

After all, if money is speech, we should be able to know who is speaking.

#725 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 11:26 PM:

I'm not very good at judging a bird's size from any sort of distance-- I tend to judge them in comparison to each other more than anything. Here are the sparrowbirds, here are the bigger feeder birds, here are blue jays which are kind of enormous when you aren't expecting them... and here are some really obese squirrels because the squirrel feeder was what this all started with. We go through a lot of peanuts. I'm not at all sure I'd be able to tell 'juvie bald eagle' from 'golden eagle or possibly aircraft' from 'crow with the perspective screwed up'.

#726 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 11:29 PM:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnmoWq0m5bY Author Solutions CEO Invites RWA, MWA, SFWA to Discuss Choice and Opportunity in Book Publishing

(YouTube video... smarmy weasel Head of Author Solution with doesn't hold water arguments)

#727 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2010, 11:38 PM:

724
Birders make a lot of jokes about leafbirds ....

#728 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 12:14 AM:

(non-)update wrt The Quote: Oxford has a web archive of Sumerian literature in both transliterated and translated formats, which should help with verification-- the proverbs section looks promising, but it's *huge*.

#729 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 12:44 AM:

#722: That pretty much nails it.

What I find especially worrying about all this is that even if free speech is guaranteed to all, it won't mean anything if the political and legal system has been warped to the needs of corporations.

The perfect symbol of this: Isolated, fenced-off parking lots labeled "free speech zones" where protesters impotently circle around while riot police keep careful watch, while from a comfortable suite in a convention center Fox News's talking heads and their stable of pundits beam their blather directly into millions of homes.

Or, for that matter: Hundreds of thousands or war protesters getting almost no press in 2003, while in 2009 a laughably small crowd of Tea Party activists get adoring non-stop coverage and direction from Fox News.

#730 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 02:28 AM:

#728 Stefan

Tactics time--a huge demonstration in front of a Fux station with signs lampooning Fux Personilities (intentional spelling there, I pulled one some days ago that soneone was wondering about that I never go around to saying, "No, that is not to my knowledge anything in a dictionary") and phonecalls to the other networks promoting the demonstrations, and a flashcrowd equivalent campaign to makes lot of phone calls and emails to media outlets... and maybe signs along high traffic routes at times of the day when the traffic is slow... "Roadblock Republicons blocking mass transit improvements"

#731 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 02:40 AM:

Soon Lee @ #702:

I saw that, but I still felt there should be some kind of link on the blogger's own profile page.

On reflection, I suppose it's because the profile page is their user profile, and therefore is more interested in their interactions with other users generally than in things that they specifically started.

(The X's Conversations link, I've determined, includes all the posts whose comment threads they've commented in, as well as the posts they created - which makes perfect sense when I let go of thinking of X as one of the bloggers and think of X as a fellow user of the site.)

#732 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 07:29 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 705:

Arguing socialism vs. libertarianism is a waste of time. At this point, no one's mind is going to get changed. I'd rather argue socialism vs. liberalism and take the risk of producing social democrats.

#733 ::: martyn ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 09:08 AM:

Given this ruling, and that present tax laws appear to regard the paying of tax by the rich and by corporations as purely voluntary, would it be too revolutionary to suggest that there should be no representation without taxation?

#734 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 09:12 AM:

Stefan Jones #712: This is a free speech issue in the same way that slavery was about property rights.

Well spoken, sir. I fear that rich people will abuse this court decision to commit acts of what what I consider to be evil, for which they will not be punished.

Evil is bad. Enablers of evil are bad. Axe handles are good.

#735 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 09:47 AM:

Stefan #729:

Well, it's certainly a good thing we had those laws in place in 2003 and 2008. Otherwise, I suppose we'd have seen stuff like pre-emptive arrests of suspected troublemakers, journalists, and lawywers with little or no media coverage at the RNC convention. Or lone tea party protests getting more attention than far larger antiwar protests.

Again, I don't doubt that this decision will make things worse[1]. But the stuff you're complaining about has already happened under the laws that were overturned. This is like complaining that 9/11 proves we need an interventionist foreign policy in the middle east--we already had one for the preceeding several decades, and it didn't prevent the attack.

[1] It's quite possible that the right legal decision will make the world a worse place in many other areas. Similarly, it's quite possible that many of those detainees in Guantanamo really are bad, dangerous folks, who can't be convicted because all the evidence against them was extracted by torture and illegal wiretaps. Letting them go may well make us less safe, but the alternative is to discard the rule of law. (To our eternal f--king shame, that appears to be what we're planning to do.)

#736 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 09:54 AM:

Earl #734:

How do you feel about evil people being able to own and publish and distribute newspapers?

#737 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 10:00 AM:

Tom #706:

Most newspapers, TV and radio networks, and book publishers are corporations. All those operations necessarily involve spending money, that being the most common way you get lots of people working together on a big operation for a long time. Are you arguing that the first amendment doesn't apply to those operations? To modify one of Greenwald's examples: could congress outlaw spending any money printing or promoting books advocating drug legalization? Or simply prohibit corporations from publishing such books?

#738 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 10:21 AM:

In case you're interested, the Skiffy Channel's lineup for today includes "Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus" and "Snakes in a Sub". OK, the latter's true title is "Sea Snakes", but mine seems more accurate, based on what its synopsis says.

#739 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 10:34 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 732 ...
Arguing socialism vs. libertarianism is a waste of time. At this point, no one's mind is going to get changed. I'd rather argue socialism vs. liberalism and take the risk of producing social democrats.

... and I'd say that socialists are what libertarians become when they grow up, so it's not really an argument.

#740 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 11:01 AM:

xeger @ 739... socialists are what libertarians become when they grow up

You should make a t-shirt out of that one.

#741 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 11:09 AM:

It occurs to me that the Roberts Court decision in Citizens United v FEC could be characterized as "Unshackling the Trolls." If our political rhetoric is toxic now, just wait...

#742 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 11:51 AM:

For those who are interested, TCM is showing 1969's "The Battle of Britain". Starts at 12pmET. Yes, that's 10 minutes from now.

#743 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 12:20 PM:

xeger 739: Another way of putting that is that libertarians are the larval stage of socialists.

—Xopher, a former teenage anarchist, now an adult communitarian socialist

#744 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 12:41 PM:

Seen via Popurls: Male Villain seeking Female Arch-Enemy

By the way, I forgot to mention that that self-eBaying artwork was the best thing ever.

#745 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 12:56 PM:

albatross #736: Earl @734, How do you feel about evil people being able to own and publish and distribute newspapers?

Physical documentation and a brick and mortar fixed location serves to make them more easily identifiable if they provide an opportunity for punishment.

As for punishing evildoers myself, that's the kind of thing that I'd probably only be able to do once. I'd really have to make it count.

#746 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 01:33 PM:

#737 Albatross

Individual "natural" persons have limits on the amount they can give to a campaign. The SAME limit should not be exceeded by artificial persons... uh-oh, loophole, one person, hundreds of avatars....~"

#747 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 02:28 PM:

Xopher @ 743... libertarians are the larval stage of socialists

"Look! Now I'm a beautiful butterfly!"
- Heimlich in A Bug's Life

:-)

#748 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 03:27 PM:

If libertarians are the larval stage of socialists, what are Randroids the larval stage of? Cockroaches? Dung beetles?

#749 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 03:56 PM:

Marxists. The orientation changes, but the tendency toward following a philosophy through adulation of a person does not.

#750 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 04:19 PM:

Anyone near Laredo know anything about running a bookstore? B. Dalton closing leaves them without a bookstore for 150 miles. It practically makes me want to move there and open one myself, but I am an awful entrepreneur.

#751 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 04:21 PM:

Abi -- could you expand on what you mean about marxists follow a philosophy through adulation of a person? Is that like Christians following a religion through the adulation of Jesus? Or something else that I'm missing here?

Love, C.

#752 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 04:31 PM:

Albatross @737: I think you're conflating freedom of speech and freedom of the press in that instance. And I think they are different (and there are serious limits on what can be printed under freedom of the press, at this point).

#753 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Someone on a mailing list I used to read once suggested that Objectivism is the harsh unforgiving Russian version of libertarianism, like Stalinism is to communism.

#754 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 04:51 PM:

Constance @751:
My experience of Marxists is limited, so take this with a grain of salt.

But if you're a Randite rather than a straight-up libertarian, I'd assume that means you've pretty much decided one writer in the area is sufficiently correct that you want to identify based on that name. A Marxist is much the same, as far as I can see—someone who focuses on one person to the exclusion of the other thinkers who have either come to broadly similar conclusions or refined on Marx's ideas.

I'm being unkind in calling it adulation, but I'm generally unconvinced that any one person will do an adequate job of defining an entire political philosophy. I tend to think that that kind of thinking is best undertaken as a collective effort*. Cults of personality around political thinkers can be so destructive when the leaders get things wrong and people blindly follow. Look at the Great Leap Forward. Or, more currently, the search within the GOP for the next Ronald Reagan.

Christians are different because we believe in the divinity of Jesus, rather than simply that he was so thoroughly correct that we would take his name. I suspect that Buddhists would be a better example, or Confucians. As far as I am aware, neither of those gentlemen is held to have been divine before formulating his philosophy/achieving enlightenment†.

-----
* I would, though. I'm a software tester. I'm all about how an external viewpoint within your team can catch logical inconsistencies and flaws of execution.
† delete as appropriate

#755 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 05:55 PM:

Open threadiness: Free book (or rather, galley giveaway) of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, who died in 1951 but lives on through HeLa, the first immortal cell line. US addresses only, or I'd have ordered a copy.

