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July 8, 2010

Open thread 143
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:51 PM *

  • Red roses
  • Matching tattoos
  • A postage stamp upside down on the envelope
  • Meg’s stolen glove
  • Welsh spoons
  • A curl of Marianne’s hair
  • A puukko in her sheath
  • The quarterback’s letterman’s jacket
  • Cupped coins and worn ones
  • A knitting sheath
  • Claire Standish’s earring

(breadcrumb trail back to Open thread 142)

Comments on Open thread 143:
#1 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 04:04 PM:


#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 04:13 PM:

And a partridge in a perdrix.

#3 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 04:23 PM:

motifs and mcguffins for an urban mystery series.

#4 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 04:24 PM:

From Wikipedia via Google define:

A puukko (Finnish) is a traditional Finnish or Scandinavian style woodcraft belt-knife that is a tool rather than a weapon. It is a type of hunting knife. The word is in the process of assimilation into English. (My italics)

"My application form is in, sir, and my entry fee into the language has been paid! I used dollars just as I was told!"

#5 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 04:26 PM:

All love-tokens of one sort or another, in one time or place or another.

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 04:27 PM:

Donuts and a whodunit...

#7 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 04:34 PM:

Googling "cupped coins" in bewilderment took me to a page full of pictures of interestingly mis-cast coins. I never knew there were so many ways for coinage to be produced incorrectly; the mule was especially odd. It's almost enough to make me want to get into coin-collecting myself.

#8 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 04:38 PM:

If one has the 411 on "143", the meaning is clear. :-)

#9 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 04:50 PM:

Debra@5 "A Girl Needs A Knife"?

#10 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 05:14 PM:

Bruce at #820 on the previous Open Thread:

We must be on the same wavelength -- I just finished Zelazny's This Immortal.

It's still entertaining.

#11 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 05:16 PM:

Linkmeister @ #4 quotes Wikipedia: "A puukko (Finnish) is a traditional Finnish or Scandinavian style woodcraft belt-knife that is a tool rather than a weapon."

And on the same page:

"Puukkos proved to be good close combat weapons in the Winter war and Continuation war."

Yeah. Similar (if not identical) to the Norwegian bunad knife, used with the traditional wear. Used for anything - woodwork, butchering animals, gutting fish or (stereotypically) wedding guests.

#12 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 05:17 PM:

Also, this seems to me to be Big News.

Am I wrong?

#13 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 05:31 PM:

Doggone it, Lizzy, you beat me to it. I came rushing over here to post the news.

I'm really glad to see OPM and HHS lose this one!

#14 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 06:03 PM:

A US District Court in Boston has just ruled that part of DOMA is unconstitutional. The part in question is the part which defines marriage for federal purposes and excludes gay couples. The argument is that by changing to this system instead of the previous system (of just recognizing whatever the local state recognized), Congress had intentionally excluded gay people ... without that exclusion having any rational relation to a legitimate state objective.

In the wake of DOMA, it is only sexual orientation that differentiates a married couple entitled to federal marriage-based benefits from one not so entitled. And this court can conceive of no way in which such a difference might be relevant to the provision of the benefits at issue.

By premising eligibility for these benefits on marital status in the first instance, the federal government signals to this court that the relevant distinction to be drawn is between married individuals and unmarried individuals. To further divide the class of married individuals into those with spouses of the same sex and those with spouses of the opposite sex is to create a distinction without meaning. And where, as here, “there is no reason to believe that the disadvantaged class is different, in relevant respects” from a similarly situated class, this court may conclude that it is only irrational prejudice that motivates the challenged classification. As irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest, this court must hold that Section 3 of DOMA as applied to Plaintiffs violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Full text of the opinion is available here.

#15 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 06:10 PM:

damn... someone beat me to the Good News.

I hope (and I am sure the judge was careful) the decision is tight enough to not leave much wiggle room for the Supremes. If so, my guess it they will just ignore the appeal, "Cert. denied, without comment", and hope it remains confined to District.

Good luck with that.


#16 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 06:15 PM:

I dunno about cupped coins, but we went to the Hungarian National Museum last week where I discovered that the Hungarian language has a specific word for irregular coins that were intended to be irregular in shape (the word escapes me now, unfortunately).

I particularly like the sun and crescent moon ducats. Hungary is so cool.

#17 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 06:21 PM:

Terry @15, the next step would be the Circuit Court; apparently (according to GLAD's press release here) the government could choose not to appeal -- my hope at this point is that this slides more-or-less under the radar, so that Obama can choose not to appeal it; if the papers tomorrow are full of "Activist Judge Forces Recognition of Gay Marriages" nonsense tomorrow, he'll probably feel obligated to appeal the ruling.

The opinion (linked from aphrael's post) is interesting reading -- the judge is quite sarcastic.

#18 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 06:59 PM:

From the ruling, it seems the Judge didn't leave any higher court with much wiggle room. Good.

It's quite compelling reading, too, so go ahead and click the link in aphrael's post.

#19 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 07:06 PM:

Yes, the circuit is the next step. I was feeling rushed, and failed to note that this is the district.

So.... if the circuit upholds the ruling, then it would require some shennanigans to get it to to the Supremes. That would be telling, because that would put Obama in a bind. To go the mattresses defending DOMA wouldn't play well with much of his progressive base.

But Mid-terms are coming and the pandering to the religious right isn't showing any signs of ending.

#20 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 07:07 PM:

If it does go to the Supremes, I predict they'll uphold DOMA 5-4. DOMA needs to be repealed, since five of the "justices" on the SCOTUS are without honor or integrity.

#21 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 07:11 PM:

BART Shooting Verdict came in.

Involuntary manslaughter.

Which is probably (IMO) the correct verdict.

The question now is the verdict.

#22 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 07:12 PM:

Ooooooooooooooo -- a reference to Little Women (among other things).

Love, C.

#23 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 07:15 PM:

I did not realize that a 13 and 14-year old can get married, in New Hampshire, with their parents' approval.

I predict junior high school smartassery to reach an all-time short-term high in the wake of this.

#24 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 07:20 PM:

Involuntary Manslaughter?!?!? You think that's the right verdict? Does that mean you believe that he was reaching for his taser (I don't) and just drew the gun by mistake, and somehow couldn't tell the difference in feel between the two weapons?

Sorry. I don't think there was anything involuntary about it. I predict there will be burning in Oakland tonight.

#25 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 07:48 PM:

And the BART verdict includes a gun enhancement...

That means he can't probation... he has to get at least four years.

I do, however, worry that this is grounds for appeal.

#26 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:01 PM:

As for 143: OK, it's a song (or something). I don't get what the SONG is referring to though.

#27 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:01 PM:

Michael Roberts @16 said: Hungary is so cool.

I was just coming to that conclusion via a different route -- by reading Leah Cutter's The Caves of Buda, for whose accuracy I cannot vouch, but whose coolness is undeniable. A mystic deer, a similarly magical and protective eagle, and demons figure largely.

#28 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:10 PM:

Xopher, I think - speaking as a law student - it would be extraordinarily difficult to prove that he didn't think it was a mistake. You basically have to convince the jury that he's lying about what he thought, which - while doable - is hard.

(I mean: I think he's lying. But I doubt I could prove that to a jury).

That said, I still think the correct verdict would have been second degree murder.

Second degree murder on a theory of implied malice is legitimate in California if (a) the killer intentionally performed an act which he knew to be inherently dangerous to human life, and (b) he acted recklessly in so doing.

Mehserle's theory of the case - "I thought it was an accident, I thought I was drawing my taser" doesn't disprove that. Drawing a taser and shooting someone at that range is an act inherently dangerous to human life. He had to have known that. And his very theory of the case indicates that he thinks he acted recklessly.

#29 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:15 PM:

Yeah, I don't see how, even if you believe him entirely, you get to INVOLUNTARY manslaughter.

It's time we stopped acting as if it's appropriate to use tasers as pain-compliance devices. They're too dangerous for that. They're an alternative to deadly force. He had no business using a taser on someone who was face down on the platform.

He knew or should have known that the taser was potentially deadly. That makes it at LEAST voluntary manslaughter IIUC.

We need laws specifying under what circumstances tasers may be used. As for this murdering thug, I hope they put him in general pop.

#30 ::: Matthew Daly ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:16 PM:

Xopher @20: True, true. This is a Supreme Court that has five votes for the notion that Congress can pass a law restricting free speech if they have a suspicion that it is in our best interest, and neither the public nor the courts have standing to second-guess the Congress. And those are the five people who claim to worship the founder's original motivations.

DOMA reform would be DOA, the only question is whether the Supremes would rule against it or just refuse it on narrow grounds and kick it back downstairs the way they did for the Pledge of Allegiance.

#31 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:20 PM:

Xopher, yes, I do think he was reaching for his Taser.

I saw the footage, I saw the body language and I saw how far back he moved. I've also read the problems with weapon recognition, and see too many cases of better trained personnel (because BART cops don't carry TASERs as an everyday weapon), grab the wrong one when they are carrying strong side dual-carry.

Because the greatest physical failing of the taser, is one of design. Every manual for it I have seen stresses the need to make sure it is carried in such a way as to prevent exactly the sort of confusion you don't think is possible.

They are heavy, they are balanced much like a pistol, and with the almost universal adoption of polymer grip pistols by cops... it's not hard (esp. under stress) to confuse them.

But if you really think it was first degree murder (and of the options I can only see those two... he had a restrained subject; he stood up, stepped back, drew a weapon and fired), you are entitled to.

But yes, when I say, "in my opinion 'x'", I mean it.

#32 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:25 PM:

Xopher @ 29:

As for this murdering thug, I hope they put him in general pop.

Without comment on the rest, Xopher, why are YOU supporting murder and what more or less constitutes counselling and provocation to commit same?

And, surely prisoners have *enough* problems, on average?

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:26 PM:

Terry, I think it was second, not first. Why do you rule out second?

As a matter of fact, since he deliberately shot the guy (even accepting arguendo that he thought it was with a taser) that would be voluntary, no? It's not like he was cleaning his taser and it went off.

#34 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:27 PM:

Xopher: The problem with that line of causality is the doesn't hold that TASERs are inherently dangerous to human life.

This is wrong, but it is the present state of the law.

Since he is, as a cop, authorised to use them, I don't see how that can rise to the needed standard for voluntary manslaughter. Has he tased the guy, there is no way he sees the inside of a courtroom. Even with this case, the BART cops have had recent problems with tasers (the most recent being a BART cop using one to effect an arrest of a turnstile jumper (BART collects on exit, so the suspect was making a getaway on a surface street).

He did it because... it would make it look as if fare evasion "could be gotten away with."

#35 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:27 PM:

Marna, I'm just angry. I know they won't put him in general pop.

#36 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:28 PM:

Xopher @ 20: five of the "justices" on the SCOTUS are without honor or integrity.

Minor correction. Four are without honor or integrity. The fifth, I believe, is basically decent but lacks the strength of character to stand against the monstrous cohort.

It is a deep and terrible shame that the Senate has neither the votes nor the integrity to launch an investigation and subsequent impeachment proceedings against Clarence Thomas in particular, in light of the deeply disturbing politicking his wife has been diving into headfirst lately. There is almost certainly a boatload of cases that Thomas would be obligated to recuse himself from if there were any authority overseeing him.

#37 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:34 PM:

Xopher @ 35: fair enough. I hate that trope with a blinding passion and it's way too popular, you know? And I feel like people don't hear what they're saying.

#38 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:35 PM:

Xopher: What do you mean by "put him in general pop", because that is tantamount to a death sentence.

Or are you advocating the "prison rape" as punishment trope?

I understand you are upset, I'm upset too; because of all the things which led to this. Right now he's looking at 4-14; with no option but prison (the gun enhancement removes the option of probation, or suspended sentence), but this isn't quite like you.

(and yes, second was the charge; I think it was offered because he is a cop, and the prosecutor almost certainly knew there was no way to get a 1st degree murder charge to stick to a cop who was engaged in that sort of shooting, no matter what the nature of the facts were)

#39 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:38 PM:

Ok, I see you and Marna have hashed it out.

#40 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:47 PM:

FTR I do NOT advocate the "prison rape as punishment" thing that so many people like to gloat about. I think the complete lack of interest our society shows in preventing prison rape is one of the signs that we are not a civilized nation.

#41 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 09:15 PM:

Xopher @ 40: I did know that. FWIW, that's sort of why I drew it to your attention.

#42 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 09:23 PM:

Xopher, I know you don't, but unless someone already knows that about you, it's what it looks like.

That's part of how I know you are really upset.

#43 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 10:03 PM:

I think I must walk down and watch the sea,
And hear the wind and feel the sun again,
I’ll see the surgeon, have the tests, and then
I’ll know how much of them is left to me.
When Housman went about the woodlands, he
Remarked his life had hardly room for when
The cherry blossomed. Three score years and ten
Are insufficient for a cherry-tree.

How many, then, to watch the changing sky?
How many would it be, the numbered years?
A hundred, then a thousand, soon would pass,
Millennia would flitter idly by,
Until I heard, with unbelieving ears
Gerontion yet singing in the grass.

I decided not to post this, until the tests came back. Benign enlargement of the prostate. No cancer. No treatment indicated. Look again in six months.

Next Saturday I shall cook and host a dinner party for old friends, at which I shall propose a toast: "L'chaim!"

#44 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 10:16 PM:


#45 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 10:37 PM:

Dave: Yay.

re the aikido subthread: I made a mistake, misremembered. I mentioned tenchi-nage. I meant shiho-nage.

#46 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 10:42 PM:

Dave at # 43: There has been a lot of good poetry posted in Making Light over the years. But for me, yours is one of the best keepers: because it's accessible without familiarity with literary conventions, and it references one of my favorites.

Oh, and congratulations on your test results.

#47 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 10:43 PM:

Dave: Thank goodness. And that was beautiful.

in re the BART shooting -- I'm appalled at the way that local TV and radio appear to be desperately hoping for a riot.

Xopher: I'd have said murder as well. People give huge amounts of leeway to the police, though -- the Chronicle says this is one of only two on-duty officer manslaughter convictions, nationwide, in the last 15 years.

Terry -- does the gun charge actually preclude direct parole? The SF Chronicle's updated article was unclear on that point. (I also find it confusing that, apparently, killing someone with a gun is more than twice as bad as killing them in some other way.)

#48 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 10:45 PM:

Dave @43: Hooray! And what a lovely verse with which to mark the occasion.

#49 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 10:56 PM:

Victor S: Yes, the enhancement precludes a non-incarcertory sentence. The enhancement is not limited to murder. It applies to any felony in which a gun is used, it's meant to reduce the number of crimes in which a gun is used, by making them even more risky.

#50 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 11:20 PM:

Terry: First degree wouldn't have made sense by any stretch. Intentional isn't the same as premeditated. If I flip out and shoot you for no real reason (which I have no trouble believing is what happened here), that's not first degree - unless I was committing some other felony at the same time.

#51 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 11:22 PM:

Dave: Thanks for the good poem and the good news.

#52 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 11:33 PM:

VictorS @47: "...I'm appalled at the way that local TV and radio appear to be desperately hoping for a riot."

So far they haven't got their wish. It's early, though.

#53 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 11:40 PM:

Dave Luckett, #43, great news!

#54 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 11:43 PM:

Dave 43: Nice verse, better news! May it be ever thus.

#55 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 12:59 AM:

I'm inclined to think that there should be a presumption of premeditation when a government employee authorized to carry and use a weapon in the line of duty (police, military, etc.) uses that weapon in the line of duty.

It's their job.

It's a job that they're trained for, and it is a job that by definition demands that high-stress and potentially personally dangerous situations be reacted to in a controlled manner. If the police, the military and other security forces aren't trained to have greater self-control than the general public, we might as well just let the general public run about using violent force to attempt to enforce the law or government policy.

If a police officer uses a weapon in the line of duty, it should be premeditated. That's what they're paid and trained for.

#56 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:00 AM:

I'm inclined to think that there should be a presumption of premeditation when a government employee authorized to carry and use a weapon in the line of duty (police, military, etc.) uses that weapon in the line of duty.

It's their job.

It's a job that they're trained for, and it is a job that by definition demands that high-stress and potentially personally dangerous situations be reacted to in a controlled manner. If the police, the military and other security forces aren't trained to have greater self-control than the general public, we might as well just let the general public run about using violent force to attempt to enforce the law or government policy.

If a police officer uses a weapon in the line of duty, it should be premeditated. That's what they're paid and trained for.

#57 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:11 AM:

hob: There was a case, 1st degree, vehicle. The explanation of the justification? The killer aimed the car across a four lane street to hit the person.

He had, so the prosecution said (and the jury agreed) ample time to change his mind.

If Mehserle had the presence of mind to step back, release the safeties on his holster and shoot the guy... that is enough chains of interruptable behavior to justify a charge of premeditation.

I have a friend, who's son did sixteen years in Folsom for second degree. He took a pistol to a park, a gang fight broke out, and he fired a couple of shots. He didn't get voluntary manslaughter; he got second degree murder.

The prosecutor pondered 1st degree. The reason they didn't charge him with it was that everyone one agreed he hadn't aimed the gun, just fired it in the general direction.

That was California, so the same rules ought to apply here, esp. as the victim in this case was cuffed, and the cop who shot him was one of the people who restrained him. He knew he couldn't get away. The judge tossed 1st degree, but I think he was wrong.

Mind you, I don't thin it was murder. I think it was the end result of a whole lot of poor choices; and poor policies, and that Mehserle is the poor guy who ended up carrying the, almost inevitable, bag.

It was a horrible accident. But a sort of horrible accident we can't afford to ignore. That he was a cop means it had to be prosecuted. We give cops the authority to constrain us. We can't allow them the ability to take advantage of that trust, and make this sort of mistake with no repercussion.

I'm sad. Sad that it happened. Sad that there is a dead man. Sad there is a living man with a life unalterably changed. Sad that there is a crowd of anarchist idiots trashing Oakland.

Sad that the systems we use to train cops aren't better built. Sad that TASERs are built to look, and feel, like guns.

Sad that I am so upset by all of the above.

Sad that I had a spat with Xopher about this.

Sad that, honestly, I don't think any of the things I think led to this are gonna change at all.

Just fuckin' sad.

#58 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:22 AM:

Terry @31: I've also read the problems with weapon recognition, and see too many cases of better trained personnel [...] grab the wrong one when they are carrying strong side dual-carry.

Does "strong side dual-carry" mean someone's got both weapons slung on the same hip? Because from what I've read, Mehserle wore the pistol and Taser on opposite sides.

#59 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:40 AM:

Good to hear that, Dave! I worried and admired while reading the poem.

#60 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:01 AM:

Xopher @26:

The song references a modern folk custom (in the sense of a custom invented by the folk).

It's about the number of letters in specific words, and started with pagers that transmitted only numbers.

#61 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:09 AM:

Avram, yes, that's what it means. But, and this is the tricky part. BART allowed officers to carry in one of three spots. One of which was strong side.

Looking at the video, it's not clear where he was carrying, but this image makes it look as if he was either not carrying a TASER, or had it strong-sided.

More to the point, BART's policy of issuing TASERs as occasional equipment means that cops might have them some days, and not others. The policy of allowing them to arrange it in different locations makes it harder to teach the sorts of muscle memory drills which make going for a specific piece of equipment automatic.

I realise that might appear to conflict with my statements about it being a deliberate act (the Calif. Penal Code is fairly open in the definition of premeditation To prove the killing was "deliberate and premeditated," it shall not be necessary to prove the defendant maturely and meaningfully reflected upon the gravity of his or her act.: Calif. Penal Code § 189) but good training with firearms should teach the collection of the weapon to a firing position as pure habit, and the actual act of firing as very much a conscious decision.

I can say the first time I had to point a loaded weapon at someone it was informative. I was all sorts of keyed up... couldn't close the action (it was a bolt action rifle), and let it go, with the firing pin spring sending the bolt to the rear and the cartridge across the room.

Slammed the bolt home, got the rifle mounted, and all the jitters went away. I collected the slack and decided I didn't need to shoot him that very moment.

At which point we had a nice little chat, and he left.

But, since TASERs aren't lethal, cops are trained to get them out, on the target, and fired.

Much as the video shows happening.

#62 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:40 AM:

I get that we aren't mind-readers. There's just no way to prove that the officer intended to kill Grant, and I imagine that's why they returned the verdict they did.

What's striking to me, though, is that this mind-reading thing isn't a problem if the shooter doesn't own a badge. For anyone else, the act of pointing a weapon at someone and pulling the trigger speaks for itself.

Say I get into a half-drunken argument with a friend. And in the heat of the moment I point a gun at him. He's not rattled by this. We get drunk a lot, and argue a lot, and this is hardly the first time I've pulled a gun on him. We keep arguing and...well, the gun goes off, and my friend dies.

Now, I didn't mean to shoot him. I don't know how that trigger got pulled. Maybe my hand slipped. Maybe I was just gesturing a bit too wildly and pulled it by accident. Maybe he grabbed for the gun and it went off when he struck it. I don't exactly remember. All I remember for certain is that I didn't intentionally pull that trigger. Maybe a video camera was rolling, and it shows me dropping the gun in horror right after I kill him.

Am I gonna get off with involuntary manslaughter?

I'm ready to be persuaded that I would, and I don't pretend to be an expert on the criminal justice system, but at this point I'm skeptical. My gut says that the mere fact that I was holding the gun that killed my friend means that I'm looking at murder two, or voluntary manslaughter if I'm very lucky.

I understand why it is that cops get every possible benefit of the doubt. I'm just not clear on why it should be that way.

#63 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 03:03 AM:

Laertes: as described, in Calif., you get involuntary manslaughter.

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 03:13 AM:

For my sins, I'm busy telling people on BB that they shouldn't advocate or joke about prison rape.

Karma's a bitch, eh?

#65 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 03:28 AM:

Checking in from Green River, UT. Had a wonderful time at ConChord and sightseeing around LA. Have now seen Zion Canyon and Bryce Canyon (repeats from last year); also Cedar Breaks and Capitol Reef. Next will be Arches and Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and then we'll figure out where to go from there. I have over 2 gigs of pictures already!

#66 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 03:47 AM:

One of these guys said "Maybe I'm a sick fuck, but..." and went on about how he had no compassion at all for bad guys getting raped in prison.

I said a few things, ending with "And while I cannot judge whether you're a sick fuck, I must say that your POV about prison rape does match that of other sick fucks I have known."

#67 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 04:17 AM:

On Prison Rape.

I don't know how prevalent it really is.

I infer a reckless attitude to the control of violent inmates, endangering staff and other prisoners. I see accounts of very extreme measures being taken in some cases: a very costly system of security for the most violent, who will likely be in prison for the rest of their lives.

In prison systems which approximate to systems of slave labour, these dangerous inmates are not likely to be a source of profit. The occurence of Prison Rape, it can be argued, is a symptom of poor management of the Prison as a business.

It does rather suggest that prisoners and ex-prisoners are an under-people. It almost seems as if the USA--large parts of it at least--has an inherent need for somebody to be the target of Jim Crow thinking. And making prisoners the target sidesteps some awkward political questions. Compare with the responses to anti-immigrant laws.

#68 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 04:22 AM:

Among all the other reasons for being against prison rape, it means that rapists are getting away with it.

#69 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 07:00 AM:

Terry Karney@45

Ah! That makes a lot more sense. I was wondering where you got the "joint open or closed" thing with tenchi nage, but just assumed I was (not unusually) missing something.

I think an interesting facet of aikido is that where techniques are drawn from older martial arts and modified (as most of the named techniques are), they are modified so as to cause less damage or to control the amount of damage to uke, not just for the purpose of practice but as a matter of philosophy*.

I'd argue that most if not all aikido techniques can be performed to minimise or maximise the damage to the opponent**, and also that this is something entirely different a style being described as "hard" or "soft"***.

*Disclaimer: I am not uchideschi, shihan, sensei, yudansha or even, in most cases, sempai - I am a junior practitioner. Comments about aikido as a whole are based on my own understanding and about as unauthoritative as it's possible to get. YMMV.
**I'd hesitate to call them uke if your goal is to damage them!
***Not that anyone has made that association. Just wanted to be clear.

#70 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 07:42 AM:

No mystery, nor reason for the day
to start so simply since the bright alarm
brought us to wakefulness with simple charm,
while this last warden had now news to say;
but that there were some causes for delay
and none for haste. But we are past all harm
of foolish words, nor may the time disarm
our urgent thoughts. We must be on our way.
Onward to where the final tolling bell
cannot be heard, and then so far beyond
that on our senses we cannot depend.
Who will not know if any live to tell
the meaning and the substance of our bond,
or who will care that any reach the end?

#71 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 07:55 AM:

Dave #43: That is good news.

#72 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 08:41 AM:

My interaction with Twitter clients on my Mac has gone completely wrong, to my quite great vexation.

First TweetDeck refused to give me any tweets at all; no updates, nothing. Then I signed out, and it wouldn't let me sign back in. The login button was completely inactive.

I went and changed my password on the website, which likes me just fine.

TweetDeck still hates us, precious. So does NatsuLion. Neither will let me log in. I've fallen back to the website, rather than try client after client. But I am Vexed and Annoyed.

#73 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 09:02 AM:

I knew a guy online who was a prison guard; one of the maxims they taught him is "we are not part of the punishment meted out by the courts." (From the same guy, talking about how his day went, "Four guys in black armor and we've been out-intimidated by an aerosol.")

Until a judge sentences someone to 4 years of repeated rape, it is not part of the punishment meted out by the courts.

This is a very unemotional argument, I know, but in my mind it's harder to disprove than "You're a sick fuck who wants to beat up people who can't escape" or similar.

#74 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 09:08 AM:

Dave: congratulations on the good news!

aphrael: thanks for the link to the opinion. A thing of beauty.

Xopher and Terry: your ability to stay engaged and respectful in the face of rage, frustration and despair speaks well of you both, and, dare I say it, of the potential of our species.

#75 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 09:35 AM:

Terry Karney - first degree murder was never on the table, and the jury didn't receive instructions on it. In California, to get first degree murder, you basically need either premeditation or to have committed the murder while committing one of several listed felonies. Otherwise, it's second degree murder.

I don't think you can prove premeditation on these facts (deciding to do it in the heat of the moment doesn't get you there), and it can't possibly be felony murder.

But second degree murder (that he chose to do an act inherently dangerous to human life, and that he did so recklessly) is doable if either (a) the jury thinks he knew it was a gun or (b) the jury thinks tasers are inherently dangerous to human life.

(Also: the fact - and I agree that this is true - that he would not be on trial if he'd tased Grant and Grant had died as a result ... is an indictment of the system.)

with respect to 63; I think that while the law would support involuntary manslaughter in Laertes' scenario, it actually depends on the race of the guy; if he's white, he gets involuntary manslaughter, but if he's not white, the prosecutor argues that drawing the gun when drunk is an act inherently dangerous to human life, etc, and he gets second degree murder.

Xopher - the problem is that for it to be voluntary manslaughter, you would have to prove that he knew or should have known that he was firing his gun. I think the prosecution tried, very hard, to prove the should have known part.

#76 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 10:04 AM:

Further investigation shows that Twitter is giving "rate limit exceeded" messages to the API. They're investigating, apparently.

This doesn't explain why two clients wouldn't even log me in, but I've found one that will (Tweetie). So if they can stop pretending I'm overusing (or even using) the API, maybe I'll be able to get tweets again.

In other news, Twitter withdrawal symptoms appear to include crankiness.

#77 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 11:24 AM:

aphrael: I know that the word, "premeditated" is in the statute. I also know that the actual elements which comprise it aren't defined,and the statute specifically says it need not be shown the killer gravely reflected on the act.

As I said, the only reason my friends son wasn't charged with first degree murder was that he didn't aim the gun. The prosecution said (and there is no reason to not believe them) that shooting the gun was a reckless act, likely to cause death but that aiming the gun would have, been, "deliberate and premeditated". Given the clause, " To prove the killing was "deliberate and premeditated," it shall not be necessary to prove the defendant maturely and meaningfully reflected upon the gravity of his or her act."

That, they argued, would have been enough to make it first degree. But there was enough in the way of evidence to show Edward hadn't aimed, to keep it in the realm of second.

Given the level of training to which police are required to attain, and the intervening steps between is apparent resolution to take an action; and that action being carried out, I still think that, if he started with the intent to draw his weapon, it rises to the required level of, "deliberate and premeditated" action required in the statute.

Worse, from the actual standpoint of the verdict, I think the jury, is some of the reports about what they did think are true (i.e. he did draw his weapon knowing it was his weapon, and then intentionally shot Grant with it) gave him something of a pass (mind you, this may not be all the jurors, nor an accurate reflection of what the jurors in question actually thought).

Since there is a case where 1st degree murder was found to have taken place; and the rationale for the charge was the killer; operating a vehicle, took a sudden urge to aim it at someone on the far sidewalk, and crossed a four lane street to hit the victim, which was said to be adequate time to reflect on his actions, and form the required state of "deliberate and premeditated" intent, it was first degree; and that cops are trained in the range of situations in which the use of deadly force is authorised, the victim was immobilised, and there is no level of "provocation, which can justify shooting an arrested person who poses no threat to life or limb... well as I said, I think that rises to first degree.

And I don't think there is a jury in this country which would ever return such a verdict.

#78 ::: perilla ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 11:30 AM:

Delurking to compliment Dave @43 on his good news and great sonnet. Huzzah!

#79 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 12:35 PM:

Laertes@62: as described in Elsinore, it ends with everyone dead who is marked for death.

#80 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 12:45 PM:

Dave #43: Hooray!

#81 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:05 PM:

Dave @43, congrats on the good news. And very good verse.

#82 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:23 PM:

I've been watching the whole NASA brouhaha about Bolden's statements to Al Jazeera, and it demonstrates again that the more emotional an issue, the less the intellect is engaged.

#83 ::: Toni ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:44 PM:

"Say I get into a half-drunken argument with a friend. And in the heat of the moment I point a gun at him. He's not rattled by this. We get drunk a lot, and argue a lot, and this is hardly the first time I've pulled a gun on him. We keep arguing and...well, the gun goes off, and my friend dies."

Say you drink, point a loaded gun at a friend, he dies. I say you're a moron.

#84 ::: Toni ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:45 PM:

"Say I get into a half-drunken argument with a friend. And in the heat of the moment I point a gun at him. He's not rattled by this. We get drunk a lot, and argue a lot, and this is hardly the first time I've pulled a gun on him. We keep arguing and...well, the gun goes off, and my friend dies."

Say you drink, point a loaded gun at a friend, he dies. I say you're a moron who shouldn't be allowed to live among civilized people.

#85 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:58 PM:

#92: I'm a model rocketeer, and frequent model rocketeer discussion blogs.

The resident odious right wing blowhard crank of course had to post about the shocking Al-Jazeera / NASA thing. A virtual word for word transcription of FOX News punditry.

I replied with a link to John Stewart's takedown.

#86 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:09 PM:

aphrael @ 75: as a point of order, 1st degree murder was on the table. The judge disallowed it on June 30th.

As I have said, I think that was in error; though I think the actual offense was involuntary manslaughter.

#87 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:12 PM:

Toni @83: I agree entirely. And I'd be an idiot who should be convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

My question was meant to be: am I an idiot who will be convicted of a more serious offense, possibly second-degree murder, because I'm not a cop and therefore not entitled to the presumption that my version of the story, in every detail, is fact.

Mr. Karney says that I would not, and the example he cites is pretty convincing.

#88 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:16 PM:

Toni@83: Well, yeah. Luckily the kind of RKBA gun-nut I hang around doesn't do that, or put up with it from others. I certainly wouldn't (not that it's ever come close to becoming an issue).

#89 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:23 PM:

Laertes: The hypothetical you pose is pretty clear cut.

If, however, the circumstances changed, (say there is no footage, there are no good witnesses), then the question become malice.

On the evidence (which would be circumstantial) the prosecution would have to show malice.

But the odds of murder, not manslaughter, go up.

#90 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:51 PM:

Terry, the DEFENSE wanted the only options to be murder one and acquittal. They were sure they could get an acquittal under those circumstances, since if there's one thing all parties are agreed on, it's that this wasn't murder one.

Even having murder one as an option would have made an outright acquittal more likely. The judge ruled on what the several options would be, and we've seen the result.

Much as I don't think it was the correct decision, it's much better than an outright acquittal. And I think a murder one conviction would have been unjust.

#91 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 05:38 PM:

Hurrah Dave!

#92 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 06:09 PM:

Stefan Jones #85: How thoughtful of you to answer this question: Why is a model rocket like a member of al-Qaeda?

#93 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 07:09 PM:

Ose Walrus, noted filker & attorney, finds the rationale for the DOMA decision overbroad. "Under this theory, any federal rule that violates an intrinsic aspect of state sovereignty -- which is ANYTHING -- potentially violates the Tenth Amendment." (his comments turned off). It cries out for appeal.

#94 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 07:15 PM:

Jon @93, there were two cases decided yesterday, though most of the coverage conflates the two. Gill v. OPM found Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional on equal protection grounds, not Tenth Amendment grounds. Massachusetts v. HHS was the 10th Amendment ruling. I would place little credence in any analysis that omits to point out this critically important detail.

#95 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 07:25 PM:

My previous comment got cut off.

Not being a lawyer myself, merely a court-watcher, I suspect the reason for the different grounds is that Gill was brought by individuals, while Massachusetts was brought by the state itself, and that there were fewer grounds available to decide the second case -- it may be that 10th Amendment was the only option in the second case. It could have been possible, I suppose, for the judge to have ruled differently in the two cases (i.e. that Section 3 of DOMA violates individual rights under equal protection, but not states' rights under the 10th Amendment), but that would have made little material difference.

#96 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 08:05 PM:

lorax@94-95, so was it one judge finding in both cases that had been joined together? Or was it two judges and a coincidence that the verdicts happened the same day? The newspaper report I saw said that the judge had partially overturned DOMA but was typically uninformative about what parts got overturned, what didn't, and what it means. (In any case, Yay!)

#97 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 08:08 PM:

There's a debate over at Balkinization between Jack Balkin and Andrew Koppelman about whether Gill will survive. Both think that (a) the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, (b) state laws against same-sex marriage are also unconstitutional, and (c) the Supreme Court will certainly not admit the truth of (b) any time soon. They disagree whether Tauro's decision striking down DOMA might just squeak through the appeals process. (Balkin says no, Koppelman yes).

The problem is that for a politically possible decision striking down DOMA you have to thread the needle in such a way that DOMA is unconstitutional while the even more asinine state law in Virginia (say) is not.

#98 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 08:25 PM:

Xopher@90, while I'd have liked to see a stronger verdict, it's tough to get any verdict at all that finds a cop guilty in a situation like this, since a large fraction of society tends to presume cops to be acting with the best of intentions and anybody labeled as a perp to be guilty and deserve what happens to them, and it only takes one juror finding "not guilty" for an acquittal. I think the judge did the right thing in giving a jury those options.

There's been a bit of discussion in the local press that the cops hadn't had much training with their Tasers, and they obviously needed a lot more.

#99 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 10:07 PM:

Thank you all for the good wishes, and I'm glad that the sonnet was pleasing.

Dr Johnson's remark about concentration of the mind applies. But to be reprieved has something of the same effect, I find; and more permanently, I hope.

#100 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 11:03 PM:

This just in: Al Qaeda has decided to leave the #3 position unfilled. A spokesman for the organization says they're having a tough time keeping the job filled, so now they'll let #4 and #5 handle the #3 duties between them, and see if this strategy lets them bypass what's being called the "curse of #3."

(Dave Luckett, my best wishes and thanks for the sonnet as well.)

#101 ::: Alice Bentley ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 11:50 PM:

In the spirit of Open Thread, and because I really needed this type of lighthearted pickmeup when I encountered it, check out

- Dutch department store HEMA's product page. You can't order anything and it's in Dutch, but just wait a couple of seconds and watch what happens. Worth having the sound on too.

#102 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 12:37 AM:

The HEMA page is wonderfully goofy. Very tempted to inflict it on certain of my friends here...

#103 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 12:49 AM:

My moped was stolen today from the house. I'm going to bed.

#104 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 12:52 AM:

In other news, Roman Catholic Church goes completely insane.

Apparently ordaining women is as grave a sin as the sexual abuse of a child. Equally insane whether you think they're overvaluing* the one or undervaluing the other.
*for inverted values of 'valuing'

#105 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 12:55 AM:

Alice, that's delightful! Thanks for that.

#106 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 01:30 AM:

Xopher@104, you could also say that ordaining women has been ruled as grave a sin as pouring ceremonial wine on the ground.

#107 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 02:04 AM:

Earl: wow. Those cardinals are nuts. Completely and thoroughly nuts.

#108 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:01 AM:

DOMA violates the Equal Protection clause in the Massachusetts constitution (which is older than the USA one, though the equal protection clause I think is a much more recent amendment).

Other states might not have such equal protection clauses in their base legal documents.

The Masschusetts case thus does not generally apply to the rest of the USA.

#109 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:10 AM:

Well, Paula, DOMA also violates the Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution, and some other provisions there. Let's see if it winds up making any difference.

#110 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:22 AM:

#108 myself

Not all states passed ERA, and some allow gender discrimination. Some also have passed laws defining marriage as between one female and one male--which is not the case in Massachusetts. Where a state has a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman and especially allows differentiation in the treament of them, I expect that DOMA does not conflict with the laws in such states. It does conflict with the laws in Massachusetts, which does not and never has had a law specifying that marriage is between one man and one woman....

Martha Coakley took the state's anti-DOMA dispute to federal appeals court bases on state law in Masschusetts as it exists and is in effect , as opposed to states where same-gender marriage proponents are trying to in-state DOMA-compliant laws overturned. In the case of Coakley it's the Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs the US Government, not citizen of California vs both the state of Californian and the US Government....

Ostensibly the two case smell the same and have the same general goal, however, the internal guts are very different....

#111 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:23 AM:

Xopher at 104: permit me to both agree and clarify: the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy (cardinals, Curia, etc.) has been insane for quite a while. Those of us in the pews, aka the Body of Christ, are not insane. Frustrated, fed up, grieving, aghast, angry -- but mostly sane.

#112 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:28 AM:

Lizzy: quite. That's who I'm talking about.

#113 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:34 AM:

#110 mysef

are trying to in-state DOMA-compliant laws overturned.

should be

are trying to get in-state DOMA-compliant laws overturned.

The arguments that Coakley used included things such as the paperwork/expense overhead to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where the Commonwealth recognizes a couple as married but the federal government doesn't--that this is a hardship particularly for the Commonwealth.... that does not apply to states which don't recognize same gender marriages as legitimate....

#114 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 12:12 PM:

#111 Lizzy
Being from religious tradition where one of the jokes is if there are two Jews on a desert island there are three synagogues--one for each of them and the third which neither of them will set foot in (the reality is nowhere near so extreme, but schism out of one congregation into creating others, is something I've seen happen... and then people get annoyed with the "we spun ourselves out" congregation and quit that one, too...), I sometimes wonder that the laity don't revolt and have more splinter movements in Catholicism.... some of the Protestant denominations of Christianity are particularly congregation-independent-minded, to the degree even where some of them have left one organized branch and moved to another (e.g., the congregation former Pres. Carter belongs to changing quitting the Southern Baptist Convention and joining the UCC (can't remember what the first C stands for).

I gathered from what a priest I was acquainted with who had clerked at the Vatican said, that the politics inside there are or were much more... lively... than show to the outside world, but the idea of the level of centralized authority and control involved with the Catholic Church rather bemuses me at times. There is much beauty (including Dirac's equating of beauty and truth) in Roman Catholicism, and many centuries of devotion and good works and heritage. I'm still bemused though by the firmness of the hierarchical forms and certain obduracies and official inflexiblities and such and the decisios and actions that people accede to.... in the wake of Martin Luther some things eventually changed with the Counter-Reformation, but....

I'm an outsider. I remain grateful to Pope Benedict for his role over time in saying that I as part of a group am exempt from official targetted evangelizing by the Catholic Church. I grew up less conflicted about Catholicism and its institutions than many Roman Catholics--I was never attacked with e.g. a ruler by any nuns (something that happened a lot in the 1960s in Catholic schools apparently). A retired Monseigneur went to my father's funeral--they had been friends from childhood, and presumably attended Mass together ("Why aren't you an altarboy?" a priest has asked my father, "Because I'm Jewish!" said my father...), and my grandfather had chauffered the nun of St Charles in Woburn around in the station wagon sized for his furniture business delivering furniture to his customers (he died when I was a small child, but the first few years of my life my parents had lived near my grandparents, with the nunnery between their house and my parents' apartment--never having been subject to nuns' authority I never experienced unpleasantry from them) or otherwise abused by anyone in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and was never subject to their authority.

