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October 31, 2010

Open thread 149
Posted by Teresa at 09:26 AM *

Shadow and Substance
(Anonymous, late 1500s)

I heard a noise and wished for a sight,
I looked for a life and did a shadow see
Whose substance was the sum of my delight,
Which came unseen, and so did go from me.
     Yet hath conceit persuaded my content
     There was a substance where the shadow went.

I did not play Narcissus in conceit,
I did not see my shadow in a spring;
I know mine eyes were dimmed with no deceit,
I saw the shadow of some worthy thing;
     For, as I saw the shadow glancing by,
     I had a glimpse of something in mine eye.

But what it was, alas, I cannot tell,
Because of it I had no perfect view;
But as it was, by guess, I wish it well
And will until I see the same anew.
     Shadow, or she, or both, or choose you whither:
     Blest be the thing that brought the shadow hither!


link back to Open thread 148

Comments on Open thread 149:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 09:36 AM:

First footing. Whare's mah whusky?

#2 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 09:54 AM:

Fragano: At the bar. (A bar? Whar? I thought Davy kilt it!)

#3 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 09:55 AM:

There's no returning from the sacred ship
that bears each victim from from the eastern shore
far out to westward where the oceans pour
past the world's edge and over freedom's lip
into the void. We move at such a clip
that in a moment we're at the new door
and none is ready to assess the score
add up the bill and work out the full tip.
Enough of images! it's time to scold
those who wait patiently with their critique
but cannot see the beauty in the pain
of torment in harsh sun and twisting cold
that tears the strongest heart and turns it weak,
nor can it find true healing in the rain.

#4 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 10:05 AM:

Mary Aileen #3: Dan'l cil'd the bar, as everyone nose.

#5 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 10:23 AM:

Fragano:

Bravo!

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 10:34 AM:

If a Baron is barred from a bar, does he then barge in and throw barbs at the band's bassoon?

#7 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 11:15 AM:

#6: Boldly, and badly. The Baron barely blisters the bassoonist. Brouhaha ensues.

#8 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 11:18 AM:

Albatross #5: Thank you.

#9 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 11:45 AM:

I liked this comic w.r.t. life strategy.

#10 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 11:50 AM:

#3 Fragano Ledgister

Thank you for these lines:

"There's no returning from the sacred ship
that bears each victim from from the eastern shore
far out to westward where the oceans pour
past the world's edge and over freedom's lip
into the void. We move at such a clip
that in a moment we're at the new door
and none is ready to assess the score
add up the bill and work out the full tip."

I would have felt moved reading them at any time, but reading them this morning, after experienced my first and so far only sail on an actual sailing ship on Friday, they resonate and vibrate despite the smooth movement, under my feet and up through the top of my head.

Love, C.

#11 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 11:54 AM:

Now who do you think wrote this?

Good sorrow cease, false hope be gone, misfortune once farewell;
Come, solemn muse, the sad discourse of our adventures tell.
A friend I had whose special part made mine affection his;
We ruled tides and streams ourselves, no want was in our bliss.
Six years we sailed, sea-room enough, by many happy lands,
Till at the length, a stream us took and cast us on the sands.
There lodged we were in a gulf of woe, despairing what to do,
Till at the length, from shore unknown, a Pilot to us drew,
Whose help did sound our grounded ship from out Caribda's mouth,
But unadvised, on Scylla drives; the wind which from the South
Did blustering blow the fatal blast of our unhappy fall,
Where driving, leaves my friend and I to fortune ever thrall;
Where we be worse beset with sands and rocks on every side,
Where we be quite bereft of aid, of men, of winds, of tide.
Where vain it is to hail for help so far from any shore,
So far from Pilot's course; despair shall we, therefore?
No! God from out his heap of helps on us will some bestow,
And send such mighty surge of seas, or else such blasts to blow
As shall remove our grounded ship far from this dangerous place,
And we shall joy each others' chance through God's almighty grace,
And keep ourselves on land secure, our sail on safer seas.
Sweet friend, till then content thy self, and pray for our release.
The answer may surprise you as it did me. Before I put in a link, I must caution you that THE ANSWER IS IN THE LINK ITSELF so don't mouseover unless you want it handed to you. The Answer, found while looking up a favorite poem.

#12 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 01:13 PM:

Fragano (4): I could have sworn that was Davy Crockett. Huh. I guess I have my iconic frontiersmen mixed up.

#13 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 01:55 PM:

Some Downrigging photos here, if you'd like to get a taste.

Plus others.

We've devoured brunch. Now off to hear contemporary tall ship captains speak.

Love, C.

#14 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 03:03 PM:

6 and 7: he hums a few bars and they fake it.

#15 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 03:07 PM:

What the "Writing Tips from Jennifer Crusie" said about TV reminds me:

I remember one person I met saying that a long time ago, Hollywood writers were people who got their original experience writing for the stage, and more recently, newer Hollywood writers were people who got their experience writing for television, and you can tell the difference.

#16 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 03:16 PM:

For the last few weeks, I've been getting spam from an outfit called "GoodDonor."

I haven't gone to the related website, but apparently it's a pick-stuff-up-for-charity service.

Something about it rings all sorts of alarms.

Anyone know anything about them?

#17 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 03:24 PM:

D. Boone kilt a bar on this tree.
Davey, Davey Crockett kilt him a b'ar when he was only three. [Variant spellings can be found on the internet.]

Know the difference! It's all in the apostrophe, otherwise, either one could rightly bear a coat of arms with an ursine, deceased, in fess.

#18 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 03:26 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 916/148: "Over the last month-and-a-bit, I've usually been asked "On a scale from zero to ten where zero is no pain and ten is the worst pain you can imagine..." which is, to me, not a very easy question to answer."

What I have heard (though perhaps I am mistaken) is that while seemingly arbitrary pain scales are actually fairly reliable: people with injury X all tend to assign the same number to that pain, and people with injury Y all tend to assign the same number to that.

As far as pain scales go, the Schmidt Sting Pain Index is by far my favorite. It makes being stung by a yellowjacket sound like an aesthetic experience on par with drinking an expensive wine: "Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue." I can't help but imagining a culture, though probably not the Culture, where insect stings are a rarefied delicacy, consumed by connoisseurs in special clubs. "Yes, I'd like a Betelguesian bullet ant--shaken, not stirred."

#20 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 03:37 PM:

When my sciatic nerve agony was at its worst, I pointed at the frowny face marked "8."

#21 ::: Fred Moulton ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 03:41 PM:

"What I have heard (though perhaps I am mistaken) is that while seemingly arbitrary pain scales are actually fairly reliable"

It would be interesting to test if there were any response patterns which were similar within a cultural subgroup but differed in another cultural subgroup. It might be useful in pain management.

#22 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 03:57 PM:

Kip W @18, keming is such a great word!

#23 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 04:04 PM:

Protagonismos:
Some filker wrote a song called "Why must I be a prince in a fairy tale?" to the tune of "Why must I be a teenager in love?"

#24 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 04:06 PM:

Erik Nelson, #14: That reminds me of Charles Stross's recent blog post about the Great Internet Steampunk Overdose, which pointed out that the genre is (among other things) beginning to suffer from "second artist effect."

I also remember reading something by Jo Walton about "first order" and "second order" fantasy novels, although I don't recall where, or whether those were the exact terms she used.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 04:32 PM:

Constance #10: Thanks.

I've never been on a ship powered by wind. I've been on rowboats. I've been on a panga up the Rio Escondido in Nicaragua. I've crossed the Atlantic by ship. Twice.

#26 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 04:41 PM:

me @148/807: Just to be silly, I sent the link to Tor's zombie readiness page to Agoge martial arts, who are the folks who conducted the class at CU.

Hilarious! Good job! But be careful, starting zombies on fire is a dangerous biz anyway ... all you do is create a walking zombie flambé. I definitely advise the swift and repeated use of the big heavy award!

They responded with an invite to a charity Zombie preparedness party (publicity for the premier of the AMC series Walking Dead).

#27 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 04:44 PM:

Wesley @ 24: Wow, I had missed that rant. It leaves me wondering how much steampunk Stross has actually read. His main criticism is that the early Victorian age was awful, politically and socially and pretty much every other way, and that authors gloss this over in order to indulge in ancien regime fancies. That hardly describes any steampunk I've ever read--mostly the novels are explicitly about that awful history, and are consciously juxtaposing it with the age's feeling of unlimited possibility for technological and sociological change. That, I feel, is one of the central steampunk problematics. Obviously there's plenty of bad steampunk that doesn't have anything interesting to say on the issue *cough cough* The Court of Air *cough*, but hasn't Stross ever heard of Sturgeon's Law?

#28 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 04:49 PM:

keming, like many things literary, reminds you that the pen is mightier than the sword.

#29 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 05:02 PM:

Erik, watch your language!

#30 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 05:34 PM:

Don't tell Mr. Google that joke with the I'm Feeling Lucky button, at least not on a work computer.

#31 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Jacque 26:
"a walking zombie flambe"

should that be called a flombie?

#32 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 06:17 PM:

speaking of zombie apocali, I will riposte this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8HW-HVW9Q8&feature=player_embedded#!

#33 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 06:43 PM:

The thing about Broder and the war economy is that even apart from being immoral, it's wrong.