I remember reading a Reader's Digest article about rogue HeLa cells back in the 1980s and getting so spooked by the tale that I had trouble sleeping. The only other thing that's ever had that effect on me was the "Frodo of the 9 fingers" song from the 1980 animated LOTR film.

#756 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 05:59 PM:

If I may conflate EClaire's comment @ 750 with abi's @ 754...

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."
- Groucho Marx

#757 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 06:33 PM:

abi @ 754:

I think that view of Marxism is somewhat limited. Maybe it would be good to distinguish between Marxism and marxism, as we often do with [Ll]ibertarianism. There are certainly cults of personality within Marxism: Marxist-Leninist, Maoist, Stalinist, Trotskyist¹. But if you ask a "marxist" economist or political theorist whom he considers an expert citation, you'll hear about Marx, Engels, Maslow, and list of others.

1. Replace "ist" by "ite" depending on whether you view the particular cult positively or negatively, respectively.

#758 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 07:23 PM:

Tom:

So corporations have rights to freedom of the press but not speech? Why does that make sense?

#759 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 08:09 PM:

Abi -- I would agree with this:

" I'm generally unconvinced that any one person will do an adequate job of defining an entire political philosophy." Though I'm not convinced that Marx or Engles themselves would disagree with you.

I'm not so convinced about Christianity -- or a lot of other religions, for that matter. There are so many who do believe that way and are willing to kill for it -- even if you can prove with the words claimed for the divinities themselves otherwise. Not their fault, I suppose.

Love, C.

#760 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 08:21 PM:

abi #754 "I'm generally unconvinced that any one person will do an adequate job of defining an entire political philosophy. I tend to think that that kind of thinking is best undertaken as a collective effort*"

I have a feeling that Marx and Engels would have agreed with you.

#761 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 08:24 PM:

Tom:

So corporations have rights to freedom of the press but not speech? Why does that make sense?

#762 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 08:47 PM:

Abi @754, is your description based upon observations of the behavior of actual Marxists, or are you just extrapolating from the name? Because it sounds like no Marxist I've ever met.

It's no secret, for example, that Marx collaborated with Friedrich Engels on many of his major works. Or that both Marx and Engels drew upon earlier writers.

I don't know how Communism got named "Marxism", or why it's "Marxism" and not "Marx-Engelsism", unless maybe because Engels wore a ridiculous comedy beard several sizes too big for his face. But I'm going to want more evidence than just the name before I buy that Marxists adulate Marx to the exception of all other thinkers.

#763 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 09:03 PM:

I'll add you'll be hard-pressed to find a Marxist of today who'll defend Marx's labor theory of value.

#764 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 09:31 PM:

Actually, John, Steve Brust spent some time a while back on his LJ defending the labor theory of value. He ignored every request to provide an example of a phenomenon that could be explained by the labor theory but not by marginal utility theory.

#765 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 10:15 PM:

albatross -- all the corporations you listed in that comment were members of the press, broadly defined ("Most newspapers, TV and radio networks, and book publishers are corporations."). As members of the press, they're directly concerned with freedom of the press, by definition. Their corporate identity and ability to speak to political matters are separate. That's why I say you're conflating the issue.

#766 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 11:05 PM:

Julie L. @505:
So our quote is really about Akkad-eme?

Paula Lieberman @730:
Persenility, perhaps?

#767 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 01:41 AM:

geekosaur @766: Considering that The Quote criticizes sundry violators of expected social standards (corrupt politicians, disobedient children, and unworthy authors), it certainly seems to be about Agade-Me.

#768 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 03:20 AM:

Speaking as a Marxist . . .

I recall a conversation I had a long time ago with another person who calls himself a Marxist. It was all about how we couldn't have ourselves one authority that we filtered all our views of the world through. Marx was important, but so were a lot of other people, and even more important was critical thinking and constant questioning.

I know there are people who fall under the broad umbrella of Marxist who do that "adulation of an individual" thing, but it's generally some other individual. Marxism isn't a single thing. People use the word to mean different things, the way they use "writing" to mean different things. The Marxism I was raised in is really more of a process or a method, more than a set of beliefs.

#769 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 04:08 AM:

Well, I see that I have it thoroughly wrong. I'll flag that for further reading, though not at the present moment.

I apologize to anyone I offended.

#770 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 06:31 AM:

Abi #749 - I know your joking, surely, but I've never come across anyone moving from randroid to marxist. Randroid to conservative, randroid to screaming liberal, yes. But not straight over to marxism. It is true that some people manage to go from trotskyist to neo-con, and there is some truth in the going from socialist in youth to boring old liberal/ even conservative in middle age.

Xopher #743 from Xeger 739 - at least in the UK, libertarians are not equal to anarchists. The anarchists with the longest history in this country and europe are left wing anarchists who want generally want no corporations, no gvt and no capitalists. Whilst there are some anarcho-capitalists who have imbibed the poison from the USA, the default strand of market worshipping in this country is original liberalism, i.e. what we had in the great 19th century. (Well, great if you were in charge, pretty poor if you weren't)

What I'm still trying to work out is how you end up with the cult of personality every-f******* where you go in politics. I'm a bit fed up with it. Marx is an example of someone who was a bit of a control freak, and also convinced he was correct, the point being that you can mobilise lots of people to get stuff done if you can convince them you are correct, which is usually easier if you can convince yourself you are correct. (Which is why I have had to shelve my plans to take over the world; being chronically unsure about lots of things) And oddly enough Marx was correct about some things. Maybe someone here with more knowledge will help out, but as far as I can see his rejection of parliamentary action and alliances with more middle of the roads groups, because they would weaken and absorb the revolutionary drive and thus neuter it, was correct. On the other hand its a bit hard for minority revolutionary organisations to actually do anything unless the situation is in complete turmoil where they can seize their chance. The final blow up of capitalism through its own contradictions resolutely failing to occur according to what Marx expected. Although if the gvts had not intervened the way they did in 2008/9, things would have been pretty bad. Which in itself kind of confirms Marx's larger thesis about the relationship between gvt and business in a capitalist society, as far as I can tell.

#771 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 07:55 AM:

guthrie @770:
Yes, it was a joke, though not hugely funny.

I do doubt whether there are that many "Randroids" either. But this community tends to ride libertarians pretty hard, so we don't have a lot of experts here to query the assumptions we're making about them.

#772 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 08:35 AM:

Randroids sound like some Doctor Who villains. Their apparently cybernetic nature would explain the scene in "Fountainhead" where Patricia Neal lustfully gazes at the jackhammer that sweaty Gary Cooper proudly holds out at hip level.

#773 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 08:47 AM:

Well during my journeyman stage online, I spent a while at scienceblogs.com and a few other places. I made up a typology of Rand followers based on my experiences.
Firstly, the randroid - incapable of independent thought, parrots lines from Rand and other similar thinkers and thinks that wins them the discussion. Lots of them around.
Secondly, those who were inspired by Rand. They usually came across her writing as teenagers, and as is normal for teenagers, found it inspiring because it was different, dangerous, made them think a bit. They generally have thrown off any randoid tendencies but still think fondly of her in an emotional way. Thus not exactly fulfilling Rands premises. Not so many exist.
Thirdly, the true follower of Rand, who more often than not seems to be male, a geek, very intellectually driven but lacking a certain wider empathy and are very focused on themselves. If everyone was like them, then some sort of minarchist society with whatever Rand was on about might stand a chance of working. Unfortuntely for them, there aren't many of them and they end up a little embittered.

If Abi read the SCotsman when in Edinburgh, she might remember letters from Bruce Crichton in Falkirk. I had an argument with him about WW2 rationing, in which he restated repeatedly with no evidence or anything that they should not have introduced rationing because people and the market would have dealt with it all in the proper way. I pointed out that market signals were borked due to poor trade, much of the populace had been conscripted into war work, basically he was talking rubbish, but he kept replying in the same way. So I won the argument but he didn't know it.
Also as is usual in the SCotsman, they let the nutter had the last word, thus demonstrating why the hootsmon is a joke.

#774 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 09:03 AM:

guthrie 770: Xopher #743 from Xeger 739 - at least in the UK, libertarians are not equal to anarchists. The anarchists with the longest history in this country and europe are left wing anarchists who want generally want no corporations, no gvt and no capitalists.

That's how I was using the term. I hadn't heard of libertarians (or Libertarians) until I got to college, and when I did I didn't like them...well, that's not quite true: there were people I liked who were Libertarians, but I liked them despite their politics, not because of it.

What I meant to express was that the ideal society I envisioned in my high-school years, which was one where everyone lived in peace and harmony, treating each other with love and compassion, with no need for governments or police or centralized planning or markets, cannot be achieved with unaltered humans (Charlie Stross, take note). I realized this while I was in college, and eventually that the closest thing to what I wanted to see was called Communitarian Socialism. I think Democratic Socialism is the best path to that.

Since I've started going to an Episcopal church regularly, I've realized that my high-school-ideal society is called the Kingdom of God, at least by liberal Christians. I think they realize that unaltered humans can't get there, but rather than use technological brain modifications, they believe the Power of God can make the necessary changes. I can't agree, though I wish I could.

Serge 772: Randroids sound like some Doctor Who villains.

They ARE Doctor Who villains, except without the powers or technology or great, sweeping plans. Which makes them simply laughable.