Bottom line, I'm an outside as regards the internal conflicts and such of Roman Catholicism, and the moral dilemmas involved where laity have so little control/input/authority regarding corruption, abuse, coverup, and remediation regarding Church officials.

In religions and denominations where congregations have organizational self-determination, the congregrations can sack the officials, can get them prosecuted directly if there are criminal issues, and look for/replace them with candidates of their own choice. But that's where congregations have that self-determination....

#115 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 12:26 PM:

Alice Bentley (101): That HEMA page is great. And I love it that 'ghettoblaster' is the same in Dutch.

#116 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 02:12 PM:


There are plausible arguments (IANAL) that make DOMA unconstitutional without touching state laws that restrict marriage to mixed-sex couples. Basically, the tenth amendment argument that says the feds can't tell Massachusetts how to define marriage doesn't stop, say, Virginia from defining it in much narrower, bigoted ways.

This is a different argument from the equal protection one in Perry v. Schwarzenegger: if anything, it's the opposite tack, since the plaintiffs in Perry argue that California does not have the constitutional right to define marriage that narrowly.

#117 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 02:47 PM:

DOMA, in my estimation fails in that it is contrary to the Full Faith & Credit clause, where contracts valid in one state have to be considered as valid in all

#118 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 02:49 PM:

And , proving that not only are the Tea party batshit insane, but they also want to force charity out the window

#119 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 04:33 PM:

Open threadiness---

I am in my third decade. A recent brain scan says my brain looks like someone's in their seventh decade. I am a candidate for dementia.


one thing I will miss follows another
and I end up running out of fingers as i count them off---
to have thoughts transparent, to see through to the other side
to have a memory crystallize as a seed of dust in a cloud turns heavy with water,
to have love become something I can tuck into a fist, or hide under my tongue,
the nitroglycerin to quiet the unsteady heart,
to have this word catch the light, but like a piece of turned sea glass
not enough to cut, but curved into a finger of what once held wine,
a drink, another spell, in another lifetime.

#120 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 04:42 PM:

It is interesting that the development of Aikido coincides historically with the postwar pacification of Japan.

#121 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 05:40 PM:

ma larkey @ 119 -- being a candidate for it doesn't mean it's going to happen, necessarily. If you want not to lose those things, you might have some options (and if the dementia isn't showing up yet, it might be time to try some of them!).

#122 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 07:10 PM:

According to this Mayo Clinic website post, brain scans alone can't diagnose dementia.

Brain scan

Imaging is a valuable medical tool, but we're far from Star Trek levels yet.

#123 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 07:45 PM:

ma larkey @119

Being a candidate does not a diagnosis make. If you are really concerned, get a neuro-psych eval to establish your baseline. Then it can be repeated every other year or so to identify any problems.

(This from the woman just diagnosed with the familial cancer. But it was caught early and had I been more diligent, it probably could have been prevented.)

#124 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 07:54 PM:

Paula: I've not looked at the text of the decision (I've got a copy, just not made the time), but the analyses I've read say the scope of the decision is broad, uses the US Constitution, not the Mass., to get to its conclusions.

#125 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 08:11 PM:

#124 Terry
What I've heard from the area news is that the appeals court judge's decision applies only to Massachusetts and not any other state. If it goes to a higher level though, then the rulings would go to more general applicability.

#126 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 08:18 PM:

Emmet O'Brien's fault:
Buffy-James Joyce's Ulysses fanfic...
He came up with that at CKD's birthday party here at Readercon....

#127 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 09:04 PM:

Reading the decision; the equal protection clause of Massachusetts doesn't apply (and, in fact, it really was never an issue, since this was a Federal District Court, so Massachesett's laws aren't in the jurisdiction of the court).

Regrettably, for all I think it horrendous, it looks as if congress may actually has the ability to give states the right to fail to recognise other states laws, "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."

Further, for all that I really want DOMA dead (and think the reading Congress took in effecting DOMA is overbroad, in that it what it says is Congress has the power to show how things may be proved, not that they can undo a law from one state to the other), the ability of the Feds to define how Federal benefits shall apply, seems to be a valid one), I am afraid the scope of this decision is overbroad.

Federal benefits, are just that, federal. The Feds are paying the money, the states don't really get to set the terms. The problem is the oddity which is marriage, and how it affects so many things. The Feds have been playing with it, while claiming it's a state's decision.

Which means the states get to set the terms, but if they don't toe the federal line, then the residents of such states which go their own way, may not be entitled to federal benefits.

If this decision was narrower in scope, limiting itself only to marriage then it might be defensible (given that the gov't didn't use any of the arguments of the actual law when they were defending it) but it's not limited, so it pretty much makes it impossible for the federal gov't to control those things which are in it's purview.

Which isn't sustainable. Much as I like the specific result, I don't think this is good jurisprudence.

Which sucks.

The strongest hope (and not a good one with the Supreme Court configured as it presently is, and [sadly] is likely to remain for at least the next decade) is that the decision calls DOMA into question on a much weaker standard (rational basis), than the plaintiffs appealed under (i.e. strict scrutiny).

Which means it's possible the overbroad interpretation of equal protection could be overturned, but the lower threshold be upheld.

With the present bench, however, I wouldn't hold my breath.

#128 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 09:06 PM:

Paula: I think those interpretations are wrong. The decision applies to the Federal Gov't.

There is no way that couples from Mass. can be given marriage benefits while denying them to couples from Iowa, etc.

#129 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 09:50 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II, #103, Ack, Bruce, I'm so sorry!

ma larkey, #119, there's usually ways to deal with that and I hope it works out.

#130 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 10:00 PM:

Does anyone, anywhere, ever wear something like this other than on the runway?

I don't understand why someone would build a costume like that. If it were green, it could be Emerald City business attire for a stage production of The Wizard of Oz, but not in that color.

Seriously, if anyone understands why those things are even designed at all, please let me know.

#131 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 10:05 PM:

Wow... he looks as if he has view camera bellows on for pantaloons.

#132 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 10:13 PM:

Yeah, I feel sorry for this poor model.

#133 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 10:32 PM:

Viki @ 116: There are plausible arguments (IANAL) that make DOMA unconstitutional without touching state laws that restrict marriage to mixed-sex couples. Basically, the tenth amendment argument ...

What Andrew Koppelman at Balkinization says is that while the tenth amendment argument doesn't fly, there is a possibility that equal protection might. (The tenth amendment argument offends left-leaning folks because it comes very close to saying that the states can nullify federal law, and offends right-leaning folks because they hate the result in this case.)

The needle-threading problem for the equal protection argument is that if the courts admit that gender orientation is a suspect classification, then they need to apply strict scrutiny to state laws that discriminate on that basis, and thus to strike those laws down. Which isn't going to happen (yet!) So the equal protection argument has to say that there is no rational basis for the DOMA. Which there isn't, but the rational basis test is so weak that the Supreme Court can pretend, if it wants to, that Congress might rationally have passed DOMA to preserve wheat yields in Alaska.

What Koppelman hopes is that Kennedy, in particular, will pay attention to the reality that in fact Congress had no motive other hatred:

What ultimately does the work in these cases is a holistic judgment about what you think is going on in these laws. The fact that a group – and here, without going all the way to the formality of suspect classification, a court can note that gay people have been the object of hysterical antipathy, as evidenced by the wacky things that DOMA’s supporters said during the Congressional debate – has in the past been the object of unconstitutional discrimination certainly has some weight in the judgment. So does the fact that the state’s justifications fit the statute so poorly. And so does the fact that the burden imposed on that group is unprecedented.
#134 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 10:47 PM:

Xopher #132: Yeah, I feel sorry for this poor model.

Everyone knows the camera puts on 10 pleats.

#135 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:05 PM:

Xopher, 130: No, of course not. High fashion is a form of theater, closely related but not identical to the theater of the red carpet. As Teresa's pointed out, it's a language Lady Gaga speaks fluently enough to make jokes in. It's all performance art.

#136 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:12 PM:

But TexAnne, how do these people make money? Who payes for these designs? Why would anyone buy those clothes and then not wear them?

#137 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:19 PM:

Xopher, AIUI, they have sponsors, and I'm pretty sure they have collectors, angels, what-have-you; it's the same as modern art. It isn't to our taste, but it's a valid expression of human ingenuity.

#138 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:30 PM:

And, Xopher, it's an outlier that is likely to move fashion in a particular direction (in this case, towards more voluminous outfits -- which may result in slightly less fat oppression, if the world of fashion shows any tendency to have a logical effect on the way people look). As an art object, it's making a statement something like "Let's go here next!" -- other people make the same statement with different outfits (rather like the steampunk-influenced fashions that made the runway this year).

Why yes, Karen is quite interested in fashion and feeds me a fair amount of information -- why do you ask?

#139 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:57 PM:

Well, it makes sense as an art piece (or, as I said before, as a costume). I guess I was thrown by it being called "fashion" -- which I can't help thinking of as something that people (albeit only the "Beautiful People") might actually wear in public.

#140 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:58 PM:

Thank you Marilee, Tom, Steve, throwmearope. I'm told that the scan isn't predictive in itself, but it's still puzzling. I've been tested and am keeping fingers crossed.

#141 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 12:01 AM:

Xopher, that's one view of it. But all arts have their popular expressions, and fashion is no different. Lots of designers take their inspiration from what people wear on the street.

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 12:16 AM:

According to the most recent episode of MythBusters, in which a bridge is built out of duct tape, Jamie weighs 180 pounds, and Adam is 175. I find that hard to believe as I'm right in the middle and I look like the Scarecrow while Jamie is the Lion.

#143 ::: Alice Bentley ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 12:57 AM:

#120 Erik Nelson - Also interesting that the development of Aikido coincides with the leader of the art reaching past middle-age, when muscling through is just not going to work anymore.

(I haven't studied since 2004, but I really loved in when I was practicing.)

#144 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 01:06 AM:

Ma larkey, you write poetry that I would wish to write, and can't.

Cobblers, lasts, that sort of thing.

May it be the same in your eighth decade.

#145 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:44 AM:

all the rest of you figured out long ago what principle structures abi's list in the original post. but i haven't.

sure, i recognize meg's missing glove (pssst--john has it!) but that's about it.

now that the thread has passed its jubilee (there are more than 143 comments on it), would someone take pity on the slow-witted, and explain abi's list?

(maybe not its jubilee, i don't know. its golden thread-day? there should be *some* term for the nth post on open thread n.)

#146 ::: Antongarou ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:46 AM:

Russ@69: My sensei showed us convincing evidence that the amount of damage, if any, is a result of interaction between the aite and the tori's skill, as well as the tori's intentions, in applying the 10 basic principles, usually mostly a matter of ki-no-nagaren one the part of the aite but really dependent on the exact situation.

This can vary from shattered bones and broken necks(not shown but extrapolated) to kaishi-wasa and the tori finding himself in a bind.

#147 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 08:07 AM:

kid, 145: They're all love-tokens.

#148 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 08:34 AM:

the list of love tokens moves me to say--we are blessed when there is something to hold on to, a latch on a door to keep the dark out, a pin to keep a seam in place for stitching, the bead that keeps another from slipping out and rolling away, lost.

#144 Dave Luckett--your poetry has precision and discipline, while mine runs all over the place like a guest wanting all the garnishes on the plates. So, it's all good.

#149 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 08:34 AM:

kid bitzer @145:

They are all the things that abi is bringing to the meetup so people will recognize her. Also,
she'll be wearing a sonnet.

#150 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 09:30 AM:

The phelpsies have nicked another plot point from the wacky contingent of the Islamic extremists. American Idolatry?

#151 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 10:37 AM:

Bruce at 103: that sucks! Insurance?

#152 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 12:07 PM:

kid bitzer @145 -- a simple Google told me that 143 is a reference to "I love you" based on the number of letters in each word -- hence, list of love tokens as other ways of saying the same thing.

#153 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 12:28 PM:

Marilee: thank you! We have the VIN, and since it needs repair we've tried to get the info out to some of the Moped groups around here, but it wasn't the way to start the weekend: I can't afford a replacement, and couldn't afford the repair work that needed to be done.

#154 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 12:39 PM:

Lizzy L: no insurance because it needed repair work to get it running again (One night I came back to the parking lot at the Vashon ferry and found that someone had taken a hunting knife to the seat--which, after they couldn't kill it by stabbing it ten times, ended up with a number of scallops cut into the edge--then cut all cables and wires and followed that with removing the right chain guard and the air filter and throwing them into a deep, deep overflow drain.), and the nearest Moped repair was in Monroe, WA and we didn't have a truck to transport it. I later reached a guy that opened a moped repair shop in Seattle (which closed a few months afterward) who said he could get it running for about $400.00 in parts and new tires, which I didn't have at the time. I was saving up for it, but that does no good now. Looking at the frantic folks who spotted it in the back yard and who tried desperately to buy it off me because the frame and accessories were in perfect shape and the engine was intact I should have tried for insurance but what insurer would have been willing to take on a non-running vehicle? So, blah.

#155 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 01:43 PM:

Found today on Comcast's site...

Robert Spillane, son of murdered mobster Mickey Spillane, falls from the window of his New York apartment.

Thank you, Kojak, for teaching me the word 'defenestration'.

#156 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Alice Bentley @143
the development of Aikido coincides with the leader of the art reaching past middle-age, when muscling through is just not going to work anymore.

There are many reasons that I think of aikido as a martial art for adults. But it could also be that I never studied any budo as a kid.

ma larkey @148:
we are blessed when there is something to hold on to, a latch on a door to keep the dark out, a pin to keep a seam in place for stitching, the bead that keeps another from slipping out and rolling away, lost

Yes, absolutely, exactly and precisely that.

jnh @149:
They are all the things that abi is bringing to the meetup so people will recognize her. Also, she'll be wearing a sonnet.

Yes, but they'll all be invisible.

#157 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 03:36 PM:

Hmm, isn't a sonnet a form of very loosely-knitted headgear, with exactly fourteen rows? The last two of which tie the whole thing together?

#158 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:24 PM:

Xopher, 157: You know, of course, that there are several people around here who can make one. Be afraid.

#159 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:25 PM:

TexAnne, fortune favors the brave. I'm hoping to tempt one of them.

#160 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:27 PM:

The first eight rows should be one color, of course, and the last six another. Or the next four, with the last two being a third color.

Or you could go by line, in which case the Italian sonnet would have a saner color mix.

#161 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:32 PM:

I...don't have the yarn in my stash for that, but I know exactly what it should look like. (Really, really dumb, in the event.)

#162 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:33 PM:

I could see a sonnet afghan working quite well-- 14 rows colored by rhyme scheme, each row having 10 alternating light/dark blocks to indicate syllabic stress?

#163 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:36 PM:

Xopher, I believe I've seen a model of the hat that abi will be wearing. Very haute couture; I understand they're still tweaking the spacing.

#164 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:39 PM:

TexAnne, do you mean you think it should look dumb, or that it's dumb not to have yarn for it on hand?

Julie, that sounds like a horror to me. Bet you can't do it and make it pretty! (I neener in your general direction.)

Debbie, I get a 404 when I click that link.

#165 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:41 PM:

Xopher, you said Sonnet Bonnet, and the only way I can think of to do it in, I'm going to say "ridges" is to have a rainbowy rectangle on top of the head, and a monochrome square in the back of the head. Otherwise it would be a Sonnet Beanie, see?

#166 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Yes. I was thinking of a VERY open knit, looser than the knitted "chainmail" some people were wearing a few years back. Really giant needles? Maybe I'm mixed up and that can only be done by crocheting.

#167 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Oops, sorry. Hope this works better.

#168 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:49 PM:

Debbie: hideous! I love it. I thought that woman was completely without mammalian characteristics until I noticed that she's bending backwards and twisting her head around. Wow. They never stop abusing those poor models, do they?

#170 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:53 PM:

Kip, if only we could find video of his runway walk! What a great remix that would make. I assume you're speaking of Looney Toons popup squeezebox noises, right?

#171 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:58 PM:

We're minutes from the end of the World Cup. I keep expecting that some player's going to crack and yell for them to shut up with the damn vuvuzelas already.

Whoops! Spain got one in. I was hoping for Netherlands, though I did root, mildly, for Spain in their game before this.

#172 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Xopher @157:

purl knit knit purl purl purl purl knit knit purl
knit purl purl knit knit knit knit purl purl knit
purl sl2 on cn f purl k2 from cn purl purl sl1 on cn b k2 p1 from cn purl
knit knit purl purl knit knit purl purl knit knit
purl purl sl2 on cn f purl k2 from cn s1 on cn b k2 p1 from cn purl purl
knit knit knit purl purl purl purl knit knit knit
purl purl purl sl2 on cn f knit knit k2 from cn purl purl purl
knit knit knit purl purl purl purl knit knit knit
purl purl s1 on cn b k2 p1 from cn sl2 on cn f purl k2 from cn purl purl
knit knit purl purl knit knit purl purl knit knit
purl sl1 on cn b k2 p1 from cn purl purl sl2 on cn f purl k2 from cn purl
knit purl purl knit knit knit knit purl purl knit
purl knit knit purl purl purl purl knit knit purl
knit purl purl knit knit knit knit purl purl knit

(Yes, I'm a sucker for chiasmus.)

#173 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 05:04 PM:

Oh, dammit, abi, you've thrown rice in front of a vampire. 'Scuse me a second....

#174 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 05:05 PM:

Xopher, that's exactly what I had in mind. We could fake it with a harmonica, if need be.

Well, congrats to Spain. First sporting event in decades that I particularly cared about.

#175 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 05:13 PM:

abi, I can't compile or interpret that code. I suspect that I simply don't have any hardware it can run on (not to mention lacking the long pointy peripherals I'd need to execute it).

#176 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 05:15 PM:

kid bitzer @145 - (maybe not its jubilee, i don't know. its golden thread-day? there should be *some* term for the nth post on open thread n.)
What comes up in my mind (when I turn it over like a fortune-telling 8-ball and see what drifts up to the surface) is 'square.' This comment squares the post. Um, so the comment itself would be the, uh… quadratic? I dunno.

#177 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 05:33 PM:

A moment while I wrangle the technology....

#178 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 05:43 PM:

Another moment while I whack the technology upside the head....

#179 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 05:47 PM:

Kip W @176: I think I understand your 'square', but to me the nth post on open thread n suggests a diagonal (in the aggregate, anyway). No idea what to call the individual posts, though.

#180 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 05:54 PM:

Okay, I think it worked. Here you go!

#181 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 05:59 PM:

Just so long as whoever wears the Sonnet Bonnet doesn't get called Sinister Finnister, we won't have to worry about Frank Herbert's lawyers getting upset. (See the story "A.W.F., UnLimited"...)

#182 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 06:54 PM:

Kip W @ 171:
We're minutes from the end of the World Cup

For some Dutch fans that may indeed have been the end of the world.

#183 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:10 PM:

Abi... Say, which timezone are you in right now?

#184 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:13 PM:

Which would I rather have? A bonnet, a sonnet, a Monet or a Manet?

#185 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:14 PM:

TexAnne...I don't understand. Does TexAnne's pattern really make something that small? Also, there must be something I'm not getting.

#186 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:28 PM:

Xopher: Abi's sonnet, when knit, makes the little nearly-square thing with the cabled X.

#187 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:32 PM:

Xopher: Oh, I think I see what you were asking--ten syllables/stitches in that yarn is about 2" wide, but the cables made it draw in. 10 stitches x 14 rows = really quite eensy, yes.

#188 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:48 PM:

Yeah. Can't wear that on your head. Or rather, you could, but only as tefillin.

#189 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:49 PM:

I told you I liked chiasmus in my sonnets.

(Thanks, TexAnne; I wasn't sure if I'd got it quite right. I'm at my parents' house in California, and heavily jet-lagged; it's not the best time to try to pen-and-paper knit patterning.)

#190 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:50 PM:

Ah, I get the chiasmus joke now. Duh on me!

#191 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:53 PM:

It was a joke accessible only to knitters until someone translated it, Xopher.

Someone else will have to do an alternative version that would actually stay on a head and keep it warm. I've not done much hat knitting and don't have the patterns internalized.

#192 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:55 PM:

With only 14 rows, I should think that would be...challenging. At best.

#193 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 07:56 PM:

kid bitzer, there was no such term until this thread. But now we are in a new world.

Henceforth, the nth comment of Open thread n is to be known as a bitzer.

#194 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 08:00 PM:

me @ 182:

Google searches to infinity and beyond: I found a news photo from the End of the World Cup Game.

#195 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 08:06 PM:

If one can knit with ribbon, then that would be a way to make a hat of fourteen rows.

Can one?

#196 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 08:09 PM:

abi, 191: I don't know if your sonnet will make a hat. But if I can find superbulky yarn (2-3 st/in) in enough colors, I can make a hat with 14 garter ridges, with each color representing a rhyme. OTGH, that's kind of a lot of money for a joke; it can wait until I'm employed.

#197 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 08:18 PM:

Kevin, one can--but it has to be fabric ribbon, not the fake stuff florists use.

#198 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 08:28 PM:

A fascist octopus (see particles) would have a hard time goose-stepping.

#199 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 09:03 PM:

TexAnne, would a self-striping super-bulky yarn maybe do the trick? You would probably want to break the yarn between some color changes to manipulate the colors correctly, but it might reduce the need for multiple skeins.

#200 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 09:10 PM:

...except that now that I go looking on Ravelry and elsewhere, it doesn't seem to exist.

Doubled-up bulky or aran weight?

I think I'm taking this too seriously.

#201 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 09:37 PM:

abi @193: I think the eponymous "bitzer" is a fine term, and kid bitzer deserves the honor.

I find myself tempted to browse back through the 142 prior bitzers (and I presume they all exist).

#202 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 09:48 PM:

This seems like the sort of news snippet that the community might like: Mark Reckless, MP was Too Drunk to Vote

#203 ::: Alice Bentley ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 09:54 PM:

abi @ 193 Ah, and here I used the bitzer for this thread for an aikido note (since I hadn't even noticed what comment we were up to) when the chance was more or less even that I would use it to mention how this topic reminded me of a song I haven't heard in decades - and a paper of pins.

#204 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 10:00 PM:

Xopher @130 et seq.--

Yes. It's clothing as art form--and while there were pobably several things that extreme in the show, most of it was probably closer to what actual humans will wear--possibly, as was suggested, somewhat looser fitting clothing, with pleating.

It's also advertising--it's intended to catch people's eye and stand out from all the other people presenting collections, for the most part to stores and ready-to-wear manufacturer's. Every picture or video clip that makes it into print, onto television or the internet is free advertising, and the odder stuff is what gets shown in that way. They don't expect to sell much of the extreme stuff, except to collectors--but the publicity it generates will help sell the rest of the collection. You won't see most of the rest of the clothes--the ones intended to be worn in daily life--in news photographs or on television; they won't be odd and eye-catching enough to compete for a spot on the news. I can't speak for menswear designers, but in womenswear, even the more wearable items, when displayed on the runway at the show, will share in eye-catching make-up, hairstyles, and accessories which are similar throughout the designer's show, pusing commone elements--a particular shade of lipstick and blush, lighter or heavier eye makeup, the use (or abuse) of false eyelashes, short hair, hair worh up, long flowing hair, shoes in a particular style, and so on, as the fancy takes them. These are also often too extreme to be worn in the normal course of things--but they do attract attention to the collection, and help to publicize it.

I agree about the proposed sound effects for those pants.

#205 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 10:08 PM:

Also, runway models at these big shows get paid a few hundred dollars an hour to tolerate being dressed up in these flights of fancy. That tends to limit my sympathy for anyone undergoing the indignity of wearing pants like that in front of witnesses.

#206 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 10:21 PM:

Thanks fidelio. That makes a lot more sense. The clothes don't—but they aren't supposed to!

#207 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 10:21 PM:

kip w @176--

yes, i almost wrote "square" back in 145, but then wondered whether that should instead be the n^2 comment on the nth thread (and this one will probably get cut off before comment #20449!)

salixulon @179--

"diagonal" is nice, too.

abi @193--

squeeee!! i'm famous! i want to thank my mother and father and all the little people who worked so hard to make this possible!

seriously--that's very sweet of you. as a token of gratitude, i am going to retroactively name a whole category of monasteries and convents after you. yur welcome.

saliluxon & alice @201 & 203--how fun to be memorialized. as conan doyle said after dipping into horace, non omnis moriar ti.

alright--i must go lie down now until the giddiness passes. tomorrow i shall be more composed.

#208 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 10:28 PM:

I forgot to link to this when I wrote it.

I'm coming to New York/New Jersey

I hope some number of the folks who live in that part of the world would like to pull a little Gathering of Light, so that link is for planning, etc.

#209 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 10:36 PM:

Interesting site: Forgotten Bookmarks, where are pictures and descriptions/transcriptions of the things found in old books by a clerk in a rare book store.

Shopping lists, photos, cards, and some maddeningly intriguing letters.

#210 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 10:39 PM:

Fashion as art is only slightly higher in my bleargh hierarchy than pretentious "installations", although I suppose if someone were willing to pay me one hundred thousand dollars for "Prank #34: Flaming Bag of Dog Poop on Dust Bowl Era Porch", I might think differently....

#211 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 10:48 PM:

Terry, I'd love to finally meet you. I hope something can be worked out.

One thing about being unemployed, I have a lot of free time.

#212 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 10:57 PM:

me @ 182:

Google searches to infinity and beyond: I found a news photo from the End of the World Cup Game.

#213 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 11:22 PM:

Currently in an ancient motel in Chama, NM -- the room we're in is the only one which can access the wifi in the office building. I keep misreading the town's name on various business signs as "Obama" and being momentarily startled. Yesterday's car difficulty turned out to be nothing more serious than a loose clamp. It is impossible to find inexpensive hotel rooms anywhere in CO except right along the interstates.

Today was a red-letter day for me -- I got to cross something off my lifetime list! We drove past a glider port, and went back to check on the price of a ride, and it wasn't outrageous. I've been wanting to take a sailplane ride since I was about 10 years old, and now I have.

#214 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 12:49 AM:

pericat @ 209: I love that missing bookmarks site!

Lee @ 213: I got to ride in a glider once, and loved it. I was surprised at how loud the wind was, and how bumpy the ride.

#215 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 01:38 AM:

This has been a knitting/fiber-intense weekend for me. The usual Knitter's Breakfast, where I finished the printed portion of my embroidery bit and started in on the "When I'm Tired Of This, It's Done," portion, that was Saturday. Sunday, a friend from Breakfast had a birthday showing-- she decided that she was seventy, she wants people to see what she does. Biking and cake decorating from years ago*, knitting and embroidery and more knitting and sewing and more knitting and swatches from knitting and this Indian embroidery technique that we will make her teach us, seriously, and knitting. Monday, which is inexplicably today, is Pub Knit, which means the Drunken Scarf will get another stripe.
And even Making Light is in on it!

*In an article about her cross-country trip, there's a bit that's about, "She does not consider herself an avid cyclist. She's done RAGBRAI** nine times..." and I just laughed.
**Bike across the state of Iowa.

#216 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 01:47 AM:

I agree with the premise of the fear is the enemy of justice sidelight, but there is a really big hole in the conclusion... the difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter isn't the reasonableness of the fear.

That's part of the rationale for claims of self-defense.

Voluntary manslaughter is the result of an attack on another person, which was not possessed of malice, but did have the intent to harm.

Involuntary is a negligent act, which has the potential to harm, but had not the intent.

#217 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 03:08 AM:

As AACBRIML (All advice can be requested in ML):

I'm contemplating a pile of worth-little books.

They aren't worth rereading, I wouldn't let my friends read them [there's so much more good stuff out there], if non-fiction they impart outdated information, and if I made them free-for-the-taking they'd only be taken away because they feed the desire of cr@phounds.

They're the book equivalent of finding a rat caught in a live-trap: I don't want them, I don't want other people to have to deal with them, but I also don't want to just throw them out. I'm definitely, this time, not going to put off decisions about them to a future me: they're leaving the house, somehow.

What would you do?

#218 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 05:06 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale -- take 'em to someplace like Half Price Books (if you have one)? They (HPB) decide what to do with them after they've given you an offer, including donating books they deem un-sell-able.

#219 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 08:12 AM:

Kathryn @ 217: I take books like that to Goodwill. One person's trash, etc., and while it's making someone else deal with it, I think it's their gig and they don't mind.

I did, once, recycle a book that I thought was actively harmful (it presented egregiously wrong information on an important issue). I think I did the right thing, but I'm still a little traumatized by the experience.

#220 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 08:18 AM:


...damage, if any, is a result of interaction between the aite and the tori's skill, as well as the tori's intentions

Nothing there I object to. My guess is if you were to fully execute a technique with someone who couldn't follow appropriately*, you would have to be an incredibly skilled and sensitive tori not to cause serious damage.

In mixed grade practice** with strangers (seminars, summer schools etc.) I have a high regard for tori who start slow and assess uke's capabilities. White belts for all kyu grades (in most federations) helps - they could be beginners or highly experienced, all you know is that they're not yudansha - but I've seen some unfortunate confusions occur between traditions that put all women in hakima***, and those who reserve hakima for yudansha****. As in so many things, good practitioners are careful with their assumptions.

* For example, in a real attack
** I had to look that up and was interested to learn that in US English "Practice" is acceptable as noun and verb, wherease in UK English the verb is apparently "Practise". I originally had it wrong under either usage (i.e. I wrote "Practise").
*** The gi is, after all, underwear
**** Particularly confusing as, unless you look carefully, the hakima hides the belt

#221 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 08:22 AM:

Publishing OT: David Lubar has more information about Barnes & Noble's deep-discount books.

#222 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 09:12 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @217:
They're the book equivalent of finding a rat caught in a live-trap: I don't want them, I don't want other people to have to deal with them, but I also don't want to just throw them out.

If you really, seriously think the books should be removed from circulation, tear the covers off (with hardbacks, this may require the aid of a boxcutter) and put them into the paper recycling. Unlike landfill trash, the paper at least will be able to be used.

Yes, it's libricide. I know that's going to produce a frisson of horror in every single regular reader here, and I apologize now for the emotional distress this suggestion is causing the Fluorosphere.

I have done it with some college textbooks, which were about 30 years old (really, an astronomy textbook that old is neither old enough to be of real historical interest, nor anywhere near recent enough to provide useful information). I felt as though I were putting a pet to sleep, but at least with recycling the paper gets to go on as useful material.

Fiction, with rare exceptions, I donate*, but outdated nonfiction (especially scientific) may be better off recycled. Kook "Science" nonfiction**, unless you know someone who will cherish it for the laughs it can bring, may also be better off recycled, depending on how pernicious its mistruths are. People will have to deal with it, but as fodder to be repulped rather than as a semi-sacred object, AKA Book, which must be handled respectfully no matter how useless or even actively harmful its contents may be.

*If it's in good shape, the silliest Harlequin romance can make the person who wanted just that thing happy, and should have a chance to. I will note that one of the Goodwill Stores in Nashville has an annex that sells book by weight, though, so it's not as if there's a shortage of books being donated, at least in this city.

**You know the kind of thing--its contents have sciency content, often presented with a surfeit of erors and misinterpretations. They date pretty quickly, too.

#223 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 09:55 AM:

fidelio has pretty much the right of it (though having my family own a used book store for going on 39 years, I have lost all horror at disposing, completely of some books).

Fiction is what it is. Non-fiction has a self-life.

#224 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 09:57 AM:

Libricide--guilty as charged, and not one of my happier duties. Dated items that contained information that was just plain wrong, and belong on the shelves of university libraries to be examined by those who have [I hope] some critical thinking. In future, if I have to do that again, I will shoot for proper recycling [or academic donation.] Less pernicious matter goes to Half Price.
I once found a Hitler Youth manual in the local university library. That's where it belongs.
The thought of harming books has disturbed me ever since I learned to read.

#225 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 10:14 AM:

Another one here who likes the comparision between dispatching books and putting pets to sleep. I recently parted that way with a few remaining university texts - I graduated in 1982, and those particular editions are of no interest to anyone.

Recently adopted from the library's used book sales: Fifth edition Webster's Collegiate, 1936/1941. The Canadian version, with 1941 Canadian Census data.

#226 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 10:20 AM:

I think of books containing toxic misinformation in much the same way that I would think of a cake recipe containing belladonna or arsenic. If it's in my possession, the only ethical thing to do is destroy it; passing it on, in any way whatsoever, would render me morally culpable for the damage it might do to someone else, and I have no hesitation whatsoever about recycling it. Note that this is a decision I can only make for myself, and about books that I personally own.

If I think something might be of historical or collector interest, I'll check eBay and Amazon to see if there's any demand for it. If there are copies going begging, then it's either Half Price or Goodwill.

#227 ::: P J evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 10:37 AM:

I once put a book out for incineration - it was an edition which was so egregiously bad that the publisher sent out a recall notice. (There are at least two more editions of it, which, IMO, are not a great deal better.)
Normally I wouldn't do such a thing, but this was an exceptional case.

#228 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 10:49 AM:

Back to the knitted sonnet: I wonder if it might be possible to convey the actual text by applying French knots or the like in a morse pattern?

#229 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 11:06 AM:

joann, 228: French knots on your average handknitted fabric are possible but would be a giant pain to do. It would be easier to convey Morse code by means of isolated purls. (Or beads. Beads are fun.)

#230 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 11:13 AM:

Which loops around to Mme Defarge and how exactly she was knitting people's names--assuming that's what she was actually doing, and Dickens wasn't just being poetic and/or metaphorical.

I have on occasion played around with the idea of a cipher made to look like knitting abbreviations.

#231 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 11:18 AM:

Like, it appears, many of us, I'm bothered by the idea of deliberately destroying (or damaging) a book.

However, I recognize situations where it's necessary. This includes actively dangerous stuff (I'm more inclined to consider incorrect medical or engineering information in this category than I am dangerous philosophical opinions). That stuff should be in suitable reference collections, including personal ones, but I'd feel pretty iffy about moving it through normal cheap-or-free book channels; the people who get it might not understand what they have.

Then there are the situations where it's unavoidable -- stuff that has no visible market. Most old non-fiction (some things are old enough to have a nostalgia market again; which is an argument why you might take a flyer on saving some things that current information says should be tossed). Some old and very bad fiction. I've been known to dump this kind of thing on places which, I'm nearly sure, will have to throw it out. And I'm wasting their employees' time by doing that. On the other hand, it's getting a second opinion; it doesn't get tossed unless we both agree.

One of the cases I feel least bad about is something that's already on Project Gutenberg. The ability of people to access it depends much less on finding physical copies of those things, so whatever I do with the physical copy matters less. I still won't destroy it if I can find somebody with an interest, of course.

This is probably close to the "weird obsessions" category.

#232 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 11:45 AM:

I have a cowl (Marna made it for me), which I use on the motorcycle (It keeps the wind,and the bugs, off my neck. It also reduces helmet noise).

Around the rim she put a hidden message, in Morse. It's not very efficient way of moving information in knitwork. I don't, however, doubt that a person of wit couldn't devise a cipher of some sort, using a more compact set of rules.

All a Mme. DeFarge needs is a reliable aide memoire

#233 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 12:06 PM:

"Sometime in about the mid 1980s, the phone rang.

"And a voice said, we want you to go to Madagascar."

Douglas Adams on

#234 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 12:26 PM:


To help with the least bad feelings, I may go ahead and upload them/scan them first*-- letting the unseen library sort them out-- because taking the cover off is a necessary part of recycling, and might as well keep going.

Although cutting the spine off of a book seems like a line that can never been uncrossed. I'm not yet a patternist for books.

* remembering that I have access to a decent scanner.

#235 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 01:30 PM:


Harvey Pekar died. He'd been all beat up from multiple rounds of cancer treatment, but still, 70 is unfairly young these days, and he was still churning stuff out.

Once known for his cranky autobiographics comics, he'd lately been writing wonderful little comic profiles about other folks.

#236 ::: Gennis ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 01:31 PM:

One of my occasional tasks as an undergrad working in the campus library was replacing the paperback set of laws (or regulations or whatever they were) on the shelves with newer editions. I'd take the old ones upstairs to a large machine where I'd chop the spines off before placing the pages in a recycling bin. I knew perfectly well that these were obsolete, but it still felt weird to destroy a book that way.

#237 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 01:31 PM:

I have cut spines off books, to make scanning practical. I didn't have a good scanner, no stack feed and had to do each side individually, so it could have been immensely easier. Still wasn't bad.

If you're disposing of the copy, it's not on Gutenberg, and it qualifies, that's certainly a great idea.

#238 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 01:52 PM:

I had to dispose of a lot of books when I was sorting through my dad's house. Boxes and boxes went to the library sale, old encyclopedias and particularly damaged books went on the fire pile. I considered it a more fitting end for a book than going out with the trash, almost like funeral pyre. Yes, it was hard to do, I don't even WRITE in books, but no one wants moldy encyclopedias from 1985. Plus, I got my Grandmother's original copy of Animal Farm from the sorting, so I consider myself repaid for the emotional trauma.

#239 ::: Jenavira ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 02:30 PM:

I pretty much stopped feeling bad about tossing books in my last semester of library school. The Kohler, Wisconsin public library was getting their carpet replaced, and the previous library director didn't believe in getting rid of things. Ever. Since this was a library with one full-time staff person, they begged the library school for help, so seven of us went up in a van one day and spent eleven hours going through their fiction collection.

Our guidelines were very, very broad -- if it's been checked out more than twice, or any time in the past ten years, keep it. Those that didn't meet that criteria were run by a company called Better World Books, which takes donations and resells the books and uses the funds thus generated for worldwide literacy projects. They won't take everything, though, so they've got a barcode scanner system on their website to check and see if they want it or not. If they don't think they can move it, they don't want it. We boxed up probably twenty or thirty boxes of adult and kids' fiction to send to them.

We also filled a Dumpster three-quarters full. These were, quite seriously, books that nobody wanted; books that hadn't been checked out of a tiny public library with limited selection in more than a decade. Sometimes, they really do just have to go away.

(And with all that said, I still have a couple of out-of-date archaeology textbooks taking up space on my shelf because I can't quite bring myself to just toss them. *sigh*)

#240 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 02:40 PM:

I've largely gotten over my disgust with throwing out old computer texts. Java 1.0 Made EZ, The Essential Windows 3.1, Desktop Publishing with WordStar 5.0 . . . that sort of thing.

I toss these in the recycle bin w/o guilt.

More recent books might find a buyer at Goodwill, but donating the really old stuff is just postponing the inevitable. Many books donated to Goodwill eventually find their way to recycling bins or ballast holds.

#241 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 03:16 PM:

This Is Just to Say

I Love Charts has charted
the plums
that were in
the anthology.

And which
you were probably
of parodying.

Forgive me.
It is delicious
so sweet
and so sequential.

#242 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 03:50 PM:

In the past five years I've tossed one book, and it was harboring active wood borers or some other critter. I could see the little white crawly things inside the holes they were creating. I wrapped it in a plastic bag, sealed the bag with a twist-tie and threw it into the landfill-designated trash bin, shuddering.

#243 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 03:52 PM:

My mother is a librarian - she also knows from book retirement. Although this thread is interesting enough that I needed to get the quote that was in my .sigfile before I lost it:

on 'Dianetics' and 'Battlefield Earth': "Burning books is *wrong*. So we shot them instead." Apparently they do quite well as targets; whatever he was using had as much trouble getting all the way through BE as many a human reader. -- Brian Harradine, in the Monastery

#244 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 04:11 PM:

I recall an issue of Science Fiction Eye which included a photo-essay review of an Orson Scott Card novel.

It showed the reviewer's pet wolf happily chewing the book to pieces.

#245 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 04:11 PM:

Furniture stores frequently have old books in their room displays. Perhaps they can make a home for old volumes.

#246 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 04:22 PM:

kid bitzer @207 - And now in every open thread, somewhere around the nth post, people will be posting comments that say only "Bitzer!" and "Darn it, you got in ahead of me! I was going to Bitzer!"

#247 ::: Scott F. ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 04:43 PM:

Stefan@240: I'm planning on recycling my dated tech literature for a workout program.

#248 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 05:07 PM:

I remember looking at one furniture photo and recognizing the encyclopedia on the bookshelves - it was one we had when I was a kid (and, dated or not, still very useful; we donated it to a export-charity program).

#249 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 05:10 PM:

P J Evans@248: Do you mean you recognized the very set you had donated, or another copy of the same edition?

