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May 27, 2010

Open thread 141
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:44 PM *

On August 12, 2000, the Russian submarine K-141 Kursk sank in the Barents Sea. Investigators later concluded that a quantity of hydrogen peroxide propellant leaked and caught fire in the torpedo room. The fire then detonated all of the ammunition on board. Although 23 of the 118 men on the sub survived both blasts, none lived to be rescued.

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly ten years. I remember those tense days, dancing with frustration that the Russian government didn’t ask for help with the rescue sooner, hoping that the rumors of tapping sounds from inside the sub were true, feeling crushed when that hope proved false.

We focus so much on these disasters and the people caught up in them: the woman who ran back toward a tsunami to reach her children, the last survivors pulled from the rubble after earthquakes, missing miners and office workers. Safety experts call it rubbernecking and tell us not to do it where we might become casualties ourselves (and they’re right). But there’s more to this pull than just the hunger for the dramatic.

Our capacity to care about these stories, these people, is part of what it is to be human. It’s what makes us love and makes us lovable. And though of course I would rather that the Kursk had not sunk or its crew died, I would not trade my ability to grieve for them for any treasure you could name.

Comments on Open thread 141:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 07:03 PM:


To be continued.

#2 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 07:08 PM:

My God, what a world, that has such fanfic in it!

I followed the fanfic particle's Via link, then that blog post's link to Charlie Stross (because I like Charlie) and started reading the comments (the quality of the comments is why I don't read Charlie's blog all the time - they're so good I'd do nothing else) and they linked to this:

Go. Read. It. It is essentially "What would happen if Harry Potter had been replaced by Miles Vorkosigan at birth" and it is fantastic.

The Vorkosigan Saga does not appear in that fanfic list, by the way - despite the fact that Cordelia's Honor started as Star Trek fanfic, then had its serial numbers filed off for later publication (according to an author's note somewhere).

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 07:11 PM:

Was the Kursk sinking ten years ago? Astonishing.

* * *

I keep a pair of heavy work gloves in my work place and in my car specifically in case I'm called to handle something sharp or burning in an emergency.

What we need is a lightweight folding Halligan Bar that fits in a glove compartment.

#4 ::: Rick York ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 07:45 PM:

Most of my life I was conditioned to believe that humans and their genes were entirely selfish.

Then, along came VS Ramachandran and his colleagues with their discovery of Mirror Neurons. These neurons essentially allow us to "feel each other's pain". Once you experience, or even imagine, the pain of touching a hot stove, you will feel an echo of that pain when you watch another person do the same thing.

This is an oversimplification but, the discovery of mirror neurons may well provide the neurological foundation for the empathy that most humans feel for others.

By the way, am I missing something? I did not see any reference to Fanfic in this post. I know it was discussed before but, nothing here.

#5 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 07:48 PM:

Rick, it's an Open Thread. Michael is referring to Teresa's latest Particle.

#6 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 07:52 PM:

Rick: The fanfic reference was to a sidebar "particle."

Top one under "TNH's Particles."

* * *

RE Mirror Neurons:

Jeremy Rifkin (!!!) lectures on "The Empathic Civilization," illustrated on the fly:

Fascinating and compelling.

#7 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 07:59 PM:

Alas, Kursk. Remember Marooned? I'm averse to spoiling things, so I'll cipher it: Gur Ehffvna fcnprpensg pbzrf gb gur nvq bs gur qvfnoyrq HF pncfhyr sbe n unccl raqvat. Gbb onq gurl jbhyqa'g yrg vg cynl bhg va erirefr.

#8 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 08:08 PM:

query to the experience of those who know books:
Has the average book gotten longer lately? It seems that way.

#9 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 08:17 PM:

Flew into Madison today. A sign at the airport reads STAND AND DELIVERIES ONLY.

#10 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 08:20 PM:

Erik Nelson @ #8, from a review I wrote of Walking Back the Cat by Robert Littell (pub. 2008):

It takes Littell only 220 pages to do what it took Ludlum 544 pages to do in The Bourne Identity; the plots are very similar.
The Ludlum book was first published in 1966. Book lengths work both ways.

That said, I agree with you that what used to take 150-160 pages (Stout's Nero Wolfe books) now seems to take 300-400 pages. Do authors subconsciously feel they need to justify the $7.99 - $9.99 price for paperbacks by adding more plot or pages? ;)

#11 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 08:45 PM:

The question of book length was actually addressed at a talk at the 2008 Denver WorldCon— though not quite the way you'd expect. The actual answer from the editor went along the lines of annoyance that modern authors in science fiction and fantasy seemed to think that excessive book lengths were required, when in fact she'd love to have books that worked out to 300 pages or thereabouts*, because the cost/benefit balance started going down after that length.

As for shorter— 200 pages or fewer— I think the problem is that the books will disappear on the sales shelf at that point. Even at home I can lose track of, say, Little Fuzzy when it's overwhelmed by a book of K.J. Parker's.

*This is from memory, so I will gladly take a length correction if I'm wrong.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 09:11 PM:

The dark disaster: broken by harsh light,
patter of voices, sound of running feet;
these lives that ended, they were not so sweet.
That does not matter, for we had no right
to trample these brief hopes in the hot night
ignoring the short cry of 'mi nu dweet'.
The blotless orders always seem so neat,
not so the blood and ordure in our sight.
The noble man, no brute, can't bear the blame,
see how the sorrow weighs upon his face
adding it seems another dozen years;
we will not think of yet another name,
the one whose presence we can't seem to trace
who sums up all our terrors and our fears.

#13 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 09:56 PM:

Steven desJardins @9:

Flew into Madison today. A sign at the airport reads STAND AND DELIVERIES ONLY.

Preferred parking for the TSA?

#14 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 10:18 PM:

jnh @ #13, or a black-horsed man inspired by Alfred Noyes.

(If anyone can explain why poems I've not read in 45 years suddenly come to mind simply by reading a single phrase, I'd appreciate it.)

#15 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 10:22 PM:

Linkmeister, you may not have read it recently, but have you listened to Loreena McKennitt in the intervening time? She's done a musical setting of that poem.

(Me, I think of Adam Ant and his beautiful hussar's jacket.)

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 10:27 PM:

Rikibeth, no, I haven't heard that. I'll look for it. Thanks.

#17 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 10:29 PM:

Ha! Rikibeth, it's on YouTube.

#18 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 10:51 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 2: "What would happen if Harry Potter had been replaced by Miles Vorkosigan at birth"

Huh. Imagine that they were literally swapped at birth. "Harry Potter" at Hogwarts with Miles' physical limitations, intelligence and drive, and no magical ability whatsoever. Still bearing the scar and the protection from his mother's sacrifice. "Miles Vorkosigan" who's a lot healthier than his parents had any right to expect, not quite as stellar intellectually, but occasional random magical effects pop up in his vicinity -- the "Warrior's Apprentice" story comes out closer to the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" than it used to. He'll never receive any training and will never find a wand, so never will be much of a wizard.

#19 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 11:15 PM:

Replies from OT140

Stefan Jones @764:
When you hear the letter 'A'
Andropov is the name to say
The letter 'B' is next in line
Brezhnev's dead, so he'll do just fine
'C' is for Chernenko
It's the ABCs of Dead Russian Leaders
The ABCs of Dead Russian Leaders

Xopher @791:
"Pangs of dispriz'd love," I thought.

ajay @802:
I'll guess that the Marx Brothers Hamlet you refer to is "A Night in Elsinore," which can be found by searching. I recommend this to anybody who didn't get enough Marx Brothers dialog already and is ready for a pretty good pastiche in a Hamlet mode. It seems like a patchwork of quotes, which is impressive as it seems to be original material. I'm afraid that one more URL will put me in the tank.

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2010, 11:59 PM:

Rikibeth @ 15... Is Adam Ant as adamant as Atom Ant on a rant?

#21 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 01:00 AM:

Joel @18, that's kind of depressing.

Casting caution and my laughable excuse for a daily schedule to the winds, I read the rest of the currently finished part of the fanfic in question, and it only gets better throughout. And I get exactly the same sense of joyful delight from it as I do from reading about Miles Vorkosigan. Truly amazing, that somebody could have captured so effectively what I considered Bujold's unique genius. Occasionally I read Vorkosigan fanfic (there isn't much) and I've never found anybody to get it right.

A Civil Affair ranks in my top five favorite books of all time, and I still plan to do some architectural drawings of Vorbarr Sultana someday. Real Soon Now.

Anybody remember the Brunching Shuttlecocks feature on Harry Potter? Would have been around the time of the first movie release, I think - the basic premise is that you find yourself at Hogwarts, and it's a choose-your-adventure, but there's only one segment in the graph: you are immediately killed because you're a Muggle. Which in retrospect is hilarious because it inverts the implied Mary-Sue premise, but when I read it, all I had available was, "What the hell is a Muggle?"

Good times.

#22 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 01:01 AM:

Three Open Threads ago, someone by the name of "The Modesto Kid" mentioned LibriVox. I've started doing some recording for them, including performing a part in a Shakespeare play and signing up for another such.

It's inspired me with an idea for a project: to get people to record the parts in Jo Walton's Tam Lin Shakespeare pastiche and edit them into a production, which would then be released under a Creative Commons license. (And distributed...somehow. I'll think about that when and if I actually get it done!)

The play has five male and five female parts. I have a couple of people lined up already, but I need more. Anyone interested, please contact me via email at

(where "example" is actually "gmail"...I don't want to put the whole unmunged string out, lest the spambots get it.)

Recording is pretty easy, you just need a microphone and some free open-source software. Also, if people are going to this year's Farthing Party, I may be able to work with you on doing recording there.

#23 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 01:17 AM:

For your consideration: I've just released a single (for free download in both compressed and lossless formats) that I think y'all might enjoy. The A-side, "Syllogismobile," is an interdimensional love story inspired by the DeCamp and Pratt's Incompleat Enchanter. The B-side is less genre-tastic, but does sneak in a bit of "Appointment In Samarra."

Featuring Amy X Neuburg on vocals, Ryan Avery on violin, Tom Dambly on trumpet, and Mark Jeffery on guitar. If you like geeky, nigh-unto-filk pop music, this should tickle your fancy.

#24 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 01:40 AM:

Of the many side stories about the VA tech shooter, the one that's stayed with me was about the Jewish professor who was a Holocaust survivor who held the door of his classroom shut while the shooter tried to force it in, giving his students enough time to escape through the windows. I get choked up thinking about it.

#25 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 05:47 AM:

AKICITF ... does anyone remember a book of essays on Shakespeare, published by Penguin or Puffin in the early 1980s and aimed at teenage students? For example, there was Germaine Greer on MND (shorter Greer: it's the Sex, stupid). Cover was a photo of a Shaky statue, probably the one in Stratford. I remember it as being really good, despite the gimmickry, and would love to track down a copy for Eldest Daughter, who's now in the demographic I then occupied. Any recollections of title or editor or anything that would make it findable gratefully received.

#26 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 08:40 AM:

Keith Kisser @ 24: Liviu Librescu -- he will not be forgotten.

זכר קדוש לברכה (Zekher kadosh livrakha)

#27 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 08:49 AM:

Erik Nelson @ 8: It could be a measure of the fact that it's just easier to produce manuscript these days. When you make a mistake you don't have to get out the correction tape; you just hit backspace.

Note, for example, what happened to the length of the Harry Potter books once Rowling got a word processing program.

#28 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 09:07 AM:

Rikibeth @15 and Linkmeister @14,16,17: Phil Ochs set "The Highwayman" to music noticeably earlier. It's on YouTube, too (though not the best version I've ever heard).

#29 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 09:59 AM:

Because AKICIML: in the first paragraph of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis says that Eustace's parents "were vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotallers and wore a special kind of underclothes."

What kind of underclothes did he mean? The possibilities are unsettling.

Here's a trivia tidbit in trade: recently I was reading a memoir of 1960s San Francisco (the Owsley era.) When the author has occasion to refer to Mordor, he describes it as "Mordor, from the Trilogy." Not "Tolkien," not "The Lord of the Rings" but The Trilogy.

#30 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 10:19 AM:

LDR @29:

Second paragraph.

I discovered that I have the first three paragraphs of that book memorized when I started reading it in Dutch. And that particular sentence is really delightful in Dutch:

Ze waren vegetariër, rookten niet, dronken niet en droegen een speciaal soort gezondheidsondergoed.

The translator (Madeleine van den Bovenkamp-Gordeau) manages to work the concept of "healthy", which is only implied in the English, into the term for the special underwear.

#31 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 10:21 AM:

"What kind of underclothes did he mean? The possibilities are unsettling."

Given the other characteristics of Eustace's parents, I'm guessing Lewis had something in mind along the lines of Dr. Jaeger's woolen underclothing. Jaeger's clothing reform movement, which, among other things, argued that wearing wool against the skin promoted health, was popular among some British vegetarians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, George Bernard Shaw being one of the more prominent examples.

There were various other clothing reform movements around the same time, though this seems to have been the most popular one involving underwear. (Bloomers appeared around the same time, though while that term is sometimes used nowadays to describe a particular kind of underwear, bloomers appear to have been originally intended as outer clothing.)

Julia Twigg wrote an interesting-looking dissertation in 1981 that's now online, called The Vegetarian Movement in England, 1847-1981: A Study in the Structure of its Ideology, which talks about this and related social trends of the time.

#32 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 10:22 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 21 -- I didn't mean the idea to be depressing! One of Bujold's usual storytelling approaches is to ask "what's the worst thing that could happen to this character?" and then to let the character overcome the problem. Miles, in Harry Potter's situation, wouldn't be able to handle a number of the usual Hogwarts curriculum items, but people would still be reacting to and plotting around "The Boy Who Lived".

Harry, in Miles' situation, with a high serendipitous/random-magic factor... would be a Rowling character.

LDR @ 29 -- Perhaps Tolkien was thinking about something like Mormon underwear?

#33 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 10:23 AM:

Continuing discussion from Open Thread 140, where Guthrie @916 said Does anyone else find that the appetite for fiction decreases as you get a bit older and more immersed in hobbies that involve research and reading? Plus I've seen enough stories and plots and characters that things get a little repetitive, or so it feels. Whereas non-fiction keeps growing as I get more and more into things and need rarer, thicker books to tell me what I want to know.

and ddb @921 said Not sure what's going on with my appetite for reading. I still love all my old favorites, and my latest discovery is the thrillers of John Sandford, so I don't think I'm acquiring refined literary tastes in my old age. But I'm definitely reading less SF and very little fantasy outside of rereads.

I have the impression that there's less I really like being published than there used to be; whether that represents ignorance, a change in my tastes, or a change in what is being published is less clear to me (probably all three to varying extents).

I used to never read nonfiction by choice. When I was in grade school, my school had a contest every year where students were supposed to read 5 fiction, 5 biography, and 5 nonfiction books over a 6-week period. Fiction was laughably easy - I probably read 5 books a week. Biography was okay; if you picked good ones, they had a narrative drive like fiction. Nonfiction, bleah. Dinosaur books, some archaeology adventures, and drawing books were the only things I had the least interest in.

Later, nonfiction meant textbooks and it was never very interesting. Essays were sometimes okay. Biographies were sometimes okay. Otherwise, no. But I've slowly acquired a taste for good nonfiction, though I still prefer it with some kind of a narrative or adventure involved.

And like ddb, I find there's less I like being published in fiction, and I'm not sure how much is the books and how much is me. I do find new things I enjoy, but I find more that I dislike than I used to. I'm less omnivorous of a reader. I think, in me anyway, there's some "you kids get off my lawn" reaction. Although when I go back to the "good old stuff," some holds up and some doesn't.

#34 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 10:56 AM:

30: dammit, abi, now the only word I know in Dutch is the word for "healthy underwear" and I'm probably not going to be able to forget it. But can I remember the Dutch for "good morning"? Can I hell.

#35 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 11:01 AM:

There's a lot more SF and fantasy published; in the 70s and 80s, while I didn't really read everything or even close, I recognized everything (I could give you the author for about any title, for example), and I read the things other people were reading.

Even earlier, I read anything marked SF in the library, because it was all I had (no budget for books in any significant quantity before 1969).

The flood has gotten so big now, and the publishing so weirdly fragmented and so much more expensive (especially with the quirky stuff now being all in hardcover), that I no longer feel that kind of connection to the field. So I no longer read stuff I don't have pretty strong expectations of enjoying. And I'm probably not finding the things I'd enjoy as reliably, either.

#36 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 11:09 AM:

ajay @34 dammit, abi, now the only word I know in Dutch is the word for "healthy underwear" and I'm probably not going to be able to forget it. But can I remember the Dutch for "good morning"?

Snort! I envision the tolerance of your Dutch acquaintances when you greet them by wishing them healthy underwear.

#37 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 11:34 AM:

Michael Roberts @2, it's entirely your fault I have not gotten any work done so far this morning and almost fell in to an inexplicable fit of giggles at my desk, just like Madame Malkin. Ahem. Indeed, the same sense of delighted horror as reading about young Miles. Off to not do any more work at all.

#38 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 11:38 AM:

abi #30: 'A special kind of health underclothes" makes me truly marvel.

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 11:41 AM:

Ajay #34: Goede morgen, bent je in jouw gezondheidsondergoed?

#40 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 11:51 AM:

Abi and John Mark - thanks! I suspected it was some kind of healthy underwear. But wool underwear would be itchy. Wonder if Lewis approved of hair shirts. Good Christian tradition, after all.

#41 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 11:53 AM:

I've slowly acquired a taste for good nonfiction, though I still prefer it with some kind of a narrative or adventure involved.

I've been experiencing the same thing of late (late being the last 5 years or so). The problem is finding that good narrative nonfiction that doesn't bend over into light fluff. My wife and I both have a fondness for footnotes and our ideal nonfiction has both a strong narrative edge and copious footnotes. Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire* pretty much set the bar for my wife and A History of Reading for me. Problem is, not every non-fiction author is as good as Alberto Manguel and Amanda Foreman has only written the one book so far.

*This was the book that was butchered on film as The Duchess. They took an amazing, strong vibrant, complex woman and turned her into a simpering Hollywood romantic damsel.

#42 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 11:58 AM:

Steven desJardins @9

Flew into Madison today.

Welcome to our fair city!

#43 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 12:02 PM:

Otter, Fragano: I think you've discovered the edge case where samenleven meets just creepy.

#44 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 12:36 PM:

Fragano @39:

You're up one "t" there, and being a little...emphatic about whether the gezondheidsondergoed is the addressee's own, as opposed, one supposes, to his or her partner's‡.

Should be Goedemorgen*, ben jij† in je gezonheidsondergoed?

‡ Speaking of moving from samenleven to creepy...
* Whether this is prononced "goo-de-morgen" or "goo-ya-morgen" is a difference of idiom and dialect; I was taught the latter but meet native speakers who do each.
† I don't really know why this is "jij" rather than "je"; I simply know that it is. I think you need it to not repeat the "e" sound in "ben"

#45 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 12:36 PM:

Michael Roberts (2, 21): Curse you for linking to that fanfic! I stayed up an extra *three hours* last night to read it all.

#46 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 01:08 PM:

On the matter of nonfiction with a narrative drive to it, I cannot possibly recommend Coote's Napoleon and the Hundred Days strongly enough. I picked it up on a whim at Half-Price Books (I start reading new authors nearly as often that way as by getting 'em from the library), and just fell in love with the book. Then started forcing everyone I knew to read it too. It's engaging, witty, fast-paced, and cheerfully opinionated without letting that bias shade the text too much. (Which is to say, the author is careful to make clear the difference between fairly solid facts and hypothesis.) My only quibble is that the book doesn't use the serial comma; with as many long sentences as come up within it, I felt that lack keenly.

I cannot, alas, recommend the one other book by the same author that I happen to own, Drake. The writing is just as good, I think; but the difference in documentation between the time periods and people is sufficient that just about every paragraph, if not every sentence, has to be qualified with markers of this being conjecture and somewhat uncertain facts. It probably makes it a better history book, for keeping the Known from the Presumed separate; but it makes for a much clumsier casual read.

#47 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 01:10 PM:

Well, I guess it's officially summer here in Central Ohio -- in the last week we've had one toddler left alone in a car in 80F+ for 4 hours, one near drowning (teenager + indoor pool), and one drowing (teenager + quarry pond).

The little one is being autopsied today, but the coroner was sure the cause of death is hyperthermia. The near-drowning is recovering in a local hospital.

The quarry victim is the second football player on a local team to meet death by misadventure. The first one was hit by a train while walking on the railroad tracks. He didn't hear the train because he was listening to his Ipod...

Let's be careful out there, please? I don't want to read about a Fluorospherian becoming a statistic.

Have a safe holiday weekend everyone!

#48 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 01:28 PM:

Fade Manley @46, thanks for the book recommendation! Read the first pages of Napoleon and the Hundred Days on amazon and added it to my to-read list.

#49 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 01:29 PM:

Browsing through a bookstore's shelves last night I found a wonderful, magnificent book, a book I have been wishing for... Valerie Allen's On Farting: Language and Laughter in the Middle Ages. Hilarious selections, lovely presentation (if occasionally, in what I've read thus far, a little bit overly heavy on Freudian analysis -- but there are plenty of other ideas pleasant to serve as leaven).

#50 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 02:12 PM:

Open Threadness: "How To Help The Birds The BP Oil Blowout Crime Catastrophe Is Killing"

The blog members of Humid City are very clear on what to do and how to do it. Many of them have more experience than the birds should have to have them possess as to how and what.

Please go here, to the latest entry, How 'Bout the Birds? if you want more information as to the state of the natural life on the Gulf during this disaster that cannot help but have global impact, or if you have any shekles you can spare from the other, many, calls upon your giving.

At least one member of Humid City, btw, is related to the sf/f community, a friend of Poppy Z. Brite, New Orleans novelist, Louis Maistros. He and his wife were down at the coast at the beginning, trapping and cleaning birds. His wife is a brilliantly skilled animal handler, who works in animal rescue.

Love, c.

#51 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 02:31 PM:

On narrative history, I found Tom Holland's "Rubicon" and "Persian Fire" to be good. I read half of Rubicon in one train journey without any trouble at all. At that point i realised that it was possible to write decent narrative non-fiction. I guess I knew that already, but he did a good job.

Oddly enough I recently read "Garibaldi's defence of the Roman Republic" by G M Trevelyan, the 1935 reprint of the 1920 original. Despite the dated language and viewpoints, it really brought home to me much of the politics of europe in the 1840's and the state of Italy at that time. Not to mention the importance of having your revolution at the right time...

#52 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 02:34 PM:

abi #44: I only had two quarter's worth of self-taught Dutch. Using a course designed to train officers during the War.* My grammar and spelling are bound to be a bit shaky.

* Ever since I've wondered why the Dutch word for war is "oorlog" rather than "krieg". One of the mysteries of language. The big payoff was learning to say "Ik houd van jou." A sentence I have never, actually, had occasion to use in earnest in Dutch. Being able to say "Een bier, alstublieft", however, I found most useful in Paramaribo. Roll out the borrel. Learning, while there, to say, "wan djogo" also came in handy.

#53 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 02:43 PM:

guthrie #51:

A couple years ago I bought Rubicon and Norman Cantor's The Last Knight in the same Houston bookstore crawl. What a pair of extremes. The Cantor was so awful, I couldn't even imagine how his editors had allowed the thing to be published. I could only diagnose senile dementia on the part of all concerned. Holland's book on the other hand, was indeed excellent.

#54 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 02:45 PM:

@44: isn't it a matter of emphasis? in that jij draws attention to itself, but je points attention at the rest of the sentence?

#55 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 02:48 PM:

I just read the article about Tynt linked to in the sidebar. I found it interesting that it's being used by a lot of newspapers particularly since it was a newspaper that once plagiarized a non-fiction story of mine some years ago. No, I didn't sue them or demand anything, but that doesn't mean they didn't do it and they never paid me, either.

#56 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 02:48 PM:

Nor did they ever ask permission.

#57 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 02:50 PM:

Most of the fanfic I've written recently has been extremely minimalistic mashup references (like Sam the Librarian: what if DeNiro's Ronin movie was actually a book detective thriller) where the actual text is left as an exercise for the reader.

#58 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 03:13 PM:

Earl #57:

How does this differ from the average elevator movie pitch?

#59 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 03:21 PM:

Constance @50:

Your comment went into moderation because your link was munged. Check at preview, please.

Because you provided me with enough clues, I was able to go find what you were trying to link to, and have restored it.

Thanks for the prompt notification.

#60 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 03:21 PM:

Oh, and apropos of going dutch etc. on the prior open thread, the assembled may not be aware of the physics of the spinning dutchman/scots/etc. The essence of the scenario is to stand a representative member of [stereotypically tightfisted ethnicity of choice] on a platform, clutching a bag of money, and then spin the platform at an axis corresponding to the person's location. If inertial forces acted alone on the money bag, the money would fly away from the person on a line tangent to the circle of rotation of the platform; however, the actual path of the bag traces a circle, as the outward force of inertia is countered by the inward pull of centrifrugal force.

#61 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 03:25 PM:

Fragano @52:
You do remarkably well with it.

Matthias @54:
Generally, yes, but my (admittedly still embryonic) ear tells me that it really should be "jij" in this sentence.

Happy to be corrected by a native speaker, though.

#62 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 03:37 PM:

Many thanks for the the Sidelight on Tynt and how to disable it. (For my work computer, on which I don't have admin privileges, I'm hoping that adding "" to the AdBlock Plus list of items to block will help.) I hate things like that. Haaaate them.

#63 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 03:39 PM:

It's an open thread....

How NOT to do promotion....

I got an irate response to the email response I posted in a Yahoo newsgroup... the apparently self-published author Clayton Bye seems to lack clues about such things as, readers have limited time and interested in following link to get information the message author couldn't be bothered to provide, that might tell message recipients what, if any, value there is likely to be for them to bother following the link....

Interspersed italicized comments are mine

----- Original Message -----
From: "Clayton"
To: [ a yahoo group]
Subject: New release: What I Found In The Dark

> Poems with a story. A poetry book with a theme. These offerings have been
> called very good to sometimes brilliant.

By whom, and why? About what?

> Easy reading. 70 FULL SCREEN pages. Immediate download upon payment.

How much? What are these poems about? Who wrote them? -why- should I care or have any interest? Why shouldn't I regard this solicitation as noise and a waste of bandwidth and space on my hard drive?! There is NOTHING in the solicitation to "hook" me with reasons to be interested/intrigued in following the link, even.
> Go to:
> Support Independent Authors. I do.

I buy stuff based on what I consider "value" I don't see ANY value promoted by the solicitation.


The email sent to me in response had four inane obnoxious points of response, the first complaining of about "the drivel" in the forum he regards as "worse" than his promo material, the second with similar "other people do it here" lame excuse regarding telling the recipients to go to the link for description of book, the third point stating that following the link provides author information, and the fourth point saying that polite inquiry works better for getting more infomtion than "your rude comments (even if they are valid).
Then he ended by saying irately that the price was $3.99 and "Get a life."

My life would be improved without incompetent marketing by self-published author emails exacerbated by arrant cluelessness ontop of the original incompetence....

#64 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 03:41 PM:

Hot diggety, it seems to be working. Plus it seems to have solved another NYT-related problem (they did something that made the Clipmarks extension for Firefox not work, except on the formatted-for-print pages).


#65 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 03:43 PM:

Wonderful living-in-an-SF-novel open threadiness:

If you're reasonably up on/interested in biology, and not listening to Futures in Biotech podcasts, you're missing out. Episode #60 was a panel discussion of four recent big biology results, of which three were absolutely mind-blowing. (One was Ventner and company's construction of a cell with entirely synthesized DNA, and that was about 3rd most amazing. My favorite was the synthetic 4-base-pair-codons and the synthetic ribosomes that can read them.)

Episode #57 is about the role of prions (aka proteins with some low-probability variant folding which then spreads to other copies of the same protein in the cell) in a kind of non-genetic heritable change in phenotype of an organism.

Listening to this, one thing that keeps coming to mind is that our minds are biased toward assuming much less change in the world than we should rationally expect, given where we are on the technology curve. The world in 30 years will be more different from now than now is from 1980, and probably way more different. More different than we can imagine, in many ways.

Amazing, mind-blowing, wonderful stuff, re-enforcing the fact that I live in an SF novel.

#66 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 04:02 PM:

One of the best non-fiction works I've read in the last few years is Peter Ackroyd's London: The Biography.

#67 ::: Earl Cooley III` ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 04:03 PM:

joann #58: How does this differ from the average elevator movie pitch?

Much, much shorter than that, more along the lines of a flash of insight; either the reader gets the implications or they don't. I suppose the elevator pitch version could be abbreviated to "DeNiro. Ronin. Book Detective!", followed by jazz hands. Then the prospective movie exec either says "continue" or calls security....

Or, are movie pitches usually really that short?

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 04:14 PM:

Speaking of movies... Has anybody seen 2009's "Agora"? It sounds neat. A historical set in the Library of Alexandria, with Rachel Weisz as philosopher Hypatia...

#69 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 04:15 PM:

For the Tynt thing, would it be sufficient to merely disable Javascript on your own equipment while doing the cutting and pasting?

#70 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 04:19 PM:

Erik@69 -- yes.

I have long had the opinion that one should do general web-browsing with javascript *off*, and only turn it on for specific sites when performing specific tasks.

It is an Old-Fart-style opinion, and I hate being the person who talks like that, but there are more annoying security holes enabled by javascript every week. And it's not like the blogs and webcomic sites are inaccessible without it.

#71 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 04:22 PM:

albatross @ 65: Prions are what cause mad cow disease...they were discovered by Stanley Prusiner of the USDA (and other places). They are now considered to be infectious proteins, causing damage by changing the folding of existing healthy proteins. When he started talking about them in the 1980s, no one believed him.

#72 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 04:25 PM:

Linkmeister @ 66: One of the best non-fiction works I've read in the last few years is Peter Ackroyd's London: The Biography.

Seconded. In fact, I'm itching to read it again even though I only read it a year ago. Thames: The Biography is almost as good.

Graham Robb's The Discovery of France has come up here a few times, I think. It's quite mind-blowing.

#73 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 04:31 PM:

Rikibeth @15 said of Noyes' "Highwayman": Linkmeister, you may not have read it recently, but have you listened to Loreena McKennitt in the intervening time? She's done a musical setting of that poem.

One of my very favorite favorite piems★ is Ben Newman's Highwayman (text here), which he wrote after falling in love with McKennitt's setting of it, just to get circular for a little bit. His Highwayman is a hacker, and the echoes and samenesses are just beautiful.

I'll give just a little sample for the teal deer☂ among us. Context is for the weak and sickly, but the girl in the following passage is "Jess, the sysop's newbie daughter," and the FBI have invaded, suspecting her of being the hacker they seek:

They awakened the girl with their shouting, and with many a sniggering jest,
They read her her rights and they frisked her, and they shredded her chemistry test.
"Would you kindly log in to the server?" Her face was as pale as ash.
"I'll look for thee on the server. I'll finger thee on the server.
BUT THERE'S NOTHING TO SEE ON THE SERVER, though all the Net should crash."

The rest of his songs are equally inspired, IMHO, and many have mp3s up there so you can hear what they sound like.

★ If a 'folk song' is a 'filk song' when it's been fannized, surely a poem is a piem? For very narrow values of 'o', anyway.

☂ Teal deer comes from attempting to pronounce the common message board shorthand "tl;dr", which stands for "too long; didn't read". It has of course gained a life of its own, including several colorized vintage photographs of particularly odd deer. :->

#74 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 04:35 PM:

Elliot Mason @ #73, words fail.

#75 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 04:49 PM:

#59 ::: abi

I did check in preview. Hmmmmm. This isn't the first time this has happened.

It must be on my end. My pooter is having some troubles. I'm just hanging on to it until we get to Maryland and catch our breaths, and then upgrade. Three more months. Of Extreme Busy. Argh.

I saw the advice you gave someone else in this same situation, in terms of hoping you didn't have to re-calibrate all the numbers. OK. More astonishing, I REMEMBERED it.

Love, c.

#76 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 05:22 PM:

Open threadiness (since my search foo to find the old thread is failing) -- Kate Nepveu posted a lovely list of things for the stressed and depressed, and I'd love to hear suggestions for more things of that ilk...

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 05:28 PM:

My sympathy on your pooter.
(Mine had its system drive go wonky this week. It's a kind of withdrawal....)

#78 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 06:17 PM:

Why does Emma Bull's LJ suddenly have "may be inappropriate for minors" warnings all over it? (I don't have an LJ account, so I can't ask her directly.)

#79 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 06:34 PM:

I think it's LJ policy software. A lot of theirs are doing that now.

#80 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 06:38 PM:

LDR @ #78: Some time back, LJ added a content rating system that rates not individual posts, but journals, by one of three levels: basically, "Completely inoffensive", "Could possibly be offensive", "Adults only". (I'm under the vague impression this was done as a sort of liability thing when they discovered that trying to just delete journals full of adult subject matter would get many, many angry responses.) This is usually set at a journal level, and if you're logged in, it'll cheerfully show you stuff that's appropriate for the age you entered, or warn you otherwise.

Most people, when setting their default journal security level, went for "Could possibly be offensive", because, hey, it's for all the posts on their ever, and who really wants to rate individual post? So if you're reading without being logged in, you're going to find that warning on a lot of posts, regardless of their actual content.

#81 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 07:02 PM:

Thanks, PJ and Fade. It seems like a strange thing for LJ to start doing all of a sudden.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 07:31 PM:

The other day I heard someone talking about his father's death (on the radio), and he said "they were reading him his last rights." (He may have been mentally spelling it 'rites'; I couldn't really tell.)

Sigh. Giving last rites, or reading him his rights. Reading him his last rights would be something like "You have the right to remain sinful. If you give up the right to remain sinful anything you've ever done can be used against you before the Throne of Judgement. You have a right to a Savior; if you cannot afford a Savior one will be born unto you, and his name shall be callèd Wonderful, Counselor..." Something like that.

#83 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 07:37 PM:

Xopher @ 82: "reading the last rites" is a common formulation. Going from that to "reading him his last rites" is unfortunate, but understandable.

#84 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 07:43 PM:

Xopher, 82: "You have the right to remain sinful..." belongs in a Peter Crossman story. :-D

#85 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 07:48 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 2: I don't know whether to thank you or (metaphorically, of course) strangle you. But it's now nearly 1 am and I've reached the end of chapter 21...

Constance @ 50: Nice to see some publicity about the oiled birds, although I would add (for anyone watching the video linked to in the comment on the page Constance linked to) that the Elf machines are not the be-all and end-all of washing oiled birds, that it's not stripping the natural oils from the birds' feathers that results in loss of waterproofing after washing (it's loss of the alignment of the feather barbs and barbules that does that), and that washing oiled birds with bare hands (as shown in the video) is a big no-no. Done properly, hand-washing oiled birds is effective and safe for both the birds and the people. The Tristate and IBRRC people certainly know what they're doing (as I saw when I worked with them on the 20,000 oiled penguins in South Africa in 2000).

#86 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 08:14 PM:

xeger @ #76, I nominate laddergoat.

#87 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 08:26 PM:

Thanks for the Particle on Tynt. That line will be going into my hosts file directly. CWAA.*

* Proposed new acronym, from the all-purpose New Yorker cartoon caption.

#88 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 08:40 PM:

Dittoing Lee here. Added it.

#89 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 09:07 PM:

Xopher #82: YOMANK

#90 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 09:16 PM:

#31, but what did 19th century vegetarians eat?

#91 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 09:26 PM:

Xopher @ #82, reading him his last rites may have been what Christian Shepherd did for son Jack last Sunday night at the finale of the final episode of "Lost."

#92 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 09:30 PM:

Linkmeister, I know not from Lost, and therefore not whereof you speak.

#93 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 09:49 PM:

Linkmeister @91, this group has been strangely quiet on the ending of Lost. Not many Losties here? I personally think the writers need to be read their rights for violating the very laws of storytelling. YMMV.

#94 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 09:55 PM:

I got new tires on my car today.

While waiting I wandered around Costco. I spent a good chunk of time in the TV department, watching the climactic battle in Avatar.

Since I'd seen it before, my mind went kind of meta.

As in, how would someone from somewhen else think of this?

And not just Avatar, but the whole Costco package.

The diversity of humanity alone in that place was pretty astonishing.

Am I the only one who indulges in this?

#95 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 10:05 PM:

Janet @ #93, I was initially annoyed by that somewhat sappy ending but I got over it. I saw a TV critic's column suggesting he'd like to see a novelization of the whole series and wholeheartedly agree with that idea.

#96 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 10:51 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 93:

The only way I could make any sense out of Lost was with a Star Wars analogy: it was like watching 5 episodes of Star Wars, being pumped, wanting to find out how it ends and then, when you start the 6th episode, you discover that all that stuff about the Empire and the Rebellion, Luke and his father, the Force and the Jedi didn’t mean a thing, that what the story was really about this whole time were these two ewoks and a magic cave. And you can’t pull the plug out of the tub in the magic cave or something unspeakably bad will happen. But it doesn’t matter anyway because what really happened is everyone died n a Pod Race back in episode 1.

The finale confirmed my suspicion, reached back in season 2 that the writers had no idea what they were doing.

#97 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 11:40 PM:

You have the right to final absolution.
Any unconfessed sins can and will be used against you in the court of St. Peter.
You have the right to a priest or religious counselor for the confession of sin.
If you do not have a confessor, and cannot afford an indulgence, a confessor will be appointed to you.
If you choose not to receive these rites, fail to confess all of your sins, are not fully contrite, or if your confessor is of an incompatible religion or sect, your immortal soul will be purified in hellfire until cleansed of sin, or until the end of time (whichever comes first).
Do you understand these rites, even though they are arcane,have been written in a dead language, are somewhat ambiguous or unclear, and you may be unable to correctly participate due to your failing health, poor memory of all of your sins, and the distraction of Death standing over you impatiently tapping his hourglass with his scythe?

#98 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 11:58 PM:

Xopher @ 82:


It's been a day when I needed comfort food, and I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich and some cream of tomato soup. I had just had a spoonful of the soup when I read that. Luckily, I managed to not splutter onto the keyboard and monitor, but it was iffy for a moment there. :)

#99 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 12:07 AM:

Erk. I previewed it, I read it twice, and I still got *sporfle* wrong.

Exhaustion, I can has it.

#100 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 12:32 AM:

Oh! Oh! Oh! WOW!

In elementary school, as a third or fourth grader, I read a couple of juvenile SF books I'd found in the school library.


OK, that's what it seemed like every time I've asked folks to help me remember the author and titles of these books about a doctor who traveled to a SF ABOUT A DOCTOR? MUST BE SOMETHING BY ALLEN NOURSE! (Shut . . . Up) colony world and solved intriguing problems.

Finally, I found out the actual author and titles: Alice M. Lightner, Doctor to the Stars and (most likely) The Space Plague.

She wrote quite a few books, as it turns out, and they sound like the kind of thing I loved as a kid.

#101 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 01:11 AM:

Michael Roberts @2: I would say "damn you, Michael Roberts, I lost hours[0] to that fic!" except it was so wonderful that now all my friends have lost who-knows-how-many hours to it too. So, erm, thank you, I think!

LDR @40: But wool underwear would be itchy.

Not if it was made out of the right kind of wool, eg merino, assuming you're not allergic. ~All my most comfortable socks are made out of merino, and I could see wearing eg. long underwear in the winter made out of it quite happily.

[0] I actually don't know how many.[1] I just looked up, and it was 4a.
[1] Which is kinda scary, come to that.

#102 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 01:41 AM:

jnh: Pretty good! But I have to say I still like "If you do not have a Savior one will be born unto you."

#103 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 01:47 AM:

Stefan, #100: Not all of Nourse's SF was about doctors. The book I always think of by him is The Universe Between, which is about math and worldshifting. (It's also full of outdated sexual stereotypes, but that's normal for SF of its period.) I think writing SF was one of the ways he put himself thru either college or med school, because after a while he stopped having anything new... and then quite some time after that, he had a syndicated medical-advice column in the newspaper. The first time I noticed his name on the column was one of those "my world is imploding on itself" moments.

I'll have to go check out Lightner -- those titles don't sound familiar.

Kevin, #101: I'm not allergic to wool, and I still find Merino itchy and uncomfortable; it doesn't make me break out or anything, but it's definitely not something I'd want to wear as undies. (Or socks, for that matter.)

#104 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 02:05 AM:

#103: I read lots of Nourse's books. Can't think of one I didn't enjoy.

Googling around: A.M. Lightner was the pen name-for-fiction of Alice Lightner Hopf, who wrote lots of nature books. She was a busy author; in addition to nineteen YA titles she is credited for writing "Man from UNCLE" fiction. In her sixties!

Sad: Nothing in print, and only a couple of her books have Amazon reviews.

#105 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 04:00 AM:

Stefan Jones @94:

One of my tools for grappling with the world is WWJAT? (What would Jane Austen think?)

And Xopher and jnh?

Good stuff. Bring it up at the plea bargaining stage for sure.

#106 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 04:27 AM:

Re tynt: I seem to be somewhat clueless. I'm using 7 on this machine, and can't seem to find the right location to insert that bit of modification.

#107 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 05:28 AM:

Lee, 103: If merino makes you itch, it's likely you're allergic to it. Merino is one of the softest breeds out there.