While that is the case for WWII, every other war in history was followed by a depression, inflation, and other economic miseries. I have a theory about why WWII was different, which is that the technological driving engine of civilization was compressed during the First Great Depression, and innovations in many areas didn't get funded, so that when money got thrown at things in the war ecomony the technological innovations were there and it was this rise in technology that kickstarted the US economy. (I also think a lot of why the things weren't being funded was because of fear, and that FDR was literally right about that.)

But anyway, the greater lesson of history is that wars are terribly bad for economies.

#34 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 07:01 PM:

That was one thing that bothered me a bit about the Star Wars extended history, that, given the frequency of conflict, technology was still relatively stagnant for millennia.

#35 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 07:13 PM:

I'm actually planning ahead. I'll be in San Francisco, around the Moscone Center, from Wednesday to Saturday. I would love to Gather with fellow Fluorospherians (first spelled Flouro...), if schedules permits.

#36 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 07:33 PM:

From 148:

P J Evans, #929, most of the people who don't have insurance now and have to buy it then will end up in a state/federal pool or Medicaid.

#37 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 07:53 PM:

Fred Moulton @ #21, what those scales are useful for is comparing the same patient's pain at different times or under different circumstances (say, before and after 8 sessions of PT; or "my back pain is a 3 when I'm sitting, a 5 when I'm walking and it gets up to a 7 if I stand still for more than a few minutes.").

I was taught that they are not to be used for comparing pain between patients.

#38 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 08:32 PM:

Lin D @ 35... Drat. I just came back from a trip to the Bay Area.

#39 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 08:34 PM:

"Do you remember the fun we had when you poisoned me?"

Yes, TCM is showing Vincent Price movies today.
How did you guess?

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 08:53 PM:

heresiarch @ 24... Steampunk as a literary movement really started some time after 2006's worldcon, I think. Steampunk had been around in movies for decades, mind you, and even the literary aspect owes a lot of its aethestics to James Mason as Captain Nemo. That being said, I mention 2006's worldcon because that's the one for which I had had someone make me a 19th Century outfit, but it took me a long time to figure out how I'd justify wearing that at an SF con. I finally decided to refer to myself as a Victorian Time Traveller. I even had the clock buttons to go with it. Had steampunk been above the horizon in the literary landscape, I wouldn't have felt it necessary to justify it.

#41 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 09:06 PM:

heresiarch #18: Hmm. ISTR Dr. Charles commenting that doctors did have to take into account people's pain tolerances. As noted repeatedly above, prior experience is another issue.

#42 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 09:36 PM:

Having gotten out of the hospital twice this week, trust me: hyperboleandahalf's pain chart, with the clear label of "I see Jesus and I'm scared" beats the hell out of the conventional version. I recommended it to all the nurses.

#43 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 09:56 PM:

Today's big surprise:
Driving around a corner, seeing a large bird perched on the streetlight on the farther corner that I was going toward, and thinking 'Oh, hawk!'
Then realizing it wasn't a hawk at all.
It was an immature turkey vulture (gray head).

#44 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 10:34 PM:

I was expecting a thread-starter along the lines of 1(squared)2(squared)3(squared).

#45 ::: CassR ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 10:37 PM:

My brother's looking for the Gandalara Cycle, but everywhere he looks seems to direct him to Amazon or it's out of print. Anyone know a non-Amazon seller that'd have it, and be willing to ship to Australia? (Price is also a factor =/ )

#46 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 11:37 PM:

Heresiarch's comment #27 pretty much mirrors my response to Charlie Stross's startlingly grumpy screed about steampunk. Jeff VanderMeer also had a nicely measured response to Charlie which I recommend. Condensed version: All that nuanced, historically-aware, smart stuff Charlie says nobody's writing? Lots of people are writing it. Dunno what Charlie's been reading.

Of course, Charlie gets points for extra-gratuitous tendentiousness for his opening sentence, "I am becoming annoyed by the current glut of Steampunk that is being foisted on the SF-reading public via the likes of Tor.com and io9." "Foisted on the SF-reading public"! And here I thought that the steampunk fans on Tor.com were just people sharing an enthusiasm. Little did I know that wicked foisting was taking place.

Now that I realize that Tor.com has the power to foist, none of you in the "SF-reading public" are safe. You have been warned.

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 11:43 PM:

Patrick @ 46... I've downloaded some of that foisted stuff on my Nook. As tomorrow is a day off, I'll probably read them then, as soon as I'm done with Kim Newman's "Moon Moon Moon" - I especially liked the scene where psychic investigator Richard Jepperson is attacked by maleficent mallards.

#48 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 11:51 PM:

I want to know what Charlie read that got up his nose. Something must have, because he's usually more temperate than that.

Steampunk is still finding its way, and there's more demand for it than there are good examples of it. That's a recipe for dodgy publishing decisions. Only a few feet away from me is a copy of a recent and very flashy steampunk trade paperback. It was abandoned here by a visitor. I've tried to read it and can't -- the dialogue is just too awful.

You know what's really frustrating about this? Someone looking to write good steampunk could do worse than to read Charlie's Laundry novels three or four times apiece. The aesthetic isn't steampunk, but the technical problems are closely related, and some of the ways they're handled are brilliant.

#49 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2010, 11:55 PM:

Patrick, 46: I must admit to rolling my eyes at the remix of "Night of the Cooters." It was cute, but the original was in no way steampunk as I understand the term.

#50 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:04 AM:

Hyperlocal News: Local cat, 12, not expected by vet to survive the weekend. Cat delighted to prove the human wrong. Local woman relieved but still worried.

(Medical details within: Zl png'f fnepbzn unf bhgtebja vgf oybbq fhccyl. Fubeg bs erzbivat ure yrt, gurer'f abguvat gb or qbar ohg fcbvy ure. Fb sbe gung vf jung V nz qbvat.)

#51 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:15 AM:

Patrick @46 - Oh, you foist, all right! If you hadn't lured me in to Tor.com with your offers of free e-books, I wouldn't have been bedazzled by the contributors (Kate Nepveu's LotR re-read - I'm looking at you!), and wouldn't have had The Garden of Iden foisted on me. Now I've been forced to get the rest of the series. I'm almost afraid to check back and see what other things you've foisted on me. (Seriously, kids and dogs require attention and action. I can't read all day! What were you thinking?)

#52 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:15 AM:

Unclear why #49 is addressed to me, or what it has to do with anything I said.

#53 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:18 AM:

Patrick, you took issue with the idea that tor.com is foisting steampunk on people. I remarked that they foisted something on me that was not as advertised.

Oh, never mind. I've obviously lost my feel for the conversations around here, and should lurk until I can fit in again.

#54 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:52 AM:

TexAnne, I'm sure your feel for conversation is fine. I'm bemused by this whole rhetorical notion of "foisting," in which the act of giving away free ice cream (or, even more extremely, inviting others to dispense ice cream from our stand) is turned into something sinister and coercive.

The fact that you didn't like a particular piece, or disagreed with some aspect of it, seems to me entirely perpendicular to the point I'm making. I don't expect everyone to like everything on Tor.com; I don't like everything on Tor.com. But I don't think it's fair for us to be depicted as engaged in some kind of act of morally questionable pushiness just because somebody didn't care for a particular story or post.

I'm not even much of a steampunk fan. What interested me about Charlie's post was his obvious rhetorical deck-stacking--first, the assertion that "the likes of" Tor.com and io9 are up to some kind of "foisting", then the highly selective reading of the range of "steampunk" texts and artifacts in order to establish a parallel to China Mieville's argument that heroic fantasy is at root nothing more than an exercise in morally corrupt, historically ignorant nostalgia for an era of monarchism and serfdom.

Of course, heroic fantasy is in fact more than that, and steampunk is more than the shallow fad Charlie tries to make it out to be. As a general rule, when oddball artistic subgenres suddenly explode with activity like this, more things are going on than are accounted for in the obvious get-off-my-lawn dismissals. Lecturing steampunk fanciers with the fact that the Victorian era encompassed tragic and painful contradictions is about as with-it as someone would have been who breathlessly informed the 1980s cyberpunks that Computers Don't Solve Everything, Young Man.

#55 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 01:15 AM:

I wonder if some of the grumpiness around Steampunk is an Indie Rock Pete-like displeasure at a huge crowd acting as if a quarter-century old sub-genre (arguably even older!) was something new.

Heck, a major RPG company (to the extent that any RPG company other than TSR/WotC/Hasbro can be called "major") shipped a steampunk RPG twenty-two years ago. It's not often that the RPG industry is ahead of the curve at all, much less by decades.

#56 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:04 AM:

Patrick @54

And China says as much in his essay. It's actually too bad Charlie didn't follow China more closely, here.

That said, I think it's disingenuous to say that steampunk is generally concerned with the suffering caused by Victorian Europeans. I encounter an awful lot of fanciers who have this Gone With The Wind quality about them, rather "yes, slavery and colonialism were terrible, yes, Dickensian London was bad, but look at this waistcoat! Look at this zeppelin!" In particular, I find that the actual social conditions of the Victorian world rarely translate into secondary-world stuff* (not a lot of poor folks in Space 1889) and also that it is very unusual to see steampunk costuming that is not upper-class in origin.

There is a sizable minority who are grappling with those issues, but I fear they're outnumbered by folks who just like the "gentility" and class of Victoriana. Maybe I'm just sensitized by a few egregious fans of that sort that I've known, though.

*On the whole, it does rather remind me of some criticisms of Tolkien, notably the ones that start with "where does the food come from, to feed these armies?" There are all these gentleman inventors and airship pirates and what-have-you, but not a lot of clear indications of who makes all that lab equipment, or where that cargo came from.