#250 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 05:37 PM:

kip w @246--

well, i'd be immensely flattered, of course. i've been a hissing all my life; it'll make a change to be a byword.

but i have a feeling that the next time the question comes up, things are going to get really, really gross.

#251 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 05:46 PM:

Dan, it was the same encyclopedia - I don't think it had more than one edition, with yearbooks - but not the same physical set, AFAIK. ('American People's Encyclopedia', sold, I think, through Sears.)

#254 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 06:13 PM:

Bruce@253 — Funny. Funnier would be sodomitic dinosaurs, but zombies are funny enough.

#255 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 06:20 PM:

Silly season is upon us:

Abductees Declare War On Aliens

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Wireless Flash - FlashNews) – Alien abductees aren’t taking it lying down anymore – they’ve just declared war on extraterrestrials.

According to UFO researcher Terry Floyd Johnson, there’s been an intergalactic battle brewing between ETs and the “primitives” they abduct for the past nine months.

Johnson claims the war has intensified in recent days, especially since abductees, known as “Rowdies Rangers,” made a major move.

Johnson says that on the 4th of July, abductees banded together to destroy a bunch of top-secret bases belonging to aliens because the ETs were planning on attacking Earth first.

#256 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 06:27 PM:

Mycroft W @243: I'm stealing that quote. Thank you.

I've thrown away many a (severely water or smoke damaged) book. There is a threshold for it. And, professionally, I couldn't tell you how many stripped books I've taken to the recycling center (and the occasional odd bit of printed paper I've saved from there, occasionally quite profitably).

#257 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 06:33 PM:

Hi, Kathryn - Ananda Booksellers in Mountain View has plenty of Bad Science Fiction, and probably would be happy to have more. Bad or obsolete non-fiction? Probably recycle it.

Sigh - I've got a collection of a dozen years worth of Usenix conference proceedings, which aren't the kind of thing that really go bad, but realistically I'm never going to read again and probably nobody else wants, since any library that would want that kind of thing already has it. Maybe Freecycle would?

#258 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 06:48 PM:

Apparently Fred Phelps and his little band of bigots have decided to picket Comic-Con.

It would be rather funny if everyone just assumed Phelps etc. were just an unusual variation on cosplaying...

#259 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 08:44 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale, #217, I give them to the Friends of the Library. If they don't sell, they send them for paper recycling.

#260 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 09:26 PM:

I survived LibertyCon, including the terrorizing moments when a friend had a seizure. I found out I can teleport through a crowd to get ice a nurse asks for. My friend was recovered well enough to make an "I'm all right" lap through the Con two or three hours later.

#261 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 09:26 PM:

apropos of the textile site posted in particles: Dr. paisley found an amazing pair of 501s at our favorite thrift shop Saturday. not only are they exactly his size (unusual because it is fairly common AND that style of jeans, most folks wear until they fall apart), BUT.

they have an amazing sort of Japanese scene embroidered onto the backside, over the pockets, etc. I'd look at them to describe them better but he's removed them to his clothes storage.

#262 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Apropos #258 -- they can't have thought this through. Where are they going to sleep? There isn't a hotel room to be had in the area, as far as I know.

In other... news? I don't know what to make of this.

Schools and drug experts are warning parents to beware of "digital drugs" that Mustang High School students blamed for their apparent intoxication.

While I can sort-of believe that you can induce altered consciousness via sounds, I can't believe even high-school principals are gullible enough to buy this story.

#263 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 11:32 PM:

Wyman, #260: Is your friend's name Tom by any chance?

#264 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 11:34 PM:

VictorS, what sort of crack are people smoking to produce this kind of information? One part of the article actually sounds as if the noises cause benefits to adhd kids, and so on.

Sounds like people grasping at straws to make kids 'bad' so they can be mean to them. Just saying. there are enough people out there that get off on that kind of thing.

I am not a parent but I have enough young people in my life (baby through to grownup adult) that this sort of thing sounds like bs.

and all the kids I know are, if old enough, well into online stuff. their parents make sure of the appropriateness for the access.

#265 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 11:36 PM:

Re the 75 bands particle, I went through that with some of my friends from LJ (a side community adjoining my friends from Theatre CNU), and I don't know how many we got, but it was some kinda fun. I'll wager we trailed off before we got them all, though. I notice the answer gives "70" instead of 75, though at least the problem set (as opposed to the solution, which I resent being there) isn't shown too small or cut off at the edges, as was the case with some of the ones we found to work off of back then. Ah, mem-rees.

#266 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 11:48 PM:

On "I-dosing", I think the Miami New Times has it right:

Can specially designed ambient music trick high-chasing teens into a drug-like zen state? Probably not.
Can this Miami Herald article trick you into think you're reading about something fascinating until you realize it's ultimately about nothing? Probably.
The greatest thing about the silly season is when you get a debunking war.

#267 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 12:17 AM:

Paula Helm Murray -- your first sentence covers my initial reaction. An alternate hypothesis to the "any stick to beat them with" theory is that the high-schoolers brought this out as an excuse for (whatever they were caught doing), and the gullible staff bought it hook, line, and sinker. But then, my interactions with high school administrators didn't give me a lot of faith in their cognitive abilities.

At a slight tangent, I'm a little worried that perhaps the general level of techno-nous is low enough in Oklahoma that people there will believe any damn thing they hear about the internet. But I don't have a ready base of Oklahomans to query on the subject, of course.

#268 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 12:33 AM:

Lee @ 263:

No, Bob. It was the first episode he had had since 1991.

#269 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 01:15 AM:

re the transliterator particle: The cyrillic is defective. It has absolute values for letters, and fails to not phonemes.

America = Ameritsa

#270 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 01:22 AM:

Victor s, the people in Oklahoma, for the most part, are just like people everywhere. I've got lots of friends there (mostly living in the major cities), etc

But it worries me that a school staff would be that stoopid.

#271 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 02:33 AM:

Does anybody else read at Customers Suck on LJ? I'm trying to track down a post that is several years old. (IIRC, I asked this question at C_S and was told not to.) It's the one from the person who worked for either a realtor or a mortgage broker, and the incredible mess one of their customers had gotten into. She bought a nice piece of land in the country sight unseen, and upon taking possession was happily surprised to find a house on it! What a bonus! So she moved in . . . The story broke off as the actual owner of the house (on the adjoining lot) was trying to explain that she wasn't actually on her land and a legal notice to get the heck back on her own side of the property line was not harassment. Or something. Anyway, I really want to know how the whole thing ended. Anybody remember this? My Google-fu availeth naught.

#272 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 06:47 AM:

terry karney @269--

yeah, i'm afraid the same is true of the greek transliterator.

it turns latin "y" into a greek gamma--some shape-similarity, but really not the same thing, esp. not in medial positions.

(then it turns greek gamma, correctly, into latin 'g', so that if you start with latin "type" and run it through and back, you end with "tgpe". it's true that the rules for transliteration differ btw ancient and modern greek, and it's true that in both periods a good transliteration scheme is *hard to implement*, but then again it's hard in the way that computers are supposed to be able to cope with. these folks need to try again.)

#273 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 08:37 AM:

Xopher @130 said: Does anyone, anywhere, ever wear something like this other than on the runway?

No. But most high-end runway shows contain in their majority clothes never meant to be worn anywhere but that show (and maybe in some magazine photo-spreads).

Why? A weird combination of art and marketing.

A designer's season show (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer -- some of which are combined -- plus 'Resort' which is its own weird season for designers who wish to compete in it) has purposes, to wit:

* Get noticed. The more photos of your stuff that hit media outlets, fashion-commentary blogs, and eyeballs generally, the more widely your name and brand get known.
* Show what makes your ideas for the season different from (a) anyone else showing this year, and (b) all past collections, by you or anyone else.

The clothes that are sold, whether as one-off couture pieces to very wealthy people, or as luxury-line expensive ready-to-wear, or even translated downwards to Nordstrom or Target (depending on the designer's lines and penetration), will contain aspects of their runway show for the season.

However, the runway clothes have all the season's DNA, as it were, dialed up way past 11 so they're obvious.

I'd say that designer was 'playing with volume' and 'showcasing nonstandard silhouettes,' though to know more I'd need to see more of the show.

The jacket, in toned-down cut, will probably make it to at least the (price-wise) tops of his lines. The color palette will be all over everythign he does for that season. Possibly pleating details will show up in his menswear somewhere. And his mainstream pants will not be close-fitting, and may be stylized or boxy in cut.

Again, I'd have to see the rest of the show, but I'd bet that bellows-pleating goes all through it, as a sort of leitmotif, in both enormous (this one) and lesser expressions. It's part of 'putting on a show' -- if your clothes are too 'wearable,' the fashion press ignores you, and your brand suffers.

You have to compete effectively on the runway to get the chain buyers to place orders with you ... but the runway looks are never going to actually end up in a store. And consumers don't get turned off by their outlandishness, because what they see in stores look like clothes, not like art pieces.

This blathering brought to you from the alternate universe next door where I grew up to be a fashion designer (there's one just the other side of it where I went into architecture).

#274 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 09:27 AM:

A brief addendum to my #273: Magazine photospreads come in several kinds, the most prestigious of which is 'the editorial'. A lot of ordinary folks have no idea what makes an editorial different than, say, the other spreads in the magazine (or the ads next to the spreads, or the Land's End catalog).

Editorials almost always showcase the higher-end (and much weirder) couture or runway looks, and require a model who can pull them off in ways that inspire the photographer shooting them. Editorial spreads are more about the art/experimentation side of fashion than about showing actual clothes people can or would want to wear ... but they're also very aspirational, and seek to drive fashion-conscious people's clothing-demand in overall look directions that the editor of the given magazine thinks are trend-setting.

Yes, it's all meta of meta, really, but there you are.

If you were to take a model fully kitted-out for an editorial shoot and take snapshots of her standing around waiting, she'd look outlandish, beyond the dreams of performance artists.

A couple of illustrative examples: an editorial shot of a white feathery dress; a still-very-artsy shot from a feature. The editorial is both more stylized, and contains clothes that -- if worn by anyone but a consciously posing (and 'working it'), skilled fashion model, would look as ridiculous as Mr. Concertina-Pants up above.

#275 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 09:37 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 271:

I remember that story! Unfortunately, I'm not able to easily grab a link to it, nor do I recall about when it appeared (such that an archive trawl would turn it up in a reasonable amount of time). I vaguely recall that there was a subsequent post discussing how the woman and her son were continuing to raise a great fuss, and authorities had gotten involved; also, that there was increasing anger on the actual home-owner's part, as the accidental (idiot?) squatters had done things like cutting down old trees on the property they didn't own. But for actual specific resolution, I don't recall the details.

#276 ::: M Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 10:03 AM:


PJ, thank goodness. I thought you might mean Richards Topical Encyclopedia, which, except for Vol.14, was a frightening set of books.

#277 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 10:19 AM:

You'd think it was just another extreme fashion statement, but the Berlin Golden Hat is potentially a calendar as well.

There are others like it.

#278 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 10:35 AM:

M Evans @ 276 -- We had a set of Richards Topical Encyclopedia when I was growing up. For children, and allowing for its being as out-of-date as any encyclopedia becomes over time, it didn't seem bad. I know that I used it as a reference for a number of school projects.

But at some point, probably when I was around 12 or 13, I decided that I was going to read it through, start to finish. (Maybe it was a boring summer?) And right at the start, in the introduction, it mentioned the mystery of how light propagated through the ether as an example of current hot research in science. And since I already knew that that was wrong (in the "decades-out-of-date theory" sense), it killed my interest in proceeding any further.

#279 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 10:44 AM:

Joel@278: Our 1893 Britannica has a fascinating article on the "luminiferous ether". It's credited to a Mr. J. C. Maxwell.

(Gutenberg has been doing the famous 11th edition (published 1911, thus explaining my confusion a bit); looks like they've only issued the first 9 volumes so far though.)

#280 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 11:28 AM:

Some of the fairy tales were a little scary. Especially with the pictures.

(Yes, it was dated; I think it was a reprint of something from around 1910. It was really good for getting you 'older than you should be' points, for knowing what antimacassars and passe-partout are.)

#281 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 11:58 AM:

From the NYT: America Builds an Aristocracy or how to put your trust funds out of harm's way forever

I'm thinking, "I gotta get me some of those."

#282 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 11:59 AM:

When I was a kid, we had several outdated encyclopedia sets. For doing a report on relatively stable subjects ('dogs' comes to mind) it didn't matter, and we knew enough to be careful about the others. At some point in my early teens, we accidentally acquired a facsimile of the first edition of Encyclopedia Britannica (1776? something like that). I adored the article on Elements--all four of them.

#283 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 01:02 PM:

I feel it essential to point out that there is a Japanese film based loosely on "The Terminator", except it involves a washing-machine designer being sent back through time to prevent the passage of a law banning the use of real estate as collateral for commercial bank loans, in the hope that this will prevent the economic collapse of the 1990s. The designer, naturally, goes missing in the distant past of 1990 and has to be pursued by her estranged daughter in a wetsuit.

It's got to be worth a try.

#284 ::: Suzanne F. ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 01:23 PM:

@Diatryma 215:

When I did RAGBRAI there were a significant amount of folks over 70, many of whom had done the ride tens of times. I remember struggling up a particularly difficult hill behind a woman with a taunting message on the back of her bike: "82 and faster than you."

#285 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 01:41 PM:

Suzanne F, my boggle is not so much her age as the fact that after nine RAGBRAIs, she didn't consider herself an avid cyclist. Nor after crossing the country.

We also spent some time bullying her into teaching a class at the yarn store about a particular Indian embroidery style she learned when she was twelve or thirteen. Gorgeously complicated-looking and mostly work in the planning, not the execution.

#286 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 02:30 PM:

Open-thready observation:

If your e-mail contains the word "sofisticated", you probably aren't.

#287 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 03:11 PM:

Apparently, Tom's message does not count as a "spelling flame"; at least, I can't find the requisite spelling error in it :-) .

(No, quoting the word you're complaining about a misspelling of doesn't count. No, the spelling of "e-mail" is still in contention and Tom's version is therefore not wrong. No, putting the comma outside the quotes (as all sane people do) rather than inside (as American typographical standards suggest) is not a spelling error.)

#288 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 03:14 PM:

If you have e-mail from someone named 'Brain Walker Esq', it's spam or a zombie.

#289 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 03:20 PM:

I have realized, after reading some of Jim's posts, that in the two times that I've done RAGBRAI I can count at least 4 or 5 times that I had signs of heat exhaustion or other heat related issues. There were several times when I just wanted to lie somewhere for a while.

(And that's not counting the obvious sunburn as heat related)

Then again, there's the bike racing in Oregon in the rain where I (now, from a comfortable position) recognize the signs of hypothermia.

#290 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 03:23 PM:

Re: The most unbelievable series on television.

Likely enough nobody posting comments ever read Letter From a Higher Critic in Analog - most easily found today in Best of... #6 but it has been done and done well before.

Interesting to notice that the debunking of Midway the Battle that Doomed Japan (Fuchida et al) has not caught up with the stories. McClusky's (? spelling I'm guessing) Turn really is a bit of historical luck there though.

#291 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 04:00 PM:

Am I the only person here who considers "a postage stamp upside down on an envelope" to be signal for distress and coercion? This would be kin to flying a flag upside down.

#292 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 04:03 PM:

I've put postage stamps on envelopes upside-down before, and it was pretty much a symbol of being in a hurry, or not looking, or just not caring.

#293 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 04:27 PM:

Victoria@291: That's certainly what immediately occurred to me when I saw it on the list. I'm wasn't previously familiar with the other meaning.

#294 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 04:27 PM:

There is a plot of land next to ours that has been vacant since we moved to Worcester (15 years).

Aboiut 5 years ago somebody decided that they would use a portion as aprking artea, and hired a contractor to come in, level off a portion and put down hot top.

Then the actual owner (the person who had been paying the taxes on the land all along) got involved and started legal action.

The woman who had the parking lot built was all ticked off. For some reason she blamed my wife and I for ratting her out. Actually, we had no idea about who owned what.

Last I heard they were still fighting it out in court.

#295 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 04:44 PM:

Craig@294: People are usually mad at somebody seen as having "ratted them out", yes. That's surprising?

#296 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 04:50 PM:

How many of us will be at ArmadilloCon (August 27-29, 2010, Austin, TX) this year?

#297 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 04:55 PM:

287, No, putting the comma outside the quotes (as all sane people do) rather than inside (as American typographical standards suggest) is not a spelling error.

Whoever decided that you can add punctuation inside the quotes, that was not in the original quoted text, and that is MORE CORRECT than putting the punctuation outside... that person was wrong. Couldn't have been more wrong if they were upended in a vat full of toxic wrong by Captain Wrong and his Wrongbots, to steal a line.

#298 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 04:57 PM:

It's interesting to note that ddb thinks me insane; esp. as I wasn't taught the rules of comma usage and quotation when I started doing journalism, but some point much earlier, (I want to say the sixth grade, with Sister Mary Ann's English lessons, wherein I was also forced to diagram sentences: it was a trifle old school, even then).

On a more general note: History of "slush pile".

#299 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 05:07 PM:

Sandy B. @ 297:

The reason, as far as I understand it, is because it's prettier. I don't think correctness entered into it.

#300 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 05:07 PM:

Earl #296:

Moi, as previously mentioned. I hope there are enough others to call for a gathering.

#301 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 05:23 PM:

would a pile of rejected costumes be a plush pile?

#302 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 06:06 PM:

Kip writes in #246:

And now in every open thread, somewhere around the nth post, people will be posting comments that say only "Bitzer!" and "Darn it, you got in ahead of me! I was going to Bitzer!"

Bitzer? I hardly know her!

#303 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 06:11 PM:

Erik: Rather, a pile of costumes yet to be worn....

#304 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 06:29 PM:

ddb @287 -- yes, each of the points you mentioned was a deliberate choice on my part. I prefer e-mail to email, viewing it as an odd form of abbreviation of "electronic mail" that calls for some form of punctuation (and an apostrophe doesn't cut it for that elision); and I certainly know the rules for punctuation in American usage, but agree with Sandy B. that this form makes more sense (and no, Terry, I wouldn't call you crazy for using a standard form even though it seems to me to lose a certain amount of sense). Before T drops in to comment, yes, I know there are cases that remain ambiguous and would, in the most appropriately redundant forms, require commas inside and out of the quotation marks. They're uncommon, if not rare.

In this case, it's a crotchet more than an error.

#305 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 07:00 PM:

VictorS @ 262:

Every few years one doper turns to another and says, "Hey, we could really fake out all the older straight people by starting a rumor that $WEIRDNESS will get you high!", for silly and bizarre values of $WEIRDNESS. Hence smoking banana skins ("They call me Mellow Yellow"), drinking aspirin and Coke™, spinning around really fast and falling over, etc. It gives all the druggies an excuse to snicker at the naive idiots who fall for it, extra points for getting op-ed "view-with-alarm" articles written about it.

#306 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 08:36 PM:

Tom: It's not that I ain't nuts, it's that I don't think those choices are the evident signs.

Heck, I have the "ise" habit.

ddb: The issues wasn't the rightness of being upset at someone who rats one out, but rather that they assumed his parents were the people who did it.

#307 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 08:44 PM:

Open-threadiness + Fluorospherian meetups:

Anyone (but me) (and maybe Cally) coming to Musecon 0 in Chicago, Aug 6-8 2010?

It is a con that makes reality out of the running OVFF joke (that it's really a handicrafts con with a strong music track), and looks to be fun, as well as low-key and relaxaconish.

#308 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 08:48 PM:

Maybe I've spent too much time in the Army, but the Unit Climate Survey.pdf the DoD just sent out doesn't seem horrid to me.

It has the same sense of clumsy sterility of most unit climate surveys, but I don't see that," this expensive survey stokes the fires of homophobia by its very design and will only make the Pentagon’s responsibility to subdue homophobia as part of this inevitable policy change even harder," as Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United said it does.

#309 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 08:56 PM:

In the vein of the knitted sonnet and other Odd Knitting Content ... this is high-fashion odd knitting content. Also, an editorial spread.

#310 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 08:57 PM:

Going WAY back to abi @535 on #142, if anyone wants a copy of my GOH speech on disobedience and eucatastrophe (or my other paper on The Devil Wears Prada) shoot me a line at jbcroft residing at ou which is an edu. Though I delved into theology I managed to avoid being lynched, and a gentleman with a large broadsword defended my honor on a point of military law. (Well, we had just returned from the traditional costume procession...) And how often do you get the Milgram experiments, Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question," and Cohen the Barbarian showing up in the same paper? Not very, I imagine.

#311 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 09:47 PM:

Charlie's new book, The Fuller Memorandum, has some "Ask Dr. Mike" in it -- a program that Mike Ford used to do at Minicon.

#312 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 09:50 PM:

Elliot, most of those look woven or knotted, rather than knitted, to me. Maybe something is lost in translation....

#313 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 10:10 PM:

Terry@308, thanks for posting that. I've never been in the military, though I've had friends who were and have lived near military bases. I have, however, worked in a similarly large American bureaucracy - and while the details are slightly different, stylistically that survey looks pretty much like every bureaucratic corporate morale survey I've ever seen. Maybe it has a chance that there will be statistical differences in responses encouraging Don't Ask Don't Tell witch hunts, or maybe there'll be some redneck young soldiers who didn't realize DADT might end and get very upset, but it's not as bad as I'd expected from the blogosphere commentary.

#314 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 11:42 PM:

Proof that my cat is a strange beast: I got a real carrier for him today (a bit less than a month from now, the two of us are flying to the Bay Area*)... he spent two minutes sniffing at the nylon, and then sauntered into it. This is the same cat who hated the freebie cardboard carrier that Nashville Humane gave me when I adopted him back in 2008. Not that I am objecting - if he likes the new carrier and is happy to just sit and chill out in it, it will make the four hour (or so) flight and attendant airport time on both ends much nicer for both of us come next month.

*On Southwest, taking advantage of a direct flight from Nashville to Oakland, where they will let me take the Great Furball onboard in a carrier for a fairly modest fee.

#315 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 12:13 AM:

Herbert calls for investigation into list of 1,300 identified as illegal immigrants

"The list contains birthdates, workplaces, addresses, phone numbers and social security numbers. Names of children are included. Several pregnant women have their exact due dates listed. All the names seem to be Hispanic."

#316 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 12:59 AM:

Elliot @307:
I'm planning to be there. I'd hoped to get involved with helping put on the thing, but the meetings are all during times that I work. So I'll show up with my knitting and just see what happens.

#317 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 01:12 AM:

Clark Myers:
Likely enough nobody posting comments ever read 'Letter From a Higher Critic' in Analog - most easily found today in Best of... #6 but it has been done and done well before.

Funny, I was just signing in to mention that. I have only a few Analogs, SF&Fs et al. sitting around, but the issue with that story happens to be one of them. So fie! to your assumption.

#318 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 01:26 AM:

Terry @308 -- I agree with you, but I'm curious as to just how anonymous that survey is. If it's not completely anonymous, I can see it having some potential fallout to the answerers. And the statistical information they ask at the end might make some survey respondents directly identifiable (I don't know about the distributions of the categories they're asking about, and I can see some combinations being unique).

On an entirely different front, James P. Hogan has apparently died suddenly at his home.

#319 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 01:41 AM:

#318: Sad. I read a lot of Hogan's works in college. Can't say I've kept track of what he'd written since 1990 or so.
* * *
Hmmm. To judge from his blog, he'd been writing global warming denial stuff for a libertarian website.

#320 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 01:47 AM:

Thom: They are completely anonymous. The only information it collects is battalion.

Futher, there is no real timescale; it asks if the service member has ever served with, given the way the US forces move people around, that pretty much strips it of any prosecutorial power; notwithstanding there is no way to take a single survey and track it back to any specific person, so there is no way to get testimony/evidence.

#321 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 02:47 AM:

(1) Putting periods or commas outside double quotes looks like ass when typeset.

(2) If you want your punctuation to be logical, why the half measures? Use single quotes for the first level of mention and double quotes for the second. Then putting punctuation outside* is both logical and customary (albeit British).

*'...with the milk and the cat'. --Robert Bringhurst

#322 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 06:07 AM:

Schools and drug experts are warning parents to beware of "digital drugs" that Mustang High School students blamed for their apparent intoxication.

It's being distributed via HyperCard by a really tall black-and-white person.

#323 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 06:13 AM:

putting punctuation outside* is both logical and customary (albeit British).

I like the "albeit".

#324 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 08:12 AM:

M Evans @ #276: I thought you might mean Richards Topical Encyclopedia, which, except for Vol.14, was a frightening set of books.

So, somebody's gotta ask: What was different about Vol.14?

#325 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 09:16 AM:

Here's an excellent quote of the day from Paul Krugman:
"The facts really do have a well-known liberal bias".

#326 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:03 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 305, my mother likes to tell the story of her youngest brother, at age 12 or so, getting the banana peel idea from the Smothers Brothers. So he wrapped up a fresh banana peel in notebook paper and lit the end.

One minor kitchen fire (and all three of his siblings screaming at him to put it out) later, he gave up.

This was a lesson: do not get your drug experimentation ideas from the Smothers Brothers. It will not go well.

As for the I-dose thing, I wish I knew enough neurophysiology to comprehensively debunk the pseudoscience, and explain exactly why it doesn't work. I might email a friend of mine who works in neural electrophysiology and ask.

Benjamin Wolfe @ 314, that's great! Good luck with kitty traveling. My cats also love their nylon carriers -- they still sit in them recreationally, even after a traumatic car trip to the vet (one hates the car more, one hates the vet more). Best: when an upset cat poops or vomits in the carrier, it's easily hosed out and dries in the space of a vet visit. (The cat had to be hosed off as well, which did not help in endearing her to the vet. Poor little cat. She survived, though.)

My husband refers to the nylon carriers as cat duffel bags, and says he feels like he's taking the cat as gym equipment. Benchpressing cats: the new Pilates?

#327 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:18 AM:

Paul A @ 324 -- Volume 14 is "Manual Arts, Games and Sports, Fairy Tales, Fables, Stories, Myths". Other than the extent to which that book might be trying to interpret/explain things in a then-modern context, it's much less dated than most of the rest.

#328 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:31 AM:

I became somewhat radicalized on the location of punctuation relative to quotation marks when I realized that, in technical documentation, the American standard practice rendered the commands they told you to type actively wrong. These days, with far more capable printers and page layout programs, one often uses other ways to delimit commands, and one could adopt the sensible practice only in limited areas, but when I also found that the accurate way was the standard way in many parts of the world, and hence that the decision was pretty arbitrary, I saw no further reason to ever use the American traditional way.

#329 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:38 AM:

Elliott @ 308

Sounds like Musecon would be fun, but wouldn't you know it, I'll be driving home from Colorado that weekend. Figures, doesn't it?

Have a good time, and report back!

#330 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:55 AM:

Elliott, #307: Damn. That does sound like fun, but we're already committed to Barataria Faire in Springfield, MO that weekend.

Caroline, #326: Well, of course a FRESH banana peel wouldn't work! You had to dry them first.

#331 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 11:21 AM:

ddb #328:

Seconded, for similar reasoning. And not just because of tech documentation, but because of actual coding.

#332 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 11:31 AM:

Caroline @ 326 :

The cat seems to really like the carrier - I woke up this morning to find him sleeping in it, entirely happy with the world. I am very happy about this.

#333 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 11:35 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 332:

Beware: your cat may like it now, but as soon as he psychically detects that you actually intend to transport him somewhere, you'll never be able to get him near the thing.

Good luck, though. I hope I'm wrong.

#334 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 12:00 PM:

So wait... the complaints about the use of punctuation in English are because using one standard subset of rules in that language causes problems in other subsets of the language?


They are different languages. More, as Mr. Nicoll points out, English is a swamp of borrowings, shopliftings, and outright muggings (not to mention kludges and other Rube Goldberg solutions).

The reason I stick to the style I was taught, decades ago... It makes more sense to me. I find it visually more pleasant, and functionally useful; because it's how my brain works.

Yes, there are some strange bits of leakage (as with my preference for "ise" endings), and there are times when habits gained from Russian try to seep in, but you know what... I can code shift; hell I have to. There are a number of secondary dialects of English I speak (three or four of them being variations of Army), and I'd actually be insane if I picked one set of rules and insisted that everyone who didn't follow that subset was 1: insane, or (worse) doing it "wrong".

Because I am sort of militant about finding (for all my predjudices and preferences) that most prescriptive attempts to define english are not just pointless, but counterproductive, and insulting.

#335 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 12:00 PM:

Feeling like the Reporting Angel of Death here, but I just found out about Tuli Kupferberg's death. The Fugs were definitely one of the more SF oriented bands of their time (more for Sanders than Kupferberg, but Kupferberg had his moments).

#336 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 12:23 PM:

Wow, if you want to impose code standards on natural English...well, if you did that consistently you would write VERY BAD natural English!

Also, which coding language do you use as the standard? If you use C as the standard your English is going to have a lot more curly brackets in it than is usual!

For myself, I use some standards I learned when studying linguistics. If I'm citing a form, I use single quotes, and all punctuation goes outside them:

I used the word 'sesquipedalian'.
If I'm repeating what someone said, I use double quotes, and use the (largely esthetics-based, arbitrary) conventions for which punctuation goes inside and which outside:
He said I was a "sesquipedalian."
Did you hear me say "sesquipedalian"?
She didn't know the word, so she said "Sesquipedalian?"
Sometimes both in the same sentence:
I used the word 'sesquipedalian', and she said "Sesquipedalian?"
And so on.

I try to be consistent, but in the years I've been doing this I've discovered a couple of things: 1) Sometimes the distinction between citation and quotation isn't quite as clear-cut as I'd like, and 2) No matter how careful I try to be, I screw it up sometimes.

#337 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 01:24 PM:

Possibly the day I knew I was a (small h) hacker:

Reading through the Jargon File, I ran into Writing Style, and I realized that all the writing quirks I had (including punctuation inside quotes only if it was part of the quote) were in there. Of course that doesn't mean that I did all of them; just that all of the choices I made were the ones in the guide. I have since adopted some of the rest in locations where I expect them to be understood (use of <sarcasm/> tags, and sed-style fixed-that-for-you corrections, for instance).

Sometimes I guess wrong - I still remember having to explain the nuances between broken and b0rken - but a lot of this kind of style issue clarifies when necessary and amuses where desired; both things I appreciate. Of course, "don't freak the mundanes" applies to this, as well; not so good at that.

#338 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Xopher #336:

More like don't put inside quotes anything which you do not wish to be quoted literally. Anything else is probably negotiable, but I can think of no programming language out of the many I've studied or used over the last forty-one years that doesn't do the wrong thing if you try to put control logic punctuation inside literal strings.

#339 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 01:51 PM:

Re Musecon 0, replying to Zelda @316, Cally Soukup @329, Lee @330:

I'm giving two workshops (how to make friendship bracelets / using structured poetry to conquer writer's block), and a quickie concert.

I'd love to have lunch with any MLers present; those who can't come this year, do seriously think about next year. This year is Musecon 0 because we're sort of beta-testing it, and figuring out what works when the rubber hits the metaphorical road, and what desperately needs to be changed before Musecon 1 (which has guests and enough lead-time that more than 200 people might actually come, and therefore has smaller screwup tolerance).

One of the interesting conrunning-meta things that is coming up in planning is how to work around the general fannish assumption that one reg-fee for the con means you get into everything for free ... versus offering some workshops with fairly serious materials costs. Several methods, from dibsing workshops at time of online reg all the way to paying cash to the instructor at the door, are being hashed out and worked through; by six months before Musecon 1 we should have it fairly settled. :->

#340 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 02:29 PM:

Dave @43 -- a beautiful, haunting poem; and good news. Nice combination.

#341 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 02:52 PM:

joann, my point was that English punctuation is NOT control logic. The resemblance is superficial.

In my opinion it's just as wrong to use control-logic syntax in English as it is to use American-style quote placement in C.

#342 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Well, maybe not JUST AS wrong. Also wrong, albeit with much less actual consequence.

#343 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 02:58 PM:

#317 - Didn't see your comment posted on either Live Journal or Boing Boing so I'm not sure you are a member of the set making comments as described?

Likely enough Redbird who did make a useful comment has read Analog. Surely many posting here have read much in the genre and as a group have read everything in English and several other languages.

And considering her comment in its context I'll stand by my observation that it's regrettable how the comments on LJ carry on the propaganda of Fuchida and Oyama in Midway the Battle that Doomed Japan and elsewhere. The notion that the Japanese defeated themselves at Midway - as described - so the American fliers who spent their lives did not truly buy a victory is pretty much debunked today.

#344 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 03:12 PM:

Makes sense to me that being prescriptive globally leads inevitably to bad results locally given that for some locals there will be contradictions such that by context usage is simultaneously right and wrong.

Also makes sense to me that being prescriptive locally can be appropriate and necessary. I know off hand of only one actual true and verified example of the question of a comma in legal writing costing millions of dollars but there is at a minimum that one example (it was legislation and ambiguity was followed by a special session).

Grading exams in economics where the language approaches logic (asymptotically I suppose) and if not code is pseudo code I never hesitated to prescribe. I suspect that folks doing specifications for weapons systems like frex the anti-ballistic-laser 747 airframe got to be pretty prescriptive in their documentation.

#345 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 03:17 PM:

Caroline @ 326: Benchpressing cats: the new Pilates?

Yes, but think of cats for curls instead. I used to do bicep curls with Buzz, my large DSH cat -- he made it to a high of 25 pounds before I successfully got his weight down. He was a mellow cat, so I could do the curls with no more response out of him than a chirp. I liked to think of it as his way of counting for me.

He was a good cat.

#346 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 03:21 PM:

re Elliott Mason's #309 -- Is that knitting, or is it macrame'?

Which led me to wonder whatever happened to macrame'? You never seem to hear about it in crafts-related discussions anymore.

Which led me to Google the word, which led me to this 70's-era photo of a macrame' bra.

Okay, maybe there's a reason we don't hear much about macrame' anymore....

(I will not think about rope burns. I will NOT think about rope burns. I will think about elephants instead. Yes. Elephants, elephants, elephants....)

#347 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 03:35 PM:

On the topic of adding punctuation inside quotes: My view on it is certainly shaped by my background as a computer programmer.

However, it also looks to me like a deliberate misattribution (bearing false witness, if you want to be biblical about it.)

Consider these two sentences:

"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers," Lincoln said.
"Four score and seven years ago, our squamous fathers", Lincoln said.

In both cases there is something in the quotes that Lincoln never said.

#348 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Punctuation inside quotes is not so much a rule of punctuation as a rule of typesetting (in America). I.e. it comes from people who focus on appearance more than meaning. Mostly, it doesn't matter; fictional dialog is, well, fictional, and when quoting actual speech the punctuation is kind of made up anyway. However, in some of those other cases it's actively misleading.

#349 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 03:55 PM:

Clark @ 344: then there was the million dollar comma of Rogers and Bell, which was settled by, um, using an entirely different language.

#350 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 04:36 PM:

Victor Borge's Phonetic Punctuation

#351 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 05:11 PM:

ddb: 1: If it doesn't matter, why do you care?

2: As Xopher points out (more clearly than I would have, for the same argument), how the various punctuations are used can/does convey actual meaning.

3: As I said (and he elaborated) code is a different dialect of english, and the rules ofr code are not the rules for English. I, for one, don't see quotation marks as defining a literal command, but rather as a way to give some relational meaning to the various clauses, coherent thoughts, etc. of a spoken language, in an indirect format, I know it can't directly map the tones, inflections and facial markers which define things.

It can't be more than an approximation; which is why being an absolute prescriptivist is pointless. The vagaries of the vaguearies are such that it will always lead to questions.

Having spent weeks going over an editorial, comma by comma, to make it as close to unambiguous as possible, I can attest, from experience, there ain't no way to make it happen.

So I shall stick to my, desperate, rear-guard action to save the adverb.

In other language news: The FCC is, for now, not allowed to fine people for "fleeting instances of profanity"

Court ends ban on fleeting profanity

#352 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 05:17 PM:

@346 They yellow bottle-like garment in photo #3 is at least partly knitted - that looks like stockinette stitch in the torso. And the red garment in photos #1 and #5 appears to be reverse-stockinette (think the inside texture of a plain sock) [*]

Not sure about the blue thing.

[*] I specified plain sock because otherwise some sock knitter around here is going point out that THEY make socks with something other that reverse-stockinette on the inside, and then this will turn into a knitting thread.

I wouldn't mind macrame coming back into fashion, but I'm not going to do it. I don't need any more tie belts and hanging-basket holders right now.

#353 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 05:18 PM:

Terry@351: 1. It doesn't matter in some cases. But it does in others.

2. I think that's precisely my point; that it DOES matter.

3. Code is indeed different. But technical writing is much more on the English side than the code side -- and yet frequently requires the same exactitude required in code.

Inability to achieve perfection isn't, for me, a reason to give up trying to do as well as possible, and resenting (and objecting to) established rules that make it harder.

Go courts! (still) Congress doesn't really get credit for the great things they've done in my lifetime (which probably go beyond just the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act, though nothing else really comes to mind); people remember things changed by the courts. Which isn't really their job mostly (though sometimes saying that a clear law has been ignored forever and this must stop looks like a change, yet is very much the job of the courts).

#354 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 05:34 PM:

ddb: It matters, sort of. Here's the thing... you like your way, and there are those who support you in it.

I find your way muddies the waters. It is more rigid, and makes it harder, for me, to pick up nuances. Which means, when you are trying to communicate with me (and, presumuably with Xopher) you are less clear, more ambiguous.

If the sorts of technical writing you do, requires that format, than it does, but that's a bit of a red herring too, because there is lots of technical writing which doesn't. Yeah, how to operate a CNC boring lathe is that picky; troubleshooting a Mark 19 feeding error isn't.

More to the point, the audience for the TM on an Mk-19 aren't likely to notice, either way; but the way they are least likely to have problems is probably the way you decry (well, no, because in the TM for the Mk-19 there isn't really going to be a need for quotation marks, since nothing is being quoted, and there isn't any software to issue commands to).

As you say, it matters in some cases, but the use of either rule, exclusively, will not fix all cases.

And it's not helpful to 1: insist it will, and 2: that those who disagree are being obtuse.

#355 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 05:57 PM:

Caroline #326: The real issue with this "I-dose" nonsense isn't even the pseudoscience -- ask yourself, why the rush to ban it? It's all about control in the end... this is just a local outbreak of the usual Puritan fear that "some one, some where, is having fun".

In fact, it's certainly possible to reach altered states of consciousness from sound, also from dance, chanting, drumming, breath control, sunset clouds, and several other routes. But of course, all that's not just about the stimulus, it's a participatory thing.
I'm actually taking my cat to the vet Friday -- now I'm wondering if I should get one of those "cat duffels". My cat isn't too happy about her hard cage, but I hate it because it's so bulky to carry.

#356 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 06:18 PM:

Earl Cooley III (# 135)

From the information contained in that list, it sounds like it was compiled either with someone with "inside access" or somebody breaking into government databases.

Precise medical information, SSANs, phone numbers, addresses, names, etc.

And I see from the letter that immigrants are allright, as long as they are "totally self-sufficient."

So I expect them to have no qualms about inviting in retired drug lords and dictators, as long as they bring things in cash. (that is, if they mean "self-sufficient" in a financial sense, otherwise the pickings are going to slim, looking for someone who can not only do all their own mining, farming and manufacturing, but can bring along the minerals, topsoil and machine tools when they come into the country -- maybe they'll have a version of the magic bag from RAH's Glory Road?)

How long before somebody copies the list and starts using it as the hunting list?

These people are making the same asinine statement as the animals who publish pictures and personal details of abortion providers or people who visit clinics, saying that *they* (clutching pearls) would *never DREAM* as anybody using violence.

And for all the fools who think is as good idea (like the whacko with the Utah Minutemen), think about it -- how would you like being the target for this -- and I guess it's A-OK to violate federal / state law on access to private government data, If Your Cause Is Just.

ANd like as not, this list was compiled by people with the same mindset of those who were fighting *not* to have their names revealed as signers to a public document (initive petition) whose sole purpose was to deprive fellow citizens of rights.

#357 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 06:21 PM:

Sorry, the "135" above should be "315"

#358 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 06:34 PM:

Terry@354: Well, right now we're in a situation where one can't reasonably infer much at all from where people put punctuation relative to quotes. Not even necessarily "he's English" or "he's American", since we have people using personal styles (far more than just me).

I do think that if a document says

Now type "ls -a *.cc."

that people should feel fairly confident that they are being instructed to type a string of characters which ends with a period. And that if you did not want them to type that period, you should not have put it inside the quotes.