#108 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 07:57 AM:

I cheerfully concede that yours was the far better line. but 1) people would have noticed if I had done stole it, and 2) I actually missed reading your comment before I posted mine.
But, if I were to resurrect the idea in casual conversation, I'd probably use your line or something similar.

#109 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 08:31 AM:

Fragano @52: If I understand correctly, "oor" is presumably related to English "war" and "log" distantly to "law", but the main Dutch dictionary isn't too sure about it.

#110 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 09:20 AM:

Jörg Raddatz #109: Thanks. The word instantly suggested "horloge" to my mind. But that was so obviously wrong that I rejected it. The relationship to "war" makes sense.

#111 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 09:21 AM:

Xopher, jnh: So stealing that for a sermon sometime, if y'all don't mind

Nonfiction: A couple years ago, my summer beach reading was Hospitality in Ireland, 900-1500. It was Catherine O'Sullivan's dissertation, and then she left academia and I've been sad. I love that book.

#112 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 09:22 AM:

re 70: I have just discovered that Snopes is using JS to make it more difficult for you to cut-and-paste from it.

#113 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 09:24 AM:

Keith @96, that's about how I felt. And by odd chance I was reading Good Omens at the time, and this quote from Adam the Antichrist (who sounds an awful lot like Granny Weatherwax, bless both their hearts) was about as apt as apt could get:

"If you stopped tellin' people it's all sorted out after they're dead, they might try sortin' it all out while they're alive."

(I also wrote a long screed analyzing Lost based on Northrop Frye's hierarchy of modes and why it felt wrong to get an ending that fit neither high fantasy nor mystery/hard SF expectations. The key word is long, though.)

Stefan Jones @100, when I hear SF and Doctors my first thought is actually James White!

#114 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 10:19 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 113... I gave up on "Lost" a long time ago, but you and others have me curious about the ending. What was it all about? Hopefully it involved better writing than JJ Abrams's usual fare.

#115 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 10:51 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 113: when I hear SF and Doctors my first thought is actually James White!

Mine is Michael Blumlein.

#116 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 11:25 AM:

In re wool and itching, there's almost nothing innate to wool itself to make it itchy -- people who react to it are usually either:

1. Allergic to the lanolin or other sheep proteins on the surface.

2. Reacting to the horrible, nasty roughness caused by the way modern industrial processes TREAT the wool (think the difference between frizzy over-chemicalled breaky human hair and beautiful well-treated conditioner'ed hair). Some overscoured wool can be 'put back' if you wash it with some conditioner in the rinse. Some is a total wash. If this is your reaction problem, moving to items made of handspun, cared-for wool may well solve your problem (if you have a friend who spins). Also try alpaca.

3. Some people -- my mother is one of them -- have skin that just can't handle the tips of hairs touching them. Including her own. She has to keep her hair either short enough not to bend back and touch her neck, or long enough that it can be ponytailed and such; in the odd growing-out period the back of her neck breaks out as if she were wearing an animal-hair sweater (any animal-hair -- she even reacts to alpaca, which is dead soft almost no matter how you overscour it).

#117 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 11:57 AM:

A.M. Lightner's "Star Dog" is one of the books that first got me into SF, it being an animal book/SF cross-over.

#118 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 12:30 PM:

jnh, #97: Brilliant!

Janet, #113: "If you stopped tellin' people it's all sorted out after they're dead, they might try sortin' it all out while they're alive."

That concept came up recently in an e-mail conversation. It occurs to me that this statement, or something like it, is an excellent counter to the "atheists can't have morals" argument.

#119 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 12:37 PM:

Stefan Jones at 94:
You get a similar experience watching TV in Japan, except that this time it is your turn to be from somewhen else.

#120 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 01:20 PM:

Re: the Tynt software thing

I can fully understand people's objections to hidden scripts that run things they didn't ask for. When one is a tech-savvy user who likes to control one's on-line experience with the delicate precision of a marionette operator, things like this are not merely frightening from a security perspective but annoying from an esthetic one.

But consider. One of the major fronts in the on-line intellectual property battlefront is between "what is easy" and "what is right". Heck, starting with the invention of the photocopier, perhaps the greatest force pushing the ethical boundaries around is laziness.

I think that most people fail to properly attribute/credit/track-back material cut-and-pasted online, not from some principled objection to citing sources but simply because it's a lot more work. You cut and paste some text. To cut and paste the original author's (or quoter's) name and to cut and paste a url link to where you found that data pretty much triples the work involved.

What the Tynt script says to me is "We acknowledge that we've lost the battle on either the ability or desirability to directly control or limit the re-use of our output. So we want to make the credit/link/track-back process easier to do than not to do."

It's sort of like hidden watermarks in online photographs that only show up if you copy the image for use elsewhere. The message is "This is mine -- and I'm happy to share it with the world in the context in which I choose to present it. But if you want to take it away from that context and use it for something else without consulting me, I'm going to make that harder/more annoying to do."

Like I say, I fully appreciate peoples annoyance and concern about hidden scripts. But I also appreciate the creative way in which the Tynt approach attempts to meet users halfway on the IP battleground.

#121 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 01:40 PM:

Seconding Heather Rose Jones @ 120. Making attribution opt-out rather than opt-in strikes me as a fairly benign sort of behavioral nudge. I'm less excited about the unique tagging, but the "Read more at:" part seems to be within the realm of the okay.

#122 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 01:46 PM:

Re: Lost -

I took it as an extended metaphor for life. it's hard to figure out when it's going on, you don't have all the answers when it's over, and you have to tolerate a lot of people exhorting you to buy things.

#123 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Steve C @ 122... I took it as an extended metaphor for life

That explains my perception that Lost's writers were making it up as they went. Personally, if I wanted stories to be metaphors for life, I'd ask myself why I bother with the stories, and I'd instead go out and have an actual life.

Wait. That doesn't sound right.

#124 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 02:30 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @140/907: It occurs to me that the fact that the culture in question speaks a Romance language doesn't really come up overtly. But I know.

But, as has been previously discussed, there are, out there in the readership, Those Who Will Notice.

nerdycellist @140/908: I abandoned the consensus aesthetic so long ago I don't even remember it. ('Sides, I'm middlin' convinced that It's All A Plot to keep you buying New Stuff ever time the fad fashion changes, which They make damn sure happens every season.) I am rather more of the "Merlin's study" school of decorating. I will concede, however, a serious kink for spherical things. But my taste runs more to designer marbles and mineral spheres than twigs and moss.

One of the most interesting decorating motifs I've ever encountered is a lady who compulsively collects tiny things. Gaming miniatures, broken earrings, eraser toys. She doesn't go out and buy them, she finds them. Half-buried in the mud, abandoned in grocery carts, stuck in seat cushions, what have you. Her house is wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, every horizontal surface, covered in displays of these things. Shadow boxes. Display drawers. Buckets and cups and bowls. She has them carefully categorized, so over here you'll find a little cup full of tiny metal shoes. Over there, it's tiny plastic cats. It is, as one might expect, a dusting nightmare. It's really weird, but it's fascinating.

So, is jnh any relation to tnh & pnh? :o)

#125 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 02:52 PM:

Serge #123: That explains my perception that Lost's writers were making it up as they went

I don't think they were evoking anything quite as fancy as a metaphor; I think they just realized that they could jerk their audience around with total impunity, so they did, laughing all the way to the bank.

#126 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Another cache of WW I photos of British soldiers has turned up, like the batch found last year. The Independent has them here

#127 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 03:02 PM:

Serge @114 and Steve @122: What was it all about and was it a metaphor for life? I suppose if could be a metaphor for life in that we all get dropped in in media res, can't figure out what recurring symbols are important and what aren't while we're here, have to endure the odd unexplained polar bear from time to time, and then we die before we can get it all figured out. "Wait, I haven't -- ," as Miles said. Life, however, isn't the same as good storytelling.

Here's what's bothering me today. One of the great things about Lost was that, at its best, it was fantastic ensemble storytelling. Nobody was outstandingly more important than anyone else, though you had a core group (your Kirk-Spock-McCoy group) and a second tier group (your Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Checkov group). But the way Lost ended obliterated all that -- making it seem the only important story was Jack's, and everything that ever happened was designed to bring HIM through to the afterlife. Now maybe the producers were simply thinking ahead to spin-offs, which is crass and manipulative but understandable of them. Maybe they are planning a rollicking comedy spin-off called Two Guys and an Island, or a buddy cop series called Sawyer & The Ghost-Botherer. But if it was all and only about Jack from the very beginning, their method of telling the story, making me think the other people had real story arcs too, leaves me feeling very cheated. (Perhaps because I never liked Jack, not ever, from the first second he opened his eye in the first shot of the first episode.)

#128 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 03:30 PM:

glinda (98): It's been a day when I needed comfort food, and I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich and some cream of tomato soup.

But that's *my* comfort food! <suspicious>You're not me, are you?</suspicious>

Stefan Jones (100): If it helps, those Lightner books are what immediately thought of when I saw your description, before I saw the answer. I found her a bit uneven; my favorite of hers was Star Dog. That held up fairly well when I tracked it down again recently, but it's definitely a kids' book.

#129 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 03:36 PM:

"The Ghost-Botherer" sounds like a USA Network summer series starring Gilbert Gottfried.

#130 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 04:53 PM:

Just checking in from Needham, MA, where my sister's B-day Barbecue is getting rained out -- or rather in(doors). Should be interesting when the three other sets of kids get here...

SF Medicine: I think James White too. Though Leinster's Med Ship Doc is a recent addition to my mindspace.

Lost: Haven't followed it, barely affected by the hype, but "It was all a dying hallucination/vision" is the lamest possible ending for anything that complex!

#131 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 04:57 PM:

David Harmon @ 130... Ambrose Bierce has a lot to answer for.

#132 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 05:27 PM:

jnh 108: By all means, feel free to use it!

Sisuile 111: See ct jnh above.

#133 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 05:34 PM:

Open-threadiness: has anyone got any ideas for healthy complex carbohydrate-based snacks? Protein would be okay as well, but bear in mind that I'm vegetarian. I'm looking for alternatives for when I've go the munchies and crave sweet stuff, ditto when I've got the munchies and crave savory. I run (about 20 - 25 miles a week, 4 - 10 miles per run) partly to allow myself to take in more calories, but I want to get away from candy (e.g. cherry liquorice), fat-laden biscuits etc.

Things I can buy would be fine; things I could make would be great.

#134 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 06:10 PM:

dcb, 133: Do you eat eggs, cheese, and honey?

#135 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 06:15 PM:

TexAnne @ 134: Yes to all three. Standard lacto-ovo-vegetarian. No meat, fish, gelatine etc.

#136 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 06:25 PM:

dcb, 135: OK then! Oil-popped popcorn with parmesan cheese. (Air-popped popcorn is awful. Microwave popcorn is unhealthy, both for the people who eat it and the people who manufacture it.) Omelettes with anything your little heart desires: herbs (sweet and savory); jam; goat cheese; honey; goat cheese and honey; etc. usw. If you have a crockpot, you can make jook or oatmeal, with various things in--oatmeal with chocolate chips and dried apricots or cherries is fantastic. Couscous with raisins and toasted cashews is wonderful.

#137 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 06:50 PM:

dcb @133

These days, my snack food list usually involves chips-n-dip (i'm not supposed to have much wheat either, so...): White Bean Dip or Black Bean Dip with corn tortilla chips. Also, lots and lots of hummus. I will say a healthy dollop of ricotta or a creamy goat cheese into the white bean dip makes it seriously creamy and addictive, it just means I then have to worry about dairy refrigeration.

Cheap, Healthy, Good (linked from here a couple of months ago) is mostly vegetarian and always tasty. Every time she posts, not only is there a "I could make that", I also get "I should make that!" Recipe archive

#138 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 06:52 PM:

TexAnne @ 136: Thanks for the suggestions. Oil-popped popcorn I'm already using (with very little oil). Omelettes less useful - I'm looking for snacking food (I seem to have inherited from my father the need for eating between meals). I always have fruit (fresh fruit, raisins, dried figs etc.) in the house, and usually e.g. raw carrots. Your couscous sounds interesting; I'll have to think what to substitute for the cashews (which I love, but appear to be mildly allergic to - delayed reaction itching palate). I don't have a crockpot, but do have a casserole dish and a home-made hotbox (presently in use).

#139 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 07:18 PM:

Sisuile @ 137: Thanks for the suggestions and link. I'll have to try some of those.

#140 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 07:25 PM:

dcb @138: I like my couscous without any nuts, so if there's nothing that comes to mind in place of cashews, you could easily just make it with raisins or other similar dried fruit. Have you considered making couscous with olives? I like green olives for a bit of non-sweet snacking, even just by themselves.

Cheese and apples has been a favorite. I'll second the bean dips (or bean soups), without the meat. Yoghurt sometimes fulfils that need for a non-sweet snack, depending on the yoghurt. I even snacked on sun-dried tomatoes in my misspent youth.

For some reason, I seem to be getting hungry now.

#141 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 07:35 PM:

Sliced raw baby turnips. Nom.

I like my omelettes small and runny--two eggs, teeny skillet, 3-4 minutes, just until the top is barely set. So for me, they're a snack, or a supper when I'm just too tired to make a sandwich. OTOH, I have a friend who keeps hens, and her fresh eggs have spoiled me forever.

#142 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 07:38 PM:

Hummus, apple bars, breakfast cookies. Yeah, the latter two have sugar in them. You could do the typical honey substitution (about 2/3; Food Network should have a precise substitution) if you like.

Open threadiness: this sort of popped into my head.


FUTURE: Hey, look, we can give you these wonderful devices, they'll fix all of your pollution problems, cure cancer, and give everybody a pony!

TODAY: [skeptical] What will it cost?

FUTURE: You'll never know.

TODAY: Pardon? We'll never know what?

FUTURE: You'll never know what you missed along the way to developing these devices.


TODAY: Will we survive long enough to create these devices otherwise?

FUTURE: You'll never know that either.


#143 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 08:57 PM:

B Durbin @142, I don't understand the dilemma. If Today accepts the devices, they'll never know what would have happened had they not. But if they don't accept them, they'll never know what would have happened if they had. Might as well take 'em.

Also, the fact that Future isn't worried about getting deleted from existence by changing the past has some interesting implications.

#144 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 09:06 PM:

dcb: Pistachios, maybe? Walnuts? I think any nut you like would work, since couscous is so neutral in flavor. (Unless you use the whole-wheat kind, in which case you'd want a nut that could stand up to it.) Whole toasted cumin might be nice, too.

Oh, now *I* have the munchies! I think I'll go eat the little baby pea pods I got at the farmers' market yesterday. (TRM: edamame. Also tiny baby okra with kosher salt, microwaved for 30 sec or until they're briiiiight green.)

#145 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 09:37 PM:

dcb @133 said: Open-threadiness: has anyone got any ideas for healthy complex carbohydrate-based snacks? Protein would be okay as well, but bear in mind that I'm vegetarian. I'm looking for alternatives for when I've go the munchies and crave sweet stuff, ditto when I've got the munchies and crave savory.

If you have bread or breadlike objects that are whole-grain or complex enough for you; I know they make all kinds of wonderfully odd low-carb bread out of things like lentils and whatnot.

Let some go stale and cut it into cubes (or cube it first and THEN let it go stale; sometimes that's easier, unless you let it go sooooo stale that it shatters when you try to slice).

Beat several eggs with enough milk to make a royale (think for French toast, only about 3 times more liquid-for-bread than you'd need for French-toasting your volume of bread cubes). Mix in any spices you like; I find cumin and garlic are TEH NOMZ, plus whatever else I feel like. Curry is also very good.

Pour the liquid over the stale bread cubes in a large bowl. Refrigerate, stirring (to get the top cubes into the liquid) until it's all either absorbed or evaporated by your fridge -- wait till there's no noticable puddle at the bottom, at least, or it'll be harder to get off the foil later.

Spread on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake at 300-ish degF (over 250, but not much over) until they're crunchy, or until the whole kitchen smells good.

Peel off foil and eat as soon as they're cool; will keep in the fridge for a week at least (uncovered; they tend to get soggy if covered).

I call them 'Kugel croutons'. The egg and milk make them more substantial than plain bread, plus they carry spices nicely to make them nom-savory as well as nom-crunchy.

#146 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 10:00 PM:

Pine nuts are yummy in couscous (and in salads), but they're kind of expensive.

#147 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 10:04 PM:

TexAnne #136: Microwave popcorn is unhealthy, both for the people who eat it and the people who manufacture it.

Are you talking about diacetyl? Major popcorn manufacturers started removing that chemical additive several years ago after a wave of liability lawsuits hit.

#148 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 10:13 PM:

You can't eat this
You can't eat this
You can't eat this

Break it down
Stop, Dinner time

Every time you see me
The Dinner's just so hype
I'm dope on the stove and I'm magic on the grill

Now why would I ever stop cooking this?
With others makin' meals that just don't hit
I've toured around the world, from London to the Bay
It's "Dinner, go Dinner, MC Dinner, yo, Dinner"
And the rest can go and play

You can't eat this
You can't eat this
You can't eat this

Yeah, you can't eat this
I told you, you can't eat this
Too hype, can't eat this
Get way outta here, you can't eat this

#149 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 10:25 PM:

Forgot to mention my favorite fast snack, which is approximately equal parts dried cranberries and lightly salted peanuts. Don't mix them until you're ready to eat them or the peanuts get moist.

#150 ::: Dr. Phil ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 10:33 PM:

An aunt of mine wrote me about "been trying to remember who wrote the fantasy story about college professors (or scientists?) turning into calves overnight - and attempting to communicate their scientific knowledge to the slaughter teams before it was too late." This does not ring a bell. Anyone know this story? Thanks in advance.

Dr. Phil

#151 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 11:43 PM:

I know the story: I believe it was a Frederic Brown short. (Unless it was a Sturgeon short.) My Brown and Sturgeon collections are boxed up right now so I can't tell you more than that it involves one calf trying to prove it and the punchline is something like "That's the third one in a row that's been making lines in the dirt with it's hoof."

#152 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 12:05 AM:

If we're in story identification mode, there's one I read a long time ago. IIRC a tongue-in-cheek short story, possibly titled It Was Nothing, about a scientist who observes that things never tear on the perforation,and goes on to invent a material that grows stronger as you remove (via perforations) more and more of it.

#153 ::: melissa ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 12:05 AM:

Michael@2 - thanks for the link to the fanfic. Loved it, especially the part where there might be more.

And, @66 and @72 - new books purchased. Now cuddling up with my iPad Kindle app to read.

#154 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 12:14 AM:

Rainflame@152 --

"It Was Nothing -- Really!" by Ted Sturgeon. It's one of those frequently-asked-about stories.

#155 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 12:51 AM:

Thanks Andrew Plotkin! Amazingly, I just realized I have the story in an old paperback of Sturgeon is Alive and Well, which also contains my favorite Sturgeon story, Slow Sculpture.

#156 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 12:53 AM:

The problem I had with Lost, the reason I bailed during the second season, was that they were pulling a bait and switch: "Here's a mystery, here are more complications to the mystery, we'll explain the mystery .... some day, after we introduce this next mystery." But they needed to distract the viewers from this little con game and so they gave us a bunch of characters we were supposed to like, no matter how annoying they were (I'm not sexually attracted to either Sawyer, Jack, or Kate, so there was nothing to assuage the annoyance), and another bunch of characters we were supposed to loathe, and made them even more annoying. By the time I quit watching I was really hoping that Sayid and the French Chick would find some automatic weapons and gun down as many characters as they could, to include at least Locke, Sawyer, Jack, Kate, Charlie, and Jin.

#157 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 01:15 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) #156: By the time I quit watching I was really hoping that Sayid and the French Chick would find some automatic weapons and gun down as many characters as they could, to include at least Locke, Sawyer, Jack, Kate, Charlie, and Jin.

That is one of the things that fanfic is for. heh.

#158 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 08:44 AM:


Or a Crossman/Dragnet crossover...

#159 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 08:55 AM:

Thanks for all the snacking suggestions. There are definitely some possibles in there. I'm trying to move away from sugary treats (candy) and fat-laden biscuits, from a healthy eating perspective (family history of high cholesterol, and when I had mine checked (14 hr fasting) recently, while my ratio is fine - courtesy of a high HDL - the triglycerides were at the top of the normal range which surprised me. The other suggestion for reducing triglycerides is cutting out alcohol, but I'm not about to stop drinking decent beers (real ale/microbrewery) and single malts.

It's always interesting how much people's tastes vary. Some of the suggestions above are right out for me - I loath olives, for example, and would gag on what TexAnne considers a perfect omlette (I like mine solid right through with bits of the outside going brown...). Adding dried fruit to couscous had never occured to me, as I've always considered it strictly a savoury dish.

Useful dish for when very tired (minimal preparation effort and doesn't even need chewing): make couscous (simply add boiling water to couscous and leave for 10-15 minutes), add cream cheese or grated cheddar. Mix. Eat.

#160 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 09:01 AM:

Earl Cooley @157: My fanficish hope for Lost was that Sawyer was the leader of a long con played on both Jacob and MiB, and would wind up in the end saying screw both of you, me and my buddies aren't playing your stupid game anymore. So long, and thanks for all the fish biscuits. I mean, if one of the recurring themes was the phrase "live together, or die alone," you'd think the key characters would learn to identify the real enemy and conspire together. Instead the writers pull a long con on us...

But I like Bruce's idea @156, too!

#161 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 09:14 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 156... the French Chick

...aka Delenn on Babylon 5.

#162 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 11:52 AM:

I didn't see Lost. I don't really plan to. One question, however--Garfunkel & Oates have done a little ditty called "Why Isn't There More F**king On This Island?" that's over on YouTube. (I'm not putting in the URL so I can avoid the moderation queue--it's easy enough to find online.) My question is who is the guy that comes in at about the 1:50 mark--is it one of the actual actors from the series, or someone who's dressed up as one of the characters, or what? And is the death toll in the series really as high as the song indicates?

#163 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 11:53 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 151 -- I'm quite sure that it's not a Fredric Brown story. I'm pretty familiar with his work (I helped with the NESFA Press collection of his short stories) and that story description isn't ringing any bells.

#164 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 12:02 PM:

Bruce @162, not one of the actors but he's playing Benjamin Linus. And oh yeah, lots of corpses...but he isn't one of them.

#165 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 12:49 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 162: I recognize the actor in the Garfunkel and Oates song from Glee--he's Whit Hertford. According to IMDB however, he was never in Lost.

#166 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 02:56 PM:

TCM is showing "The Guns of Navarone" right now. Every time I see it, I find myself thinking back to 1996, when Gregory Peck came to Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall. One the things he talked about was what the movie really was about, afetr which he went on to explain the homosexual relationships, past and current, between the various characters.

Me, I say dibs on Irene Pappas.

#167 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 03:03 PM:

Personally, I prefer the revelation about Gene Hunt to anything I know of Lost.

#168 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 03:37 PM:

Serge @ 161:

Yeah, I liked her better with the bone ridge on her head.

#169 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 03:49 PM:

Hmm. I heard a statistic I didn't believe on CSI, so I went to check into it. In the process of fruitlessly searching for the information, I found these two articles:

Tattoos And Violence - Is There A Relationship? Author not listed; posted by "admin" on May 5, 2010.

Tattoos And Violence – Is There A Relationship? by Christian Little, posted on May 16, 2010.

The articles are broadly the same, with minor word changes here and there. Here's the opening of the Custom Hats article:

One certainly does not have to be a sociopath in order to get tattoos, nor does the appearance of a tattoo mean that a person is one. However, a great number of studies have demostrated that most sociopaths do in truth possess tattoos as being one of their most powerful common factors. In addition, a well-known crime writer said in an interview that each and every single one of the numerous serial killers he had spoken with had had multiple tattoos.
And of the Christian Little article:
One most certainly does not need to be a sociopath in order to get tattoos, nor does the look of a tattoo imply an individual is one. Nevertheless, a great number of studies have demostrated that a large number of sociopaths do indeed have got tattoos as being one of their most powerful common aspects. In addition, a well-known crime novelist mentioned in an interview that each and every single one of the numerous serial murderers he had spoken with had had multiple tattoos.
I've commented on both articles, in slightly different terms (because Christian Little was posted later, it's unlikely the article was his original work; also, his grammar is inferior, 'look' is the wrong word in that first sentence, and he says "do indeed have got," which sounds like a clumsy copy-and-edit screwup to me).

I'm a little astonished by how angry this makes me.

#170 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 04:19 PM:


You can get some amazingly complex culinary results by mixing sweet and savo(u)ry. Not being vegetarian myself, I like to play with fruit/meat combinations: citrus fruit of any sort is a natural to go with sharp or herbal flavors (lemon pepper, lemon dill, orange and onion glaze on your protein of preference...) Raisins / sultanas / dried cranberries / whatever dried fruit is around, into a curry or pilaf or into the glaze for meat or tofu.

We put oranges into a mixed chili once, which gave it a surprising note and the acid seemed to intensify the heat (as one of our friends warned us it might.) (But we're the sort of people who put diced cucumbers into chili once, because we were desperate for something to do with them. They looked weird but took up the flavor nicely.)

I do sweet bread pudding regularly but am hankering to do it up as a savory dish (layers of bread heels, sharp cheddar, diced onion, possibly some minced ham or bacon crumbles, whatever savory herbs strike my fancy, fill up the pan with an unsweetened egg custard and bake in a slow oven for at least an hour or until it's good and set in the middle.) Sort of quichey, but with bread in it instead of a crust.


I should probably cook dinner soon.

#171 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Dave Bell @167, I just finished watching that (American version) last night for the second time. That was exactly the sort of tie-it-all-together ending I was hoping for from Lost. It was all about Sam, but in a way that made sense AND helped him grow. I'm told I should see the British version sometime for comparison.

#172 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Cleaning, decluttering, winnowing.

I donated two more dust-collecting inefficient "CD towers" and fit my whole music CD collection in two neat boxes.

I pried two boxes of Stuff -- ancient computer games, some dating back to the purchase of my first PC 27 years ago -- out of my clutter shelf, and put it on Freecycle.

If I don't crash and spend the rest of the day on the couch, I might tear through the box of CD cases. Somewhere along the line I got into the habit of saving empty CD jewel boxes and now I have dozens and dozens. I suspect the right strategy is to toss the full-thickness ones.

If I clear out enough space to be able to sore my crate of electronic hobby stuff on the clutter shelf then I'll declare myself done for the day.

#173 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 06:01 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 172: well done on the decluttering/winnowing. Re. jewel cases, I made the same decision myself a while back.

I had plans to do lots of things today. However, the 12+ mile run this morning (a couple of miles longer than I had intended) resulted in me not doing very much this afternoon. MUST mow the lawn tomorrow.

#174 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Heather Rose Jones #120, heresiarch #121:

On the Tynt tagging thing: I agree on making attribution opt-out. I don't like it phoning home, and I don't like the fact that the URL is designed for tracking and is not the URL I actually copied from.

It does at least appear to be competently designed so that it doesn't cause problems if it can't find for some reason.

#175 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Terry Karney @ 106:

The hosts file in Windows 7 should be in c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc (or similar, depending on where you installed Windows). If you don't want to edit that file, you can add the domain to the restricted zones in IE, Adblock in Firefox, or blocked content in Opera.

Heather Rose Jones @ 120:

The big problem, to me, after altering the fundamental way that copy-and-paste has worked for years, is that Tynt don't seem to be doing it out of any desire to ensure that people attribute their quotes correctly. Rather, their entire business model seems to be taking advantage of companies who still don't grasp how computers work, with added privacy-invading tracking sauce.

I'm willing to bet that their pitch to companies was about tracking and protecting their rights, and carefully left out the bit about it being incredibly easy to snip back out by the end-user.

#176 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 06:54 PM:

On the subject of Garfunkel & Oates: is there a way to have iTunes let you know when new material has shown up by an artist? I've bought what's available so far but I'd like to know when new stuff goes up so they can get my money...

#177 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 07:28 PM:

Aaaaaarrrrgghhh! For missed opportunities!

Back on the "reading him his last rights" thing, remember? "If you do not have a Savior, one will be born unto you"?

Those are the Res Miranda rights.

#178 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 07:49 PM:

Thena #170: You can get some amazingly complex culinary results by mixing sweet and savo(u)ry. Not being vegetarian myself, I like to play with fruit/meat combinations


#179 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 07:50 PM:

wrt empty CD jewelboxes and decluttering-- before you entirely throw them out, please ask your local library if it could use them. The library branch where I volunteer is eternally in need of replacement jewelboxes, as many of its existing ones have snapped hinges and are held together with rubber bands.

#180 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Bruce @ #176, there's a band website with a blog of sorts, so you could put that into your RSS reader. Additionally, it appears somebody there uses Twitter.

#181 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 08:13 PM:

#179: NOW you tell me! :-)

I still have literally dozens of spare slim-line jewel cases. When I've replaced my own broken cases I'll ask the local library about donating spares.

I tossed or donated computer manuals yesterday. It is sad how those things go out of date. Many I couldn't in good conscience donate . . . just too dang old. One item I tossed was a collection of hundreds of fonts . . . for Windows 3.1. Another had a floppy disk of code samples in it. By interesting coincidence, a co-worker asked me to bring in any spare 5.25" floppies I had . . . so he could show he sons what they used in the olden days.

#182 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 08:23 PM:

Xopher, 177: Please accept delivery of one (1) Internet, with all rights and privileges thereunto appertaining.

#183 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 08:26 PM:

@178 That looks AWESOME. I might have to pry my fingers off my wallet and find out if it's as good as it sounds.

#184 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 08:32 PM:

On fruit-meat combinations--though not, I'm afraid, on "ready snack" topic--I recently discovered the joy of the local sushi restaurant's Strawberry Roll. It's a cream cheese/cucumber (and maybe krab?) roll with strips of cooked eel on top, with the usual eel sauce... and slices of fresh strawberries, with a strawberry drizzle as well. Very strange, but shockingly delicious. I never would have thought of eel/strawberries/rice as being an ideal combo, but there you have it.

#185 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 08:56 PM:

Too bad I was out of communication until last night, because I'd have taken those Win3.1x fonts. (Have a Win98 install kit that you don't want?)

#186 ::: M Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 10:49 PM:


I have 65,000 fonts. If you want one, you'd better know what its name is.

#187 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 11:08 PM:

KeithS @ 175 - I'm not taking that bet. I'd further add to your bet, however, that they used a word like "sensor" to describe their silly little text link.

#188 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 11:11 PM:

I just received a note that I've been chosen as the "SETI@home user of the day" and that my profile will be featured on their website for the next 24 hours.

This appears to have broken their server; it's now generating only blank pages.

Sounds about right.

#189 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 11:11 PM:

#185: Actually, I did keep a Windows 98 SE installer disks and license keys. I wasn't sure why. Perhaps it was to send it to you.

PM me! (initials of stefan edward jones at aol dot com.)

#190 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 11:20 PM:

Avram @143: I don't understand the dilemma.

I was thinking of all of the side things we learn when we research anything, and of the necessary intermediate technologies when we create something. It's no good to have a miraculous device if it's indistinguishable from magic, especially if we can't do the maintenance.

It goes back to several old science fiction stories, where an alien race gives us wonderful tech and it cripples us in the long run. Chaotic systems and all- sometimes the journey is important. And to tie in to some other comments, if we can just make pollution go *poof* we won't fix the problem that caused it.

#191 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 11:37 PM:

Xopher 179:
Is that one of those articles that people buy-and-post in order to generate Google ad revenue?

(see the book Making Easy Money With Google for a plan for doing that sort of thing)

#192 ::: Lew Dawidowicz Karnstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 11:37 PM:

Horrible doggerel, anyone?

First verses:

Coming soon: a book from Baen
About the traitorous (left wing) reign
Of President

She's made a deal with devils, literal
Or maybe their just Foreign Liberals
Or Liberals "native" to this land
Who hate in, do not understand
As it never crosses their tiny brains:
*That Jesus just _loves_ capital gains
*That saints are known for packing heat
* ...and Real Americans all eat meat
And little

The U.N. troops march in, of course
And use the iron hand of force
To 'liberate' us one and all
From God and guns and Freedom's Call
And (look away,should this prove scathing)
Our mania for daily bathing

Hero: a smooth and manly sort
Who wrestles cattle, just for sport
A game pursued, strange though it looks
Whilst fighting wars and writing books
And lending ladies moistening looks
He stumbles on a Clintonian plan
To have our fleet sunk by Japan
Or China.
Or Russia, or
I guess they're terrorists.

His boss: an wry and tired vet
Who finds that there is still life yet
In standing up for our freedom and
Dies protecting a fighting man
Or a lowly woman, quite benighted
Whose white skin U.N. thugs excited
Neal, our hero, kneels,

The girl: She's lovely, but confused
(She doesn't share the author's views
On God or guns or Modern Art
But though so wrong-headed at the start
Will change: our hero's mighty thews
Will sway our lady's loathesome views
Toward what's good, and rational...right
The author dreams this every night.)
(Figuratively, she is his daughter
But still she's fit for Onan Fodder)

Any takers...perfectly understandable if none...of course, the more you wirte of it, the less I will, and that may be a blessing for all concerned.

#193 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2010, 11:42 PM:

Here's a bit of open-threadiness. I have a phrase - actually a full sentence, with a predicate and everything - that I think should be bruited about a little. Here goes:

Capitalism is not a suicide pact.

It's short, it's sweet, and it applies to both the too-big-to-fail question and the BP affair. It alludes to conservatives' "the Constitution is not a suicide pact" and thumbs its nose at that - because yeah, the Constitution is kinda a suicide pact ("Give me liberty or give me death" has a pretty final ring to it), but capitalism clearly shouldn't be.

It's pithy. If you like it, please use it wherever you see fit.

This has been a public service announcement, and we now return you to your regularly scheduled Open Thread, already in progress.

#194 ::: Gerald Fnord ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 12:33 AM:

As if by an occult hand, and as surely as all real men find women suspiciously effeminate, I think this will do.

Someone recently noted somewhere else that many American conservatives speak as if it were, in fact, a suicide pact in that they seem good at finding ways around it lest we die at the hands of swarthy foreigners and/or natives.

This is not unique to them; my side of the world is more likely to try to get around an inconvenient bit lest someone starve, but this is 1.) somewhat more convincing, at least as far as value received for exception made, and 2.) is a milder blackmail attempt---we're 'Agree with us or be uncouth heartless barbarians,', their pitch is, 'Agree with us or you're all gonna die like effete civilized types in a Conan knock-off.'

So I guess I'm basically on the Left because my temperament is such that the more a religion threatens me, the less likely I am to believe in it---someone whose basic pitch is 'Well, we're good-looking next to Eternal Damnation,' is admitting that they have a weak case.

#195 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 02:37 AM:

You read my,
You read my,
You can read my Neutra Face
Even if it's bold italic!

Neutra Face : An Ode On A Typeface (A Bearded Poker Face Parody)

#196 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 03:04 AM:

That last missing link exhibits excellent ambient findability, but can also be found here ""

#197 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 03:13 AM:

On an entirely different topic:

Is there a reason why a suitable amount of high explosive can't be placed a half mile down the leaking oil pipe and just use the weight of the surrounding earth to collapse in on itself and seal the leak that way?

I mean, it's a mile between the ocean floor and the oil reserve-- you should be able to collapse that pipe on its own, no?

#198 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 04:16 AM:

Glenn: That might just lead to an uncontainable seep. It might also be impossible to get the bomb down against the flow of the upwelling oil; it's under pressure.

KiethS: Thanks, now I just need to figure out how to make it admit that I am the administrator. It won't let me edit the file.

#199 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 04:22 AM:

This is fun. The Swinger. It's a music tweak, which takes any song you apply it to and makes it swing. It's a lot of fun, and the samples are swell.

#200 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 04:44 AM:

Fragano @ #52, Jörg @ #109:

When I see "oorlog", I immediately think 'navy'. This would be because it used to mean "war" and in the last few hundred years has mostly been used to refer to marine warfare.

Unfortunately, I can't ask SAOB, but sv.wikipedia thinks it's a germanic word that means "breaking of oath".

#201 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 09:27 AM:

Sisuile #111:
Feel free to steal it, but it croggles me to think of that in a sermon.

Jacque #124:
So, is jnh any relation to tnh & pnh? :o)
Only to the degree that dcb is related to ddb.

#202 ::: scotte ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 10:28 AM:

david@25: The book sounded good and I kept hoping someone would pipe up with the title. When that didn't happen I started my own hunting expedition. Could it be "Power, Politics, and Shakespeare" (published by Univ. of Texas in 1981)?

xopher and jnh: The "reading him his last rights" options will be passed on at coffee hour this week (between sips, not during).

#203 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 10:31 AM:

#40 LDR
#101 Kevin
#103 Lee
#116 Elliott

People's sensing sensitivity varies, and different breeds of sheep and other fiber-producing animl have different characteristics to the the fiber. Also, the fiber from different parts of an individual animal varies, and the fiber from animal to animal varies.

"Rug wool" to me is nasty scratch stuff, a black merino lambskin I have is very soft to my touch. But again, different people differ in what feels nice/nasty to their touch. There are people who like the feel of rubber and people who loathe it. There are people who wear clothes made of synthetic materials (or feel-coarse-to-me-natural fibers) which given a free choice I'd never have against my skin (see "scratchy nylon lace" which abraded my skin but probably not all the small "oh how CUTE!"girl children put into outer and underclothing festooned with the abominable stuff--some people -like- the feel of materials which to me are unbearably rough/scratchy, while some fabrics which feel soft and nice to me other people don't like the feel of at all....

Processing can/does make a difference--worsted versus woolen, for example, one is softer than the other (the one processed with grease left in for spinning, versus removal of all grease before spinning, makes a sensory difference.

#204 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 10:59 AM:

Paula, "worsted" vs. "woolen" are spinning methods, not fleece-processing descriptions. (See this.)

#205 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 11:47 AM:

TexAnne @ 204... When I see the word 'worsted', it takes me back to 1986, when I first saw Eisenstein's "Alexander Nevsky" with subtitles. Whoever did those must have a faulty knowledge of English because at some point someone proudly exclaimed that he had worsted his enemy.

#206 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 11:54 AM:

Whoa. Life is weird sometimes. A couple of hours ago I happened to be watching a video about spinning with a spindle, when I encountered the woollen/worsted distinction for the first time. Now the topic crops up here.

#207 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 12:14 PM:

James Nicoll reporting that Robert Sawyer has reported on his twitter feed the death of Jeanne Robinson. :(

#208 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 12:35 PM:

Serge, 205: It's an unusual, and maybe archaic, usage, but "to worst" can mean "to defeat." So can "to best" in certain circumstances. English is perverse that way.

#209 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 01:06 PM:

I only have 27000. I think. At last count. (I am trying very hard to not buy more font disks, no matter how tempting they are.)
On the other hand, if you feel like you need an off-site backup, a few dozen more disks won't be a problem.

#210 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 01:09 PM:

Terry, #199: Also awesome: Six Degrees of Black Sabbath, a trace-the-connections game for musical artists. I put in something fairly weird as a test, and it found a trace from Gordon Lightfoot to MidiVal PunditZ in 10 jumps.

xeger, #207: Ouch. I'm glad she's out of pain, but still.

#211 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 01:37 PM:

Terry Karney @ 198:

Find Notepad on the Start menu. Right-click on it, instead of clicking on it, and select "Run As Administrator", then open the file from Notepad.

#212 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 01:39 PM:

Chris Quinones @ 208... Thanks for the correction. Considering when the movie is set, the archaic word would make sense. Either that or the movie suggested that the character had pulled the wool over his enemy's eyes.

#213 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 01:49 PM:

From a NYT article on lawsuits against critical commentary:

The group Medical Justice, which helps protect doctors from meritless malpractice suits, advises its members to have patients sign an agreement that gives the doctor copyright over a Web posting if the patient mentions the doctor or practice.

Incidentally, Medical Justice says that one of the problems they are trying to address by creating agreements with patients is that people falsely claim* to be patients: people posing as patients- such as disgruntled employees, ex-spouses, or competitors can damage a hard-earned reputation. Of course, an agreement with patients can't possibly help here.

It may be that their tactic is to use DMCA takedown notices, arguing that the poster claims to be a patient, and if this were so, they would have signed the agreement, and so the posting is a copyright violation.

* I don't actually want to link to them, but I got this from

#214 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 02:09 PM:

Gerald@194 - shouldn't you be in the advertisements?

#215 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 02:19 PM:

I have photography questions, and some of you have answers. I hope. I trust. It'll be better for all if you do. :)

In recent months I've had cripplingly severe writer's block, and partly in search of an alternative outlet took up my lil' digital camera again. A lot, lately, actually, and I find that I'm doing pretty well with it, as you may see at my Flickr photostream. I feel like there's something in my better pictures worth saying - it scratches much of the same itch as writing does, for me.

Here I am, wanting to improve my craft, and on a very limited budget. (VERY limited budget. SSI-limited budget.) I don't really want to invest in a lot of equipment, and wouldn't even if I could afford. But I would like to learn more about digital image manipulation, both for basically natural effects and for more fantastic/imaginative ones. First request: What's good in books on those subjects? (And, conversely, what looks tempting but I should stay away from?) Are there good online tutorial collections I should be aware of? And like that.

I also...okay, this is going to sound howlingly ignorant, because I am howlingly ignorant about it and no point in pretending otherwise. I know that people sell photos, because I see some of you talk about it here. whom? How does one find markets, and make use of them? I am coming in really very clueless, and would welcome a few pointers. That's my second request.