#57 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:13 AM:

I would never foist steampunk on anyone! I'm not a foister.

#58 ::: ErrolC ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:14 AM:

Patrick @46
Dunno what Charlie's been reading.
He did spend a lot of the Steampunk panel he was on at WorldCon saying 'I disagree'. It probably didn't help him holding in the rant.

#59 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:22 AM:

Patrick, if your "Taking the Measure of Rot" sidelight is anything to go by, you might enjoy--well, enjoy might not be the word--the book Limits to Capital, by David Harvey.

#60 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:25 AM:

Isn't a foister just a highly competitive resident of Brooklyn?

#61 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:26 AM:

Or maybe just a New York resident; I can't differentiate between separate boroughs' accents.

#62 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 04:12 AM:

Steampunk is one of my foist choices, for convincing altered-history storylines. I like the groundedness of the underlying explanation of why things are different -- it feels a lot less foiced than some of the other altered-history explanations and timelines that get presented.

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 06:57 AM:

Patrick #46: Clearly, to your many titles, you must now add "Foister-in-Chief" ("to the Court of St James" is, of course, understood).

#64 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:36 AM:

Devin, #56: "That said, I think it's disingenuous to say that steampunk is generally concerned with the suffering caused by Victorian Europeans"

I think it's "disingenuous"--lacking in candor or sincerity--to pretend that anybody asserted any such thing.

#65 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:09 AM:

You know how it goes. First, they offer you a little bit of socially-irresponsible steampunk at a party, for free. And everyone's doing it. Then, they offer to sell you a little bit more. And soon, you find yourself brutally colonizing Africa and India, oppressing the lower classes who work in your factories, and forcing women into subservient roles. Yeah, it all *seems* harmless....

#66 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:19 AM:

#56 "very unusual to see steampunk costuming that is not upper-class"

I'd love to see a well-realized group costume of the "Black Gang" of an airship. Not entirely sure how we'd recognize them as zepplin staff though... maybe weight-reduced wrenches with drilled out handles, non-sparking bronze of course.

Steampunk in general - it's getting awfully mainstream, here in Ottawa there's a radio station using a poster of the Black Eyed Peas in definite steampunk outfits (fancy non-functional goggles, brown leather hats...) and there was also steampunk in the weekend newspaper.

#67 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:23 AM:

Jo #33:

Yeah, I keep thinking economies and societies are fundamentally too complicated to be understood or explained in terms as simple and universal as "war is good for the economy." (This is one of the reasons I'm not quite a libertarian anymore, despite my sympathies for that worldview.)

At an intuitive level, by the end of world war two, the US was probably somewhere close to our maximum capacity of producing stuff, and some large fraction of that stuff was being sent off to blow up or burn or sink. Now, as a way of getting that capacity to produce stuff up and running, the war economy may have worked out pretty well. (By way of a parallel, I gather that Stalin managed to bring electricity to a lot of the USSR, and to industrialize heavily, using techniques that didn't remotely lead to prosperity long-term.) But to the extent that the country wound up ramped up to produce stuff that served no good day-to-day purpose, it wasn't such a great deal.

I suspect a big part of the benefit of any economic stimulus is building and/or maintaining the companies and industries and organizational stuff (contracts, experience, working markets) to do stuff that we'll later want to do more of. That is, when the economy has melted down and nobody's buying cars, if we let all the car factories shut down for a few years, it will be expensive to bring them back up--the suppliers will go bankrupt, and then their suppliers will, experienced employees will leave and take their experience with them, the whole economy will sort of heal around the loss of that industry in ways that amount to forgetting how to deal with it. And when the industry tries to come back in ten years, it will face a huge ramp-up cost, rebuilding those networks of contracts and suppliers and expert workers and other arrangements.

Looking at the world in that way (with all its oversimplification), it seems like the big question is whether we're going to want the arrangements we're causing to be built. Spending vast sums on stuff from defense contractors causes defense contractors to grow, and their networks of suppliers and financiers and such to grow to support them. If in ten years, we're going to want lots more defense contractors, and less capacity to produce things in other ways, then this is a win. But note that they're a lot better at making bombs and fighter jets and tanks and ammunition than at making cheap consumer electronics, or medical equipment, or houses.

#68 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:25 AM:

I have no particular interest in, or inherent antipathy towards, steampunk, but lately I sometimes feel like I'm on the business end of a Steampunk Foist. Probably this is because I have no particular interest in steampunk. All the internet's SF-related neighborhoods are excited about it, and I'm not. It's getting to the point where I see rivets and feel like I've eaten too much frosting. A lot of the time the internet comes off to me like a boring guy at a party who won't stop talking about his pet obsession. This is one of those times. (Don't even get me started on the #$%@ing zombies.)

I guess what I'm saying here is that if Charles Stross feels anything like I do, I can understand why he might be feeling ranty.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:39 AM:

Avram @ 55... It's not often that the RPG industry is ahead of the curve

One thing I found amusing about Locus's recent Steampunk issue (besides Moorcock's grumpy-old-man comments) was that only one person pointed out that the literature didn't spring up full blown, and that it all started elsewhere. There were a few novels published over the years, but they never really had an effect. It looked like The Difference Engine was going to do just that, but that petered out quite quickly. Before that, there had been the likes of Christopher Priest's The Space Machine, which I suspect was itself inspired by The 7-percent Solution. What I think finally caused a critical mass is Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but mostly Girl Genius. That's just my theory.

#70 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:59 AM:

I'd just like to say that I haven't been foisted in years, and I look forward to when I get a chance to foist again.

In fact, since I have a (non-Steampunk) story on submission to Tor.com, I hope soon to be foist with my own petard!

#71 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 09:23 AM:

Which came foist? The chicken or the egg?

#72 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 09:31 AM:

It's weird to me that we're talking about Charlie as if he were a stranger, when actually he comments here with some regularity.

Hi, Charlie. How are you doing?

#73 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 09:32 AM:

The weirdest thing about Charlie's rant is that he clearly hadn't been reading the posts on Tor.com which have had far more about the things he says steampunk ignores than the things he says he doesn't like about it.

I don't much care for steampunk either, but that just baffled me.

#74 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 09:39 AM:

Charlie has been at a con this weekend. And there's a lot of discussion on his blog.

It may be a while before he notices this set of comments.

#75 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 09:39 AM:

Wesley @68:

I felt the same way about the Singularity when it was Flavor of the Month, and the whole 'net was infested with asymptotic curves.

At least no one is treating steampunk like a religion, or a prediction.

#76 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 09:47 AM:

Soon Lee @44: Yeah! 1:4:9 matches the proportions of the monolith in 2001, for the reason you mention.

Henry Troup @66: I'd love to see a well-realized group costume of the "Black Gang" of an airship. Not entirely sure how we'd recognize them as zepplin staff though...
For one thing, there'd have to be one or two strategically placed mooring clips integrated into their clothing (say at the beltline and maybe near the nape) so the worker could be roped to the side of the zep for outside work.

Xopher @70: I'm watching you, bub. Yeah, you. Watch it.

#77 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 10:42 AM:

I happened to like The Court of the Air. Totally weird and over-the-top, but nevertheless fun.

I think our liking for steampunk may be connected to Bujold's observation that democrats have no problem with aristocracies, as long as they get to be the aristocrats.

#78 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 10:44 AM:

Jo Walton @ 33 and albatross @ 67:

One of the vague things I'm remembering is that war can be a short-term boost in a poor economy, because it kick-starts an awful lot of production and creates new jobs. However, it's a long-term drain, as all that money and effort gets put into things that don't really produce anything. Also, while World War Two may have been a boost to the US economy, it didn't really do much good for, say, the UK and Europe. The US entered the war late (although there was unofficial support of various stripes), after both sides had been wearing each other down.

I'd be willing to bet that the US has been in a state of war-related production for so long that any new fight we choose to pick won't boost the economy in any way, never mind being morally reprehensible. I also don't see that our misadventures in Iraq have improved the economy here, either.

#79 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 10:58 AM:

Hyperlocal News: Woman attends Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. World unchanged as a result.

I did see two signs that appear to have been made just for the Fluorosphere; one read "You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own spelling", and the other (carried by a young woman wearing a lot of purple) read "Red, White and Blue--I give a %#$* about the Oxford comma".

I also saw Jesus riding on a dinosaur, which isn't a thing you encounter every day.

#80 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 10:58 AM:

abi #75:

So what we really need is a steampunk zombie singularity apocalypse story.

"Now that we've got them all connected, the Engines can solve our logistics problems and help us finish the anti-zombie-virus vaccine program," said Elizabeth with excitement. "And then...what's wrong?"

Artemis looked with horror at the Engine, which had stopped typing outputs, and instead was simply humming contentedly to itself, tapping away on the new electromechanical telegraph line that connected it to all the other Engines in the country. An old telegraph operator, he'd "read" the tapping immediately, even as fast as it was. "We have to get out, now!"

Even as Elizabeth heard these words, the door began to shake, being battered from outside. "What is it? What did the Engine say?"

As Artemis smashed the panel of vaccuum tubes with the fire axe, a vicious grin on his face, he snarled "It told the other machine that zombies could be trained to maintain Engines!"