Frequently, for published work instead of internal documentation, a proof-reader further down the chain will "fix" it. This is what put me on the warpath against the convention in general.

What kind of nuances do you get, usefully, out of other situations?

#359 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 06:43 PM:

How about

Now type:
ls -a *.cc
This will list all files whose names end with '.cc' and include files beginning with a dot.
Can't do different fonts on ML, but I would put the bit to be typed in Courier (or another fixed-pitch font), while the text of the document should be in a proportional font.

Code examples should NOT be part of a sentence in the documentation, for exactly this reason.

#360 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 07:13 PM:

What I see a lot is:

Now type "ls -a *.cc" (without the quotes).

...because people already have trouble switching between normal reading mode and type-this-exactly mode. I don't think putting the period outside the quotes is going to help much.

Xopher's way is the clearest. If it needs to be inline, use a code font instead of quotes.

#361 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 07:15 PM:

Clark: You didn't specify commenting where, so in context I thought you meant people commenting on the particle here on ML. (I don't do LJ, and I must have missed that it had hit Boing-Boing.)

#362 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 07:41 PM:

Many of these graphically more complex options were not available at the time I formed these opinions.

Those graphic expedients are only necessary, though, because quoting isn't quite clear about what's actually being quoted.

Yes, at this point you actually have to tell some people not to type the quotes, which is discouraging, but so it goes.

It remains simply wrong to place within the quotes something they're not intended to type.

(This is relevant in email, which of course is sent in text mode, and in IM, and such, too. Probably more relevant than in printed manuals, since nobody does those anymore anyway, and if they do they use graphic expedients.)

#363 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 07:58 PM:


First rule of holes applies here.

Stop trying to tell the world that it's wrong and insane because it puts its punctuation somewhere that you don't like, for reasons that you yourself admit are substantially obsolete. You can be radicalized all you like, but you are not the boss of Terry, or Xopher, or anyone at all outside your own skin.

Persuade, don't dictate. Or I'll start in on split infinitives, and then you will all be sorry.

#364 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 08:36 PM:

ddb: What I see is a failure on the part of code/tech writers to make a system for themselves.

Me, If I were in the shoes you describe, I'd've made a rule, e.g. When one sees, "type :: -a .cc ::," the text inside the doubled colons is what one needs to type.

That, you see, would avoid the confusions which come from using an evolved, and loosely ordered, set of guides to interpreting a spoken language, to map a machine language.

#365 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 09:14 PM:

I agree that when following a rule leads to misunderstanding, one should break the rule. In ddb's situation, putting the period outside the quote is best, if better options that avoid the whole issue are not available.

I don't agree that that means the rule should be ignored in all situations. In normal typeset text, putting the period outside buys you a small island of logicality in a still-vast sea of arbitrariness, at the cost of putting potholes in the reader's road and uglifying the page. It's so not worth it.

We write mind your p's and q's because it's the least bad alternative, but that doesn't mean we should start making all our plurals with apostrophes.

#366 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 09:16 PM:

Home. The road goes ever on, but it's nice to be back, too.

Elliott, #339: I know several cons which have writing workshops for which one must sign up in advance, and sometimes pay a fee. Nobody seems to complain about those, so perhaps that's a workable model for you WRT things which have significant cost-of-materials. Just make sure you make the requirements glaringly obvious on your website and all your publicity materials; this won't guarantee that someone still won't notice it, but it's good CYA.

Bruce, #346: If that's made from cotton cord, rope burns wouldn't be an issue. Sunburn, however...

And macrame jewelry is still fairly common -- you can even find kits for making it at crafts stores.

#367 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 09:25 PM:

Louisana Senator David Vitter says he's backing birthers.

#368 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:00 PM:

Louisana Senator David Vitter says he's backing birthers.

You know, if those people had lived back in the 1600s, they would have believed that the newborn James III was smuggled into the palace in a warming-pan.

#369 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:08 PM:

Terry @308 and 320 and others re the don't ask/don't tell survey.

I knew that the survey existed but haven't been following the blogosphere on it. Wearing my social scientist hat, this does not look bad to me. It's not an obviously biased survey on the order of "How disgusting do you find the idea..." Yes, it may provide information that could be waved in support of homophobia. But that exact same information could also be used by those intending to implement a repeal of da/dt to identify potential trouble spots for education/monitoring/whatever. IMHO the back-and-forth between "Long past time" and "this will destroy the military" is going to take place (continue?) anyway, and it might as well have some basis in data. But then, I believe in data.

#370 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:09 PM:

That's pretty much how the technically-inclined books do it. (Also, it's built into some word-processors.)

#371 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:11 PM:

The birthers would have gone off the deep end over the Man in the Iron Mask, too.

#372 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:42 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @346 asked me in re my 'making friendship bracelets' workshop: Is that knitting, or is it macramé?

Technically, it's really densely-packed uncomplicated macramé to make a strap-like fabric. Assortment of simple ones; a more complicated 22-thread-wide band similar to some of what I've done; a really cool intricate 24-thread-wide one (all picture links go to flickr).

In macramé, usually the decorativeness comes from the spacing of the knots and the complexity of the construction; in camp-style friendship bracelets, most of the decorativeness comes from using different colors of thread and carefully choosing which are the 'outsides' of the knots and which form the weft the knots are made on.

Almost any pattern intended for use with warp-faced inkle looms can be made in friendship bracelets, I just rarely choose to make them wider than ten threads because it gets exponentially fiddly to do. :-> I did once make a 50-wide out of sewing thread to make an almost-square one for a keychain-dangle. Mainly to prove I could. I don't still have either the object or a photo of it, alas.

#373 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:45 PM:

David Harmon @355 - What about the findings that prayer and meditation cause changes to a person's mental state? Would that mean that those should be banned, too? And exercise?

(Well, naaaah, obviously, but why? Grandfather clause?)

#374 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 10:55 PM:

I meant to add: I have also used thicker-than-worsted-yarn to make straps with the same technique that are long and strong enough to be used as guitar straps, and quite yummy ones, too. It's all a matter of scale.

#375 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 11:14 PM:

another one from Toon River Anthology:


It was a static life. I went from bed to bath to floor
And was carried places, sometimes crawling,
Sitting and staring. I watched my family stay the same
For year after year, decade after decade
Stuck in infancy, unable to talk, or walk
My only friend was the dog, and after a while,
He found somewhere else to be.
Mom was the only one who ever changed. Once.
She went from staying home to showing homes,
And didn't even hire a sitter or get my siblings
To pay any attention to me. So I stewed
In my filthy diapers, which led to a rash, which led to infection
And that led to a welcome demise.
My stone is under some trees. I stare at other stones
And never see anybody, and they don't come to see me,
Not even the damn sunbeam!

#376 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 11:22 PM:

See, I think that small punctuation (periods, commas) next to quote-marks look bad whatever order they come in. Back when I used to do typesetting for dead trees, I used to kern the periods and commas underneath the closing quotes. I set up kerning pairs in QuarkXPress to do this for me automatically.

#377 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 11:45 PM:

If mainstream senators feel justified in going Full Stupid, I think Democrats should just go for broke.

Start making ads depicting the opposition and their followers as ignorant crackers, racist mouth breathers, gullible boob tube addicts, control-freak PTA moms, traitorous slavery apologists, and so on. Have Biden crack that Tea parties are for little girls and their imaginary friends. Broadcast a five-minute Michelle Bachmann clip show.

#378 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 11:49 PM:

I think there should be a punctuation mark that indicates non-emphasis. (the opposite of an exclamation point)

#379 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2010, 11:51 PM:

Tim Walter @ 365 -- I would write "mind your 'p's and 'q's" in a plain-text-only medium, or "mind your ps and qs" when italics are available.

   Noun, subject, verb, noun, noun
   Comma, comma, noun, subject, verb, noun, noun
   Comma, comma, noun, subject, verb, noun, noun
   Punctuation’s hard to do!
-- Lynn Gold

#380 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:43 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 379: Those are both defensible alternatives, but don't really affect my point, which is that a special case is necessary, but remains a special case.

#381 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 02:14 AM:

I agree with what I think Mycroft is saying - put quotation marks around the stuff you're actually quoting.
- If there was punctuation in whatever you're quoting, such as a period or question mark at the end of a spoken sentence, then it belongs inside the quotes.
- If what you're quoting didn't have punctuation attached to it, as is typically the case for phrases, code samples, or URLs, don't move the punctuation from the end of *your* sentence into the quoted material.

#382 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 04:14 AM:

I'm just sayin' here -- if you liked Phantom of the Paradise and Bubba Ho-Tep, watch for Ari Gold's Adventures of Power. Over-the-top parody/pastiche that's an air-drummer version of Rocky. Saw it tonight as part of an evening of experimental film, and laughed like crazy. Every time I thought they'd gone too far -- they went that little batshit bit farther. Do not go if you are feeling logical.

#383 ::: Teemu Kalvas ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 04:50 AM:

Having read a lot of technical (computer related) works where something has gone wrong between the author and the printed page, I think that the primary problem there is that the author, editor and typesetter have an insufficient agreement on what their responsibilities are. I can see very well that a typesetter coming from a different background can see fixing punctuation to be obviously their problem. Even in programming texts it should mostly be their problem, but you need to have some understanding on what constitutes an immutable block where you cannot change backticks to apostrophes or the other way around.

My point is that unless this is agreed on in advance, it is not really the participants fault if things go awry (and I've seen textbooks which are remarkably close to useless because of this kind of confusion). The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of whoever should have made sure that people working on the same thing (a textbook) see it in as a sufficiently same way.

With my descriptivist linguist hobbyist hat on I wait with excitement how the comma-quote disagreement develops. There's a lot of noise made about it lately, which is either a sign of an ongoing change or isn't. You can only tell afterwards.

#384 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 08:28 AM:

Elliot Mason @#372: I had a small business in friendship bracelets when I was in middle school; I charged 25 cents per strand. At that point I only knew how to do the plain diagonal stripes.

Recently I got into a swap on a bboard I read, and made my partner one with three colors. I thought it was quite nice, even though I was late getting it to her.

#385 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:44 AM:

For abi especially, but anyone who loves books might enjoy this column on female bookbinders by a friend of mine in the rare book trade.

#386 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:47 PM:

On prescriptive typesetting I am reminded that when his publisher asked Newton about an error sheet for Principia Newton had moved on. He assured the publisher that his audience would make the corrections on their own - folks who couldn't got no sympathy.

For readers (or compilers) who can't be trusted to make corrections greater care and so expense is called for. North Holland and such charge a lot for a very small book carefully done. Programming is even more picky. James T. Kirk wouldn't be able to outsmart so many computers as he did if natural langauge programming had reached Next Generation levels by the Original Series.

I'm always torn to get an ARC - which I only bother with when I'm impatient to read the author or series - because I often pop out of immersion to reach for a colored pencil and then don't.

On the question of Who/WWII comments my comment was in background a comment on what I see as a disconnect between fans who read most everything and fans who watch most everything - there is of course more overlap all the time and nobody today reads literally everything even in just one language though I do wonder at the time spent watching.

#387 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:57 PM:

On technical writing FM style - big difference between the comic book style used to go with the then newish Mattel black rifle (big smiley) and again FREX the draft material for the ABL airplane weapon systems - or you gotta know the territory to sell your intended audience.

Jerry Pournelle has long crusaded for more restrictive compilers with their associated language/syntax while folks keep popping out what start out as simple workarounds that then develop cute names and an extensive followers extending them - like the subtle chasing the obvious a never ending spiral/pendulum pick your description.

#388 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 02:22 PM:

ddb - (295)

What's surprising is that she fixated on *us* has having "ratted her out."

We had no idea at all about any ownership of the lot (or, as it now turns out, her violation of zoning laws and lack of getting required permits), so the surprise is why she thinks *we* did anything, as opposed to the other 2 abutters or the people on the other side of the street.

#389 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 03:19 PM:

Xopher @142/830: I'm looking for a job.

Sorry I hadn't clued in on this before. I'm wishing you great luck, and I will keep my ear to the ground. (I've also sent you a connection invite on LinkedIn.)

Also, check out Liz Ryan, a career coach with a really insightful, unique approach. She's got mountains of good advice available for free all over the place. (I'm so impressed, I've actually shelled out real money for a couple of her online courses.)

#390 ::: Alberto ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 03:31 PM:

Just wanted to share a spot of great good news:

Argentina legalizes marriage equality!

#391 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 05:19 PM:

Very good news indeed, Alberto -- thanks for sharing it.

#392 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 08:08 PM:

abi @ 363:
I'll start in on split infinitives, and then you will all be sorry.

I'm shocked. Surely you're a signatory of the infinitive non-proliferation treaty?

#393 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 08:24 PM:

Fossil of mastodon relative found while digging for a swimming pool in Brighton, TN.

This is apparently the first time evidence of this animal, called a trilophodon, has been found in the area. Also, for a rarity, a lot of the comments are rather funny.

#394 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 08:31 PM:

Bruce, is that a consortium of nations who've agreed to not split infinitives?



#395 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 09:06 PM:

Publishing: David Lubar got an answer on the discounts. According to a Penguin rep, they were from a pallet of hurt books, so not a long-term thing.

#397 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 02:42 AM:

Along with the mastodon being found when digging for a swimming pool, and Merlin's tomb where they're building that shopping mall, there was just a wooden ship found when digging for the new World Trade Center site. I thought one of the articles said the ship appeared to be Dutch, but I'm not finding that now.

#398 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 05:07 AM:

Quotation & punctuation:

I find myself very much in DDBs corner as regards usage* - it just makes sense to me that the thing in quotes is a literal string with punctuation belonging to the original (inferred if you're quoting actual speech). Then again I'm a British IT worker, so as a data point my biases have been covered.

Following the principle though, surely the quote's punctuation should go inside the marks and mine should go outside - "There's no such thing as different, only wrong.".

That looks awful and contributes to the world full stop shortage, but it seems to logically follow.

In a letter to a friend, how would you write:

I'm not sure how to begin - what do you think of "Friends, Romans, Countrymen..."?


Anyway, those are my thoughts, and up with dissention I will not put.

* If not regarding proscription.
** Damn! Now I have a question mark for "How would you write" and nowhere to put it. I can't just leave it down there all on its own, can I?†

† I've heard that Spanish uses "open" and "close" question marks around a query - I wonder if they nest? Does leaving one open crash the whole sentence?

#399 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 08:58 AM:

From a Facebook post I wrote regarding Facebook deficiencies,

Software comes in two main varieties, bad and abyssmal.... Facebook's corporate focus is on its customers, the advertisers, not on the eyeballs of the users... same as TV, the audience is a supplies-itself middleware product delivered/sold to the customers.

#400 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 10:18 AM:

Russ@398: Yes, I remember experimenting with putting in both quoted and my own punctuation, as in your example, and yeah, that's not really ever going to become popular, too ugly. It is, as you say, logical.

#401 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 12:42 PM:

I've heard that Spanish uses "open" and "close" question marks around a query - I wonder if they nest? Does leaving one open crash the whole sentence?

Yes, it's a known bug in the Spanish operating system. All you have to do is ask a Spanish person, for example, "¿Dónde ésta la estación de ferrocarril", missing out the "?" and their brain will blue-screen.

That's why they have daily siestas: reboot time.

#402 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 01:24 PM:

Elliot @339:
Concert! Yay! (I know your face from open filks hereabouts-- if you're there I'm pretty sure it's going to be a good night. So yay concert!)

Does the lunch idea extend to lurkers? I work Saturdays, but plan to be at the con Friday, Saturday evening, and Sunday.

#403 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 01:51 PM:

Zelda @402: Anyone who likes ML enough to be reading open threads deeply enough to SEE my invite counts. :-> Friday and Sunday I'll have my 17mo daughter in tow and along for meals, if that affects your willingness at all; I'll be with-kid and sans-carseat, so I'll be eating places I can get to on foot from the hotel (probably either the hotel restaurant or Outback, from a glance at Google Maps).

#404 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 02:21 PM:

@104, 106, 107: I finally got around to writing an explanation of the Vatican document in question after the same story hit Boing Boing. I won't reproduce it over here, but you can follow this link to read it.

#405 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 03:31 PM:

One thing I find very useful about the open/close approach to question marks in Spanish is that they don't have to bracket the entire sentence. Forex, in English:

If you're going to the store this afternoon, would you get me some milk?

Question mark applies to the whole damn thing. But in Spanish, you'd slap that first question mark right in front of "would" and thus mark off the part where the rising intonation actually starts kicking in. Somehow, my brain feels this is more "right" than the English method where the question mark applies to everything in the sentence, including the if-clause.

#406 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 03:32 PM:

Oh dear. Got a comment held for review. I'm not sure why, as it contained no URLs: maybe the mysterious forces that power the blog don't like discussion of question mark placement.

#407 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 07:39 PM:

Xopher @ 394:

For reasons best known to my subconscious memory access protocols, that "*boom*" reminded me of Rocky and Bullwinkle's adventure with the Hushaboom silent explosive. I then wondered if the the split infinitive would be silent. "It's the brain drain. His brain is draining."

No, that's from them movie "Help". The only connection is in my own brain.

#408 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 08:11 PM:

Heh heh heh heh.

Some evil person (my sister Pat, the Mean Aunt (I am the Scary Aunt)) has sent me a vuvuzela. It greatly resembles the stadium horn I had about 45 years ago, except for being in 2 pieces so that it telescopes. I can already get at least 3 notes out of it, despite having no brass training. I have alarmed the cats, and temporarily silenced the barking dogs next door (and when they resumed, it was at a lower volume).

I am absurdly happy. I like noisy toys.

#409 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 08:23 PM:

I'd like to hear the Fanfare for the Common Man done on vuvuzelas and kazoos. heh.

#410 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 09:19 PM:

for abi and sonneteers--

this is old and so probably familiar, but new to me: rufus wainwright sings sonnet 29.

i am bouleversé. it is stunningly beautiful.

he has done other sonnets, and i'm off to listen to those, too.

#411 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 03:05 AM:

You know how sometimes you wonder about previous posters and what ended up happening to them? I got to wondering about a previous visitor--the conservative and conversationally tone-deaf Yaron who showed up with a group of would-be Sloane's Rangers five years ago to complain how unjust and liberal ML is and to take cheap shots at folks that work in strip clubs--and decided to exhume the links he posted. Turns out he has a company: "WikiWorks, a consulting company dedicated exclusively to MediaWiki implementation. About MediaWiki: MediaWiki is the open-source wiki application best known for powering Wikipedia."

Perfect! He's got a tie-in to Wikipedia! Clearly the universe Writes It's Own Jokes!

#412 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 10:04 AM:

Fade Manly @ 405 & 406:

Your comment was held because your abbreviation of "for example" is also an abbreviation for "foreign exchange,"* which has at times been the subject of potted meat posting.

* readers who are offended by this usage please substitute
     "foreign exchange",

#413 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 12:51 PM:

Dyslexic Bitzer!

#414 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 12:56 PM:

I assume that "frex" is a "for example" abbreviation that doesn't get caught by the filter?

#415 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 01:02 PM:

OK, besides being an ObXKCD, this actually leads back to the OP for the thread: It seems the "143" for "I love you" might trace back to Mr. Rogers... see #3 at Mental Floss.

#416 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 01:36 PM:

Ahah! I'll add that abbreviation to the mental file of ones to yank out of my casual writing. (I find it so useful that I sometimes have to go back and rip it out of my formal writing, which is rather more embarrassing.)

#417 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 07:13 PM:

OK, on a gay site I frequent, someone exclaimed in outrage about the planned mosque "at Ground Zero" (it isn't). Some sane people tried to explain, but people from the stupid contingent (unfortunately dominant there) started saying things like "the Muslims attacked us" and crap like that. I wrote this:

I feel I should offer my perspective here.
I was working in One World Trade Center at the time of the attacks. I escaped death by my decision that morning to come in at 10 (as I had as a contractor) rather than at 8:30 (as I had since becoming an employee). I worked on a floor right in the center of the hole where the first plane went in.
300 of my coworkers died that day, including several people who were friendly to me and whom I personally liked. Because phones were down and people were marooned far from home (the trains and tunnels were shut down for security reasons), it took a long time to verify the miraculous fact: none of the people really close to me had died, none of my old friends...only my new ones.
But that wasn't what broke me, and sent me into a deepening depression I still struggle with.
The response of my fellow Americans made me ashamed. They attacked their Muslim neighbors, and their non-Muslim Arab neighbors, and their Sikh neighbors (even though no Sikh had anything to do with the attacks, the turbans were enough).
Living where I do, I know a number of Muslims. On 9/11, the owner of a Middle Eastern restaurant here in Hoboken called a bunch of men from his mosque and rushed down to Ground Zero to volunteer. When they were told the place was overflowing with volunteers (as it was), they raised money instead. That restaurant proudly displays one of the American flags flown at Ground Zero during the rescue period.
Another of my friends is an Albanian Muslim, raised right here in New Jersey. He looks, acts, sounds, and IS exactly like any other young adult from New Jersey. (The exceptions are that he didn't get drunk on his 21st birthday - or ever - and fasts during Ramadan. His favorite fast-breaking food? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich.)
Because he's white, he's often been the "surprise" Muslim in his classes, and heard people say some phenomenally stupid things about Muslims and Islam. "Wait a minute! I'm a Muslim, and I'm not like that," he often has to say, and their response is often "You're not a Muslim." He's not a brown-skinned turban-wearing psychopath, you see, so he can't be a Muslim.
Let's compare some other terrorist attacks, hmm? Tim McVeigh has already been brought up; he was a white guy from Michigan, like me. Funny, I didn't get any hate stares on the street after the OKC bombing, which at the time was the worst terrorist attack on American soil. He was a Christian, but no one says that Christian churches should not be allowed near the OKC memorial.
The terrorists who have been blowing up abortion clinics and shooting doctors are self-proclaimed Christians also, but no one throws rocks at men in reversed collars or people wearing crosses because of this, not even the family members of the people they've murdered, not even the horribly-scarred survivors of the fires they set.
But, you will say, those people aren't good Christians. They aren't good examples of Christianity. You know what? That's exactly what my Muslim friends say about Osama bin Laden and his gang of perverts. The behavior of Al Qaeda is utterly prohibited by their reading of the Qur'an...the reading they've learned in their mosques.
In my opinion this proposed mosque will be an emblem of American freedom, ESPECIALLY since it's near Ground Zero. It will help educate people about Islam, so that they will know that Osama bin Laden and his ilk are outcast heretics in Islam, and have no justification in ANY religion for their murderous behavior. There will also be a community center which will be open to everyone, not just Muslims, in a neighborhood sadly deprived of such things.
Please consider what I've said carefully, and then think about whether it changes your position. I know both 9/11 and Muslims, and I support the building of this mosque.
I'm not expecting it to make a whole lot of difference.

#418 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Well done, Xopher. I hope it makes a difference.

#419 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 07:30 PM:

Well done, Xopher. If it makes even one person stop and think, that's a step in the right direction.

#420 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 08:03 PM:

Xopher, that's wonderful. And it may well make a difference, as it's both simple and moving.

#421 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 09:09 PM:

Kip, Mary, David: Thanks. So far it seems to have shut them up. This is not, of course, the same as convincing them, but I'll take it.

#422 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 09:46 PM:

As the old folks used to say: tell the truth, and shame the Devil.

#423 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 10:29 PM:

Go Xopher.

#424 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 10:59 PM:

Xopher, that should be on an op-ed page, and I hope you submit it somewhere.

#425 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 11:08 PM:

Xopher, I'm proud to be your friend.

#426 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 11:50 PM:

Also, as a counter to anyone who brings up the canard "Muslims don't have a peaceful culture anywhere in the world," mention how one of the largest communities of Muslims in the world is right here in the USA. And guess what? They're Americans...

(We had a couple of Muslim girls in my Catholic high school, and really, the only way you could tell was by the modified uniforms. Ankle-length skirts and tartan headscarves.)

Xopher wins for clarity of statement.

#427 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:22 AM:

Side note from another thread—

Bruce Cohen, who has lived in Davis, are you any relation to Sarah Cohen (Shakespeare On Request)?

#428 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:34 AM:

Xopher, that's a terrific essay.

Open Threadiness: Woman accidentally confesses crime to multilingual officer.
"She didn't expect a brown guy to speak French."

#429 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 12:51 AM:

Xopher @ 417:

Well said. I hope it will make a difference to someone who needs it.

#430 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 01:00 AM:

Thanks, everyone. A couple of the people who were already on the right side have commented on it, and the rest appear to be continuing their conversation right around it.

So it goes, outside the fluorosphere.

#431 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 01:21 AM:

Xopher, I shared your comment with my aunt, who forwarded on some poorly spelled screed against the proposed mosque. I don't know if it will register, but I wanted to thank you for giving me something so timely to use as a response, other than just deleting with a sigh.

#432 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 01:22 AM:

Xopher, I shared your comment with my aunt, who forwarded on some poorly spelled screed against the proposed mosque. I don't know if it will register, but I wanted to thank you for giving me something so timely to use as a response, other than just deleting with a sigh.

#433 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 01:29 AM:

Wow, that's great! I'm glad it came in handy, and I'm flattered that you found it suitable.

#434 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 01:44 AM:

Xopher: I feel your pain. Everything anyone has ever said to me, when I am feeling dispirited on torture... you should read as meant for you.

Doing something, anything, to speak against injustice, is a good thing.

Doing it well, that's a great thing.

You did well.

#435 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 02:57 AM:

Fight the Stupid!

#436 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 09:00 AM:

Xopher, that's a great essay. I hope it makes a difference.

#437 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 09:17 AM:

Xopher, beautifully done.

This essay is the kind of critical thing that stands between us and the dark.

#438 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 09:26 AM:

Well said, Xopher. Unfortunately you can't hand some people a clue on a platter.

#439 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 09:30 AM:

Further thanks. Anne, you're right...I really want a clue hammer and some clue nails!

#440 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 09:48 AM:

Xopher: this site says Cordoba House is to be an Islamic cultural centre, and is only called a mosque by those who oppose it, but then goes on to refer to it as a mosque. Sloppy sub-editing, perhaps. And depressingly predictable comments of course.
Could you link or refer to the gay site you mention please?
And keep on turning on the light, however many trolls prefer the darkness under their bridges.

#441 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 02:00 PM:

Xopher @417: That was beautiful. It will make a difference, somehow.

#442 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 03:27 PM:

Xopher, would you mind if I were to repost your essay, with appropriate links and credits?

I'd just link to here, but Gee whillikers, d'you know how long this thread is...?

#443 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 03:48 PM:

Very nice piece, Xopher. Adding my name to the chorus of praises.

#444 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 03:59 PM:

Dr. Psycho at #442, link to Xopher's specific comment in this thread by copying the link under the date-time-stamp that appears at the top of his comment.

Wonderful essay, Xopher.

#445 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 04:28 PM:

Thanks again, everyone.

tykewriter: IIRC the local news says that it will be a cultural center and community center that will include a mosque.

Dr. Psycho: By all means. Feel free. Please post the url so I can go look.

#446 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 04:48 PM:

Oh, tykewriter, the site was a porn portal, but it has fora, and the thread appeared in one of them.

#447 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 06:42 PM:

Xopher, good job. Keep spreading the light like that and the darkness will get pushed back out of a lot of minds.

B. Durbin @ 427:

No, I don't have any close relatives* named Sarah that I know of.⁑

* My family is part of a large cluster connected by something called the "Leshner Cousins Club" out to about 5th cousins, so distant relations are quite another story).

⁑ I may have one I don't know about, especially one who's younger than 30, since I've been largely out of touch from my extended family, which includes 30 immediate first cousins, all grandchildren of my father's mother, more than half of whom would have the name "Cohen".

#449 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 10:50 PM:

Is it logical to feel guilty about picking up six novels at the local pre-owned bookstore at a 30% discount to the already-incredibly low price of $1 apiece? Is it even more logical to feel guilty if I note that one of those books was co-written by one of the moderators?

The place was having a sale, and I felt compelled to prowl for a while.

#450 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 11:07 PM:

Linkmeister: No. Unless they were stripped copies.

#451 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 11:40 PM:

Linkmeister: They had a copy of Making Book?

#452 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 11:54 PM:

Hope for a Type I Diabetes cure...

"Mass. General Hospital, Iacocca Foundation announce completion of Phase I diabetes trial
Safety data submitted to Food and Drug Administration, Phase II plans

"Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Iacocca Foundation announce today the completion of the Phase I BCG clinical trial in type 1 diabetes, as well as the submission of all safety reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the MGH data safety monitoring boards. Plans for the Phase II clinical study, which will continue the investigation of bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination as a treatment for people with existing type 1 diabetes, are actively underway.

"We are making great progress and are really excited to be able to move this potential treatment to the next stage of clinical testing," says Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, director of the Immunobiology Laboratory at the MGH and an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School....."

#453 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 12:10 AM:

Called on to ban racists from its ranks by the NAACP, "Tea Party Express" leader reacts by posting stunningly crass, racist screed on his blog.

#454 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 12:23 AM:

Stefan, last I heard, the Tea Party actually kicked this bozo out (or more specifically, kicked his entire group out), proving that somebody there can still see how they look to the outside world. Progress of a sort?

#455 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 12:59 AM:

Very open threadiness (albeit SF-ly):

I know everyone but me went to see _Inception_ this weekend, but I caught _Sorcerer's Apprentice_, and it was pretty fine stuff. Not by any means flawless, but the most solid fantasy movie I've seen in a while.

The negative slant would be "Hur hur, I see fantasy cinema has finally caught up to 1990s urban fantasy." (The Diane Duane / Mercedes Lackey sort of urban fantasy, not Laurel Hamilton.) But movies always trail the genre, right? This gets it right, and gets it visual, which is what movies should do.

#456 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 01:13 AM:

Lila @ #450, no, they were all in good-to-excellent condition.

Terry @ #451, no. It was a copy of A Working of Stars, by Doyle and Macdonald.

#457 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 01:48 AM:

Xopher: Thank you.

Paula at 452: I know about BCG because a friend of mine recently was treated with it (for bladder cancer), but I didn't know about this study, and I try to keep up with research about diabetes. Thank you, too.

#458 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 01:59 AM:

Kip, #454: Pardon me for being less than impressed:

The federation, an umbrella organization that claims to represent 85 Tea Party groups, kicked out Williams' group when it wouldn't fire him.

Which leaves wide open the question of how many such "umbrella groups" there are, and whether they hold similar views on the racism issue, and whether or not any other such group would welcome with open arms the membership boost of gaining a major activist faction within the group, no matter how extremist their leader might be?

IOW, I'm not so sure that Williams is blustering when he says, and who do these guys think they are anyhow?

One thing that's pretty clear about the teabaggers is that even if they're all getting their funding from the same places, the movement itself is being run along lines analogous to terrorist cells -- not a big hierarchical organization, but a whole bunch of small, nominally-autonomous ones. This provides the necessary plausible deniability for the media to say, each time somebody goes a little further into batshit-crazyland than usual, that it's an "isolated incident" and doesn't represent the teabagger movement as a whole.

#459 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 03:12 AM:

Lee @ 458: Regardless of how much (or little) their worldview may correlate with any particular external "objective reality", the Tea Party activists are following in a very long American tradition of protest against what they see as injustice and oppression against essential popular values. Take a really close look at both the rhetoric, and especially the values, of of other American more-or-less organized protest groups from the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers, back through the Free Silver advocates and the Populists of the 1890s, to (at least) the Free-Soilers and the Know-Nothings of the antebellum era, and you can find enough similarities to make supporters of any of these groups . . . feel -- well, awkwardly uncomfortable.

#460 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 03:29 AM:

More than ninety years after the end of WW2, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has opened another war cemetery in France.

I recently tracked down one of my father's schoolfriends through that site. Their searchable records had enough detail (name of parents in this case) to be sure I'd found the right entry. According to my father, he'd been shot down over Yugoslavia, and later killed by the Germans. He was flying in a photo-recce squadron, and the date of death on the Malta Memorial coincides with one of the big anti-Partisan offensives. It's tempting to construct a story from that.

At Fromelles, most of the bodies are unidentified. Oh, their families would have eventually have known they were dead, but they would have formally been "Missing". Some reburied at Fromelles have been identified by DNA testing.

#461 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 10:41 AM:

Elliott @403:
Kidlet is fine with me.

Shall we say, noon on Friday in the hotel lobby? Then we can see if any other MLers can join us, and work out other details from there?

#462 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 11:08 AM:

Lee @458: Okay, I'll color you unimpressed.

As I say, though, it seems to indicate that at least somebody there is aware of how they look to others, and I see no need to alter my rhetorical question, "Progress of a sort?" since I drew no conclusions from it.

It remains to be seen how it plays out. Perhaps the rank and file will deal with it as true believers often deal with inconvenient truths, by doubling down on their bellicose ignorance. If this causes them to sprout even more ridiculous racist signs and spout stupider slogans, perhaps it will be even harder for them to deny that juicy core of bigotry which underlies many, if not most, of their grievances.

#463 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 02:33 PM:

Leroy, #459: And your point is...?

Yes, America has a long history of batshit-crazy extremist groups. However, I don't believe that any of them have ever tried to masquerade as being the voice of the majority (with full support from the media narrative) until now.

Also worth noting: both the Black Panthers and the Weathermen were, among other things, serving as movers of the Overton Window. By comparison with the Panthers, moderate civil-rights advocates such as MLK didn't look so radical; by comparison with the Weathermen, peaceful protest against the Vietnam War seemed much less threatening. In this context, what are the extremist teabaggers working to legitimize -- SB-1070, or worse?

#464 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 03:10 PM:

Lee@463: I'd have thought that naming a group "The Moral Majority" DID constitute a claim to be the voice of the majority.

(Which lead directly to the elegant bumper sticker "The Moral Majority is Neither").

#465 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 03:14 PM:

The Washington Post just pointed out a new Twitter Meme: ShakesPalin, in which one rewrites Shakespeare as Palin would have it.

"Is this a dagger? Ya know, I used a dagger just like this to dress out that moose I killed right outside my front door -- livin' in Alaska, yanno, where the oil companies just beg for help from the government, and I was happy to help them, but only because we need to protect this great country of ours from the Russians, and the terrorists who want to destroy our way of life, yanno, it's impervious that we arm our citizens and cut taxes."

#466 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 03:40 PM:

Open threadiness: T's latest particle (PDF) on the Trump Parc hawks, a pair of young hawks hatched and growing up in Manhattan, is quite excellent. Something like 100 photos in a PDF, with a little text. Go look!

(I have some technical issues with the photos; see how flat most of them look? That's because the "black point" isn't set appropriately, meaning a significant chunk of the brightness range isn't being used. And a lot of them are a bit more blurred than is ideal. However, they went out and took all these photos documenting the pair of hawks being hatched and raised, and shared them with us, and it's very cool!)

#467 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 03:47 PM:

I dunno, Palin's "refudiate" seems to me to be a fairly interesting neologism; used in the right context, it could be nicely nuanced. Of course, classic Bushisms set the bar pretty high.

#468 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 03:57 PM:

This should appeal to all our math-and-language geeks: Fifth-Grade Math.

And do read the comments, many of which continue the theme.

#469 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 04:38 PM:

Earl @ 467: Of course, if someone else had come up with "refudiate" and then defended it immediately as a neologism, that would be a horse of a different story. In this case, Palin changed her statement, substituting another incorrect or neologistic word, and then finally claimed to be like Shakespeare. In other words, she didn't defend her neologism until it was clear that she didn't know which word she meant.

I have no problems with neologisms, or even malapropisms (although I much prefer Spoonerisms). Coming from someone who repudiates the Elitist Academics as not "real Americans", this kind of behavior is just another example of her hypocrisy. If she makes up a new word, it's because she's like Shakespeare. If someone Elite makes up a new word, it's because they're not Real American.

#470 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 04:54 PM:

Ginger @ 469... Palin (...) then finally claimed to be like Shakespeare

Why do I find myself thinking of Kodos the Executioner?

#471 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 05:41 PM:

Interesting commentary on Republican politics from The American Spectator:

"When pollsters ask the American people whether they are likely to vote Republican or Democrat in the next presidential election, Republicans win growing pluralities. But whenever pollsters add the preferences "undecided," "none of the above," or "tea party," these win handily, the Democrats come in second, and the Republicans trail far behind. That is because while most of the voters who call themselves Democrats say that Democratic officials represent them well, only a fourth of the voters who identify themselves as Republicans tell pollsters that Republican officeholders represent them well."

N.B. I don't agree with much of the rest of the article, in particular the assertion that the old "upper crust" didn't have much to do with political power. Riiiight.

#472 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 06:43 PM:

ddb: The black point issue may be from other factors, since it seems this was meant to be printed, and the color space of the printer (or the calibration of the monitor used to edit the images) may not match the color space of your screen.

What pleased me was, I am always a bit hard on my hawk images, and a lot of these were no better than most of mine.

#473 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 07:54 PM:

As Shakespeare said, Hang-moose, that's Latin for palin.

#474 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 07:55 PM:

Zelda @461 said: Shall we say, noon on Friday in the hotel lobby? Then we can see if any other MLers can join us, and work out other details from there?

I'll be there with bells on. Probably not literal ones, but who knows?

I hereby declare☂ noon on Aug 6 in the Musecon hotel lobby in Itasca, IL a Gathering of Teeny Lurking Sparks of Light, and hope it gathers gravity. Or gravitas. Or gravy, y'know, on the lunch, which might be nice ...

☂ Declaration delivered ex cathedra from my navel, of course, and with no authority whatsoever. Your Mileage May Vary. Offer Not Valid In Some States. Shake Well Before Opening. Etc.

#475 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 08:02 PM:

Is there any degree of stupidity that Sara Palin's followers wouldn't put up with? ("Heeeeee, she sure do rile up the libruls don'chee?")

#476 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 09:04 PM:

C. Wingate #471: I'm reading through it, and my impression so far is that they're building the "ruling class" -- which he's explicitly stated as predominantly Democratic -- into a Perfect Cabal: no internal divisions, everyone acts in lockstep, they get everything they want, and nobody ever spills the beans. Then in page 4, the article descends into really paranoid weirdness, like one step away from Precious Bodily Fluids! Ooh, and now on the last page, I see this gem:

The Democratic Party having transformed itself into a unit with near-European discipline,
Pardon me, but is this person living in the USA? The one between Canada and Mexico?

#477 ::: ctate ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 09:05 PM:

Just seen via BoingBoing... I read this and thought immediately of Amazonfail Fit the Third, ebook pricing, book publishing profit margins, et cetera. Hmm:

" customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books" -- Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos
#478 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 09:10 PM:

Open thready munchies: Replacing 1/3 of the peanut butter in the peanut butter cookie recipe with Nutella was not an unqualified success. The resulting dough was thinner and stickier than usual, and the chocolate hit was a weak payoff for the poorer handling quality. Increasing the flour might help.

#479 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 09:51 PM:

David Harmon @ #476, I too am reading it, and it strikes me that the author is guilty of writing the same thing he accuses Tom Friedman and David Brooks: schlock sociology. It has large elements of grievance in it as well. It might resonate with readers who feel that something has gone wrong with "the system" by which we're governed, but it's analysis based on emotion not on fact.

#480 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 10:15 PM:

David Harmon @ 476 -- Particularly in the context of politics, there's something about the phrase "near-European discipline" that I just can't quite parse.

#481 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 10:19 PM:

Linkmeister @ 479: Schlock sociology may be too kind. There is not a single citation to a creditable source and I caught him in about a dozen items ranging from simple factual errors to barefaced lies.

Professor Emeritus, forsooth. For values of 'emeritus' approximating 'can no longer tell a hawk from a handsaw'.

#482 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 10:24 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 480:

Wait, that essay said "near-European discipline"?

Excuse me.

Bwahahahahahahaha... *pants* hahahahahahahaha.

Ok, I'm better now.

#483 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 10:34 PM:

Joel Polowin #480: there's something about the phrase "near-European discipline" that I just can't quite parse

It sounds like a reference to traditional fascism to me.

#484 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 10:38 PM:

David, #476: Sadly, there's no provision for posting comments. I was sorely tempted to quote that sentence with a response to the effect of,

"Dear Sir: I think you should be notified that on your return through the interdimensional portal, you did not end up back in your home universe. You may wish to consult with Dr. Quinn Mallory before trying again."

#485 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 11:26 PM:

Open threadiness! My daughter is engaged! I helped her acquire the essential split of champagne this morning, so not a total surprise to me. Alas, she currently lives in a state where she can't get legally married, but still -- whee! (confetti, balloons)

#486 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 11:29 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 485:


#487 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 11:34 PM:

Congratulations to you and your daughter, Janet!