#775 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 09:22 AM:

guthrie @773:

Sorry, but I'm not going to compare the backstage version of Marxism (as described by people who have studied it and/or agree with it) to the fifth-row view of Rand-inspired libertariansim (as described by people who have argued with it on those two propagators of thoughtful discourse, blogs and newspaper letter columns).

Despite my increasingly regrettable jest, I'm actually aware that people are rarely hold the cartoonish views that single-word labels ascribe to them. That goes for people I disagree with too.

#776 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 09:25 AM:

Ooo, new game! Describe the cartoon version of the philosophy that would have a one-word label consisting of your last name and '-ian' or '-ite' (whichever you like).

I have to think about mine. I know roughly what it would be, but I need to make it funny, and I have to get in the shower now or I'll be late for church.

#777 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 09:32 AM:

Modification: use your posting name. Some of us keep our last names private (I don't, but I respect those who do).

#778 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 09:49 AM:

Down with Capitalistic Scrooge McDuck!

#779 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 09:57 AM:

OK, Xopher, that makes more sense.

Abi - fair enough.


I'm having to write a wikipedia entry for a course I'm on. It is surprisingly hard, given it has to be within word limit and packed full of information, which is difficult given the topic could stretch to 5,000 words without any trouble at all.

#780 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 10:01 AM:

Xopher, 774: An excellent summary. Hence the EC-USA's Millennial Goals, and the focus of many parishes on outreach and social justice. (Unitarian-Universalists are farther along this path, but I'm too wedded to the Episcopal liturgy to change.)

#781 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 10:03 AM:

guthrie #773:

I was one of those guys who started reading Rand early in college. I never became an Objectivist in the movement sense (joining up and taking on a group identity and a package of beliefs is not really my thing), but I believe I got a lot of useful insights from her writing, and her writing forced me to think through some stuff I might never have considered otherwise. And I started out strongly libertarian, and am still at least a fellow traveler.

What I think should happen, ideally, as you get older and have more experiences, is that your simple and intuitive model of the world becomes less intuitive--you accumulate experiences, you see stuff, you find out about different ways to live or run a society that seem to work okay. For example, the argument that socialized medicine will be a disaster seems kinda plausible, till you realize that there are a bunch of countries where decades of socialized medicine has left a functioning system, with plusses and minuses, but not any kind of disaster. Or if you start our believing that government agencies never run as well as private companies, well, it's not so hard to run into examples where the private companies are nonfunctional, and others where the government agencies are quite good at their jobs. Faced with these examples, you can either modify your ideas about the world, or try to shoehorn them in as exceptions or outliers or something.

Now, experiences can also convince more strongly of some things. I'm much more convinced now than before that, in order to understand the actions of powerful people, their incentives and information are much more important than their morality, and often more important than their beliefs. (See Obama on the war on terror.)

I've talked with a lot of people who've read Rand, were affected by her work in some ways, and yet aren't remotely disciples (like me). This is extremely common in the libertarian world. I've also talked with genuine Objectivists--quite different, and with something of the same attitude toward their beliefs I've noticed in some Christian fundamentalists. Like for many issues, the question has been answered, and the only remaining issue is whether you will be smart/good/honest/righteous enough to see this and stop arguing.

I have only known a few self-described Marxists, but I haven't seen a huge overlap between them and Objectivists in terms of approach to the world.

#782 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 10:17 AM:

Tom:

I see that, it just seems weird to argue that corporations are entities that have rights guaranteed in the first amendment when we're talking about freedom of the press, but not when we're talking about freedom of speech.

#783 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 10:32 AM:

Given that the whole reason for the existence of corporations is to divest them of responsibility, I am deeply opposed to granting them rights.

#784 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 10:58 AM:

I'm not sure what a Diatrymian person would believe, can't even find a starting point for that one, but Diatrymite could be a mineral. Specifically, the black oval with white dragonfly-shaped inclusions I bought at Confluence this past year, which might be limestone something something but I don't remember.

#785 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 10:58 AM:

Albatross #781 - exactly. What I find frustrating now is simply the difficulties of communicating complexity and how time consuming it gets to communicate and learn. Maybe I'll learn to sum things up in a pithy and accurate manner like some on here manage.

On the topic of actions of powerful people, I suppose ever since I started thinking about it, I've never really involved morality in it at. Sure, some powerful people involve their morality in it, or use it as an excuse for their actions. Looking at it from the viewpoint of incentives and information is very useful. Just imagine all these business people or financiers thinking "how can I maximise my bonus next year", and their information being limited to 'objective' data, and next thing you know you have a credit bubble...

Thus in order to avoid bad/ silly things happening you need to align peoples incentives with outcomes, surely? And also realise there are limits on information available. So we're back into economics again.

#786 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 11:10 AM:

Most of what you need to know about Objectivism you can learn by playing the computer game BioShock at 3am with the lights down low.

#787 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 11:16 AM:

guthrie #785:

Yep. Though I think both starting beliefs and morality do have an important impact on peoples' decisions. But there's a known bias in the human mind (fundamental attribution error), in which we overstate the importance of beliefs and basic nature of a human, relative to their situation and incentives. So it's good to try to compensate for that by paying extra attention to the incentives.

For example, I wonder if the Bush administration's people truly believed in the more extreme stuff they did w.r.t. the war on terror. I mean, some clearly did believe it (Cheney and Yoo are unappologetic, frex). But it's very clear from reading comments that a lot of them (Ashcroft, Powell, Rice) had *huge* reservations about what was being done. But now, look at Bush's incentives. He was in the white house on 9/11/01, and knows damned well he didn't pay as much attention to the briefings on Al Qaida as he should have. (I don't know how many other briefings he had of equal urgency, though.) On 9/12/01, it must be clear to him and his advisers that, should his opponents manage to run against him from the side of being more extreme in fighting terrorism, he will lose. He's hideously vulnerable, because he was the guy in charge of the folks who were asleep at the switch. He also knows that he will be blamed for any future attacks.

Now, his actions make a great deal of sense, from that perspective. Torture may or may not be especially useful for getting information from captives, but it's *very* useful for making it clear that you have pulled out all the stops in your fight against terrorists. Running an offshore gulag for your prisoners, giving the CIA and NSA a free hand, invading Iraq, I don't know how much sense any of those made in fighting terrorists, but they certainly did a good job of *showing* that the Bush administration was fighting terrorism seriously. He responded to his political incentives quite sensibly.

Now, if you believed 9/11 or larger scale terror attacks were likely in the future, invading Iraq and using lots of National Guardsmen in the occupation was nuts. Disaster preparedness and response should have been a huge priority. But from the political incentive perspective, once that 9/11 scale attack on US soil had happened, Bush's political future would already be over, so there was no point in preparing for it. He couldn't forsee Katrina, which in many ways was the beginning of the end for him.

#788 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 12:06 PM:

Lila @ 783:

A beatifully concise description of my own position. Wish I'd said that.

Now what might a Speakerian political position be? First, personhood and rights should be apportioned in a tiered fashion: first human rights, then animal rights, and lastly corporate rights. Next, all political offices would require some sacrifice proprtional to the power of the job on the part of
the politician. In the case of the highest offices, we should enforce term limits by sacrificing and ceremonially eating the politician at the end of their term. Last, but not least, wages would be changed to reflect the benefits a person actually provides to society: teachers, garbage collectors, and nurses would be paid far more than stock brokers, financial instrument engineers, and Harvard MBAs.

#789 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 12:12 PM:

It was actually Marx-Engel-Hegelism I think, but it's a lot easier saying "Marxism"

#790 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 12:37 PM:

Paula at 789: What was Marx-Engel-Hegelianism?

#791 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 12:43 PM:

Serge at 778:
There was once a book called How to Read Donald Duck, published in Cuba.

#792 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 01:13 PM:

Xopher @774, I don't supposed it's Grace Church van Vorst in Jersey City that you're attending? I used to live near there, and they were a great community resource. Cheap used book sales, art shows, space for community groups. I got to finally see the Star Wars Christmas Special there.

#793 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 01:13 PM:

albatross, #781: I think you've just done a good job of defining "randroid" in a negative-space way: someone who does not modify their Objectivist views based on experience and evidence, but continues to argue that Socialist medicine will inevitably lead to disaster, the governments cannot do anything well, and that the private sector can always do a better job. At that point, it's become their religion, and quoting lines from books by Rand and thinking that wins the argument is the equivalent of "God said it, I believe it, that settles it."

Lila, #783: Wow. I think you've just summed up the whole argument in a nutshell.

#794 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 01:13 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 791... That must have made for an interesting perspective on the American Anatidae.

#795 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 01:37 PM:

I heard that Jean Simmons had passed away on Friday. I expect that Turner Classic Movies will change its schedule for one day soon. Their only problem will be to limit themselves. I mean, if her filmography were a forest, and if you blindfolded yourself before throwing a ball at that forest, the likelihood of hitting a bad movie would be quite low. As for their choices... Heck, remember this movie?

#796 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 01:43 PM:

Avram @ 792: "I got to finally see the Star Wars Christmas Special there."

Wait a minute, I thought you said it was a great community resource.

OB-xkcd

#797 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 01:45 PM:

albatross @782: the press has seldom been a single person -- it's always been at least a small group. Speech, however, usually starts with a single person speaking, and it's originally a one-on-one method of communication. Which is why I say taking the metaphor of corporate "speech" to the point of unlimited ability to pay for mass communication is taking the metaphor of corporate personhood past the breaking point. Corporations can't, literally, speak -- representatives of corporations can, but saying corporations can speak is a metaphor. Similarly, spending for advertising is not speech, except metaphorically. So, it's making a metaphor using a metaphor, and multiply removed from reality.