#81 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 11:05 AM:

albatross @ 80:

I never quite got the whole zombie thing, or the Singularity for that matter, and I can feel that I'm teetering on the edge of being a little worn out on steampunk at the moment, but I'd read that.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 11:12 AM:

Tony, she actually said egalitarians. And put it in the mouth of an egalitarian-turned-aristocrat, at that!

#83 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 11:29 AM:

Fragano@63, "Foist Among Equals"?

#84 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 11:35 AM:

The Greetings from Idiot America particle is one of the best things I've read in a long time.

#85 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 11:38 AM:

I see Tor.com riding the steampunk wave moderately hard. The lettering at the top of the page, next to the zeppelin drawing, for example, give me that impression. A number of steampunk stories have been published there lately. Also, since it IS hot, many of the bloggers who post at Tor.com are writing about it, which contributes to the overall impression.

I see nothing wrong with that, though I'm not a big fan of steampunk myself. I completely believe that, as Teresa said, the demand for steampunk exceeds the supply. High demand is something publishers, as rational capitalist actors, should actively try to fill.

But if one were grumpy on the whole topic of steampunk (and I agree with many posters that the symptoms of Charlie being in that state are pretty clear), the transition from "riding the steampunk wave" to "foisting steampunk on the readers" is one I might make myself. It's not absolutely accurate, but it's well within the range of rhetoric I allow myself (and perforce "allow" others, in the sense that I can't reasonably complain about things I do myself, and besides I'd be called on it if I tried).

I'm sure Patrick and Liz are publishing the best steampunk that their budget and what's submitted to choose from will allow (in their own opinions). Because that's what editors do. Nobody is deliberately foisting off sub-standard product on the readers (though there is some risk of dodgy publishing decisions inherent in demand exceeding supply, as Teresa pointed out).

#86 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 11:40 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 83... Foist come, foist served.

#87 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 11:52 AM:

World Wide Words, this week, quoted Patrick's entry on Merle Haggard.

'On his blog, Making Light, on 24 October, Patrick Nielsen Hayden
reported an example of a classic error that's reminiscent of the
famous (and apocryphal) book dedication, "To my parents, Ayn Rand
and God". It was a caption to a picture of Merle Haggard in the Los
Angeles Times of 21 July and referred to a documentary about him:
"Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson
and Robert Duvall".


It was in Sic!.

#88 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:00 PM:

I'm trying to cash in on the Next Big Thing after Steampunk. So far, I've got:

ElectroPunk - fiction set in the days of constructing the TVA. Lots of electric chairs.

RenFairePunk - fiction set exclusively in historically inaccurate over-priced Renaissance Festivals. Lots of beer and turkey legs and laser jousts.

MtvPunk - Fiction set in 80's music videos. Billy Idol meets Dexy's Midnight Runners. Lot's of hairspray.

#89 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:02 PM:

albatross @80:

Superb! And with NaNoWriMo just begun, you're just in time to write the rest!

#90 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:15 PM:

#69:
It looked like The Difference Engine was going to do just that[start a steampunk movement-ed.], but that petered out quite quickly. Before that, there had been the likes of Christopher Priest's The Space Machine, which I suspect was itself inspired by The 7-percent Solution. What I think finally caused a critical mass is Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but mostly Girl Genius. That's just my theory.

My alleged theory is that writing Steampunk SF is haaaaaaard, while writing Steampunk Fantasy is easy.

Stolen from another person on another discussion board:
"I've been suffering hipstercrank over that a lot recently:

Me: Hey, I didn't know you were into steampunk! What do you think of Gibson and Sterling's suggestion that a techno-focused culture in the 1840s UK would lead to...
Them: MY CORSET HAS GEARS ON IT!"

(This is why my wife and I occasionally say to one another, in a cheery-but-vapid way, "My corset has gears on it!" )

I guess for me the difference is that in Steampunk SF, you say "let's pretend that in 1870 they could build giant walking automata that could obey simple instructions. How does that work, what does that imply, how do they use them, what does this mean for the world?" [1870 being 1870, it's probably grim, malthusian and miserable.]
In Steampunk Fantasy, you say "Let's pretend that in 1870 they could build giant walking automata. Isn't that cool?"

Girl Genius is Steampunk Fantasy, but it's really really really good at it and it doesn't pretend to be anything else.

#91 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:49 PM:

Her corset has gears on it!

#92 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:51 PM:

Sandy B. @ 90: "Girl Genius is Steampunk Fantasy, but it's really really really good at it and it doesn't pretend to be anything else. "

I think that's selling Girl Genius a bit short. It's a what-if story about "What if mad science actually worked?" and the answer Foglio came up with was "they would succeed in taking over the world and immediately begin squabbling like super-powered infants." The heart of the story is essentially about how do you take a world run by super-powered sociopaths and get anything good or just out of it? You've got Wulfenbach, whose theory is "make a giant empire to keep them in line with," the Heterodyne Boys' "do it with adventurous do-goodery!" theory, both set against the Other's "imagine a slaver wasp stinging a human brain, forever" and various other smaller factions.

It is also really great fun, but there're deeper themes as well.

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 12:56 PM:

Sandy B @ 90... Steampunk SF and Steampunk fantasy... I pretty much said the same thing on a panel I did at Westercon last year. Most of what's published would qualify as Steampunk fantasy, I think.

A corset with gears?
How about a gear shift?
I've got to check the latest catalog from Queen Victoria's Secrets...

#94 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 01:05 PM:

My bad. I built little boxes and labeled them "This is good" and "This is bad" and then the thing I liked fit perfectly into the "this is bad" box and I didn't think it through sufficiently before hitting "post."

Anyone want to take my Steampunk SF/Steampunk Fantasy idea and make it work? I think there's a useful core there somewhere. (hands over a bronze nonsparking monkey wrench)

CassR @45: Alibris has a bunch of listings for the Gandalara Cycle and they are not owned or operated by Amazon (apparently they're owned by a private equity group). I also know nothing about the shipping-to-Australia part of the problem. (Warning: check out the ratings of the individual booksellers. I bought some textbooks through Alibris and had a TERRIBLE time with delivery from one seller, and when I checked out their ratings and comments, it was an obvious and totally avoidable problem.)

#95 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 01:41 PM:

Wesley, #68: Boy howdy, do I sympathize with you about zombies! And to some extent about steampunk; I like the aesthetics* of it, but I'm very picky about actual stories written in it.

Reading this thread (and a couple of other discussions of Charlie's rant elseNet) has been useful in allowing me to examine my own attitudes about steampunk. What seems to have happened, for me, is that I'm looking at it in a very SCA-influenced way -- "the Victorian Era as it should have been, without slavery and all that crap". Which doesn't prevent me from appreciating good steampunk fiction that does address the ugly underpinnings of the era, but it appears to be my default attitude when I'm looking at it as a mode of fashion.

Serge, #69: Another point is that until there was a name for the genre, it was difficult to recognize all those older, disparate things as being related.

ddb, #85: Also, publishers can only put out so many books a year, and if you don't like a particular genre (Vampire Romance, in my case) which is all the rage, it can very easily start to feel as though every new title in that genre is one more slot taken away from something you might actually enjoy reading.

Tracie, #91: So does hers -- although it's not a corset exactly.


* That's odd; my spell-checker insists on the British form here.

#96 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 01:43 PM:

Stefan Jones @148/877: I've seen others do this, so I am not mad.

Thank you, that was the first good laugh I've had today, and I needed it. I'm not sure, however, that your predicate is supportable.

#97 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 01:54 PM:

urm, I think the popularity of Steampunk is because it has visuals. And by that I mean, costumes and set designs that can not only be imagined, but also built, photographed, and taken to conventions. Previous SF movements didn't lend themselves to this very well, I don't recall. In fact, the only ones that I can think of are descended from very specific media properties*, all of which had the problem of dressing up as either a main character (Kirk! Spock! Kirk/Spock!) or as a non-continuity invented character. Very limiting creatively, and not necessarily flattering. However, movies really give people patterns** to work with, and the advent of the browncoats from Serenity/Firefly was something to latch on to.

Plus, hey, space pirates (Arr! Jack Sparrow in Space!) and westerns without all the baggage about killing the First Peoples or enslaving brown people. Basically, we dumped all the old boxes marked "Pre-1920" from Hollywood's props department into our genre,*** and boy, it tastes yummy!

If this seems familiar, it's because we're overlapping John Carter of Mars here, serialized back in 1912!

I think we should go for it. The only other visual culture we have to work with is Anime-based (which I adore!), but pre-modern-era Western-world fantasy

--long digression begins--
How did we get here? I blame us.
Somehow, when the pulps faded away, the visual culture of fandom got fragmented. Comics peeled away, changing from illustrated pulps, to sanitized superhero yarns, to bleak, dystopian superhero fanservice tragedies. Hollywood could never get good enough budgets to film what fandom came up with, and for some reason the animated side that could do it didn't have enough resources (or institutional interest?) to pull it off. Maybe the endless reinvention of ideas that went with the first half of modern fandom didn't lend itself to formulas that were easy to film. I mean, there should have been not one, but a good half-dozen "wagon train to the stars" shows by the mid sixties. The very construction of that sentence shows the problem: there was no conventional shorthand for "that kind of story."

That left us with book covers, which really aren't designed for the purpose. (Thus weak or story-contradicting images), and illustrations in RPGs. (Thank Ghu for Phil Foglio & co.) I'm specifically overlooking fanzines and pro-fanzines like Analog, Azimov's, etc. Even the paying magazine markets weren't that mainstream in their heyday.