#488 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 11:37 PM:

Janet @485: Hooray!

#489 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 11:38 PM:

They're so sweet together. My daughter said a campus tour group of high school girls was passing by at the moment of truth and was all supportive and cheering them on.

#490 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 11:39 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft: Mazel Tov!

#491 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 12:12 AM:

re 476: Oh yeah, the rest of it is completely cracked. I just thought that the passage I quoted was telling, assuming that it's true: the Repubs have created a anti-establishment monster that (correctly) views them as part of the political establishment and therefore increasingly rejects them.

#492 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 12:15 AM:

Mazel tov, Janet!

(Is the impediment to legal union of a nature currently wending its way through the courts?)

#493 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 12:24 AM:

Mark@478 -- my cookie-awareness says avoid the nutella. Uncontrolled mix of nut solids, oil, sugar, and who knows what stabilizers.

Just add cocoa powder if you're worried about keeping the consistency the same -- cocoa powder will make the dough a little drier, but not nearly as much as flour will, and you're adding flavor rather than diluting it.

I laugh in the face of consistency, so I might just throw in melted chocolate chips and see what happens. There's probably some balance of chocolate and cocoa that keeps the consistency the same.

If you want a more unusual nut flavor, go with almond butter or cashew butter. They will substitute for peanut butter pretty well. (Albeit, more like "natural style" peanut butter.) But I wouldn't *mix* those with peanut butter; peanut butter will dominate the flavor.

(Caveat: cookie-awareness has not quantified these results with controlled experiments. Venture forth and eat the failures.)

#494 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 02:14 AM:

It's actually fairly easy to make a hazelnut butter if that's the flavor you want, Mark -- I did it to make a hazelnut buttercream for a chocolate hazelnut cake whose recipe is in one of the Silver Palate cookbooks. Basically, roast hazelnuts until the hulls rub off easily; rub off hulls; run through blender. Tends to be slightly dry, so adding some oil (peanut would probably be good) until the texture is right is probably a good idea. It's an amazingly tasty substance.

#495 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 06:03 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 485... Huzzah!

#496 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 06:30 AM:

Tom Whitmore: One could use hazelnut oil.

In other news. I'm leaving Tennessee today, so I ought to be in Jersey City tomorrow.

Tonight I hope to have dinner with Jon Singer, and whomever else shows up at Mandalay, in Silver Spring, Maryland.

#497 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 06:44 AM:

Terry @496: I'll try to stop by -- Mandalay is just over a mile away from my house, and I have one degree of separation from Jon Singer (who doesn't?), but my son has a Scout meeting tonight, so it won't be early.

#498 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 07:21 AM:

there's something about the phrase "near-European discipline" that I just can't quite parse

"Our terrifying dictatorship will rule with the humorlessness of the Irish, the efficiency of the Italians, the loyal obedience of the Czechs, the dedicated single-mindedness of the Greeks, the horrifying brutality of the Dutch and the technological supremacy of the British public transport system."

#499 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 07:32 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft #485: My best wishes for your daughter.

#500 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 07:40 AM:

ajay #498:

While you were joking about "the horrifying brutality of the Dutch", you might want consider than when Voltaire set his example of the horrors of slavery in Candide not in Brazil, or Jamaica, or Virginia,or in Saint Domingue but in Surinam.

#501 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 07:40 AM:

Terry @496. This shy primarily-a-lurker might get up enough courage to join y'all at Mandalay. I've met Jon on a couple of occasions. Do you have a time set?

Have a good trip from Tennessee.

#502 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 08:38 AM:

Thank you all for your good wishes! We live in Oklahoma, NOT an extremely friendly state for women or gays right now, though at least that brutal new abortion law is being challenged. Being the daughter of a librarian, she's been working up a complicated matrix of grad schools based on what she wants to study, where her fiancee can find work, what the climate is like, and where they can marry or have an out-of-state marriage recognized...

#503 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 08:53 AM:

C. Wingate #491: I think that falls under "even a stopped clock is right twice a day". But it should be interesting to see what happens when the Repub leadership actually recognizes their mistake.

Janet Brennan Croft #485: "lives in a state where she can't get legally married" -- that gender issue?

#504 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 09:15 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 485, congratulations! Best wishes to your daughter in marriage, grad school, and moves -- and to you as you welcome a new family member by marriage. And my heartfelt wishes that soon, every state will recognize her marriage.

How did she stash the champagne before asking? I got away with it by proposing on Christmas Eve -- Keith saw the bottle in the fridge, but thought I had just bought the New Year's champagne early.

#505 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 09:33 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft@485 and later: Congratulations to your daughter and her fiance and you and all concerned! May they find an agreeable state!

#506 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 09:39 AM:

Terry Karney@472: Sure, there are reasons other than just overlooking it (or different tastes) for possibly setting the black point that way. I'm used to using a color-managed workflow where that's largely taken care of by the profiles, and it certainly makes for a better-looking online PDF. That's also the recommended approach for the labs I've used for prints. Anyway, it was a flaw I noticed pretty steadily through the book; not serious enough to give it a bad review, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

I've done a very few pictures of some hawks nesting a few blocks from us, and one year we actually caught vultures circling the convention hotel at a local fallcon and I got some shots of them out the windows. Which tiny amount of work tells me a little something about how much work that book represents, so I tried to emphasize the positive, without suppressing the negative. I enjoyed looking through and following the story.

#507 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 09:39 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft: Huzzay! My best wishes to your daughter and her love. May their lives be long and happy, and may your daughter's time in grad school be short and pleasant.

#508 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 09:44 AM:

I have a job interview Monday. Cross your fingers for me--this place looks like I could love it a lot.

#509 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 09:46 AM:

Bright blessings, TexAnne! Right livelihood wishes comin' at ya!

#510 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 09:49 AM:

ctate@477: " Claims It's Selling 80% More E-Books Than Hardcovers" (at That's a lot stronger than just "more" ebooks. However, later in the article an analyst suggests they're losing money on best-sellers, and making money on sales of the reader device. Also I'm not sure the numbers don't include free or very cheap public-domain sourced material.

#511 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 09:57 AM:

TexAnne... My best wishes!

#512 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 10:20 AM:

Best wishes, TexAnne! Break a leg at the interview. Just from your posts here, I can tell you'll be great.

#513 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 10:40 AM:

I wonder two things about that Amazon e-book story (without having read anything other than what's posted here):

1) They say they're selling "more e-books than hardcovers." What percentage of their sales are paperbacks?
2) Did Amazon's book sales drop appreciably after their latest Fail? If so, that could help account for it.

#514 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 10:41 AM:

Various things:

Janet Brennan Croft: Many bright blessings on your daughter and her love! May their path be relatively smooth (no marriage is entirely smooth) and may they enjoy many years together.

TexAnne: Best wishes and good luck!

Sadly, good interview does not guarantee job. I had an excellent interview last week, but not hearing suggests to me that someone else had an even better interview. Sigh. Still stuck with current job that makes me crazy.

I don't know who all else here is following Jay Lake's cancer saga, but if you haven't has gotten worse. A post-chemo scan reveals another, aggressive tumor that apparently grew during chemo. On his liver. Please be thinking good thoughts, or issuing prayers, whatever Ghu or not-Ghu you acknowledge.

#515 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 10:45 AM:

500: good point. I'm aware of the darker bits of Dutch history - their behaviour in the Nutmeg Wars, for one thing, was pretty vile. (And for that matter the Czechs don't have an unblemished record on ingenious passive resistance to authority. Their role in the Hungarian revolution in 1956 was summarised in the tag "The Hungarians behaved like Poles, the Poles behaved like Czechs, and the Czechs behaved like pigs".)

#516 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 10:55 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @485:

Congratulations and best wishes to your daughter!

#517 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 10:55 AM:

Caroline @504, she had the champagne in a cooler and had her girlfriend meet her at the park. The dozen roses, however, were too hard to conceal and were probably a giveaway...

David Harmon @503, yes, gay marriage is illegal in Oklahoma, though her fiancee's new employer, Dell, is apparantly gay-friendly and recognizes domestic partnerships.

#518 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 11:01 AM:

Janet, congrats, and as the mother in this, always remember to practice safe doting.

#519 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 11:11 AM:

Open-thready neatness: we went to a Barenaked Ladies concert last night, with my 6 year old daughter in tow. She wasn't* a particular fan of BNL, though she has liked "If I Had $1,000,000" for a long time.

It was an open-air concert, and she loved watching it get dark all around us. The lighting (just projections on the building behind the stage) pleased her immensely.

She danced the whole time, except when she was sitting on our shoulders because everyone was standing. Then she just danced with her upper body. She learned the words of songs in the first chorus and sang along. She and I have a custom of rating music I expose her to, and every song got two thumbs up. She told us she was having the most fun she'd had in her whole life.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a live music addict.

* before the concert; she is now†
† this could be a problem, actually. There's a Dutch thing called a vriendenboek, a friend book, which kids hand around to their friends to fill out. It's basically the paper equivalent of one of those "list of questions" internet memes. A common question is, "What's your favorite band?" Most Dutch parents speak some English, but don't know the ins and outs of Canadian music.

#520 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 11:23 AM:

abi: Hurray! Has she started making her own yet? That's even MORE fun. I started piano at about her age, and while I was glad to stop later, it made all my other instruments vastly easier. (Same for theory: boring at the time, invaluable in later life.)

#521 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 11:43 AM:

Joyce Reynolds-Ward@514: Thanks for the news on Jay Lake's situation, even though it's bad. I hadn't heard the latest bit. Best wishes for Jay of course.

#522 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 11:47 AM:

Abi -- If a live music addict, you MUST take your daughter to New Orleans! At least to Jazz Fest.

New Orleans, live music capital of the western hemisphere, at leat the northern part, from which we've returned, new MIXED album in hand, "Kiss You Down South."

Plus, for me at least, many welts on feet, ankles and lower arms from mosquito bites.

Love, C.

#523 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 12:19 PM:

Mark@478: We've had extremely mixed luck substituting different nut pastes into recipes. In particular, variations in oil content can make a big difference in the finished result. (One of our tastier failures was making molded springerle-ish cookies using pistachio paste in place of our usual mix of nut flours. On the plus side: rich and delicious. On the minus side: too rich -- one cookie was more than any of us wanted -- and a little too soft to hold the molded shape well.)

Terry Karney@496: One could use hazelnut oil.

And if you have hazelnut oil, I also strongly recommend it as a salad dressing, or component thereof, especially along with dried fruit.

#524 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 12:58 PM:

abi @ 519: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a live music addict.

Bring her to our show on Friday and we'll cure her.

#525 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 01:52 PM:

There's also Not Strictly Bluegrass in SF in ... September, I think? So much live music, and all free.

Love, C.

#526 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 02:55 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft, #485, great news!

TexAnne, #508, good luck!

#527 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 06:23 PM:

Mississippi school system forcibly dragged into 21st century.

The school that denied a young woman the right to attend the prom with her girlfriend -- and then dummied up a FAKE prom for her and the Special Ed students, while everyone else partied 30 miles away -- has been ordered to pay her legal costs and $35,000 in damages, and to install an anti-discrimination policy.

And since I know I typed a comment last night but apparently failed to hit Post on it (this happens to me sometimes), this is a good place to reiterate:

Congratulations to Janet, and to her daughter and future daughter-in-law! May they live long and happily together.

#528 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 07:03 PM:

I have my differences with the U. S. bishops of the RCC, but I am pleased to applaud the Louisiana bishops, who have informed Governor Bobby Jindal that despite the passage of a new law permitting people to carry guns in churches, pastors in the state will be told that the diocese does not permit guns in Catholic churches. Guns are not appropriate in church.

Well, yeah. Who would Jesus shoot?

#529 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 07:14 PM:

Lizzy L @ #528: Well, yeah. Who would Jesus shoot?

Rather than agonizing in Gethsemane, He could have made a list.

Then it could have been called The List of The Lord, and Philip MacDonald would have had to think up a new title.

#530 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 07:59 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @485:

Congratulations to your daughter and her intended, and good luck to her in grad school.


Good luck on your interview, and a +5 to your charisma for persuading them to offer the job to you.

Linkmeister @ 529:

Koko in Gethsemane? "I've got a little list ..."

#531 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 08:14 PM:

More encouraging news: A conviction for whites who used Katrina as an excuse to "hunt" black refugees as if they were deer.

Which reminds me -- was any action ever taken against the people who turned back and shot at desperate people trying to evacuate on foot over that bridge?

#532 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 08:18 PM:

The Oakland highway anti-tyranny freedom fighter patriotic real Americantrigger-happy nut-job was targeting the ACLU and the Tides Foundation.

How does a goon like this know about a the Tides Foundation? I'm guessing the group got picked by a hate-crank like Michael Savage for demonization.

#533 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 10:05 PM:

Lee @ #531, you mean these guys? Cops who shot and killed two people on the Danziger Bridge Sept. 4, 2005, six days after Katrina hit were indicted by the feds a week ago.

#534 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 11:31 PM:

Snopes weighs in on the Tides Foundation.

#535 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 11:35 PM:

Lizzy L @ 528... Who would Jesus shoot?

"Ballistic missel?"
"Holy hand grenade?"

#536 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 12:17 AM:

#534 (facepalm)

Mind you, if one of these mouth-breathers ever actually shot someone or blew up an office, all of the hate radio shriekers, think-tank schemers, and conservative media pundits would instantly disown him and claim it was a set up to defame their cause.

#537 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 12:40 AM:

Constance@525, "Hardly Strictly Bluegrass", first weekend in October most years, (though Abi and family probably won't be in town then.)
And BareNaked Ladies were performing outside in the Bay Area? Sigh - was this at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, or somewhere else?

#538 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 12:49 AM:

They were performing at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.

It's all very upscale and yuppified, a huge contrast from Martin's solo excursion to see the New Pornographers at the Fox on Telegraph the night before, and, I expect, almost entirely unlike our date to go see Toad the Wet Sprocket at the Fillmore on Friday.

(Alas, we will not be in range of Strictly Bluegrass. Double alas, I'm the only one in the family who likes bluegrass, at least until I have a little more time to brainwash educate Fiona.)

#539 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 12:55 AM:

Linkmeister, #533: No, although that's good news too, and I'm glad to hear it -- I was still on vacation and not listening to the news when it happened. But I was talking about this story.

#540 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 01:43 AM:

In Maryland. Dinner was swell. Would have been nice to see Ginger and Janet K, but the four of us who were there had a good time.

Burmese food is good. Jon Singer is, well Jon Singer.

I have a trip report, and quicky summation of dinner which owes something, stylistically to abi (re the use of footnotes; though I lack her pith)

#541 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 02:29 AM:

Terry @ 540: It faintly worries me that you missed the chance to make "Road to Mandalay" jokes. Are you quite well?

#542 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 08:24 AM:

Lizzy L #528 : Guns are not appropriate in church.

Right on.  This is surely a direct inheritance from the custom of asking gentlemen to leave their swords at the door when entering church.

Even today, in England, at a wedding of a military officer where brother and sister officers attend in full dress so that they can form a guard of honour afterwards, during the service you can see a stack of swords in the church porch (guarded by someone delegated for the purpose).

#543 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 08:52 AM:

Marna: Have you read my post? I am/was well. I am/was, also a bit tired.

Not tired and emotional, but tired, nonetheless.

#544 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 10:08 AM:

Earl, the original email forward at that Snopes link is amazing. I especially like how the writer is particularly incensed that Teresa Heinz Kerry asked for a prenup when she married John Kerry, did not change her name immediately upon marriage, and dislikes being called Mrs. John Kerry.

Red alert, a woman is taking an insufficiently traditional approach to marriage! That's how you can tell she's a terrible person.

That also describes me. Except for the prenup (I didn't have significant assets before marriage), though we are both keeping accounts in our own names (while starting a joint one to pay joint bills easily). Guess I must hate America.

#545 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 10:30 AM:

Caroline@544: Yes, well, you are probably not being a "good woman" by the standards of the person being mocked either.

While I certainly do not hate America, I do find some parts of it rather tiresome.

#546 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 11:28 AM:

I've been amused by the movements in various states for Church carry. I'm aware of the tradition of not carrying weapons in church, and especially not drawing anything you happen to have, and those campaigning for church carry (basically on my side in the RKBA wars) often seem not to be aware of that tradition.

The movement for church carry is a logical consequence of the basic arguments the RKBA people (with whom I align on that issue, but not most other issues) are using in general (that civilians who qualify for a permit carrying guns makes the areas they are in safer). Part of my amusement is that they're following their own logic to try to overturn old traditions about churches (don't know if they're not mentioning the tradition for political reasons, or because they're ignorant of it).

Minnesota, as seems to be so often the case, has I think gotten this one right: churches have the same rights as individuals and businesses to decide if they'll allow carry-permit holders to carry weapons on their premises. That's the right libertarian solution, and the right first amendment solution (the government shouldn't be deciding for the churches what's religiously appropriate). (Churches were originally going to be required to post the same signs as businesses; they made a fuss, and got the law changed so they can inform their congregations by any means they choose. That seemed silly to me; it's going to result in more people violating their wishes through ignorance, plus provide cover for people deliberately violating their wishes.)

I have no history of association with any church, so it's not of any pressing importance to me either way. Makes it easier to watch the show with detached amusement.

#547 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 11:31 AM:

543: Not tired and emotional, but tired, nonetheless.

In other words "I wasn't hungover, the dawn really did come up like thunder."

#549 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 12:10 PM:

Xopher @548, despite referencing Cordelia, it reminds me more of Mr. & Mrs. Smith...

#550 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 12:29 PM:

I am so angry about Shirley Sherrod.

#551 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Janet, typical of xkcd's "what would really happen" theme. I HOPE "Cordelia" is an intentional reference to LMB, but it could be a coinkidink.

LDR, me too, but it sure looks like it's getting fixed soon.

#552 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 12:49 PM:

What is your anger, LDR? Many people are probably angry for different reasons, and I'm curious.

#553 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 01:01 PM:

Xopher - is it getting fixed? That's good. If I was her I wouldn't want that job back, though.

Tom: I'm angry that someone could get fired because Fox News posts a fake video of them. Aside from all the other issues.

#554 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 01:02 PM:

Tom Lehrer auf Deutsch.

("The Elements" to the tune of "Can-Can"? Wirklisch?)

#555 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 01:13 PM:

Telegraph - expat - has a nice piece on Penguin book covers with links to the Penguin site.

Penguin science fiction covers soon developed a distinct style of their own. This is a 1977 edition of J.G. Ballard's The Drought. The cover was designed by David Pelham, an admirer of Ballard who designed a series of covers for his books, each with an artefact of twentieth century technology pictured against a stark background.

#556 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 02:04 PM:

If there are those here in the FLuorosphere who have been reading Arturo Pérez-Reverte's Captain Alatriste novels and yet not mentioning them to the rest of us--is this the manner in which Your Mercies see fit to show your regard for us? I must protest, by the good Christ!

For those of you who haven't yet encountered Captain Alatriste and his misfortunate career, here is a sample, from Purity of Blood:

In truth, every time I remember him drunk, it was alone in our lodgings on the Calle del Arcabuz, on the courtyard that opened to the back of the Tavern of the Turk. He would sit motionless before his glass, jug, or bottle, his eyes fixed on the wall where he hung his sword, dagger, and hat, as if contemplating images that only he and his obstinate silence could evoke. And by the way his mouth tightened beneath his veteran's mustache, I would take an oath that the images were not those a man contemplates, or relives, gladly. If it is true that each of us carries his specters with him, those of Diego Alatriste y Tenorio were not servile or friendly or good company. But, as I heard him say once, shrugging his shoulders in the way that was so typical of him--half resignation and half indifference--an honorable man can choose the way and the place he dies, but no one can chose the things he remembers.

#557 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 02:15 PM:

fidelio, I bought a copy of the first one some years ago, shortly before trying to get back into Spanish, and have left it untouched since: I was trying to decide if I should read it in translation, or get my Spanish brushed up enough to read it the original.

Clearly, I should damn the language-learning and start reading.

#558 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 02:19 PM:

Fidelio@556: Apologies. I read and enjoyed the first one, and thought it in significant ways better than his contemporary novels. Been meaning to look into later ones, actually, thanks for the reminder.

#559 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 02:33 PM:

ddb @558 Yes, you should.

Fade Manley @557--I suspect it would be interesting to read his work in both languages, just to see whether what manages to come through in translation is present in even higher proof in Spanish.

#560 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 03:23 PM:


Michael Bay is going to make Hansel and Gretel.

Hansel and Gretel

My guess is that the witch will explode at the end. Bruce Willis will play the father, no doubt.

#561 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 03:23 PM:

fidelio @ 556: I read the first one, and liked lots of things about it, but got annoyed with the explanations. It felt like there were rather large blobs of exposition. Anyone know if those diminish in the later books?

#562 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 05:12 PM:

janetl @561--I haven't got my hands on the first one yet, and so cannot compare it with the three I have read. There is a lot of 'splaining by the narrator, but I feel that it's handled well. YMMV. As one of the reasons Pérez-Reverte is supposed to have started the Captain Alatriste series is that he felt this period of Spanish history was not well-covered in his daughter's school coursework, it's possible he's being didactic with intent, which can result in expository lumps.

#563 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 05:55 PM:

#556 fidelio

I've read them.

I am still waiting for the film, Alatriste (2006) in which Viggo Mortenson plays Captain Alatriste to at least come out on dvd. It was never released in the States.

#3 -- El sol de Breda, in which Alatriste and Íñigo participate in the Flanders War, didn't work very well for some reason. We were too far from the splendid rococco flourishes of Madrid's poets, playwrights and painters, likely. These are what really make the books work for me.

I was pleased then, with El oro del Rey, which returned to form, as did #5.

Love, C.

#564 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 06:12 PM:

So. Breitbart is now suggesting that the video of the old farmer woman braising Sherrod for saving their farm is a hoax.

I . . . I honestly wouldn't mind seeing someone corner that putz and take a . . .

No, I'm not going there.

#565 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 07:36 PM:

Stefan Jones #564: Why, exactly, is Sherrod being put in the hot seat for saving the family farm?

Breitbart is a shit. No two ways about it.

#566 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Fragano Ledgister (565)

because some in the "Right" blogoshere are really concerned about the fact that some of the top "movers and shakers" of Tea Party breathren (especially the TP Express, which paid lots of dollars to people like Queen Sarah to gin up the troops and put lots of dollars into contested legislative & congressional seats) have been shown, by their own actions to be racist, class-war mongering s**ts?

#567 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 07:51 PM:

#565: The godawful political story of the week:

Breitbart dragged up a video of Sherrod seemingly saying she'd like to discriminate against white farmers.

Well, she actually did say something like that. And then, in the rest of the video that Fox News and the winger blogs didn't bother showing, she goes on to say that that would be wrong, and how she helped this particular family.

And the farmer and his wife, who got to know her, backed her up. Totally blowing Breitbart's narrative out of the water.

But in the meantime, the administration hastily fired Sherrod, because you can't have someone that Fox News doesn't like hanging around, right? She's since gotten apologies, and an offer to get her job back, but still.

I'd really like to see Obama take advantage of the recent loosening of obscenity rules by the FCC by calling Breitbart a fucking asshole. At a press conference, in the Rose Garden.

At this point, it couldn't hurt.

#568 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 08:44 PM:

Stefan, make that a lying fucking asshole and I'm with you.

#569 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 09:27 PM:

The thing that annoys/depresses me the most about the Sherrod affair is that our oh-so-objective mass media immediately bit on the bait Breitbart put out for them, despite his record of subsidizing fraudulent videos. From the Ca. Attorney General's report re: Acorn (28-page .pdf)

"The video releases were heavily edited to feature only the worst or most inappropriate statements of the various ACORN employees. . ."
That hoax has been acknowledged in the NYT and other places, and yet they swallowed this heavily-edited video of Ms. Sherrod hook, line and sinker. Where the heck was their skepticism?

Where was the USDA's and the White House's, too, but it wouldn't have gotten that far had the media not taken the mickey.

#570 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 10:24 PM:

Steve C.: Michael Bay is going to make Hansel and Gretel.

Could be worse. If Jerry Bruckheimer were producing you'd need to figure out where to put the car chases.

#572 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 01:09 AM:

I love The Onion. They provide an essential service to us all; they are a bastion of journalistic truthiness.

#573 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 09:00 AM:

Constance @563--I started with the third one, and so the addition of the poets et al. in the others was an agreeable addition as a result, rather than a painful loss.

#574 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 10:20 AM:

One bit of Canadian controversy that's been in the news lately is our census. Every five years, the forms go out: 80% of households get the "short form", about one page; 20% get the "long form", about six pages. We're legally required to complete it and return it.

Our current federal government is determined to remove the legal obligation to return the long form, claiming that it is "intrusive". More specifically, our current Prime Minister is determined; several of his cabinet ministers raised objections before being quashed. All the other political parties think it's a bad idea, as do various government department heads, municipal politicians, and anyone else who relies on census data. Removing the legal obligation to respond makes the sample group self-selecting, and the resulting data much less reliable.

Munir Sheikh, the head of Statistics Canada (the government agency that oversees the census, among other duties), has just tendered his resignation in protest.

So far, the government is standing firm.

#575 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 10:39 AM:

Joel Polowin@574: You know, things like this interfere with my ability to pretend that it's not "the world" that's crazy; just the USA. Although Margaret Thatcher already took a big bite out of that ability, so I suppose I can't call it a surprise at this point. (And, obviously, these data points are really quite limited; anglophone, developed countries, in the English family tree, etc.)

My cynical side says that the crazier wings of the Republican party in the USA know perfectly well they're lying thieving tools, and are actively working to keep facts out of public view.

#576 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 11:01 AM:

ddb #575: I still think it's spreading from America....

#577 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 11:50 AM:

That sidelight to the PT Cruiser review is pretty bizarre. Amazing how he sticks to his guns and won't even admit that SOME people might have had good experiences with it or like the way it looks. I think I'll hug mine when I get home, purple flames and all.

#578 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 12:05 PM:

David Harmon@576: That's certainly the way it feels from in here.

I'm wondering about the mechanisms; could be as simple as people with similar goals observing what works and copying it.

#579 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 12:13 PM:

In completely different news, ScienceBlogs seems to be melting down. The proximate cause is "Pepsigate", wherein the SB overlords brought in a corporate advertblog without telling anyone else.

Bora gives a linkfest on Pepsigate, on his way out, and GrrlScientist has hopped over to WordPress, as well as her Nature blog, Maniraptora.

#580 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 12:19 PM:

ddb #578: For some definition of "works" that ignores actually getting stuff done, let alone looking out for the populace.

I don't understand how these people manage to keep power; I've said before that an epidemic of ("traditional") demonic possession would explain a whole lot.

#581 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 12:36 PM:

David Harmon@580: "Works" in the sense of "helps meet the individuals personal goals", of course. We're clearly willing to consider the possibility that there is actually bad faith involved in some of these people!

#582 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 01:32 PM:

Okay, either I've been away from real engineering for too long, or reading too much fanfic; I absolutely read the particle header "Real editors ship" the wrong way. Interesting essay, massive immediate context switch required.

#583 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 01:34 PM:


I'd like to second the upthread recommendation that you take your new music addict to check out music festivals in New Orleans -

- but may I call your attention to the French Quarter Fest? Two weeks earlier than Jazz Fest, thus slightly cooler (in theory); free admission; and its stages are scattered throughout the French Quarter rather than in the Fairgrounds. Much more comfy. Easy to run off for a coffee-and-A/C break or for lunch. Less headline acts, but more diversity, more small local acts that ought to get more attention. Also that wind off the river at the three stages along the water is wonderful.

(Not that my fellow natives will thank me for calling tourist attention to what was conceived as "the fest for the locals", but I think that ship sailed about 5 years ago.)

#584 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 01:34 PM:

Addendum to my #579: Coturnix has a good overview of the history and situation.

#585 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 02:21 PM:

And the Louis Armstrong festival and conference in September!

Love, C.

#586 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 02:23 PM:

Mycroft, #582: You just made me waste a perfectly good mouthful of iced tea! So I shared the pain with my partner, and got a *facepalm*.

#587 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 04:37 PM:

582, 586:

do the readers have to stay in the readerhip?

#588 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 05:10 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft #577: That sidelight to the PT Cruiser review is pretty bizarre.

I like how the PT Cruiser looks; it's nostalgic. I wish they had made a full-sized sedan version.

#589 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 05:40 PM:

Erik Nelson #587: Only hip readers.

#591 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 07:00 PM:

My first reaction to the PT cruiser was extremely negative; "fugly" and "gangstermobile" were the words that came to mind. OTOH, it's also true that I dislike the look of the cars they were consciously intended to imitate, so that makes sense.

More seriously, I have a safety issue with them: that high-raised rear window interferes with the driver's ability to see what's behind the car. I have a friend who drives one, and so have been able to test this personally; and I would be absolutely terrified to be on the road in one.

#592 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 07:40 PM:

Joel Polowin @574 said: [The Canadian] federal government is determined to remove the legal obligation to return the long form [census], claiming that it is "intrusive".

This year the US Census gave up any pretense; everyone got a tiny little form that asks significantly less than they did in 1880 (a nonrandomly chosen example; I've been looking at a lot of 1880 census forms lately, for family history research). No more 'long form'. Instead, there will in theory be some long involved opt-in (meaning, you can throw it out when you get it if you choose) every few years to some randomly-chosen sample of the population.

Somehow I think it will be supremely unuseful for the things the government wants the stats for, and I can tell you for sure it'll be almost entirely useless for 80-years-later family history work, which is hard enough as it is ...

#593 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 08:05 PM:

"Instead, there will in theory be some long involved opt-in (meaning, you can throw it out when you get it if you choose) every few years to some randomly-chosen sample of the population."

You're thinking of the American Community Survey. It's not opt-in; you're required to return it if you get it just as you're required to return the census short form. (A requirement that is sharply disliked by basically the same folks who objected to the long form.)

We've already received (and returned) the survey once (though it was long enough ago that I think it was in its test phase at the time).

#594 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Lee @591, the back window was quite a change going from my old Mazda hatchback to the Cruiser. I find I do have to rely on my side mirrors a lot more when backing up. But! I'm not sitting on the ground with my knees up to my chin looking straight into the headlights of every pickup truck on the road, and in every other direction the view is better, so I think on the whole it was an improvement in safety. I do have to agree with the writer that from what I've heard, later models (mine's a 2001) got steadily chintzier and not nearly as full of character. Mine gets decent mileage, can carry home multiple 8' long Ivar sidepieces from Ikea, and is extremely comfortable for long road trips. She needs new headlights, though; the lenses seem to have developed jaundice.

#595 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 08:28 PM:

Threadiness: anyone seen this yet?

Outprotested by people waving ODIN IS GOD signs...

#596 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 08:28 PM:

Janet@577, I liked the look of the PT Cruiser from the first newspaper article about it, and so did my wife. Her car was old enough to need replacing, so she got to get the Midlife Crisis Cool Car instead of me and ordered it before there were any physical copies available to look at. Black, of course.

People seemed to either love it or hate it, and it took a couple of years before people stopped noticing it on the street. For me it looked like the 30s gangestermobiles (and unlike Lee@591, I mean this positively), for some people it looks like a traditional London taxi, for some people it looks like a hot rod (thus the purple flames, though it didn't do that for me), for Californians it also seems to look like the old station wagons they'd take surfing (thus the fake wood vinyl siding.) When the convertible came out, I didn't like it. The fake vinyl siding surfer version looks silly, but so did the fake vinyl siding on the station wagons we had in the 70s, so it gets some nostalgia points anyway.

It's a comfortable car, in practice the first year's model didn't go fast enough or get good enough gas mileage (though they recalled it a year later and gave it a software upgrade that helped the acceleration.) There's enough headroom. I'm not thrilled with the visibility, but that's partly a height problem - and we took out the back-seat headrests the first day, because those really badly block the rear windows. Modifications since then have included retro taillights, and temporarily some 20-sided fuzzy dice.

#597 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 09:23 PM:

It's still better than the pre-1850 censuses, where all you got was the name of the head-of-household and age-group nosecounts. (My standard for nosiness is one of the ones after 1880, where they asked married women how many children they had and how many were living.)

#598 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 10:00 PM:

P J Evans @597 -- that's not especially nosy, and actually very useful public health information.

#599 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 11:56 PM:

Tom, that's true, but the people who complain about how nosy current census forms are never seem to look at past censuses.
(They've also asked, more than once, about renting or owning the residence, about owning radios, about what people do, and sometimes about people's health. And in the 19th century there were several mortality censuses, where they asked about everyone who had died in the previous 12 months.)

#600 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 12:09 AM:

Some reviewer once said that the movie "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" was like a PT Cruiser-- it has a retro- thirties and forties look, but after you've been watching it a while you don't care that it has a retro look.

#601 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 12:34 AM:

People who complain about how nosy current Census forms are also generally want the good that will come from having useful information. Grumble....

#602 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 12:55 AM:

#592 Elliott
I suspect that the extreme geneaologically-oriented will try to collect old Facebook datastores and such, in the future....

#603 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 01:21 AM:

One more damning thing about the 2001-2008 Misadministration--discontinuing collecting data on Toxic Shock Syndrome cases? "You don't care if women die!" applies there, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with contraception or pregnancy termination. It's Ferengi male treatment of females from the original "you let your females wear clothing?" misogyny....

[Facebook Note post from woman whose sister died a month ago from Toxic Shock Syndrome
"....the number of [toxic shock] cases and deaths has not been reported since 2003."

#604 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 02:14 AM:

French Quarter Fest! We went with two toddlers and they LOVED it! Such an easy going crowd too, in the early afternoon, because everyone was dancing and clapping with them. We only did a couple of shows on the stages along the river, but it was lovely.

That said, if anyone is planning on visiting New Orleans in the near future, we can certainly try for a mini-Gathering of Light, if there's any interest.

Also, as I will be in San Francisco at the end of this month, car-less, and staying in Japantown, does anyone have any recommendations for good things to do? Bookstore recommendations are welcome. I know we'll be going to Alcatraz, but any tips on dealing with transit will help to. I've not been since I was a child, and then it was just for the day, and my friend normally stays with family in San Jose, so she's not done the touristy things before.

#605 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 03:01 AM:

That Sledgehammer particle, if true, is the weirdest thing I've read in a long while (he is a screenwriter, right?). What really does ring true is the cops' behavior.

#606 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 04:05 AM:

eClaire, #604: It looks like I'll be in New Orleans the last weekend in September. I'm doing ICC, but as I'm not a LARPer myself I tend to be at loose ends once the dealer room closes; company for dinner would be nice.

#607 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 05:37 AM:

Xopher, of which @417 is only the latest: You're a treasure.

#608 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:29 AM:

Elliott Mason@592

Actually the replacement for the (U.S.) Census long-form data is a continuing survey called the American Community Survey (ACS), which collects roughly similar data to what the long form did. The ACS sampling rate is structured so that 10 years of ACS data is roughly equivalent in sampling proportion to the long-form sample.

The ACS does have the substantial advantage that its data is more current than the long-form data. And it is technically a mandatory survey just as the Decennial Census is. On the other hand nonresponse rates for even the Census Bureau's surveys do tend to be higher than the ultimate (after nonresponse followup) response rates for the Census.

#609 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 07:42 AM:

Happy Wedding Anniversary, Abi & Martin!

#610 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 08:09 AM:

By the way, Abi, you can tell Martin that I recently found that I can do the Cardassian Neck trick too.

#611 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 08:15 AM:

Re the PT cruiser particle: it seems the greatest sins one can commit are to be (1) female (2) a homosexual male, or (3) old. Apparently I'm 2/3 of the way to hell. (I do, in fact, dislike the PT cruiser, but more for its alleged unreliability than for any symbolic reason).

Linkmeister @ #605, agreed on both counts.

#612 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 09:01 AM:

In the realm of Open Thread Randomness, I get to spend my morning in the most powerful MRI* approved for use on humans... and my colleagues get to play with a new coil. Should be an interesting way to end the week.

*For anyone who is interested: normal clinical MRIs are 1.5 tesla units; most research institutes use 3.0 tesla magnets... and a few places (at last count, about thirty worldwide) have what I am going in - a 7.0 tesla magnet. If you have been scanned clinically, you were - at most - scanned in a 3T field. 7T magnets are a very different beast, even when you are more than comfortable working around both 3 and 7T magnets (to start with, the 7T magnets are huge - about two and a half times as large as a modern 3T, and deserving of more respect than their less powerful cousins). That being said, I have been scanned at 7T before - great way to get nice, high-resolution pictures of your brain.

There is talk of 9.4 tesla human magnets - I know of at least one research facility in the Netherlands that is on track to get one, but neither Siemens nor Philips, to my knowledge, has shipped one of those monsters.

#613 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 09:18 AM:

#Benjamin Wolfe @612--I am reminded of an episode of ER, where they had a patient who walked into the emergency room complaining that his magnetic field was misaligned and demanding treatment for this.

Have fun living at the cutting edge of the almost-future!

#614 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 09:56 AM:

in re: the PT Cruiser -- From all the ones I've seen on the road, my impression has always been that they are ugly *and* silly-looking. YMMV.

My wife happens to like the look of them.

However, given the slide show put up by the writer who hates them so much, I find that I actually like the look of the "woody" version (even if it does use plastic for a fake wood paneling).

#615 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 10:15 AM:

fidelio @ 613 - I am somewhat surprised that no one I have worked with at the scanners has had a story like that - it sounds like the sort of thing that happens when you work with MRIs. We get a lot of communications [these days, email - but real letters are far from uncommon] from people with interesting (for extremely charitable values of interesting) ideas on what we should be doing with our magnets.

I do not know about realigning someone's field... but feeding them to a 7T would make them feel something. Peripheral nerve stimulation, in all likelihood.

And now, 'tis time to head to the magnet.

#616 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 11:12 AM:

My PT cruiser view when I first saw them was, "They look like classic roadsters, until you see someone in them, then they look like clown cars."

#617 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 11:16 AM:

Have fun in the future, Benjamin! Mind your fillings....

#618 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 11:17 AM:

TexAnne @ 508... During the interview on Monday, remember not to knit otherwise they might find themselves thinking about Madame Defarge.

#619 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 11:25 AM:

When I first saw the PT Cruisers, I thought they were ugly, but they've kind of grown on me. I still wouldn't buy one, but they are nice and roomy without being stupidly large, or (this is important to me because I drive a little Honda Civic) blocking my view of the road. I do think the ones with tiny rear windows are dangerous. They started off with large rear windows, and, I think, have gone back to them.

Benjamin Wolfe @ 612:


Do you have to take any safety precautions, like making sure you don't have any loose change in your pocket?

#620 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 11:55 AM:

KeithS, #619: When I first saw the PT Cruisers, I thought they were ugly, but they've kind of grown on me.

Like fungus? :-)

Early Volkswagen Beetles had teeny rear windows. In 1959 they went to a full-width window. My parents had one of those oval-window 1956 models, but they sold it before I was old enough to drive.

#621 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 12:28 PM:

Open Threadiness: Boobieships and Titrockets.

(A response to the discussion here.)

#622 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 12:38 PM:

Lee, thanks for the Boobieships & Titrockets - deeply amusing.

I have to admit that, despite its lack of female authors, I may buy that Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF. Cascade Point and Into the Miranda Rift are among my favorite short stories ever, ones I remember long after originally reading them, which suggests that I might enjoy the rest as well.

Though I do think there's plenty of room, and plenty of material, for a companion volume a little more inclusive.

#623 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 12:56 PM:

Lee @606 - Last weekend in September sounds good. I'll be heading up to Portland at some point for a wedding, but it isn't until the first weekend in October, so we should still be here. I'd love to do dinner, especially since I missed out on your chocolate gathering!

#624 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 01:12 PM:

Speaking of New Orleans: storm watch in effect. :O

Spike Lee's production for the August HBO follow up to When the Levees Broke flew Himself right back down to New Orleans last night -- we just back from NO midnight Monday -- to be interviewed further, this time re the BP Crime Blowout. He'll be flying back to NYC then, tonight, hopefully ahead of the storm.

Work on the cleanup and containment of the blowout has been discontinued ....

I am fervently praying and lighting candles that the storm mitigates very quickly.

Love, C.

#625 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 01:22 PM:

Does it go "spung"?

#626 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 01:33 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 612 -- What's the benefit of the stronger MRI magnets? Faster scans, better spatial resolution, better discrimination of the properties of the tissue?