The press is not, in itself, speech. And it's not a person (it's several) communicating with a person (the audience is several also). So the metaphor is significantly less strained.

#798 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 01:54 PM:

Open Threadedness - I'm going to be in the DC area next month for a few days. It looks like I might have some time Friday early afternoon or Monday morning or early afternoon. If anyone would like to have a cup of tea (or coffee, if you prefer), please send me an e-mail and let me know. (I'll give exact dates via e-mail, rather than broadcast my travel schedule to the world.)

#799 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:04 PM:

WRT names of persons standing in for the field of study, it does seem like it's often a pejorative. Darwinist, Darwinian, and Darwinism are usually used by opponents of evolutionary theory.

And how many times has the ultra-right tried to pin "Marxist" on Obama?

#800 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Trolling for Linux tech support:

So if you're starting out Linux, I advise you to use the same method as I did to get help. Start the sentence with "Linux is gay because it can't do XXX like Windows can". You will have PhDs running to tell you how to solve your problems. ***

Hee.

#801 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:14 PM:

Lee, #793:

At that point, it's become their religion, and quoting lines from books by Rand and thinking that wins the argument is the equivalent of "God said it, I believe it, that settles it."

Dogma, I think, not religion. Other than that, right on!

#802 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:17 PM:

I've frequently heard Darwinian used by evolutionary scientists in a non-pejorative way, Steve. I speak as someone with a degree in Zoology from a school with several very strong Darwinians (as they tend to call themselves) like Michael Ghiselin, David Wake, and Stebbins whose first name I'm forgetting because I never had a class from him.

#803 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Albatross @ 782: Also, the press is explicitly mentioned in the First Amendment, whereas other corporations, either individually or as a class, are not.

Text of the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (Emphasis mine.)

#804 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:28 PM:

King Arthur: Well, we all are. We are all Britons. And I am your king.
Woman: I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.
Dennis: You'rw foolin' yourself! We're living in a dictatorship. A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working class...
Woman: Oh, there you go bringing class into it again.
Dennis: Well, that's what it's all about! If only people would...
King Arthur: Please, please, good people, I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?
Woman: No one lives there.
King Arthur: Then who is your lord?
Woman: We don't have a lord.
Dennis: I told you, we're an anarco-sydicalist commune. We take it in turns to be a sort of executive officer for the week...
King Arthur: Yes...
Dennis: ...but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting...
King Arthur: Yes I see...
Dennis: ...by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs...
King Arthur: Be quiet!
Dennis: ...but by a two thirds majority in the case of...
King Arthur: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
Woman: Order, eh? Who does he think he is?

#805 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:31 PM:

802: Stebbins' first name is probably not Ponder. Alas.

#806 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:32 PM:

Randolph at 800: will that approach work for getting good government?

#807 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:42 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 802 - I guess it depends on from which corner the word is used. According to Wiki, it's neutral in the UK.

#808 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:45 PM:

Apropos of nothing, is there a word for either of these debate tactics/errors?

*Arguing against something your opponent neither expressed nor implied.
*Asking why your opponent never considered something that he or she has in fact discussed before in a public forum.

#809 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:53 PM:

Jenny, the first one would be called a strawman argument.

#810 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:53 PM:

Cygnet @674:

Two roof collapses in that shopping center this winter, one last winter... maybe they should just shut the whole place down until proper inspections and repairs have been done.

I do hope they get it reopened as quickly as possible. That was one of the places I always stopped when I went into town.

#811 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:54 PM:

Jenny @ #808, Can't help on the second, but on the first I think it's called setting up a straw man to knock it down.

#812 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 02:55 PM:

Another opinion on the Darwin words.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/15/lets-get-rid-of-darwinism/

Speaking of words, are there any that you wished retained more of their old meanings or impact? "Awesome" is one I wish wasn't thrown around so much.

#813 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 03:02 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 808: "*Asking why your opponent never considered something that he or she has in fact discussed before in a public forum."

Willful ignorance?

#814 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 03:29 PM:

#787 ::: albatross

Re your speculation if the former caporegime personally believed in what they said and did: have you by chance read or read about The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell (U.S. pub. 2009, trans. fr. French)? It's 1000 + or - pp., and was awarded some serious literary prizes in Europe, as well as generated a great deal of condemnation along with great praise.

The author takes the readers inside the mind of a high nazi officer who is involved with the ever-escalating scope and number of nazi atrocities in WWII, particularly in the east. Its form, like the methodology of the nazi evils, is methodical, organized and carefully bureaucratized, with all the details punctilliously recorded, to ensure no one got blamed for doing or not doing what they were told. Everything was justified by the need to make the reich and the volk safe from their many enemies, with a somewhat less justification of vengeance upon all those who had always worked against Germany and her place in the sun.

Various figures, including the primary protagonist and his point of view, are sickened by the diktats at the beginning. Many are driven mad by them and the way the actions must be carried out. So personal, so up close. The Reich realizes that normal human beings simply cannot commit atrocities against other human beings day in and day out and survive with minds intact -- and though it is not stated, still be useful servants of the reich. The commanding officers become ill, physically and mentally. They commit suicide, they kill each other, they kill the men in their command. Thus the search for more 'efficient' means than bullets, i.e. what became the gas chambers.

As well, the 'decent' men need many levels of less decent men or madmen, between them, who give the orders, and those who carry them out, which leads to ever more personal atrocity committed against individuals victims by individual perpetrators of mass death.

But that is how it works. Even those who knew -- who couldn't do it themselves, it was figured out how to keep them serving the Plan.

In any case, it seems that's how cheney&co worked it too.

I am not finishing this book because I can't stomach the atrocities and the madness. My fiction reading time is before going to sleep. This way madness lies.

Love, C.

#815 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 03:41 PM:

Lila @ 783:

That's a perfect summary of how I feel at this point.

Randolph @ 800:

I wish I could find that funny, but using "gay" in that context never is.

#816 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 04:00 PM:

In a few of the other forums I haunt, I've been offering the conservatives free bags of sand to spread on all those slippery slopes they see.

#817 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 04:22 PM:

Serge #778: You're obviously referring to this book.

#818 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 04:29 PM:

#'s 802/805: I can't for the life of me remember Stebbins' first name--quite possibly George--he went by G. Ledyard.

#819 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 04:36 PM:

Fragano @ 817... I wonder what they have to say about Mickey or Goofy.

#820 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 04:48 PM:

818 and earlier
RC?

#821 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 04:49 PM:

Keith S @815-

I had the same argument this morning! I was substituting as the teacher for confirmation, and as I came in, one girl was loudly telling one of the boys that his hat was "gay." I called her on it, and she got angry. She insisted that it was a legitimate adjective describing something that looks like something that some gay people would wear, and that her tone of voice made it clear that it wasn't negative. I told her we weren't having a debate, that her use of the term was homophobic and therefore unacceptable.

She immediately ran around asking everyone to look at his/her nails, proclaiming loudly that the way you did it indicated whether or not you were gay. I called her on it again. She started yelling that a gay friend told her this, which makes it OK, and also true.

I'll spare you the further details, but she ended up sulking in a corner reading "Twilight" while the rest of us discussed today's lesson, 1 Cor 12 (a whole chapter about how we are all different, and our differences are to be celebrated.) I refrained from using her comments as an object lesson. (Or chickened out, depending on your point of view.)

#822 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 04:53 PM:

KeithS 815: I wish I could find that funny, but using "gay" in that context never is.

Also, if Linux were really gay...wow. The possibilities! Open-source sexuality.

#823 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 05:08 PM:

Except How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic was written by Chilean-American playwright, Ariel Dorfman, and published in Chile (1971), not the Cubans, as was stated. Big difference.

Love, C.

#824 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 05:16 PM:

Erik Nelson @791: There was once a book called How to Read Donald Duck, published in Cuba.

Actually, it was written in the 70s by the cultural advisor to president Salvador Allende of Chile.

I have a copy. It's one of my favorite used books shop finds. It is an interesting read.

#825 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 05:28 PM:

Xopher @ 822 ...
Also, if Linux were really gay...wow. The possibilities! Open-source sexuality.

Let me just say that you've given me some terrible, TERRIBLE mental images there. Picture a certain well known personality[0] ...

[0] One that I decline to name, but has been discussed on makinglight in decidedly unflattering terms in the past...

#826 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 06:19 PM:

xeger @ 825:

And now my mind has gone to Tux the penguin, which is

Segmentation fault (core dumped)

#827 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 06:20 PM:

Erik @ 791: I had several copies of that book at one point. The wholesaler that owned the textbook store I worked at got them and one of the sales guys, who knew I liked weird stuff, brought them to me as a gift, of sorts. It came with the reminder that "This wasn't the sort of thing we wanted in our store." That warning chilled my ordering habits for several minutes, till I saw the Inland catalog.

#828 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 06:22 PM:

Open threadiness: I am almost literally dancing with geeky joy. NPR reports that a couple of collectors of old photos recently discovered that a daguerrotype they've owned since the 1960s is the only known photograph of Phineas Gage.