#216 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 02:25 PM:

KeithS: I think I managed it. Wordpad, in admin, and then saved. When I open the file again, I see the line.

#217 ::: pdf23ds ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 02:45 PM:

Is the hell annoyed out of anyone else here when people say “X causes Y deaths a year”? Especially when it’s about lack of healthcare. In that context, what does it mean to “save” a life? If Mimi would have lived for 2 more years with some different healthcare, can that healthcare really be said to have saved her life? A sane measure seems to be how many years of life are saved. Please tell me the underlying studies do something sane.

With things like car crashes, where their fatality has much less to do with the age of the victims, I don’t mind the terminology so much.

#218 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 03:15 PM:

Bruce Baugh: Depends on what you want to use. It depends some on the equipment. Selling, is hard work; and has much lower profit margins than one thinks (even lower if one factors time/labor into it).

First, format. jpgs are decent, but they are limited in the ability to edit (because the images lose a lot in the camera). Tiffs are more complete, but huge. RAW is best, but requires cameras which shoot RAW, and editors which read it.

I like Lightzone, my father uses Lightzone and Bibble. Both of us make some use of Photoshop (I do it for clean up, filters which only exist in photoshop, and to manage my printing.

You do have some nice stuff. Some of the stuff you shoot in the style I've been mostly doing the past few years is very good; clean, and spare.

You can try selling in places like Etsy, or Zazzle. You can set up a website, and try to get traffic. You can make prints, hang them in local shows; try to get some gallery space.

You could try to make cards, and get them into shops.

For tips, give me a bit, and I'll get some links together, and send them to you. You could also look at my photoblog which is hideously behind on anything recent (i.e. it is effectively dormant at the moment, but has some [I hope] decent stuff on it).

#219 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 03:20 PM:

Thank you, Terry! Just the kind of tip I was hoping to get, from just the kind of fluorespherian.

#220 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 03:28 PM:

pdf23ds @ 217:

(Hmm, first-time poster posting something that looks like it aims to rile things up.)

Assuming you're not being intentionally stupid, let me point out that healthcare is not only about old people who might maybe live two more years (although, maybe it's two good years; what's wrong with that?). It's also about making sure poorer people don't die of things that even moderately affluent people get treated easily. Infections from an animal bite, proper treatment for a broken leg, vaccinations for nasty diseases, and so on.

So, no, I'm not annoyed about it at all. Thanks for asking.

#221 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 03:37 PM:

psf23ds @217:

I find it interesting that you mention the name Mimi; I've looked at your IP address, which puts you in the area of a dear family friend by that name who died nearly a year ago. Did Mimi's last name start with a G? Is she who I'm thinking of? (If yes, and you don't want to identify yourself, tell me what letter her maiden name started with.) If so—or even if not, actually—I'm sorry for your loss. I certainly still miss the Mimi I'm thinking of, and my mother does even more.

In point of fact, the statistics that are used to compare health care systems are things like infant mortality and life expectancy, although there are also financial outcomes mentioned (proportion of personal bankruptcies precipitated by a medical event, for instance). But life expectancies don't always resonate with people, so there is a tendency in some reports to translate that (with better or worse math and statistics) into lives saved. It's not how the CDC or the UN track these things, but it makes nice headlines.

It bugs me, but it's rarely to the point of annoying the hell out of me.

#222 ::: pdf23ds ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 03:41 PM:

OK, better example then. How many people a year are killed by smoking?

Healthcare does include plenty of things that dramatically lessen lifespan, or outright kill you, but it also includes tons of things that simply trim off time from the end. If the balance isn't overwhelmingly tilted towards the former, then the terminology is misleading, and if the balance is tilted towards the latter, as I believe, the terminology is worthless.

#223 ::: pdf23ds ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 03:46 PM:

abi: I'd be surprised if my IP address pointed you to my location in Northeast Texas. Mimi was my grandmother who did, in fact, die from cancer a couple years ago. Her initials were N. C.

#224 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 03:57 PM:

On wool: I do have some merino wool undershirts that I find non-itchy. But somehow I'm still not sure about wool underpants. And in any case, the original promoters of wool underwear wanted it to be good for your soul. That sounds itchy to me.

On copying text and having the URL added: I've only seen this on one site, and I thought it was really cool, because I actually wanted the URL and I didn't have to go back and get it separately. The tracking is a bit weird . . . but IMO user tracking has become part of the Internet. And when were cookies invented anyway?

On vegetarian snacks: surprised no one mentioned rice cakes. Hope you don't mind a little product placement: I love Lundberg's Mochi Sweet brown rice cakes. They are flavorful, and some of my friends have been impressed by them too.

Arancini (Italian rice balls) are something you can make yourself. They're good hot or cold, and make good vegetarian substitutes for meatballs.

#225 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 03:58 PM:

pdf23ds @223:

No, it wasn't Northeast Texas. Coincidence, then. It's just that we're almost a year to the day from my Mimi's death.

What brings you to Making Light?

Also, on 222, I suspect you may mean "lack of healthcare" at the start of your second paragraph. Or smoking, perhaps?

Another aspect to health care is disability rather than death, of course; we have a member of this community (without health insurance) who suffered a disabling stroke a year and change ago. He delayed calling the ambulance because of cost considerations, and time is of course a factor in stroke treatment.

Actually, that's an issue with smoking too; do we count the people who are still alive but can't climb stairs or walk more than a block any more?

#226 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 04:03 PM:

Bruce @215, I have a bunch of Photoshop-related links in my Delicious account. Some of them are tutorials, and some might be useful even with non-Photoshop photo manipulation software.

#227 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 04:21 PM:

Thanks, Avram!

#228 ::: pdf23ds ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 04:31 PM:

What brings you to Making Light?

I used to be a big commenter at Unfogged (like in the top ten for volume there for a while) but when ogged left, things gradually started getting less interesting and now I'm homeless. My blog has no commenters, given that I post twice a month on average. I doubt I'll settle in here, but I did have this question and I wanted someone to talk about it with. I tried at Balloon Juice and got no takers. And I've read a number of really great threads here over the years (mostly after they died down), so I thought of you guys.

Another aspect to health care is disability rather than death

Oh, certainly. I suppose I should expand on the reasons for my irritation, lest I me mistaken for some strain of troll. (I wouldn't want to invite any rudeness, after all. *cough*)

I've been following FireDogLake and Crooks & Liars for the past 9 months or so, and they've collectively mentioned the 40,000/year statistic on healthcare a dozen times, if not two dozen. A couple of those mentions were in expansive posts outlining the advantages of universal healthcare of one sort or another and the costs of our pre-reform system. In not one of those mentions was it explained what "lives/year" is shorthand for. I get the strong impression that none of those writing about it (on those sites) even realize that it's only a shorthand, and that really concerns me. Especially since, in that context, life expectancy is a much preferable metric. "Lives/year" is just sensational and inaccurate. I'm a liberal, and I don't like it when other liberals make bad arguments.

But those people adequately acknowledge the disability issue, so I have no beef with them about it. And I believe healthcare studies do treat the quality of life issue to some extent.

And even with life expectancy, there are complications. For instance, if you don't count deaths from lung cancer or COPDs, do smokers still have reduced life expectancy? I don't know, but it's an interesting question.

#229 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 04:47 PM:

228: For instance, if you don't count deaths from lung cancer or COPDs...

I don't understand. Why wouldn't you?

#230 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 04:53 PM:

Serge at #20 writes:

> Is Adam Ant as adamant as Atom Ant on a rant?

Have you heard of Adam Adamant? Old British TV which was meant to be competition for The Avengers (Dashing Edwardian gentleman wakes up in 1960s from suspended animation, meets swinging 60s chick. Together THEY FIGHT CRIME!)

I've never managed to see an episode, but I'm more than interested.

#231 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 04:53 PM:

I think it would be a very bad idea for people to go look at this painting on Scalzi's blog.

A very bad idea.


#232 ::: pdf23ds ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 04:55 PM:

@229 OK, I should say, "besides", not "if you don't count". I'm wondering if smoking affects lifespan beyond those particular diseases.

#233 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 05:11 PM:

#231 ::: abi @ 231 ...
I think it would be a very bad idea for people to go look at this painting on Scalzi's blog. A very bad idea. Srsly.

But... but ... there's no sodomy!*

*... and no dinosaurs either!

#234 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 05:29 PM:

pdf23ds@228: if you don't count deaths from lung cancer or COPDs, do smokers still have reduced life expectancy?

This 2004 news summary is out of date and doesn't reproduce the complete list it describes, but it might provide a starting point for further inquiry.

#235 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 05:34 PM:

(Actually, I should've said "may be out of date", since I haven't read the original 2004 report and thus have no idea what may've been modified in the 6 years since then; in any case, this webpage appears to present all of the Surgeon General's material described in the press release, with sundry links for more detailed data.)

#236 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 05:35 PM:

pdf23ds: I think the number is from those people who die (provably) as a direct result of treatable conditions; who were not treated because of a lack of healthcare.

Let's look at my second stepfather. He died of complications from diabetes. He was 62. That is a bit off the US average. He did not have healthcare (because he happened to make a good choice, at the time, for a job... not his fault mainframe computers are going the way of the dodo).

If he'd had healthcare the odds are he would still be alive.

So he's one of those umpteen thousand. He died because of diabetes; it was the proximate cause of his death, but lack of healthcare was a (major) contributing factor, and so it caused him to be one of the people a lack of healthcare killed.

#237 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 05:45 PM:

pdf23ds, #232, lip, throat, neck cancer, all of which can metastasize.

#238 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 06:27 PM:

Steve Taylor @ 230... Oh my goodness.

Speaking of spy stories, can you name one movie or TV show in which actors from Get Smart appeared along with with actors from Mission: Impossible. No, I don't mean the episode of the former where Maxwell Smart disguises himself as Martin Landau.

#239 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 06:44 PM:

pdf23ds: In that context, lives/year generally means easily preventable deaths -- people who would still be alive right now had they had access to relatively basic care, or to early care which would have kept a simple condition from getting worse, or to preventive care which might have stopped it altogether.

Do you have good medical insurance? I don't have any, being self-employed and over 50 -- any plan I could buy would bankrupt me. I am only too aware that I could be one of that 40,000 at any time; all it would take would be one drunk in a car with resultant serious injury, or one bad cold turning into pneumonia, or one stroke. With a little bad luck, that could be you too.

#240 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 06:51 PM:


Cardiovascular disease is the big one. Smoking increases the hazard of heart attack by a factor of two or three, and this results in more excess deaths and much more reduction in life expectancy than the lung cancer increases do, because heart attack is much more common and happens earlier in life than lung cancer.

This one is also important because the risk goes down quite rapidly after people stop smoking, and is down to nearly the level for never-smokers after a couple of years. The cancer and COPD risks take a lot longer to go away.

Second-hand smoking would be a better example if you want to accuse public-health types of exaggeration in the service of a higher cause. When Washington (and before that, Tacoma) were voting on a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants there were ads saying that waiters or bartenders (I forget which) had a fourfold higher risk of lung cancer than the population as a whole. There is no way this could be due to environmental tobacco smoke exposure -- it's almost an order of magnitude too high -- and they didn't actually claim in so many words that it was, but that was certainly implied. They also refused to admit that an aim of the rules was to inconvenience smokers, when this is one of the main points of smoking restrictions and is how they get much of their beneficial effect.

#241 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 07:02 PM:


On deaths prevented for a short or long time. In the case of air pollution there was a serious concern as to whether the excess deaths on high air pollution days are of very ill people who would have died within a few days anyway. In this case the evidence suggests that they are not, although they are, of course, more likely to already be unwell.

You can read about this issue in the Health Effects Insitute report (HEI is an independently-run, joint EPA-industry funded, organization that commissions and reviews research on air pollution)

#242 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 07:50 PM:

In case people here somehow missed it, there might be a war starting. A humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza was attacked and boarded by Israel on the high seas, there are between 16 and 20 activists dead, Turkey (one of the sponsors) is calling it an act of war and has apparently withdrawn its embassy from Tel Aviv, and there will be a NATO meeting tomorrow - Turkey being a NATO member.

Turkey has stated that future humanitarian aid will be escorted by the Turkish Navy. Israel said, "Well, the soldiers acted in self-defense."

The convoy included two members of the German Parliament, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (no, not that one), and the brother of a lady who spoke on Saturday at Clear Creek Monthly Meeting's picnic, which was the first I had heard of any of this.

Anyway: interesting times. America may be forced to choose between Israel and the continued relevance of NATO.

#243 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 08:02 PM:

Michael @ 242: The report I saw indicated that five of the six Turkish boats were boarded and inspected, and fighting broke out when the crew of the sixth boat resisted. The IDF have been inspecting incoming vessels - and letting humanitarian aid pass through to Gaza - for some time now.

It certainly sounds at this point like excessive force, but further judgment should probably wait for more confirmed details.

#244 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 09:07 PM:

My understanding is that the cargo on the ships was all humanitarian aid: food, medicines, stuff to fix houses, and not weapons.
(I wish the Israelis would stop turning into their grandparents' enemies.)

#245 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 09:09 PM:

pdf32s at # 217: Is the hell annoyed out of anyone else here when people say “X causes Y deaths a year”?

Yes, I am.

Especially when it’s about lack of healthcare.

No, not especially for healthcare. Abuse and gross oversimplification of statistics annoys me in discussions about any public policy matters.

#246 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 09:24 PM:

TexAnne 182: Thank you! It arrived today, and it's beautiful. All those connections...some bits of it are dirty, but I just won't look at them. Well, most of them.

#247 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 09:50 PM:

Also, if your Quebec is on fire and you are missing serious quantities of smoke, we have it down here in northern New England. Would you like us to send it back?

#248 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 09:56 PM:

Mark @243:

I haven't seen any reports that the other boats had been boarded and inspected. The impression I've gotten is that this was more in the nature of a midnight (or rather 4 AM) raid to take control of the ship and force it into port.

The chief sticking point as I understand it is that the ships had been inspected by the Turks to make sure there were no weapons, but the Israelis wanted the flotilla to land in Israel and ship the cargo over land into Gaza (where they could inspect it and control its shipment). The Turkish NGO running the flotilla refused, on the grounds that they didn't trust the Israelis to let the aid in, so the Israelis boarded the ships in international waters with a view to forcing them into port.

It seems clear to me that this was a carefully planned provocation, but Israel trying to win sympathy by pointing that out is rather like telling the cops that you shouldn't get arrested for glassing that guy in the bar because the things he said about your mother were really nasty.

There are three ways the whole Israel/Palestine thing can play out: A slightly smaller Israel and an independent Palestine, a secular, democratic, majority-Muslim Greater Israel, or a Jewish apartheid state. Palestinian groups and their allies have been eager to paint the Israelis as hell-bent on the third option. I think that's wrong as a factual matter, but it wouldn't work nearly as well if the Israeli government and a large minority of its population weren't helping.

#249 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 10:34 PM:

The number that was tossed about was "almost 45,000". In a debate this public, a poorly designed study would have been quickly impeached. So I just spent a few minutes tracking down the actual study. It is a peer reviewed comparison of deaths between insured and uninsured people of working age using raw data from a national longitudinal health study. I'm not a statistician, but it looks like appropriate care was taken to minimize bias in the data used.

I'd also like to see a comparison of life-expectancy, but couldn't find one quickly, and expect that it is a harder number to calculate, especially since essentially everyone gets medicare on their 64th birthday, which really complicates things.

The 2009 Harvard Health Study

#250 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 11:16 PM:

Back to Lost: A few episodes into the first season, I remarked to my husband that this had the makings of an excellent miniseries. I wouldn't believe that it was supposed to be an ongoing series until he looked up the information online and showed it to me.

As a miniseries, it would have been, "Lost . . . on an uncharted island . . . a band of strangers struggles to survive. But they take themselves along wherever they go and their pasts may destroy their future. Meanwhile, mysterious danger lurks at the heart of the island . . . "

As an ongoing series, it was, "Lost . . . on an uncharted island . . . a band of strangers strugSQUIRREL!"

Also, possibly because I had to pass a survival course to get out of junior high, I was very annoyed at the stupid things people were doing who should have known better. Mister Survival Expert lets all of those corpses just lie there in the jet until the pigs show up? Really? I mean, okay, his personal Issues mean that he doesn't really care about signaling for help, but, dude. Tropical. Island. Heat. Flies. Crabs. Pigs.

#251 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 11:19 PM:


I certainly read a fair bit of criticism of that study and its numbers. Megan McArdle and Marginal Revolution both discussed this. But I honestly didn't follow much of the discussion in depth. Here is Megan's post after the healthcare reform passed, when she challenged the claims made justifying health care reform. I wasn't entirely convinced by her arguments against healthcare reform (but she made real arguments, not accusations that Obama was an evil Socialist Muslim Commie), but I think it was interesting to see a lot of people who'd made very strong claims about what healthcare reform would do for us kind-of backpedaling after it was passed.

I tend to be a bit doubtful of this kind of claim (it looks like the sort of estimate you could change a fair bit by playing with your assumptions just a little bit), though it seems broadly plausible. I do know that there's older research that failed to find much difference in life expectancy or health outcomes (in the 70s) between people given full medical insurance coverage, and people given nothing but catastrophic coverage (like a yearly cap on medical expenses, above which everything is covered). This is a link to a summary of the project and its findings.

#252 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 11:23 PM:

dcb, I'm kind of late to this party because our local con, ConQuesT, was this weekend and this is my first shot at a fast, easy (i.e., HOME) wireless.

I made a cheese spread this weekend that was cream cheese, a bit of sour cream to make it loose enough to spread, sun dried tomatoes, chopped red onion and kalamata olives (all of the stuff aside from the cheese was finely chopped). it would be good without the olives too and possibly other savory thing added.... it kept well, we put it out on a bowl of ice when we put it out (Dawn patrol suite, not consuite.... smaller audience).

I can see the same mix with any manner of sweet or savory items added, including nuts. it was really nice on pitas and whole grain crackers.

#253 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 11:24 PM:

re the IDF raid. It was, so the IDF blog says, a botched attempt to take the boats. There were Israeli's shot; after their pistols were taken away from them as they were fast-roping from a helicopter.

All in all, I'd say Israel is in the wrong (then again, blockade is an act of war, so there are some serious questions about the way they are handling their relations to Gaza any way one looks at it).

#254 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 11:30 PM:

Terry, does the IDF blog mention that the ships were in international waters and actually moving away from the coast? And that there's video of them firing on the ships before they boarded?

#255 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2010, 11:46 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 250: Your "SQUIRREL" is the clearest explanation of LOST that I've seen. I loved the first season, and lost interest in the second. It seemed obvious that there was no coherent explanation for the divergent elements, and that irritates me.

#256 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 01:16 AM:

albatross, #251: I think it was interesting to see a lot of people who'd made very strong claims about what health care reform would do for us kind-of backpedaling after it was passed.

That could be because we didn't actually get the kind of health care reform that would have done those things. When you say "getting X will give us A, B, and C" and then what you get isn't X but a very different and scaled-back Y, you have to scale back on your predictions of what it's going to do.

#257 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 01:57 AM:

Lee @ 256: Yes, indeedy. I wanted (and want) a single-payer system that covers everybody now. I'm glad we got something, and hope for the best, but what was passed will not accomplish all of the outcomes I'd expect from "universal health care".

#258 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 06:03 AM:

The list of graduates at Oberlin College yesterday included one Jeremy Graham Maxwell Ledgister. This made his parents extremely happy. He was over the moon himself.

#259 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 06:06 AM:

Fragano @258:


What did he major in? What's next?

#260 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 06:31 AM:


It'll take several years after all the current changes are implemented to be able to see statistically significant results, and as others have noted, with a watered down law you get watered down results.

This debate is important to me. My own life expectancy is significantly impacted by my access to healthcare. At the moment, I can't leave Massachusetts because I need significant continuing medical care, and the federal law excluding restrictions on preexisting conditions doesn't take effect until 2014. With preventative care, I'm a robustly healthy person with some major treatable health problems. Without, my quality of life drops quickly and dramatically.

#261 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 07:26 AM:

Fragano @ 258... Congratulations!

#262 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 09:37 AM:

abi #259: He majored in East Asian Studies. What's next? His mother and I are encouraging him to head for East Asia. Or, at least, get a job.

Serge #261: Thanks. The important thing is that he did it. The sense of pride in achievement that we felt coming from him was wonderful.

#263 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 10:10 AM:

Hey, Fragano - congratulations! Now you can get that in-ground pool. (My older one is going to be off to college in another two years, and I'm already shaking in my boots about it.)

#264 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 10:17 AM:

Bruce@215: While I have tended towards expensive photo equipment, mostly it's not image quality I'm buying with the money (it's low light capability and fast response, for candid shots of active people and animals). Of course the big change was the digital transition -- where it doesn't cost much of anything to shoot, any more. Makes it a much better low-cost hobby.

To my eye, the best of your Flickr sets are a few of the macro shots -- IMG1718 stands out for the lighting and composition; IMG1848, maybe 1663. (Although 1585, the sidewalk with sloping side ramps, is rather interesting.) Also 1543 (the wood surface). From what I know of the markets, though, this is the hardest kind of shot to sell.

The easy way to get a few sales is "microstock", where people pay very little and you get a tiny pittance. The only way to make any measurable money is to give them a LOT of photos that get a lot of sales. may be the leading practitioner. I don't know what their numbers show, but generally what sells from stock is shots with people in them (with model releases), and then landscapes that can be used as backgrounds and clean shots of objects that can be used as collage elements.

All the real money is in doing custom work for clients; but that has its own difficulties of course.

The software is expensive. The Gimp is free and capable, though; it just doesn't support my preferred lossless workflow (you change the actual pixels, not just layer changes on top of them). Bibble is great for working batches of raw images (like for weddings and event photography), and is now pushing into the same space as Lightroom (adding some local editing, and cataloging). Photoshop is still THE tool for producing final results of the highest quality.

I have little idea what good introductory books are; all the ones that were good for introducing me are about B&W and developing your own film and so on. (The Ansel Adams basic photo series is STILL good for real understanding of what's going on with exposure and tone rendering, and with lens tilts and shifts, and when thinking about printing, but the methods he does most of this are now archaic.) (Ctein's book on digital restoration is actually terrifically valuable for lots of kinds of Photoshop work beyond that, but is very much not a beginner book.)

#265 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 10:17 AM:

Fragano@258: Congrats to Jeremy...and his parents!

#266 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 10:52 AM:

dcb: oatcakes? You may be able to buy them, or here's a recipe. Personally I'd cut them into small rounds or squares rather than quarter-circles. You can add cheese, or herbs, or whatever. Good on their own or with anything you'd put on a cracker.
Recipe: note that "oatmeal" means ground oats, not rolled-oats-for-making-oatmeal-with.

#267 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 11:05 AM:

Jeanne Robinson has passed away.

#268 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 11:35 AM:

Jacque #267:

I'm sorry to hear that. Spider Robinson's Callahan's Saloon stories are a kind of model for what a voluntary community can be.

#269 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 11:38 AM:

Fragano #258:

Most excellent for all concerned!

#270 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 11:55 AM:

We finally went to see the Crowe "Robin Hood" this past weekend. On the whole it was a fairly well plotted film. And the horses were gorgeous...

But, at one point, when the lady of the castle was helping Robin remove his armor prior to bathing she had to be instructed on how to remove said armor. Worse yet, she failed her hospitality roll and left Robin to bathe himself.

Doesn't anyone bother to get the details RIGHT anymore? Every chatelaine was expected to bathe their guests, and would have known how to remove the armor when there were no squires available.

Totally blew my suspension of disbelief. I'd been happily immersed in the film up to that point.

Otherwise, the plot was plausible, especially the set up for the sequel.

#271 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 11:56 AM:

abi @140/925: Waw! Now you've made me smile! (Much needed, today.)

albatross @268: I can't count the ways that Spider and Jeanne have influenced me. Spider's account indicates she went about as well as one can. I only regret I didn't get more time in her company. She was a Class Act.

#272 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 12:08 PM:

Fragano @ 258: Congratulations to you all! Here's to East Asia, may there be many jobs for him.

#273 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 12:13 PM:

#270 Lori

How many people who are in the theater know those things?.... (How many people accept the completely inane and bogus bank and turn crap in supposed space environments (bank and turn requires a strong central gravitational field and for winged things an atmosphere...))

Playing up based on ignorance and keeping them clueless....

#274 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 12:21 PM:

Interesting open-threadiness:

John Robb is discussing the control of media reporting on the Gulf spill. The interests of the Obama administration and BP seem to align nicely here in favor of keeping us in the dark as much as possible.

#275 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 12:26 PM:

Paula@273: Movies are that 800lb gorilla; in particular, for a Hollywood feature, it's unconvincing for them to argue "we couldn't afford to find out what the real customs were". To a first approximation, at the level at which films are financed, historians are free.

The only believable explanation is that they don't care.

For their business, they're financially right not to care. On the other hand, I do think their consistent sloppiness is eating away at their credibility year by year. But maybe it's just giving geeks like us a stick to beat them with, and it really doesn't matter.

#276 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 12:31 PM:

Serge @238 - I'll pose the same question, only with "Hogan's Heroes" and "Star Trek."

Mark @243 - Sounds like "aggravated failure to kowtow" again. Why did Israel think it would be a good idea to let US border guards into their navy?

Fragano @258 - Congratulatory things!

#277 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 12:36 PM:


Congratulations to Jeremy and his family!

How happy you all are!

Love, C.

#278 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 12:41 PM:

KIp W @ 276... I'll have to pass on that one because, for various reasons, I had little access to "Hogan" when I was growing up. I have caught a few episodes in recent years, and it feels weird seeing Klemperer as Klink after first seeing him in "Judgment at Nuremberg".

One more of my own... Which "Star Trek" actor was in two versions of the Gunfight at OK Corral?

#279 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 12:42 PM:

Paula @273:

They do the "bank and turn" nonsense because they're plotting the action on old WWI or WWII dogfights. IIRC, the final fight sequence in the first Star Wars film was done that way.

Also, it's more attractive to the eye that straight motion in whatever direction would be.

(Although that bit in "Wrath of Kahn" where the Enterprise sinks straight down through the nebula is a classic submarine move.)

Movies are big on borrowing what works.

#280 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 12:57 PM:

Yeah. I think real space battles would make lousy movies, because the time scales are mostly not the ones you need for an entertaining scene. Instead, I think you really get very long (days, weeks, months) periods of maneuver (constrained by the acceleration the passengers and ship can stand, and available reaction mass), followed by all the combat decisions being made by a computer in microseconds once you've closed to the point where your random jinking doesn't make the other side's weapons almost certain to miss you. Niven deals with some of this in _Protector_, Niven and Pournelle in _The Gripping Hand_, Vinge in _A Fire upon the Deep_ and _A Deepness in the Sky_, Charlie Stross deals with it a bit in _Singularity Sky_, and there are others.

But expecting space combat to have anything like a convenient human attention span kind of time scale is a mistake, I think.

#281 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 01:27 PM:

Lori Coulson, 270: I imagine there is a tradeoff between getting the details right and keeping their all-important PG-13 rating, as well. I don't know if the bluenoses in Hollywood would slap an R rating on a movie for a scene like that, but it wouldn't surprise me.

#282 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 01:40 PM:

Thanks for all the congratulations. The young man certainly deserves them.

#283 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 02:01 PM:

Rainflame @155: Spider does a lovely reading of "Slow Sculpture" on his podcast dated 7/21/09.

Re: Lost—There's got to be a genre-name for the sort of free-floating, never-quite-solved, iterating mystery style of story telling (aside from "soap opera"). X-Files had this same characteristic. I seem to have an extra sense that alerts me when there's nothing substantive behind the "mystery." I find this particular brand of gratuitous titillation deeply annoying.

#284 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Janet @113 (&Lee @118): "If you stopped tellin' people it's all sorted out after they're dead, they might try sortin' it all out while they're alive."

If memory serves, this is an argument advanced by characters in Delany's The Einstein Intersection for why people in the rational future (the book's setting) consider the ancient (to them) religions to be immoral.

At the time I read it, I thought the argument was that final nail so plainly needed for Xtianity's coffin. Soon enough, though, I discovered that people who believed in life after death were strangely unconvinced by the argument. Even worse, I found myself at a friend's funeral starting to believe in life after death. I was shocked.

I got better, but it taught me something about how well we can fool ourselves when we have a mind to.

#285 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 02:32 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 262: "His mother and I are encouraging him to head for East Asia. Or, at least, get a job."

Those aren't mutually exclusive--there are copious opportunities for Americans with Bachelor's degrees to teach conversational English in East Asia. China is desperate for native speakers, and Korea actually pays wages that mean something in US dollars. If he's Oberlin, he ought to know about the Shansi program--it's no doubt too late to apply for the next year, but I'm sure the Shansi fellows would be happy to give advice and maybe even find him a job. I suspect it would be FAR easier for him to find a job in China than here in the US.

(and congratulations!)

ddb @ 275: "On the other hand, I do think their consistent sloppiness is eating away at their credibility year by year."

What credibility?

More seriously, I think that getting it right doesn't just lack a clear benefit, but is in fact a net negative: people of any given social setting expect everyone else to act just like them, and modern Americans are no different. If the characters acted in historically appropriate ways it would probably just confuse and upset the audience.

#286 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 02:36 PM:

Jacque @ 283... I find this particular brand of gratuitous titillation deeply annoying.

Anybody else remembers "Twin Peaks"?

#287 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 02:38 PM:

Heck, if Arthur C Clarke didn't mind Star Wars's dogfights, I don't see why I should.

#288 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 02:51 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 258:


Serge @ 287:

I discovered that while I don't mind the dogfights or the sound in space in Star Wars, the sonic bombs in space (or whatever they were) in Episode 2 really annoyed me.

#289 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 02:57 PM:

KeithS @ 288... The only part of the Clown Wars that I ever saw was near the end, when Christopher Lee and Frank Oz are using the Force to throw stuff at each other.

#290 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 03:02 PM:

Serge @278 -- DeForest Kelley? (I'm counting the ST:TOS episode as a version)

#291 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 03:13 PM:

Chris @281: Oh, for heaven's sake! Strategic camera placement, i.e., showing the actors from the shoulders up. Don't tell me the bluenose crowd would object to the man's bare chest?! The lady of the castle did not disrobe when she bathed a guest.

As for the man stepping into the tub, the camera would be focused on the face of the lady, and we would only see the gentleman again once he was seated in the tub.

After all, it's what the camera DOESN'T show that makes the scene sizzle...

#292 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 03:18 PM:

abi @231: Wil Wheaton doesn't like milk!?

I'm crushed. I'm appalled. I can never respect him again.

#293 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 03:20 PM:

Debbie @ 290... Yup.

#294 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 03:47 PM:

@Jacque #283: I call it a fan dance.

#295 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 04:07 PM:

I find myself more willing to forgive inaccuracies and mistakes when they're either incidental to the plot, or streamline the story. Mind you, they can still throw me out of the story for a bit if they're obvious enough to me; but they're not fatal.

For instance, some of the American characters in Charles Stross' Merchant Princes books occasionally lapse into British rather than American word usages. Not a big deal, since it wasn't anything that really affected the story development. But it was still a bit jarring sometimes. (The bit that jarred me the most early on also included a line where a character is sent to an Amtrak station in a city that's not served by Amtrak. This suggests that there may be some cumulative effect of minor discrepancies jostling one out of the story's flow.)

Likewise, I usually don't mind when things like lab test results come back much faster and unambiguously than they do in real life, unless forensic science is actually the story's main focus, rather than a background device invoked to move the main story forward.

On the other hand, when in "Her Fearful Symmetry", several of the major characters start behaving implausibly idiotically midway through the book, *and the story then depends on that* for its resolution, that was enough for me to basically write off the book. (And once I'd done that, it was easier to spot various other flaws in a book that had started out promisingly.)

#296 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 04:30 PM:

Ccongratulations to the Ledgister* clan!

Serge @286: Anybody else remember "Twin Peaks"? Oh yeah. That was another one my brain skidded off.

And what's really annoying is that these often so damn popular.

Jenny Islander @294: fan dance: And instead righteous nudity under the feathers, the dancer is just wearing sweat- and pizza-stained boxers and t-shirt.

* Every time I see that name, I can't help but think, "But what does a Ledgister ledgistate?

#297 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 04:49 PM:

Does anyone know of a trustworthy anonymous remailer? I have a use for one (legitimate) but I don't know which I can trust.

#298 ::: jason.aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 05:25 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @295: The Merchant Princes books are all set in alternate worlds, including the one that most resembles ours. The Amtrak stations can be wherever he wants them to be.

But it is probably a mistake, along with the Briticisms.

#299 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 05:27 PM:

Mostly, screen writers get their information about historical and technical details from other screenplays and novels. This explains, for example, the evolution of the vampire mythos in film, starting with the basics in "Nosferatu", and embellished with minor grace notes from "Dracula" and the producers' need to piss on the script to make it their own in the Lugosi version of Dracula, and so on. In later years, Ann Rice added her notions to the gestalt, as did Joss Whedon with "Angel". By the time we get to "Tweelight" and "True Blood", all differences between versions of the mythology are with respect to a consensual definition that results from previous ideas.

Similarly (and more egregiously) for space opera, and the depiction of space battles. If any of the people who make those films had read Arthur Clarke's "Earthlight" they might have gotten some ideas of how to stage a battle scene in vacuum over astronomical distances that was still pretty spectacular. But they got their ideas from WWII aerial dogfight scenes, and then built on top of each other.

Stanley Kubrick excepted, though that's primarily because he had Arthur Clarke for a writer on "2001: A Space Odyssey". The scene in which Keir Dullea jumps through vacuum from the work pod to the ship's airlock is taken from "Earthlight".

#300 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 05:29 PM:

Bruce Baugh re microstock: I am of a very mixed mind. Traditional stock pays a lot more; and is more fairly compensating the photographer; in part because the payment model is based on the venue; a usage for a full page ad in Time can pay 15,000USD. The same usage (even the same shot) were it from a microstock agency will be lucky to pay 1USD. Also, most of them have payment models designed to, at the very least, make it hard for the photographer to actually get paid.

Assume one gets .25USD per image used. Also assume the payments are made quarterly, and only in the quarter subsequent to the attainment of the payout minimum. If you clear the 50USD mark (pretty much standard) on the first day of the second quarter they will pay you within 30 days of the start of the third quarter.

You can usually demand a check, if the balance is less than the threshold, but a fee will be charged, the standard seems to be 10-15USD. The .25 payment to you is completely independent of what they charge. In a traditional stock agency the payment to the artist is a percentage (these days the standard seems to be moving to 40 percent, it used to be 50, and some agencies paid 60. Microstock competition seems to have moved that downwards). I have seen some agencies which charge 25-50USD for an image. They pay between .25-1.50USD to the artist.

All in all, I don't like microstock. I think it's a business model meant to take advantage of amateur photographers, and detrimental to the person trying to make a living with a camera. Not least because the amateur who tries to get a small stream of income from microstock is working as hard as the person who does traditional. and getting far less for her efforts.

Fragano: I have a friend (now working South America), who did two years in China after she graduated from Oberlin. Then she took a masters in international relations. She's doing work on keeping Bolivia in good shape.

#301 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 05:31 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 258:


Jacque @ 267:

Oh, damn it, yet another good one gone. I"ve never met Jeanne, but her worth as a person shines through Spider's writings about her. I'm glad that at least she went out well.

#302 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 05:33 PM:

Terry@300: Yes. I brought up Microstock, and probably should have gone into more detail about the drawbacks (I did mention it didn't pay very well).

#303 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 05:36 PM:

Bruce@299: Doc Smith, of course, had neither "banking" nor "swooshing sounds" in his space battles.

While his physics was not of course at all realistic ("Einstein is only a theory; these distances are observed facts!"), he did quite well designing the tactics and even strategies of space combat to fit those rules. It even changed a time or two in the Lensman series as the technology changed. Tractor shears, tractor zones, etc.

#304 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 05:53 PM:

It's be interesting to eliminate the sound effects from a big-screen space battle and to rely solely on music. Come to think of it, this is exactly what "The Battle of Britain" did for its final dogfight.

#305 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 06:11 PM:

Fragano Ledgister, #258, Congratulations!

John Mark Ockerbloom, #295, the Merchant Princes series is not our world -- the base world is not our world. (The British bits that didn't get fixed for the American books is a problem, though, and Charlie always tries to get them fixed.)

#306 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 07:05 PM:

Marilee @ 305, Jason Aronowitz @ 298: Thanks. I'm only partway through the Merchant Princes series at present, so perhaps it wasn't the best example to use for folks who have read more of the series than I have.

I have gathered from elsewhere that none of the worlds seen in the first few books is exactly the same as our world, though exactly how the backdrop of the world seen on the first page differs from ours hasn't yet been made clear. (The points of divergence as far as I've read are subtle enough to make them look more like errors than deliberate differences.) But as I said, the apparent errors are incidental enough to the story that they don't bother me that much.

Albatross @ 268: I too have fond memories of Callahan's place, though I've always associated that with Spider; I don't know what influence Jeanne had on it. I have since been attracted to online "voluntary communities" that have some of the same vision. I joined the Alt.callahans newsgroup pretty much as soon as it began, and read and participated in it for a number of years.

Later on, I moved on to other online forums. These days, the forum that best exemplifies the Callahanian spirit for me is this one.

Fragano @ 258: Congratulations!

#307 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 07:17 PM:

@306: I will confess it's kind of weird to look in here and find I resemble the topic of discussion ...

Yes, I make mistakes. I also get annoyed when my American editor and copy editor let Britishisms slip through in a book set in their own back yard -- but I probably shouldn't air dirty linen in public. And anyway, it just turns out to be a good example of how damn hard it is to write a book set in a different English-speaking country and get it right. There's a lot of cultural cross-contamination, such that bits of American usage creep into the UK, and vice versa -- and it varies from region to region, as well.

I just finished a book by an author who shall remain nameless, in which a couple elope to Gretna Green to get married. Ahem. Except they elope while in Scotland. (The whole point of the Gretna Green thing was that English couples could go there to take advantage of the Scottish marriage law that didn't require parental consent.) Not as bad as the ghastly-beyond-belief book which opens with a Provisional IRA squad massacring an entire battalion of SAS soldiers in Belfast (spot the two errors in that sentence) and follows it with a train from London to Edinburgh crosses the Forth rail bridge on its way into that latter city -- that's a really weird diversion: 180 degrees and about 75 miles -- but you get the picture.

#308 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 07:19 PM:

My niece Lea has been one of the people helping teach Korean kids English since 2008. She loves the country, and is picking up Korean as an additional language, which she hopes will help land a position with the State Department in the future. (Her degree's in Political Science.)

#309 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 07:54 PM:

Henry @ 297: I'm afraid I haven't known of an anon remailer that I really trusted since went away.

One of the big problems for operating remailers, besides the legal hassles, is that they're trivially abused for spamming. I think that probably forced more to shut down than legal battles did. I used to know of one or two with specialized purposes - don't know if they're still extant - but for at least one of those, there were strong reasons to doubt the ethics of the operator.

If you get info on one, I'll be interested to hear about it.

#310 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 08:10 PM:

Henry @ 297:
Spamgourmet, which I use for temp addresses (after a certain (re)settable number of emails messages are cheerfully eaten), can be used to send mail from those temp addresses as well. You can use less obvious domains than

#311 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 08:28 PM:

Lori, 291: Well, to be sure, heresiarch at 285 is probably more right than I am. If it's not essential to the story to be historically accurate, it's counterproductive.

As Xena taught us, the past is another country -- that is, at most one other country.

#312 ::: ianracey ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 10:09 PM:

@299 Bruce Cohen

Mostly, screen writers get their information about historical and technical details from other screenplays and novels.

I think the epitome of this is Gladiator, a movie where every single element is cobbled together from other Roman movies, TV shows and books, to the point that I wondered if the writers had any knowledge of Ancient Rome that didn't come straight from pop media.


The whole plotline, of course--Marcus Aurelius' son subverting the Imperial succession, leading to the disgrace and then redemption of his adoptive brother, who's in love with Marcus Aurelius' daughter--is a remake of The Fall of the Roman Empire. The focus on gladiators is from Spartacus. The preoccupation with restoring the Roman Republic--truly bizarre in a second-century context--is from I, Claudius, as is the story Commodus tells of Claudius and Messalina. And the hero, General Maximus, the great Roman general, fiercely loyal to the idea of Rome without ever having seen the city, is the protagonist from Wallace Breem's novel Eagle in the Snow.

I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting.

#313 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 10:20 PM:

Hey, Abi! Here's a sweater named after you. (Were I to make it, I'd give it sleeves.)

#314 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 12:01 AM:

TexAnne... The abifelt?

#315 ::: emilly ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 12:07 AM:

TexAnne, isn't it cranky-making when the modelled photo makes it impossible to see part of the garment? Why on earth would you try to sell a sweater with a photo that covers the whole neckline?

#316 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 12:17 AM:

emilly @ 315: Why on earth would you try to sell a sweater with a photo that covers the whole neckline?

I'd assume that the knitting pattern has an ugly neckline!

#317 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 01:16 AM:

It's probably not ugly, just not too special. The reason to knit it is the exciting cables below the yoke.

#318 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 02:37 AM:

Re: tynt.