(I spent an hour in an MRI a couple of weeks ago. The good news is that the ovoid fluid-filled thingy near the bottom of my spinal cord hasn't changed visibly since last November, and no other anomaly is observed higher up. The less-good news is that it isn't possible to discriminate among several possible causes: a syrinx, an abnormally enlarged terminal ventricle, etc. The neurosurgeon told me a couple of weeks ago that it'd take about a month to "get everything together" for surgery; I'm still waiting to hear back from him.)

#627 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Anyone else see this:Top Authors Make eBook Deal, Bypassing Publishers

I'm interested in what people here are thinking about it. (Original story here, at the Guardian)

#628 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Dammit. Daniel Shorr is dead.

Can't be called untimely (he was 93), but it's quite a loss.

#629 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 02:07 PM:

Open-threadiness, wrt older discussions of narcolepsy, hypersomnia, and (un)available medications-- Provigil will probably be restricted to narcolepsy in Europe. (My husband forwarded a news summary to me because I've been taking it for hypersomnia for several years.)

#630 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 02:10 PM:

I have a comment being held for review. It contained a link to NPR about Daniel Shorr.

#631 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 02:37 PM:

‎"The croc didn't leave empty-handed."
- heard last night on Discovery's TV series "River Monsters"

#632 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 03:05 PM:

Xopher :

Please fill out NHPR00F, Form For Grovelling That You Didn't Check Your Link Format At Preview.

Tick the "From now on I will close href links with </a>, not another <a>" box and follow the instructions on the penalty table. You won't need the "habitual offender" multiplier on this occasion.

#633 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 03:06 PM:

(Irony: My 632 was held for moderation!)

#634 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 03:18 PM:

I am safe in New Jersey (which has some of the most insane highways I have ever encountered, and some of the worst/most dangerous drivers... the bike is garaged until I leave for points north. I've had two people engage in, intentionally, dangerous behavior toward me, and one who ran a red light in a way that, had I been a bit more on top of what I was doing, would have killed me).

Spent yesterday wandering about/getting a feel for Midtown. I don't think I could ever be mistaken for a native (I've always looked up), but there were several points in the day where I was treated as a local

I have to say I don't understand the impression people have of New Yorkers as rude comes from. Even the guy who hit me up for money had a nice conversation with me (I didn't have my wallet. I thought it was in my luggage somewhere. It turns out I left it on a gas pump in Delaware. I'll be fetching it Sunday), about the pains of missing wallets.

One guy handed me something I'd dropped, another one had a chat with me about a billboard, etc.

The woman who tried to push me aside (she tucked her shoulder and leaned) while saying, something to the effect of, "get out of the way" was probably a bit surprised; I leaned in, just before she ploughed into me (she bounced) and said, in a pleasant enough tone... "You're the one moving,", since she'd had a fair bit of time to see me, and avoid the contact.

But that was one person in tens of thousands I saw, was near, in the course of seven miles of walking about Manhattan. It was a good day.

Now to wander about Jersey City for a spot of coffee, and some (late) lunch.

#635 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 03:41 PM:

Eclaire @604 That said, if anyone is planning on visiting New Orleans in the near future, we can certainly try for a mini-Gathering of Light, if there's any interest.

OMG DO THAT AND DO THAT NOW. May I recommend FQF next year, for timing (April 8 – 10, 2011)? May I offer my services in party supply bringing & the other things that having a home base in the area helps with?


Open Threadiness: Someone recommended Sorcerer's Apprentice as "surprisingly good." John and I went last night, and found it surprisingly painful.

To wit: The writers never met a cliche they didn't like, including goddamn racist stereotype cliches. No one told them that "prologues are the bit people skip, so it better be good or it better get cut," or if they were told, they promptly ignored this. The apprentice character had a voice that made me want to, alternately, hit him with a brick or replace him with Shia LaBeouf. Both Important Female Characters were essentially demoted from "person" to "motivation for one of the male leads." (Orpxl znxrf n oernx sbe crefbaubbq ng gur raq, ohg vg'f gbb yvggyr gbb yngr.) And the pernicious "10% of your brain" cliche popped up. And the Mystical Fantasy Name for the apprentice character's destiny/calling/fate was ridiculous. Disbelief-suspender-snapping ridiculous. Especially given who the first person to utter the ridiculous phrase was.

So. Whoever made me that recommendation, I would be demanding those 2 hours of my life back now, kthx, except for two unexpected plusses:

* Singing Tesla coils. That and Nicholas Cage helped a lot. Unfortunately, "a lot" was not enough.

* As we bought our tickets for the 8:45 showing, we noticed that Salt had a 12:01 showing (we had not been aware it opened Jul 23). So we hung around and saw it. Salt kicked ass, took names, and blew us away. I woke up this morning sort of unconsciously rerunning the plot in my head and would gladly go watch it again.

Since we probably wouldn't have gone to see the midnight showing of Salt if we hadn't already been at the theater for Sorcerer's Apprentice, I guess I owe the reviewer my thanks after all.

This weekend: "I Am Love" on Saturday, "Inception" on Sunday. I have high hopes for both.

#636 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 03:52 PM:

Nicole @ 635 -- Both Important Female Characters were essentially demoted from "person" to "motivation for one of the male leads."

I see that Disney's blurb includes the line "It'll take all the courage Dave can muster to survive his training, save the city and get the girl as he becomes The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

How... trophy-licious.

#637 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 04:26 PM:

Nicole @ 635 -- I believe it is me who owes you the two-hour refund. Unfortunately I went long on the temporal market last year, and got wiped out when the "staying up too late wired on caffeine" bubble burst and the day got shorted to 23.5 hours. I have nothing to offer but apologies.

Yes, the plot and character handling were 100% Hollywood-standard. The prologue was a dull clunk. The effortless melding of science, magic, New York, and Nicolas Cage was what I appreciated.

#638 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 04:27 PM:

Lee @ #620, my uncle got around the mini-sized rear window by purchasing a VW Convertible. It was the first VW I ever drove; my only objection to it was that he (or somebody) had put a weird paneled rear-view mirror that ran the full width of the windshield.

#639 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 05:24 PM:

David Manheim (#627)

(a) I don't like the KIndle
(b) I don't want to have to buy through Amazong
(c) I think that, after a spike in sales due to novelty, the e-editions will languish, and since it seems that dead-tree editions will not be available, these writers will not be included in (at the very least) survey courses. And is readers don't get to sample the work, they wil likely give a "bye" to picking up the writer's other works if it ever does get back to dead tree

#640 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 05:31 PM:

Craig R.@639: Strongly agree on your (b). Due to (b) I don't have enough experience with the Kindle to have an opinion on (a). The very last thing I want is a dedicated reader device, or a scheme tied to one company.

One of the interesting things in the ebook market is that lots of the early-adopters come from the tech geek side, who tend to be against proprietary lock-ins.

I've read dozens of books on my various Palm Pilots and phones and Nokia tablets, and it's my preferred form at this point.

#641 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 05:44 PM:

In re: Huge Mucking Magnets -- do you have to lock the doors so Metalic Things don't try to weld themselves to the scanner? (I'm thinking of the scene in Top Secret when the New Improved Magnetic Mine is turned on...)

#642 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 05:44 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft, #594, yes, I have friend with a PT Cruiser and it's the only sedan I've ever been in where I can just sit down -- the door opens all the way out. I can turn and put my feet out on the ground. There's plenty of foot room.

Happy Anniversary Abi and Martin!

#643 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 05:56 PM:

Just came across a mention of this book on the Paleofuture blog: The City's End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York's Destruction by Max Page.

Might be interesting. Anybody read it yet?

#644 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 05:57 PM:

Let me see... seems lots of questions have shown up while I was in the Magnet Dungeon...

First, mark at 617: It was fun. In fact, about the most laid-back scan I have done (task: like back and be bored. relax). As it happens, fillings (and most other permanent dental work) are safe in a 3T/7T field - no one uses ferromagnetic materials in them. The actual issue with metal in your mouth, even safe metal, is that it can cause artifacts in the MR images, which is problematic if you are imaging a nearby area. For dental work, this means that permanent dental wires and such will cause dropout in functional or anatomical images of frontal cortex, but they are not going to do anything evil. That being said, stainless steel, if anyone was fool enough to use it for dental work, would be Bad in a field.

KeithS at 619: I am, I bet, going to answer this in rather more detail than you really wanted, but here goes anyway (I need something to do after being ensconced in the imaging center all day).

Here are Ben's Basic Safety Precautions Before You Get Scanned (most of these apply just working in the same room as a MRI).

1. No loose metal. No exceptions. Yes, this means anything in your pockets (cell phone, wallet, coins, pens, watch, untested glasses... anything). Any jewelry - and I do mean any - must come off and be left outside the MR environment (this includes earrings, necklaces, piercing, rings and the like). Hairpins and similar items must come out prior to scanning (even if they are in the subject's hair, the field can grab them and turn a bobby pin into a projectile within a certain range - this is a Bad Thing). Also, lying on a ponytail for an hour or two can really hurt, so hair needs to be down.

2. If you are being scanned, leave the belt outside the MR room (at 3T, this is not usually an issue, at 7T it is a real hazard - best to just leave it outside). Most shoes are fine (at 3T). At 7T, take them off and leave them outside. As an aside, metal components of clothing are usually OK - rivets in jeans, zippers on trousers and the like. Anything loose on an article of clothing and you get to change in to scrubs. I am not taking any chances.

3. Tattoos are an interesting case - anyone who scans needs to know about any body art that a subject has, but provided the work was done by a reputable artist in the last 20 years or so, it is very unlikely to cause a problem. Older work, or work done in non-shop environments (e.g., prison), where normal inks are difficult to come by, may contain forms of iron as a pigment - the tattoos will not explode (at least, none of the technicians I have worked with have ever heard of it happening, and between them they had nearly a century of experience), but they can heat up. I am not saying they are safe or not, but we do need to know about them, for everyone's safety. The fact that the Mythbusters tattooed a chunk of dead pig, tossed it in a scanner and claimed it did not change does not amuse people who scan for a living (in fact, that segment gets MR technologists, radiologists and other people who work on/around/with magnets rather cranky).

4. Once you are in the MR room, it behooves you to move slowly - this is not a real issue with a 3T magnet (unless you have to crawl into the bore to adjust something - I have done this and it is not fun), but at 7T, moving a bit slower than you usually do is a very good idea - the field strength, which increases as you get closer to the bore, can make you dizzy if you are susceptible to vertigo (or, if you have metal somewhere you did not think you did, it will start to pull, which is very disconcerting). If you are being scanned at 7T, being careful and deliberate as you lie down on the scanner bed and get your head in the coil is also a good idea, for your own comfort and stability.

[this was an answer that was much longer than it needed to be]

And to answer Joel Polowin's questions at 626, increasing field strength does buy you faster scans at a given spatial and temporal resolution (there is talk about doing large imaging volumes at sub-1s acquisition time over large areas of the brain with quite small voxels). In the anatomical images, it also lets you resolve quite a lot more detail than you can at comparable resolution at, say, 3T (today's great example was being able to see the small blood vessels in my white matter - these are next to invisible at a 3T 1mm-isotropic anatomical - but they show up very, very well at 0.7mm isotropic at 7T). Higher field strength also allows you to (in theory, and less so in practice), image more anatomy with smaller voxels and get better signal to noise to boot (in fact, these two goals are in a certain degree of opposition, which makes high field work a balancing act).

I would not expect to see anyone trying to run 7T for clinical work anytime soon (for one, the magnets are huge - about twice to three times the size of a 3T) and their advantages are more on the research than the clinical side of things. That being said, we can get wonderful data out of them - when they want to behave.

#645 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:01 PM:

Sorry to hear about Schorr, Xopher (@628). He was an amazing commentator.

#646 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:14 PM:

Sandy B @ 616... they look like clown cars

I rented one last year when I went to the worldcon.
You'll notice here that my driving attire was as colorful as a clown's.
I did dispense with the clown shoes though.

#647 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:15 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 644: I am, I bet, going to answer this in rather more detail than you really wanted

Are you kidding? That's fascinating, and even more detail than I was hoping to get.

#648 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:25 PM:

I thought PT Cruisers were kind of neat looking. Mostly because they were different. So many sedans are roundy-edged blocks these days.

But any respect I had for the car died when I had a chance to look under the hood. When you see more black plastic covers than metal, you know you're dealing with a car you will never have a hope of servicing yourself.

#649 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:30 PM:

And, as I was writing the set of Overly Long Answers, I see that Craig R. at 641 has added another to the pile.

In brief, yes and no - MRIs are installed in shielded rooms (with quite a lot of passive shielding - the figures from the local imaging center I work with here at the university are that the 3T magnets have 30 tons of shielding surrounding them... and the 7T has 400 tons). If one was foolish enough to have the door open while running a sequence on the 7T, the noise would be impressive (earplugs being a must in any scanner) and you might get interesting things happening in the MR room itself, if you had anything ferromagnetic in there - but the field would not, I believe, be powerful enough, several meters from the bore, to pick things up and pull them to the magnet's face.

#650 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:35 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe 644: OMG COOL, and not even close to too long. Thanks!

#651 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:40 PM:

Hey, KeithS and TexAnne (and anyone else who is reading and curious) - ask away, and I will answer what I can. I do not claim, by any means, to know everything on the topic, but helping to run a couple hundred scans over the last two years must be good for something - and I am happy to share what knowledge I have on the topic.

#652 ::: Shinydan Howells ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:41 PM:

Ok. This is utterly irrelevant, but I've failed my Library Search (Google) roll and so I thought, aha, let's see if the fluorosphere is willing to help me.

I've just picked up M John Harrison's "The Centauri Device", and it's bloody good. Needs re-reading, but it's great stuff. Except that he's called one of his locations "Howell", and made it clear there's a joke there. And I am unsure of the joke...

I don't suppose anyone could shed any light on this one?

#653 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:43 PM:

regarding the PT Cruiser: I read somewhere (I think it was Bruce Schneier) explaining the original design had a much larger rear window, but the market test discovered people felt too exposed.

When the window was reduced, and the amount of rear visibility was, perforce, decreased, the test-subject felt much more comfortable ("safer" as I recall) and so were more positive about the car.

Me? Just looking at that small window makes me nervous, the idea that I might have to rely on it for collecting information/maintaining situational awareness... safety isn't the word that comes to mind.

#654 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 06:47 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @644:
For this audience, that wasn't too much detail, trust me. As a patient, the MRI is the only place I let them take my glasses away from me (prior bad hospital experience when a nurse told me that "there isn't anything interesting to see here, anyway" while I was in the recovery room. By the time they got them back, I was alternately screaming and crying. Being blind is no fun, especially when you are in pain and in unfamiliar surroundings).
Rather than trust me to know what metal I have on me, I get a Johnny or scrubs (preferable. I bring my own scrubs for fluoroscopy and x-rays — much more civilized).

Idle geekish curiosity: at what Tesla would the magnet suck the hemoglobin right out of you? More seriously*: what magnetic effect is causing the vertigo? Or is that a "Mystery"?

*Sad, I know...

#655 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 07:09 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe #644: Cool, and not too long by my lights....

#656 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 07:10 PM:

In terms of vertiginous effects in MR environments, there are a couple of theories (that no one has proven or disproven to the satisfaction of anyone in the field):

1. The magnetic field is doing *something* to the vestibular system (we very much do not know what, but this is supported by the widespread incidence of minor, transitory dizziness on being put in / removed from the bore).

2. The other theory, such as I recall it (without digging for the paper), is that something could be happening in the cerebrospinal fluid as a result of the field (this, for my money, is less likely - but you could get some effect - what it would be is a matter of conjecture).

The good thing is that vertignious effects from MR exposure are transitory (the more severe cases I have seen seem to be an unfortunate combination of MR effects and the psychology of the subject - people can get minor effects, convince themselves that they are getting worse and then need to get out of the magnet [or the room]).

I do not know what field strength would be required to de-hemoglobin an unfortunate subject - but the very idea sounds like an Evil Overlord weapon. Not very practical though.

#657 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 07:36 PM:

Serge,and anyone else who might know.

There was a charming fellow at the Brownstone Diner (Jersey and Grand, Jersey City; nice place, good food, good coffee; which I had come to despair of in a diner), who is taking a ridiculous road trip.

He is going to be in Albuquerque, and was wondering at "must see" attractions. Any suggestions?

#658 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 07:51 PM:

Bouncing off what jnh said - Bringing your own scrubs is a good idea - I am on the research, rather than the clinical side of imaging, but hospital scrubs are not appealing, even if they are fresh from the laundry (given that I have seen a hospital staffer from the laundry here try to open the door to a live scanner bay, during a scan, I have limited trust in them).

Have you ever had the pleasure of MR-safe glasses? They are (at least, if you are being scanned in a very long functional study where you need to perform a visual task for a couple of hours) extremely uncomfortable. The ones available to the lab I work for would get pushed into the subject's face due to a lack of clearance between their face and the head coil - so, we have given up on those, and have taken to using modified prescription swim goggles (modified, with a dremel tool, to not have any integral metal). This works quite well, even if we cannot use the eyetracker with the goggles in place - the IR beam bounces off the coating and confuses the already flaky eyetracker.

That being said, contacts are MR safe, which is handy for the majority of my subjects (they can make eyetracking flaky, but that is a flaw in that chunk of hardware, rather than the contacts themselves).

#659 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 07:53 PM:

Shinydan, #652: Could it perhaps be a Gilligan's Island reference?

#660 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 08:24 PM:

EClaire@604, things to do in SF - depending whether you've got the toddlers with you, how old they are, and how much tolerance you have for tourist kitsch, Pier 39 is a good start even in spite of the kitsch, since the sea lions are back. Haight-Ashbury has some used bookstores, restaurants, and hippie stuff, and is not far from the Carousel in Golden Gate Park and the hippie drum circle. Ghiradelli Square is near one end of the cable car, has shopping, good view of the harbor and Golden Gate Bridge.
Google Maps knows how to find directions using public transit as well as cars and walking.

#661 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 08:26 PM:

Add me to those enjoying the detail, Benjamin Wolfe. Thanks for taking the time to share!

#662 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 08:33 PM:

We will not have kids with us. It's a strictly mama weekend - our refuge from the children. I was desperate to find somewhere that would be cooler than New Orleans in August (that is, just about anywhere...) and after ruling out most of New England due to my husband's overwhelming envy that I would get to see it before him, we settled on San Francisco.

I'm ok with kitschy touristy stuff. That sounds fun.

#663 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 08:57 PM:

On high-power magnets:
The physics lab in college had a electromagnet on wheels. It had enough oomph to slow down a piece of heavy sheet copper (or a penny) dropped into its field.
I can only imagine what a 7T field - or even a 3T field - is like.

#664 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 10:09 PM:

EClaire:... I will not be about, but the Exploratorium is wonderful, Chinatown is interesting, just walking about is really nice (unless the hills are a problem); there is some splendid architecture.

I've never walked the Golden Gate Bridge, but I keep meaning to.

#665 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 10:17 PM:

Lee @621: Open Threadiness: Boobieships and Titrockets.

I thought perhaps this classic was being referenced.

#666 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 10:19 PM:

I've scanned in MRI for nearly 13 years, so I can add that the magnets are indeed well-shielded. They make a lot of noise. Essentially, each magnet sits in a Faraday cage to prevent the RF coil from picking up stray radio signals from outside. As most of you know, magnet field strength depends on the distance from the core, and is affected by the shape of the field (and magnet).

Our 7T magnet is in a much larger room than the 3T magnet, and the Gauss lines extend much further. Naturally, this makes monitoring an anesthetized animal much more interesting.

If anyone finds the magnet safety videos that I am sure can be found on the internets, you'll see cool things like a hammer accelerating through a core to smash into bricks on the other side. I cannot emphasize enough that all equipment that enters a magnet room must be magnet-safe. A child was killed in a magnet when the personnel allowed a non-safe oxygen tank to enter with him. I've had keys and pocket tools move inside my pockets, and had to hold a flashlight with two hands.

They are one of my most important diagnostic tools, and the newer software packages are capturing fantastic images.

#667 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 10:54 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe@644 & ff.: You haven't threatened my "too much info" line yet, anyway. I'm glad to learn these little bits.

During the cold war the Russians were infamous for doing stainless-steel dental work. No idea if this was true, though. Or if any of it would still be around.

#668 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 11:07 PM:

Ginger, my favorite joke that may be from my early work days (I was at a medical library and then at an animal health manufacturer) was that an MRI tech had a MRI sales bunny come visit and try to sell him on a different machine (as if the tech could really have anything to do with it, but that may have been different in the early days of the product).

Technician dared the sales bunny that he (sales bunny) could not throw his wallet through the ring without hitting the sides. Sales bunny did it. wonder how long it took him to realize his credit cards were trashed...

#669 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2010, 11:25 PM:

Ginger @ 666 : I had a very healthy fear of big magnets before I started working with them a couple years back (having one's grandfather spend his career as a physicist with a focus on magnetic fields helps) - the combination of that and a few of the videos you referred to made very sure that I respect the magnets. There is what I believe to be a remake of the unfortunate oxygen tank incident, with a watermelon as the victim - that, more than anything else, hammered home just how dangerous our mutual charges can be.

I am very happy that the only subjects I scan are neurologically normal adult humans - I put in three years in nonhuman work, and remember doing vital signs monitoring for various work in that lab on our animal subjects. I have seen people set up for animal work at the 7T magnet I have access to (in fact, they were prepping for a procedure for Monday by staging all of their hardware this afternoon after I came out of the magnet) and it makes me glad that the worst thing I have to deal with is getting a subject out quickly - rather than monitoring an anesthetized animal in an MR environment.

And Paula at 668: The two words that come to mind are "dumb bunny." I am pleased to report that the worst thing I have ever extracted from a magnet was a bobby pin from the inner surface of the bore... although I have walked into the 3T room with a watch on. The watch works to this day.

#670 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 12:26 AM:

Take a jacket. San Francisco can be very foggy and cold in the summer.

#671 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 12:35 AM:




Oh, wait, it goes up in August.

Never mind.

#672 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 12:48 AM:

Terry Karney @ 657... In Albuquerque? There'd be the tramway that goes to the top of the Sandias. I'd recommend Santa Fé, and Los Alamos. From the latter, one can visit some neat Anasazi cave dwellings.

#673 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 01:31 AM:

EClaire @ 662: Thinking back to a brief vacation I took in SF, I didn't actually go inside the Exploratorium, but I absolutely adored the Palace of Fine Arts buildings that house it.

I had great Mexican food in the Mission, and great Chinese food in Chinatown. If you're a vegetarian, call now for a reservation to Green's restaurant, and make it for the time of day when you can watch sunset paint the Golden Gate bridge.

#674 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 02:33 AM:

People who complain about the problems associated with living in the Bay Area should try living elsewhere.

#675 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 02:38 AM:

You've never been in a traffic jam till you've been on the 101 trying to get onto the Golden Gate Bridge and into the city at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon when the Bay Bridge is completely closed due to a major accident.

Inch forward, nervously look at gas gauge. Inch forward a little more, try to look around and enjoy the scenery. Inch forward. Inch forward.

#676 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 02:46 AM:

Linkmeister... True, and BART trains are often packed, but I don't care. I certainly didn't, when I was there last week. If I had to endure that every day instead of whenever I visit, I might start feeling differently. Then I'd remind myself to look around.

#677 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 02:57 AM:

Lee @527: Congratulations to Janet,

Coming in late: yay to all!

and to her daughter and future daughter-in-law! May they live long and happily together.

My neighbor and her wife agreed with me that, in states that don't recognize non-het marriage, the correct construction here is "future out-laws."

#678 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 03:14 AM:

Serge, I was on vacation! Theoretically I was escaping from traffic jams; finding myself in one was emphatically not what I had in mind.

When I got into the city I pulled into the first motel I could find (it was baseball playoff time and I wanted to watch the game). That motel was the Star Motel on Lombard right off 101. $50/night (this was 1985, I think). Google thinks the place is now out of business.

#679 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 03:32 AM:

Linkmeister @ 678... During last week's visit, I was quite happy to see one of the Bay Area's traffic-jam spots going thru some transformation that, a few years from now (or more than a few years - as tends to happen over there), should result in smoother traffic.

Yes, they are finally adding a fourth bore to the Caldecott Tunnel between Berkeley and Orinda.

#680 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 06:27 AM:

PT Cruiser rear windows:

I don't know what the door/wing/side mirrors are like, but there are a heck of a lot of vehicles out there with no useful rear window. And I'm not talking about anything exotic, just the bottom end of the commercial vehicle category, the really small van that's essentially a modified car or pick-up.

So, yeah, I can see how there might be a problem, but it has to be more than just the small rear window.

#681 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 06:38 AM:

EClaire #604: Another rec for the Exploratorium. Way back when (20 years ago) there used to be a fantastic Pho place on Market Street, but I've no idea if it's still there.

#682 ::: Justin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 07:05 AM:

[Deep breath]

Okay, you've all heard about how scary you are 'cause of the giant brains and everything.

[You're not going to zap me with your brain powers, right?]

I'm one of those long-time lurkers, but I'm moved to post because I've been infected by... by... tvtropes....

I've successfully avoided that site for years, because y'all spoke so eloquently of how timesucking it was, but tonight -- tonight, I was weak.

Anyway, I'm only abandoning my anonymous nature because I ran across something that I felt moved to add to and I hope that Mr. Cooley doesn't have a problem with it....

No, really -- please don't fry me with those giant brains....

Umm. They're squishy.

#683 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 07:54 AM:

Justin @ 682... I for one welcome our Giant Brain Overlords.

#684 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 09:27 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @656 said: I do not know what field strength would be required to de-hemoglobin an unfortunate subject - but the very idea sounds like an Evil Overlord weapon. Not very practical though.

It would help establish once and for all how many Teslas of field Magneto can generate, though. He has been recorded in the comics as having marionetted people (or held them spread-eagled against a wall ten feet up) via the hemoglobin in their blood.

And then there's the "erzbivat Jbyirevar'f nqnznagvhz fxryrgba va qebcyrgf" procedure, which only didn't kill the subject because UR JNF JBYIREVAR. Leaving out as irrelevant to this particular discussion gur ybat-gvzr snajnax nethzrag nobhg jurgure nqnznagvhz vf npghnyyl zntarg-znavchynoyr be abg.

Jacque @677 said, in re homogamous couples: My neighbor and her wife agreed with me that, in states that don't recognize non-het marriage, the correct construction here is "future out-laws."

My mother was delighted to introduce herself once to someone as John's☂ "mother-in-sin," and to refer to his parents (when they weren't around) as her "in-sins".

☂ My then long-term boyfriend; currently he is my husband and father of my child, but this story is from several years before we married.

#685 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 09:34 AM:

Open threadiness... A friend of mine just pointed me towards a new-ish web comic: "Ensign Sue Must Die!". It's about the adventures of Ensign Mary Amethyst Star Enoby Aiko Archer Picard Janeway Sue on a familiar classic starship.

#686 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 10:48 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 685...

"Live long and bite me."

#687 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 10:59 AM:

Hm. No idea on the first part of that - in fact, I have a hard time suspending disbelief for it (a field that powerful should attract the victim, rather than let the field's user pin said victim against the wall - in fact, if my understanding is correct, it should result in a fatal mess for the victim).

The second bit calls to mind a very amusing trick (safe, but amusing) from our 7T magnet - there is an aluminum stepladder to one side of the scanner bed (the bed is about five feet off the ground, and having people jump up on to it is a bad idea, given the general hazards of moving in an abrupt manner in a 7T room). One would expect that the aluminum would be unaffected by the field, and for the most part, this is the case (e.g., when you run sequences on the magnet, said stepladder does not try to dance around the room or anything drastic like that) - but if you grab it and try to rotate it, you will have to fight against the field to do so. You can move it laterally, in-line with the field - but if you attempt to rotate it, you might, at best, manage a few degrees. Note that said stepladder weighs, maybe, 10 pounds.

...and that is your MR anecdote for the morning.

#688 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 11:29 AM:

Joel @ 685 - Love it!

#689 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 11:34 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 687 -- Can the ladder be rotated very slowly? I wouldn't expect that the aluminum would be completely unaffected by the field, but it's been too long since my last physics classes for me to remember enough about magnetic permeability effects and eddy currents. I'm remembering a tiny magnet being repelled by a moving supercooled aluminum sheet because the induced current created an opposing magnetic field, and I'm wondering if you might be getting some related effect in a metallic object with a lot more electrical resistance, with a much much stronger magnetic field.

#690 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 02:17 PM:

EClaire @604,

Independent book stores in SF that you should visit include: Green Apple Books in the Richmond, our local SF/F speciality new/used book store Borderlands Books in the Mission, Bird & Beckett in Glen Park, and City Lights Books in North Beach.

You want to eat dim sum when you go to Green Apple. You'll want to eat at a tacqueria when you go Borderlands. If you go to Bird & Beckett, then have the cassoulet at Le P'tit Laurent. If you go to City Lights, then you will be overwhelmed with choices for where to eat— it's North Beach.

Yes, bring a jacket. The word "summer" in our language doesn't mean what you think it does.

Borrow a copy of the Lonely Planet guide to San Francisco from the library. It will tell you where in North Beach you want to go after City Lights.

Use the 511.Org Transit Planner for getting around or you will be sorry. If you have a smartphone, get an app with a NextMUNI feed. (I cannot live without iCommute SF on my iPhone.)

Other fine neighborhoods worth visiting include Lower and Upper Haight, Castro, Marina, Union Street, etc. Again, the Lonely Planet guide is your friend.

If you like to drink, then I know all the best places drinking establishments worth visiting.

#691 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 02:41 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 687:

I regarded my EM class as mostly magic, and I don't entirely remember my materials classes. Nevertheless, I strongly suspect that something similar to the classic drop the magnet down the copper tube trick is happening.

On a completely different topic, archery is fun.

#692 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 03:05 PM:

(catching up on the PT Cruiser discussion): My wife has a PT Cruiser, which I sometimes drive. It has a bigger blind spot than my Honda Element, but the side mirrors are just barely big enough to cover the blind spot.

Just barely.

Better seats, though. My Element seats are falling apart.

#693 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 03:17 PM:


Nice work digging that up Joel. Good night Joel. I'll most likely kill you in the morning.


#694 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Joel Polowin #685: Oh my.

#695 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 03:49 PM:

Xopher @417

I used a much abbreviated version of your statement in a recent set of acrimonious emails on this subject. The entire email thread stopped. I don't know if it changed minds, but...

I thank you for giving me the tools. I hope it was soothing oil on troubled waters. One can only hope.

#696 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 03:50 PM:

Places in Albuquerque that Hilde and I have enjoyed visiting:

Albuquerque Biopark
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

We've also shopped in Old Town. Your mileage may vary according to what you like to shop for and how much you want to spend.

Never been on the Sandia Tramway, in spite of all the times we've been in Albuquerque for Bubonicon. (Looks like we'll miss Bu'Con again this year. Damn!)

#697 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 03:54 PM:

Mary Sue, Mary Sue
Got a spot on Star Trek's crew
Mary-- my Mary Sue
I love you when I read you were there too.

Mary Sue, Mary Sue
Graduated from Hogwarts too
Mary-- My Mary Sue
I love you when I read you were there too.

#698 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 04:56 PM:

Justin @682: You're not going to zap me with your brain powers, right?

<points fingers theatrically> GZZZZZZT!!!

*sniff* *sniff* Hm. Don't smell any smoke. You must be adequately grounded.

#699 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 05:05 PM:

Yo, Bostonoids! I'm going to be out there over Labor Day weekend. Any possibility of Light being Gathered?

#700 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 05:23 PM:

I have now read Doyle and Macdonald's The Price of Stars, Book One of Mageworlds, and discover that no local used book emporium seems to have Books Two, Three or Four, and neither does my statewide library system. Books Five, Six and Seven are on hand. Grrrh.

#701 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 05:25 PM:

You know what we forgot?

July is National Ice Cream Month!

If ever there's been a July that screamed for ice cream, this one of 2010 is it.

Love, C.

#702 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 05:37 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe, #644, I have MRIs way too often and I can leave my cell phone, keys, wallet, and glasses at the edge of the room (I don't bother wearing jewelry, but I need the rest).

jnh, #654, I always wear clothes & shoes that don't have metal in them, so I never have to get undressed (although I have had to show a tech that my bra has no hooks or adjusters) which is much more convenient.

#703 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 05:40 PM:

Linkmeister, #699, that's our bookgroup book for August and I have a copy waiting for me at the library.

#704 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 06:01 PM:

I've always thought the PT Cruiser was hideous, but it would never have occurred to me to think of it as "girly"--it's more a case of postmodernism gone horribly wrong.

That said, I considered buying one. Anyone who's seen my car can testify that I don't care at all what my car looks like, and the form factor is pretty good. I was turned off by the low gas mileage, though.

The car I'm coveting these days is the Kia Soul, which takes the haulage-to-length ratio quite a bit further (I'm a bass player who dislikes driving big cars). I haven't looked into reliability or gas mileage on that, though.

#705 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 06:07 PM:

Marilee @ #702, I should also point out that no non-used bookstore has them either.

#706 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 06:13 PM:

Joel, 685: Very funny! I had no idea what "kawaii" was, which led me to the Wikipedia page on cuteness in Japanese culture. Having never dotted the i's in my name with circles or hearts, or changed the spelling for added awesome, or had the princess phase or the horse phase, this was unsettling.

I had a discussion with a friend the other day about the sinister subtext of Hello Kitty. This really does nothing to dispel the discomfort.

Jacque, 698: I expect Avram and myself to be in the Boston area for a family event that weekend, so we're open to a possible meeting.

#707 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Jacque #698:
I'd be interested if it's happening.
I'm of a feather and ready to flock together.

#708 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 07:24 PM:

Re: Ensign Mary Sue, I should also point people towards John Hall's parody of Eric Schwartz's "Me 'n' Jenny and the Lovely Marilu".

#709 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 08:27 PM:

Well, I have my internet access back. I figured it wasn't the modem because turning in my old 3Com sharkfin for a new one didn't change anything (except that I went from spotty access to NO access), but when the Cable Guy (very professional and arrived at the very beginning of the three-hour time window they gave me!) came, he told me essentially that when I went to trade in my grandfather's modem, they gave me my father's. Like both those estimable gentlemen, it was dead. "I don't know why they still give these out," he said of the crappy modem (as opposed to the übercrappy one it replaced).

At any rate I now have the Current Model (primarily used for when you also have cable-company phone service), and it has four nice steady green lights on it, and things load a lot better and faster than they did on my Modem Of The Elder Days, even when it was working.

A Maker on the radio is talking about making a "Redneck Jetski" out of two 50-gallon drums and a repurposed Rototiller.

abi 632: My humblest apologies. I could have sworn I checked that one. As you note, I nearly always do. In fact I have a (potentially false) memory of clicking that link and opening another NPR window. I must have accidentally deleted the slash on the </a>. I bangs my head. As you know, I'm a QA person too, and I go to Production with a version I've tested. Mostly.

ibid., 633: Ordinarily 'happens to the best of us' is just an expression.

Terry 632: Hey, is dinner planned? If not, make sure you check out Little India in Jersey City, and the old Loew's Theatre, which is being restored with volunteer labor and funding.

Benjamin 644 et seq.: Fascinating, not at all too long, answers a lot of questions I was only barely aware of but was bothered by. They say my titanium hip is MRI-safe; is that still true in a 7T room?

#710 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 08:42 PM:

As a matter of general procedure, you would, I believe, not be permitted in a 7T room. While surgical titanium implants are MR safe at 3T, policy at the magnets I work at is that anything beyond some dental work is an automatic no-go; in fact, my noble metal crown is about the maximum amount of implanted metal permitted by the imaging center at 7T. I know that they have forbidden entry to colleagues of mine with titanium wiring in the oral cavity (which is 3T safe) - so I doubt they would be keen to let you and your titanium hip in the room, much less scan you.

As it happens, the crown is recent (as in, earlier this year) dental work - I interrogated my dentist as to its MR safety (which is why I know its composition) - but the story of why I needed to get one is entertaining. I have spent a full day a week the last two years at the Imaging center, and there is a one hour lunchbreak between our very long functional studies - I usually grab a couple of passable bagels and go back to the center to eat lunch in the AC and read. Back in February, I bit down and felt a *crunch*... I swallowed, and realized that something felt odd on one of my molars - I had managed to knock off a sizable hunk of enamel, down to the gumline. Bagel 1, Ben 0.

At least I can still be a subject and it does not artifact too badly...

#711 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 08:50 PM:

Anyway, no one wants to find out the hard way that a 3T-safe implant does dramatic things at 7T (both for the safety of all concerned, and because if anything truly drastic happened, someone would [probably] have to push the Magic Vacation Button).

The Magic Vacation Button (dubbed thus based on a somewhat apocryphal tale of an emergency button having a sign saying "push for a 2-week vacation") is, in fact, the quench button for the magnet. The ones at the magnets I work with have signs saying not to engage them unless someone's life is in serious danger. Bringing a magnet back from a quench is rather expensive - last time I asked our site engineer, the answer was multiple tens of thousands of dollars for the helium reload alone - not counting any potential damage to the magnet, support equipment and such - as well as two weeks of downtime, minimum. Very much a case of do not touch the big red button.

#712 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 09:15 PM:

Wow. I will stay away from big red buttons and 7T magnets. Thank you.

#713 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 10:06 PM:

On the topic of Big Red Buttons, I was poking around eBay and it turns out that you can buy the exact same part used at our magnets for a mere $20. If I could come up with a good project, I would buy one in a second - if only to see the reactions when I use it for something mundane.

#714 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 10:43 PM:

Wire some kind of sound recorder/player into the Big Red Button, so when it's pressed, you can have it play an interesting sound effect or other response. A few years back, I got tired of the Staples "Easy" button on our receptionist's desk, and hacked a 10-second recorder/player into it. It was tremendously popular for months.

I'm still on the lookout for a small MP3 player that I can use for a similar project. Ideally, I want to be able to have a set of short sound files on it, and have it play one of them at random when the "play" button is pressed, then go to sleep until the next activation. I'd settle for it having just one sound file, as long as it meets that criterion of "play the sound then go to sleep". Obviously, it also has to be small enough to fit into the limited empty space in one of those "Easy" buttons, and not too expensive.

#715 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 11:03 PM:

Might have to do that. I suggested to a colleague with a taste for lots and lots of synthesizers (that his fiancee tolerates with amazing patience) that he should wire it to his surge protectors - but that doing so would open him up to being overridden by his significant other.

#716 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 11:33 PM:

Andrew @637 - For the sake of "the effortless melding of science, magic, New York, and Nicolas Cage," I forgive you. I think that's what I was ineloquently going for with my "singing Tesla coils and Nick Cage" exception asterisk. Also that's what kept us from walking out.

"I Am Love" was lush and gorgeous. At least, I thought so. I so rarely see films where the scenery tells as much a story as the characters do. I was constantly going, "Oooh, the lighting!" "Oooh, look, the constant use of orange!" and of course the story it was all telling had me from the get-go. My husband was less overwhelmed and felt it was a hackneyed plot that was not improved by high-minded artsy-fartsy pretensions. So there you go.

I believe we both agreed that its use of GBLT elements was refreshingly non-stereotypical. (Arvgure Ryvfnorggn abe ure tveysevraq qvr, abe vf gur fgbel ernyyl nobhg gurz.) There may be something I'm overlooking, though.

#717 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 11:38 PM:

By the way, my son and I are currently resting at my aunt's house in Oakland, CA. We plan to ride the ferry into San Francisco tomorrow, and walk around.

The weather here is lovely! We escaped a severe heat advisory in the DC area (heat index of 110 degrees), and are enjoying it.

#718 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 01:38 AM:

Chris Quinones @705: I expect Avram and myself to be in the Boston area for a family event that weekend, so we're open to a possible meeting.

Erik Nelson @706: I'd be interested if it's happening. I'm of a feather and ready to flock together.

All interested parties should email me at jacquem at panix dot com. My hosts have expressed a preference for Monday evening. I've queried about Monday lunch. Please chime in with your preferences, and I will add your input to the discussion.

(Also, there is potentially the option of several sub-gatherings, if one big gathering proves to be difficult.)

#719 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 01:42 AM:



Perhaps there will be room in your itinerary for a side trip to the terribly lovely destination of Newport, Rhode Island. Thereat, on Labor Day weekend, there is an Irish music festival on the waterfront lasting three days, at which a certain local Irish band of modest note may be heard.

#721 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 05:24 AM:

Count me as another interested reader of Ben Wolfe's magnetic memoirs.

In #713, Joel Polowin writes:
Wire some kind of sound recorder/player into the Big Red Button, so when it's pressed, you can have it play an interesting sound effect or other response.