Gage, for those who haven't run across him or just Googled him, was a railroad worker who, while working in Vermont in the 1840s, had a 3-foot long, 1-inch diameter tamping rod blown clear through his skull...and lived for over a decade afterwards. He is important as the first case in the medical literature of personality change due to traumatic brain injury. A few years ago I was privileged to see his skull, his life mask and the tamping iron at the Harvard med school's museum (thank you, APTA Neuro Section!). I also got a really cool t-shirt.

#829 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 07:35 PM:

Diatryma, #784, I always think of your name as a trial diadem.

Juli Thompson, #798, we need your edress, but since you didn't give it, I'll give you mine: marilee@mjlayman.com

#830 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 07:40 PM:

KeithS @ 826 -- Which wraps back to my response to the "Open Source Boob Project" silliness.

#831 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 07:50 PM:

Tom Whitmore@802: I've frequently heard Darwinian used by evolutionary scientists in a non-pejorative way.

Yes, likewise. Though you do also get Darwinian vs "neo-Darwinian", referring to evolution before and after Mendelian genetics was incorporated.

#832 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 08:56 PM:

Erik Nelson, #791: There's also an essay (soon to be an entire book, it seems) called "How to Read Nancy." In this case it's a pretty interesting look at the craft that went into a very simple comic strip.

#833 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 09:43 PM:

I'd been wondering why you people were being so quiet; then I found out that I'd failed to subscribe to this thread's comments feed. Having read it in a bit of a hurry, I'd like to express my appreciation for these bits of wit:

Rikibeth #258:

ISTR Miss Manners, on the subject of "F* that" insults, saying something like "Miss Manners would like to know why references to a presumably delightful activity are so frequently used as insults. On second thought, no, she wouldn't."

abi #255:

I'm fairly sure he also disobeys his parents, though he may not yet want to write a book.

#834 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2010, 10:31 PM:

#813 heresiarch

It's Big Lie technique. The stinking[expletives deleted] Swift Goats did it with an anti-Coakley ad. They lied, repetitely and got people to believe their lies, and did the same abominable things in 1996....

#835 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 12:01 AM:

Randolph @800,

that story may have come from Randall Munroe, who described this technique in detail during his fundraiser for the EFF/ start of his book tour.

#836 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 12:42 AM:

Kathryn, I remember it as an old Usenet joke.

#837 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 12:45 AM:

How ABOUT THOSE SAINTS!!!!!!

Everyone who knows me knows I care not in the least for sports.

But this is the Saint, this is New Orleans, they are going to the Superbowl. The town is rocking.

Don't miss the New Orleans Saints tribute songs playlist. No wonder the Vikings lost. Woooo, this is WILD! You should see the text messages flooding in, the phones are ringing -- wooooooo!

If there's anything in New Orleans that everyone agrees on, it's GO SAINTS!

Love, C.

#838 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 12:57 AM:

Serge (#804)

Back Many Years Ago, I was having lunch with a lady friend, and a friend of her's (an apparently very staid Lady Of A Certain Age) that was visiting.

We were discussing the JFK presidency, and that it took an SOB like LBJ to get things like the Civil Rights Act through Congress. In regards to something or other I said "Camelot's a very silly place."

My friend's friend then proceeded to rattle off, line-perfect, that entire exchange from Holy Grail.

If I'd had false teeth at the time I'd have dropped them. Once I (or rather we -- it took my friend by surprise as well) got over ourselves and our shock, A Very Good Time Was Had By All.

Gotta be careful about spending too much time looking at the book covers.

#839 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 01:12 AM:

Marilee @829

Urk! I thought that the edress was included in my name, since it's on the comment form. However, I am clearly mistaken, since I don't see it myself. It's juliaDOTaDOTthompson at gmail.com.

My apologies.

#840 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 01:15 AM:

Constance (# 814)

Several years ago I ran across a book that had a very cogent explanation for how the Nazi regime was able to kill millions of people in both brutal and antiseptic manners.

You don't kill 6 million or 8 millions of people.

You kill them one by one by one by one.

The dilemma the Reich ran up against is the same one that is unexpressed by those who want to promote the use of torture for information gathering.

If you agree with the premise (which I do not, and there are too many truly pragmatic reasons that torture is not a viable technique to obtain reliable information), to get meaningful information, uncolored by the passions of a sadist being used as the interrogator, you have to take a rational and balanced human being, and train them to be able to perform actions that only that sadist would otherwise be capable off.

What do you then do with the dispassionate monster you have created, when they go back to the "real" world?

For a very real analog to the monsters we can create, look to the children who are impressed into the armies of various factions in civil wars, and the actions they are capable of when they are placed back into "civil society."

#841 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 01:18 AM:

Gay or not, if there's sexuality in my servers, I need to be careful about putting so many of them in one rack. They're _supposed_ to be working, not cavorting.

Also, I really need to rename 'top' and 'bottom', the two database servers.

#842 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 01:43 AM:

eric, #841: You just made me waste a perfectly good mouthful of iced tea.

#843 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 04:14 AM:

abi: re "the back of my hand": I tend to see it as a dissmissive wave, which wave my involve physical contact. :)

More seriously, it's a sort of sneering handflip. The subject of derision isn't worth the effort to give an actual blow, so a snort and a gesture are enough.

Done in person, it's more offensive than flipping them the bird.

re insults: I call women assholes. I don't know that I'd call one a cocksucker (it's not a term I'd use as an insult, and for those I might have personal knowledge of the recreational behaviors, it's rarely relevant in a way which would bring the word to mind). The "in the ass" reference I see as more crude than homophobic. The idea that it's a violation is strong, it has issues of taboo; and dominance, and shows what a "strong" person the user is, because they think in such hard terms.

Alan Braggins @310: That's an old model. Very similar to the way in which Audobon got his "Birds of N. America" published.

B. Durbin: re "gay". I recall that locution, and use, from 30 years ago. I am not surprised to see it still about.

P.J./Lee: In 1992 the West Valley got 9" in one hour. I was there, it was biblical. If you've not read "To Control Nature" by John McPhee, I commend it, esp. the first section, on water management/flood control in Los Angeles.

#844 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 04:24 AM:

eric, #841: You just made me waste a perfectly good mouthful of iced tea.

#845 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 07:39 AM:

eric@841

Then there's the issue of what happens if the servers start reproducing. All those baby servers crawling around. You'll have to babyproof the entire computer center. And I'm sure the maintenance budget does NOT include server diapers.

I guess this is when you hope that Linux really IS gay...

#846 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 08:31 AM:

Michael I @ 845 ...
And I'm sure the maintenance budget does NOT include server diapers.

Sure it does ... that's why you have a raised floor...

#847 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 08:36 AM:

Constance @837--

GEAUX SAINTS!

(ftfy)

#848 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 09:02 AM:

eric #841: Also, I really need to rename 'top' and 'bottom', the two database servers.

You could rename them "charm" and "strange".

#849 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 09:16 AM:

Terry Karney #843: re insults: I call women assholes. I don't know that I'd call one a cocksucker

That's not on the standard progression in the non-parametric Jerk Deprecatory Terminology list. After 'asshole', you have 'douchebag'. The terms are applicable to all genders, if needed. Recently, I've heard the latter term applied to people who have their Bluetooth headset volume control set so loud that you can hear the other side of their inane phone conversations. If that happens in a movie theater during a show, you are authorized to ratchet up the terminology an additional notch.

#850 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 10:04 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 849 ...
Recently, I've heard the latter term applied to people who have their Bluetooth headset volume control set so loud that you can hear the other side of their inane phone conversations. If that happens in a movie theater during a show, you are authorized to ratchet up the terminology an additional notch.

Heh. I'm rather fond of (outside of movie theatres, where they just need to shut up) having a 'conversation' with the person in question... After all, it -sounds- like they're directing the conversation at me, by volume... (and if nothing else, they eventually get annoyed that you're repeatedly answering them, and Go Away).

#851 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 10:55 AM:

Craig R @ 838... And there was much rejoicing!

By the way, one of the masquerade entries during 2008's worldcon in Denver was by one woman, who simultaneously played five Knights of the Round Table being chased by a many-eyed monster. Yes, one of the knights was Brave Sir Robin.

#852 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Craig R @ 838... As for judging books by their cover... In 1993, when we were still living in the Bay Area, my wife and I were outside the Lumière, waiting in line for Branagh's Much Ado. Ahead if us was an old lady with whom we began to chat, which is how we found that, during WW2, she had been an instructor on the proper use of gas (I think) in a battle situation. Not long after that, when a car doubleparked in front of the theater, this prompted the old lady to suggest that someone should take a hammer and break all of that car's lights.

#853 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Serge (#852)

Well, it looks like more than the bread there can be crusty!

#854 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Steve C #816:

In a few of the other forums I haunt, I've been offering the conservatives free bags of sand to spread on all those slippery slopes they see.

I guess you have a big supply of that sand, from all the conservatives who responded to our concerns about Bush's power grabs, the potential for our torture and wiretapping programs to get out of hand, etc.? And I guess you're comfortable with laws against flag-burning?

Look, this seems like a decision that may have a bad outcome on the world. It may be legally wrong--the fact that it was 5-4 in the SC suggests that at least 4 genuine experts on constitutional law thought so.

But if you want to be able to think rationally about the world, you simply can't use different rules for evaluating arguments, depending on whether you like their outcomes or not, or whether you like the people making the arguments. This is as common as dirt in the blogosphere and the big wide world, but it's a kind of formalized, group-oriented insanity.