My thesis is that the lack of a mass visual culture that had a spot for SF narratives that fandom likes is what left us with a Steampunk shaped opening.

And - and it solved certain problems for people with visually-based imaginations. For instance, what to do with the Western. After the Sixties, it was pretty apparent that you couldn't do a straight up western without pointing out that the world of the plot involved a lot of off-screen murder of innocents. So what to do with visuals of wide-open spaces, brass-studded leather bandoliers, dusty stetsons, revolvers, running horses and beautiful steam engines? Realism killed off the Western, and deservedly so - as an an unexamined framework, it gave excuse for all kinds of horrors.

Also, another off topic comment: if vampires, zombies and steampunk are really popular, can I have giant radioactive city-stomping lizards now? Or moths? Or turtles?

--long digression ends--

Sorry about that, I couldn't figure out how to make that a complete thought that fit with the discussion.


*the great triumvirate of the Eighties: Trek, Star Wars, and Who.
**design patterns, a la Christopher Alexander in architecture/modern programming in general. And yes, dress patterns too.
***O HAI IM IN YR CULTURE SEWNG GEARZ ON YR CORSETS

#98 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 01:56 PM:

Via Langford, Sir Terry Pratchett's achievement of arms is up on line.
http://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/Newsletter/026.htm

Sable an ankh between four Roundels in saltire each issuing Argent.

The Crest is Upon a Helm with a Wreath Argent and Sable On Water Barry wavy Sable Argent and Sable an Owl affronty wings displayed and inverted Or supporting thereby two closed Books erect Gules.

The motto is "noli timere messorem" - "Don't Fear the Reaper".
Which is rather good.

I wonder if the College of Heralds are familiar with Sir Terry's affectionate depiction of their Ankh-Morpork counterparts?

#99 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 01:57 PM:

Sandy, 90: Kate Beaton agrees.

(Hyperlocal News: Woman had a good night's sleep; her cat ate a reasonable amount of breakfast. She apologizes for her tantrum last night.)

#100 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:00 PM:

doggone it, I broke off in the middle of a sentence, and now I don't remember what it was going to be either.
Sorry.

#101 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:04 PM:

Lee @95: What seems to have happened, for me, is that I'm looking at it in a very SCA-influenced way -- "the Victorian Era as it should have been, without slavery and all that crap".

How does that work, exactly?

I mean, I've heard that SCA thing before --- "the Middle Ages as they should have been" --- but that doesn't work, historically. You couldn't have had all those wars and knights and jousting and castles and stuff without huge numbers of serfs slaving away to create surplus resources that could be appropriated by the aristocrats.

It's kinda like a bunch of people dressing up as planation owners and saying they're recreating "the Antebellum American South as it should have been, without the slavery". (Which, I suppose, some neo-Confederate apologists come pretty close to doing.)

#102 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:14 PM:

Wesley @148/885: It definitely doesn't tell us anything about the cartoonist's psychology. ... I'm not comfortable with diagnosing or psychoanalyzing artists through their work.

Actually, my Wanton SpeculationsTM about neurology are not based on her artwork so much as on her storylines and a few other cues. But the major point is that I failed to adequately mark them out as coming larely out of thin air. I'll shut up about that now, as I'm clearly on the brink of being an asshole, if I haven't already tipped over the edge.

My other error was mixing two lines of speculation, without demarcating them explicitly.

As to the iconographic <=> realistic spectrum, I think my speculation is still reasonable although, again, not based on anything much except my own experience, observations, and yes, Scott McCloud. (I forget that people around here want actual clarity and rigor.)

The bottom line: she still consistently blows me away with the sheer power of her iconography, however abstract or realistic.

Oh, and thanks for the link. Very interesting!

#103 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:16 PM:

You couldn't have had all those wars and knights and jousting and castles and stuff without huge numbers of serfs slaving away to create surplus resources that could be appropriated by the aristocrats.

You couldn't then, but you can now--in large part because our serfs these days are machines, and thus we have more surplus. It doesn't take a month to weave enough brocade for a houppelande anymore, because of powered looms, and I can afford to buy it for a couple days' wages, rather than a year's.

#104 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Mark @148/891: If a picture's worth a thousand words, you can do NaNoWriMo by drawing 50 pictures in a month, no?

Great minds, wot? I've actually been pondering that very question. And I have a graphic novel notion I've been playing with, even, so I may very well go that route. (And given that I usually do at least 30 drawings in a month, 50 wouldn't be that much of a stretch.) (And it's become Absolutely Clear that I'm not going to be able to both the writing and my drawing at the same time. Leastwise, not while still making a living, anyway.)

#105 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:26 PM:

Bill Stewart #83: The very foist.

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:29 PM:

Lee @ 95... until there was a name for the genre, it was difficult to recognize all those older, disparate things as being related

And, if I'm not mistaken, once the genre was Named, the Name - specifically the 'punk' suffix - began influencing the contents. Compare Stephen Baxter's Anti-Ice and The Time Ships, which were published in the late 1990s, to what is now published. No, I'm not putting any story dow.

#107 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:44 PM:

Avram@101: Well, no doubt actual members of the SCA take a variety of views (I know enough of them to be pretty confident of that, in fact).

One possible view is that the SCA is not attempting to be a description of a workable standalone society; it's a hobby activity embedded within this society.

#108 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 02:48 PM:

CassR @45

I've been meaning for the last several years to get started on a project of deaccessioning much of my fiction collection, and my run of the Gandalara Cycle falls in that category. I'd be happy to pass it on if the shipping logistics can be worked out.

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 03:09 PM:

I've been told by Albuquerque's local con Bubonicon that they want me to do my "Steampunk and Hollywood" presentation next year. I should be able to keep it within the alloted 90-minute slot. At least, since the con is all indoors, if I run overtime, it won't cause people waiting to come in for the next panel to suffer for sun overexposure as happened at last year's Westercon.

#110 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 03:27 PM:

re 78: There's something to be said for economics as a series of unrepeatable experiments. That said, I'll venture a number of probably unsupportable opinions:

First, there's the way that war stimulates the economy. The most obvious is that it knocks down the political and psychological barriers to economic activity-- what I call the "all hands on deck" economic stimulus. The caveats, however, are that it doesn't always do that. This is the first place where I think Broder is wrong, and where he should have learned from recent history. To elicit the AHOD response, it has to be an AHOD sort of conflict, and we haven't had one of those since, um, 1945 (though one could consider the cold war up to say 1960 to be something of an exception).

Second, a large part of the issue now is that we were overextended on credit before we even started thinking about deficit-based stimulus. The Keynesian solution borrows from the future to push up the present, and that is what war also does. But if you are already overborrowing (thanks to twenty-some years of Republicans who can't balance the budget) it's hard for the markets to absorb war bonds and the like (especially when it's not "all hands on deck").

Third, the bigger advantage the USA had in WW II, I think, was that we weren't being bombed or otherwise having our infrastructure torn up.

Fourth, I think it's untrue to say that "all that money and effort gets put into things that don't really produce anything". You do get the benefit of building the support infrastructure and whatever technological development is pushed by the war. This is the other respect in which WW II (and to a degree WW I) was different: it pushed a lot of development compared to later wars. After 1945 wars tended to be fought with whatever had been come up with when they were started, even in Vietnam.

#111 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 03:37 PM:

praisegod barebones: Say, do I correctly understand that you are headquartered in Turkey? I have a coworker who wants to go on holiday there. Would you be willing for me to put her in touch with you, if you are. If so, email me at jacquem in the at of panix in the dot of com.

#112 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 03:37 PM:

Damn you, Angry Birds, for sucking my time into a slingshot-firing, pig-exploding black hole!

#113 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 04:01 PM:

Steve C. #88:

Dieselpunk?

There is a lot of steampunk around at the moment that fits the steampunk fantasy label and given Charlie's opinion of (extruded) fantasy (product), it's an understandable position. It's Sturgeon's Law again.

Two years ago it was vampire romance, last year was zombie year, this year it's steampunk. I'm sure next year, we'll find something else to shake our canes at.

#114 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 04:01 PM:

Hyperlocal News: Barfy girl is barfy. Area mother works from home while said girl sleeps (and barfs). This turns out to be a good idea when the mother begins to feel unwell as well.

Opinion is divided* about whether this correlates with the absence of gear-encrusted corsets in the house.

-----
* 50% of respondents indicated that this hypothesis was bunk, while 50% were baffled by it.

#115 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 04:03 PM:

Apropos of very little (except perhaps the mention of SCA) here are some pictures of me wearing medieval garb in Gdansk. The rest of my trip to Poland is in the "Poland 2010" set, which has a plate of pierogis and bowl of zurek as the cover photo.

In reviewing the photos, as well as the next two years' vacation plans, I am reminded that I am deeply nerdy. Yay!

#116 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 04:12 PM:

Jo @33
Albatross @67

War isn't good for the economy. However, it does take out mind off it for a while.

Something else that happened during WWII that hasn't happened in the wars since... Rationing. More specifically, rationing at home to support the war effort. Even then, rationing was tacked on to the end of Great Depression where people got by with much less than we have now because they had no choice. "Use it up or wear it out; make it do or do without," was not a handy bit of doggerel.

Both sets of Grandparents lived through the Depression and WWII. It left marks -- especially deep ones since both couples were farmers and stayed put in the Dust Bowl when things got bad. Also, a co-worker doing family history asked me to proofread and comment on transcribed letters exchanged by her (non-farming) grandparents as they courted through WWII.