Long ago, I was in the business of pushing the Big Red Button deliberately. Let me explain.

To build the Tevatron, Fermilab manufactured over a thousand superconducting magnets. I was one of the crew running the tests on each magnet, the first time it was cooled down and powered up.

It is necessary to quench each magnet a few times to "train" it; each quench causes a little motion of the conductor as the field collapses, and each time it settles a little more comfortably into its confinement. Quench 2 occurs at a higher current than Quench 1; by Quench 4 or Quench 5, the coil has stabilized and the quench current levels off.

My job: command the power supply to ramp the current up until the magnet canna' take it any more.

Suddenly, the niobium-titanium coil isn't superconducting. Thousands of amps are coursing through ordinary wire. Things heat up. Liquid helium boils. A large pressure builds up very quickly.

The spring-loaded Kautzky valve is ready for this. The pressure jump opens it. Lots of helium escapes. It is a gloriously noisy sound. If the world's biggest elephant were operating a locomotive, and roared while simultaneously slamming on the brakes, it would sound something like a Tevatron magnet quenching on the test stand.

Naturally, this was the most fun part of the job. And I got to do it many hundreds of times. Once one of my colleagues, spotting suit-clad government officials approaching on a tour of the magnet assembly floor, delayed triggering a quench until they were passing the test stand. Made them jump.

Our dipole magnets had a field of 4.4 Tesla at 4400 amperes. Pretty good, but not as strong as Ben's. And their bore was nearly seven meters long but only about five centimeters in diameter, so you couldn't give an MRI scan to anything bigger than a snake.

I just wanted to point out that our Big Red Button came equipped with its own impressive noise.

#722 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 05:31 AM:

I've always rather liked the look of the PT Cruiser.

In regards to magnetism and hemoglobin: correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't ferromagnetism a bulk property of iron and related elements? It has to do with spins lining up. The iron in hemoglobin is individual atoms, surrounded by an organic compound. So, no ferromagnetism.

#723 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 06:53 AM:

Bill, 720: Why did you specify "dipole magnets"? I thought all magnets were dipole.

#724 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 09:34 AM:

Ben #710 : I’m sure all this is thought through, but I just wonder:  if pressing the Big Red Vacation Button is so expensive and career-limiting, does it ever get tested?  If something goes wrong tomorrow and you have to press it, do you know that it will work as planned?  And if there’s an emergency, might someone hesitate because of the awful warnings, and maybe not press the button in time?

#725 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 09:46 AM:

I drive a 1995 Ford Escort wagon. It's small, nimble, and economical to drive around town, but can be loaded with huge amounts of stuff, including 12 foot long tent frame pieces, for the Pennsic War. Unfortunately, it's 15 years old and has about 275K miles on it. I've about worn it out.

Since Ford hasn't made Escort wagons for about 10 years, and small wagons are pretty scarce these days, the PT Cruiser has been on my list of cars to look at. I'm definitely not impressed with the tiny rear window, and not hearing great things about reliability. I suppose if I can find a decent used one, I should at least give it a test drive, but I have doubts that it will do.

#726 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 10:24 AM:

Tim Walters @ 703: A review for the Kia Soul with a 1.6L diesel engine gave 46.1 mpg actual (55.4 mpg theoretical). As far as reliability goes, Kia is now offering all their cars in Europe with a seven year warranty, which sounds hopeful.

We got a Kia Venga 1.4L diesel this spring, to replace our 10-year-old Ford Fiesta. We wanted an economical car which would give more room for my husband, and enough luggage space for long trips including carrying work stuff and cat stuff. At 6ft 5, he's got enough head and leg room in the Venga, and we're averaging 59 - 60 mpg (official is 62.5 for Combined urban/extra urban). It provides a lot of space for a small car. My folding bicycle can stand up in the boot, and my niece's tuba (inside its case) easily fitted onto the back seat (probably would have gone in the boot if I'd messed around sliding the back seets forward a bit). The automatic engine cut-off when you stop at lights etc. is easy to get used to, and saves on fuel. We like it to drive and it gives my husband more room than any of the other compact cars we tried; the long wheelbase means the front wheel doesn't project into the passenger footwell.

#727 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 10:34 AM:

Jacque, 717: Hm. I suspect that Monday afternoon and evening is in fact the time my family is getting together, but I am awaiting confirmation from my brother about that. I'll let you know once I have word.

#728 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 10:54 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 720... I was in the business of pushing the Big Red Button deliberately (...) If the world's biggest elephant were operating a locomotive, and roared while simultaneously slamming on the brakes...

No wonder you were the inspiration for Agatha Heterodyne's dad.

#729 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 11:05 AM:

At least at the facility where I have been scanning the last two years, the decision to do an emergency quench would, I believe, be made by the technologist who was driving the magnet - and they are well-trained in when doing so is appropriate. My understanding is that it would not be career limiting if one really had to push the button - it would just be expensive for the institute. The only time I know of a facility testing a quench is when magnets have been decommissioned (I rather like Bill Higgins' description - it matches what I have been told). My assumption, and I should ask the site engineer about this, is that there are testable components of the system which allow the emergency systems to be verified short of pushing said button. I cannot imagine that it is just install-the-magnet-and-pray-it-works...

The 7T magnet that I have gotten to scan at and be scanned in has a bore around two feet wide (or so - I probably have measurements somewhere). I can fit in it, but my shoulders wind up in contact with its inner surface (this is not a problem, but could be with a subject larger than I am). Not recommended for claustrophobic subjects.

#730 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 11:51 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe #709: At least I can still be a subject and it does not artifact too badly...

Gave me a bit of a turn, that, because our local argot for something (usually potatoes) that's been in the microwave too long is that it's been "artifacted". I assume you meant something in the visual line?

#731 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 12:16 PM:

I drove around a PT Cruiser for a week in Los Angeles once, because it's what the rental car service had left in our requested size bracket when we got there. It was an adorable car, easy to find in a parking lot, very comfortable for passengers...

And the tiny rear window was so hideously small and badly placed that the spouse, who usually does all the driving, gave up after the first ten-minute drive, saying that he couldn't see a damn thing in the back and was going to crash if he stayed behind the wheel. Also, that the front seat was hideously uncomfortable for someone of his height. (He's of fairly average height for his sex.) So I, the nervous driver, spent an entire week navigating the Los Angeles freeways, and cursing madly at my inability to see anything out the back. It made for a terrifying experience.

I love looking at PT Cruisers, but I am never, ever driving one again. I compare to the Ford Escort station wagon we once had, which was an ugly little creature with very few comforts, but a dream to drive and perfectly easy to nap in. It didn't accelerate very well, but it could handle giant carloads of stuff and highway speeds. Never would've gotten rid of it, despite its advanced age, if some idiot fratboy from next door hadn't put a beer bottle through the rear window.

#732 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 12:21 PM:

In imaging, "artifacts" is an umbrella term for a wide range of undesired problems in the image - implanted metal, at least in cranial MRI, shows up as a black blotch where one should not be. If I recall, titanium wire does do this on anatomical images (I would have to check) - but I do not think my crown does anything particularly dramatic.

Although, on the topic of fruits and vegetables and magnets, there has been some really gorgeous work done recently : Inside Insides - Fruit MRIs

There is a certain appeal in this... fruit, unlike humans, does not move (motion being the enemy of clear images).

#733 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 12:44 PM:

Anne Sheller @ 724: I'm a fan of small wagons, too. When I was in Europe in 2000, I noticed lots of small wagons and hatchbacks that looked nice, none of which I saw back in the States.

I loved my Toyota Corolla wagon. It was small and nimble, but with the back seats folded down, it could handle a big load from the plant nursery. In 2005, it hit 12 years, and was getting less reliable. Toyota didn't offer a wagon in the Corolla anymore, and I was irritated to find my options in the States were small sedans or jumping to an SUV. After hunting for awhile, I ended up with a Toyota Prius. With the back seats folded down, it can haul more than the Corolla did, and it has more headroom and leg room in both the front and the back seats. I've had it for 5 years now, and I've been very happy with everything except the rear visibility. The swoop in the shape to reduce air resistance compromises visibility. If you get the backup camera, your "visibility" when backing up is awesome. It's lovely when you're parked between two taller vehicles and can't see a thing -- the camera is peeking out the back and Sees All.

#734 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 12:46 PM:

dcb @ 725: Alas, the U.S. version of the Soul only claims 26/31 mpg. There's no CRDI model available here. On the plus side, our warranty is ten years.

#735 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 12:55 PM:

Ford's decision to scrap the Escort was the dumbest thing they've done since the Edsel. Those cars were workhorses (especially the wagon), and because there were gazillions of them, they were easy to find parts for. My partner and his daughter are both still driving aging Escort wagons; they look like beaters, but they get phenomenal gas mileage and (as noted) they'll haul an amazing amount of stuff for their size.

The car I mourn is my 1988 Nissan Stanza wagon. It was the first model anywhere to have sliding rear doors on both sides, making it very easy to get people or cargo in and out, and it carried four adults, 2 guitars, and everyone's luggage to a con without anyone feeling cramped. I called it a "microvan", and in fact it was sold in Japan as a delivery vehicle. The only thing less than ideal about it was that it was a touch underpowered for its size, which meant that when heavily loaded (or with the A/C on) it didn't like hills very much. But they were only manufactured for 3 years (meaning that parts were expensive and hard to find), and when the transmission shelled out, there was no way to repair it at any reasonable cost.

If I had a few thousand dollars to spare right now, I'd be looking very hard for a used Scion XB of the original "box on wheels" style. One of my friends just bought one, and I'm incredibly envious.

#736 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 01:08 PM:

Alas, my link-heavy answer to EClaire@604 was rendered into the moderator queue for detention.

#737 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 02:18 PM:

Lee (734): I have a 2006 Scion xA that I'm very fond of. It's a lot bigger than it looks at first glance, and the gas mileage is great. The rear window is a bit small but not impossibly so, and I love the fact that I sit higher than in most cars (but it's not top-heavy like an SUV). I seriously considered the xB instead (the original very boxy style), but it was slightly more expensive, the mileage was slightly worse, and it struck me as very ugly. On the other hand, they do hold an amazing amount for a not-huge vehicle. If the xA hadn't existed, I would have bought an xB; as it was, I had to think hard to choose between them.

#738 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 02:18 PM:

MARK!!! @718: room in your itinerary for a side trip

:( :( :( Sadly, flying non-stop does not readily admit of side-trips.

But since I now Know Where To Find You, I can certainly keep that kind of thing in mind for future peregrinations.

...OTOH, looking at a map, it's really not all that far away. No harm in bringing this to the attention of my hosts.

#739 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 03:01 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe #731: Wow. Those MRI'd vegetables look downright fractal....

#740 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 04:00 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @715:

[snip]Arvgure Ryvfnorggn[/snip]

Now there's a name from an as yet undiscovered part of the Nordic world*. I think there might be some influence by some unknown non-Scandinavian language as well. ROT-13 can still surprise me.

* I expect that it may not look that way to any of the actual Scandinavian eyes watching. Y(M/K)MV

#741 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 04:06 PM:

My car! She is fixed! I turned the wheel and the wheel just turned, no angry whine, no resistance-- I didn't realize there had been resistance until suddenly the steering is loose.

She's a 1994 Buick Park Avenue, and the kind of car that spoiled me for anything less comfortable while also giving me a crash course in things that go wrong with a car that could have her own driver's license.

I'm also home from Alpha, where I slept less than was ideal but more than was a different ideal, ate mediocre food, and talked story with wonderfully talented people. Alpha's one of the best parts of my year.

#742 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Lee @ 734:

Ford finally introducing the Fiesta in the US (a successful car elsewhere in the world) also gives lie to their claim that they'd have to do so much work to make small, fuel-efficient cars, instead of the huge SUVs they've been cranking out. The big American car companies make small, fuel-efficient cars for the rest of the world, after all.

#743 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 04:48 PM:

Mary Aileen, #736: Well, I just got a chance to examine my friend's new-to-him XB close-up, and I'm still impressed. Tons of headroom and legroom in both the front and back seats -- he mentioned having had a mutual friend who is both fairly tall and Fannish Large in the back, and him not feeling a bit cramped. The cargo area is acceptable with the back seats up, but they also fold down to give you a large platform area. (I should note that the rear seats can't be removed, as the ones on the Montana can, to give you cargo space all the way down to the deck. But this is because the spare tire and the toolbox are behind the rear bumper area, which I should have expected because the XB sits so low to the ground.) I could easily take all my stuff to a solo show in it, as long as the show was indoors, but it wouldn't pack enough for both of us to have tables. It would readily hold camping gear for two, and I'm pretty sure it would handle 4 adults plus luggage as handily as my Stanza wagon did. You could haul a medium-sized piece of IKEA furniture home in it, or a loveseat you found on Craigslist, or a couple of nursery saplings (if they weren't too tall, or could bend against the roof). And yet it would handle like a small sedan. WANT.

#744 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 04:56 PM:

Diatryma @ 740

a car that could have her own driver's license.

Thank you for that description. It's delightful.

I drive an 85 Chevy Caprice Classic. I swore I'd never drive "my grandmother's car" until I had no choice. Then I fell in love. Brunhilde, the Blonde Ox, is 3800 pounds of steel-framed beast, intimidates just about anything else on the road. Bench seats mean I can go thru the right-hand-side drive-thru because I can slide over. She doesn't get mileage, she gets yardage, but she's paid for. And on more than one occasion, I've slept comfortably in her back seat. When a co-worker was told that stuff would be carried in my trunk, she asked, "Is the trunk big enough?" The reply, "You could have a camp out in Lin's trunk."

Gee, can you tell I love her?

#745 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 05:43 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 695... Looks like we'll miss Bu'Con again this year


#746 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 05:54 PM:

To bounce off the vehicular topic - I am about to sell my car, prior to moving. It has been useful to have a car here in Nashville the last couple years, but I am looking forward to being a pedestrian again. I do not mind driving, but I prefer to avoid it when possible - even when it is painfully warm here. Yeah, looking forward to not owning a car and just walking everywhere - Berkeley, here I come... 2.5 weeks. Maybe I should start packing.

#747 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 06:05 PM:

And I have my regular computer up and running again! (Big screen reading: netbook, while it has good resolution, still had a small screen, so I have to scroll. A lot.)

#748 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 06:55 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ #745, looking at Google's terrain map for Berkeley, you might want to buy a bike. It looks fairly hilly.

(Mom did her undergrad there, but I was not present at the time, so I have no memory to guide me.)

#749 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 06:58 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe:

Count me as another fan of big magnet stories. I fell in love with the math that's used to construct tomographic images many years ago, but didn't actually have any experience with the imagers until I started having to get frequent CT X-rays and MRIs of my spine. I've only been exposed to the 1.5T instruments that come in CrackerJack™ boxes, but I've seen a bit too much of them recently. It took 3 tries to get a full set of scans the last time my spine surgeon ordered an MRI a couple of months ago: it proved almost impossible for me to lie on my back for the 30 - 45 minutes necessary, because that was compressing the lumbar root nerves, causing a great deal of pain. I finally was able to do it with a combination of vicodin, a muscle relaxant, a mega-dose of ibuprofen, and valium. At least I'm not bothered by claustrophobia; before this pain problem arose, I used to take a nap during a scan (yes, even with the sheet-metal workers banging on the scanner :-)

And then when I took the scans to the neurosurgeon who was consulting on the case, he couldn't read them; the disk is a portal to a web application at the hospital where the MRI was taken, and they've taken HIPAA protection a tad far. They've got a biometric keystroke monitor on the input; if you don't type fast enough when logging in it refuses to authenticate you, even if the login is correct. Even when he got past that he couldn't get the scans to display. So I have to wait several days until the doctor can get at the scan images, rather than being able to talk to him about them in his office.

Well they look like that. All the parts are covered by plastic panels. Where is the gleaming stainless steel I associate with scientific apparatus?

I used to build instruments for a medical school research facility; if I didn't use stainless steel or brushed aluminum, the electronics housings were all given a crackle finish to make them look professional.

I had to carry the scans to the neurosurgeon, so I tried to look at them on my computer. The CD was obviously not intended to be read on a Macintosh (based on the directory structure and file names), and looked like it required a Dicomed application to view it properly, because there were a few JPEGS and a lot of support files that looked like they held most of the real information. My experience with Dicomed software has been less than satisfactory.

#750 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 07:04 PM:

In my zeal to use little-known symbols for my footnotes, I may have offended the gnomes in the high tower at Making Light: my previous post has been held for examination of its content. It can't be a bad link; there aren't any in that post.

#751 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 07:55 PM:

Lee (742): Yeah, an xB can hold four six-footers or an amazing amount of stuff. A lot of the ones I see around here have logos on them; they seem to be the delivery vehicle of choice for caterers and the like.

#752 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 08:02 PM:

Lee #734: We have an xB. We got it last year when our minivan was giving signs of being ready to start needing servicing in short order. Just before we were finished paying it off. So, after shopping around, we settled on the xB because it was economical enough to suit us while being easy enough to get the aged mother-in-law in and out of. Little did we know that m-i-l wasn't going to be around much longer.

#753 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 08:15 PM:

I have already made the acquaintance of some of the hills - I might get a bike at some point, but I really like being a pedestrian (that, and I have not been on a bike in a decade or so).

#754 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 08:18 PM:

Hey, Dr. Charles is having a poetry contest! Medically themed, of course, but just in the last couple of open threads, I've seen some serious contenders.

#755 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 11:13 PM:

Re Berkeley Hills: North of campus is extremely hilly. The year that I lived near Euclid and Eunice, I noticed a serious drop off in my friends' willingness to follow me home. If you and your friends don't live in the hills, you probably won't go up them often enough to need a bike; the restaurants and stores are all in the flat area and, while Tilden park is wonderful, there are good bus routes to it.

#756 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 11:15 PM:

The xB is a great example of unintended consequences.

Scion designed it to be boxy and 'manly', so it would appeal to the sort of young macho male with spare cash who buys cars to impress, and then tricks them out with all kinds of non-factory modifications.

However, said tricking-out tends to void your car's manufacturer's warranty. Scion decided to offer an enormous menu of from-their-factory custom mods, plus an open 'tell us what you want and we'll quote a price' field on the order form, so that said macho dudes can get (randomly chosen examples) enormous shiny wheels, huge stereos that take up the whole trunk, superchargers, colorwork on the outside, etc, and still have a full Scion warranty.

The manufacturers were somewhat taken aback to look at their first six months' sales data and find the single most popular 'optional extra' was the wheelchair lift: it is the smallest car it is possible to mount one in. And because they'll mod to order, legless (or otherwise chair-bound) DRIVERS can get a car with no driver's seat, with rails and latches to hold their steed steady while they drive, as well as a full suite of hand controls and suchlike.

Scion now maintains two completely parallel customer-care-and-recruitment websites, one for the young macho dudes and one for the elderly, the nonwalking, and delivery/business customers. Because they feel it would hurt their street cred if the hip dudes with money found out that their neato modded car is also very popular with geezers. :->

#757 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 11:42 PM:

TexAnne writes in #722:

Why did you specify "dipole magnets"? I thought all magnets were dipole.

You can build up more complicated fields, in a local region (like inside the vacuum pipe running through the center of our magnets), with suitable arrangements. Our Tevatron contains 774 dipole magnets and 216 quadrupoles. The quads are essential to provide beam focusing.

There are a few sextupoles, too. Higher-order magnets are possible but we don't make much use of them in our machines here.

You may be interested to know that quads and dipoles turn up in the Fermilab logo.

#758 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 12:03 AM:

Xopher: I've not planned a dinner (though I am meeting some people for sushi tomorrow in Midtown). Tuesday seems to have nothing planned; so if people want to get together, impromptu, this is the time/place to make suggestions.

re "Magic Buttons" The M1 Abrams family of tanks have an exterior killswitch. It's linked to the fire extinguisher. Once it's engaged, the tank is deadlined until a it's both reset, and the halon tank is refilled.

#759 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 01:28 AM:

Speaking of cars, I'm trying to convince myself that I don't need to upgrade my 22 year old 1/2 ton truck to a 19 year old 3/4 ton truck, with 4wd and half the miles.

On the plus side, it's cleaner, newer, and can't drink legally, yet. It's mostly one color, and it doesn't claim to be two different makes of truck. It can haul loads that have been bouncing my current truck on the stops. And it probably just about the same on gas mileage, as the current truck is not all that well tuned. On the down side, It's a couple of thousand net to change.

#760 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 06:38 AM:

The M1 Abrams family of tanks have an exterior killswitch. It's linked to the fire extinguisher. Once it's engaged, the tank is deadlined until a it's both reset, and the halon tank is refilled.

I hope, for tactical reasons, that it's not in a position that leaves it exposed to, say, a sharp-eyed ten-year-old kid with a catapult...

#761 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 06:46 AM:

ajay @ 758... Speaking of tanks and kids... We used to have a petsitter whose family name was Tank. I also knew a kid whose name was Sherman and, when his parents got him a puppy from a litter we'd rescued, can you guess what name the male doggie wound up with?

#762 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 08:54 AM:

ajay: It's behind a cover, and requires a twist, and pull (as I recall).

There are some other "quirks" about the tank. One of them is that it will run on anything both liquid and combustible.

Olive oil will work, but it's gives it something like a 40 mile range on a full tank.

#763 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 09:22 AM:

Elliott Mason (754): When I told the salesdude that I thought the xB was ugly, he tried to convince me that that meant I wasn't cool. (The old reverse psychology bit.) I just Looked at him; I wasn't falling for that.

#764 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 09:34 AM:

DavidS : One of my new labmates has exactly this problem - he's got a place way up in the hills, and no one wants to go up there without a car without a good reason. I got lucky - the place I found is in the flatlands...

And Terry - definitely going to ask my college friend who is trained in the use of said tanks about this. My mind is insisting that the tank has a quench button now (this might be a lack of coffee, but it makes me want to chortle).

#765 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 10:37 AM:

Albuquerque attractions -- there's something called the "national atomic museum" that's terribly fascinating for my geekly tribe. (Oops, seems it's now called "Welcome to The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History".) Early bomb casings, up through a B29 and a B52, and lots of other hardware. They've got at least some of the bits of a NERVA rocket, too.

#766 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 11:52 AM:

I miss my old Ford Escort Wagon

As has been noted upthread by several people, it's a make of car that had an amazing amount of space when the seats were folded down.

I kept mine until the cost or repairs would have exceeded the cost of the down payment on a new car plus at least the first year's loan payments.

It hadn't quite reached the 200K miles point, but it was creaking up on it.

I really liked it for traveling to events (such as Pensic). And for daily commuting.

We replaced it with a brand new Ford Festiva which was fun to drive, got amazing gas milage, and had absolutly minimalist amounts of passenger space in the rear. But, the Festiva had lots of headroom.

Before it was deep-sixed by ord, the Escort line was the absolutly best-selling make of vehicle in the world. And the brain trust at Ford killed of the line. Not reposition the car as an entry-level model, or an econocy model for small fmilies. No just drop the line.

The replacment *we* got (the Festiva) was made for Ford by Kia. And *it* got nuked from the lineup when the exchange rate with Korea evened out.

That had in the vicinity of 150K miles before we "moved up" to a Saturn "compact" Which we really, really, *really* liked*. Enough so that when the car got totaled when it was rear-ended by s goofus driving his dad's SUV that we replaced it with another Saturn. (the reason the Saturn was classed as totaled by the insurance company was that it would cost more to replace the rear-end than they considered the car worth -- The main drivability issue after the impact was that the rear wheel well was digging into the rea tires - The passenger compartment was pretty much untouched. The SUV on the other hand, was going to need a new fan, radiator, sets of both radiator and poosibly transmission hoses. (the Precious Bodily Fluids I could see under the car were of several colors)

I was really ticked when the Saturn line was geing knee-capped by GM -- we were looking for replacement vehicles, and an additional car for my wife's use.
* we went with the larger vehicle because were then a Family Of Three

#767 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 12:42 PM:

KeithS @ 741: Absolutely agreed.

Point of order: Ford did briefly sell the Fiesta Mk 1 in the US, 1976-1981, before it was replaced in the US by the Escort. My father owned a bright yellow Fiesta when I was small. He got a bit nostalgic when he saw the commercial for the new Fiesta.

I think Ford is doing the best out of all the American car companies at realizing big chunky SUVs are not the way of the future. My parents own a late-model Focus and really enjoy it.

On bikes and hills: I've not been to Berkeley, but if it's anything like San Francisco, I would rather walk up those hills than bike up them. Yowch.

(Yes, I did say in a previous comment that I never properly learned how to ride a bike. But I rode stoker on a tandem bike with my dad for a while, so I do have a little bit of experience to draw on.)

I really want to move somewhere where I can sell my car and depend on walking, biking, transit, and car-sharing programs like Zipcar. Here's hoping I can find a job in such a location when I graduate.

#768 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 03:11 PM:

Does anyone know if the guy who got permission from the estate of Giovanni Guareschi to put all of the Don Camillo books and illustrations online for free (Guareschi's son and daughter had decided there was no commercial value for the English translations and wanted to keep the memory of their father's most famous creation alive) and who got about one book into the series and either gafiated or lost the password for his website (Geocities I think) ever did anything with the rest of it? I was going to try to order one of the out-of-print omnibus editions, but I thought I'd ask about this first...

#769 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 05:34 PM:

I'm being pressured into selling off my old car (1994 Ford Taurus sedan) in favour of a newer (and smaller) Chevrolet that I just inherited, and am not entirely happy with the situation. The Taurus is getting rusty around the edges, its air conditioning hasn't worked in more than five years (and would cost more than the car is worth to fix), and it is, by modern standards, a fuel-inefficient monster. Thing is, it's also comfortable to drive (which the Chev is not), and, well, I've had the damned thing for so long that it feels like part of the family.

It's silly, how we get attached to these inanimate objects . . . but possibly also inevitable.

#770 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 05:47 PM:

The primary reason that SUVs ruled the automotive market for so long was that they were immensely profitable. You can't mark up a small car with the same margin.

At its peak, Ford was making $6000 gross profit on each Explorer they sold.

#771 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 07:16 PM:

SteveC @768: SUVs are also technically 'light trucks,' not cars, so a) they do not have to hit car emissions standards (making them cheaper to build) and b) they can be depreciated completely in only 3 years (under the expectation they'll be worked hard and wear out in that time). Also, all the 'small business' tax incentives for purchase of durable goods, etc, apply more simply to 'light trucks' than cars.

#772 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 07:22 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 769:

They also count as light trucks for safety standards, if I remember correctly, and thus don't actually have to be nearly as safe as cars.

And, depending on your state, they count as cars for the purposes of vehicle registration.

#773 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 07:26 PM:

Caroline@765, there's Flat Berkeley and Steep Berkeley. The flat parts and the slopes leading to the hills are easily bike-able (except that my one-speed Schwinn bike had been stolen senior year of undergrad and not yet replaced when I was in grad school at Berkeley, living in the flats.) The steep parts are as steep as the steepest parts of San Francisco, but more suburban so they're narrower and windier, and I'd probably rather walk them than bike downhill on some parts, and even driving them is pretty sketchy. Think biking down Lombard St. in SF....

#774 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 09:10 PM:

Bruce @766: Does anyone know if the guy who got permission from the estate of Giovanni Guareschi to put all of the Don Camillo books and illustrations online for free (Guareschi's son and daughter had decided there was no commercial value for the English translations and wanted to keep the memory of their father's most famous creation alive) and who got about one book into the series and either gafiated or lost the password for his website (Geocities I think) ever did anything with the rest of it?

Coincidentally, I just had a Camillothon over the past few weeks-- my local library turned out to have all of the US books, plus DVDs of the first two Italian films. (Apparently there was a British adaptation with Brian Blessed as Peppone, but I can't find any clips of it.)

If you were thinking of this Tripod page, it currently has at least half of the Camillo corpus online-- it looks like there was a group effort to transcribe individual stories for the website, but there's also a PDF of Comrade Don Camillo (which is the one I read in childhood).

A different fanpage has a detailed description of the 1980 omnibus here.

#776 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 11:14 PM:

EClaire@604, you can read my detained comments to you by clicking on the "view by all" link next to my name.

#777 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 11:56 PM:

j h woodyatt @774 Ah, I'd spotted your comment, and was just waiting for it to get released. Clicking your VAB sounds far more sensible.

#778 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2010, 11:59 PM:

KeithS, anything that makes the MPAA unhappy can't be all bad. I think these are actively good things, but I think there's intrinsic goodness in screwing the MPAA.

#779 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 01:33 AM:

Xopher @ 778:

Oh, I agree. Anything that takes the teeth out of the DMCA is good. Annoying the MPAA is icing on the cake. Perhaps my first period really should have been a semicolon.

In other news: owing to computer troubles, Lee may be absent or reduced in posting for a little while.

#780 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 03:58 AM:

#644 Benjamin Wolfe

Because anything can be asked on Making Light, and I have only just finished reading the entire thread. I have this rather unfocused request---
Recently had a brain MRI done. They found marked atrophy that would be normal in someone decades older. Have seen more than one specialist, have been told that am not a textbook case, so there is no diagnosis. Neuropsych testing also inconclusive. Was told by a neuroradiologist that I should maybe go to a place where there is research expertise, Mayo, Stanford, Harvard were names that have been floated. Maybe a 7T study would tell more than a 3T study that's been done? The trouble is that I am overseas, have no real money.
I looked at studies that are recruiting subjects at this page listing clinical trials, thinking that maybe I should try to become a subject in one of those? There's the matter of not having an official diagnosis.

I would like to ask if anyone knows how to help someone who 1. is uninsured 2. is under the age of 50, the usual cut off for many studies recruiting subjects 3. is relatively penniless.

So, I want to scratch this itch and find out what it is that caused my brain to shrink, and has played havoc with the rest of my life, if one can frame it that way.
1.Should I cold-call a physician on the mainland? 2. Should I be shipping what is going to be sensitive information to somebody far away who might be able to look at X images of my brain and say, AHA, this is what ails you? I know this is magical thinking.

#781 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 08:36 AM:

For those interested in superconducting magnets, I've put one of my "Everything But the Kitchen Synchrotron" series online.

I wrote this for PyroTechnics, the General Technics fanzine, in 1981, when I was youthful and handsome.

#782 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 09:55 AM:

In response to ma larkey at 780 - I am going to take a crack at your overall question in a couple of ways. First, I should note that while I have spent a couple of years working in an imaging-centric lab, I am a vision researcher by trade and am not remotely qualified to offer a medical opinion. That being said, there might be a benefit, in terms of the images that you and your radiologist would have to work with, to scanning your brain in a stronger field. Scanning with smaller voxels might allow anyone evaluating the images to see more, but without knowing more myself, I cannot predict what.

In terms of research institutes that you might want to contact, your neuroradiologist has already suggested my first choice - Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). They have the most MRI experience of any facility I know about, they have an immense amount of institutional expertise and they have hardware that no one else (to my knowledge) has. In terms of how to get in contact, you want to find people who are doing clinical work with high-field imaging; you might try MGH's radiology department - I know they have a good research arm, and they might be able to direct you.

The sticky part of your question is how you should go about getting yourself recruited for a study, and convincing someone to fly you to an imaging center here. On that topic, I have little guidance to offer - but clinical-track MRI researchers might be more willing than people in my end of things. If you do get in contact with a radiologist who seems willing to help, you probably will wind up sending data (or your current radiologist will) prior to any later scans, just so they know what the issue is from the data - and so they can decide if it fits in with their research.

In terms of cold-calling researchers / radiologists / people who have fun with magnets, be aware that all of the above get a variety of communications from people who think they should be doing random projects on the magnets (my lab gets lots of these). Everyone I have dealt with is happy enough to get these cold communications - but the onus will be very much on you to prove several things: 1. that you (and your brain) constitute an interesting research question and/or case study and 2. that you are not asking for something beyond the realm of the field (and that you are not dangerously misinformed when it comes to the science - we get a lot of these, and they vary from humorous to irritating).

So, by all means, get in contact with people who might be able to help you - it is a long shot, but you might find someone interested in scanning you or (more likely) providing a different pair of eyes to examine your existing data.

Hope this was useful.

#783 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 10:12 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 781... when I was youthful and handsome opposed to today's mature and distinguished Bill Higgins.

#784 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 11:32 AM:

Jacque@718, belatedly -- drat. I'm hauling myself to Seattle over the holiday weekend, for PAX and a different fandom.

#786 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 12:21 PM:

Bill! Higgins! Higgins! Bill! You may no longer be young, but you are still quite youthful, and anyone who thinks you're not handsome...either needs a dictionary or simply has very different taste than I.

#787 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 12:26 PM:

Craig R. @766:

That had in the vicinity of 150K miles before we "moved up" to a Saturn "compact" Which we really, really, *really* liked*. Enough so that when the car got totaled when it was rear-ended by s goofus driving his dad's SUV that we replaced it with another Saturn. (the reason the Saturn was classed as totaled by the insurance company was that it would cost more to replace the rear-end than they considered the car worth -- The main drivability issue after the impact was that the rear wheel well was digging into the rea tires - The passenger compartment was pretty much untouched. The SUV on the other hand, was going to need a new fan, radiator, sets of both radiator and poosibly transmission hoses. (the Precious Bodily Fluids I could see under the car were of several colors)

I was really ticked when the Saturn line was geing knee-capped by GM -- we were looking for replacement vehicles, and an additional car for my wife's use.

Saturn driving squee!

John and I are still driving my 1997 SW2 which I've had since August 1996. Best dang thing Saturn ever made, in my opinion. It's a compact, AND it's a wagon. It has amazing storage space when you put the seat down. In the recent Sheep to Shawl contest at Estes Park, I was the one best able to transport the loom. We have also moved sofas and mattresses and bookshelves. Also, better or equivalent gas mileage compared with a bunch of the vehicles we see advertised today.

Of course, Saturn is gone now, and well before that they had discontinued the S series - I personally think this was their big mistake. They got rid of something that made them fairly unusual and started trying to compete in the (IMHO glutted) SUV market at a time when "gas-guzzlers" were becoming uncool. And then we had the big economy fail putting the crunch on car manufacturers, GM kicking them out the nest, and bam.

We've got 213,000 miles on this sucker, and the maintenance-cost-to-replacement-cost ratio remains reasonably small. When that becomes no longer the case, we're half-seriously contemplating replacing the engine rather than the car. How possible is that? We don't know. We keep meaning to research it, but other tasks keep taking priority, and the SW2 keeps driving along.

#788 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 12:56 PM:

Our Saturn was a figure in The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans.

It still lives in New Orleans -- the Piety Street Studio bought it for his son.

We say hi to it everytime we're back in NO.

Great little car.

Love, C.

#789 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 02:04 PM:

I deposited the check from the insurance company for our 1998 Saturn SL Friday evening. (Got nailed back in November, but it took a while to figure out what to do and even longer to actually do it.) First "American" car I ever owned. It was decent enough, and quite cheap.

The new car (last summer) was a Toyota Camry, though. (Much more time on the road, including visiting my mother in a care center about an hour away; I needed something I didn't resent spending time in.) This is my first Japanese car (my other three cars have been VW Rabbits).

#790 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 02:24 PM:

Re: the Chocolate Benchmarks Particle -- my only gripe is the near-complete absence of scale in the images! From the use of "tablespoons", I can infer that the finished mark is probably a few inches across, but that's about it.

#791 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 02:29 PM:

David Harmon@790: Yes, it's bigger than I originally thought. And yes, some scale would have made it more informative.

I can read the molded chocolate replica better than I can the original, which seems to argue for a good job of casting (could partly be the quality of the photos, too).

#792 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 02:29 PM:

I'm no expert in any of this, but I found this Futures in Biotech episode on MRI really interesting and informative. YMMV.

#793 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 03:47 PM:

In re cars and small wagons: I love my Mazda5. Perfectly comfortable for four with a big cargo area, not to mention lots of little cubbies for various smaller bits o'stuff; I have found the back seats usable, though it's true they are quite small. I wouldn't put a 6-footer in them. If you only need them for occasional short trips, or for small children, they're very useful, although of course when up they reduce the cargo room to just a wee mite of space.

With all 4 passenger seats down, there's room for an inflatable double mattress; or, for a dining room table and 4 chairs; or, for two steamer trunks...etc., etc.

It also sits you a bit higher than most cars, and is a bit easier to get in and out of if you have some mobility issues.

Consumer Reports gives it a rather good review, as does Driving Canada.

#794 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 04:13 PM:

ma larkey @780 --

You mentioned that you're not in the US. In that case, language could be an issue -- things like whether you're tested in your native language or not, how fluent you are in the local language, etc., can potentially affect results on some neuropsych tests. I'm not suggesting you throw those results out the window -- inconclusive results are an unfortunate reality, even under ideal testing conditions. But further neuropsych testing would not necessarily be a complete waste of time (particularly after 6 months - 1 year, to see if anything has changed).

It's possible that you might find affordable diagnostic services in a university teaching clinic, not as a research subject but more in a case study context. Good luck!

#795 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 05:26 PM:

open thready food related thought.

as everyone knows, the key to a balanced diet is:

choosing a large-enough moving window to average over.

sure: eating 2 pints of blueberries per day, year around, throughout your whole life, would not provide a good balance.

but i've only been doing it for a few weeks!

and when i think about all of those many, many weeks when i'll have to eat non-blueberries--the non-blueberries of november, the non-blueberries of december and january, the long non-blueberries of february and march, the cruelest non-blueberries of april and may--good god what a lot of non-blueberries.

that's going to induce some serious imbalance in my diet, and i only have a few months in the summer to make up for it.

i'd better get back to balancing all of those non-blueberries. because it's so important to eat a balanced diet.

#796 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 05:54 PM:

kid bitzer@795, you could rent some freezer-capable warehouse space to stockpile sufficient blueberries to last the whole year round. I'm not sure how you might feel about frozen blueberries, though.

#797 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 06:00 PM:

earl @796--

weell, i guess that's not as sacrilegious as freezing home-grown tomatoes and expecting to eat a good tomato sandwich in mid-winter.

but it still suffers from similar defects. t'ain't the same.

(except possibly in pie. pie or crumble or crisp. actually, come to think of it, maybe freezing a bunch of berries for a mid-winter pie is a good idea. gotta go.)

#798 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 06:02 PM:

It seems to me that one could make usable pie filling and pancake / waffle topping from frozen blueberries, at least. The texture won't work for eating straight. (Not absolutely any frozen blueberries, but good-or-better ones.)

They might work in muffins, and perhaps in lemon bars (blueberries tend to take over lemon bars, but while that makes them not totally satisfactory as lemon bars, it also makes them quite good blueberry lemon bars).

Turning those horrid months from "no blueberries" into "inferior blueberries suited for only some uses" is still a net win, though, even if it doesn't cure depression and create world peace.

#799 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 06:20 PM:

All this berry talk is making me feel guilty about not checking the blackberry bushes across the street.

Coming back from my morning dog walk with a spare poo-bag full of ripe berries for my cereal is a real pleasure.

(No, I haven't mixed up the bags yet.)

#800 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 06:52 PM:

Reliability issues of PT Cruisers: I haven't had any serious issues with mine over 7 years. I did just get two of the engine mounts replaced, but that's about all it's needed over the last few years (and now that I'm no longer traversing a steep rutted driveway twice a day, I shouldn't have that problem again). But I'm getting some good ideas for my next car (if I should need one) from this thread.

kid bitzer, you could try making some blueberry preserves or jelly so you can continue to get your blueberry fix during those long, cruel blueberry-less months.

#801 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 07:00 PM:

Now I want some berries. Nuts. No, I mean rats (not that I want any of those). No berries growing anywhere near me, not that I'd eat them if they did (chromium in the soil around here).

#802 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 07:22 PM:

With me it's blackberries. I was born in a bleak, desolate season of blackberrilessness. Such a state leaves scars that never quite heal, no matter how one gorges oneself in halcyon purple come the height of summer....

#803 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 07:35 PM:

The blueberries are just starting to show up on Karen's bushes, but the peas have been excellent and the bush beans look pretty good. Pole beans are still just blooming. Now if the tomatoes will just keep setting properly, they might help hold us until the grapes actually come in (looks like a serious crop this year).

Urban Seattle, a fairly small house on a small lot.

#804 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 07:41 PM:

Frozen blueberries are also fine in yogurt, especially if you put them in frozen and let them partially freeze the yogurt. (I like vanilla yogurt, but YMMV.)

#805 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 08:33 PM:

Defrosted frozen berries are great in your breakfast oatmeal. If frozen blueberries are of the highest quality, and you defrost them not quite all the way, then they're good for eating straight.