The arguments against nation-building or executive branch power grabs or illegal domestic spying didn't substantially change between the Clinton and G W Bush administrations. And yet, the set of people who made and believed those arguments, amazingly, almost completely changed between those two administrations. (And they've changed back, as millions of people who never worried about Bush administration power grabs are frightened of Obama.) I wonder why.

#855 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 01:31 PM:

"Blame the victim" in Bangladesh.

#856 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 01:35 PM:

albatross @ 854 -

But if you want to be able to think rationally about the world, you simply can't use different rules for evaluating arguments, depending on whether you like their outcomes or not, or whether you like the people making the arguments. This is as common as dirt in the blogosphere and the big wide world, but it's a kind of formalized, group-oriented insanity.

It's precisely my experience with the Intertubes that convinces me that rationality and logic are not the best exemplars of human experience. To be sure, they are responsible for our greatest achievements, but they are still primarily tools that satisfy needs.

How we think and decide is inextricably entwined with our emotions -- indeed, we could not reach a decision until our emotions signal that the decision is satisfactory. In any event, I don't believe that accurately evaluating arguments is possible without at least knowing what emotions are influencing them.

If I missed your point, I apologize.

#857 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 02:03 PM:

Craig R @ 853... One must not mess with little old ladies who were in the British military of WW2.

#858 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 02:28 PM:

Encyclopedia Fluorosphericana: I'm trying to identify the songs on an unlabeled compilation CD made by someone else, who doesn't remember what they were either. I've managed to ID everything except this song. It's a classical march, and I think it might also have been used in a movie soundtrack. Can anybody here provide a title and composer?

#859 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 02:39 PM:

nerdycellist @163: I am planning a trip to Poland ... please don't ask "why?" - this is one of my new least favorite questions in response to my trip.

Just give the same answer as for mountains: "Because it's there." :-)

#860 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Shazam sez it's the Crown Imperial - Coronation March by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, from the album English Anthems 2006.

#861 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 02:55 PM:

And, Lee, the composer is William Walton. Here's the wikipedia link.

#862 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 03:14 PM:

Tom: Wow, that was fast! Thanks a lot.

#863 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 03:50 PM:

albatross: I think the two issues (press and speech) are different.

I think the real problem is the source of the idea that corporations are people. It wasn't a point of law. It wasn't an actual holding in a decision.

It has been an ever-growing expansion of a piece of dicta from Union Pacific v. Santa Clara Co. (in which place I am presently sitting).

Business friendly courts have siezed on it to expand the scope of corporation rights, and privileges, without addresssing that they aren't people. That sanctioning them is practically impossible. That they don't have natural lifespans (at least not any longer).

I am late for a lunch date, and am terribly busy right now, but this matters to me, and I will try to make the time to respond to it in a more detailed way; but simply put, I don't think money = speech, esp. where the relative effect of the use of such money is to take advantage of, in many cases, a limited public resource (i.e. the various bandwidths used for broadcast media).

Further, the restriction overturned was, to use the term of art, "content neutral". The great and the small alike were enjoined. It just happens that, unlike sleeping under bridges, this time it is the rich who are being inconvenienced by the law.

#864 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 05:00 PM:

Jenny @ 808: This page might be helpful. It's a listing of fallacies— those all-too-common rhetorical tricks which do not address the argument in question. The very first one is Ad Hominem, attacking the person rather than the argument— and the reason I've stopped commenting on political threads. I have yet to see a political discussion that does not bring that one out fairly quickly.

Though I do harbor some love for the phrase "hit [whoever] upside the head with a clue-by-four."

In regards to "gay behavior being a particular way," I've encountered that attitude before, and it both amuses and appalls me. If you end up with a wide enough array of friends on the sexual spectrum, you'll notice that they've got as many personality traits as any subset of the population. Go figure.

One illustrative anecdote was when I started a job with a group of other new employees and at one lunch break, our immediate boss introduced his girlfriend. After he left, discussion turned towards "I thought he was gay." After I said I didn't, they turned on me and condescended to explain that not all gay people act alike. One girl even said she'd done a paper on it. (Really, she did. I managed to not laugh in her face.)

The entire time I was biting my tongue and not mentioning the trio I was friends with, where at least one of them had been mistaken for the token Angry Straight Guy in his Alternate Sexuality class. Or any of the other ones that weren't fitting whatever their profile was. (I honestly think they thought the boss was gay because he's hyper and a tenor— and inclined to be a little silly at times. Hmm. Maybe "Lord Peter Wimsey" would be an apt description.)

#866 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 06:47 PM:

Constance: What makes it worse is when aid planes are diverted so that celebrities can land. Thank YOU, John Travolta, for bringing in your Scientologist therapists instead of, say, water filters and food packs.

#868 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 07:04 PM:

John Scalzi is now running for president of the SFWA.

#869 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 07:09 PM:

Haiti--the Neocon Nation....
Pre-earthquake Haiti had "small government" -- the neocon and so-called "conversative" political factions in the USA and their dupes prescribe "small government" which provides no regulation, and little in the way of central monitoring and control except for enforcing sectarian-based intrusion and exercising sovereignty over citizen's personal lives, including decisions about reproduction, pregnancy, and supposedly private consensual activities.... Especially, the idea of "small government" eliminates such things as nationally-based and organized disaster preparedness plans and funds and training, cooperative exercises with local and regional personnel; and planning for/ providing equipment, personnel, transportation, and supplies for disaster response.
What else about "small government" ? Oh, no apparatus for monitoring quality of life and providing any safety nets for even the most abuse, mistreated, vulnerable, and unable to fend for themselves people in the countr-- no providing intervention to protect children from abusive parents/homes, no social safety net to provide even temporary support for the injured, the sick, the unemployed, the indigent; not even the most minimal public healthcare provisions for epidemic prevention (look at the role the Reagan years played facilitating the spread of HIV by playing malevolent moralizers with the attitudes "the wages of sin are death, homosexuals who are getting this mystery disease are perverts who deserve to sicken and die, nobody else is getting sick and dying and it only transmit from male to male in "unnatural acts" (which was not the case... but I remember the cries of "The myth of heterosexual transmission of AIDS!" and one of the loudest voices claiming that belonged to Jerry Pournelle))

Haiti had "small government" and little central control, planning, funding, ability to act even... and then an earthquake hit, and all the lack of government and the smallness and ineffectuality and lack of funding and lack of control it had, effected:
a) no building code and no inspections and monitoring and enforcement of any building code which would have produced more earthquake-resistant buildings, power lines, etc.
b) lack of trained personnel and equipment and plans and coordination and training for "first responders" to exist to immediately being rescue and recover operations, perform triage, get the most critical services running agains, distribute food, set up temporary shelter for the new homeless; in an orderly fashion write down lists of the able-bodied survivors, the injured survivors, the severely injuried surviors, the known dead, and the missing...; in an orderly fashion being damage assessment and work on planning operations for determining what to demolish completely, what can be restored, when, and timetables and budgets of labor, materials, and funding to work on the recovery.

Hait's small government was completely unequipped unprepared, lacking in personnel, lacking in plans, and lacking in fund to do any organized effective disaster operations.

#870 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 07:30 PM:

#867: I'd counter this by sending out a mailing from "The Grande Olde Party" soliciting funds for the Conservative Christian Patriot Small Government Victory Fund.

Which would pass it on to animal shelters and the Wilderness Conservancy.

#871 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 07:46 PM:

Xopher @ #867, Stefan @ #870, this one is a little more blatant, but I've gotten similar mailings from the RNC as far back as 2007.

#872 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 07:52 PM:

Add Senator Joe L to the legion of those who think that the US Constitutional protections are only for the "right sort," and don't apply to the arrested-but-preconvicted:

Leiberman is pissed that the FBI read Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab his Miranda rights

#873 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 08:57 PM:

Haiti's small gummit functions only to extract all resources from the people for itself and its extra-national supporters, i.e., what the Haitian people do have is staggering debt. Yes, we are looking at you, IMF, and so many others.

What the U.S. military / naval first responders were there for, as in New Orleans, was to keep Haitians safely penned on the island, and to, to use the words of Gates his very own self: " ... to prevent larger unrest."

Damn those looters showing up so late, after days and days of no water, no food, no aid, no relief.

Love, c.

#874 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 09:16 PM:

B. Durbin--So, you said you hadn't assumed a man was gay, and they proceeded to condescendingly explain to you that not all gay people act alike? Presumably on the theory that they can therefore assume anyone random is gay on no basis whatsoever, because he might be?

OK, I could deal with assuming everyone is gay, as a change from assuming everyone is straight, but I somehow doubt that's what was going on.

#875 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 09:33 PM:

Craig R. #872: Leiberman is pissed that the FBI read Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab his Miranda rights

Submitted in nomination for Euphemism of the Year: "unprivileged enemy belligerent".

#876 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 09:52 PM:

Lee @862 -- you might ask a friend who has an iPhone to let you play with Shazam. For most digitally available music, it can identify it with about a 30 second sample. It's impressive.

Or, to reference Arlo Guthrie:
"Just what I always wanted!"
"An iPhone?"
"No, a friend with an iPhone."

#877 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Terry, #863: Further, the restriction overturned was, to use the term of art, "content neutral". The great and the small alike were enjoined. It just happens that, unlike sleeping under bridges, this time it is the rich who are being inconvenienced by the law.

Thank you -- I've been trying to word this concept, and couldn't get it to jell. The Supreme Court took the only thing that was keeping the playing field even partway level and threw it in the trash. No, worse -- they threw it ON US.