In my grandparents' cases, extreme frugality allowed them to survive when everyone else either failed or left for a better chance elsewhere. Then WWII came and even though they were producing enough to make money, they still couldn't buy much because every spare bit went to supporting the troops. My co-worker's grandmother wrote about having to save a month's worth of sugar rations so she'd have enough to make a birthday cake. Nor did she present that as unusual.

After a decade and a half of deprivation, anyone who had managed to save any money spent it on stuff they'd either been denied or had to deny themselves -- unless they used the opportunity to put a bit by for the next round of bad times. Most survivors of the Great Depression and WWII fall into two basic categories "Spend it while you still have it" or "Tuck it away and hold on to everything you can for when the next Big Bad comes along."

My Grandparents fell in the "Tuck it Away" category. I'm not joking in the least when I talk about inheriting my Grandmother's inner pack rat.

#117 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 04:14 PM:

C. Wingate @ 110:

I'd say that the Cold War is an exception because it put the US and the Soviet Union in competition for many things beyond who could destroy each other first. The Soviets putting Sputnik up in orbit gave science education and research in the US a big kick in the rear (since wound back down, unfortunately), which had a variety of positive effects.

I will wholeheartedly grant the advantage that the US didn't have its infrastructure bombed to bits, although I do wonder whether we wouldn't have seen some attempts at that had the US entered the war earlier.

Would you take exception to me saying instead "most of that money and effort gets put into things that don't really produce anything"? You may get some infrastructure out of it, and you will probably get some technological advances (but see below), but ammunition, bombs, tanks, warships, and so on don't generate any real return, and paying for personnel is a money sink as well. I don't mean to downplay the need of any of this when it's appropriate, mind. There are some things you have to spend money on, and I don't think I'm nearly clever enough to figure out what the appropriate balance is, although my own personal opinion is that we're spending way too much on it at present.

As you noted, and I agree, there will likely be some technological advances, but I think they're mostly divided into things that could have developed independently of the military, and things that are not useful outside the military. Radar has significant civilian use, and someone was bound to stand in front of one with a chocolate bar sooner or later. Autonomous aircraft are not something that would need to be funded by defense contract, and have the added disadvantage that anything interesting would likely be kept secret instead of released to the world at large. The internet is another example of something that wouldn't necessarily need to have started off by defense contract.

I like your term: "'all hands on deck' economic stimulus".

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 04:26 PM:

nerdycellist @ 115... I think this is my cue to subtly remind some people that there is no photo of them in "Making Light and Faces".

#119 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 04:48 PM:

C. Wingate; The real problem with Broder's theory is that it's patent nonsense. The only real example to point to is the effect of WW2 on the US economy.

Even for our wars, looking at the effect on the economy post war is to see it depressed. It is, perhaps, possible to argue that short term deficit spending on weapons, etc. is an injection of capital to the people who need it (if we can assume the money will go, largely, to the broad part of the pyramid, where money is presently tight, and whence broad-based spending would be a "lift all boats" sort of deal), but there are other ways to do that spending (and it's not clear; in fact widely disputed, that the War is what ended the depression. By and large the depression was over by the middle of '40. It's possible to argue it was Lend-Lease which did the final lifting, but even that wasn't waging war, but supplying it).

Those other ways (e.g. infrastructure rebuilding, support for the unemployed) would have better effect in the long run. There are any number of bridges, roads, water systems (both transport and purification) which need work. Lots of work. Work which will be cheaper now, pay off the investment (in spades) further down the line, improve the quality of life in the present, while making it easier to maintain in the future.

We could also pump it into schools. Making higher education available to more people would be good (there are arguments that the widened base of educated workers which came of the GI Bill is a significant part of how the US was able to exploit the demand in the rest of the world for goods in the post-war era. It took more than just someone to turn a wrench, it took engineers to perform process improvement, and create new products, logisticians to get those products made, and to market, etc.

So no, I don't see Broder's thesis (even disregarding the sheer moral unhingedness of it all [i.e. it looks like he's saying, "we have an economic problem at home, let's fix it by going out and killing people),as being realistic.

On the practical merits, it's stupid. On the moral merits it's unconscionable.

In short, he's daft.

#120 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 05:01 PM:

The story starts with a zeppelin falling in flames over Potters Bar.

2100 words so far.

#121 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 05:06 PM:

Just wondering if any of the regulars here are likely to be attending the event publicised here (err... other than the obvious, of course...)?

#122 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 05:07 PM:

fidelio (OT148 @ 804)re morse code knitting. Marna did some of that for me.

Xopher (OT 148 @804) re meeting Planning details (it's set for Weds). As for Kikuichi- the Teaneck and Wood Ridge are, "that number is no longer in service" when called. Englewood Cliffs appears to be the regional offices. We may be able to swing by on Friday to take a look,: but on Sunday, when we swung by, no dice.

re pain scales. I recall having lived with them for a long time, so that I had a fine-tuned calibration of them (and could localise regions). It worked for me, and, from what I gathered, for the doctors. It allowed them to calibrate how much I hurt. Pain being subjective, there is no way to make the map extrinsic to the patient (save that kidney stones seem to be massively painful to one and all; so much so that I was diagnosed about the time I got into he admitting area of the ER).

#123 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 05:12 PM:

Patrick @ 64

Apologies for argumentativeness. I was reacting to your statement that:

"All that nuanced, historically-aware, smart stuff Charlie says nobody's writing? Lots of people are writing it. Dunno what Charlie's been reading."

On re-reading, I agree. Taking Sturgeon into account, there's an appropriate amount of smart writing going on.

I was looking to the community as a whole (and Avram's said what I meant perhaps better than I could, at 101). I misread you as addressing the same scope, while in fact there was nothing disingenuous at all about your comments on writers specifically.

#124 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 05:17 PM:

Re. wars & economic stimuli, there's a competing theory that any correlation between major wars and economic depressions/recoveries can be explained if the tendency to go to war (rather than rely on diplomatic solutions to problems) and for depressions to begin are both caused by a society-wide optimism/pessimism cycle.

That is to say, society gets generally pessimistic about the future, so people don't spend as much and depression sets in, while at the same time diplomatic actions start to seem helpless and therefore wars broke out. Then the cycle reverses, people get optimistic and start spending, the economy recovers, and diplomatic solutions are seen that enable the wars to be ended.

Such a cycle would be primarily triggered by external events, but would be kept relatively closely synchronized across the society by the tone of news reports, political speeches, and so on. We pick up on each other's emotional states, and move towards them.

While I don't see much evidence for this, it seems about as plausible to me as the hypothesis that wars cause economic recovery: i.e., it's based on ideas that make a certain amount of logical sense, and if true it results in something that has been observed, so it seems worth considering.

#125 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 05:36 PM:

Terry @119

In 1926, Britain started building the National Grid. This was partly a reaction to the General Strike, and the way Britain seemed to be falling behind France and Germany. It gave the country a unified electricity supply system, boosted industrial use, and must have been pretty important for winning the war.

#126 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 05:40 PM:

Avram, #101: Perhaps a more accurate description would be "the Middle Ages as they would have been with enough technology that nobody HAD to be a peon". I think Edgar gets a piece of it too @97: "we dumped all the old boxes marked "Pre-1920" from Hollywood's props department into our genre" -- and into our culture as well, with all the assumptions that we make as a result of living in the 21st century in a first-world country. And I see a couple of other people have made similar points along the way.

It's a fantasy. You can't have Pern without magical dragons, but that doesn't stop people from wishing they could live there. You can't have steampunk without the historical conditions of the period, but that doesn't stop people from wishing you could, or from pretending that they can. And at the end of the day, they can take off the costumes and go home.

BTW, S.M. Stirling's Changed World series does a very good job of addressing the whole "you can't have the SCA culture without the peons" issue. It's not steampunk, but that aspect of it is relevant to the current conversation.

Victoria, #116: My parents definitely fell into the "tuck it away" camp -- and while there's certainly something to be said for that viewpoint, IMO there's also something to be said for allowing yourself to enjoy the life you're actually living. We fought a lot because I actually did things with some of my income, rather than living on the bare minimum possible and putting all the rest into savings. Which is not to say that I didn't have savings -- I'm not stupid enough not to put some money aside when I can -- but that was never enough to stop them from accusing me of "squandering every penny I made".

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 05:49 PM:

Devin @ 123... there's an appropriate amount of smart writing going on

Some of it by GD Falksen.

#128 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 06:13 PM:

*waves at Lee*
Hi! Thank you!

#129 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 06:22 PM:

I enjoyed Charlie Stross' righteous rant, but like many other highly enjoyable and well-written pop-culture critiques, am left reviewing my media consumption and wondering if anything I like (Ren Faires! Middle-brow classical music! escapist literature!) falls on the right side of Sturgeon's Law.

Probably not, but I really grok the essay, even if I did like the first two Parasol Protectorate books.

#130 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:07 PM:

Serge 40:
Do costumes need to be justified?
As the beer commercial says, why ask why?

#131 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:09 PM:

98 ajay: While I'm sure that it's standard for heraldry, it pleases me that the motto is IN ALL CAPITALS (sorry, can't seem to get smallcaps to work here)

#132 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:15 PM:

Serge @ #118 -

Do I need to send you a pic for inclusion in the gallery? I don't post too often so I wasn't sure I qualified.