Is it just me who is confused by the system they're using? Surely they can't track clicks of the link generated, because everything after the # is stripped off by the browser before it requests the page...?

#319 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 08:19 AM:

Why on earth would you try to sell a sweater with a photo that covers the whole neckline?

Two reasons: either the neckline is plain/ugly, or it doesn't fit right.

In Knitting in Plain English there's a whole chapter about this sort of thing. It's very entertaining reading.

I'm also confused about the utility of a heavy sweater like that with no sleeves. If it's cold enough for the body, your arms will be freezing!

#320 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 08:52 AM:

re 312: I would have to put Avatar in the same category, to the point where I could pretty well map out the Climactic Battle Scene as a series of battle set pieces and tropes. I don't think there was an original thought anywhere in the making of that movie.

#321 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 09:09 AM:

Carrie S. @319: I love knitblogs that do reviews of knitting magazines -- primarily for the snark, and for educating the consumer on how to see crazy posing in photos attempting to make up for weird fit of garments.

A few examples:
✿ From Samurai Knitter, Vogue Knitting Winter 2009
✿ From Obsessed With Knitting, Vogue Knitting Winter 2007
✿ From A Good Yarn, Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2009

Googling for the name of your favorite knitting mag and 'review' will probably turn up some, though it's generally the more cracktastic rags that get the snarkiest reviews -- Vogue in particular, because, among other criticisms, (a) they mostly only make sizes for small women, like sub-size-10; (b) they claim over and over that their stuff is High Fashion Trend-Setting Awesomeness when it's usually both behind the curve and impractical, and (c) they have a really high percentage of unwearability.

#322 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 10:15 AM:

On Gladiator and Avatar, both movies sort of fit the category I mentally tag "My God, It's Made Of Tropes!" Whether that's a good or a bad thing depends very much on what kinds of things one's looking for in movies.

I'm reminded of back cover blurbs for fantasy books, where at some point I realized that the blurbs that used to be a draw to me were now a turn-off. Up to a certain point, I wanted very much to read a certain Type of book, so if a blurb contained the right sort of keywords--magic! dragson! epic fight between good and evil!--I would pick it up right away. Later, I wanted something new, and those exact same stock concepts were a turn-off.

When I want to go see a movie for the pretty visuals and great fight scenes, "made of tropes" is often exactly what I'm looking for: it's not going to distract me from the pretties with a complicated plot or a lot of ambiguity that I have to keep up with, because every character is out of central casting, and every plot twist can be seen a mile away. When I want to see a movie for the plot and characterization, those exact same things I liked before are suddenly turn-off.

I guess I'm just saying that I don't think "made of recycled materials" is necessarily a bad thing, in movies or in books. It's a less challenging thing, both for creation and consumption. But that's okay. Sometimes I really don't want my entertainment to challenge me.

#323 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 10:25 AM:

Elliott #321: I seriously adore Samurai Knitter. Don't know if she's planning to do any more VK reviews, though, given the sh*tstorm that erupted over the "we pick sizes so that even our HUSKY readers can have a pattern to knit" editorial.

#324 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 11:12 AM:

given the sh*tstorm that erupted over the "we pick sizes so that even our HUSKY readers can have a pattern to knit" editorial.

Ridiculous. Huskies don't have thumbs, they can't knit. Even if they could, why would they want to? They've got nice thick coats already.

#325 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 11:32 AM:

William Durant was the historical advisor for the plod, thud and dud of The Fall of the Roman Empire.

The movie's design looks more like a mad combination of Byzantium, the early Roman Church and the early European middle ages than it does, you know, the later Roman Empire. Is this due to it being shot on location in Spain?

Samuel Bronston produced this, with Anthony Mann as director, and Sophia Loren as leading lady (and the only lady in Fall), all them repeating for El Cid. A very young Omar Sharif plays a not so good guy, the Armenian king and husband of Lucilla, who, of course, lurves Livius.

You will never see so many reaction shots of two people turning their heads to look at each other to note each other's reaction to something someone else says – sets of couples, doing this, in sequence in the same scene. 3 hours long with intermission and overture, these were some of most drawn out talky scenes you'll ever find this side of the BBC I, Claudius. The first part is Marcus Aurelius philosophizing with Timodes and Livius and with Charon. Not even Sophia Loren cheers up the monochromatic dreariness of the snow and smoke and forests of Germania. Many fights, many battles, much posturing, blowharding and parading. The last hour, though equally plodding, is more colorful, as we at last get to Rome.

Never will you see so many restive horses on screen, particularly the chariot horses. It was as though the equines kept trying get you to look at them instead of those people talking. The horses were indeed more interesting to look at.

Did The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) put an end the sequence of Hollywood's big budget spectacles:

The Ten Commandments (1956);

Ben Hur (1959) – there's a chariot race in The Fall too, outdoors, not in a stadium, i.e. not really a race, and pointless in terms of the movie's plot;

Spartacus (1960);

El Cid (1961);

Cleopatra (1963)

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) tanked financially, while the others made big profits – well, Cleo didn't, despite its grand world-wide global box office – the highest grossing film ever, up to that time - because it cost so much.

The Fall's cost and box office failure bankrupted Bronston and put an end to his production company and career.

Love, C.

#326 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 11:34 AM:

Chris @311 -- Well, I always cut the Xena/Hercules crew some slack, because I understood that we were playing hopscotch amongst the archetypes and paying homage to certain films...

I guess what frustrated me with the latest "Robin Hood" is that the screenwriters were doing such a good job building their story with certain plausible historical bits that when they completely missed a common custom of the period I had a hard time getting back into the film.

I must admit I had mental giggles at the folk in chainmail making a beach landing. I ask the military history types, didn't the invasions of that time prefer to get their troops on dry land before starting the battle?

#327 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 11:49 AM:

I recently got the DVD of Quo Vadis. I should pop it into my laptop, which will give me better image definition than our 10-year-old TV. That might allow me to figure out the graffiti on the walls. Maybe they'll turn out to be like the ones in Quatermass and the Pit. The latter has a scene early on in a dilapidated house, and some graffiti clearly say "Killroy was here".

#328 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 12:10 PM:

Serge 304: It's be interesting to eliminate the sound effects from a big-screen space battle and to rely solely on music.

ISTR that Joss Whedon did this a few times in Firefly. Remarkably effective, especially in contrast to the usual run.

#329 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 12:20 PM:

Jacque @ 328: There's also a very brief moment in the recent Star Trek movie -- in the opening battle, a crewman gets blown out into space and the sounds of battle instantly cut off. I can't remember if there was music or not, but it was quite effective.

And Fade @322, "My God, It's Made Of Tropes!" wins you a niuce shiny internets, from me to you.

#330 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 01:19 PM:

Jacque... Janet... True, but in both cases the scenes were short ones, and not space battles. I myself would like to see a sustained battle scene using music, but would most of the public feel the same way? Speaking of music and sound, has anybody noticed that the chariot scene in Ben Hur had no music, and relied only on the sounds of the race itself?

#331 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 01:21 PM:

Congratulations to Sir Patrick Stewart.

#332 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 02:00 PM:

Lee #331: Congratulations to Sir Patrick Stewart.


#333 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Royal Cameleopard?

#334 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 02:47 PM:

Constance @ 325:
William Durant was the historical advisor for the plod, thud and dud of The Fall of the Roman Empire.

Which goes to show just how much Hollywood "creative" types listen to their technical advisors. Will Durant was a professional historian and writer, best known for popular books about history and philosophy written with his wife Ariel. I believe he's been deliberately forgotten because of his early history of Leftist politics. But no matter what his politics I find it difficult to believe he'd let that farrago of nonsense go unchallenged.

#335 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 04:01 PM:

ianracey @312: I think most of the fights came from Those About To Die.

Re Sir Patrick Stewart: does that mean the Brazilian World Cup logo can use "by appointment to the stars"?

#336 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 04:05 PM:

Placeholder for double-barrelled URL post.
This is not the post you were looking for.

#337 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 04:29 PM:

Serge @ 330: "I myself would like to see a sustained battle scene using music, but would most of the public feel the same way?"

It need not be complete silence--the strained voices of pilots, the whine of over-worked engines and the thudding of non-lethal hits would provide a dramatic counterpoint to the grave-like silence.

#338 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 04:42 PM:

Fragano @258: Congratulations! My nephew will graduate from Oberlin next year (is there a smiley for knocking on wood?) with a Philosophy/Physics double major. He lived in Asia House for the beginning of this school year and is now finishing out his semester in Marburg. At my age, it's sad to be jealous of a 21 year old.

#339 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 04:50 PM:

As for warfare conducted to music -- that's not a new idea, is it? Shoot, what about the Ride of the Valkyries, which is probably the only thing by Wagner most people have ever heard.

Willy (and Ariel) Durant's politics probably had less to do with their books becoming outdated. It was probably more that more granular historical approaches became more useful, such as that of the Annales.

Love, C.

#340 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 05:55 PM:

ajay@324 Huskies don't have thumbs, they can't knit. Even if they could, why would they want to? They've got nice thick coats already.

Ah, but they SHED that nice thick coat. Incredibly soft undercoat comes out in clumps. Once, while strolling through a craft fair, I asked a woman what kind of material she was spinning. It was, she told me, several years of spring shed from a Siberian husky named Tasha.

#341 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 06:15 PM:

Serge #330 - is it possible to have a battle scene without music? It must be, given your example.
But I can't see why people would want a battle scene without music, unless for specific reasons to do with the drama or noises that occur during it. Maybe I watched too many movies when younger that had music, 633 squadron comes to mind, I have a cd with it on.
Anyone else seen neon genesis evangelion? I thought some of the music was done well, including the use of Beethoven ode to joy at a critical moment or two in a later episode.

#342 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 06:16 PM:

#339: And if you're not into spinning, you can have someone else make yard out of your dog's sheddables:

#343 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 07:55 PM:

My AC is out. Damn.

Now entropy can NEVER be reversed.

#344 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 09:12 PM:

#327, Serge
Maybe they'll turn out to be like the ones in Quatermass and the Pit. The latter has a scene early on in a dilapidated house, and some graffiti clearly say "Killroy was here".

So does the graffiti an elevator shaft in a Dr. Who episode of some years later.

Mind you, that probably is historically accurate - weren't people writing that everywhere they could reach all through the 'forties and 'fifties?

#345 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 09:22 PM:

Killroy with two Ls? Mostly I've seen it with a single L, in the classic graffito.

#346 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 10:04 PM:

I can't remember if it was 'Killroy' or 'Kilroy', but he definitely had been there. My understanding is that the phrase originated in shipyards during the War. I probably got it wrong.

#347 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 10:07 PM:

guthrie @ 340... I agree, but in the case of Ben Hur's chariot race, music was pretty much superfluous. Had the composer been not Rosza but Tiomkin, we'd have been inflicted bombastic music thru the whole movie.

#348 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2010, 11:20 PM:

I think that Kilroy was Alice the Goon's brother.

#349 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 12:57 AM:

If anyone here has been using the Tor (no relation) proxy system for privacy, you might want to read this:
WikiLeaks launched with documents intercepted from Tor

#350 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 04:00 AM:

Battle scene without music?

Omaha Beach, Saving Private Ryan.

#351 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 05:57 AM:

Clifton Royston @ #348:

Tor (The onion-routing network proxy anonymiser thing) never was about ensuring the secrecy of what is sent across, only about concealing the identity of one end-point from the other, as long as no end-point tells the other end-point who it is.

Good for disassociating your identity from your writings, not so good for sending sensitive documents that should not be seen by anyone except the intended receiver.

Similarly, there was the rather amusing scandal back in 2007, when Dan Egerstad operated a Tor exit node (by far the easiest way of intercepting data across the network, expect your adversary to run AT LEAST one) with the express purpose of sniffing embassy staff mail passwords (and ended up getting quite a few).

#352 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 08:37 AM:

Trish B #337: Jeremy lived in the Science Fiction dorm, along with many of the other anime fen.

#353 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 09:15 AM:

Thena #170 - I sometimes play with the sweet/savory combo too. Several times with chicken or lamb I've added dried apricots and dates, chopped, plus onion, cumin, garlic, and Korean chili powder. Sometimes cinnamon too. Enough broth to rehydrate the fruit and make everything saucy. It has a vaguely North African vibe, so I eat it with couscous.

#354 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 10:17 AM:

Lately I've noticed that it's really easy for a book to break my suspension of disbelief just by word choice.

Some examples of out-of-period terminology (from things I've read in the last month) have included a published Call of Cthulhu adventure set in 16th century London where Christopher Marlowe refers to another character threatening to expose his "lifestyle;" and another story (can't remember where I read it) set in 18th century America where General Washington says that he's "been under a lot of stress." In these cases, it really feels like the authors didn't read enough primary sources to get a feel for how the people of the time actually expressed themselves.

For a small example of taking words from our world and using them in another, there's a point early in Sanderson's Warbreaker[0] where some guards search a character's "duffel." To me, it feels wrong to have a world with "duffel bags" but no town of Duffel, Belgium to name them after. It's as if Tolkien had Frodo eating Boston Baked Beans,[1] or keeping his belongings in a Saratoga Trunk.

Does this kind of thing bother others too?

[0]No offense or complaint is intended to the delightful Mr. Sanderson or his editors: Warbreaker was great fun, and my obsession with luggage-related etymology didn't stop me enjoying it.

[1]Yes, I know about the "'taters." But at least Tolkien didn't have Samwise pining for Idaho 'taters, or taters O'Brien or pommes anna or something.

#355 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Ingvar M #350:

Yep. The same researchers who were involved in the Ghostnet investigation wrote a really nice report called _Shadows in the Clouds_, where they continued their investigation. They commented that this was one way they found stolen information.

The moral of the story is obviously that you should be encrypting stuff you don't want other people to read, before you send it over the network in any form. In the case of something like Tor, you *really* want to encrypt stuff if possible, because the service itself attracts attackers.

This kind of scheme is really hard to use to get strong anonymity against someone who's watching both ends of a conversation, just because packets arrive at the entry node and depart from the exit node at times that are pretty closely correlated. (More generally, anonymity is really hard against a serious attacker, on all sorts of levels.)

When Wikileaks put out the video of the US soldiers in the helicopter killing those reporters/civilians on the ground, there was a claim that they'd spent several months cracking the encryption on the video. This makes me wonder if the digitized video was actually sent over Tor, encrypted under a decent but not great password[1]. That would be a natural way to do this--encrypt the file using a password (using GPG, PKZip, whatever), transfer it in pieces over TOR to a server where some reporter or other person could get it, and then give them the password over the phone or by some other channel.

For reference, if you want a strong password, you pretty much have to generate it randomly one way or another. Just something that seems hard to guess is usually not, and humans are immensely bad at making randomness. If you have a dictionary with 160,000 entries (the Webster Collegiate dictionary has about this many), that's about 17 bits per entry. The practical limit of brute force attacks right now is probably somewhere around 80 bits, so you'd want at least six words chosen at random from that reasonably thick dictionary to get a password that simply couldn't be guessed.

[1] If it was encrypted under a random 128-bit AES or CAST5 key, they could never have broken it. But under a password-derived key, they could have run a dictionary attack on it. There are all sorts of other possibilities, assuming some kind of implementation error in the RNG or public key encryption or keypair generation used. It's also quite possible that their "decryption" was either just a delay to protect their real source, or work needed to decode an unfamiliar encoding or unfamiliar video compression or something.

Of course, it's also very possible that Wikileaks didn't get their information this way, but instead that this is misdirection to keep the heat off their real sources.

#356 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 01:44 PM:

Open thready badness: Vanity Press Goes Digital on the front page of the Wallstreet Journal.

Eleven months later, Ms. McQuestion has sold 36,000 e-books through Inc.'s Kindle e-bookstore and has a film option with a Hollywood producer.
#357 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 02:36 PM:

Someone (Marty or Alice Massoglia) pointed out to me last weekend that the ad for "Barnes and Noble's Nook E-Reader" has, shall we say, an unfortunate reference when pronounced aloud. "Nook-E" reader may not be what they want people to take away....

#358 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 02:44 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 355:

Fun for the whole family!

#359 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 02:45 PM:

A friend of mine is struggling with cutting. Does anyone here have some good online references I could point her to?

#360 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 03:31 PM:

Anonymous email: What are people's thoughts on I like it, both as a way to give sign-ins an email I don't care much about AND as a way to send email without giving away my own address; but then I'm not a very sophisticated critiquer of these sorts of services.

Husky down: I've done that! The result was a yarn with a delicious softness like alpaca. But spinning it gave me a dry throat and an itchy nose--and I'm not even allergic. Next time, I think, a bandanna across the mouth and nose. Or a painter's mask.

(Avedaggio could tell you about the wonderfulness that is shi-tzu fur. And I'm currently in a long-term project involving the fur of a medium-hair black cat, which when spun looks more like dark gray.)

#361 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 04:05 PM:

Tonight is the season premiere of "Burn Notice".

#362 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 04:05 PM:

albatross @ #353:

One easy way of making readabletypeable passwords, easily, on a unixoid machine with the right pieces around is:
dd uf=/dev/random bs=6 count=1 | mimencode

That should, if the host's "device of random bits" has the usualy name (/dev/random) suck 48 bits of random, encode it as mime, ending up with 8 characters that should be typeable on most keyboards with ease.

Only 48 bits worth of key, but that's pretty much stringer than any single password you're likely to come up with on your own and into "decent pass-phrase territory" for not much investment (you'll be wanting a password safe, because them thar random passwords aren't easy to force into your head). Saying that, I still remember the first half of the mainframe password I was issued in 1991 (I don't remember the second half, but I could take a stab at it and probably get it in 10-12 guesses, if there was a way of verifying it again).

#363 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 04:19 PM:

I used a calculator to come up with strings of random numbers that could be turned into characters, for password purposes. Works for me, and doesn't leave traces on the computer.

#364 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 04:25 PM:

We just had to soften our automatically generated one-time temporary passwords, because it turned out that they were too hard for people to type, and a non-trivial part of the population can't copy-and-paste accurately. A sample:

Temporary Password: 51DQdk?CiCL


#365 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 04:31 PM:

One of the really severe annoyances on my HTC Mogul phone is that, while it can run a copy of KeePass (my current password safe) and can open my password database from the memory card, it can't seem to copy and paste reliably with other applications. I can't tell why; it almost looks like the OS won't let you paste into a password field, but that couldn't be right, could it? (Oh, wait; it's Windows Mobile, so anything is possible.)

#366 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 05:05 PM:

#338: "what about the Ride of the Valkyries, which is probably the only thing by Wagner most people have ever heard."

Please tell me this is untrue. I'm willing to admit that most people can't identify the Liebestod or the Siegfried's Tod from Götterdamerung, but surely, SURELY most of us could recognise the Treulich geführt from Lohengrin.

Google it and if you don't know it within two bars, you lead a more insular life than I can comprehend.

#367 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 05:27 PM:

Tom Whitmore, #355, I have a friend who got one of those, had it in his pocket, and when someone ran into him, the glass cracked.

#368 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 06:05 PM:

Henry Troup @362, I'm not sure I can follow you- is that one of your old or one of your new passwords? If it's one of your new, what about it makes you sigh?

#369 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 06:12 PM:

I took that to be over the users who haven't quite figured out copy and paste.

#370 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 07:03 PM:

Jacque @ 357 -- "Cutting" as in herself? I have a friend-of-a-friend who used to do that, years'n'years ago. The connection is pretty tenuous and I don't know if she'd want to discuss the matter at all now, but I can try to find out if nothing better turns up.

#371 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 07:10 PM:

Joel Polowin @368: "Cutting" as in herself?

Yup. I did a little quick Googling for support groups and such (a la AA) but didn't turn up much. I've actually know a few people who deal with this over the years, but in this case it's clearly negatively impacting her ability to cope generally, so I thought I'd bring my networking compulsion to bear on the question.

(This all makes me grateful that my coping compulsion for years was sucking my thumb. Only negative consequence: crooked teeth, about which I don't much care.)

#372 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 07:49 PM:

I'd be inclined to say that anyone who's cutting is thereby demonstrating that s/he's not coping very well generally, at least such that help is appropriate (if you can give it and she can accept it).

#373 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 08:00 PM:

dlbowman76 @ #364, that's one of the "Is THAT what that's called?" pieces of music I discovered when I started seriously listening to classical music.

#374 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 08:07 PM:

Passwords: how about automatically generating a random series of two-letter syllables, so you get something like bakomelaboko, or the like. Reasonably easy to remember, but no machine-guessable pattern.

#375 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 08:16 PM:

345 etc. "Kilroy was here"

was originally a mystery running gag until the original Kilroy came forward. He had been a rivet inspector in a shipyard, and used a system of chalk marks to keep track of what he had already inspected, planning to erase them later, which he ended up not having time to do. Then soldiers saw the mysterious chalk marks in transport ships, and copied the mark over the world.

#376 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 08:20 PM:

Jacque #369: As I understand it, "12-step" approaches for this (compulsive self-injury) range from useless to actively counterproductive. Cutting (or burning, et al,) is closer to OCD than to an addiction, and needs professional help, usually including carefully managed medication.

#377 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 08:29 PM:

Oberlin has a science fiction dorm?

#378 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 08:36 PM:

@Jaque at 369 re: cutting - do you subscribe to any feminist leaning blogs? Many of them have covered this topic, but quick Googling doesn't bring up anything enlightening. Here's a basic:

#379 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 09:00 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 373... Thanks. That's the story I remembered reading about, but I wasn't sure I could trust my memory.

Hmmm... The premise of a dieselpunk story could be Kilroy teaming up with Rosie the Riveteer to fight the Axis, with the wench swinging her wrench as if she were a female Thor.

#380 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 10:29 PM:

Passwords: I have a semi-formulaic system of linking an associative word, to an anchor word, and adding letters, with at least one, and more often 2-4 case shifts

Lets say my anchor word is based on the name of an aircraft carrier (the USS Constellation), and I am setting up a password for HuffPo, I might use


For Blogger it might be


The virtue is I can keep a generalised set of anchor related snippets, and brute force my way of thinking when I forget the password. The risk is I might get lazy and become over patterned. On the other hand, the odds of someone deciding to try and hack all my accounts is slim.

I actually tend to mix up where I put the digits, and sometimes use special characters.

#381 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 11:31 PM:

Serge @377, that's how the story is often told, but that seems to have the status of an urban legend, so cum grano salis.

According to my dad (see italics above), the little guy peering over the horizon is named Chad and seemed to him to have been introduced into things by Australian soldiers. It raises the question of how Dad would know, he being an American aviator who never went overseas that he's ever mentioned.

At any rate, he wasn't Kilroy, although he seems to have become Kilroy (or perhaps to have had Kilroyness thrust upon him). I made a visual pun on him at the time of the 2000 election and "hanging chads," which in fact seem to have been named after the character, though I forget where I read it — I'm like Ronald Reagan and his goddamn file cards sometimes.

#382 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 12:15 AM:

Speaking of battles, here's a rerun from my LJ, back in July, 2006, titled "glory":

Leonardo DaVinci writes:

First you must represent the smoke of artillery mingling in the air with the dust and tossed up by the movement of horses and the combatants... The more the combatants are in this turmoil the less will they be seen, and the less contrast will there be in their lights and shadows. Their faces and figures and their appearance, and the musketeers as well as those near them you must make of a glowing red...

The air must be full of arrows in every direction, some shooting upwards, some falling, some flying level. The balls from the guns must have a train of smoke following their flight. The figures in the foreground you must make with dust on the hair and eyebrows and on other flat places likely to retain it...

And if you make any one fallen, you must show the place where he has slipped and been dragged along the dust into blood stained mire; and in the half-liquid earth arround show the print of the tramping of men and horses who have passed that way. Make also a horse dragging the dead body of his master, and leaving behind him, in the dust and mud, the track where the body was dragged along.

You must make the conquered and beaten pale, their brows raised and knit, and the skin above their brows furrowed with pain, the sides of the nose with wrinkles going in an arch from the nostrils to the eyes, and make the nostrils drawn up -- which is the cause of the lines of which I speak -- and the lips arched upwards and discovering the upper teeth; and the teeth apart as with crying out and lamentation.

And make some one shielding his terrified eyes with one hand, the palm towards the enemy, while the other rests on the ground to support his half raised body. Others represent shouting with their mouths open, and running away. You must scatter arms of all sorts among the feet of the combatants, as broken shields, lances, broken swords and other such objects.

And you must make the dead partly or entirely covered with dust, which is changed into crimson mire where it has mingled with the flowing blood whose colour shows it issuing in a sinuous stream from the corpse. Others must be represented in the agonies of death grinding their teeth, rolling their eyes, with their fists clenched against their bodies and their legs contorted. Some might be shown disarmed and beaten down by the enemy, turning upon the foe, with teeth and nails, to take an inhuman and bitter revenge.

You might see some riderless horse rushing among the enemy, with his mane flying in the wind, and doing no little mischief with his heels. Some maimed warrior may be seen fallen to the earth, covering himself with his shield, while the enemy, bending over him, tries to deal him a deathstroke. There again might be seen a number of men fallen in a heap over a dead horse.

You would see some of the victors leaving the fight and issuing from the crowd, rubbing their eyes and cheeks with both hands to clean them of the dirt made by their watering eyes smarting from the dust and smoke... And there may be a river into which horses are galloping, churning up the water all round them into turbulent waves of foam and water, tossed into the air and among the legs and bodies of the horses. And there must not be a level spot that is not trampled with gore.

from The Notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci

#383 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 01:42 AM:

Kip W @ 379... Speaking of hanging chads, there's a church here in Albuquoique named after one Saint Chad. Somehow a saint called Chad sounds... I dunno... wrong?

#384 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 02:09 AM:

Kip @ #379, I was using the term "chad" for the residue of punched paper tape in the Navy in 1972-1974. I heard no mention of the theory you heard when it was defined for me.

#385 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 08:43 AM:

Jacque #357 - this might help:

Its one that was used by an acquaintance of mine, although it is a year since I last spoke to them, I have no idea how good the site is now.

#386 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 10:32 AM:

Linkmeister #371 said to: dlbowman76 @364: that's [Wagner's Treulich gefuhrt from Lohengrin] one of the "Is THAT what that's called?" pieces of music I discovered when I started seriously listening to classical music.

Seriously. I had no idea that was Wagner -- I thought for some reason it was Mendelssohn or similar, and formally entitled 'The Wedding March' ... informally called by everyone I know who knows it, 'Here Comes the Bride' after the most common English joke-words for it.

As opposed to 'Pomp and Circumstance,' whose English joke-words (as I have been taught them) go thusly:

My ... reindeer is purple.
Your ... reindeer is green.
My reindeer's a Girl Scout;
She can dig a latrine!

There are apparently more, but by then I was laughing so hard I don't remember them.

I should note, for fans here of my mother's sense of humor, that she waited to impart this Wisdom of the Ages to me until TEN MINUTES BEFORE I WALKED in my high school graduation.

#387 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 11:06 AM:

Elliott Mason @384, found it. This is full of win.

#388 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 11:33 AM:

Serge #381:

Look up Saint Chad of Mercia.

#389 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 11:52 AM:

Kip W @ #379:

I thought chads were named after the Chadless card punch that didn't punch whole squares out of the cards, leaving them dangling.

However, the Jargon File is not necessarily the most authoritative source on these things.

#390 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 12:02 PM:

Elliott Mason @384 I should note, for fans here of my mother's sense of humor, that she waited to impart this Wisdom of the Ages to me until TEN MINUTES BEFORE I WALKED in my high school graduation.

My daughter graduated last week. Which is probably just as well, or I'd be tempted to replicate your mom's trick.

Earl Cooley III @385, full of win indeed. Thanks for the link.

#391 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 12:06 PM:

joann @ 386... Thanks for the pointer. It still sounds funny though.

#392 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 12:06 PM:

Elliot Mason #384

No, Mendelssohn's wedding march (originally an intermezzo in his incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream) is the other instantaneously recognisable piece of wedding music, the one you play at the end of the wedding (this link and click on the headphone icon at the top of the text).

#393 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 01:04 PM:

Elliott, #385: So the reindeer are Drazi?

#394 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 02:32 PM:

I think we did lose Mez -- does the age of this person seem right?

#395 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Jacque at #357

Without wanting to share more at the moment, may I suggest searching on the terms "Dialectical Behavior Therapy" - which seems aimed specifically at the difficulties faced by people who go the path of self-harm; accepting their realities, without approving of the damage, and trying to give tools for managing the feelings that drive one to that extreme.

Crazy(and hoping for better things for your friend)Soph

#396 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:07 PM:

From Fade's link:

the Local Gossip and the Daily Ghoul, eager though they always are for the personal angle on every subject from the habits of the liver-fluke to the higher mathematics.

Do you think there's any chance that this publication might have its archive on the 'Net somewhere?

Having had an education in Latin not entirely unlike DLS's in both form and upshot, at least as far as ability to read Latin is concerned, I can spot that the first tag is from the beginning of Aeneid 2, where Dido asks Aeneas to tell the story of the fall of Troy, but am wondering if anyone can help with the second?

And I think the idea of getting learners to read mediaeval Latin rather than the Aeneid seems an idea well worth a try. Ploughing through 300 odd lines of Aeneid 1 at 15 years old did nothing for my appreciation of classical liternature. (Although I'm still able to giggle about the class-mate who having been given ikt as an assignement to prepare managed to translate the first line of the Aeneid first as 'A man with hairy arms', and then as 'the hairy arms of men')

#397 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:08 PM:

In the words of Cheech and Chong, I am "sick up and fed" with knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers who are blaming environmentalists for the Deepwater Horizon spill. Arrggghh!

SOB's would probably blame an epidemic on immunologists.

#398 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:11 PM:

D'oh. Wrong thread!

#399 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:12 PM:

On the other hand, I'm as pleased as Punch that the Falcon9 spacecraft had an awesome first launch!

#400 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:17 PM:

Linkmeister @ 382:

The same usage was common in the Army SIgnal Corps when I was in it, 1966-69. It was an official term; we taught it in the Signal School at Fort Monmouth. No one I talked to knew where the term came from, though there were some outlandish theories.

#401 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:19 PM:

Tom Whitmore @355, well, they do say that porn drives all new communication technologies....

#402 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:20 PM:

#395: We need campaign attack ads interpolating shots of Republicans candidates chanting drill baby drill with clips of oil soaked birds struggling in the muck.

#403 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:24 PM:

Avram, Tom,

It gets worse if you speak Dutch. "Neuken" is the direct equivalent of "fuck" in Dutch. Now, it's not actually pronounced like an English speaker would pronounce "Nook" (that would be rendered as "Noek").

But it's close enough for snickering.

#404 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:36 PM:


How is it pronounced?

#405 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:49 PM:

(Ran google search on name, got a page with photos of the sandstorm, the one that I know was Mez's has that name.)

#406 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:55 PM:

PJ @ 403: I also linked the name to her photos, but wanted independent confirmation. It would explain the lack of posting.

#407 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 04:00 PM:

Ginger, thanks for the information. I'd been thinking of her too, lately.

#408 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 04:05 PM:

Damn. Goodbye, Mez.


#409 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 04:32 PM:

I've been thinking--and wondering--about her lately, too.

Goodbye, Mez. We'll miss you.

#410 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 05:01 PM:

#395 Steve

They did that with HIV.... "The myth of heterosexual transmission of AIDS" and "The wages of sin are DEATH!"

#411 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 05:03 PM:

Ah, Mez. Alas.

#412 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 05:12 PM:

Oh, Mez. Enjoy the peace. You've earned it.

#414 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 05:24 PM:

Altered mural fuels racial debate in Prescott

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

The project's leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children's ethnicity. But the school's principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.

R.E. Wall, director of Prescott's Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town's most prominent intersections.

"We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars," Wall said. "We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics)."

Oh, of course:

City Councilman Steve Blair spearheaded a public campaign on his talk show at Prescott radio station KYCA-AM (1490) to remove the mural.

In a broadcast last month, according to the Daily Courier in Prescott, Blair mistakenly complained that the most prominent child in the painting is African-American, saying: "To depict the biggest picture on the building as a Black person, I would have to ask the question: Why?"

#415 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Rest in peace, Mez...

#416 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 06:11 PM:

Elliot Mason #384: Having to listen to that particular Elgar march as a condition of employment, I am tempted to point out to my employers that it is the tune to the anthem of the Conservative and Unionist Party of Britain. That, in effect, I am being forced to give respect to a political party I do not support. I wonder if they will play The White Cockade next year if I ask?

#417 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Lee @ 411 and Stefan @ 412 -

Good Lord. Pardon my language, but what kind of fertilizer must we be using to grow such a crop of dicks as the people in these stories?

The 21st century started ten years ago, and these yahoos haven't even made it to the 20th.

#418 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 06:15 PM:

Serge #413: Seconded.

#419 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 06:42 PM:

Erik @ 372 -- "bakomelaboko" Reasonably easy to remember, but no machine-guessable pattern.

Like consonant-vowel?

I'm using a password generator at the moment, but I'm worried that it's not totally random. There are definitely places where the 'special' characters tend to hang out.

Then again, my current pet peeve is people who are totally paranoid about security, or at least, their audits are, then they tell me my password, and it's a combination of my username, a date, and some leet speak. And not in a way that would take more than about 10 tries to find someone else's password once I found a username on the system.

#420 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 07:22 PM:

Lee #411/Stefan Jones #412: I described these cases to my best beloved over dinner, starting with the Arizona case. I began to describe the SC one when she raised her hand saying "I used to live there, remember".

#421 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 07:55 PM:

Rest well, Mez.

Dang it. I miss you. You were a GOOD one.

#422 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 08:18 PM:

Here's a Mez quote from a letter about the necklace Drowned In Stone, which she owned:

"But the coral polyps, soft rippling little critters that they are, wrap themselves in a rocky carbonate home and leave it as the foundation for the next generation when they go, where we wrap our stony hydroxyapatite ([Ca3(P)4)2]3.Ca(OH)2) skeletons in flesh, then (usually) hide it back in the earth."

Mez was a joy to know. I will miss her a lot.

#423 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 08:22 PM:

Mez, RIP: Damn. I never knew her in real life, but she was always one of the folks whose comments I particularly looked forward to.

#424 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 09:44 PM:

Ginger, #392, oh no. Yes, that's her real name -- I sent her some books and a necklace from a group of us at one time.

#425 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 10:25 PM:

Farewell, Mez.

#426 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 10:34 PM:

She even told us all, in her next to last post, "I'm going outside. I may be some time." That sounds like quite a line to exit with.

Farewell, Mez.

#427 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 11:24 PM:

"That sounds like quite a line to exit with."

Yes, elegant.


#428 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 01:33 AM:

Oh. Rest in Peace, Mez.

#429 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 02:10 AM:

Ginger, #424: You do know the original source of that line, right?

Rest in peace, Mez.

#430 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 02:17 AM:

I'll miss her.

#431 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 02:20 AM:

Mez had two (view all by) records that I can find at the moment: an older one and her more recent oevre.

Just in case anyone else wants to read back over things.

#432 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 02:43 AM:

I've been wondering about Mez too, and I'd noticed her penultimate post. Thank you very much, Ginger, for tracking that down.

Now I can spend a little while grieving for someone I've never met. Humans are such strange animals.

#433 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 07:28 AM:

Clifton @ 430... On the other hand, we also have friends that we love even though we've never physically met, and we love them because they live in our hearts.

#434 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 09:55 AM:

Lee #427: There was a time when every English schoolboy (certainly including myself) did.

#435 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 11:35 AM:

WRT Teresa's Scrivenour particle -- it looks interesting. Any Mac users have experience with it?

#436 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 11:44 AM:

Do you remember the young man who posted here as ethan? He was fairly active then he stopped about 2 years ago. Does anybody know what happened to him?

#437 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 12:18 PM:

Goodbye, Mez. Peace be with you.

#438 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 12:44 PM:

Steve C. @ 433: I've been using Scrivener for a few years now, and I'm quite happy with it. The only areas in which it feels lacking, at times, are areas in which it's perfectly happy to do what I want, but I'm not good enough at reading/searching Help guides to figure out how to make it happen.

#439 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 02:33 PM:

mcz #423, elise #???: I notice that (failing interest by medical schools) she was planning on being buried with Drowned in Stone.

I did *not* recognize the quote of her penultimate message. :-(

#440 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 02:49 PM:

You'll be missed, Mez.

#441 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 03:24 PM:

Farewell, Mez.

#442 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 04:34 PM:

David Harmon @ #437: Yep, she was planning that; we talked about it in email, and that's actually where the bit I quoted was from. I don't know which way it worked out, but though it makes me weep, I do like the idea of the necklace watching over the stony hydroxyapatite she left.

There's a piece of mine called "Narrative" that watches over Jim Rigney's (Robert Jordan's) remains.

#443 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 05:33 PM:

Serge, #434: I certainly remember ethan. I'd exchanged some private e-mail with him when he was active, and a few months ago I sent him a nudge, saying we missed him over here. It didn't bounce, but neither did it get any reply. That could just mean he no longer actively uses that address, but OTOH...

On a different topic, can anyone here point me to an online reference about making personal maps (with multiple points of interest marked) using Google Maps, which I have been told can be done? I have a project for which the ability to do this would be incredibly useful, especially if it's possible to select the color of the marker.

#444 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Lee @ 441... Same thing happened for me. I went over to his blog once in a while, to see if there might be some sign of activity, but there wasn't. Then I saw that the blog was gone. I hope he simply gafiated in the usual sense of the word.

#445 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 06:17 PM:

Fade @ 436 -

Thank you.

Lee @ 441 - I found this video tutorial.

Creating Google Maps

I've never tried, so I don't know if different colored markers are available.

#446 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 06:41 PM:

442 and earlier
He may have gafiated, but his last blog address is still active. (That one is from his last comment here.)

#447 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 07:05 PM:

PJ Evans @ 444... Thanks!

#448 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 07:52 PM:

I just dropped ethan a line and got a reply.

He says he's fine; he's just drifted on to other places, on- and offline. He's touched that we worried.

#449 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 07:54 PM:

Damn, Mez down. I never met her in RL, but enjoyed her posts here, and got into conversations with her a time or two. This has been a very rough week for the good guys.

And I just hate finding out about people's deaths in almost accidental ways. Some years back a friend and colleague who I typically saw only every year or two died at an early age of cancer in the brain; I didn't find out until almost a year afterwards, when I realized that he must have been in chemo just a couple of weeks before I last saw him (and he fooled several hundred of us, as that was at a conference where he was both on stage in front of everyone and mingling at receptions and parties the whole time. I actually sat and talked with him one on one for more than half an hour and never noticed anything). The guilt of not noticing comes back every time I find out about the death of a friend or colleague long after the fact.

#450 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 08:22 PM:

The guilt of not noticing comes back

Sometimes people don't want it noticed, don't want that to be their new identity, and the chance to interact with colleagues in "normal" ways is a gift in itself.

Though admittedly somewhat harder on those of us left behind.

#451 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 08:39 PM:

abi @ 446... Thanks for doing that.

#452 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 09:48 PM:

Serge @434, abi @446: I had been wondering about ethan recently too, so it's good to hear that he is okay.

Sad to lose Mez.

#453 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 10:20 PM:

Steve, #443: Based on what I saw in the tutorial, there are different colors of marker available. What I can't tell is whether or not I can edit a map after having made it, but I guess I'll find out! And thank you, that was very useful.

#454 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 10:49 PM:

Lee 441:
Steve C.has pointed you in the right direction. Color, Icon, Pictures, Video can all be linked in without ever having to learn the underlying structure.

Please remember to eat, bathe, and all of your real-world commitments. We don't want to have to stage an intervention.

#455 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 11:18 PM:

Lee @427: I knew it sounded familiar, and then I realized it was from the Scott Expedition, but I'd forgotten who actually said that.

#456 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 11:21 PM:

Apropos of nothing: Yesterday's hike turned into a Hike From Hell, from which I'm still recovering. We went to Old Rag Mountain, north of Charlottesville, and:

1) Distances on both map and signs turned out to be pure fiction. I'm not sure how far we wound up hiking, but it was a hell of a lot longer than the 7.1 miles listed on the map.

2) When we reached what we thought was the summit, we had lunch and proceeded onward, following the blazes to what we thought was a slightly tougher, but basically downhill, section of trail. It turned out to be over a mile of insane scrambling up, down, over, and between huge rocks. Indeed, the sign we encountered afterwards called it the "Rock Scramble". (There was one point where we Just Said No, and managed to bushwhack our way around a barrier which would have involved climbing over a 5-foot wall onto a wet rock face.

3) Have I mentioned that my two hiking companions are in their 70s? (I'm only in my 40s.) Now, they're in pretty good shape, and could probably have handled most of this anyway, but one of them turned out to be still suffering from a virus which nuked his energy levels. We took frequent and lengthy rest stops, but this was damn rough on him. By the time we realized how badly off he was, we were well past the "point of no return". (If any of us had had cell signal, we might well have tried for a medevac....)

4) So, we finally got past that to the real summit (with the belated sign). At this point, we still needed to get down the mountain to a fire road, which would be our exit route. Unfortunately, we weren't quite out of the woods when the first thunderstorm hit.... We were soaked to the skin by the time we got to a trail shelter. We waited a while for the downpour to let up a bit, but we still had most of 3 miles of fire road (turned to water road), and the break didn't last.