Tom, #876: I've seen commercials for it, and it's one of the few things that's ever seriously tempted me to get Internet access on my cellphone. You would not believe how often I hear something playing on a store soundtrack that I like but don't recognize, and asking the people behind the counter what it is almost never works.

#878 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 11:36 PM:

Lee -- it can work in a crowded store or the like, but it also often fails there -- the ambient noise confuses its little synapses, sometimes. I'm actually surprised at how often it works there, though!

#879 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 11:36 PM:

By the way, I've heard that AT&T will lose its exclusivity with iPhone soon, opening it up to other carriers (no news about which ones yet, though).

#880 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 12:05 AM:

Shazam works by magic and fairies as far as I can tell. I can think of ways to do what it does, but I can't figure out how they do it so fast. Most of the time between finishing recording and identifying the song must be taken up with sending data back and forth, particularly over EDGE (I still have the first iPhone). And yet they take any 10 seconds of a song, presumably compress the recording somehow to send it, process the signal in some extremely robust way (because it differentiates similar-sounding covers and corrects for up to a certain level of ambient noise -- which may be road noise in a car, chatter in a restaurant, etc.), compare it to what must be a really enormous database, make the identification (or decide that it can't be made), and send it back to you, all in a matter of 30 seconds or less.

I am forced to conclude magic and fairies.

#881 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 12:07 AM:

By the way (again), if you're thinking about upgrading your FireFox browser to v3.6, be aware that the Leet Key plugin hasn't been made compatible with the new version yet.

#882 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 12:38 AM:

Xopher @ 867... I am shocked, shocked!

#883 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 12:58 AM:

Caroline @ #880, from Shazam's About page:

"This clip is run through our database of over 8 million tracks (which extends back to the '50s) to find an exact fingerprint match."

8 million tracks makes my 4,300 song iTunes library look anemic.

#884 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 12:58 AM:

Caroline @ 880: They might be using some variation of this clever trick (PDF), exploiting a similarity metric that emerges as an unintended consequence of standard compression algorithms. Definitely one for the "wish I'd thought of that" file.

#885 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 01:15 AM:

Shazam? Not Kimota?

#886 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 09:29 AM:

Watching 1959's Hound of the Baskervilles last night was quite a revelation. I mean, Peter Cushing is the same height as yours truly, but he looked short next to Christopher Lee.

A trivia question... Can you tell which actors who appeared in the above also were involved in Lord of the Rings?

#887 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 09:50 AM:

I suddenly feel like Earl Holliman.

#888 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 10:11 AM:

Tim Walters @ 884, that's neat!

#889 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 10:21 AM:

Thesis: "It's a Wonderful Life"
Antithesis: "Atlas Shrugged"

#890 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 10:52 AM:

Caroline@880:

Following a garden path through links got me to this paper by Avery Li-Chun Wang, who was doing this sort of work for his PhD at Stanford before co-founding Shazam. (One link earlier in the garden path was this summary of the above paper by Bryan Jacobs.)

The short form is that they found (by magic) a really robust hashing algorithm (the fairies). Then they got bought by BMI (the ogres? the trolls under the bridge?), which gave them a huge music catalog (often used as a club).

#891 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 10:55 AM:

Or maybe the patents are the club. I can't claim to have thought that metaphor through to the end.

#892 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 11:07 AM:

Tim and Caroline:

Yeah, I'd heard of people using variants of that trick to determine (for example) source language of text, but not to compare audio files. Very cool.

I started thinking about this problem for awhile, and came up with some half-baked ideas for how to approach it. Then I decided to ask Google, and got this PDF file of a paper explaining the algorithm. Very cool tricks--I especially like how they turned the spectrogram into a set of fingerprint-like "features" which could then be matched in a database.

My favorite quote from the paper was at the end:
The algorithm was designed specifically to target recognition of sound files that are already present in the database. It is not expected to generalize to live recordings.
That said, we have anecdotally discovered several artists in concert who apparently either have extremely accurate and reproducible timing (with millisecond precision), or are more plausibly lip synching.

#893 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 11:17 AM:

David:

Dang, I should have refreshed! But a Slate article with a link to that paper was one of the first links I got from Google with the question "How does Shazam work?"

That is one pretty algorithm.

#894 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 11:22 AM:

albatross@892: The extraction of a set of discrete "features" is a standard technique in audio matching. Most (all?) speech recognition algorithms start with that step, for example. The place where the magic and fairies come in is in the choice of features. When you add in their requirements to work in a noisy environment, remain invariant over GSM compression, allow starting at a random place in a song, and permit a fast lookup, you're talking about a really nice result.

(Disclaimer: I did work in speech recognition for seven or eight years, but that was eight or nine years ago. Anything I say about the state of the art should be time-shifted appropriately.)

#895 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 02:21 PM:

albatross @ 892: I love the quote! An interesting test, whether "live" recordings are or are not different from the studio recordings of the same song by the same artist. I remember when first listening to some live recording albums of Loreena McKennitt, differences in some of the songs were really noticable.

#896 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 02:30 PM:

Long ago I was working at a place that was doing speech recognition on noisy, partial messages, at low data rates. It used Hamming distance calculation techniques, and rising edge of waveforms analysis. I don't remember a whole lot else about it. I also remember being in the anechoic chamber at Lincoln Lab getting a demo in adaptive noise suppression algorithm use, which cleaned something up with a really horrendous signal to noise ratio....

#897 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 04:32 PM:

"Filmmaker Who Broke ACORN Story Arrested For Attempted Bugging Of Landrieu's Office"

That's Senator Landrieu's office.

"The AP is reporting that Flanagan [one of those arrested] is the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan in Shreveport."

Flanagan is a Bush appointee.

#898 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 08:28 PM:

Sounds like it's time to brush up on the Watergate Scandal Happy Dance.

#899 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 10:36 PM:

Back when I used to hang out with a lot of other libertarians, it was expected that most of us would be familiar with Rand's writings but not swallow everything whole. The standard joke about Randroids was to say that they carrier zippered, leather-bound copies of Atlas Shrugged with the words of John Galt in red.

#900 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 10:54 PM:

Odd question for the Fluorosphere -- I've found a later printing of Beatrix Potter's THE TALE OF MR. TOD rebound in full red Morocco leather, gold tooling and decorations, marbled endpapers (and no sign of the decorated endpapers found in the first edition). The binding is marked as from the Bathtun Bindery in Bath, England. The spine of the binding says 1912, but that was the book's publication date and this is neither of the actual 1912 printings so I don't believe it's the date the book was bound. My google-fu turns up nothing on the Bathtun bindery, and I'm wondering if snyone here knows of it. TIA for info!

#901 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 10:59 PM:

Earl #898, do you mean the Mark Slackmeyer "Guilty! GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY!" dance?

(I cannot tell you how much glee it gave me to see that reprised in 1987. I had been WAITING for it.)

#902 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 12:51 AM:

Here's a progressive note from Oregon: the state ballot measures 66 and 67 appear to have passed. With more than half the votes counted, the "Yes" votes on both measures are coming in at about 54%. These are small tax increases which will keep some teachers working, emergency services funded, and all that sort of thing.

One measures raises state income taxes on individuals at the very top brackets by about 1%, and the other increases corporate income taxes. Prior to this, the vast majority of Oregon businesses paid a minimum tax of $10. The minimum is increased to $150, as well as some other changes.

See Stefan Jones @ 697 for some commentary on the advertising that was run on the front page of the Oregonian, calling for voters to oppose these measures. I wonder if the opponents would have gotten more traction if they hadn't lied so obviously. They said that raising the corporate income tax by a tiny amount would destroy tens of thousands of jobs. I'm sure that I wasn't the only person thinking "if paying $150 a year means laying someone off, then you really weren't paying them enough". They also claimed that the state was giving raises while demanding more in taxes, when state employees have received no raises, and in fact are taking unpaid furloughs.

#903 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 12:57 AM:

Tom @900: Could the name conceivably be Bayntun instead of "Bathtun"?

#904 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 01:12 AM:

I've never been able to force myself through anything I tried to read written by Ayn Rand. I gave up within a handful of pages.

Meanwhile, the slothlike pace of debushification infuriates me.... Slime molds, which is what the appartchiks and burrowed in appointees of 2001-2008 are components of, move a LOT faster, and destroy and noxiously contaminate otherwise whatever they contact and ooze all over....

#905 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 02:38 AM:

Janetl, #902: Ohforghodsake. I only made about $2,000 in net income with my business last year, and I would consider a $10 minimum tax to be ludicrously inadequate!* If paying $150 is going to put you under, you've got worse problems than taxes.

* Obviously, my business isn't paying my bills yet. If I didn't have other sources of income, I'd be doing something else. But that's kind of my point.

#906 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 09:41 AM:

Julie L @903 -- by George, I think you've got it! Right location, right period, and the lettering could just possibly be that. Thank you.

It's a pretty cool little book.

#907 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 10:32 AM:

dcb@895: I love and collect live music (I have somewhere upwards of 2,000 shows at the moment, and it could be that I have twice that or more - I've only been keeping meticulous records of what I transcode for about two years, so anything before that, or anything that's MP3 sourced, isn't catalogued; many only exist on CDs or DVDs, so a catalogue is possible, but on the to-do list). The shows that show the highest number of plays, and the ones that make the move to my portable devices and laptop, are generally ones that have at least some songs whose performance differs significantly from the studio version.

After all, if I wanted to listen to the album, I could buy and play that, instead.