Adding some lemon zest to blueberry pancakes takes them to a whole new level.

#806 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 08:49 PM:

kid bitzer, berries freeze fine.
My mother used to do it, and you can buy frozen blackberries (and blueberries, too) in supermarkets. Sugar-pack is better than syrup-pack, if you're going to freeze your own.

#807 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 09:22 PM:

Xopher in #786:

You are very kind to say so. But I am no Serge.

#808 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 09:40 PM:

A minor variation on freezing blueberries would be making them into blueberry sorbet. Harold McGee has four different sorbet recipe charts for almost every conceivable fruit in The Curious Cook, divided by the axes of "sweet/medium" and "fruit/water". The "sweet" sorbets are soft enough to be scoopable straight from the freezer, while the "medium" ones have a more obdurate icy texture. In the "fruit" recipes, the only other ingredients are sugar and a bit of lemon juice; the "water" recipes are somewhat more diluted but still respectably fruity-tasting.

I tend to make the "sweet fruit" types, since they take up the least freezer space. Usually I consume them in diluted form, as individual scoops into a glass of ice water or a blender smoothie. IIRC I've got three or four flavors in the freezer right now: white peach, strawberry, mango, and carrot/pineapple/craisins.

#809 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 09:42 PM:

mark @802--

i'm glad you understand the point of the exercise, i.e. to offer rational justifications for entirely irrational levels of consumption.

have you had yourself tested for cbd? (i.e. congenital blackberry deficiency). ask your doctor.
or skip the test, and go straight into treatment.

#810 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 10:01 PM:

kid, like most USians, my insurance wouldn't cover that test - so I'm treating my blackberry deficiency syndrome symptomatically. I do the best I can, but during the winters I do suffer.

#811 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 10:25 PM:

I used to freeze my own berries, but now I just buy them. I get the ones with no added sugar.

When freezing your own, put some parchment paper on a cookie sheet, then spread out the berries on that (not touching) and freeze. When they're frozen hard, transfer to the air-tight containers of your choice. If you just have the freezer compartment of a refrigerator, don't try to keep them for many months. You need the more stable temperature of a chest freezer to have them stay good quality throughout the blueberry-free months.

#812 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 10:33 PM:

Presented without apparent irony:

I note that all of their translators are native speakers.

#813 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Ugh. I have started packing for my move - this means disturbing the mating dust bunnies in their abodes in closets, under the bed and the like. I will, I believe, wind up vacuuming the carpet every night for the next week - the process kicks up so many of them.

Minor griping aside, I am making good progress - two closets (of three) done [not that much clothing - but lots of random technology and suchlike]; 95% of my books are also packed [two large bookshelves - call it ~300 volumes or so] as well as what passes for my entertainment system. The remaining categories include clothing, linens (way, way more of them than any sane man needs) and all of my kitchen stuff (including the Beast, my massive espresso machine).

I have my mini shipping container coming next Monday night - I will have loaded a week from today - and I fly out in two weeks. Oy.

#814 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 10:42 PM:

Steve Taylor @812: There are some Americans who speak Klingon natively ... mainly geeks deliberately raising their kids with the language. I don't know that any of them are out of high school yet, though.

#815 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2010, 10:48 PM:

Elliott Mason at #814 writes:

> I don't know that any of them are out of high school yet, though.

It's good to know there'll be jobs waiting for them at translationindia when they graduate.

#816 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 12:10 AM:

I'm not that fond of blueberries, but today when I went to the Central Market, for the first time in a couple of months I didn't see any cherries on display. That made me sad.

#817 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 02:09 AM:

ma larkey, there are of course people who do brain research outside the US - not sure where you live, but I've run into some from Europe and some from Hong Kong. The Center for Consciousness Studies at University of Arizona in Tucson runs annual conferences that alternate between Tucson and Elsewhere that bring together neuroscience folks and philosophers, including a bunch who do things like FMRI scans. Abi Montefiore does the conference organizing, and may be able to point you to some interesting contact on whatever continent is most convenient for you. Drop me a note if you're interested - billstewart at pobox dot com. Their website is and email is on the website.

#818 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 03:40 AM:

Steve Taylor #812 : it’s nice to know that their Klingon translators “Have University degree in the language they translate” and “Are living in their native country or resided in their native country for at least 10 years”.

#819 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 08:00 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @#813: Now I feel bad for your dust bunnies! I'd offer to give them a new home, but I already have several of my own.

#820 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 08:22 AM:

John Stanning #818: it’s nice to know that their Klingon translators “Have University degree in the language they translate” and “Are living in their native country or resided in their native country for at least 10 years”.

So, their country is still undiscovered, then?

#821 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 09:05 AM:

@782 Benjamin Wolfe. Thank you. I will see if I can get some answers from MGH, but have to figure out if there are costs.

@794 Debbie. Yes, I am aware that testing in a non native language can skew results, but English is my primary language.
The doctors say to retest in 6mos. to a year, but in the meantime I Really Want To Know if there are Answers out there. I wish I could just magically become someone's case study and get some more information, thanks for that suggestion.

@817 Bill Stewart, Thank you for that link. I'll take all the leads I can get at this point.

#822 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 10:26 AM:

Mary Dell @ 819 : I do not think you want these dust bunnies. They are large, unruly and scare my cat.

Ma Larkey @ 821 : If you can find someone who thinks that you either fit in an existing study or that your case can be written up and would be interesting to the research community as a case study, they are likely to cover transport costs (there are certainly groups that I have contact with who bring in subjects from outside the Nashville area, at the group's expense). Unfortunately, I have yet to be issued my Magic Case Study wand, or I would happily make use of it. Other institutes to try include the Vanderbilt University Institute of Medical Imaging, as well as the University of Washington (why these? They are both major sites for Philips - which is handy when you have things like 7T magnets and new coils).

#823 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 10:59 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe@822: Ah, I understand now.

What you have are not dust bunnies.

They are dust rhinoceroses.

Trust me on this, I know.

#824 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 11:00 AM:

Benjamin #813:

Under no circumstances should you forget to drain your espresso machine.

#825 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 11:16 AM:

ddb (823): They would have to be wooly rhinoceroses.

Last time I moved, I had giant mutant dust sheep.

#826 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 11:21 AM:

Can you really describe them as dust bunnies (or indeed dust anythings) if they are at least fifty percent cat hair?

#827 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 11:29 AM:

Earl Cooley III #820 : Well, of course “living in their native country” literally means “living in the country in which they were born”, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense in the context, so I interpreted it as intending to say (though I agree the words don’t actually mean) “living in the country of which the language they offer to translate is a native language”.  In which case it would be interesting to know where their Klingon translators live or lived that fit that description.

#828 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 11:34 AM:

#813 et seq.:  have the bunnies been there ever since the Civil War?

#829 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 11:37 AM:

Re dust creatures: In our household they are referred to as dust caribou. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because they migrate.

#830 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 12:12 PM:

I'm disappointed in the sleeping baby dreams site linked in the Particles, because those dreams have nothing whatever to do with babies or how they think. It would have been so much cooler to do the same thing, only with imagery drawn from how babies actually interact with the world!

#831 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 12:20 PM:

joann @826: Can you really describe them as dust bunnies (or indeed dust anythings) if they are at least fifty percent cat hair?

Dust bunnies, like hermit crabs and caddisfly larvae, augment their physical presence with camouflaging objects from their habitat, to help them blend in.

#832 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 12:54 PM:

Just make sure the Dust Bunnies aren't Vacuum-cleaner Creatures.

#833 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 01:32 PM:

I refer to them as dust bunnies when small, and dust llamas when large. Detailed visual analysis determines that they are 50% cat hair, 35% feathers (from comforters/featherbeds) and 15% human hair and other materials.

Joann - thanks for the reminder - the last few times I have transported the Beast (a Bezzera BZ/99, named for its large size and weight), I have done so in cars I have been driving - so all I have done is drained the tank and the tray, but not the boiler. Given that it will get put in my shipping container next week, and be trucked across the country to Berkeley for me, do you think I should drain the boiler (which, I should note, is a serious pain on the unit)?

#834 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Benjamin #833:

Time before last, I left a filled espresso machine (low-end, not super-fancy, Starbucks "Barista" model) for the movers to pack. Needless to say, water got all to hell and gone. Last time, I just emptied out the tank, and that seemed to work well enough for a cross-town move involving several very steep hills.

No boiler thingy, so I can't say about that, but there was probably a little residual water flapping about in various tubes. Maybe some plastic wrap around places where wetness comes out, or some kind of baggie?

The only problem with my last move of my machine was that some idiot mover buried the whole assembly at the bottom of a very large dishpack, and it took me two days to find it, because of all the individually wrapped stuff on top. (It was almost worth my life to stop the guy, who must have been OCD to the max, from individually wrapping each piece of silverware.)

#835 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 02:13 PM:

Well, so, I'm back from my interview. I have no idea how it went--I felt pretty good, but I've felt pretty good about all of them so far. I should hear more by the end of the week.

#836 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 02:21 PM:

Texanne, my needles are crossed for you.

#837 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 02:25 PM:

TexAnne... Best wishes!

#838 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 02:59 PM:

May employment gods smile on you.

#839 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 03:00 PM:

Stefan Jones... Olymployment?

#840 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 03:19 PM:

In fact, the Barista's cousin was my first espresso machine (long-since donated to my old undergrad lab). Tiny little boiler, if it is the same machine I think it is. My current plan is to drain the tank, pack it in its own box and surround it with towels or something - if it does leak, which seems unlikely, the packaging should be able to cope.

If I was moving in winter, I would drain the boiler - I have heard too many accounts of full boilers failing when water freezes in them. But in August, going from TN to CA, this seems like less of a hazard.

#841 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 03:21 PM:

The pantheon of the workplace includes such deities as....

HuResourcia - God of red tape related to hiring

ITpermissius - Goddess of getting the network signon

ConferEterna - God of the four-hour staff meeting right after lunch

Supplyicus - Goddess of paper and pen denial

Parkus - God of assigning a space for your chariot

#842 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 03:32 PM:

Our current place is mostly laminate and berber with a few yards of linoleum. We got a cheap-ass vacuum, a stick vac, a swiffer and a larger swiffer-like mop handle thing now. The dust bunnies are more noticable on the light laminate and crummy berber than they were on the darker hardwood and crummy pile of the old place. So far, no dust bunnies have evolved into the Dust Mammoths that killed our vacuum in the last move.

#843 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 03:38 PM:

Steve C. @841
Seems like Pratchett's Anoia, the goddess of things stuck in drawers, should be added to that list

#844 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 03:47 PM:

Bonus, the absent god...

#845 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 03:54 PM:

ConferEterna - God of the four-hour staff meeting right after lunch

In Spain, I think this god is called Siesta...

#846 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 03:55 PM:

Serge @ 844 -

Bonus, the absent god...

I heard he still attends to those who inhabit the hallowed halls of mahogany, along with his companion god, StockOptionus...

#847 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 04:22 PM:

Teabaggers rip off 4chan slogan. Predictably, 4chan was not amused.

#848 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 04:25 PM:

Talent... The god often confused with money.

#849 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 05:11 PM:

A plant for Teresa:

#850 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Lee @ 847: The teabaggers were stupid enough to do something to annoy 4chan? Gosh, I am so surprised!

#851 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 08:01 PM:

#850: Not only stupid enough to steal a slogan from 4chan, but a slogan that makes them sound like vengeful, violent, sore-head loonies who should never, ever be trusted with power.

#852 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 09:15 PM:

Stefan, 851: What, you don't believe in truth in advertising?

#853 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 09:20 PM:

The punch line of the story: Tea partiers say to 4chan:

"We appreciate your resources and admire your tactics. You have taught us more than you know."

What will they do with said knowledge?

#854 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 09:30 PM:

I am moved out of Old Apartment, though not yet unpacked into New Apartment. Predictably enough, the second I had space for reading and a book, all progress stopped... until I realized I could wedge my glider into that space and thus have both comfortable chair and book.

I have done quite a lot of work in the last three days, including my move, getting things clean in the old apartment, and hauling what needed it for one of my roommates, who had planned to move to Portland, Oregon in the next week... and tore her Achilles tendon on Monday. Surgery's Friday.
Me locking my keys in the car while it was running? Not a major mishap compared to that.

#855 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 09:57 PM:

Also: when moving one pile of recycling to another pile of recycling, one of the envelopes felt lumpy... because it contained a pen! My pen, home from getting a new front end. I cannot recommend Pendemonium enough right now; they weren't the people who fixed it (it wasn't a fix, really) but they were responsible for me getting it fixed.

#856 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 10:27 PM:

Gods I frakkin' hate PETA. I hadn't seen the ad this poster is based on.

Down with the PETAphiles!

#857 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 10:34 PM:

Steve C. #841: One must not forget Caffeina!

#858 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 10:42 PM:

Xopher #856: PETA has a looong history of that sort of thing.

I also got a jolt of cognitive dissonance from noting that the model is sporting both the whip and the chain....

#859 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 10:49 PM:

Yeah, a bunch of people on the Very Demotivational site pointed out that the PETA ad makes NO sense.

I try not to think about PETA. My blood boils whenever I do, and boiling blood is really not good for your cardiovascular system.

#860 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 11:08 PM:

PETA : animal rights :: Wstbr Bptst Chrch : Christianity.

#861 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 11:21 PM:

OK, I just heard Jeffrey Donovan speaking Russian on Burn Notice. I'm not a native speaker, but his Russian sounds pretty damn good to me. He didn't make ANY mistakes that I could detect. Stresses all correct, no dropped or mispronounced words, palatalizations all correct.

Why is his Russian so good? Anyone know?

#862 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 11:46 PM:

Xopher, you sound like my brother on the topic (chef-in-training; soon(ish) to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America). His reaction is similar.

The packing project is moving apace. Disco Couch, the massive (and quite ugly) couch I bought shortly after moving to Nashville has been given away. I have also sold or arranged to sell a bunch of articles of furniture or technology that I did not want to take... just trying to find a buyer for a table/chairs set that will not fit in my Berkeley apartment. If I can find a buyer for that, I will be a happy camper (at least until the remaining packing smacks me over the head with the point).

#863 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2010, 11:51 PM:

Nice one, TexAnne. *steals it*

#864 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 12:05 AM:

Can't steal a gift, Xopher. *mwah*

#865 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 12:11 AM:

I've given up feeling an anger toward PETA. Much as I gave up feeling disgusted by the behaviors and attitudes of a neighbor once we'd learned she had early-onset dementia.

I believe PETA is akin to those self-selected online support groups for high-functioning schizophrenics, where "support" consists of building a belief system that justifies delusions about brain implants or telepathic assaults.

Only in this case we're dealing with folks with a worthy goal whose manifest and serial cluelessness makes them worse than useless in achieving those goals.

I suspect something . . . clinical. How else can you explain "sea kittens?" I mean, really. Did they seriously believe anyone would fall for that? It's like the pre-logical beliefs of young children, who convince themselves that (for example) putting a half-eaten cake under the sink will absolve them of blame.

#866 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 01:02 AM:

Around here, ever since the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that contained this line:

"Captain's Log, Stardate 46682.4. The *Enterprise* is docked at the Remlar Array, where it will undergo a routine procedure to eliminate accumulated baryon particles."
...the entities in question have been known as "Baryon Bunnies."

#867 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 01:30 AM:

Three things best eaten straight from the freezer: ice cream, Louisiana pecans, blueberries frozen with the fresh summer sun inside.

Two thing best avoided in the freezer: that exploded cucumber which should never have been put there in the first place, blueberries picked with the best of intentions but inadvertently buried towards the back and rediscovered four years later.

A very merry unblueberry to you, kid bitzer.

#868 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 03:39 AM:

Erik Nelson @ 853: Yeah, that had me worried as well.

Diatryma @ 854: Perspective is a good thing.

A torn Achilles tendon is a bad thing - and of course would happen at a really inconvenient time. Sympathies to your roommate.

Predictably enough, the second I had space for reading and a book, all progress stopped Yes, predictable for most people reading here, I suspect (me included, of course). Good luck with finishing the moving process.

#869 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 06:19 AM:

a routine procedure to eliminate accumulated baryon particles."

That would be "hoovering", right?

#870 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 07:18 AM:

Xopher @ 861... I was wondering too, about Donovan. I looked him up on, but there was nothing. I remember once asking myself the same question about Natalie Wood, and foound that she was née Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko, in San Francisco.

Regarding that episode of Burn Notice, it was weird, watching Burt Reynolds looking so frail.

Oh, I do so wish the show would get rid of Jesse.

#871 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 07:33 AM:

Serge @ 870 -

Regarding that episode of Burn Notice, it was weird, watching Burt Reynolds looking so frail.

His face looked like it was Botoxed into immobility.

#872 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 07:46 AM:

Steve C @ 871... Would that explain one of his eyebrows being stuck in a Vulcan's expression of surprise?

#873 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 07:49 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 866... 'Baryon Bunnies' sounds like a rock band comprised of ladies from Los Alamos.

#874 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 09:13 AM:

Their fans are out of control. I was lucky to get out of the concert without being lepton.

#875 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 09:28 AM:

Reminds me of the time I met this cute little subatomic number. She had an incredible Boson, she was somewhat Quarky, but a Strange kind of Charm. Alas, she left me for someone with a large Hadron.

#876 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 09:42 AM:

I think we've hit Bottom with that last comment.

#877 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 09:46 AM:

ajay, 876: Worse--we have to look up to see bottom.

#878 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 09:47 AM:

It all depends on the Spin you put on it.

#879 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 09:53 AM:

Xopher @856 said: Down with the PETAphiles!

The Sociological Images blog (highly recommended, btw) regularly points out new ones PETA has put out. An example, with links at the bottom to other PETA pics they've skewered.

#880 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 10:06 AM:

Openthreadiness: new Strindberg and Helium.

#881 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 10:12 AM:

Steve C. - Ow. There are things I should only read after the caffeine has hit my bloodstream. Particle physics puns are one of them.

#882 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 10:37 AM:

What's the matter, Benjamin? Feeling a bit off-Colour?

#883 ::: odaiwai spots spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 10:48 AM:


(It was almost worth my life to stop the guy, who must have been OCD to the max, from individually wrapping each piece of silverware.)

I've had things like this happen before, specifically litter bins full of rubbish being carefully wrapped up, stowed in the moving truck and arriving at the new place exactly as they left the old one. It's not an OCD thing but almost the exact opposite: *everything* that is in the old flat gets wrapped and put in the new flat. No thinking required. Can you move it? If so, wrap it, and get it into the truck. (If it starts wriggling or crying after being wrapped, unwrap the pet/baby and give it to the client.)

#884 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 10:58 AM:

Urgh: I keep forgetting to remove the "spots spam" bit from my username there. Mine Appo-loagies to Joann.

#885 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:02 AM:

ajay @ 869 -- In fact, the removal procedure was described as "sweeping the ship".

#886 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:05 AM:


Or just the difficulty in trying to Top the latest comment in the pun-thread. Or should that be pun-String?

#887 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:14 AM:

on moving:
When my mother and I moved into town (from 20 miles out in the country) we had movers pack most of the stuff. When we unpacked the dish boxes (necessity: they were sitting in the kitchen, blocking the stove and the sink) we found a couple of screwdrivers they'd dropped in the boxes.

Also, at the old place, we tossed boxes that had been packed for a move and never unpacked, said move having been 40 years earlier. (As my mother said: if you haven't needed it in 40 years, you don't need it now, either.)

#888 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:24 AM:

On throwing stuff out: there is a class of stuff that I still need after 40 years, even if I haven't looked at it in that time. Letters, personal journals, photographs, personal papers in general. Stuff for "the archives".

If it's just mass-market books, or dishes, or whatever, yeah, I don't still need it after 40 years of not using it.

#889 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:32 AM:

I had (they have since been emptied and repacked) several boxes of general desk and technology stuff that had not been truly unpacked since I moved to Nashville from Boston in 2008. I still want these things (things like good graphing calculators and the like), but I have had no use for them here. Kind of nice to realize they were here, rather than in my parents' house.

I am not looking forward to packing the kitchen - almost everything in there is fragile or awkward to pack or both [examples: decent drinking glasses are fragile but easy to pack; standing mixers and the like are a pain to pack without the original box; tulip glasses are both]. That is (probably) this weekend's major project. Maybe I will just toss one of the Vorkosigan audiobooks on the laptop and have it running in the background to make the experience more tolerable. That seems like a plan.

Oh, and ajay, I just needed the first caffeine dose to hit my bloodstream. It is funny now.

#890 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:34 AM:

Xopher @801: What you got against rats?

#891 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:34 AM:

Xopher @801: What you got against rats?

#892 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:50 AM:

Re movers and wrapping everything up. When I was a teenager we moved. The movers, as they were packing other rooms of the house and labeling boxes with the source, put the leftovers and didn't-quite-fit and odd things in the kitchen for later packing. As a result, a large number of boxes arrived at our new place with their contents marked "kitchen - misc." It was a family joke ever after, as in, "Where's the X?" "Try kitchen miscellaneous."

#893 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 01:25 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe, one of my strategies is that sheets and towels aren't packed in their own boxes. They're used to cushion other things. Kitchen towels get a glass each, other towels go around whatever needs it. Winter clothes, too-- the middle of a bin of sweaters is a pretty good place for breakable things. Blankets go around furniture in the truck.

#894 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 01:30 PM:

Moving stuff -- I just tossed out a jar of garlic-and-oil¹ after noting that the price sticker was from the Harvest Co-op, in Cambridge. It's been some 15 years (and two moves) since I lived in Cambridge! (The store in question has since changed it's name to Central Market.)

¹ In practice, I chop garlic cloves into things almost by reflex, which is why I haven't gotten botulism or suchlike.

#895 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 01:57 PM:

Query for Abi (perhaps) or anyone who knows anything about Vlieland: I'm going to a conference on Vlieland in September. The conference hotel (Hotel Seeduyn, Badweg 3, 8899 BV Vlieland) is expensive, there's no system for matching up with other people to share accommodation, and the suggested alternative links to a tourist information website - in Dutch (

Any ideas? I've got one person to share with so far, but that's still expensive (69 Euros per night per person in the hotel for a shared room, and I'll be there for 5-6 nights).

#896 ::: Paula Liebeman ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 02:02 PM:

#876 ajay
You've surviving the midsummer ights' oil tempest drilling down into Shakespeare? Be careful what your turn up, lest the beets of burden take over your head, not that you'll leave us here green with envy....


#897 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 02:38 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 889:

When I moved at the beginning of the year, the books and the kitchen stuff took up the most boxes. The books for, hopefully, obvious reasons, and the kitchen stuff because it's awkward and fragile and takes up more space than it otherwise would.

If you're not thinking about it now, save some old newspaper or grocery store ads for wrapping glasses or making padding. You can also be clever and use towels and washcloths as well, as Diatryma suggests. The newspaper is much thinner if you're using it for scratch protection rather than padding, however.

#898 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 02:54 PM:

Question for e-reader owners or enthusiasts...

Despite my continued love for dead tree books, I am considering getting an e-reader. I travel a couple of times a year and would like to avoid taking 4 or more books on my carry-on. I do not need the reader to do anything but display books in a non-fatiguing display and have a battery life that will allow me to read on long flights and sporadically while on vacation in foreign countries without requiring a recharge. I have my aging ASUS Eeeeee for any webbish things I may need and I don't forsee the need for 3G access. Of course, I'm also looking for cheap.

With Amazon's announcement of a $139 kindle, the price point seems to have dropped enough to make having one of these pieces of tech around. I've been comparing and contrasting the new cheap-ass Kindle with the only slightly less new cheap-ass ($149) Nook.

Kindle Pro -

It claims a long battery life - up to a month without WiFi usage

Here are the things I don't like about the Kindle -

Amazon's continued evil
Inability to check out books from the library

Nook Pro -

Able to check out books at the library
Color screen. Yeah, it's silly, but browsing by cover will be much easier with color

Nook Con -

Battery lasts up to 10 days without WiFi usage

Now since I will be taking my Eeeeeeeeeee with me on my next trip (Poland!) with an appropriate adaptor cord for charging (the whole cord, not just a little plug converter dealie) battery life may be irrelevant - both readers have USB charging. Will I damage either my netbook or e-reader by charging in this daisy-chain-like manner? Also, at the moment the library doesn't have the biggest ebook selection, but some is better than none and two books out of the library collection will make up the price difference between the Nook and the Kindle.

Does anyone have any knowledge or opinions on what stripped-down e-reader would be best?

#899 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 03:15 PM:

nerdycellist@898: Although I've been an ebook proponent and fan all along, and have read dozens of novels in ebook form -- I've never actually touched or read even one word on any of the specialized ebook devices. I reject the extra device to carry, and the proprietary crap that's inherent in at least most of them.

I've read mostly on various Palm Pilots, and on my HTC Mogul phone, and a little on a Nokia N800 tablet (which certainly has the best screen of the bunch). (One reason I reject extra devices is I already have too many devices to carry; phone, pda or Nokia, camera, at least.)

So -- I encourage the general idea, but I can't advise among the reading platforms you're asking about.

Good hunting!

#900 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 03:16 PM:

Stefan Jones at 865: Only in this case we're dealing with folks with a worthy goal whose manifest and serial cluelessness makes them worse than useless in achieving those goals.

I must disagree with you here. I think they're not merely clueless, I think they're actively dishonest and don't actually care about saving the lives of animals or improving their wellbeing:

Despite its constant moralizing about the "unethical" treatment of animals by restaurant owners, grocers, farmers, scientists, anglers, and countless other Americans, PETA has killed over 14,400 dogs and cats at its Norfolk, Virginia headquarters. During 2005, PETA put to death over 90 percent of the animals it collected from members of the public.


PETA’s “Animal Record” report for 2009, filed with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, shows that the animal rights group killed 97 percent of the dogs and cats in its care last year. During all of 2009, PETA found adoptive homes for just eight pets.
Just eight animals -- out of the 2,366 it took in. PETA just broke its own record.

#901 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 03:16 PM:

dcb @ 895... Query for Abi (perhaps)

I think she's near Eureka this week.
No, not that Eureka.
The one in northern California's Humboldt County.

#902 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 03:22 PM:

ddb, nerdycellist: I actually read ebooks on my eeepc rather than on a pda or dedicated ebook reader.

also, my eee(eeeeeeeeee!) is named fangirl.

#903 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 03:25 PM:

Thanks, ddb @ 899 -

My desire for discrete computational devices makes me seem both old-fashioned and terribly futuristic. It is a conundrum for our times.

I'm one of those people who likes having separate devices, (my cell phone is just a phone with a qwerty keyboard for texting, my eeeee handles my internet posting and surfing needs) in part so I can mentally compartmentalize work/fun/reading/watching/creating, etc. My roommate and travel companion is an all-in-one type though. Part of what's making me lean a bit on the nook is it's lending function and the ability to sync it up with other devices, so if she wants to read a book I'm not reading, she can access it through her phone.

#904 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 03:26 PM:

shadowsong, 902: Me too, except mine's a Toyshiba.

#905 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 03:33 PM:

More on moving--The following excerpts from my journal, from the week prior to the last move:

"Spent packing up my study closet. Stuff really expands, and so does the empty space in the boxes, all getting filled up with sheets, towels, computer koozies and the like. I actually contemplate filling one large gap with my teddy bear."

"I pack the sideboard, and end up with a spare glove, any amount of briefcase straps, and all the old wallpaper (ick). We decide to save the paper out of morbid historical interest."

"I'm now trying to figure out what possible packing configuration could encompass a very large puzzle, a very large game, a box of travel souvenirs, the archive box o' occasion cards, the Richmond family clock, a small lampshade, the old Mac and charger, its almost-broken external drive, two half-full plastic containers of microfilm and electronics, a milk crate full of travel files, and my go-files. Not to mention some luggage; the whole list is everything that I can't otherwise find a logical place for from the living room, the bedroom, the foldbox closet and the sideboard. Some things I've been packing on the basis of where they come from, others according to where they will go, with particular reference to what floor they're supposed to be on. I have the feeling that this assortment is where that all falls apart."

#906 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 03:39 PM:

Open thready grumpiness:

Every time I follow the current rhetoric and policy ideas of the current GOP, I find myself nostalgic for W, who at least had some passing acquaintance with decency and minimal numeracy, despite being basically a force for evil in the world. Sarah Palin strikes me as Bush, but dumber and without the advantages of a ruling-class upbringing and education, and probably with fewer scruples. It's not impossibly unlikely that we could end up with a Palin/Gingrich administration, or some such thing. (I mean "not impossibly unlikely" in the sense that it might have a 5-10% probability of actually happening. It's not some one-in-a-million, or even one-in-a-thousand special event.)

What policies does that administration take, do you think? I would expect harsh and nasty policies (formal and informal) to be taken against Muslims and illegal immigrants. I expect our foreign policy to get even dumber, and our war on terror even bloodier and more brutal. Both of those will provide cover for expanding police state infrastructure at home, though to be fair, that seems to be growing about as well under Obama as it will under Palin.

This could get really ugly.

#907 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 03:41 PM:

901 ::: Serge @ 901: Ah, so she's not well-positioned to ask her Dutch friends and colleagues about it then...

#908 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 04:24 PM:


It looks as though those sorts of prices are what it costs on Vlieland at that time of year. I looked at a few other hotel websites and they were similar or more expensive, or were pretty much booked.

There is a campground that rents furnished two-bedroom tents for EUR360/week, about 2km from the hotel. It might be quite nice, or on the other hand, quite awful.

#909 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 04:33 PM:

albatross #906: we could end up with a Palin/Gingrich administration

Are there any Liberal/Progressive Survivalist camps? I'd need a decent broadband Internet connection, of course. And access to cheap advanced medical care.

#910 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 04:42 PM:

Lee (# 427)
in re the OR Tea Party misappropriation of the 4Chan slogan -

The fact that the mucky-mucks at the Oregon Tea Party say they "admire your [4Chan's] tactics" says more about them than they will ever appreciate

#911 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 04:48 PM:

That should be 847, not 427

#912 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 04:48 PM:

#906: We could plan ahead for the Palin/Gingrich administration by starting to work on a Venus Tourism Project.

Anyone who would vote to put those two in power would leap at the chance to romp on Venus's tropical beaches and own their own ham bush.

#913 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 04:48 PM:

dcb @ 907... Not unless she really went to that Eureka after all. My understanding is that this coming weekend will be her... sniff... last in the USA, after which she'll be flying back to Amsterdam.

#914 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 04:50 PM:

Thomas @ 908: Thanks. We'll keep looking for a couple of other people to share a hotel apartment with, then. Although the campground sounds okay. My only other experience of camping in The Netherlands (at a conference held at Beekse Bergen last year), the shower blocks etc. were quite good. The price sounds quite good (a lot better than the hotel). Alternatively, do they give a price for a "bring-your-own-tent" pitch (I'll probably travel Eurostar and train, so bringing the tent isn't a problem)?

#915 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 05:44 PM:


If I'm reading it correctly, BYO tent costs EUR(6.40+1.15) per person per night plus EUR5.20 per tent per night, and about 4 euro per tent per night more for electricity.

#916 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 06:05 PM:

In re ebook readers: I've been thinking about getting a Kobo, myself. They get pretty good reviews, especially given your preference of something that simply works as an eReader: they are excessively simple, they accept almost any format, and don't care about DRM.

A couple of reviews

The Kobo site

#917 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 06:08 PM:

question for the florosphere:

My car battery seems to need replacing (I've needed a jump start 3 times in the past week.)

Is this something I can do for myself safely, given that I have the coordination of a blowfish?

#918 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 06:21 PM:

Ursula @ 917 -

Changing a car battery isn't hard, but the battery itself can be cumbersome. You mainly have to watch out for disconnecting and reconnecting the cables in the proper order.

Changing a car battery

#919 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 06:23 PM:

By way of Skepchick: Why those vampires sparkle. An amusing "explanation"....

#920 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 06:39 PM:

Phyllis Schlafly:
"Unmarried women, 70% of unmarried women, voted for Obama, and this is because when you kick your husband out, you've got to have big brother government to be your provider."

I . . . wha . . how can . . . eh . . . What?




See, this is where the whole transhumanist banish-death thing falls down.

Can you imagine living in a world where Phyllis Schafly is around forever?

#921 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 06:56 PM:

Gingrich is at least minimally literate in, and supportive of, science. This is not to say that I consider him a reasonable example of a human being -- just that claiming that he's got a similar knowledge base to Palin is a very dangerous form of misunderestimation. We should engage in proper underestimation.

#922 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 07:02 PM:

Ursula @ #917, there's also the "dispose of old battery" problem. If you go to Sears for a new battery you get a decent warranty and if it fails after that you get partial credit toward a new one, too (or you used to). As important, they'll charge you $5 for disposing it properly for you.

#923 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 07:27 PM:

Stefan Jones@920:

No, no, you've got it backwards. Given the option of retreating to a simulated world in which the laws of biology, physics, mathematics, and logic are rewritable, the wingnuts would leave our world alone. The problem is that they want to treat the real world that way.

#924 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 07:50 PM:

Ursula, you could change it, but it's worth it to me to have someone else do it (and then do it again a few months later*). I'm just not willing to mess with acid and sloshing and getting rid of the thing, plus you can get it looked at to see if it's the battery or maybe the alternator that's causing the problem*, though it sounds very battery-like. Or maybe there's a drain somewhere, or two somewheres*.

*why yes, we have had electrical problems here.

#925 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 08:44 PM:

Thank you everyone for the car-battery advice. I wound up going to Sears and having them replace it - $50 for the battery and $16 for installation seemed reasonable.

The car didn't start a few times, no lights or anything. But as long as there was juice in the battery, or when hooked up for a jump start, it starts like a dream. So I'm reasonably confident that it was the battery that was the problem. It also is old - a 2000 car that I bought in 2004, and I've never had to replace the battery before.

Only other problem I can imagine is that the radio is acting a bit odd. When turned on, sometimes it plays and sometimes it doesn't, with the sound going on and off, but otherwise looking as if playing normally. If it should turn out that the radio was dead, I'd probably just get it disconnected without buying a new one, as I barely listen to music in the car.

#926 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 10:38 PM:

Thom: Gingrich would be the Cheney of the Palin Admin. Ponder that.

I got some interesting comment spam at my Lj... it was coherent, relevant, and strange. I'd posted some pictures of mushrooms.

The person (it had to be a real person, there were unmistakable indica of having read the post) said they were bored at work (doing SEO stuff... this is where the link was), and found my pictures, which they claimed were now used as a desktop.

And they craved, "amsterdamish mushrooms". I want to know what those are, and perhaps cook them.

#927 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Ursula: The radio sounds like a loose connection. Good news, once traced it's an easy fix.

Bad news, tracing the fault can be a real pain.

#928 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 10:49 PM:

Wretches, concentred all in self

Insurance companies are cheating people by making it a default that the payout stays in the companies general fund.

#929 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 10:55 PM:

Ursula, battery problems are really easy if you have money. Buy a new one. It sounds as if you really got your money's worth out of the one you had.

We started having weird problems with our minivan last year, while i was still unemployed. It would start and start and start okay, and then not start. Like when we used the electronic doors too much. Or that kind of stuff.

We dealt with the mystery issues for over six months, until we were at a local convention with a WalMart nearby. We unloaded the car and it needed to be jumped to move away from the front of the hotel.

We drove it straight to the WalMart and bought a new battery. Installation was free so we opted for that.

If your alternator is farked, your car acts like it's possessed by aliens (some things fail, some things, like the seatbelt light and warning come on constantly, etc.).

Because we have a tendency to drive cars until they're totally trashed (this is a 10-15-year process, we're all good drivers), we've experienced all kinds of auto failures.

The electrical ones are sometimes the easiest. And cheapest.

#930 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:47 PM:

I have just done the last bit of baking until I am set up in Berkeley - I made Cookies of Terrible Power and the Inducers of Gluttony* to use up the bulk of my baking supplies (I did not want to ship chocolate across the country in August - seemed like a bad idea). This started out as a double batch of the Culinary's 1-2-3 cookie recipe (1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, three parts flour + 3-4 eggs)... which I improved with 1200g of excellent chocolate and a pound or so of freshly toasted almonds. I did not cool the almonds fully, so they melted some of the chocolate, coloring the cookie dough in a most appealing way.

There is now a huge (four quart) bowl of them on my dining table, and a bag containing a dozen and a half in my briefcase. The bowl will go to the farewell party my friends are throwing for me tomorrow night.

*The terrible power of the cookies is that they compel those who consume them to acts of gluttony. One of my friends ate about a dozen of them at one of my parties in lieu of dinner. This was oh, about a year and a half ago - I have yet to let him forget.

#931 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:50 PM:

I also gave my standing mixer (which handled this monster batch with nary a problem) the most thorough cleaning in a very long time. As it will go in a box this weekend, not to be removed until a week and a half from now.

#932 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2010, 11:58 PM:

Benajamin Wolfe: When you are settled, and I am returned, we shall have to get together. There are some other denizens of this place who might be inveigled to such meetings as well.

#933 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 12:24 AM:

This seems like a plan. I head out a week from this coming Wednesday, and will likely be busy unpacking the following couple of days - but thereafter, I would be happy to set something up.

#934 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 04:46 AM:

Cheryl @ 916: Sounded good until I got to the point that .txt, .rtf and .doc formats are not supported - and there's no indication of Mobi being supported either. Since nearly all the e-books I have are in one or more of those formats, I'll keep on reading on my Psion (which I'm carrying all the time anyway) or netbook (EEE)(which I carry much of the time).

#935 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 10:32 AM:

nerdycellist #898 & #903 : for vacation reading, maybe one needs to consider security and risk of loss:  it’s cheaper to forget a dead-tree book on the beach/train/table than an e-reader, and no hotel thief bothers to steal a paperback.

Also, how readable are e-reader screens outdoors?  I’ve never had a laptop that was usable outdoors on a bright day, but maybe modern e-reader screens are better.

#936 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 10:37 AM:

John @ 935 - The e-ink displays, such as on the Kindle, are easily readable in direct sunlight.

#937 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 10:46 AM:

I'm keeping possible theft in mind as far as price is concerned. It's really the hauling a ton of books back and forth (OK, so it's usually closer to 4 books, but if one of those is hardcover...) and the fact that I don't anticipate being able to refuel my books for the trip back the way I did in the UK and Ireland that's balancing with expense/theft issues. If I can keep my in-flight entertainment to an eReader I can finally pack a change of clothes in my carryon as is recommended by people who know about these things. I'm not as thrilled by the frisson of not knowing whether I'll have fresh underpants when I get to my destination as I once was.

I'd rather not read books on my Eeeeeeee(ee) because of the eyestrain issue and also, it has a two-hour battery, which will not do me a ton of good on a 12 hour flight.

#938 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 12:12 PM:


I've been surprised by how readable the iPod Touch ebooks are in sunlight -- you do need to avoid direct specular reflection, but bright light is otherwise fine for text in black on white. The small screen makes a big difference -- it's a lot harder to avoid direct reflections with a laptop screen (or, presumably, with an iPad). Certainly the e-ink readers would be better, though.

#939 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 12:41 PM:

Should you be interested, changes have been made to the photo gallery where people can be seen making light and faces.

#940 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:08 PM:

Thomas #938: I've been surprised by how readable the iPod Touch ebooks are in sunlight

Speaking of the iPod Touch, a case is coming out soon that gives it a Sprint 3G connection and mobile WiFi hotspot.

#941 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:21 PM:

I've just posted a gross of open thread.

#942 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:44 PM:

TNH (941): Ewwww, gross.

#943 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 03:28 PM:

#934 dcb Sounded good until I got to the point that .txt, .rtf and .doc formats are not supported

Hmm. Shows how good my research is.

I suppose I could convert .txt, .rtf &.doc files to .pdf myself. Still, it's an extra step to take. About Mobi, I'm afraid I can say nothing.

#944 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 03:53 PM:

Cheryl: My EEE is new and I bought it for long battery life (10.5 hrs theoretical, about 7 actual). And the dear old Psion, of course, runs for about 11 hours active (over the course of about a month the way I use it - and from the fact it's instant-on, I think "off" is mostly that the screen is off) on one pair of rechargeable AA batteries (easily replaced when it tells you to do so). Hm. May try reading more books on it, see what that does to the battery life, if it's on for longer - whether they still last a month. (Do you want to continue this topic on the new thread or leave it here?)

#945 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 04:25 PM:

David Harmon #858:

PETA has a looong history of that sort of thing.
I would just like to say that those sudden italic “o”s in the absence of any other slanty bits were vaguely creepy.

#946 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:53 PM:

Kevin #945: Creepier than PETA's ads? ;-)

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