5) Our total hiking time was over 8 hours, when our usual hikes last 4-5 hours, occasionally 6. By the time I got cell-phone signal (while we were driving back), my Mom and their wives had been calling each other (and in one case, the police). Well over 24 hours later, I'm still aching all over.

#457 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 11:37 PM:

David Harmon @454: Oddly enough, I am taking a wilderness first aid course this weekend, and learned today of this nifty device. It's supposed to be cheaper and more reliable than satellite or cell phones, plus there's an insurance package for helicopter evac ($100K).

#458 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 11:53 PM:

Lee @ 451 : You can change icons on any declared location in Google Maps (just click "edit" for any point, then click on the icon - they have ~100 options, and you can upload whatever you want [if, say, you wanted to mark a location with a wombat or something]). I only found out about this today - I just got back from a whirlwind trip out to Berkeley to stalk the feral apartment (took two days of patient hunting through the underbrush, but I got one). Started playing with Google Maps today, looking at what is near the place, and marking what I am interested in checking out when I move in a couple months, so I stumbled across this feature.

#459 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 12:07 AM:

456 Benjamin Wolfe
feral apartment

is one that has not been domesticated?

192 Lew Dawidowicz Karnstein
That looks like a verse only you can write.
Ain't nobody here can write it for you. You've got to write it by yourself.

Is it a review of a real book?

#460 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 12:50 AM:


One might think I would get inured, but no. I spent much of Friday at HuffPo whaling on people who were praising Bush fils for playing he-man and saying he would torture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed again.

And I, of course, wrote a post about it, and my resident trollish sort came out from under his bridge

#461 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 01:07 AM:

Benjamin, #456: Fabulous! It's a little late to do us any good this year, but next year it's going to make our local flyer distribution for ApolloCon SO much easier -- I'll create a city map (or, more likely, a series of smaller neighborhood maps) with the locations that take flyers for us marked; then our volunteers can select places to cover, and as they report back, I can change the color of the pointer to indicate "this place has been done already".

#462 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 01:24 AM:

More like an apartment that tries to run away from you in the competitive housing market of a real city.

I decided it was an apt description of tromping around Berkeley earlier this week, looking at apartments (with my monstrous messenger bag, which made it rather more taxing than it needed to be). Word to the wise: do not go apartment hunting with an extra fifteen pounds (minimum) slung across your back. It does not improve the experience.

#463 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 01:35 AM:

I forwarded the Thomas Kinkade bankruptcy link to my sister, an actual working artist.

I occasionally send her advertisements clipped from places like Parade magazine and Sunday newspaper coupon pamphlets; ads offering horrible, cheap knick-knacks like musical snow globes and Christmas village train sets, all associated with Kinkade. I attach a Post-It to each of these, wondering whether she'd like the item for her Birthday or Christmas.

I wonder if that running gag has come to an end.

#464 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 01:57 AM:

The really sad thing about the Thomas Kinkade bankruptcy is that it doesn't sound like his company is genuinely out of money, but rather that they've just filed for bankruptcy to try to weasel out of paying a $3 million judgment against them for defrauding franchisees.

#465 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 02:07 AM:

On being diagnosed.

They said, "It's not a sentence, just a word."
Like life, I wish I'd said. Alas, this stair
Descends. The willing spirit may be there;
The flesh, though weak, insists on being heard.
"You need to..." Need? Or must? What has occurred?
It's really such a trifle, to take care
In eating, drinking, doing, to beware
Of everything. To grieve for this? Absurd!

Why should I grieve? No, take with joy old age,
The wisdom of the years; with dignity
The loss of freedom. When I pass that stage,
When light is dying, then the rage may be
Indulged in, so I'm told. But knowing me,
I won't. I'll be too frightened then to rage.

#466 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 03:26 AM:

Damn... I'll miss mez. I was wondering; I basically took her last post as a farewell (I recognised the quotation), but I didn't know for sure.

#467 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 03:39 AM:

Clifton @462

And the deal on that judgement was to pay by installments. So there was only $1 million coming due when they declared bankruptcy. Still plenty of money to find.

What makes the whole thing worse for the Kinkade business is that a lot of interest has accumulated since the original judgement. And the particular timing looks very bad. It's not as if they didn't know this payment was due.

So, unless there's another company, owing TK a lot of money, which has failed, it can be argued that the company should have declared bankruptcy long since, and has been trading unlawfully. They've been trading with a large, known, liability, and if they knew they didn't have the assets to cover it, anyone else they owe money to may have been defrauded. (But that may be my slight knowledge of obsolete UK law affecting my opinion.)

#468 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 04:52 AM:

Elliott Mason @384: she waited to impart this Wisdom of the Ages to me until TEN MINUTES BEFORE I WALKED in my high school graduation.

Maybe you wouldn't want to, but I think it would be a marvelous thing if you were to induce your mom to come here and do her Elliott Mason's Mom thing for at least a post or two. Meanwhile, she is an Evil Child, and you can tell her I said so (with the utmost admiration).

#469 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 05:35 AM:

David Harmon @374: "12-step" approaches for this (compulsive self-injury) range from useless to actively counterproductive. Cutting (or burning, et al,) is closer to OCD than to an addiction,

Ah. Thank you. That is new information. (Primary Googling brought up 12-step as the first approach.) That also makes sense, from my very (blessedly) limited experience with it. (Though wouldn't be surprised if the brain chemistry worked out to be something similar to the endorphin-rush produced by capsaicin. But that suggests to me more of an addictive pathway, but what the hell do I know?)

TrishB @376 & guthrie @383: Ah! Very helpful, thank you!

crazysoph @393: "Dialectical Behavior Therapy"

Thank you. Added to the shopping list.

Crazy(and hoping for better things for your friend)Soph

Thank you, and me too. I think she's starting to reach out and take some action. That it's getting conspicuous enough for people to notice and ask questions is, I think, on the whole a good thing. And our circle of acquaintance is a good bunch. Another one in our circle went through serious nasty family health (and associated financial) stuff a couple of years ago and was well-supported emotionally, from what I could tell.

Mez :`( … Life is getting just a little too real, these days.

Bruce Cohen @447: a friend and colleague who I typically saw only every year or two died at an early age of cancer in the brain; I didn't find out until almost a year afterwards

I had almost the same experience with a friend and former HS classmate, who independently turned up in fandom. Fortunately, I had the opportunity—and the courage—to apologize for treating him badly back in the early days. That action on my part had preyed on me for a long time (30 years?). A year or two later, I found out that he'd passed. I miss him.

The worst part of losing people is the conversations you never get to finish.

The weirdest one, by far though, just happened to me today. Since I've been watching TV exclusively on the 'net these days, I don't even get the little en-passant teasers for the local news, so I'm really out of touch.

I was going through newspapers from the last month getting them ready for the guinea pig cages. I have people funneling me multiple subscriptions of multiple local papers. I hit the stratum for two-three weeks ago, and suddenly this story is all over the Front Range. Which means I'm seeing this, like, every third page for a foot-deep pile of papers.

Came back to me that I'd overheard coworkers talking about a murder-suicide, but I didn't pay any attention, as I figured they were talking about another one (looks it up)—wow. Just about exactly a year ago.

Okay, it's spooky enough that this thing happened about a quarter-mile from my house. But I freaking' knew the guy.

Not well, but he was a coworker for a number of years when I was at NCAR, and he was at our B5 launch party.

So I'm feeling a little freaked, this evening. I was wanting to post about it here, but hesitated, 'cause it's, like, freaky.

But then, Mez's thread started….


Which makes the VERY good news about ethan all the more welcome.

Dave Luckett @463: <gulp> Um?

#470 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 06:32 AM:

SteveC @ 433: I have been using Scrivener for a few years, mostly for small projects of only a few thousand words (papers for school mostly). Recently I used it to outline and write the first draft of this and now I don't think I ever want to write with anything else again (I have no connection to the person responsible for Scrivener except as a very satisfied customer). I am not the most organised writer in the world (and the award for understatement of the year goes to...) and Scrivener's flexible approach to project structure lets me just dump words and ideas into it until a shape starts to appear and then drag bits around to my (and my editor's) heart's content.

There's a 30 day trial option if you want to give it a go.

Also, to any moderator who can fix it, the Particles sidebar misspells Scrivener as Scrivenour.

#471 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 08:05 AM:

Dave Luckett #463:

No grieving, then, but seize the darting joys
that pass like summer birds above the lake;
enjoy the time, and all the things you make;

ignore the pain, avoid the childish noise,
see how the breezes still the reeds do shake.
No grieving, then, but seize the darting joys

before they pass on to new girls and boys
as life requires, since every reed must break.
Eternity's the dream that we mistake;
No grieving, then, but seize the darting joys.

#472 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 09:42 AM:

Paul Duncanson @ 568 -

Thanks - I've downloaded it for the 30-day free trial, and I'll see how it works for a few blog entries.

#473 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 10:22 AM:

Teresa, thanks for that "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?" particle. It has been duly forwarded to my sister the choir director. (Atlanta area fluorospherians: go hear Just Voices!)

Elliot Mason, re your mom's high school graduation advice: back in the 1930s, my mother and her accompanist were about to walk onstage for a voice recital (they were both teenagers). The voice teacher's last-minute advice was, "Remember girls--bosoms first!"

#474 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 10:37 AM:

teresa--thanks for the particle pointing to ta-nehisi coates on gen'l grant.

coates' blog is a constant source of amazement to me. i think he is one of the best things on the web right now.

and dave luckett--i wish you the best of luck with the diagnosis. if the docs say that you can make a good life with it, then you can make a good life with it.

your poem already shows that you know how to turn trouble into beauty. langston hughes' trumpet player:

"but softly
as the tune comes from his throat
mellows to a golden note".

#475 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 11:01 AM:

#372: Passwords: how about automatically generating a random series of two-letter syllables, so you get something like bakomelaboko, or the like.

Indeed. This is why I use the rather buried feature in Mac OS X: launch Keychain Access, choose to add an entry, click the cryptic key icon next to the password field, which brings up a password generator, then choose “FIPS-181 compliant” from the type menu. You will get passwords of just that sort, of any length you like. I find them excellently memorable provided I use them a couple times, and if you need some punctuation or numbers they can be leetspeked, or for uppercase, capitalized in reasonable-looking places.

Hm, I thought I had previously failed in research to find what FIPS-181 actually is, but I now find that it is in fact a standard for password generators — and there is probably other software available that also implements this standard.

#476 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 11:09 AM:

Steve @ 470:I think its strengths are more in the organising of large projects. Blog posts might not show it off as well as, say, NaNoWriMo. I liked Scrivener well enough to pay for it after a few 2000 odd word essays but I didn't fall totally in love with it until I planned and wrote a book with it.

#477 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 11:27 AM:

Terry Karney @ 458... I glanced at a few of the comments and decided it'd be better for my blood pressure if I walked away. So I did. On a more cheerful note, I foinally fixed one of the hose reels in our backyard.

#478 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 12:42 PM:

Steve C. @ 470: I agree with Paul Duncanson about the "works best for large projects" aspect. For a series of blog posts, it may be nice enough to be able to group the posts in folders and such, but where it's really stellar is in organizing big, unwieldy projects.

For example, a novel I'm working on right now has three main folders: the actual draft, my worldbuilding notes, and a "deleted" folder for stuff I've ditched but may want to refer to again later.

The draft folder is divided up into separate tabs by scene, with notes on the index-card side about what's supposed to happen in each scene. Sometimes these develop sub-tabs as I make notes to myself about something I want to fix in the edit but not just now.

Over in the worldbuilding folder, there are subfolders for lists of all the names I've used, (where each name has a tab with a quick description of the person and note about who they are/where they first showed up/what they think of other characters), all the set pieces I've already described (and each tab there has a quick copy-paste of the description used for the place), lists of organizations and their relationships to each other...

But then, I use Scrivener as my default text editing software for anything more complex than "list of books I want to check out from the library" or the like. I have a whole subdivided project for tracking short story submissions I have out. It's a very, very flexible program, and I love it to pieces.

#479 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 12:54 PM:

The latest one, seen in a sewing and craft-supplies store yesterday, is Kinkade's versions of scenes from Disney, done in cross-stitch. They have his overly-busy scenery with his very strange lighting, and otherwise are unrecognizable.

#480 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 12:56 PM:

I didn't know what Mez was saying by that post. Dammit.

Dave...I like the sonnet, especially the Thomas reference. Is that about Mez, or...well, are you all right?

#481 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 02:06 PM:

I didn't know Mez very well, but I always looked forward to reading her posts. May her memory be a blessing.

#482 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 02:17 PM:

469 Fragano:

Eternity's a dream; and reeds must break.
The summer sky must fade, the sun recede,
And birds will fly no more across the lake:
But this is scanty comfort to the reed.

478 Xopher: Not about Mez. She would not have been so weak. I wish I'd known her. She was my compatriot, and the charity of her writing and her courage commends us to the world.

And as for me, I'm all right. I can be cured of my diabetes, it only requires that I completely change my entire lifestyle. Old age begins here, though.

And I won't see the ships leave. Damn.

#483 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 02:24 PM:

P J Evans @477

Disney and Kincade, that sounds like an unholy alliance.

My mom likes Thomas Kincade, and she did a very elaborate cross-stitch kit of one of his garden pictures -- all except for a bazillion french knots. I volunteered to finish them, but they are appallingly wearying. IF this thing is to be finished, it will either be with cross-stitching, or I will abandon the fiddly chart and take a wild stab at filling in the colors.

#484 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 02:42 PM:

Debbie @ 481... Disney and Kincade, that sounds like an unholy alliance

Even more unholy than our very own Mary Dell's transformation of a Kincade fishing trip into a scene of lovecraftian horror, but not as unholy as her transformation of the Love Boat into the Lovecraft.

#485 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 02:42 PM:

Disney and anything is an unholy alliance.

#486 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 03:18 PM:

Dave Luckett #480:

All in the end believe we fail the test
since every summer passes like the last;
the sun sinks, redly, into the dark west
but we shall be remembered not just past.

#487 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 05:38 PM:

This is one of them (left sidebar has links to others).
'Unholy alliance' about sums it up.

#488 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 06:25 PM:

P J Evans (485): Gah! Oh, that's awful. *shudder*

#489 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 06:42 PM:

Dave Luckett @ 480:
Old age begins here, though.

Indeed. You reach old age precisely at the moment where you realize that entropy is starting to win, and that there's no turning back the clock. I've found that having to make drastic changes in lifestyle because of entropy can become acceptable, if I face the changes with the attitude that I'm going to make them work for me. I hope that your experience is the same.

#490 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 06:43 PM:

Mary Aileen, all of the 16x12s are that bad. (I wouldn't want one around for fear of Old Ones coming out of the picture. Srsly.)

#491 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 06:53 PM:

Jacque @ 467:

Something I don't think of very often: sometime in the early '90s I found out, quite by accident, that a guy I went to high school with had died in 1970. He was in grad school at Princeton, going for a doctorate in physics. He was headed home, late at night, and was stabbed to death, probably as part of a robbery. I don't think they ever caught his murderer. We weren't close, but in a class of 33 people, it was inevitable that we'd have had a fair amount of interaction. For one thing, he liked Ray Charles a lot and so did (and do) I, so we had that to talk about.

#492 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 06:55 PM:

David Harmon, #454, I hiked Old Rag a couple of times when I was well, but there wasn't the rain. I hope your friend is recovering well.

#493 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 09:17 PM:

In regards to Thomas Kinkade, the part that cracks me up is that he lives up in Placerville. Central California foothills country: think gold, sun-bleached wild grasses, widely spaced dry valley oaks, lots of dust (decomposed granite, yet.) In other words, about as far from his fantasy landscapes as possible. I always wondered if that were wish-fulfillment or what.

Incidentally, I've seen one piece by him that I actually liked. It's a Gold Rush picture in the Auburn courthouse and rather well executed. I was surprised when I read the attribution.

#494 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 10:04 PM:

B. Durbin @ 491: The Auburn courthouse is a beautiful building--maybe he decided to bring his A-game.

#495 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 10:25 PM:

Actually, Placerville is in a valley at the edge of the forest. Lots of trees, not so much dry grass - but still nothing like his paintings. (I suspect he was a better artist before he became famous.)

#496 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 11:24 PM:

Gauguin, that ne'er-do-well, left Normandy -
His little Norman village in the snow -
For gold Tahiti in the far South Sea.
Gaughan, that ne'er-do-well, left Normandy,
And drank, contracted syphilis, lived free,
And died. His last work was from memory, and so
Gaughan, that ne'er-do-well, left Normandy
His little Norman village in the snow.

#497 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 11:26 PM:

Dammit. "Gauguin" throughout. Dammit.

#498 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 11:54 PM:

Did Kinkade move recently? At one point, maybe around 2000, he lived near my great aunt in Carmel.

He wasn't well thought of by my aunt.

#499 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 07:48 AM:

Patrick: The ICC may mandate that particle, but I'm constitutionally incapable of appreciating it. :-P

#501 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 12:29 PM:

Okay, here's a unicorn chaser for Steve @498: Octocam!
Live-cam on a Giant Pacific Octopus. Feel free to spread the link around -- this is a new project, and they want to test the server's capacity.

Bonus unicorn: the MIT Science Fiction Society's review of Twilight.
'Nuff said.

#502 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 12:42 PM:

Lee: The octocam is cool! When I went to it, a sucker-covered tentacle was just slapping across the camera lens. Rather disorienting. The octopus moved on shortly.

#503 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 01:00 PM:

The graphic for that book should really be a still from that scene from Planet of the Apes with the toppled-over Statue of Liberty.

#504 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 01:15 PM:


I am far, far too excited about that. And happily spreading the link to as many people as possible. I mean... Octocam! With a real live octopus! On camera!

*gibbers joyously*

#505 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 01:38 PM:

Octocam does not, so far, appear to be stressing their servers. It streams much more smoothly than YouTube does for me.

#506 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 02:57 PM:

OK, this is amazing. Just heard about this on the radio.

This composer named Eric Whitacre composed a piece called "Lux Aurumque" (Light and Gold). Then he sent music to people in 12 countries, along with a video of him conducting the piece. He then assembled the 185 videos they submitted* into one, mixing all the sound down into stereo.

The result is here. I think it succeeds quite well, amazingly well in fact. The composer's website. Lyrics and translation.

They say you (yes, you!) can join the Virtual Choir. I really want to, but wow, I bet that's quite an audition.

*He says they used all the videos that were submitted, which doesn't mean that everyone who got music submitted a video

#507 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 03:52 PM:

Steve C., 498:
Is it fair and balanced?

#508 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 04:05 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 505... Define 'fair' and 'balanced'.

#509 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 04:07 PM:

People had warned me against 1966's "Modesty Blaise". They were right. It was an absolutely atrocious movie, except for the part where the evil homo's psycho killer lady tosses a mime off a cliff.

#510 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 04:13 PM:

Serge @507: You should, however, check out 2004's My Name Is Modesty, a very well-done and at least moderately faithful adaptation of MB in the early days of The Network. Rumor at the time says they did this one because they didn't want to lose the option and hadn't found a good Willie Garvin yet.

#511 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 04:22 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 508.... Thanks for the reminder. I just checked and it is available on NextFlix.

A bit off topic... In case you're interested, there will be a Gathering of Light on Friday, July 16, in Oakland. There'll be a special guest from Amsterdam.

#512 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 04:23 PM:

Erik @ 505 -

Well, if you had the book in one hand and a pile of horse excrement in the other, that might be defined as "balanced" and if you smeared the book with it, that would seem "fair" to me.

#513 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 04:33 PM:

Serge @509:
There'll be a special guest from Amsterdam.

"Actually, I'm from Iowa. I just work in outer space."

#514 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 04:44 PM:

I shouldn't rail against the universe; the next morning, I'll wake up with cat puke at the foot of the bed. No clue how I slept through that.

#515 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 04:52 PM:

Abi @ 511... :-)

Any preferences, re earthly cuisine? Breads of India is close to Oakland's 12th Street BART station. There is also Shan Dong. I liked the Pacific Coast Brewing Co, but it's always been too noisy.

#516 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 04:58 PM:

Unqualified Offerings and the Atlantic Wire both point to a report by Physicians for Human Rights detailing a CIA program of experimenting on detainees (using doctors and psychologists) to improve and hone torture techniques. It's just the sort of thing that makes you proud to be an American, I tell ya.

There will, of course, be no consequences for any of this. We look forward, not backward, in Obama's America. I mean, unless your crime is disclosing embarrassing classified information that made the CIA or NSA or Pentagon look bad.

#517 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 05:08 PM:

albatross @514:
We look forward, not backward, in Obama's America.

Quite seriously, when have we looked backward, as a nation? I'm quite pissed off that Obama has so thoroughly dropped the ball in terms of human rights abuses (both those of his predecessors and those on his watch), but I wouldn't say he invented, or even perfected, the art of sweeping forward in the hopes that people will forget the awkward past.

And without getting all "Clinton did it too" on you, surely while we're blaming Obama, we could put a smidgeon of emphasis on Bush as well, considering that he's the one that kicked that particular noxious process off? It's not like there's a shortage of blame to go around.

You seem to have turned very...partisan on the subject these days. It makes, well, unproductively uncomfortable reading. (As opposed to productively uncomfortable reading, which inspires people to actually go out and change things.)

#518 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 06:47 PM:

Whee! I just had a Twenty-First Century Moment. Customer called in: "Habla usted español?"

Eek! We do have some Spanish-speakers here in the office, but they're all out. "Una momento!" (This is about a third of my Spanish repertoire.)

Quick scramble: Oh look, Google has a text-translation page! I hastily type in, "No Spanish speakers here now. I'm making Spanish with a computer. Please call back tomorrow."

Took a couple of iterations, but he finally said "[Something] Ocho?" Which after a moment of thought, I took to mean, "the Eighth?" "Si!" "Okay!"


Ghu knows if that's actually the conversation that happened on his end....

#519 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 07:09 PM:

Jacque, he'll probably call back at 8am tomorrow.

#520 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 07:10 PM:

Jacque -- I'm sure you won't be smiling when the octopus arrives.

(fwiw, I have a bookmarklet just entitled "English" that's supposed to translate anything selected on the page to english with google translate. It's somewhat useful for moderation duties when people occasionally post required info in some language that I can't puzzle out)

#521 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 08:32 PM:

I need help from all you New Yorkers here.

So we're making our periodic pilgrimage to Budapest, flying out of JFK on the 10th and returning August 11th. Problem: the plan was to rent a car one-way each way (Dayton to JFK), but this is not only difficult (because we're not in Dayton) but pricier than I thought. Since when do one-way rentals cost $200 a day? That's really out of hand.

So I looked at long-term parking. Um. The rock-bottom lowest I could find is $13 a day, which over 62 days plus 10+% city parking tax comes to about $900, which is pricier than even the high one-way-two-ways car rental.

Is there some cheaper option? I don't mind leaving the car (actually minivan) in town someplace and taking a taxi out to JFK - I could even leave it on the street, because our van is crappy enough nobody is likely to bother it much (thanks to the anonymous person who opened their door right in front of me one cold day at the high school and snapped the passenger-side mirror off, sigh), but that's out due to street cleaning, I gather.

Monthly rates are less exorbitant, but I probably can't get a two-month monthly rate at this short notice.

Anybody want a couple hundred bucks to store my minivan for a couple of months? You can even use it if you like. You look trustworthy.

#522 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 09:02 PM:

Michael, this is not an ideal solution, involving as it does some fairly silly extra driving, but:

My parents live in Branchburg, NJ, for most of the year, and spend summers in Maine. This produces an empty driveway.

I live in Connecticut. But I have a flexible schedule and don't mind road trips. If I were to meet you in Branchburg, ride with you to JFK, and take the minivan back there after dropping you off, you would have a parking space. My parents might even like to use the minivan, as the station wagon they use for hauling things to the beach just failed inspection, frame rusted through.

I am sure there are more convenient solutions, but if you don't get any offers, I'm willing to implement this plan.

#523 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 09:16 PM:

Rikibeth, if I had thought to get creative earlier than the night before we're due to drive out, I'd probably have better luck. I'm fine with that solution if you are, though (but remember we'd have to repeat it, or something like it, in August). I actually have a cousin in Manhattan (not that there's parking there) but I've put in an email to her and we'll see if she'll see it tonight.

#524 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 09:21 PM:

Michael, I'm sure that between me and my retired parents, something can be worked out for the return process. Let me know.

#525 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 09:43 PM:

How many people are traveling?
Depending on the number of travelers, you might come out ahead of parking if you fly from Dayton to JFK, but if you're going on the 10th of this month, you'll be booking last minute fares, which may be rather high. If you can get to Columbus or Indianapolis, Southwest flies from either city to LGA (outbound leg will be in the high $200s because it's so soon, but the return leg can be less than $100). You'll still have to get from LaGuardia to JFK, but you can do that in a taxi; and at least you won't have to pay for baggage (up to 2 bags per person are free on Southwest.)

Greyhound will take you to New York (probably to the Port Authority terminal) in about 17 hours for about $90 one way, though you might not find that very pleasant. Amtrak has trains to New York via Toledo or Cincinnati with similar travel times (though the train that goes through Cinci does not have a good on-time record; allow plenty of cushion if you take that.) Kids usually travel for half fare on trains and buses, unlike on planes.

#526 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 09:44 PM:

Now, if the Gathering of Light was, say, a month later in Oakland, I would be most interested. Not moving to Berkeley [which would put me in rather more useful striking distance than Nashville] until early August, I am afraid (although I have a place now, which is a Good Thing).

#527 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 09:55 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 524... Should your circumstances change, you are of course welcome to the Gathering of Light in Oakland.

#528 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 10:14 PM:

John - four people, and it's not just us - it's the dog. We're minimizing flying. Also, none of us has ever seen Philadelphia. And we dote on road trips.

Rikibeth, I just asked my wife what she thought of this plan, and she's all over it, so consider your kind offer accepted and think of a nice place to eat, because our budget just got a lot more generous. Also, we'll pay your gas. And bring you T-shirts from Hungary.

My dad said he'd keep our lawn mowed for T-shirt payment, one shirt per mowing. He figured it would need about 20 times mowed over the nine weeks. Ha. We had brought him a shirt from an earlier trip with a map of Hungary on it, which the Amish find terribly strange. (He hangs out with a lot of Amish, for some reason.)

#529 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 10:22 PM:

Michael, slight complication -- my parents' driveway is full, because they've let other friends park there! I am on IM with them now, seeing if they want to take the minivan to Maine.

#530 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 10:30 PM:

Michael, sorry. My mother's back trouble means she's not really suited as a driver for the two-driver solution of getting the minivan back to Maine, and my brother on Long Island won't have left for his summer camp job by Thursday, so THAT driveway isn't available. If my own driveway had more spaces, I'd just offer that, but it doesn't.

And while there's someone I *might* be able to recruit who could really benefit from the use of a minivan for a month, I don't think I've known him long enough to trust him with someone ELSE'S car. I'm afraid it might turn into the equivalent of Someone Else's Microwave.

#532 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 11:12 PM:

Michael: I've grown rather fond of Philadelphia myself since we moved here. If we had off-street parking to offer, I would, but we all park on the street in my neighborhood (and it's tight enough that leaving an out-of-state van here for 2 months probably wouldn't go over well).

New Jersey may well be a good place to look for parking alternatives; lots of places in north Jersey have doable access to NYC via NJ Transit. If there isn't a Fluorospherian with a spare driveway, there might at least be long-term parking places that are cheaper than NYC.

#533 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 11:32 PM:

I live in Hoboken but have no driveway, and I don't think the longterm parking is particularly cheap here.

#534 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 11:43 PM:

I'll bet it's cheaper than JFK. Ugh. $13 with a coupon was the best I could find. Which I wouldn't mind for a couple of weeks, but for two months it's just too painful.

Looks like we'll just fall back on the one-way rentals. It was worth a try, though.

(I was really getting used to the relaxing idea of being able to leave some stuff in the car, though, like the cooler.)

Thanks for trying, Rikibeth!

#535 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 11:58 PM:

Wish I could have made it work, Michael. Sorry I couldn't!

#536 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:03 AM:

Michael: Coolers are easier to store than vans. Perhaps someone could lend you a corner.

#537 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:32 AM:

Well, the Port Imperial ferry terminal in Weehawken has monthly parking for a mere $175. It's just that to get from there to JFK is nearly as much as to fly from Dayton, it would appear. It's cheap to get to Manhattan (it's a ferry terminal, after all) but from there to JFK by taxi for four people and luggage - I'm getting a quote of $128. (Then we'd have to get back, in August. Good Lord. No wonder people get paid so much there.)

#538 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:38 AM:

Oh! Here is a shared-ride van for $34.85. That's better.

#539 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:42 AM:

Oops, I mean $69.98 if you count the kids as adults, which you must if they're over three years old. At least the dog is less than three.

#540 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 02:25 AM:

Oops. No dogs on the ferries. Well. Maybe this was a wasted evening.

#541 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 05:10 AM:

Hello, fluorosphere. Popping in to take a sanity break from real life; I hope this finds you well.

Oh, Mez. Rest in peace.

and since AKICIML: Does anyone know where and how to acquire the 3rd edition (1950) of Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook, short of filching it from a university library somewhere? Abebooks has it back to 6th, but not earlier.

#542 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 07:04 AM:

Michael Roberts, you might be able to make one of these Park sleep and fly things work for you. Most of them seem to offer up to 2 weeks of free parking with an overnight stay, but you might be able to get a variation.

#543 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 07:10 AM:

Michael: One other possibility to look into for parking is the Long Island side. Apparently JFK has an AirTrain shuttle that makes connections with the Long Island Railroad's Jamaica station, and with the A, E, J and Z subway lines. According to Wikipedia, most of the LIRR lines go through Jamaica station, so you can get there from lots of places in Long Island. So if there's something workable in suburban LI with good connections, that might work too.

(LIRR and the New York subway require pets, other than service animals, to be in carriers, but you may well have something like this already for the plane trip.)

I'm not that familiar with the geography or parking possibilities of Long Ialsnd, but folks who live in that area might be able to help you out there.

#544 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 08:45 AM:

Pendrift, I have a second edition I'd be willing to part with, if the price was right. Or just copy out a table or two for you.

email is the name of the livejournal linked here, @

#545 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 08:51 AM:

Pendrift @ 539... Welcome back, and phooee to Reality!

#546 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 10:19 AM:

Pendrift @ 539 - can't help. My Uncle John (Perry's Handbook) is a 5th edition. I am curious as to why you want a 3rd. Enlighten us?

#547 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 10:22 AM:

abi #515:

What was that Peggy Noonan quote about our torture policies under Bush? "Some things in life need to be mysterious," said Noonan, adding, "Sometimes you need to just keep walking."

The most productive thing I can think of to do with the continuing revelations about:

a. The unspeakable crimes of the Bush administration

b. Their coverup and the sheltering of the criminals by the Obama administration

c. The Obama administration's continuation and even extension of some of them

is *not* to just walk on by. We need to look at this stuff, to recognize what has happened and is happening and what looks like it will continue happening. It's too damned easy to just not look at the ugly stuff your side is doing.

Patrick's comment to me here seems right. There should be a reckoning for this, but there probably won't be. The best I can do for right now is not to look the other way, not to forget it, not to excuse it when the guy I voted for does the stuff I was screaming about three years ago.

Perhaps it's pointless to keep bringing it up. But not bringing it up, when we discuss any number of other lesser political/moral outrages, feels to me uncomfortably like what was happening among moderate Republicans in 2005. Like just not looking at something you wish weren't there.

#548 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 10:50 AM:

albatross @545:

I'm not saying walk on by. I'm saying you seem to be disproportionately pissed off at Obama personally, blaming him for everything rather than what he is to blame for.

Now, I'm disappointed and angry at him that he (a) hasn't stopped these things, and (b) hasn't investigated them and brought the guilty parties to justice. I don't know—and to a certain degree don't care—whether he never really meant to clean these things up or whether something we don't know about changed his mind.

But that doesn't mean that I bring up or think about every monstrous thing we're doing purely in the context of Obama. I think we need to hold a wider range of decision makers accountable, the same way that I wish we'd held Cheney, and Congress, and others with mens rea about these things, accountable as well as wishing we had done so to Bush.

When you make it All About Obama, I think you're missing a good deal of nuance and structure. Particularly because the transformation from someone who talked about change to someone who's doing the same old things tells me the story may be weirder and more complicated than we know, and may require a different solution than throwing the bastard in the White House out in favor of someone who says they'll do better.

Shine the light,yes. Be angry, yes. I'm just uncomfortable that you focus it purely on Obama. It seems a little overly simple, and usually you're more nuanced than that.

#549 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 11:02 AM:

Success! (Though not as successful as Rikibeth's folks' driveway.) Central Parking Systems has a garage in Jamaica, i.e. a short taxi ride from JFK, for $175 a month.

#550 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 11:44 AM:

Nancy C. Mittens @542, Anne Sheller @544 Thanks! I'm asking in behalf of a friend. Apparently the 3rd edition contains a number of monographs that were removed in subsequent editions. I'm not sure if the 2nd edition would have them as well.

#551 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:24 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 548... Central Parking Systems has a garage in Jamaica, i.e. a short taxi ride from JFK

After getting off the transporter booth?

#552 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:29 PM:

Serge, you're making the same mistake I made when I first moved to NYMA, i.e. "how the hell can a subway go to Jamaica?" There's a part of Queens by that name; it's where the electric trains from Manhattan (the only ones allowed in that borough) swap passengers with the diesel trains of the Long Island Rail Road.

Interestingly, I met someone from Queens once who said he'd vacationed all through the Caribbean except for one place. "I just can't bring myself to vacation in a place called Jamaica," he said, making a face at memories of the Queens location (his primary referent for the word).

#553 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:47 PM:


I guess I've been taking it as a given that the Bush administration was monstrous, and that the Obama administration is better, just not enough better. But in case it's not clear, I think Obama is a couple orders of magnitude less horrible than Bush. Someone who defends monsters out of political calculation and cowardice, not a monster himself.

Anyway, this comment of yours is really intersting, and made me want to think more about it:

When you make it All About Obama, I think you're missing a good deal of nuance and structure. Particularly because the transformation from someone who talked about change to someone who's doing the same old things tells me the story may be weirder and more complicated than we know, and may require a different solution than throwing the bastard in the White House out in favor of someone who says they'll do better.

This is the question that keeps coming up in my mind. Why did Obama back off so thoroughly on those promises to rein in the national security state?

My guess is that it's easy, in observing politicians, to engage in fundamental attribution bias--to assume that someone's actions reflect their beliefs or nature, rather than their incentives or situation.

I think any president has a particular set of political incentives in this situation, and that Bush and Obama face rather similar ones. And that probably explains a lot of their similar policies.

In particular, the president will be blamed for any terrorist attack. Bush managed to dodge this once, but I don't think he would have dodged it a second time, and I don't think Obama can. A 9/11 scale attack, or even a 3/11 scale attack, will probably ensure a Republican president in 2012.

That means that the president's incentives are all lined up with expanding anti-terrorism policies, even when they're expensive and damaging on all sorts of fronts, as long as they work at all to decrease the risk of terrorism. (And of course, the president often won't know what will really work. I think the Bush and his top guys probably really believed that a program of torture was a good way to prevent future terrorist attacks, and believed the only objections to that were moral or legal ones.)

Further, it's important to be seen to be taking terrorism seriously[1]. In fact, a president can buy a certain amount of insurance against terrorist attacks by being seen to do "whatever it takes" to fight the terrorists. Tough talk and ineffectual but visible anti-terrorism measures probably pay off.

Once a set of alleged anti-terrorism measures are in place, even if they're silly and ineffectual and costly, getting rid of them involves taking a big political risk. Even worse, every such program has a constituency--some employees and contractors who will fight dirty to keep it, by crying to the heavens that the administration is tearing down our defenses against terrorism. The Bush administration originally opposed forming the DHS, but once they went along with its formation, we got an agency that will probably be around when my hypothetical grandkids have grandkids of their own.

And most distressingly, to me, the military and intelligence services are really powerful. They can fight like hell if they're angered, which is almost certainly one reason why Obama decided not to allow any prosecution of CIA agents for torture or destruction of evidence. Massive domestic spying tends to concentrate a lot of power in the hands of the people doing the spying. It would be very interesting to know what inducements were offered to the folks who changed their minds on telecom immunity just in time for the vote.

The only way forward I see is to offer Obama a different, competing set of incentives. That means asking hard questions, and backing primary challengers who will do the same. It means not being willing to give the Obama administration a pass on stuff like his assassination program (with a hitlist including US citizens, with no review or trial or anything) or his program of indefinite no-trial detention for terrorism suspects. It means making it clear, as loudly as possible, that tossing the civil liberties wing of his party over the side and "moving to the center" closer to Liz Cheney is not going to pay off for him--that he's liable to lose more votes doing that than he wins. I think Obama may be more susceptible to this kind of pressure than other Democrats, because he's been so completely vilified, and because a lot of Republicans simply won't ever be voting for him. He can't stay in office without actual liberal voters. He needs to be reminded of this fact.

[1]Look at the clownshow surrounding the question of whether Obama is taking the BP spill seriously enough, where "taking it seriously enough" means emoting for the camera and visiting the area a lot, rather than spending the next six months drafting tighter regulation of offshore drilling and working out how to overcome some of the regulatory capture that plagues attempts to regulate big oil companies.

#554 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:52 PM:

"I just can't bring myself to vacation in a place called Jamaica," he said

He did not go of his own accord?

#555 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 01:10 PM:

In memory of the 50...

Great Escape Veteran Dies

#556 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 01:21 PM:


Looking back over my last month's posts (I love View All By), I counted a number of posts where I was criticizing Obama and his administration, but other than this post (where I was snidely assuming we wouldn't see any prosecution even if it turns out we were running some kind of Mengele-like operation during the Bush years), I think I've been criticizing overt actions by Obama and his administration. The assassination program that led me to say I'm not planning to vote for him again is not just a Bush administration policy he didn't prosecute, it's his policy. Similarly, the allegations of continued torture in Afghanistan, and the legal battle to allow indefinite detention in Afghanistan of people kidnapped from other countries, dodging a previous court decision requiring a habeas hearing, involve policy decisions that seem like they have to be coming from Obama or his top people. Those are explicit actions being taken now, under the authority of the president. Not Bush era crimes, but stuff being done (or alleged--I don't know if there's really still torture being done on a systematic basis) now.

The military commission trial of Omar Khadr, and the decision not to try KSM and various others in civilian court, also seem like they're explicit decisions of the Obama administration. Again, this isn't just deciding to "walk on by" some old Bush administration atrocities, it's explicit action by the current administration. If Obama isn't responsible for those decisions, who is?

#557 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 01:30 PM:

Xopher (550): [Jamaica]'s where the electric trains from Manhattan (the only ones allowed in that borough) swap passengers with the diesel trains of the Long Island Rail Road.

That's not quite true. The LIRR runs electric trains well out into Suffolk County. Jamaica is where all the lines come together and lots of people make transfers.

#558 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 01:44 PM:

I have to say I agree with albatross on the whole (and I certainly remember horrified posts from him/her throughout the Bush administration - it's hardly one sided.)

Obama's administration seems to be not just ignoring but fully reversing much of what he expressed as principles when he was a candidate.

How can he reconcile the campaign promises to shut down Guantanamo with a successful legal campaign to assure that the US can instead use the Bagram prison in Afghanistan as a black hole to hold prisoners from anywhere in the world with no legal rights?

Oh, and here - you can add this, which I hadn't seen until today: apparently we're going to continue imprisoning about 1/5 of the Guantanamo detainees forever without trial.

"The administration's Guantanamo Review Task Force, made up of officials from six agencies, completed its work in January, but did not share the report with Congress until this week, according to The Washington Post. The newspaper posted the report on its website Friday.

The task force recommended that 126 detainees be sent home or to a third country, 36 be referred for prosecution in either civilian or military courts and 48 continue to be held indefinitely without charge. An additional 30 detainees, all Yemenis, also were approved to be sent home but only once the security situation in Yemen improves, the report said."

So we're going to continue holding 48 of them indefinitely - effectively a life sentence - even though there is not enough evidence to charge them with any crime. Yay rule of law. Yay us.

Original of report here:

#559 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 01:51 PM:

I think wrt Obama and his policies, that it's safe to say we don't have all the facts or the reasoning, and it's doubtful we will. Even the most benevolent appearing of governments has stuff hidden from view.

Nope,it's no excuse to say everyone does it. But everyone does it. I had no illusions when I voted for Obama, and paid no real attention to campaign utterances. All I expected to get is something better than before and I'll live with better.

#560 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 01:58 PM:


One of the problems is that we—or at least I—don't understand Obama's cabinet. This is substantially my fault for not investigating it, but it's certainly not being handed to me pre-chewed by the media like much of Bush's cabinet politics were.

There's this projection that Obama really is "the decider", the way that Bush claimed to be. But the Management of Princes is an old game. Since it's impossible to be President without a heck of a lot of delegates and people in force-multiplying roles, I feel like there's probably a lot of complexity that I at least am missing.

I guess you're right, though, that Obama has to carry the can for his administration. It just seems a simplistic contrast to the ways that we looked at the Bush administration. I distrust that kind of simplicity in political analysis.

#561 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 02:03 PM:

And on the subject of the Gathering of the Light that Serge mentioned up there at 509, if no one else is going to express a preference, then I would vote for Breads of India. I miss Indian food now that I don't live in the country that colonized it and stole borrowed its cuisine.