#133 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:19 PM:

Hyperlocal news: Local woman's apartment building has been without heat all fall, even as overnight temperatures dip into the 30s(F). Now there's no hot water, either. "I wish someone had warned me *before* I tried to take a shower!" woman complains.

#134 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:20 PM:

Just a note: the Howard Rheingold particle is present in duplicate.

#135 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Jacque, #102: I hope I didn't sound too harsh... I was actually worried I was coming off too strong there. If it helps, my reaction was influenced in part by the fact that I'm in the habit of reminding myself, when reviewing books and things on my blog, not to conflate authors and narrators too much. And probably also by my reading of the book Born Under Saturn a few years ago--it's a history of Western cultural stereotypes of artists, which spends a couple of chapters arguing with art critics who, in the authors' view, were reading too much into the symbolism of the paintings they studied.

#136 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:48 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 130... I know. It's just a hangup of mine that has gotten me in trouble in the corporate environment. Besides, it gave me a chance to make up a 'story' about it.

#137 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:54 PM:

nerdycellist @ 32... If you don't mind, yes I'd like to post one up. Frequency isn't a criteria. Besides, you're not that infrequent a commentator. Just click on my name here and it'll take you to my blog, where you can leave a message. (I'm Serge Broom on FaceBook.)

#138 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:55 PM:

"Greetings from Idiot America" has nothing new, but having it all there in one place is remarkably depressing.

#139 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:59 PM:

Serge...is "Broom" pronounced "Bruttenholm"?

#140 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 07:59 PM:

Avram at 101 et al:
I am Arthur, King of the Britons!

#141 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:03 PM:

Wesley 135: "Born Under Saturn"
not to be confused with "Saturn's Children"

#142 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:05 PM:

Antonia T. Tiger at 120:
Harry Potter became a pubkeeper when he grew up?

#143 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:11 PM:

Hyperlocal news: Local tuxedo cat suffers cruel and unusual bathing, protests loudly.

"The first Frontline dose didn't get all the fleas, and you're due for the second tomorrow, so now's the best time to wash you," cat's human attendant explains.

Cat accepts chicken-flavored soft treat, but is not reconciled.

#145 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:18 PM:

ajay @ 98: My long-neglected SCA heraldry didn't quite fail me, though I did stumble a moment at just how the roundels were "issuing." If it had been my job to blazon it, I'd have tried to find a term for a cross that flares like that, but then I'd be committing the sin of unnecesarily using a charged charge.

Mildly iconoclastic, both for the rare charge (the ankh) and the secondary charges not fully on the escutcheon, but strikingly simple and elegant in the net effect. I applaud whoever designed it heartily.

Thanks for the workout!

#146 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:22 PM:

zombie saturation: the other day there were a bunch of zombies entertaining the people coming out of the subway in the morning. I found them a little annoying.

#147 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:32 PM:

Okay, Mark, I used to be able to keep up with you when you were checking heraldry submissions, but I'm at least as out of practice as you are, and PLEASE explain the "issuing" part?

#148 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 08:54 PM:

TexAnne @ 139... is "Broom" pronounced "Bruttenholm"?

It is indeed, but is not to be confused with the character who appeared in the movie advertised on a marquee here, whose name was "Bruttenholm", but was pronounced "Broom".

#149 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 09:24 PM:

Rikibeth @ 147: Issuing/"issuant" was something that used to be regarded as mildly bad form and a likely quality of SCA heraldry rather than English or Continental heraldry. It's when a charge is partially obscured by an ordinary or, in this case, the edge of the escutcheon, so that the charge seems to be captured in the moment of emerging into view. Compare "azure, a sun in splendour Or, issuant from a base argent" = a cartoony winter sunrise that would get sent right back with CYA notes about not enough points of difference from thus and such. In most SCA usages, it trips the bad form tripwire because it's used to imply motion and proper, traditional heraldry is static.

#150 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 09:28 PM:

67
We shut down the production for rockets (the bigger ones, at least) and also the production lines for space shuttles, so now we're going to be depending on the Russians for access to the space station.
People in the higher reaches of government seem to think that all it will take is businesses wanting access, and we will miraculously have commercial space flight.

#151 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 09:33 PM:

So the roundels are emerging from behind the ankh, making a sort of four-leaf clover effect?

Yeah, I can see how that would make SCA heralds go "Oh, no you don't!"

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 10:06 PM:

PJ Evans @ 150... it will take is businesses wanting access, and we will miraculously have commercial space flight

That's the kind of crap we've been hearing from the likes of Jerry Pournelle for decades.

#153 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 10:38 PM:

Cass, #45, Abebooks has it. I had them ship to Australia and I don't remember exactly what it was, but it seemed reasonable You can check the mailing cost first.

Erik Nelson, #146, AMC has a new show, The Walking Dead, and put out zombies a lot of places. They tried to enter the Lincoln Memorial but the Park Police stopped them.

#154 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 11:13 PM:

Lying sack of shit Repukes....
The one running against Barney Frank has the temerity to claim Barney Frank, who fought in vain for YEARS to apply and have enforced regulations on the financial services industry, is responsible for the economic meltdown. The oppponent make a lying sack of shit look appealing. The same goes for Mitt Romney who's repeating the same horseshit.

#155 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 11:28 PM:

Cambridge SoundWorks might have been the last company founded by Henry Kloss (others include Advent and KLH), less well known than Amar G Bose, who founded Bose--but Kloss' loudspeakers were always better than Bose's.

There's an article in North Shore (I think that's the name) Magazine. Cambridge SoundWorks' headquarters is in North Andover, moved there from an once-factory-and-warehouse building in Newton, which it I expect had moved to after originally having been in Cambridge. (I wondered what had happened to the company when the building in Newton had a big For Sale sign on it.)

An Asia company, Creative, bought Cambridge SoundwWorks and moved all the production to China...

Once upon a time, this area was where most of the the best loudspeakers were made. Maybe Bose is doing some manufacturing here, or not.... but mostly consumer electronics are made in Asia.... and most of the world's semiconductor manufacturing is there, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation is the big merchant foundary company. Its success is a combination of past (it seems to be having some problems now I think I've read) excellence in customer service and support (delivery on time and at aggressively attracive pricing) and production quality and advanced technology, versus other suppliers, including varous companies doing production in the USA, whose support, pricing, delivery dates, and/or quality didn't meet TSMC's excellence levels.

#156 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 11:59 PM:

The Democrats should have been running videos like this for months:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BJfMPxQuiU&feature=player_embedded

#154: This is news to you? Barney Frank has been the Right's designated Cause Of The Financial Crisis for going on a year. I find this a useful shibboleth when reading comment threads. If someone blames Frank, I know I'm dealing with a memoid who has absolutely nothing of value to say.

* * *

Tangential to that . . . if Frank and Pelosi are out of the picture come January, who will be the new Fox News hate objects? They need someone whose gender, race and/or orientation makes them a useful, hackle-raising target.

#157 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 12:11 AM:

Rikibeth! Fleas! I stand with you against them.

Today, mostly because the bed was crazy rumpled-- I usually neaten it when I get up but I overslept and the adrenaline-fueled morning did not allow for tidiness-- I found two fleas, one dead, one live. Nothing else recently. I am doing my best not to declare anything, but I am defining victory conditions.

#158 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 12:34 AM:

Diatryma, I found the advice that everyone gave you with YOUR flea problem most helpful in mine, with the only gating factor being money to buy the treatments. (And, currently, an ailing vacuum. Luckily we've got a backup.)

I'm still getting bitten more than I'd like, but this is only the second month of Frontline, and I'm sure I'll need to repeat the carpet treatment as well.

I was somewhat distracted from the fleas by a MOUSE problem. Ultrasonic mouse repellers didn't; I finally had to resort to poison. And a stocking full of mothballs in my engine compartment, because the damned things nibbled through my ignition wires. Now I'm washing mouse droppings out of the stored linens.

I suppose it's good that I'm not allergic to tetracycline, just in case the mouse problem and the flea problem bring on a Black Plague problem?

#160 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 01:29 AM:

#156 Stefan

They've abusive bullies and deserve some of the more unpleasant "corrective action" measures applied in e.g. Girl Genius with the faint hope that there might be something of redeeming value redeemable in them....

Hmm, Srh Pln as Zola.... Karl Rove as the Prof Beetle's dead assistant. The Schmuck as one of the most obnoxious determined toadies to Zola. Or, no, the Schmuck as the turncoat Jaeger.

#161 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 02:11 AM:

Serge, that Bruttenholm/Broom business also showed up in The List of Adrian Messenger.

#162 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 02:56 AM:

Erik Nelson @142: Here.

#163 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 03:42 AM:

Several things: To start, I expect tomorrow to be interesting here (given that the Giants just won their first Series in 52 years). On a more proximate topic (as I was unaware they had won until I randomly checked the Times' website), I have just spent the last five hours debugging experimental code and writing analysis code. This includes freaking out about a bug... and having it turn out to be interesting, rather than just useless. I still need to rerun two subjects, but that is doable.

Yep, how I know I'm in graduate school.

#164 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 03:48 AM:

Since Making Light knows everything- does anyone know what this is? It's apparently a cartoon character, and it seems to be connected to Finland in some way. Are there perhaps any Finnish lurkers or occasional commenters who recognize it?

#165 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 04:35 AM:

Raphael @164

It looks to be a Moomin, the creation of Tove Jansson.

Google Images on "Moomin" will reveal hundreds of the critters.