That said, there are some artists who do what amounts to onstage readings of their studio performances. But not, in my experience, most.

#908 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 11:30 AM:

Open threadiness, related to the bullying thread a while back: MSNBC article on lingering health effects of chronic bullying

#909 ::: rgh ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 11:34 AM:

On the marxist thing, I've found a tendency on the part of christians all my life to describe marxists as dogmatic, when the beam is surely in their eye.

Marx called his philosophy scientific socialism, and at one point felt the need to distance himself from supposed Marxists:
http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:HwrOJzm15iwJ:www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1890/letters/90_08_05.htm+all+i+know+is+that+i+am+no+marxist&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

I think it may be Hal Draper who pointed out that -ist is usually attached by their followers to the most prominent proponent of a particular political position after their death (to avoid the adulation thang), -ite is more usually attached by those who disagree, -ian is used as an academic suffix.

Marx, along with Engels, developed a grounding of socialist political philosophy in the exploitation of workers by a capitalist class which as far as I'm aware noone has done with the same rigour independently of his work,which is why his ideas still dominate left political thinking.

#910 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 01:10 PM:

I'm really, really glad that those tax measures passed, but I'm especially glad that the ADVERTISING is over.

Especially on TV and radio.

The "yes" adverts had a breathless, whiny tone, but the "no" spots were like root canal. Grinding, ominous music, bulshyt about government "not tightening its belt like the rest of us."

#911 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 01:15 PM:

Another Flash animation I am proud to have created; multibody gravity simulator.

captaincormorant.com/flashstuff/gravitationsystem.swf

My whole Flash animation collection at captaincormorant.com/flashstuff

#912 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 01:50 PM:

I'm appealing for computer help:

Earlier, my home computer (a Macbook) stopped being able to get to a few sites, most annoyingly Linkmeister's. I could take the laptop elsewhere and it would pick it up fine. Comcast denied any responsibility. Eventually, I had to get a new Airport, and that fixed the problem.

Now, I'm having the same kind of problem with gmail. The little circle goes round and round, the blue bar moves part way across the white one and stops, and that's it.

This is a real problem. Gmail is blocked at work, so I have no quick, simple work around. Does anyone have any ideas about what is causing this, and what I can do to fix it?

I know that a couple people have responded to me, but I can't reply right now. I'll try to stop by the library tonight and check e-mail there.

#913 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 02:01 PM:

Apple has announced the Ipad, and they will be marketing electronic books for it.

#914 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 02:27 PM:

KeithS @344: A pannier question...

Actually the solution that I've come to that's the least hassle is putting my groceries in "saddlebags" on my backpack. I use those net bags that expand to a truly ridiculous volume. I tie the handles together, and drape the whole business over the place where my pack's shoulder straps meet the pack body. (A store-bought pack might take some fiddling to keep the bag handles from sliding off; my pack has "shoulders" which trap the bag handles in place against my back.)

Then it doesn't matter if I'm on foot or on my bike. I just walk out of the store and go home.

#915 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 03:00 PM:

Jacque @ 914:

That sounds like a pretty clever solution, actually, although I'm not sure how well it would work for me, personally.

Regarding the copy editor particle:

If laughing so hard that you have to stifle yourself for fear of scaring the neighbors is wrong, I don't want to be right.

#916 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 03:14 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 913 -

Yep, and I think McGraw-Hill is going to start porting all their textbooks over to it.

Mr. Jobs is going to get another couple of billion dollars. :-)

I want one, even if he just made my Kindle obsolete.

#917 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 03:30 PM:

I'm afraid the iPad just doesn't grab me. I can put up with the iPhone's "my way or the highway" software model because the small form factor means that even a responsive, multithreaded browser would be difficult to use (to choose one example).

I suspect I'm not going to go for any more of Apple's locked-down software platforms. I just don't agree with enough of their decisions about what I shouldn't want to do with my equipment.

Now, an open-source version might be fun. And maybe there's a killer app out there somewhere for the iPad. But I'm not squeeing at the moment.

#918 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 03:38 PM:

Bruce Adelsohn @ 907

I agree. No point in having more than one recording of the same piece by the same person unless they really are different. Glad that in your experience live performances generally are indeed live, with their own variations.

Also of course, the same piece of music played/sung by different people can be very different. The piece of music we chose for our wedding (when one of the cats turned on the clock-radio by walking over it one lazy Sunday morning) sounded joyful. Luckily, we noted conductor and orchestra, and found the recording we wanted. Same piece I've heard since by a different conductor/orchestra and it sounded triumphant - not what we would have wanted at all.

#919 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 03:38 PM:

Call me a phillistine...
("Serge, we got thru to Phyllis Diller on Line Two.")
...but the idea of a whole library being kept inside one device would make me very nervous even if I managed never to drop it, or spill coffee on it. One co-worker's cell phone recently malfunctionned, and his whole phonebook and appointment calendar are completely gone.

#920 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 03:53 PM:

My reaction is it's like a computer, and less.

And I already have a computer.

#921 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 04:07 PM:

I just don't agree with enough of their decisions about what I shouldn't want to do with my equipment.

I feel the same way about the Roman Catholic Church.

#922 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 04:10 PM:

I've had a Samsung Q1 for several year now. It's about a pound and a half, has a touchscreen, has Bluetooth and WiFi, runs Vista (underpowered, alas it's got only 1 GB of memory), a 40 GB hard drive, two USB port, a CF slot (not much use, that....), external monitor port, I forget what size the display is (not enough pixels of course...)... I tend to carry an external USB keyboard with built-in touchpad with me if goign to use it more than casually. I have books loaded on it which I can read...

I don't see what is so revolutionary about the iPad... full up tablet computers are NOTHING new, they were around in the 1980s, even, just not popular items. Industrial computer makers have been selling them for years in use in warehouses and out in the field, but ruggedized units that work after being dropped onto a concrete floor or when it's freezing out and the weather is rotten, and which have inputs for accepting sensor data, cost sigificantly more than consumer fad of the quarter products....

Though Circuit City didn't -sell-, them, internally before it went out of business, that retailer used Fujitsu touchscreen palmtop Windows personal computers for inventory control and information call-up...

#923 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 04:41 PM:

Xopher @921:

Thus your decision to go for an open-source religion where you can compile your own creed, yes?

#924 ::: dbourne ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 04:57 PM:

Serge @ 919

"the idea of a whole library being kept inside one device would make me very nervous even if I managed never to drop it, or spill coffee on it." That's what backups are for (says she, with three desktop HDDs ranging from 20 - 500 MB and two mobile HDDs, 80 & 320 MB - it's amazing how storage has moved pn in the last few years), daily backups to HDD, weekly DVD of the current project & associated dowloaded files etc., etc.).

Xopher @ 921: I'm really glad I didn't have a mouthful of drink when I read that!

922 ::: Paula Lieberman @ 922: I'm still using a Psion 5mx as a carry-all-the time for addressbook, diary, notes to self, writing papers, books database, library of e-books to read and so on. Okay, I never got the Psion hooked up to the internet, but I could have done, via my mobile 'phone, if I'd needed to, and some people have even written websites on them. And it weighs 350g, fits into a large jacket pocket and runs of a couple of AA batteries for well over 10 hours. I did recently treat myself to a netbook, but that's for work, to save my back when travelling. It has 10 hour battery life too - and I don't want the keyboard on the screen.

#925 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 05:25 PM:

dbourne = dcb...

#926 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 05:31 PM:

I hear that Kage Baker's doctors have stopped her cancer treatments and that she doesn't many weeks left to live.

#927 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 06:09 PM:

abi 923: Indeed. Moreover, while most of us Wiccans use energy drawn from the Earth to do our magic, there has also been another kind of magic for millennia. Sorcerors are people who do magic by summoning and binding daimons (aka demons) and forcing them to do their bidding.

Contrary to popular belief, not all daimons are evil. However, they do tend to resent the people who enslave them! For that reason I've started putting together a code of ethics for daimon-related magic, including such things as "ask, don't order" and "invite, don't bind."

Yes, I'm compiling the sorcerors' code...

#928 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 06:20 PM:

Serge 926: Sad but true. Scalzi blogs it here, and includes a note from her sister and a link to a story of hers, published online.

We're losing all the best people.

#929 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 06:26 PM:

Xopher... Or, as Cory Doctorow wrote in issue #586 of Locus, page 61...

"And With a Little Help is about taking that and slightly formalizing the process, and recognizing that science-fiction especially (but bookselling in general) is not an entirely commercial affair. There's a dimension of bookselling that's outside the market: a kind of 'favors' economy, except that it's not really an economy. It's not quite quid pro quo, tit-for-tat: it's more like pay it forward, or do it because it's a nice idea, or do it because we're all pals. Sometimes it feels like 'from each to his ability, for each according to his need'. There's a reason why we held charity auctions for George Effinger for 15 years, and it's not just because he was broke or because he deserved it, but because that's what you do when you're part of the community."

The community.

#930 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 08:03 PM:

Xopher, #921: *snerk*

Of open-thread interest: Fighting government corruption in India.

#931 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:12 AM:

abi: Are you saying Xopher has a bazaar religion? :)

#932 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:50 AM:

One (1) each segue to Open Thread 135 (for those of us who are running behind...)

#933 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 02:26 PM:

re Kage: I didn't want to mention it here when I heard about it. She is a wondeful person, and losing her hurts.

I've never read any of her books. My memories of her will be personal. It sucks.

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