#562 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 02:15 PM:

abi at 559: B of I works for me.

#563 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 02:16 PM:

Abi @ 559... I too vote for Breads of India.

#564 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 02:20 PM:

And in yet another thread of life's tapestry, Fiona just came into the room with her first lost tooth in her hand. She's been waiting impatiently for it to come out for weeks.

#565 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 02:41 PM:

abi @ 558: "There's this projection that Obama really is "the decider", the way that Bush claimed to be. But the Management of Princes is an old game. Since it's impossible to be President without a heck of a lot of delegates and people in force-multiplying roles, I feel like there's probably a lot of complexity that I at least am missing."

I fear that one of Obama's strengths--his attention to reality and his willingness to listen to experts' interpretations of that reality--is revealing itself to be a weakness as well. It seems to me that his economic policy (to take one example) has been heavily influenced by Summers and Geitner's idea of what is desirable and possible, much to our nation's detriment. Obama's governance has been characterized by conservative,* deliberate action, and I suspect that's because he's surrounded himself with people who are deeply knowledgeable about the political status quo, but also overly acculturated to its norms. He benefits from their expertise, but also suffers from their blinders. While the intelligence experts he pays attention to are less public than his economic and political advisors, I wouldn't be at all surprised if their opinions held equal if not greater weight with Obama. If they told him, for example, that prosecuting torturers would lead to a revolt in the intelligence community, f'rex, I think he would take that very seriously.

I remember hearing talk when he was assembling his cabinet that he was trying to avoid Clinton's mistake of appointing a bunch of Young Turks with little political experience. I think he over-corrected; too little new blood creates its own problems. One of the things I've found incredibly frustrating about Obama's presidency is his unwillingness to make new arguments. His past suggested that he was good at pushing unfamiliar issues into the spotlight and building a consensus around them, and he built his campaign around that idea--but as president he's stuck to old ideas with a grim obstinacy. I think that's another effect of his old-timer-rich administration: they're very good at making the case for the status quo. This is a moment of transformative potential, and they're squandering it.


* as opposed to "daring," not "liberal"

#566 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 02:51 PM:

abi: I thought you were from Humboldt?


#567 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 03:13 PM:

abi @ 562... What? Fiona didn't try to hasten the loosening?

#568 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 03:14 PM:

Knitted satirical performance art for the Internet age. I hope she makes a packet.

#569 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 03:23 PM:

Serge @565:

She got so impatient she pulled it out. (It was really loose, but that's still one scary kid.)

Meanwhile, her brother hit is head on the bathroom sink and opened a centimeter-long split in his eyelid. To my very great surprise, they were back from the ER in about 45 minutes (quiet evening, I guess) with the wound superglued shut.

So we have one gapped tooth and one plaster over an eye. Yarr!

#570 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 03:35 PM:

Terry @564:
These days, when someone asks me where I'm from, I answer, "How long have you got?"*

* Waar kom je vandaan?
  Hoeveel tijd heb je?

#571 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 03:37 PM:

Jamaica's train station used to be a miserable grimy pit. I usually spent no more than a few minutes there on trips to or from NYC . . . just long enough for the Oyster Bay train to show up.

Once, early 90s, I got caught there during a phenomenal blizzard. I ventured onto the streets to get dinner. Fried whiting, as I recall. I made it back to the station just in time to catch a Last Coper Out of Hanoi style train to my branch.

Last year I transferred from the "plane to the train" at Jamaica. It had gone amazingly high-tech, with a glass gallery and elevators.

#572 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 03:40 PM:

abi @ 567... her brother hit is head on the bathroom sink and opened a centimeter-long split in his eyelid

After he tried pulling out an eyetooth?

I seem to remember your telling us a couple of years ago that he had by then determined he'd prove the Tooth Fairy wasn't real by boobytrapping his tooth.

You should be proud of your kids.

#573 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 03:46 PM:

I'm somewhere between disappointed and aggrieved about Obama's failure to deliver on privacy and rights reforms.

I think it is a case of getting overwhelmed by a deeply entrenched, persuasive, and utterly self-assured security and defense establishment ("Sure, you can tie our hands, but we'll be on Meet the Press blaming you the first time a bomb goes off on our shores.")

Obama is a domestic policy guy at heart, and perhaps in the interest of picking battles let the wrong people carry the ball on the security front.

OTOH, he has no excuse whatsoever in not pursuing investigations against Bush administration figures who pushed for torture, surveillance, and diminished rights. They are utterly fair game.

#574 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 03:52 PM:

abi @ 567: Gecmis olsun!

#575 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 03:52 PM:

He didn't have to let the statute of limitations run out on stuff, either; that's where leadership would have helped.
(Also there's strong suspicion in some quarters that he never intended for Dawn Johnsen to be confirmed. He certainly didn't put any effort into it after nominating her.)

#576 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 03:59 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 571 -

OTOH, he has no excuse whatsoever in not pursuing investigations against Bush administration figures who pushed for torture, surveillance, and diminished rights. They are utterly fair game.

I'll have to disagree. A new president as a certain amount of political capital to spend before he has to face the rigors of re-election. Pursuing the indictment of former administration officials would have been seen as trying to "settle accounts" when much more immediate problems were at hand. If Obama had tried that,he would have been politically crucified.

It's quite possible -- though we may never know for sure -- that he sought the advice of top legal officials and determined that the chances of conviction were very small.

Fair game or not, politically it would have been disastrous.

#577 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 04:15 PM:

Stefan Jones (569): I think you mean the "train to the plane." :)

The official name is the Airtrain; I always get it confused with AirTran, the airline.

#578 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 04:17 PM:

Depressing event Sunday morning:

I've mentioned before that I work a graveyard shift doing Security at an upscale shopping/office development. We recently had our first fancy bar/cocktail lounge open, so the graveyard shift now has that open until 2:00 AM to be concerned with.

About closing time, two idiots augmented by alcohol leave the bar and head into the garage. The woman insists on driving. The guy thinks she's too drunk and, as she's starting to drive out of the parking space, reaches over and breaks the key off in the ignition. Car stalls in the middle of the garage's traffic lane.

By the time I'm notified of the situation by our guy watching the security cameras and get there, a flamewar-style argument is in full-on-crazy mode. Ended up having to call in the police to settle matters.

That's not the depressing part. That's just the setup to the depressing part.

Because of the broken ignition key, the car couldn't be restarted, meaning 1) the car's steering wheel was locked into position, and 2) the driver's side window was stuck in the "down" position. The police and I were able to get the car moved back (kinda-sorta, kitty-corner across two spaces) into the parking spaces, but there wasn't anything to do about the open window. The police asked us to keep an eye on the car until the owner came back for it later Sunday. (Both idiots ended up leaving in separate taxis.)

A few hours after that, the guy on camera duty and I swap places (we tend to spend half a shift on patrol and half watching the camera monitors). About a half hour before my shift is supposed to end, I'm doing a camera scan of that area... and see someone reaching into that open window and taking stuff out of the back seat area.

That's not the depressing part, either.

This is the depressing part: The person stealing from the vehicle was one of our own Housekeeping staff, and he was using his utility grabber to extend his reach into the car.

The Housekeeping and Security staffs don't work closely together, but they come into the Security office every day to check out and turn in radios and keys, we say "Good morning" and all, and we share the same break room. So I may not know this guy well, but I know him.

"You stupid fuck," I say to the monitor where he's now leaning into the car window. "You stupid... STUPID... fuck." And then I sigh, and start the processes and notifications that will get this guy fired and likely in jail.

You want to think that the people you work with are the good guys, that they mean well, that they're honest.

Sometimes you're wrong. And that's depressing.

#579 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 04:24 PM:

#575: Not for me. I was heading for the train!

* * *
A few years back, I had to make my way from Newark airport to Otisville, NY. It involved:

- Airport shuttle train from terminal to a train station beyond the edge of the airport.

- NJ Transit train, one stop (?) to Newark Penn Station.

- PATH train to Hoboken.

- NJ Transit train to Otisville.

Since then NJ Transit added a big shiny transfer station in the middle of the marshlands, so PATH is no longer required.

#580 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 04:32 PM:

Some years back, and left it in her (closed-but-not-locked) office when she went home (we're in a building where our access doors are card-keyed, and there are cameras in the elevator lobbies if not elsewhere). The next day it was missing. A couple of days after that, the packaging diappeared overnight. We don't know who did it, but 'inside job' is high on the list.

I've also worked places where music players left in desk drawers disappeared overnight, when only the guards and the cleaning people were around. I don't leave anything at work that I can't afford to lose or replace.

#581 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 04:49 PM:

Stefan Jones (577): So it was a train-to-the-train? ;)

#582 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 04:50 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 576... Back in 1993, I started working at the Gap. Two weeks later, one morning I found my expensive pocket calculator gone from my cubicle. When I posted a note about the theft in the nearby coffee room, what happened? Management took me to task for what they considered a morale-ruining gesture. That, even more than my finding myself working for Colonel Klink, made me decide to escape asap. Took two years.

#583 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 04:58 PM:

Serge @ 580 -

I know. Tunnels are hard to dig in cube farms. No place to put the dirt.

#584 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 05:00 PM:

Steve C/Serge:

I see nothink, nothink!

#585 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 05:09 PM:

Maybe I could have stuffed the cubicle walls with the crumbled bits of concrete. Or maybe mix them in with the coffee maker's grinds.

#586 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 05:35 PM:

Your management buys 'Superior' brand coffee and tea?

#587 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 05:51 PM:

PJ Evans @ 584... Nescapee instant coffee.

#588 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 06:16 PM:

abi #559: You should be able to find Indian food in Amsterdam. There is a large (for Surinamese values of large) Hindostaanse population in Surinam. A good portion of that migrated to the Netherlands in the wake of independence, and, more importantly, after the coup of 1980. As a result, in addition to the Indonesian food, there should be Indian food available.

I should note the Hindustani taxi driver in Paramaribo who unironically pointed out an Indonesian restaurant as an "Indische restaurant" to me, by the bye.

#589 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 06:22 PM:

Today I went into the fancy-ass gourmet store in Hoboken, and shopped for dinner. While I was there some candies caught my eye; they were labeled "SUGAR FREE ORANGE AND CREAM." I thought wow, those look good. Let's see if there's a lot of maltitol in them.

There wasn't.

The first two ingredients were corn syrup and sugar.

I asked a staff member to call a manager. They pulled them all off the shelves. When I left the manager was calling the company they got them from.

If I'd eaten those, nothing bad would have happened. I'd just have eaten more sugar than I want. But suppose a diabetic with only slightly worse eyes than I had relied on the big type saying "SUGAR FREE," being unable to read the teeny tiny type of the ingredient list? I was really mad, not so much at the store (though they certainly should have noticed) but at the stupid candy company. That label is clearly and absolutely wrong no matter what's actually in the candy.

#590 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 06:24 PM:

Bruce Arthurs, #576, wow, what a night! Think the cocktail lounge will be evicted after a few more of these?

#591 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 07:26 PM:

#587: Sheesh!

Were themselves candies actually labeled that way? Not a point of purchase sign?

Were they imports?

I sometimes wonder if, for certain establishments, sets of characters such as "MSG FREE" and "ORGANIC" and "VEGETARIAN" are considered linguistic talismans to be stamped on menus and on signs to increase sales.

#592 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 07:33 PM:

Stefan, the SUGAR FREE text was printed on the same sticky label as the ingredient list that started with "Corn syrup, sugar." This was a small round plastic container with that label stuck to the lid.

#593 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 07:35 PM:

Co-workers stealing stuff subthread: I think it was two years ago at Windycon (one of Chicago's three local SF cons), but it might've been three, that we were beset by The Pants Bandit.

Rooms people were sleeping in had unauthorized entry (using a master keycard), and any visible item of worth was stolen: laptops, PDAs, phones, and most especially -- hence the name -- anyone's pants left lying over a piece of furniture to be reworn, because of people's tendencies to leave keys, phones, wallets, etc, in one's pants pockets when one intends to rewear.

Definitely an inside job. Not only because of the use of the master keycard (which ought to be traceable; the hotel claimed all masters were identical and there was no way of tracking which), but because when I called down to the front desk at 3AM Saturday morning and told them, "The Pants Bandit just tried to get into my room, but we were awake and besides we had the (thing instead of a chain) on, so he didn't get in. He's on our floor RIGHT NOW, we're in an end room, it'll take him at least a few minutes to get to the elevator. Send police or security to come get him." ... nothing at all was done. Well, less than nothing; more rooms were hit later that same night (as witnessed by other awake people who saw attempts on other floors).

Needless to say, Windycon got out of their contract instanter and has no intention of ever going back ... the thing that utterly clinches the inside-jobness is that one regular Windy attendee was ALSO at a medical conference in the same hotel the previous weekend, and the Pants Bandit was rampant THEN too. And that conference stinking it up at the management didn't get them to do anything before Windy came in, or even warn us, or have cops around, until Windy's concom (tipped off by the common attendee) confronted them about it with great detail in hand and convinced them that no, they were GOING to have cops around ALL night EVERY night.

I don't know how it came out; as of Sunday when everyone was leaving, no arrests had been made and the hotel was still Colonel-Klinking and claiming it must be due to someone who was fired a few weeks previous who must have somehow illicitly copied a master key.

It must not only have been an inside job, but an inside job with ties up into management, because if it weren't and *I* were them, I'd've changed the lock codes so fast they'd BOUNCE. And kept doing it until we figured out whose key it was ...

#594 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 07:45 PM:

Xopher #587: From the sound of it, the manager was thinking much the same as you, plus "liability". I expect hell will be raised -- the system in action. Did you note what company manufactured them?

#595 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 08:02 PM:

Fragano @ 586
AFAIK, "indisch" is/has been the traditional term for people and things coming from today's Indonesia, and for a very plausible reason: After all, what is now Indonesia was Nederlands Oost-Indië. The Philippines plus Micronesia was Spaans Oost-Indië, with the assumption that what we call India today was Engels (or Brits) Oost-Indië.

So as I understand it, in Dutch as well as in English, the adjective indisch/Indian is used for the part of "East India" the speakers are most acquainted with.

And apparently, for quite a few descendents of immigrants from there, "indonesisch" is no neutral term of geography and culture, but relates solely to the political system starting in the late 1940. Anything else, especially everything older, is "indisch".

This might be comparable to the way an emigrant from Russia would usually not call himself or his parental culture "Soviet". (I neither want to equivocate the two systems nor want to assert that anyone else does so.)

#596 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 08:40 PM:

Elliott Mason #591: That sounds like the management could well have faced criminal liability, much less civil.

#597 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 08:54 PM:

Unprecedented happy ending to a theft story:

A few months ago, my daughter briefly left her backpack unattended in a high school classroom. When she got back, her ipod was gone. She reported it to the school office, but figured it was hopeless.

Day before yesterday, she got a call on her cell phone from the local police, asking if she'd lost an MP3 player. Turns out the cop had stopped a guy on suspicion of marijuana possession, noticed this ipod with a name nothing like his engraved on it, and confiscated it when his story of how he came to have it seemed unconvincing. (My daughter's name, phone # and email were engraved on the ipod--my idea.)

The cop then DELIVERED THE IPOD TO OUR HOUSE (along with the story of how it was recovered and the info that unnamed-suspect will now be charged with receiving stolen property). It has now been returned to its factory settings, correct name, and original music collection.


#598 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 09:04 PM:

Hi from Zanesville, OH!

Serge upthread: oh, what I'd give for a transporter system, yes. It would make my life a lot more bearable.

#599 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 09:33 PM:

Open Threadiness:

I suspect I need to do something to Firefox's about:config, but I'm not sure what.

Recently, when I highlight text and rightclick it to get to Leetkey so I can rot13 the text, the first thing Firefox does is open a new blank tab. And then the Leetkey menu comes up, which doesn't do much good when the focus is now on the new blank tab. I've had to resort to, as in the old days.

Any ideas? I'm using Firefox under Ubuntu.

#600 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 09:43 PM:

David, no I didn't, but the manager quickly had all the sugarfree candy of that brand pulled from the shelf.

#601 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 09:53 PM:

Xopher, it might be worth asking for that candy to be forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission or someone else in the federal government -- it's not likely to just be a local problem.

Elliot Manson, I got hit by a pants bandit like that at a DC Worldcon. Not only lost my pants, but a bag with a Tim Kirk drawing embroidered on it and a copy of a rare book that probably just got thrown out (it didn't look like much -- a poetry collection by Clark Ashton Smith, self-published trade paperback).

Lila, when my car got stolen I did eventually get it back, but I had to pay towing charges. The good thing was, they'd cleaned most of the trash out and left me a couple of nice additions.

#602 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 10:07 PM:

Tom, that's probably true. Didn't think of it.

But this was a "fresh" candy (or at least many other things of the same brand are), so it might have been pretty local, actually.

#603 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 01:46 AM:

I need to learn that, on a work night, I am not allowed to find new and interesting books and read them cover to cover. Otherwise, bad things (like making it to bed at 0100 rather than 2300 or so) happen. That, and the giggling might disturb the neighbors...

#604 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 02:07 AM:

Tom Whitmore @599:
Lila, when my car got stolen I did eventually get it back, but I had to pay towing charges. The good thing was, they'd cleaned most of the trash out and left me a couple of nice additions.

Our friends in the village got their motor scooter stolen in Amsterdam. It was (rarity!) recovered, in better tune and with several minor brokennesses fixed.

#605 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 02:26 AM:

Abi@568: So Dutch for "time" is "de tijd"? Makes me wonder what "tide" is; and according to the translate widget on my Mac's Dashboard, it's "het getijde". I find those two evocatively similar.

#606 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 02:33 AM:

I was two days away from going on leave from the Navy to Hawai'i and had an entire seabag full of (dirty) laundry stolen from my car. I didn't bother reporting it to the cops (I can imagine trying to explain to the local non-English speaking gendarmes), but it meant I wound up at Customs in Honolulu with a small duffel bag with a single pair of clean underwear in it. I've often thought that Customs Inspector must have had an air of disgust as he related to his co-workers the tale of the weird guy who said he'd be in Honolulu for two weeks with only one change of briefs.

#607 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 02:35 AM:

Tom, abi:
Earlier this year there was a story going round (with newspaper cite) of a elementary school teacher in New York whose Honda Civic was stolen. When the police recovered it and returned it to her, it had a fresh paint job, upgraded transmission and had a V8 engine dropped into it. But she wasn't driving it because she needed to learn how to drive a stick, and was a bit intimidated by how souped up it was.

#608 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 03:07 AM:

Damn, Clifton, I wish someone would do that with my '97 Geo, the one that's rusting in various spots but has only 56K on it.

#609 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 06:01 AM:

Ditto for our Saturn with 153K mi. on it which is going to the knackers due to the worn-out engine in it.

#610 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 06:27 AM:

Cally @597: so am I, but I don’t have that problem and can’t see how it came about. Have you got the Yahoo! toolbar? I read that it screws with some other Firefox features. I have configured Alt-R as the keyboard shortcut for ROT-13. Not sure if that helps you though.

Altering about:config is way too scary for me at this time of day!

#611 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 08:31 AM:

Seeing as AKICIML, I have a question.

Can anyone tell me how methods work in campanology/change ringing? I keep running up against a barrier that makes my brain go *gronk*.

For example, take Kent Treble Bob Minor, the method Lord Peter helps to ring in The Nine Tailors. I know what the blue line looks like, but for the life of me I can't figure out why all the other bells move as they do. At first I thought it might be "they mirror the blue line except when they have to avoid the lines of bells with higher priority", but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Web resources are distressingly non-specific; they seem to assume that you already know the algorithm by which the movements of the other bells are generated and just need help remembering specific bits. I am lost.

#612 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 09:27 AM:

So I'm selling my hair.

I hate selling things. I hate discussing prices. In Costa Rica and Peru, the fastest way to make me not buy something was to require me to haggle. Even here, assuming that everyone involved is in a similar financial situation, it makes me incredibly uncomfortable because I am screwing this up.

Oh, and a picture in which I don't look like a mole: WHEEE!

#613 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 09:52 AM:

Diatryma@610: Very true, not the slightest mole-like. Nose and face are all wrong for mole, and the hands (though admittedly in movement) look not at all flipper-like, not particularly specialized for digging. (Nice shot).

#614 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 10:35 AM:

tykewriter @608

No Yahoo toolbar, and I don't remember doing anything to change Firefox's configuration. How do you configure the keyboard shortcut? Maybe that would do it, since it seems to be the act of right-clicking that gets me the new tab...

#615 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 10:41 AM:

Carrie @609:

Some years back I helped to proofread Tintinnalogia: Or, the Art of Ringing, a how-to manual on changeringing from 1671. I don't know if it'll help or hurt, but maybe it'll at least break your brain in a different place!

#616 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 11:02 AM:

Carrie @ 609: Here are 7 books on change-ringing, including the one Cally Soukup helped post online, as well as various titles said to be introductions. You might find one or more of them useful. (The books are all old, but so are the principles of change-ringing, so that shouldn't be a problem.)

They'll also appear in the new book listings of The Online Books Page tonight.

#617 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 11:06 AM:

Carrie S. #609: Well, I have no experience in the matter, but the Wikipedia articles seem to say that the "blue line" is specific to each bell (and its ringer?), representing that bell's position in the sequence. The relations among bells would seem to be embodied in the method itself -- that is, a method is composed by choosing both a general pattern, and "calls" to avoid repetitions/cycles.

#618 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 11:09 AM:

Cally @612: you right-click* to bring up leetkey, then click to get the edit options. (I'm on a different machine at the mo and using Chrome, which hasn't got a leetkey extension that I can find. I'll check it out again when I stop sitting on this cafe balcony overlooking Bristol Harbour and get home.)

*which might result in a 'Hole in my Bucket' situation.

#619 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 11:22 AM:

Carrie S. @ #609, David Harmon @ #615:

And there I thought the whole thing was "just" a Gray Code, rung with bells. Silly, silly me. No, I have never been a bell-ringer, I found being a (cinema) projectionist sufficiently secluded.

#620 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 11:36 AM:

John Mark Ockerbloom, 614: HOW did I miss the Online Books Page? HOW???

(and also, thanks for both the pointer and the page.)

#621 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 11:36 AM:

me@616: but I do have Firefox here on my netbook* at The Watershed overlooking the harbour, and I've just installed the leetkey thingy. So, you highlight some text, right click, then go to leetkey settings, or Ctrl+Shift+S.

*Can you tell it's a new netbook? There's a chap sitting oposite me with a netbook, but it doesn't look as good as mine!

#622 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 12:03 PM:

albatross @582: <pedant>Isn't that Sgt Schultz?</pedant>

#623 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 12:28 PM:

Michael Roberts @596: oh, what I'd give for a transporter system, yes. It would make my life a lot more bearable.

<grump>Yeah, but they'd probably have some horribly insidious environmental/health side effects, like throwing the planet off its axis or something.</grump>

Benjamin Wolfe @601: on a work night, I am not allowed to find new and interesting books and read them cover to cover.

Good luck with that. If you manage it, let me know your technique, eh? I've got a bunch of unread Bujold on order. Is it too late to give up sleep for Lent?

abi @602 & Linkmeister, C. Wingate: Our friends in the village got their motor scooter stolen in Amsterdam. It was (rarity!) recovered, in better tune and with several minor brokennesses fixed.

Now, see, this would be the sort of practial joke I could get behind. I'd want to have a friend on the police force, though, that I could clue in ahead of time.

#624 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 12:45 PM:

Jacque @ 621 : Heh. I finished said book at around 1am, but did not get to sleep until 1:30am or so. This necessitated additional caffeine to achieve functionality this morning. I have yet to find a cure for this problem (that of finding enjoyable things to read at problematic times). I will keep you posted if I succeed...

#625 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 12:51 PM:

TexAnne @ 618: Glad you like it. If you'd like to add to it, we take requests (in fact, most of our listings are user suggestions).

#626 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 12:54 PM:

557: "We know more than you do" didn't turn out to be true in Vietnam.

Bill Clinton used to get a daily intelligence briefing after reading his two or three morning newspapers and complain that there was nothing in there he didn't already know. (I have no source for that story.)

I don't know why Obama is doing what he's doing the way he's doing it. I wish he wasn't.

#539, Perry's: Alibris doesn't go farther back than 6th edition either. Powell's has a 5th edition. has a 4th edition .

Obviously if I found one more good online used bookstore I'd be there.

Michael Roberts, 519: I'm sorry I have no van-home of use.

#627 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 01:08 PM:

tykewriter @619

Success! I tried first to map rot-13 to ctrl-r, but the native Firefox force-reload took priority. I eventually mapped it to ctrl-e, which doesn't appear to have a pre-set function.

Six reboots of Firefox later, and I can now rot-13. Whee!

#628 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 02:38 PM:

Does anyone want to steal Milady Buick and fix her power steering and potentially her brakes? I am in the la la la I can't hear you phase of car maintenance.

#629 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 02:46 PM:

heresiarch #563:

I think there are two pieces of how Obama has governed so far that track with different bits of what you're saying here:

a. When you're being advised by experts, you need to be able to evaluate and compare/contrast expert advice, both to avoid being captured by some self-blinding ideology, and also to ensure that your advisors aren't spinning their advice and information to be consistent with their policy preferences.

I suspect an eight-years-older, more experienced Obama might have done this better, especially after some kind of executive experience, maybe after being a cabinet secretary or something so he'd have the experience of dealing with agenda-loaded subject-matter experts. I also think more connections might have helped him here, so he'd have more alternative experts to call upon. (But I don't know where he'd get the time to deal with that; presumably he really needs his next-tier-down experts to do that weighing of experts job.)

I think the spy agencies are in an especially good position to spin their information/advice to skew toward their policy choices, because they will have information that isn't shared with anyone else. (And some of it may even be true.)

b. After the experts have spoken and you have something like a sensible grasp of the facts and the places where those facts aren't known, or are the subject of an academic/ideological feud, you need to make policy decisions. Those are based on values and politics and tradeoffs.

This is where I've been the most disappointed with Obama. I get that deciding to release probably-innocent detainees involves accepting a risk that they'll try to attack the US again. The actual risk to life and limb is probably many times smaller than the risk to Obama politically from such a decision. But it's ultimately Obama's decision about whether to accept that risk. Similarly, criminal charges for the CIA guys who tortured prisoners and destroyed the videotapes might be really disruptive to the agency, and there's probably some reasonable estimate Obama has to come to about how big the impact will be. But then he has to decide, based on his values and principles, whether that cost is worth bearing to get rid of the torturers. (And perhaps he's simply had them quietly purged from the government; I've never seen any discussion of such a thing, but it would make me feel better about his intentions. Keeping the torturers on staff looks like what you do when you plan to keep using them.) On those decisions, I have been unhappy with Obama's expressed values. Perhaps this is because he's in possession of a better picture of reality than I am w.r.t. terrorist attack threats and such. But it seems at least as likely to me (and more consistent with the evidence in many cases, such as the question of releasing existing torture photos or trying KSM in civilian court) that this is because he's weighing political considerations, and his ability to stay in power and get the rest of his agenda through, more heavily than values like not kidnapping, torturing, and murdering random people all over the globe.

#630 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 02:49 PM:

When my car was broken into a few years ago, they didn't steal the radio. Grump, grump.

Jacque @ 621:

I have just acquired a bunch of unread Bujold. I don't think I'm going to get any sleep at all.

#631 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 03:09 PM:

Jörg Raddatz #593: Oh,I do know that. At the time, though, I'd just been in Trinidad where the kind of person who was driving the taxi would be an East Indian. What a West Indian would call an East Indian is called a Hindustani in Surinam. Since all the people from the Dutch East Indies who were imported to Surinam as indentured labourers were from Java, they are known there as Javanese.

Just before I left Paramaribo I wandered into a souvenir shop (the Walt Disney Souvenir Shop, as a matter of fact; that's what the sign said) on the Domineestraat) and was examining some of the items on sale. One was a bow and arrow set. "Who made these items?" I asked. "Indians" said the proprietor (a Hindustani). "What kind of Indians?" I inquired, awake to nuance. "Arowak." was the reply.

#632 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 03:16 PM:

KeithS @628: Bujold should be a Schedule 2 Author? Not outright illegal, but should be administered only under carefully controlled condtions?

Well, okay, maybe not. :)

#633 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 03:20 PM:

Open thready emo-infodump rant about life:

My son has had a hard year in his Catholic school. Not terrible, just kind of unhappy and unpleasant--he and his teacher don't really click (she's not a bad teacher, she and he just don't get each other, and she has a lot of kids to keep track of). Third grade has required a bunch of homework (much of it busywork), and a lot of organizational stuff, which he hasn't enjoyed. And he's had a lot of unpleasant social stuff going on--his best friend left the school (I think for financial reasons), his next best friend is herself going through some really hard stuff that a child that age ought not to have to deal with, and he seems to end up on the outside of a lot of groups of his classmates. (And at other times, he's right in the middle and having a great time--it's kind of different from day to day.) He gets teased or bullied sometimes, but I don't think very often. (But one thing I worry about is if he's going to stay in the position of being an easy target. The school has been pretty good about addressing bullying/teasing concerns as far as we've been able to see, but I know there have been other kids who had bigger problems.)

So, we've been considering leaving the school. There is likely to be an opening for us at the (bigger, newer, richer, whiter) Catholic school associated with our parish. We originally applied to that school and his current school a couple years ago, but they had no openings, so we wound up where he is now. Next year, his younger brother will be starting school, so if we're going to move, this year is the time.

I am really divided about doing this. (It's still a choice.) On one hand, we may move there and have him be just as unhappy. Usually it takes awhile to make new friends in a new school, and he's not all that great at making new friends. (Like me, he tends toward small numbers of close friends, rather than lots of casual ones.) On the other hand, the smaller school is poorer, and in a kind of bad location, and a number of other families have pulled out recently. (It feels almost like a run on a bank--you want to ask whether this is a liquidity problem or a solvency problem.) And we have three kids, one not starting Kindergarten for several more years. We keep wondering what shape this little school will be in, in four more years.

The hard thing is, we're part of this school's community. We really like the school in many ways. We know everyone involved in the school, and they know us. My son has been in scouts there for three years now, and there's some great continuity.

And this is the really odd thing: A community is a little like a marriage, in that you feel a commitment that goes beyond the sort of business arrangement that says "keep filling my needs and I'll keep paying you." If we leave, we'll leave behind a hole in the social fabric of the school. Not one that will be devastating or anything, but it will be noticable. Familes we know will look around and think "gee, it's strange that they're not here anymore." I know because I've done that a few times. Say, didn't _____ used to show up for these meetings, too?

The smallness of the school is in many ways both the best and worst thing about it. There aren't a lot of resources, but it's probably hard to get lost in the shuffle. It's susceptible to a few families leaving and seriously shaking the school up, but every family in the school matters.

This has been weighing on me a lot lately. We've been considering this change of schools rather suddenly. And if my older son were happy in his school right now, as he was a year ago, we wouldn't even be considering this move. But he's not, and this raises the issue in our mind of whether this school is able to give him what he needs.

The bigger school has more resources. It has a playground that isn't covered in asphalt and surrounded by a chain-link fence and busy traffic. It has better equipment and enormously more activities. It's associated with our parish, which has a variety of paperwork and administrative advantages. It may be that we will come to love it as we do his current school.

But I am finding it almost impossible to decide what the right thing to do here is. I can imagine any decision I make turning out very well or very badly.

Anyway, I'm sure this is the source of a lot of my stress and grumpiness in the last couple weeks, in the midst of the usual random paperwork crises and manufactured urgent issues that show up at work and home with regularity. So I'm sorry if I've been more snappish than usual.

#634 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 03:35 PM:

The Big Book of the summer is supposed to be The Passage, by Justin Cronin. It's gotten some rave reviews, and I was persuaded by the reviews and the excerpt to order a copy.

There's a Houston connection -- the author is an English professor at Rice.

#635 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 03:42 PM:

albatross @ 631... On one hand, we may move there and have him be just as unhappy.

Is the new place likely to make him more unhappy?

#636 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 03:55 PM:

Fragano @ 629:
I really did't think that you did not know that, I was more or less thinking in writing.
Regarding the "what kind of Indians" thing, I am now reminded of a fantasy novel set in Guyana, with its population of East Indians/Hindustanis and Native Indians (Arawak, Carib and others).
But the author did not make this very clear and the translator did not know this at all, apparently. So the German readers got "Indios/Indianer" who prayed to Krishna, as every element of East Indian culture was translated as Native Indian. It not help the understanding of this novel.

#637 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 04:08 PM:

albatross @631:

Oh, I hear you on the hard choices and the moving schools. This year is the first year in my son's academic career that he's gone back to the same school*†. And it is tough changing schools, particularly going into a new school with a strong established community. It's lonely, trying to make new friends.

But my parents moved us into a good academic setting in a pleasant area. We've done the same for Alex‡, trusting that in the long run that will repay the struggles with moving schools.

Can you talk to the new school about what, if anything, they do to settle new students in? And have you talked to your son about it?

I'm solutionizing here, when maybe what you want is a listening ear and some sympathy. You certainly have that, and I'll say a word where words are said, if that helps.

* Age 5: primary one in Scotland. Age 6: Groep 3 in a special school for kids just arrived in the Netherlands. Age 7: Groep 4 in the local village school, where he is now in Groep 5.
† Come to that, I did my first three years of school in three different schools too.
‡ Fiona was too young to be affected by it; she started school in the village

#638 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 04:24 PM:

Albatross@631: I have no useful knowledge of parochial schools, or really of any schools for the last thirty-mumble years, or really of children any more recently than when I was one, so please do not take any of this as actual advice!

You seem to be treating it as axiomatic that it's good for your kids to go to the same school. I think this would depend a lot on the individual children. It's my impression that my sister was not terribly well-served, even ten years after me, by being "David's sister" in school (a number of teachers were still there). (There are no doubt also convenience and perhaps even financial benefits to having them the same place.)

I didn't find moving between schools too strange, but I didn't really make any terribly strong friends until 8th grade, which was when I stopped moving between schools (I went to three of the four gradeschools in town, with only one house move to account for it; there was only one junior high and one highschool, so everybody was together there). So maybe I would have made closer friends earlier if I hadn't moved between schools. But I don't miss it, and didn't miss it; the kids I was casual friends with just weren't that interesting.

Clearly any of the options open to you could work out badly. This must be an actual real-world decision!

I hope things work out very well for you and your children.

#639 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 04:28 PM:

albatross @631, sympathies. These are difficult choices. It's hard to settle where "community" is in these mobile and unsettled days. For me, having my child in a school associated with our own parish (and thus our own neighborhood) was a plus in terms of building community, but that depends in part on how you feel about your parish and its priorities and its social milieu.

My daughter had a difficult social time in 3rd grade (though her problem was partly a new school, which is not your issue). What helped her a lot was making a friend in the neighborhood who went to public school. That bled off a lot of social tension from the school environment, since she was no longer in a position of "be friends with these people or have no friends at all."

Good luck with it.

#640 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 05:25 PM:

albatross @ 627: "I suspect an eight-years-older, more experienced Obama might have done this better"

That's a good point. I like that Obama recognizes that he doesn't know everything, but a little more experience with people trying to spin him would probably have helped him resist the siren call of other people's certainty.

"Similarly, criminal charges for the CIA guys who tortured prisoners and destroyed the videotapes might be really disruptive to the agency, and there's probably some reasonable estimate Obama has to come to about how big the impact will be. But then he has to decide, based on his values and principles, whether that cost is worth bearing to get rid of the torturers."

I guess the question which we can't answer is what the evidence that Obama is being given to weigh. Is he being told "this will undermine morale and make agents grumpy" and choosing not to do it, or is he being told "this will gut the agency like a fish, bringing down every experienced agent we've got, crippling our ability to defend against future attacks" and choosing not to do it? Personally I'd gut the fish and live with the consequences, but without knowing what Obama's being told it's hard to judge whether he's making a decision that I think is unambiguously awful or merely a decision I disagree with.

@ 631: "But I am finding it almost impossible to decide what the right thing to do here is. I can imagine any decision I make turning out very well or very badly."

It seems to me that you're worried about making the wrong decision for your son, but I'm not sure that that's even a useful frame for this situation. Just because a decision is momentous doesn't mean there's a right and a wrong answer; sometimes different choices are just different. If he attends one school and becomes an architect, or attends the other and becomes a philosopher, will one of those futures wrong and the other right?

#641 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 06:21 PM:

'What helped her a lot was making a friend in the neighborhood who went to public school. That bled off a lot of social tension from the school environment, since she was no longer in a position of "be friends with these people or have no friends at all." '

I never thought of that. I have long had problems making and maintaining friendships, which any of my *mumble-something* friends will find strange, since I'm outgoing and friendly. I have plenty of friends who are close emotionally, but alas, they are not close geographically. It's taken me years at my current city to get some "close" friends, whom I see maybe once every two weeks*...

*My best friend, who has been such since high school, sees me maybe three times a year. She's ADD and a teacher, thus perpetually busy.

#642 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 06:24 PM:

KeithS, #628: You'd better get caught up before the con. You think books are bad for keeping you up too late...

Steve C. #632: Speaking of cons (and Houston), any chance that you'll be making ApolloCon this year?

#643 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 06:39 PM:

Diatryma 610: Very true, you do not look like a mole. You look particularly unlike a star-nosed mole. I am sympathetic, because I look very much unlike the Sombrero Galaxy.

#644 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 06:41 PM:

Lee @ 640 -

Speaking of cons (and Houston), any chance that you'll be making ApolloCon this year?

I had no idea there was a local con this month -- I have nothing in my calendar for that weekend, so there's a good chance I can go. Sounds like fun! Thanks for the heads-up.

#645 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 06:42 PM:

Diatryma and the Moleman, together at last!
(Ben Grimm will officiate.)

#646 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 07:04 PM:


Make sure you ask your son if he thinks it's easier to change schools or to stay.

We moved several times when I was young; I ended up going to three different feeder areas in the same district, which meant I needed to make completely new friends twice, plus again when we moved out of state. And it wasn't particularly easy for me.

The way I got continuity was the friends I made at church, who were around a bit more--and one of whom was at the junior high I transferred to, so I had a bit of readymade. I don't know if you'd be changing parishes or not, or even if your choice of Catholic schools is a function of your religion, but that bit of continuity might not be available to you.

So see if your son feels really uncomfortable about the prospect of switching.

#647 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 07:07 PM:

Cally @625:
⟨crtl-E⟩ is ENQ, which would get the receiving device to send its answerback string, which was used to identify the terminal in the TeleType age. Not much called for today. Some VT100-class terminals would respond to it locally while offline, leading to 20-character-long ASCII animations on the screen (enough to get bouncing characters or rolling eyes). Amazing what bored students will figure out while waiting for me to fix the "mainframe" (my cellphone has far more computing power and memory than the DECsystem-10, and I have a cheap TracFone).

This utterly random and completely bizarre historical digression of absolutely no redeeming value has been brought to you by the letter E (with the high-order 2 bits masked off yielding 0000101).

#648 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 07:27 PM:

Jörg Raddatz #634: Oh, my! That reminds me of the little problem that the Canadian statistics people had with the 1981 census. They apparently weren't prepared for significant immigration from the Indian subcontinent (nor were those immigrants prepared for the Canadian census form). Some of the results were apparently really interesting.

In Guyana, the term generally used for the aboriginal people is "Amerindian".

One of my favourite bits of political lore about Surinam is the name of the main East Indian (Hindustani or even, back in the 19th and early 20th century, Brits Indiër) ethnic party. That party has kept the same initialism (VHP) since its foundation in the 1940s. It has at various points in its history been the Vereenigde Hindostaanse Partij, and the Vereenigde Hindoe Partij, before settling on the final (one hopes) form of its name: the Vooruitstrevende Hervormings Partij.

#649 ::: Alberto ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 07:56 PM:

Diatryma @610:

Having met you (and having, in fact, taken that picture), I must emphatically disagree with you. You do not look at all mole-like.

(And I'm happy that you like the pic.)

#650 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 08:08 PM:

tykewriter @ 616:

There's an extension for Chrome called Javascript Toolbox, a really dumb name for it, that does some of what leetkey does (rot13 in particular, which is why I use it). It also does various hashing and encoding functions, and even SQLizes text (wish I'd had it a couple of years ago when I was writing PL/SQL scripts to upgrade database schemas).

#651 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 08:51 PM:

Alberto, it may well be my favorite picture of me taken in the last year.

I have a new low, though: the Iowa driver's license picture. Taken without glasses and with mouth closed and expressionless. I look like a corpse. In fact, when I showed it to the phlebotomists at my appointment later that day, one of them said, "It's morbid, but I think they do that to identify... um...."

#652 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 09:01 PM:

Abi #635: I read that last footnote as "she started school in the Village" and was startled for a second.

#653 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 09:23 PM:

Diatryma @ 649:

I'll take cold and lifeless over my current passport photo. (Ah, passport photos, where if you look anything at all like your photo, you're not well enough to travel.) The overly cheerful person at the post office who took my picture didn't like my first one, because I didn't look happy and smiling, and forced a second one on me.

Only two more years.

#654 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 09:26 PM:

Fragano #646
This (the VHPs acronym) reminds me of the claim that the name of India's biggest state, Uttara Pradesh (meaning northern land/area) was chosen after independence with the intention to maintain the universally used abbreviation for that region, U.P. for United Provinces (of Agra and Oudh, IRRC).

#655 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 10:29 PM:

Steve, #642: Great! Come by and say hi to me in the dealer room -- I'll be next to the guy with the T-shirts.

#656 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 10:55 PM:

My passport photo is the second one taken. The first one was appallingly bad. My face does not do solemn photography well. The second, in which I smiled, is more or less identical to every other ID picture I've had since seventh grade.

#657 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 11:19 PM:

My current university ID makes me look as though I am about to do rather diabolical things to the poor soul who was photographing me. There is a twisted grin on my face, and my eyes are glittering in a dangerous and disturbing manner.

Hopefully, the new ID I will get in August will look somewhat better...

#658 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 11:52 PM:

Diatryma@649: I have a new low, though: the Iowa driver's license picture. Taken without glasses and with mouth closed and expressionless. I look like a corpse. In fact, when I showed it to the phlebotomists at my appointment later that day, one of them said, "It's morbid, but I think they do that to identify... um...."

My theory has always been that they make the driver's license pictures look that way so that when you're arrested for shooting up a 7-11 at two in the morning, you'll match your mug shot.

#659 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:02 AM:

The thing is, I'm more or less unrecognizable to myself. No glasses? My face is entirely different, not least because I'm not able to focus on anything. Those glasses are my eyebrows.

#660 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:08 AM:

Diatryma @ 649:

I still carry around my UC Davis staff ID, issued in 1972 (I left Davis for the Bay in 1976). On it is the most evil picture ever taken of me; a number of people have remarked that it reminds them of Charles Manson.

#661 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:14 AM:

Bruce Cohen@658: On it is the most evil picture ever taken of me; a number of people have remarked that it reminds them of Charles Manson.

Be grateful. Most ID photos make me look like a stunned haddock.

#662 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:25 AM:

Courtesy of my friend Deb Aoki, some mind-boggling real person slash in comic book form:
Henry & Glenn Forever

'Starring super-notorious musclebound punk/metaldudes Glenn Danzig and Henry Rollins (with a little help from super-notorious soft-rockdudes Hall and Oates) Henry & Glenn Forever is a love story to end all love stories! The premise of this Cantankerous Titles-released comic is explained at the front of the zine: “Henry and Glenn are very good 'friends.' They are also 'room mates.' Daryl and John live next door. They are satanists.”'

#663 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:01 AM:

In photographs, my eyes have always shrunk.
My nose, in contrast, puts on fleshy growth.
I always show as either mean or drunk,
Except in photographs where I look both.
I am not often grim, not often pissed
(In either sense), not often under weather.
Must the cam'ra trenchantly insist
I'm drunk? Hung-over? Horrors! Both together?
No, Pratchett's right. The imp that works inside,
It loves or hates you, and according, fashions.
How else can you explain why homicide
And alcohol appear to be my passions?
But all the imps? Whatever can it be
That's got them all so furious with me?

#664 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:45 AM:

Debra Doyle @ 659...

Do haddocks ever look anything but stunned?
How about a surprised salmon?
Or a terrified trout?
Or a bashful bass?

#665 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 02:20 AM:

I wish I could acquire a bunch of unread Bujold, but circumstances beyond my control have made that impossible.

#666 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 03:49 AM:

albatross @ 631: For what it's worth, the first year I spent entirely in the same school was eighth grade, and I match your personality description ("he tends toward small numbers of close friends, rather than lots of casual ones").

I don't recommend that level of instability--in fact, I strongly recommend against it--but changing schools once is, in and of itself, not a disaster. (Which school is better I cannot say.)

#667 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 07:15 AM:

albatross @ 631 -- sympathies for your situation. I had one teacher in grade school who was spectacularly bad (for me), and that -- combined with some other things -- made for a horrible year. We've gone through a bit of that with my own kids, too, though they thankfully haven't had anyone as bad as Mrs. B. I guess what I'm saying is, a teacher can make or break a school year, but that's not a variable you usually have much control over at any school. There's a fair chance your son would have a better-for-him teacher next year wherever he was. Maybe that takes some pressure off the decision-making.

#668 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 07:18 AM:

re: #619 ::: tykewriter ...but I do have Firefox here on my netbook* at The Watershed

(Waves belatedly from Thornbury)

#669 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 07:44 AM:

[two weeks late, re: wool underwear]

So there exists one single book, published in 1993, that says "by Dave Howell" on the title page; a role-playing resource book. It's tangentially related to pantheons, and I created a goddess with accompanying religion to invoke for examples of various things. The goddess was Judy, the Goddess of Macramé, and I had a lot of fun providing amusing marginalia to go along with all of that. Herewith, I reproduce an excerpt from the Holy Book so revered by Judy's followers: _Judy's Book of Macramé Projects You Can Make at Home_

Weaving, twining, making knots,
  Hangers for our plants and pots.
Special gifts for all our friends,
  Spool of string that never ends.
Macramé, macramé, making Judy's macramé,
  Macramé, macramé, all hail the name of Judy.

Owls made from beads and twine,
  Doilies that are so divine.
Covers for our cozy beds,
  Lumpy hats for lumpy heads.
Macramé, macramé, making Judy's macramé,
  Macramé, macramé, all hail the name of Judy.

Charming things to hang on walls,
  Over doors and crossing halls.
Crafting a delightful chair,
  Making our own underwear.
Macramé, macramé, making Judy's macramé,
  Macramé, macramé, all hail the name of Judy.

#670 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 11:10 AM:

I once reacted to the instruction "don't smile" by trying to adopt the five-mile stare of a psychotic killer. I succeeded. Fortunately I never got pulled over in North Carolina, and when I moved back to PA a year later I had more sense for the replacement license.

When they say "don't smile", put on a hint of muscle tension anyway. Comes across as bored, as opposed to dead.

#671 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 11:26 AM:

The day they need to make a "Wanted" poster with me on it, they can use my passport photo. Or my driver's license photo. Or pretty much any other official ID. I've never got the hang of smiling or not smiling in pictures.

I think my ID photos are somehow getting swapped for ones from a parallel universe where there's a violent psycho with my facial features. He must be wondering why his ID photos always have this grinning buffoon on them.

#672 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 11:35 AM:

My current passport photo makes me look like Sgt Bothari on a bad day, seriously hung over and fighting off one or more contagious diseases. I don't know quite how the photographer managed to put all that into a photo taken on a pretty normal day....

#673 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 11:40 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 663 -- A concussion might do the job.

#674 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 11:45 AM:

Dave L, #661: Bravo!

#675 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:00 PM:

abi: I say, "lately?"
diatryma: I think most of the photos in that chunk of stream show you off pretty well.

albatross: I don't think cabinet secretary is going to get one elected president. The public sees you as a number two guy. Being VP isn't really good for it either (Bush pere only did it because he was Ronnie's annointed. Like Van Buren; after Jackson, he reaped what was sown in the eight years before).

The plain fact of the matter is there is no good route to getting a handle on the job; though governor might be the closest analogue; certainly Carter and Clinton seemed to benefit from it.

re ID Photos: I, with no glasses, look a bit lacking in human emotion. Maia's comment is I look like a stone-cold killer. Certainly the relaxation which comes of being stone blind changes my, apparent affect.

My first passport photo; military hair cut, white t-shirt, and no glasses, did look a bit disconcerting.

#676 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:01 PM:

My friend Susan is raising money to cover costs for her granddaughter's neurosurgeries. Any donations of cash, books&stuff, or good thoughts&prayers most welcome. Or go buy stuff. That works, too.

#677 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:34 PM:

Albatross: As it happens, we are switching schools next year for our son (who's a similar age to yours). This is the first move for him, and our daughter is staying put, so they'll be in schools about 10 miles apart, instead of just across the road from each other.

Some of your story reminds me of our own. There are certainly things we're going to miss about his old school. But there are promising and hopeful things about his new school, including what looks to be a rather different set of social dynamics, and a greater emphasis at a school-wide level on *working on* healthy social dynamics in diverse groups of kids.

Do I know for sure that the new school will be the best place for him? No. But I do know that a fresh start will do him good, that he's looking forward to the new place, that there are promising opportunities there, and that we and the school are committed to working together to making it the best experience for him we can manage.

Moreover, no matter what happens in the next year, *my son* knows that he doesn't have to hunker down and simply endure a bad situation. He has voice, and options. We can work with him and the school to fix and improve his situation. Or, if it seems a better (and viable) option, he can change to a different situation altogether.

I made a difficult decision in my own school years to change schools, and while there was uncertainty throughout the decision process, I also had hope when I switched. And it worked out well for me. I'm hoping for the same with our son.

I hope things go well for you however you decide. If you'd like to talk with me about it, feel free to contact me offline (ockerblo at pobox dot upenn and then an edu at the end). I'll be traveling this weekend, but will be on email through Friday noon. and will still have access to a phone after that.

#678 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:47 PM:

Okay: I opened Google this morning, saw their new background photo and thought it was a doodle. "Oh neat inversion of expectations!" I thought. Then I realized it wasn't a doodle but a permanent GUI change, and went to try to disable it, because on a long-term basis it would be annoying. I can't! The Google help page on the subject gives inaccurate information on how to remove it, indicating a button that as far as I can tell doesn't exist.

I'm quite unreasonably enraged by this. DO NOT WANT INVOLUNTARY GUI CHANGES. So Fluorosphere: am I an outlier here, or is this the accepted wisdom that I think it is? Second, does anyone else know how to turn off the background image?

#679 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:59 PM:

Abi @ 635


I've never encountered that particular usage before, but it's so elegantly compact and to the point. I think I'll work at promulgating it in my own sphere.

#680 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:03 PM:

heresiarch: Are you sure it's permanent? I've been hoping that it's just a 1-day thing to demonstrate the option, and then, as with doodles, they'll go back to normal the next day (at least for folks who haven't decided on their own custom image). But that may be wishful thinking, for all I know.

Even if I can "customize" it back to white background, I *don't want to have to sign in* to search Google like that. I realize that Google can still track me to some extent without my logging in via IP addresses and the like, but I prefer to minimize the personal info I give in a search by default.

If they don't change it back, I've heard noises about Firefox plugins to kill the background. If Google keeps it on, I may look into finding and installing one of those.

#681 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:03 PM:

heresiarch@676: Looks like you could upload an all-white jpeg to use as the background, which would give the visual effect of the old interface. I'm a little surprised there isn't one already in the default list of photos.

#682 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:07 PM:

heresiarch (676): I'm seeing not a button but a link in the lower left (white on the patterned background) of the Google homepage. I didn't log in, however.

#683 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:09 PM:

No heresiarch, you are not alone. I find it really fucking annoying myself, not least because it appears they did not even check readability of the page text against a vibrant detailed background.

It's also strange in that they've talked for years about how they keep that page clean to make it load as fast as possible.

One workaround might be to set it to the Firefox Google home page (indirect ad revenues from which apparently fund the entire Mozilla project.)

#684 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:10 PM:

ddb (679): Uploading an all-white background jpeg was my first thought, too, but that wouldn't play well with the white link text that's there now.

#685 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:12 PM:

Those who followed Michael Roberts's HP fanfic link in #2 might be interested to know that there are now two more chapters up (as of June 6).

#686 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:28 PM:

You can't change it unless you're logged in, which is completely non-obvious from their link. I uploaded a transparent 800x600 png for use when I'm logged in; however I do not want to be logged in to Google most of the time. For now, after changing it and logging out, it's gone back to the original home page but that won't work for me on other computers. Blocking Javascript on their home page is problematic as it will also block the pull-down menu. Needs further thought.

#687 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:34 PM:

I wonder if the intent of the Google home page background is to force more Google users to log in so it can better associate their searches, ad hits, and website visits a la Facebook.

#688 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:36 PM:

heresiarch @ 676:

You are not the only one annoyed by this behavior. I don't mind the way they change the logo every now and again, because it's small and cute. This is, well, big and annoying.

I assume that it's a single-day change to show off the feature. If they don't change it back, I'm going to get out the User JS and/or CSS hammer.

Clifton Royston @ 681:

They've talked for years about how they like to keep the main page clean, yes, but they also have offered their cluttered portal with widgets and such to those who want it for a while now. They know that some like simplicity, but lots of other people like fluff.

#689 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 02:00 PM:

According to a comment on another forum, an interview in Hungarian with a Google exec said this would be a one-day thing. Cross fingers. Wait until tomorrow.

#690 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 02:02 PM:

Further Google -- when I just went there it was its very normal self, at -- simple white background, but with a "change background" button on the lower left.

#691 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 02:09 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 681: "It's also strange in that they've talked for years about how they keep that page clean to make it load as fast as possible. "

Which is the exact reason I use Google as my home page: with Google, if I'm heading straight to another site I'm not bogged down waiting for my home page to load. So it's irritating to find them messing with that.

I don't mind them going "Hey look at this neat thing we did!" I mind them not allowing me to admire their neat thing for five seconds and then politely decline.

(seconding tom @ 688: google is back to plain white>)

#692 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 02:19 PM:

heresiarch, #676: I'm confused. I just clicked on my Google toolbar button*, and it's the normal Google page with a plain white background.

OTOH, I don't really have a "homepage" any more; I keep half a dozen default tabs open in Firefox, and what comes up when I re-open it after a reboot is whatever page I was last looking at. So I think my situation is different enough not to be much help for you.

* No, not the Google toolbar; the Google button on my Bookmarks toolbar.

#693 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 02:48 PM:

heresiarch @676: You are evidently not alone, as is currently (for me, anyway, but I'm not logged in) bringing up the plain old white homepage, with "change background" link way down at the bottom.

#694 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 03:04 PM:

Dave Luckett @ 661:

Very nice!

Dave Howell @ 667:
Lumpy hats for lumpy heads.

Thank Splotz, the god of liquid nasal discharges, that I'd set my coffee cup down before reading that.

#695 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 03:48 PM:

Re: Home pages.

Hmm. I know my husband was quite enraptured when he saw *my* default home page. Maybe some of y'all would like this too. My browser defaults to opening up an HTML file that lives on my computer, and in my browser looks something like this:

Google: [_____________]
Yahoo: [_____________]
M-W Dictionary: [____________]
Wikipedia: [__________]
MapQuest from home to [_____________], [___Seattle__], [WA]

The source code is more or less (edited for brevity) . . .
Google: <form method="get" action=";ie=UTF-8&amp;oe=UTF-8"><input name="q" size="20" tabindex="1" /></form>

Yahoo: <form name="w" action=";_ylt=A0oGkxrL0SdGiJYAPnul87UF?fr=sfp&amp;ei=UTF-8"><input type="text" name="p" size="20" id=yschsp/></form>

<form method="get" action="" id="search_form" onsubmit="return lookup('search_form');"><a href="">M/W Dictionary:</a> <input type="hidden" name="book" value="Dictionary" id="search_dict" /> <input name="va" size="15" /></form>

<form action="" id="searchform" name="searchform">
<a href="">Wikipedia</a>:
<input type="hidden" name="language" value="en" lang="en" xml:lang="en" />
<input type="text" name="search" size="20" id="searchInput" tabindex="30"/>
<input type="hidden" name="go" value="Go" />

It works like so: when I open a new window, if I hit [Tab], the cursor activates the first text field, which is Google. I type a search, and hit return, and the form is submitted to Google, which is all exactly the same as if Google's main page were my default start page. But if I want to search Yahoo, I just hit [Tab] twice. That puts me in the second box. Type the search term, hit [Return] and my form is submitted to Yahoo. And so on and so forth. My 'true' start page uses tables to smoosh things up into three columns, and I have searches for Yellow Pages and White Pages, for Google/Macintosh and Google/Images, and a whole bunch of links to frequently used sites like ITAFareFinder, my various financial institutions, eBay, and the like. The eBay link points to the 'my eBay' page, so when I click it, it goes right to the login page.

Some sites that I visit require login, but I'm quite unconcerned about somebody 'logging in as me,' so those links sometimes look like ... so I can click the link and go directly to a post-login state. One site's code requires I submit a form; it doesn't check the URL for the login info. So I copied their form onto my page, filled in the form fields, and made them all 'hidden,' so there's just a button. I click that button, and I'm logged in.

And so on.

#696 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 04:03 PM:

Stefan @589 - Classic cartoon (New Yorker, I think) shows a sign in a Chinese restaurant saying "At your request, we will be glad to pretend our food contains no MSG."

Tom W @599 - Reminds me of the incident in Good News from Planet Earth where the protagonist finds out that Dadaist punks have broken into his crappy car and installed an expensive stereo system.

#697 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 04:12 PM:

I wonder if the change back to white was planned all along or the result of massive complaints?

Google's image is so ingrained in the public view (including my own) as being so shiningly competent, that it's easy to forget just how often and how badly they screw up once they step outside their main fields of competence, namely web search and contextual ad display. (Google Buzz; Google Groups; Orkut; Gmail's poor outbound spam filtering; etc.)

#698 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 04:27 PM:

Dave L @661, nice
albatross @670, you made me wonder if it was worse to look like Sgt Bothari on a bad day, or Sgt Bothari on a good day?

#699 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 04:53 PM:

albatross @ 670:

If there's some sort of prize for awful passport photo, I think you've won it.

#700 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 06:23 PM:

So is there an analog to the Plumber's Friend for the InterTubes? My network just got verrrryyy sllllloooooooowwwwwwwww.....

#701 ::: Naomi Parkhurs t ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 06:31 PM:

Clifton Royston @694

Apparently, the background images were not only poorly conceived, but didn't work as planned. Oops.

#702 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 07:28 PM:

Dave 667: A tune formed in my head before I'd finished reading the first stanza. I'll sing it for you sometime! (It's kind of a "generic Pagan chant" tune, but that strikes me as appropriate.)

Andrew 668: My current ID photo was a) taken when I was in the best shape of my life, so my face isn't as fat as it is now, and b) looks like I'm just barely suppressing laughter. Best ID pic I've ever had. Unfortunately it expires this year, so my next one will look like, again, like a serving of mashed potatos that someone has tried and failed to form into a human face.

#703 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 11:54 PM:

Dave Luckett@661
Well done! Very clever.

#704 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 12:25 AM:

Kris Rusch has posted Janis Ian's song Welcome Home from the 2009 Nebulas; text at the link, and a link to Ian singing it there too. I'd recommend listening before reading the text.

#705 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 01:32 AM:

Great googly moogly, that was good. Thanks for the link.

#706 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 02:04 AM:

Ian's voice is as true as ever, and the lyrics fit wonderfully with that oh-so-well-remembered melody.

#707 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 09:57 AM:

In re Judy's Hymn of Macrame from Dave Luckett@661:

It also scans well to 'Donkey-riding' (Chorus: Hey, ho, away we go; donkey-riding, donkey-riding. Hey, ho, away we go; riding on a donkey).

#708 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 01:50 PM:

I just posted a note over on the Why we immunize" thread about the recent research published in Nature which appears to be starting to uncover the genetic basis of the autism spectrum. (Currently free of paywall at

It seemed to me like it most belonged over there where there's a chance the anti-vaxers may see it, but it may be of general interest to this audience.

#709 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 02:45 PM:


The Nature paper on autism is very nice. It's not so much a 'great leap forward', since there have been earlier reports of similar things (rare genetic deletions) for both autism and schizophrenia, but it is larger and more comprehensive than the earlier research.

This basic strategy of looking for lots of different rare variants is only recently feasible for copy-number data, and is just starting to be used for DNA sequence data (my first sequence data will be arriving in a few months). We may find that this pattern of multiple rare variants causing a spectrum of similar problems happens in a lot of diseases.

#710 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 03:52 PM:

AKICIML: Just caught part of a story on CNN, it seems there's talk of redirecting the Mississippi River into the marshes to help clean out the oil. (I swear I'm not making this up!)

While I know we can change the course of rivers, will this REALLY help? If so, how?

(I'm thinking of hitting the library to get a copy of McPhee's "Controlling Nature." I'm sure I remember reading about this...)

#711 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 04:37 PM:

Don't know for sure, but if the flow of water was more strongly into the gulf than pushing back and forth (with the tides), then oil would get flushed out of the marshes. And increasing flow through the marsh by redirecting the river might do that.

Might also wash a lot of nutrients and wildlife out. Rather like a purgative takes the good intestinal flora/fauna out with the bad.

#712 ::: sara_k ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 04:38 PM:

A great video on plagiarism.

My apologies if I missed a previous reference to this.

#713 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 04:58 PM:

In a nearby parallel universe, Abi sails solo in the Indian Ocean.

#714 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 05:00 PM:

It may help to flush the marshes, or keep the oil away from the coast, but the influx of fresh water will kill the oyster beds. Of course, if oil settles onto the oyster beds, that will kill them just as surely. An article on the effects of salinity changes on the oysters that I was reading earlier today. I don't know what the answer is. I have heard from someone organizing cleanup with the coast guard that he is being ordered to move boom from the marshes to protect the beaches of Florida even though beaches are far easier to clean up. That's a major concern down here, that we will get ignored once the ugly pictures start coming in of oil covering beautiful beaches.

#715 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 06:03 PM:

I posted this first on the Why We Immunize thread, and then realized that it really belongs over here.

Quite apart from my irritation over the non-availability of the shingles vaccine, I have to say that I was extremely amused by this [quotation from the NYT article linked by Thomas]:

Among the increasingly complex and convoluted suggestions for health care reform that were brewing at that moment, here was a powerful intervention that relied on only three things: a needle, a syringe and a patient-doctor relationship rooted in promoting wellness.


When the NYT adopts a particular expression, that's pretty solid evidence that it's entered the language. If dorky teen-buddy movies had no other value, at least they gave us this.

#716 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 06:36 PM:

I wonder if we'll get to the point where a horribly destructive hurricane turns out to be the best way to clean out the Gulf oil spill.

#717 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 06:38 PM:

Earl #713:

<makes warding motions>

#718 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 07:17 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 701:

Oh. Wow. Now that's what a poet is supposed to do: express what you would say if you only had the words and the wit to put them together. Ms. Ian, I wish I could have said that.

And Tom, thanks for the tip on listening first; very good advice.

#719 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 09:08 PM:

Earl @713
Obxkcd on that subject, sort of.

#720 ::: Haruka ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 11:34 PM:

albatross @631:

From K thru 5th grade, I went to 4 different elementary schools. The move mid-5th grade was particularly harsh, because I went from a teacher who was pretty laid back and good at coaxing me out of my shell, to a super-strict teacher with no time to waste making sure I was integrating into her classroom okay. I was utterly miserable for the 3 or so months I was in her classroom. Changing schools wasn't an option for me, but Mom wrote a letter to the principal at the end of the year, letting them know I needed a gentler touch to thrive. Fortunately, they apparently listened to her. My 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Banks, will always hold a special place in my heart.

I don't know if the smaller school would be better or worse at taking your son's personality/learning style into account when assigning teachers, but finding out would give you another point to consider.

#721 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 08:24 AM:

Cally @625: I think I meant Alt+r, which is more mnemonic than Ctrl+r. Glad you got it working.

Bruce @648: thanks, I’ll give it a try.

hedgehog @666 (absit omen): (waves back even more belatedly from Redland.)

Retirement and free wifi: they rock!

#722 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 12:31 PM:

It looks like I'll be giving my "Steampunk and Hollywood" talk to a local Bustlepunk group. I've been told that that, even tough it's a ladies-only affair, I won't have to remove that photo of naked Pat Boone with a sheep.

#723 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 01:42 PM:

A Flaming Hurricane is also a mixed drink (there are several variants, but the key element is a lump of sugar on top, drenched with Bacardi 151 or Everclear, then set on fire, making an orange flame).

#724 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 03:47 PM:

EClaire @ 711 being ordered to move boom from the marshes to protect the beaches of Florida even though beaches are far easier to clean up

I really hope that doesn't happen. ALL the publications on oil spill response emphasise that you keep the oil out of the marshes and mudflats as a priority. Oil is relatively easy to clean off rocks and sand beaches; you let it go there. Marshes and mudflats are not only very vulnerable to the oil, but will be seriously damaged by any oil-cleaning efforts. (I can provide cites if anyone wants them.)

#725 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 04:07 PM:

earl #720:

Someone should make a new XKCD-inspired version, with a burning crocodile on top.

#726 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 06:55 PM:

But miniature crocodiles are a nuisance to keep on your bar. They keep breaking out and hiding in the martini olives and biting your fingers.

They sometimes fight back when you try to ignite them, too.

#727 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 07:01 PM:

"Let's take a bike trip over the Cascades! Seattle to Spokane!"

"You want to bike up mountains?"

"You also get to go DOWN mountains, Jim."

. . .

"What about bears, Barb? Feral dogs? Weird rural people who think you're the Antichrist?"

"Oh, Jim, that's IDAHO!"

(One of those "Ketchup Advisory Board" sketches from PHC. Garrison Keillor is a shithead, but every once in a while I just have to listen to that program.)

#728 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 07:11 PM:

This thread prompted me to (finally) go find the first books in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. They are still in print, and in handy omnibus volumes. Handy because reading two books in 5 days seems much less greedy than reading 5 novels and one novella.

Thank you.

I will try to pace myself a bit better for the next 10 or so. I think I'll go outside now.

#729 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 07:45 PM:

Some good news/bad news.... bioremediation, with oil-eating bacteria. It may already be occurring, however, it removes dissolved oxygen from the water, and that kills other sea life (lack of oxygen) other than plants....

(I went googlin on "sea oil-eating bacteria" -- I already knew there were oil-eating bacteria, used on land for remediation of oil-contaminated sites. On land, when the bacteria have consumed all the oil, they die off, as opposed to thing like kudzu and purple loosestrife that colonize and keep spreading...)

#730 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 07:54 PM:

Re: the Particle on the Nike Soccer ad: here's a piece from Slate helpfully explaining much of what's going on for soccer-ignorant viewers such as myself. It has spoilers (spoilers for a commercial!) so watch the ad first; it's a lot of fun even if you can't tell the players without a scorecard.

#731 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 07:59 PM:

I forgot to mention: "Hocus Pocus" by Focus is part of the soundtrack, and I was so glad to have it brought back into memory that I bought it from iTunes. (I have a weakness for instrumentals - no lyrics to mishear!)

#732 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 08:09 PM:

We have it on vinyl; I doubt we've played it in twenty years. I confess, it didn't even occur to me that it might be on iTunes. Off to look...

#733 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 08:41 PM:

There's probably a starter population of oil-eating microbes already there (since there have been oil seeps since forever), and they're looking at a feast that resembles heaven on earth.

#734 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 10:29 PM:

@728, 729,

exactly my reaction to the nike ad--great to hear that again after, what, 35 or more years.

and yes, it's on youtube.

#735 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 11:47 PM:

I went to grad school for bioremediation. I don't know much about oil-eating microbes-- I did PCBs-- but I really, really hope that people are able to use them. It's not a complete miracle, but it's better than nothing, even with the hypoxia.

#736 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 12:42 AM:

I'm curious as to why the cementing Particle is a two-star Particle, when others are just a single star. Are you starting a rating system?

#737 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 01:53 AM:

Speaking of Particles, I started watching the Nike one, and, as a result, accidentally broke my vow to avoid watching damned futbol during the world-wide hooliganism festival. I understand that many people enjoy this sport, but I do not.

#738 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 03:26 AM:

Tom Whitmore @733:

There was a formatting error on the newest particle. Thanks for the heads-up; I've fixed it.

#739 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 03:47 AM:

Earl, #734: Well, you're in good company. Glenn Beck hates it too.

#740 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 04:54 AM:

Earl Cooley @ 734: Glad you despise football fans. It's mutual.

#741 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 05:46 AM:

#709: I'd be more impressed if the song they used wasn't almost note for note a take-off of "I'm Super, Thanks For Asking" from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. Which is very ironic for a video talking about the evils of plagiarism.

#742 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 06:16 AM:

janetl @725: I will try to pace myself a bit better for the next 10 or so. I think I'll go outside now.

Good luck with that. :)

#743 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 06:21 AM:

You can always take the books outside...

#744 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 06:23 AM:

Bad abi. BAD abi!*


*Do you work at being a Subversive Influence? Or does it just come naturally?

#745 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 07:49 AM:

Jacque... Say 'bad Abi' fast, 20 times in a row.

#746 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 08:19 AM:

There are those who say that "bad abi" is a redundant term. But it's only bad if you think that, given the choice between reading more Bujold and going outside, janetl was going to find it simple to choose the latter over the former.

All I'm doing is making it easier for her to do the right thing, and go outside. As Miles would say, lower the wall.

(Bad and raised by lawyers. Though that may be another redundant term.)

#747 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 09:33 AM:

Reading outside in a shady spot on a sunny day was one of my very favorite pastimes as a child.

It says something that (in sleep-deprived, relatively-OCDish moments) my brain is reacting to the prospect of us moving into a new house with a better school district where my daughter shall grow up (pant, pant, pant) by detailedly designing a climbing frame/outdoor play thing to be equipped with a shadecloth side. Suitable both for active outdoor climby play and for sitting in the shade enjoying the summer without being, y'know, hot or sunburnt.

I don't know if it'll ever get built, but my brain insists I design it. :->

#748 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 10:20 AM:

One thing I always did up at my parents' cabin was to read up in trees. My fourth or fifth reread of LOTR was in a tan oak near the cabin. I also have pretty vivid memories of reading the second series of Thomas Covenant books in a madrone right by where I pitched my tent*. I tended to add odd bits and loops of rope to my favorite reading trees, usually as somewhere to put a foot for balance and comfort.

I got in trouble in university for continuing that custom on campus. Which is a shame; Cal has some really good live oaks and bay laurels. No rope needed for a comfortable perch, even.

* As teenagers, we stopped sleeping in the cabin with my parents and my younger siblings. We each had our own tents in very different places. I still dream, sometimes, that I've woken up in my great-grandfather's WWI-surplus umbrella tent, just before dawn, with a whole day of swimming in rivers and reading in trees ahead of me.

#749 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 01:39 PM:

Sitting in or under a tree reading good SF sounds lovely right now. It would take my mind off worrying about the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act. When someone told me about it yesterday, I admit I first went to snopes because it just sounded so outrageous. Unfortunately, no. Does this have a serious chance of passing?

(I wasn't sure whether to post this in an open thread or in the Evidence & Exclusions thread. Hope this is OK.)

#750 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 02:03 PM:

Debbie @746, I dunno. That article you linked to was written by Declan McCullagh, who originated the "Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet" meme, so I don't trust him. He's one of those libertarians who freaks out at the thought of government and the Internet touching each other on his plate.

#751 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 02:06 PM:

Debbie #746.

The most sensible quote in the article comes from the Cato Institute*
"When something goes wrong, the government will attack our infrastructure and make society weaker."

* and that's not something I say a lot

#752 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 02:38 PM:


Good point. Fortunately, one doesn't need to rely on Declan McCullagh. The Bill and summaries are on the website of the Senate committee, The article oversells the problem a bit, but it's still worrying.

The good news is that the emergency powers specifically exclude surveillance, and that the 'critical infrastructure' is potentially broad but is defined in advance rather than at the whim of the administration.

Also, the government is required to say what the risk is, and companies can propose alternative ways to prevent this risk (though only if the government agrees they are adequate).

I still don't like it. On the other hand, even without this bill, I have no confidence that the internet companies would refuse government demands if the FBI and Homeland Security showed up in their offices.

#753 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 02:55 PM:

Debbie, 746, et al: I don't trust Lieberman as far as I can throw him. Whether his bill has a chance of passing, I don't know--but I'm sure the Republicans caucus will scream like babies if it doesn't.

#754 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 03:58 PM:

Lee #736: Earl, #734: Well, you're in good company. Glenn Beck hates it too.

Thankfully, there are still plenty of points of differentiation between me and Glenn Beck. heh.

In any case, I never said that my disdain for sports was rational; much of it is driven by envy.

#755 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 04:16 PM:

I can watch sports now, at least when it's my daughter's soccer game. I cheer. I compiled a tiny cheat sheet of the players' numbers so I can cheer them by name. I can also watch a minute or two of football on TV without squirming.

#756 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 04:33 PM:

Debbie @ 746, abi et al:
Yesterday afternoon, I read Cetaganda on the shady front porch, after mowing the lawn and weeding a bit. I am now out of Bujold until I hit the bookstore. Tragic, as I have only 86 books on the "To Read" bookshelf. Alas, cataloging your books on LibraryThing has the unfortunate side-effect that when you walk into a bookstore, you actually know how many books you've already got in the queue.

I'm eyeing Cherie Priest's Boneshaker, but must first eat some lunch, and then make some ganache. There shall be chocolate mini-Bundt cakes, smothered in ganache, for Monday night's SF book club. We will discuss some Ted Chiang short stories.

#757 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 04:44 PM:

Somehow, the stories had it right-- they told
us all along that dragons' blood would burn;
that clumsy thieves might find, instead of gold,
too-swift dark coils to crush them, rise, and turn
in wheeling eddies, spreading plumes of smoke.
How did we know this? All the dragons died
so long ago, killed in a single stroke:
bright metal with a rainbow's name, inside
a star that fell into the sea... not far
from where their ancient vengeance now boils out,
engulfing waves in iridescent tar
beyond all reach of warnings or of doubt.
Let sleeping dragons' bones lie in the mud--
their vengeful ghosts can drown us in their blood.

#758 ::: Rob Rusick comments on spots of spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 04:44 PM:

I feel like one in an army of anti-spambots.

#759 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 06:44 PM:

Re: the "cement" particle. This is exactly my problem with nuclear power, at least in the U.S. We know all the safety measures and standards needed to build a safe power plant. We also know, from experience, that any corporation building one is going to skimp on them. Even beyond corporate (ir)responsibility, organized crime's labor component has a long history of exactly the sort of shortchanging you really don't want to see in safety-critical systems.

#760 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 06:47 PM:

Julie L. @754:


You've been holding out on us...

#761 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 08:27 PM:

"No relation" particle:
Are you sure that isn't the Bizarro world Patrick? Which would make him a relation of sorts.

#762 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 08:34 PM:

I think Patrick's lost twin works at a grocery store I go into - either the manager or the assistant manager.

#763 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 08:36 PM:

Cute boy though. I wouldn't mind having relations with...I mean, being related to him.

#764 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 09:29 PM:

Holy shit, Julie, that's...whoa.

I needed a minute to unpack that. Brilliant stuff.

#765 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 09:34 PM:

New Orleans' musicians are not pleased.

#766 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 09:40 PM:

Julie L. #754: Way cool....

#767 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 10:22 PM:

Julie L, #754: Lovely Shakespearian sonnet. I wish I'd thought of that. Three different elements beautifully interwoven. Rereading is indicated, and very well worthwhile.

#768 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 10:31 PM:

jule at 754, that is WAY COOL.

Dave Harmon, regarding organized crime and building, out most corrupt politician in Kansas City, Mr Pendergast, was originally a cement contractor. Before he got

A lot of the stuff he had a hand in building is still really good construction, mostly because it's cement.

#769 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 10:31 PM:

jule at 754, that is WAY COOL.

Dave Harmon, regarding organized crime and building, out most corrupt politician in Kansas City, Mr Pendergast, was originally a cement contractor. Before he got

A lot of the stuff he had a hand in building is still really good construction, mostly because it's cement.

#770 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 10:34 PM:

that would be 'before he got busted for other crimes of venality which were kind of stupid because if he'd followed the law he'd probably done okay too.

#771 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 10:58 PM:

Wow. Julie, that's amazing. And stinging.

#772 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 11:15 PM:

is that a special case of the phenomenon that all people with matching beards sort of remind you of each other?

#773 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 11:31 PM:

I might have thought that, except it's more than just the beard.

#774 ::: gesso ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 11:39 PM:

For those who are interested, Cat Sparks is holding a raffle to help bring Peter Watts to this year's Worldcon. Full details here, but in a nutshell:

Thanks to that border-guard insanity, Peter Watts can no longer attend US conventions; however, this year's Worldcon is in Australia. Peter has a short story nominated for a Hugo award, and would be a valuable addition to panels etc.

The Aussiecon committee has donated his membership, and with Peter's permission Cat is conducting a raffle to raise money for airfare and accommodation. First prize is tuckerisation in his next novel, 'State of Grace'.

"To participate in the State of Grace tuckerisation raffle send AUS $10 via Paypal to
Email me privately if you’d prefer to buy a ticket via some other medium: cat at
If you’re not into tuckerisation but would like to sling a few bucks into the pot, that’s awesome too.
Any funds raised surplus to requirements will be donated to a reputable charity of Peter’s choice."

#775 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 12:23 AM:

gesso @ 774: thanks for the info!

#776 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 02:10 AM:

Open-thread query, AKICIML: My birth father recently attended the annual Mahlerfest in Colorado. While there, he heard of an SF novel or story in which a time traveler attempts to help Mahler complete his 10th Symphony. I don't know the title or author; does anyone here?

#777 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 08:17 AM:

David Goldfarb: I thought it was Schubert, but it might be Mahler -- Daniel da Cruz's _Mixed Doubles_. Can't find a summary online to disambiguate who the composer was. I really liked it in high school. On rereading it still holds up pretty well, but suffers from some overly-convenient plotting. The characters and time travel schtick are still neat, though.

#778 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 10:47 AM:

Hello, hello from Budapest!

Everything went off without a hitch - except for one thing. New York traffic. We missed our flight. One day and many hundreds of dollars later, though, we made it. Yesterday, we woke up in the Swiss Alps, took a long walk in Venice, and went to bed in Hungary. Today, we're in our apartment, the broadband works as advertised, and everything is pretty cool with the world.

Now I just have to work hard to make up for the difference in seat classes and an additional night in New York, but that was not too bad a setback.


#779 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 11:25 AM:

Love that particle on find-and-replace, not least because it has comments with links to other find-and-replace screwups, most notably the Homosexualization of Tyson Gay by the American Family Association, which comes equipped with classic corporate denial:

American Family Association spokeswoman Cindy Roberts in Tupelo, Miss., told us, "I think it was just a fluke."
It's a relief to know that there's no incompetent use of a text editor here, just a fluke.

#780 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 11:32 AM:

Re: the Search and Replace Particle and Dan Hoey @ 779:

See also "The Clbuttic Mistake".

#781 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 11:47 AM:

779,780: And for clbutticists, a 1990 example: Back in the African American.

#782 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 12:00 PM:

abi @748: Ah, rope. Of course. That answers my immediate objection to the idea of reading in trees: falling out when the book gets too interesting.

An obvious solution which simply didn't occur to me as my reading in trees period would have predated my subscription to the Montessori worldview.

#783 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 12:32 PM:

My absolute favorte auto-replace is this article about bees, wherein "the queen" is auto-replaced by "Queen Elizabeth". Wonder if any 6th grader's report on the British Royal Family was filled with facts about Her Majesty's drones?

#784 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 12:49 PM:

Dan Hoey at #781

Ah, but that was a deliberate practical joke.

(Unlike Consbreastution, parbreastion, Svaginahorpe and others...)

#785 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 12:58 PM:

And if you weren't depressed enough....

#786 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 01:07 PM:

Over on Compuserve when it first went to the Web, they installed net-nanny software of some sort or another. Among other auto-changes, "slut" was automatically turned into "very friendly person". So a common one-letter typo for "absolutely" turned into "abvery friendly personely"

#787 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 01:37 PM:

nerdycellist #783: That one was caused by a stylebook requirement that references to the Queen, in items for international distribution, indicate which queen was meant (in order not to confuse Danes, Dutchfolk and so on). I wonder if Her Maj was amused to learn about her egg-laying capacity. In her job she probably needs a laugh (preferably not one provided by the Jamaica Public Service Corporation).

#788 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 02:01 PM:

re 727: The Ketchup Board skits were always the best bits of PHC. My favorite (fortunately the car was not in motion when this one came on): the woman is pondering getting LASIK and Jim says, "Technology developed to repel alien invasions should never be put in your eyes."

#789 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 02:09 PM:

Open-thready mention of life and things going on with life...I've just given notice at work.

The last six months, since we merged with a team five times our size and nine time zones away, have been difficult and discouraging. So I brushed up my CV and started looking around the Amsterdam area for people with nice things that wanted breaking.

I've accepted a job at TomTom, the people who do the navigation thingies (and navigation apps for the iPhone). So I won't be in library search software any more, looking for help on sophisticated questions of language and usage.

I start in the beginning of August, after my vacation to California. It's a much more international business; the office language isn't even nominally Dutch. The commute is a little further, but includes a pleasant ferry ride.

I am, of course, terrified.

#790 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 02:22 PM:

abi (789): Good luck with your new job!

#791 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 02:35 PM:

abi: Good luck with your new job. I hope the abiveld extends to getting GPS devices to recognise my address!

#792 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 02:40 PM:

abi: A bike ride *and* a ferry ride! Truly, that is a good job.

#793 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Abi, thanks for linking to your sophisticated questions topic, not least because in it I found a link to Making Light's Tyson Homosexual topic from two years ago. How things do recur.

And Cadbury Moose@784—thanks for the clarification. I should have read the article I linked to, which presented evidence for the appearance being a prank.

#794 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 02:42 PM:

abi: A bike ride *and* a ferry ride! Truly, that is a good job.

#795 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 03:09 PM:

abi, best of luck! (I've been thinking along similar lines but am still quite undecided.)

In current news:

Keith and I were married at exactly 7:14 PM on May 30. Here is the LJ post with photographs, in case you are interested.

It was hot, but lovely. We got lots of interest in the fact that we had an excerpt from Goodridge v. Department of Public Health as our "definition of marriage" reading. There was also a lot of interest in our ring warming ceremony, in which we had all the guests pass the rings around with good thoughts/intentions/prayers (according to their preference) before exchanging them.

We then proceeded to the island of Hawai'i for a week's honeymoon, which was absolutely wonderful. I have some photos up. (I hope I've identified the Mauna Kea telescopes correctly -- if not, please let me know and I'll correct the tags.)

I dreadfully miss KHBC already. KHBC is difficult to describe. It plays a lot of Hawaiian music (old and new), but mixes in jazz, country, rock, pop, reggae, and interesting obscure covers of all of the above. Their apparent philosophy towards music is summarized in the Saturday morning DJ's promo for his Hawaiian music show: "And I mix in some country, because what the heck. We're country people too." "What the heck" seems to be pretty much the size of it. I love it.

On weekday mornings they have call-in classifieds, where the DJ (Mel Medeiros, the Mynah Bird) chats with callers, makes suggestions on their pricing, sympathizes with the loss of a cat, and so forth. In the evenings a different DJ reports on what he plans to make for dinner, with recipe. In between they play music and talk story.

It is the sort of radio station where someone called in the middle of the afternoon to report finding a pair of glasses on a chair, and left their phone number.

It breaks my heart that there's no online stream. I know I'm 4700 miles away from the local news being relevant, but I want to know if the lost cat was ever found. Furthermore I miss the music.

#796 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 03:25 PM:

Caroline @795 (and Keith):

Congratulations! It looks like you guys had a wonderful ceremony. I hope it's the start of a long and happy life together.

#797 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 03:47 PM:

Good luck with the new job, abi. Does this mean we can expect the effects of the abiveldt to start breaking geography? Sort of a metaphysical tectonic displacement? If so, could you move the US west coast and Japan a little closer together?

#798 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 03:50 PM:

Congrats to Caroline and Keith, and also to abi on the new job.

#799 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 04:25 PM:

abi @ 789:

Good luck on the new job.

Caroline @ 795 and Keith:


#800 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 04:36 PM:

Congratulations to abi, and Caroline and Keith!

Coincidentally, I also accepted a job offer today. After 16 years at Digidesign (now Avid Audio), I'm going to be moving to Dolby.

#801 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 04:39 PM:

Anent the discussion way above of good non-fiction: I'm about halfway through the first mammoth volume (of six) of Richard Taruskin's Oxford History of Western Music, and loving it. I highly recommend it to anyone with some knowledge of music theory (it's probably too technical for those without).

#802 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 04:44 PM:

Good luck on the job, Abi.

Congratulations, Caroline and Keith.

#803 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Congratulations all around!

If anyone in the ML crowd is an expert on Magic: The Gathering misprints and oddities, I have a very high level question to ask that Dave Howell didn't know the answer to. Contact me through my linked website, okay?

#804 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 05:07 PM:

Not to turn this into a mutual congratulation society, but congratulations, Tim Walters @800, on the new job! When do you start?

(And I am tempted to congratulate Tom Whitmore on finding a gaming question that Dave Howell didn't know the answer to.)

#805 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Caroline @795: It breaks my heart that there's no online stream.

So call in once a week during the morning classifieds and complain about a "lost radio station." If nothing else, it might be a fun running gag. And who knows? Maybe they'll set one up.

#806 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 05:17 PM:

Caroline & Keith @ 795:

Congratulations! I hope you can get back to Hawai'i for many of your anniversaries.

#807 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 05:21 PM:

Congratulations, Tim Walters. That sounds like a move up to me.

#808 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 06:28 PM:

Here's a really disturbing phenomenon. I'm catching up with xkcd. I read a comic, and start giggling helplessly before I get the joke....

#809 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 07:30 PM:

Jacque@808 -- that's because Randall Munroe tells them in a very funny tone of voice.

#810 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 07:40 PM:

And I am tempted to congratulate Tom Whitmore on finding a gaming question that Dave Howell didn't know the answer to.

Oh, no. This is not good news. The last time this happened he was grumpy (NOT a normal Dave state) for days until he could figure out the answer.

#811 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 07:41 PM:

Thank you, everyone.

And congratulations to Tim Walters!

Jacque @ 805, you know, I might... I did email the station to request it. I don't know what business or legal issues are involved in streaming, and they did just come under new management, so maybe it is coming.

#812 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 08:36 PM:

ObSF: "Her Majesty's drone will do a better job." (Approximate quote from, I think, Rogue Queen)

#813 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 08:48 PM:

re the "No Relation" particle: I have the same problem with a recently deceased illustrious pioneering smoke jumper and an also recently deceased lawyer for a criminal cult. I'm somewhere in the middle of that good to evil scale.

#814 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 08:49 PM:

abi, #789, sounds good! I hope you like it.

Caroline, #795, Congratulations, you and Keith! The pictures are great!

Tim Walters, #800, Good for you, too, Tim!

#815 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 08:56 PM:

Felicitations and congratulations to abi, Tim, and Caroline & Keith (pronounced as oneword from now on, I expect).

#816 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 09:17 PM:

Congratulations to all, and hopes for Great Things to come from all these good happenings.

(My good news: the computer that seemed to have a bad fan now has a new power supply, and the hard drive on the other was still under warranty - and maybe I can get the data back.)

#817 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 10:12 PM:

Abi -- Bon fortune with the new gig. It sounds as if you're going to enjoy it.

Newlweds! Congratulations! Long may you enjoy each other.

Love, C.

#818 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 11:15 PM:

Congratulations to the new-job people! May your new jobs be everything you hope for.

Congratulations and bright blessings, newly married! May your new bond bring joy everlasting.

#819 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 11:16 PM:

I'm not good at putting myself forward gracefully, but with time I may get to that point. In something less than a year I'll have a Professional Master's in Sustainable Energy Engineering (+/- correct use of the apostrophe- the web has broken me.) Anyone in the fluorosphere know anyone who might want to hire someone like that?

(If asked to improvise a sonnet on heat transfer in my job interview, I will FIND OUT who to blame.) .

#820 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 11:27 PM:

Linkmeister @815 said: Felicitations and congratulations to abi, Tim, and Caroline & Keith (pronounced as oneword from now on, I expect).

We have a married pair of friends, named Betsey and Jason, who are Bason&Jetsey to us (or, individually, to distinguish him from the far-too-many-other-Jasons in my friendgroup, as e.g. 'Bason'). Alas, this will not work noticeably with Caroline and Keith, at least if their names are pronounced as I think they are. :->

to abi I hear only good things about TomToms. Personally, I have a Garmin Nuvi, but that's because that was the one on sale whose menus made sense to me. I understand TomToms have all kinds of amusing voices (John Cleese, GLADoS, etc), and include easter eggs in the voices that are activated by making it recalculate too many times in a short period of time, or going 'far enough' off any road the map knows about -- do you know if these things I have heard are true?

I did have a little bit of a superpower moment recently, submitting a map-error fix to Google maps. We discovered (while visiting houses to buy) that all the extant online mapping systems thought two streets met at a navigable corner at the top of a certain block in Evanston, IL -- but they don't. In fact, they emphatically don't: the city dropped a park over the corner, with big heavy log fences terminating the street-segments and things like a hydrant and a big lamppost keeping you from driving across the sidewalks there to cut the corner. This blockage is visible on the satellite-photo versions, but the underlying maps were still coded as two connecting, navigable streets.

The error still shows, but at least I know I submitted a fix. :->

#821 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 11:28 PM:

P J Evans #816: the computer that seemed to have a bad fan now has a new power supply

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of a mighty new 1000W power supply; such is the extent of its awesomeness that I shall have to chant sonnets to it from time to time to keep it appeased (I'll not need to sacrifice chickens or goats or spotted bulls to it, as it has ascended beyond the need for such relatively paltry, Mundus-bound offerings). If I should ever manage to finance it, and gut my current PC to its Earth Bones, this new power supply will be the cornerstone of the new configuration.

#822 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 12:35 AM:

Julie L. @757 - Very nice job, that.

Fragano Ledgister @787 - The whole Queen/queen bee confusion is partly reflected in the hive-like headgear of the uniformed guards at the Tower. Despite their appearance, they are actually containers for Royal Jelly (and that's why they're called Beefeeders).

Elliott Mason @820 - I should have submitted a fix for the Google Map that showed a street on my block in West Springfield, MA, that hadn't been there for several years, but I just found it so cool to see the ghost of a no-longer-existing thoroughfare that it never occurred to me to make the map match up with reality.

#823 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 12:37 AM:

abi @ 804: July 12. My job at Digi ends June 30, and I'm going to my cousin's wedding in between.

Thanks to all for the good wishes!

#824 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 12:38 AM: internet, headed your way, just for "beefeeders."

Wow, I didn't know that Elizabeth was the eggmother of all the English! No wonder she looks so damned tired all the time.

#825 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 12:40 AM:

I was talking to Dad on the phone the other day and mentioned that I was playing some pages in The Book of a Thousand Songs, and he asked how far I'd gotten. I realized he thought I was starting from the beginning and corrected his impression. Then I decided I might as well go for it, so now I'm doing a handful of pages each day and am up to 38 or so. So as not to waste the experience on just myself, I'm blogging about it at my LJ and New Pals. To me, it's a fascinating book full of half-remembered tunes and snatches of lyric that we've heard before and didn't know where. I like to annotate my copy, writing in credits and cross references as I go along. So far I'm about a half dozen pages into the music (which starts on page 12, following an appropriately long table of contents).

#826 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 12:44 AM:

Xopher, thanks! I'll try not to scratch it.

Incidentally, there are two entries about the Thousand Songs project at New Pals (and LJ). The first is a general introduction, and the second is pages 12–18. The intro sets it up.

I wasn't intending to write about every song in the book. So far, I seem to have done just that, but maybe I'll pull back before it's too late.

#827 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 12:47 AM:

I got the USGS to correct their place database - there's a cemetery in Kansas that was coming up some miles east of its actual location in Google, and the error was in the database, not in Google. (I was able to tell them the location on the quad where it belongs, and the approximate coordinates, and they accepted it for revision.)

#828 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 03:38 AM:

As we were just discussing him, I'll note that Thomas Kinkade has been arrested for drunk driving.

#829 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 03:45 AM:

Clifton, I can't wait until he goes on trial. I'd suggest the headline "Schlock Jock in the Dock."

#830 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 05:17 AM:

787: interestingly, exactly the same thing happened when the Queen visited us. (Lost electricity andwater simultaneously. Never happened before or since.)
Maybe there's an elizaveld as well?
If this is a recognised problem, you'd think the Royal Household would have solved it, with a discreet Cartier pen torch or a Gentleman Equerry of the D-Cell MagLite.

Well done on the TomTom job, abi!

#831 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 06:19 AM:

Sandy B #819: It won't be me. I'd require a Chaucerian roundel.

#832 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 08:32 AM:

Congratulations to Caroline @ Keith. Good luck to Abi, and to Tim Walters.

Caroline, I loved your description of the radio station. Information about missing cats and mislaid glasses sounds much better than the drivel we're forced to listen to while waiting for the (frequently late) travel and weather information on our local station.

Michael Roberts @ 778: Sympathies on the New York traffic/missed flight. You're sounding a lot more phlegmatic than I was after the airline messed up my flights to and from Madrid (for a conference).

#833 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 10:47 AM:

Kip W #822: How do they get the royal jelly to Balmoral?

ajay #830: The Maglite Royal, hmm. Wouldn't have anything to do with this?

#834 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 11:02 AM:

Hwaet. Anybody using Ubuntu Lucid and getting apparently random grey-screen hangups? Or not getting them?

#835 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Caroline @811: I don't know what business or legal issues are involved in streaming

Not your problem. :) And from the sound of them, I'll bet they'd be tickled at the idea of somebody half a planet away phoning in classifieds.

And you know what they say: for every audience member that makes hirself known, there are 10,000 who don't. Or something.

#836 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 11:13 AM:

Sandy B. @819: Are you on LinkedIn? I've emailed you with linkage info. Meanwhile, google Liz Ryan; she's got a great take on job-hunting.

#837 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 11:57 AM:

Clifton Royston #828: As we were just discussing him, I'll note that Thomas Kinkade has been arrested for drunk driving.

Is this person someone I should know who he is, or devote the energy to find out who he is? If he's a well-regarded relative of someone here, then of course, my sympathies.

#838 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 12:23 PM:

From the Wilds of the Arid Zone's legislature, we have a proposed bill to deny citizenship to children born within the U.S. boundaries if the parents are Without Official Papers.

From the article:

"..John Kavanagh, a Republican state representative from Arizona who supports the proposed law aimed at so-called "anchor babies," said that the concept does not conflict with the U.S. Constitution.

"If you go back to the original intent of the drafters ... it was never intended to bestow citizenship upon (illegal) aliens," said Kavanagh, who also supported Senate Bill 1070 ...

Does this critter actually know how to *read?*

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

#839 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 12:28 PM:

While we are on the subject of "Original Intent" (tm), Wiley Miller, who draws the "Non Sequitur" comic strip, recently pondered the f/o/o/l/i/s/h/n/e/s/s/ thinking behind the drive to "get our *original* constitution back...

#840 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 12:55 PM:

Much appreciated, Jacque!

goes to research Chaucerian Roundels just in case

#841 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 01:36 PM:

Say, would the Anchor Baby Bill make it illegal in Arizona to vote for McCain for President? Sounds like lemonade to me. heh.

#842 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 02:20 PM:

abi @ 789... I am, of course, terrified

I have here a photo of Abi after she accepted her new job offer.

#843 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 02:21 PM:

re Abi's new job:

Tom-Tom Cat

#844 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 03:06 PM:

The rhetoric of the current crop of GOP upstart candidates fills me with dread.

If this country can't get anything done with a Congressional minority of relatively sane conservatives . . . sheesh. It will be nonstop investigations and hearings about death panels, anchor babies, and black radicals that Obama shook hands with twenty years ago.

It would be so easy to mock these loons. I will be deeply disappointed if this fall's Democratic campaign ads don't base their look and feel from The Daily Show.

#845 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 03:32 PM:

Earl, Kincade is a poorly-regarded kitsch painter.

#846 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 03:45 PM:

Earl -- (# 841)

From what little I can gather (and I can't find the actual text of the proposal, also being trumpeted by Arizona State Senator Russell Peirce, Grrr), I don't know if the bill would affect current citizens living abroad (unless they can also overturn the prohibition against ex post facto laws, in which case McCain is in deep kimchee).

However, Kavenagh has come out and said, in as many words, that the Arizona law that has already passed (SB1070) is intended more to frighten people away from Arizona rather than just arrest them.

Kavenagh should really know the preemption clause a little better -- before he and his family moved to the Arid Zone, he spent 20 years as a detective for the New York Port Authority and the New Jersey police departmet.

It's even more astounding that he doesn't realize the preemption clause is a trump card for the Feds becuase, according to his website for the AZ ledgislature, he has a Masters' degree in government and a PHD in criminal justice, and is professor of criminal justice at Scottsdale Community College and director of the college’s Administration of Justice Studies and Forensic Science Program.

But then, it's already been proved that he may have shakey chops as a constitutionalist, because he is one the co-sponsors to an AZ bill that "specifies that the State of Arizona is expressing the intent to claim sovereignty under the 10th amendment to the United States" (HRC2001 - Jan, 2010) and that the bill that would have the State of Arizona refuse to place the name of a presidential condidate in the ballot unless the national political party proves to the state's satisfaction the eligibility of the candidate. (HB2441 - Jan 2010)

On the other hoof, 92 members of the U.S> house of representatives were sponsering a bill (HR190 - still in committee) that would restrict birthright citizenship to only those children with at least one parent being a US citizen, a lawful permananent resident or an active duty member of the armed forces. (one wonders, would that collary of that be that all those soldier's byblows in the far-flung duty postings would be automatically citizens?)

#847 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 03:53 PM:

Earl, #837: Here's the particle to which Clifton was referring. The discussion thereof took place, I believe, in the previous Open Thread -- perhaps at a time when you were offline or otherwise not paying attention.

#848 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 04:34 PM:

I just installed Ubuntu on a dual boot on my ThinkPad. The only hangup I've seen so far is that sometimes you go into a state where keyboard strokes and mouse clicks don't do anything, (yet you can move the mouse pointer) and a reboot is necessary. Since the power button seems to be disabled too, this can only be done by both pulling the plug and removing the battery, and then turning it on again. This has only happened to me while I was using Firefox, and only twice, with no clue as to why.

#849 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 05:16 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @833 - How do they get the royal jelly to Balmoral?
Through a honeycomb of tunnels.

#850 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 05:21 PM:

Erik #848: ISTR seeing something about that in the Ubuntu knowledge base, I think the answer was to fix certain Windows power-management settings.

Upgrading to Lucid has fixed several nagging problems I was having with sound and occasionally video on my Alienware box.

#851 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 06:10 PM:

Craig R at 846, my understanding is that if one parent is an American citizen, the kid is too, so the far-flung soldiers' by-blows already are, and natural-born too.

#852 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 06:14 PM:

wrt 757: (nervous meep at being praised) if I'd been really clever, I'd've figured out how to acknowledge the current lack of technological alternatives until better energy alternatives are developed. And work in a rhyme for "Chicxulub".

Meanwhile, wishing good job juju upon those who need it.

#853 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 06:49 PM:

My Google-fu has failed.

After reading the "More Regency romances like this" Particle, I tried to find a painting or photo of Barbara Hastings. No results (except for images of other Barbara Hastings at other times and other places).

Upper-class. Well-to-do. Reportedly beautiful. Surely at some point she must have posed for a portrait, fossil crocodile skull and tortoise carapace at her side?

(Perhaps her portrait exists, but only in one of those... oh, what did they call them?... books!)

#854 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 07:37 PM:

Re Ubuntu (834 and 848) - thank goodness it's not just me and my aging laptop...

Mine's Kubuntu, and after the Lucid upgrade I get
1) Wifi drops under load unless I boot with the previous kernel.

2) KDE hangs. It looks right, but the keyboard is dead and the mouse pointer moves in a jittery fashion and doesn't actually do anything. I then have to power off (though a small mercy is that the power button still works). I think it's graphics-related.

I also get 'tapping' on the touchpad enabled on every startup and have to use gsynaptics to turn it off.

"It's not an improvement, it's an upgrade." How do I downgrade to 9.10 again?

#855 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 07:47 PM:

Bruce @853: I think there's a portrait of the correct Barbara Hastings one page up from here?

#856 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 07:50 PM:

...confirmed here, though not a particularly better image.

#857 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 08:35 PM:


Annie Warbucks

"Daddy" made me feel loved and welcome.
He even got rid of that wife of his
Who acted like I was some sort of trophy;
A proof of her virtue. She was soon gone.
In her place, the lethal Asp and towering Punjab,
And Sandy. Always loyal, wonderful Sandy.
I would see "Daddy" mostly when he came in,
Guns blazing, fists flying, to save me
From the enemies of our country,
As well as from callous orphanages and cruel caretakers,
Just in time to sever them from success
And to protect this nation, and me, and Sandy,
And his own financial interests as well.
As days accreted into years, I wondered
Why my loving "Daddy" always ended up placing me
Back into those dark places where I had no protector
Save the good-hearted weak ones who folded like leaves
And sometimes a sympathetic gangster or mystic,
And I began to notice how my salvation and their demise
Solved at once some pressing business problem of "Daddy"'s
Until, at last, I resolved to contrive a test for him;
A setting of peril for me without any hope of profit for him.
And lo! here I am, beneath this stone forever
As Sandy, faithful Sandy, watches over me
Crying helplessly at the cold white eye of the moon.

reprinted from Toon River Anthology (part 3), October 2008

#858 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 09:14 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo #854: "It's not an improvement, it's an upgrade." How do I downgrade to 9.10 again?

Ouch, I was there a couple of versions ago. The only safe way to downgrade is to back up your home directory (and other data directories) (including the dotfiles) and important settings, then wipe the disk and reinstall your version of choice. You may also want to make a list of your installed packages, see "man dpkg" for how to get that. After you reinstall, replace the fresh new home directory with your backup copy, then update your packages with Synaptic and reinstall any programs you added and want back.

The tricky part here is system settings -- your home directory will include your per-user settings (and browser add-ons), but not system settings like your LAN setup or DNS servers. Copying the /etc tree will capture pretty much all the settings, but you don't want to recopy /etc/ as a whole over the "new" /etc, you'll want to pick and choose! If you didn't know much about UNIX guts, this is going to be a learning experience.... Fortunately, most system programs do self-configure pretty well.

#859 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 09:48 PM:

Any WikiWord experts here? I'm trying to figure out how to format "Lois McMaster Bujold" on her TvTropes page so the name doesn't show up in that page's header and in cross-references as "Lois Mc Master Bujold". (No, I'm not intending to be evil in linking to these...)

#860 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 10:01 PM:

Elliott Mason @820: [..] submitting a map-error fix to Google maps [..] The error still shows, but at least I know I submitted a fix.

I've spotted an error on their display for a friend's comic book shop. The map gives the correct location, but the picture in the 'balloon' and the link to Street View shows the store's old location. I've reported it more than once, the first time a few months ago, but it has still not been corrected.

#861 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 10:18 PM:


Acccording to the INS website those far-flung by-blows are not automatically a citizen, they would have to be naturalized. The child would have to be "legitimized" and have a naturalization petition filed on their behalf, and approved, before their 18th birthday. (and if the U.S. citizen parent dies before the process, the child's U.S. citizen guardian or U.S. citizen grandparent must apply on behalf of the child within 5 years of that parent's death. The more I see the obstacles placed in their path, the more I like the prospect of "one parent being a citizen = child is a citizen")

#862 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 10:44 PM:

Kip W, 857:
I always thought there might be an artist named Andy Warbucks, who takes big corporate foundation grants to do weird conceptual art with multiple stencil paintings of munitions and the like.

#863 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 11:01 PM:

David Harmon 850: what's the location of that knowledge base?

#864 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 11:12 PM:

Feeling a bit sad tonight. Fletcher and Ellie (Surfer Dood and Hippie Chick) are moving to the beach tomorrow. Bella and I will miss them. Anne is moving overseas and will not be able to take them, but she's found good homes with two families on St Simons Island, and the families know each other. Fletcher is the 90 lb white labradoodle, and Ellie is the apricot goldendoodle (only 65 lb). They love the beach.

#865 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 11:22 PM:

Tracie, they all look like great dogs! I hope you can visit Fletcher and Ellie sometimes.

#866 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 11:24 PM:

so this, if passed, would mean that different states have different standards of what citizenship is?

that could be an interjurisdictional mess.

#867 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 11:52 PM:

Craig R: Really? Drat. Here I thought I had the natural-born thing down. It used to come up with some regularity. Paperwork, sigh.

#868 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 11:54 PM:

Earl@841, no, for a couple of reasons - one is that McCain's already born, but more to the point, he wasn't born in the country of Panama, he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, which was some flavor of American colony at the time - rather like Barry Goldwater, who was born in the Arizona Territory before it became a state (as opposed to Obama, who was born in Hawaii a couple of years after statehood.)

AZ State Senator "what part of blatantly unconstitutional don't I understand this time?" Pierce's bill can't treat American-born children as non-citizens; the most they could get away with would be refusing to issue state birth certificates, so the kids would have to fall back on traditional record-keeping formats, like hospital-issued records and Catholic baptismal certificates, and it's unlikely that even that would survive more than one tier of Federal court challenge.

Meanwhile, Florida's requiring that Florida residents who were born in Puerto Rico more than a couple of years ago get new birth certificates issued by PR, because the older ones don't have sufficient anti-forgery protection. (My brother got hit with a Patriot Act Catch-22 along those lines after his wallet got stolen - the state he was living in wouldn't give him a replacement driver's license without an official stamped birth certificate, and the county he was born in wouldn't issue him an official copy of the birth certificate without him showing them a driver's license, and oh by the way, he didn't have papers to get on airplanes to travel there, and would have to not get stopped by police if he drove. Eventually he got home, and brought Mom in with her passport (which shows she's an American citizen born in France...)) I really miss civilization.

#869 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 12:37 AM:

I really need to find my birth certificate. It is my favorite birth certificate ever. I am told that, to get a birth certificate, the father leaves the hospital, goes to the barber shop to buy legal paper, brings said paper back to the hospital, and then has someone type it up. With no organizational line breaks and my mother's maiden name misspelled. In Spanish.

The only way it could be better would be if they had actually had to lie on the paperwork to take me out of Honduras the first time. I have sufficient distance and faith in my blonde whiteness that stories like this are hilarious rather than harrowing.

#870 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 02:59 AM:

Bill Stewart: It happens that McCain's citizenship isn't quite so cut and dried. Yes, he is a citizen, of that there is no question. He is eligible to be senator.

As to his being eligible to be president, however, the law making those born in the Canal Zone "Natural Born Citizens" as oppose to naturalised, seems to exclude him.

How that would play out in the Ariz. law is an interesting question.

#872 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 03:19 AM:

Open threadiness: should you have occasion to send a photo off to be inserted into an album for all (or all of a particular group, in this case a high school graduating class from 1968) to see, make it easy on the person to whom you send it by putting it in .jpg format, not freakin' .png.

Your addressee may go mad trying to get the photo to appear in Picasa, mostly because he doesn't know that among the "show file type" options in Picasa, .png is not necessarily checked at configuration.

Fortunately, once found, a quick run through this just-discovered nifty Online Image Converter turns it into a .jpg file, which makes life and art simpler.

#873 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 05:38 AM:

Did anyone else read about the Elizaveld at 830 and fleetingly hope for Baroque Cycle fanfic?

#874 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 05:52 AM:

834, 848, 854, 858. I mentioned it because I and a lot of other people are getting quite worried>annoyed>thoroughly pissed off about it. The Ubuntu issue I mean.
I’m Bristol_Green.

#875 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 05:56 AM:

#874 cont: And because AKICIML, of course.

#876 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 06:08 AM:

Kip W #849:: That makes sense. Your explanation for how it gets to Sandringham is eagerly awaited.

#877 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 06:22 AM:

It takes a circuitous route along several minor roads, which for this reason are known in the UK as "bee roads".

#878 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 07:22 AM:

Erik #863: I generally start from, which leads to several other areas: -- HOWTOs for common tasks and issues. -- already linked by tykewriter -- good for finding out if it's a common issue, or if there's a quick fix. -- Launchpad is the "front line" for bug resolution.

Erik, Tykewriter: If this hasn't already gone to Launchpad (and it probably has), you should certainly submit it there. Make sure your forum crowd have submitted their various reports (including me-too's) to the thread there, and subscribe to that thread for ongoing status reports.

#879 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 07:39 AM:

Addendum: Glancing through the thread tykewriter linked, I suspect there may be multiple bugs combined in that thread. However, I see there are already some hardcore types in there, trying to extract common factors for analysis. Probably they're trying to work up optimal info for Launchpad.

#880 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 09:27 AM:

Open threadiness...

Is it appropriate use of an open thread just to drive by and drop a link I think you guys will appreciate*?

Oh well; if not I'm sure someone will tell me!

*the intersection of security and poetry made me think of y'all

#881 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 10:26 AM:

Russ @880

Did you give us the right link? It's a list of Titian's artwork, not anything having to do with poetry or security.

#882 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 10:51 AM:

Rob Rusick #860:

There may be some sort of threshold involving "how many people" rather than just "how many complaints". When an update to Google Maps mislabeled roughly ten roads in the square mile around my house, numerous people complained. It got fixed right smartly--like in about three weeks, maybe less

#883 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 10:53 AM:

Fragano, they take it via the Underground. You've heard the expression "Tube below honey"?

#884 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 11:00 AM:

Say, this would be a good place to ask. Five years ago, I somehow obtained a little html page that carried an image from a cam, only without all the other stuff that was on the page with it. It was short, and light, and I could mess with it. When I had a cam I wanted to view without the constraints of the host page, I'd view its source and find the src line and transplant it into my little html page, and I could change the refresh interval until I found one that was reasonably frequent.

I tried using it the other day, and somehow it's become obsolete, returning no image. Can somebody point me to something similar for those occasions when I want to have a self-refreshing view of some cam without refreshing the whole page every time and all that? (I can still edit html with SeaMonkey's composer.)

#885 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 11:21 AM:

Kip W #883: Norfolking way!

#886 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 01:05 PM:

Fragano -- you make me think of the Kipper Family, and their song Norfolk and Good.

#887 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 02:28 PM:

Fragano @ 885: I say, Aldgate East!

We are playing Mornington Crescent, aren't we?

#888 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 02:34 PM:

Open Thread coolness: Downtown Chicago in Etch-a-Sketch!

#889 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 03:16 PM:

AKICML question: My friend Karen is looking for recent (last 3 years), excellent, mystery (in the broad sense) novels that feature gardening or plant cultivation. It can be the detective doing it (as in Nero Wolfe) or it could be the criminal (as in someone using their garden for a grave and being picky about the plants). Cozy is okay, so is noir. A few of the best would be a useful thing. Thanks in advance!

#890 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 03:21 PM:

Tom @889:

Were it not for the requirement that it be recent, I'd recommend the Cadfael books...

#891 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 03:26 PM:

Good start, though, abi! Background books like that will help her feel more solid in the discussion.

#892 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 03:41 PM:

Tom @889 -- I enjoyed Val McDermid's "Beneath the Bleeding" very much. Gardening is a central part of the plot, and the book was published in 2007.

#893 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 889:

There's always Poirot and his marrows, but it's more of an occasional, off-handed reference than a feature.

#894 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 03:50 PM:

Gardening features prominently in the China Bayles mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert.

#895 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 03:55 PM:

Tom Whitmore (889): I can't speak for the quality, because I haven't read any of these, but Anthony Eglin, Ann Ripley, Janis Harrison, and Rosemary Harris all have "gardening mystery" series ongoing.

#896 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 04:05 PM:

Rosemary & Thyme?

#897 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 04:23 PM:

Serge -- sage observation!

#898 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 04:26 PM:

Tom, #889: The Three Dirty Women mysteries are fairly recent, and might be what your friend is looking for. I've only read one, but I thought it was pretty good (and need to pick up the others).

Also, Susan Wittig Albert has a mystery series featuring a detective who's an herbalist by formal profession; I found them excellent until the author did something with one of the characters that I found sufficiently out of character to be off-putting, but that doesn't happen until about 10 books in.

#899 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 05:49 PM:

Giant-cucumber growers figure in the plot of The Fourth Bear, by Jasper Fforde, though I suspect it's not quite a "real" mystery story.

#900 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 06:02 PM:

David Harmon @ #858: The only safe way to downgrade is to [...] wipe the disk and reinstall your version of choice.

Yeah, thought it would be. I guess I'll just be waiting till they come up with a fix.

#901 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 07:14 PM:

KeithS@893, Tom@889 - Aside from Poirot's marrow obsession, a reasonably high fraction of Christie's books involved somebody obtaining something poisonous from the garden shed. And there's some classic detective story where the malefactor is always mowing the lawn because the grass is much greener where the dead body is buried.

I haven't read detective stories in a while, but I assume there would be some set in Northern California involving growing cannabis, or possibly other scenarios involving it or coca or poppies where the farmer is at least a peripheral character.

#902 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo #900: Which they likely will, as I've seen lots of change messages indicating that the Ubuntu structure/community (what was Vonnegut's word?) takes such things seriously. In my case I had various graphics and sound problems from 8.10 to 9.10, though the specifics changed somewhat between those. But some of those, or at least their persistence, may be due to using Synaptic to upgrade to new versions, which seems to be problematic. For 10.04, I did a wipe-and-install, and everything works right.

#903 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 07:45 PM:

David Harmon @ 902: Granfalloon?

#904 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 08:43 PM:

Checking the definition with Urban Dictionary, that's not what I wanted to imply -- I want to say something closer to the definition of a karass, but without the "mystical" part. The Ubuntu development/fixer community is somewhat amorphous and ill-defined, especially where it extends out into the user base, but it somehow seems to work pretty well.

#905 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 08:47 PM:

Here be dragons and other niftiness.

#906 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 09:06 PM:

Well, there are no dragons here, but I feel like I have been corralling them lately. I quite dislike moving, and will be doing so in a couple of months - so, I sent a check to my new landlord for the deposit and first month's rent on a place, and had issues getting it to them. Dealing with USPS over the phone - notably, the automated phone system - compares favorably with wrangling dragons. It all ends well - they got the check this morning, and I had a very apologetic owner on the phone, so I spent the afternoon making concrete plans for moving across the country in less than two months.

I am beat.

#907 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 10:36 PM:

Belated congratulations to abi, Caroline and Keith, Tim Walters and whoever else I'm forgetting.

To new beginnings!

#908 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 01:09 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe: Has anyone recommended Café Tibet to you yet? It's on University Avenue a few blocks west of the UC campus. We had a Making Light dinner there once. Be sure to have dessert.

#909 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 01:26 AM:

Not until you did. I just pulled up the custom google map I have been putting together and added it - it is all of half a mile from the apartment I found, so I will certainly check it out. Thanks!

#910 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 01:33 AM:

Bruce @853 [again wrt Barbara Hastings, nee Yelverton]: The very young Barbara Yelverton in the Gainsborough painting here became the paternal grandmother of the Particled lady, if that helps lend some color to the bare lithograph.

#911 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 01:34 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 908... I remember that one, from Easter 2007. It's where we all went after Abi spent at least one hour examining the bindings of books at the Other Change of Hobbit.

#912 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 01:42 AM:

Some more gardening mysteries: Look for "Mary Freeman", and her gardening mysteries set in Oregon. Rachel O'Conner runs a landscaping business, but keeps having to investigate crimes, much to her annoyance. Titles include: Bleeding Heart, Deadly Nightshade, Devil's Trumpet, Garden View.

#913 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 01:59 AM:

Crud, I forgot to mention it here.

We (my housemate and I) are having a party, in East Palo Alto, this Sunday.

Any of you are welcome to attend, 2 until whenever, Grill available, some munchies and drinks, but not a serious spread. A whisky tasting is being planned (Islays), hot tub (suits optional) is available from 7 p.m.

Contact me for directions.

#914 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 03:56 AM:

Cally Soukup@881

Ha! Oops. My bad - danged copy buffer seems to have been surfing on its own. I meant to link to Bruce Schneier's Fifth Annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest Winner.

Perhaps neither poetry nor security as such, but close enough on both counts that I thought of Making Light.

#915 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 04:07 AM:

Serge @911:

Only because Tom Whitmore kept showing me such neat stuff.

#916 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 06:20 AM:

David Harmon: I've just (i.e round about midnight!) done a clean re-install. I've lost all my Firefox speeddial settings, but have had no freeze-ups so far.

Extreme cat-vacuuming!

#917 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 08:27 AM:

Late open-thready request for assistance, from a UK resident.

Are there Fluorospherians in the close vicinity of Springfield, Missouri, or who know people who are? We're trying to organise my 23-year-old son's return home to the UK from a failed marriage and he may lose net access, ie our sole reliable communications, and semi-unreliable financial, link. (The return presents its own complications, involving visits to the British Consulate in Chicago ... any advice/information about transport in Chicago esp to O'Hare + info about likely checkin delays and competence of checkin staff gratefully received.)

I know this must sound like the boot-up of an outrageous scam. I do have a (small) posting history here & have face-to-face met a couple of other posters, and it seems I am within striking distance of tykewriter so I could make myself known to them if that would help.

I hope I'm not abusing ML. I'm feeling singularly useless about this.

#918 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 08:45 AM:

Tom Whitmore:John Sherwood's series detective is a woman trained as a botanist who runs a plant nursery. Hm, I may need to run to BookMooch and fill in the holes so I can read them again -- they're pretty good. I'm not sure if he's still writing them or not.

#919 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 09:17 AM:

hedgehog @917: Sympathies. My experiences at O'Hare have been fine, but (in my adult life) I've always been getting to O'Hare via the Van Gelder bus from Madison, so I can't say anything about more local transport. Remember O'Hare is a big airport and he must be sure to be in the correct terminal (I once nearly missed a flight from another airport by being unaware that I was in the wrong terminal, so my flight wasn't being called...) Getting through security can take some time - other people may be able to indicate how long better than I can.

If flights mess up, always ask if there are standby seats available for any other flights: "helpdesk" staff generally won't offer this as a suggestion, but check-in staff might, particularly if you're looking desperate.

Regarding communications, before he loses the internet access he should get one of the net-bought international calling cards - my aunt uses one for telephoning back to the UK/long-distance within the USA all the time, very cheaply (few cents per minute) Okay, so he needs use of a physical 'phone to make use of it.

Sorry, don't know anyone in Missouri.

#920 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 09:31 AM:

I only had one bad experience at O'Hare, where we had a TAS guy who thought he was a small-town sheriff and we were snotty hippies and our flight was eight hours late in leaving only they just kept saying it wasn't leaving yet so we didn't dare leave the gate for food and we thought we'd be able to feed our infant daughter on the plane and they didn't even have hot water and we all ended up crying. Other than that, it's mostly okay.

#921 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 10:22 AM:

hedgehog: Check your email.

#922 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 10:27 AM:

hedgehog @ 917: I wish I could help -- I have only a single trip through O'Hare and am not geographically close enough to Springfield. If he should end up in the Washington DC area, I'd be more than willing to help out there.

#923 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 10:35 AM:

Serge #911:

The Other Change of Hobbit, however, is no longer there. I tried to go there last week. It seems it has moved to Ashby.

My luck with Bay Area bookstores is improving, though. There was a period when I made three visits to the Bay Area, each one including a pilgrimage to Cody's and finding that the branch in question had closed within the previous few weeks.

#924 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 10:45 AM:

re: #921 ::: TexAnne

hedgehog: Check your email.

I will when I get home (can't access it from work), thanks. (I remember you offered to help last year when this started up -- thanks again for that.)

#925 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 10:59 AM:

hedgehog: In that case, here's the Springfield airport website:

Also Fayetteville:

And Tulsa: ...farther away, but bigger, with better fares.

#926 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 11:33 AM:

Tom @889: Not quite as recent, and TV not lit'rary, but Rosemary & Thyme is fun.

#927 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 12:14 PM:

I think this has gone around before, but who can resist baby meese? (Such unlikely looking beasties.)

#928 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 12:24 PM:

hedgehog, try AskMetafilter ( - there are some seriously helpful people there on any topic you can name. They won't mind the fact you don't have history. Although to post, you'll need to register ($5 one-time charge, cuts down on spam and sock puppetry). And there are more people there than here, so your odds of finding somebody helpful in Springfield are higher.

I've always driven to O'Hare (I have cousins in Indiana Chicagoland), so I don't know much about transit options, except that there are many motels in and around the airport and a taxi to the terminal probably wouldn't cost a lot. Check Travelocity for hotels.

Or, if he's staying in the Loop, the L (local light rail) does go to the airport; I've driven along the line often enough, plus there's a map at the CTA - the rest of that site will give you everything else you need in terms of getting around Chicago on the cheap.

On checkin quality and staff - obviously, it depends on the airline, but I have never had anything but good experiences in Chicago, even that time my wife's passport had expired and in the end everybody decided that since she was going to her own country and could renew it there, obviously this wasn't going to be a problem. The only non-good experience we had was the time something had broken on the plane and we had many successive delays (and finally they put us all up at a hotel) - but even there, we were fed and mostly kept sort of comfortable. I mean, it's an airport, it's never really going to be comfortable, but ... you know what I mean.

I have no information to give you about Missouri. It's off my personal map. I wouldn't worry about things once he's in Chi-town, though.

#929 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 12:30 PM:

To be honest, on a trip that short and assuming he has a driver's license, I'd just rent a car (ahem, hire one, that is) one-way to O'Hare. Budget ( usually has no drop fees for one-way, and he'd be able to get around town relatively effortlessly. Modulo Chicago traffic, of course.

#930 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 01:20 PM:

#905: If 5 Beeker Street had an access tunnel to the abandoned City Hall Subway Station the sheer synergy of retro coolness would likely open up some kind of dimensional rift.

Consider that the locations may have been closed to prevent this very thing from happening.

#931 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 01:28 PM:

Michael Roberts: Budget must be different where you are. Here the fee was high, and the availability limited. Even if we'd been willing to pay the freight, we needed to have a place which had empty space to accept the vehicle.

#932 ::: kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 02:07 PM:

I recommend the discussion forums on Flyertalk: I believe they have forums devoted to specific regions and airports, and they're the best place for asking flying-travel related questions I've seen.

#933 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 02:41 PM:

Thanks for all the suggestions (and especially thanks to TexAnne). Michael Roberts, my son doesn't drive. At all. It's busses and similar all the way, I'm afraid. And on a limited budget.

#934 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 03:48 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 929... When I heard of Budget, it brings back fond memories of the car my then-not-wife and I had rented to drive from the Bay Area to 1984's worldcon. By the time we got to LA, the vehicle started developing problems, which forced me to spend time away from the con as I took it in to be fixed. During my b-day party at the end of the con, Don Wollheim exclaimed that the company is thus called because you can't budge it.

#935 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2010, 05:04 PM:

(breadcrumb trail to Open thread 142)

#937 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2010, 01:51 PM:

If you feel so inclined, please observe a moment of silence for José Saramago, who died peacefully at home this morning after a long and fruitful (and noisy, and restless) life.

#938 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Oops, sorry -- I meant to put that comment on the current open thread...

#939 ::: Lee sees much-repeated spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 08:13 PM:

@ 939

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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