#166 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 04:41 AM:

Jules @ 121: Well, I wasn't, but now you've pointed it out.... As it happens, I'm in Dudley for a conference this weeekend and it's a 15 minute train ride from Dudley Port to Birmingham New Street, so I might see if I can skip out of the socialising on Friday evening and come along. You'll be there? Hm, now I'm starting to think whether it would be possible/practical to get to Novacon the following weekend (not been for years).

Stefan Jones @ 138: Yes, I found it depressing as well, and I'm British - but we do seem to be following the good old USA...

#167 ::: ErrolC ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 06:00 AM:

Regarding Pterry's Coat of Arms, some may not be aware of the owl reference.
http://www.nzbirds.com/birds/ruru.html

#168 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 06:19 AM:

ErrolC @167

I think the College of Arms has just won the Internet.

Would this qualify for a Hugo nomination?

#169 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 06:20 AM:

Thats why I have never been attracted to SCA stuff:
"the Middle Ages as they should have been"

No, I want stabbing in the back, quarrelling, fighting, mud, rich people looking very rich and poor people working away in the mud. Of course we don't get as realistic as we could, it being quite hard to replicate the social hierarchy with a bunch of weekending modern folk. But it is entertaining to see people's reactions when I say I'm mixing clay and horse dung for bronze casting moulds.

Then I get to wash up and go home and have a nice hot bath and appreciate the 21st century better.

#170 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 07:01 AM:

Raphael @164 (and Dave): That particular Moomin's name is Moomintroll. I believe there are only 3 Moomins in the stories, Moomintroll and his parents.

Many of the images found by a Google search for Moomins are actually Snorks.

#171 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 07:34 AM:

Dave Bell @165 and NiallMcAuley @170, thanks! (I'm kind of baffled that there's an entire classical children's book series that I've never heard of, though.)

#172 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 08:09 AM:

ddb, #85: "I'm sure Patrick and Liz are publishing the best steampunk that their budget and what's submitted to choose from will allow"

For the record, I've never acquired, edited, or published any steampunk anywhere, to the best of my recollection.

If anyone wants a rundown on who actually does what at Tor.com, I can provide that. But the point I want to make here is that whatever comments I've made in defense of steampunk have had nothing to do with my own editorial work.

#173 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 08:45 AM:

On a different subject, I'm trying to figure out if I have anything useful to say about ddb's remark, also in comment #85, that "high demand is something publishers, as rational capitalist actors, should actively try to fill." This strikes me as mistaken on several levels. Supply-and-demand incentives create opportunities; they don't create a moral requirement. The fact that there is always a demand for contract killings doesn't mean that anyone "should" offer their services as a murderer-for-hire. And the fact that there's a high demand for a particular kind of fiction doesn't mean that every publisher is obliged to cater to it. The fact is that people, including people employed by publishing companies, do things for all sorts of reasons--the extent to which they act as "rational capitalist actors" is generally surpassingly small.

Nearly twenty years ago, in Backlash, Susan Faludi documented example after example of how American corporations in the 1980s ignored overwhelming evidence that serious money could be made by marketing to independent-minded women, and turned instead to products and campaigns that were predicated on the notion that feminism was over and that American women wished to return to a pre-feminist state of affairs. (One might almost suspect that what members of the business class do has far more to do with maintaining their privileges and the social structures that support those privileges than it has to do with coolly assessing market needs, but that's a different branching path off of this set of observations.) Similarly, what people in publishing choose to publish is likely to be affected by many considerations, both personal and also related to the particular opportunities and disincentives inside the organizations in which they work. The idea that any business operates primarily as some kind of engine of efficiency, dispassionately identifying areas of "high demand" and moving smoothly to cater to them, is one of the great fairy tales of our time. Yes, when pressed, the more intelligent members of the business class will acknowledge the existence of concepts like "market friction," but the core delusion is that the system basically works and should be left to run itself lest its essential genius be compromised. And the building blocks of that delusion are people endlessly repeating to one another obviously false statements like "high demand is something publishers, as rational capitalist actors, should actively try to fill." Future generations, if we have any, will look back at this kind of talk the way we look at people earnestly telling one another about phlogiston.

#174 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 08:48 AM:

Terry @122--Cool! How did she choose to designate the dots and dashes? I ended up using a purl stitch for the dots, and a yarn-in-front slipped stitch for a dash, with a single knit stitch between each letter, and two between each word, but there have to be other ways to do it.

#175 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 09:01 AM:

David, you know more than a few authors. Why do they write the books they do? Answer: it's complicated.

Publishers can't publish what authors don't write. Readers trust writers they know far more than they trust what the packaging says about the content. We have a visual style we call steampunk, but I'm not sure we've found the main vein of stories that go with it.

I propose a quick and dirty test for large organizations: look at photos of leaders and top management. If they all look vaguely similar, you're not looking at an open-source meritocracy.

#176 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 09:15 AM:

I just came back from the polling station.

I was first in line.
Like I did in 2008.
I cast the first vote.
Like I did in 2008.
Make me proud, America.
Like you did in 2008.

Vote!

#177 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 09:40 AM:

@167: Now, that's Bad Ass.

#178 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 09:40 AM:

Rikibeth @ 151: No, actually the roundels are issuing from the corners of the escutcheon, so the ankh looks like it's on a black cross with inner corners rounded and ends flared. Here's ajay's link made clickable for your convenience; the emblazon is halfway down.

#179 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 09:55 AM:

Hyperlocal News: Area man scrubs stove top, laments sticky orange scum isn't as easy to remove from Congress.

#180 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:06 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @ 173: "And the fact that there's a high demand for a particular kind of fiction doesn't mean that every publisher is obliged to cater to it."

That explains the vast quantity of literary porn in bookstores. Heh. ("Rational capitalist actors" need better scripts.)

Actually, this whole comment is lovely, and I'd like to link to it, if that's OK.

#181 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:33 AM:

fidelio: I forget. Since I am in New Jersey/New York until next week I can't go grab it to tell you.

When I get home I will try to remember to look at it/take a picture (that, or I might just ping her and ask her to tell the world).

It pretty easy to make out, save that I made a transcription error, which made deciphering it a bit confusing.

I think she had definite ideas about how to make it better. I need to ask Merav how it was she coded the same message in the Tunisian crocheted vest she made (which I think I may press her to finish tonight, that I might wear it to lunch at Hamachi tomorrow.

#182 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:36 AM:

PNH@173: And in fact my explicit reference to "rational capitalist actors" was intended to include-by-reference the concept that that's a simplistic model of how business decisions get made when viewed from the inside -- even sometimes when it looks like that from the outside. (And of course sometimes, from the outside, it looks like a business aggressively resisting what the market wants; like the American auto industry in the 1970s.)

My "should" was intended as less than moral imperative; more the suggestion that it's good business. But it isn't always; especially in a smaller publisher.

PNH@172: I checked the pages on Tor.com and found you and Liz listed as the fiction editors, so I credited you jointly as such. And now, because you have told us, we know that no Steampunk on Tor.com or anywhere else was your choice; I know more than I did before.

#183 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:43 AM:

@ 167, et.al.
I hope the College of Arms had fun putting Pratchett's Coat of Arms together. There are certainly enough Disk World references to make it look like they read at least some of the books. The helm makes me think of Vimes' Night Watch.

@ 168
It would be worth it to see the expressions on the Collegiate faces if they get nominated for the Hugo.

#184 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:48 AM:

There are probably a few expat Brits reading who would find this useful: How to watch BBC iPlayer abroad.

#185 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:50 AM:

I voted. As usual, the problem was that there were so many people who deserved voting against, and relatively few who deserved voting for.

#186 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:14 AM:

"Why are you here?"
"I'm here to fight for truth, and justice, and the American way."
"You're gonna end up fighting every elected official in this country!"
"You don't really believe that, Lois."

#187 ::: Paul M ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:16 AM:

Didn't make it to the polls as early as Serge - I was in the 450 range. Not bad for an hour and a half.....

#188 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:31 AM:

Just spent half an hour looking for a quote. Some Republican in Congress, possibly Speaker of the House said something like "We never discussed how we were going to pay for anything" at some point, talking about Iraq or possibly the entire eight years of the Bush Presidency. I may have seen this quote on a Making Light sidebar.

For some reason I'm having issues finding it with a search engine.

Help?

#189 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:32 AM:

I voted several weeks ago (absentee). Our polling place is popular (or there are a lot of responsible folks in our district), and I got tired of long waits in line. The record being 4 hours...

When I woke this morning the radio host was talking with a man who had reached his polling place at 6:31 am EDT to find that there were fifteen(!) people in line ahead of him. He was much aggrieved over these circumstances.

Am I right in thinking heavy turnout = better odds for the Democrats?

#190 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:43 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 173, wrote:
One might almost suspect that what members of the business class do has far more to do with maintaining their privileges and the social structures that support those privileges than it has to do with coolly assessing market needs, but that's a different branching path off of this set of observations.

Well, yes. That's exactly what the members of the business class do, because they, like every other class* want to maintain their privileges. That's normal human behavior: the preservation of oneself and one's family. (And, as a distant third, the preservation of one's team, as any number of revolutionary movements have found to their sorrow.)

Except, of course for the privileges that are so useful that it makes more sense for everyone to have them, so they can benefit from network effects. The whole progressive movement from the 1780's on could be seen as an ongoing experiment to test serially distributing privileges to others to see how nice a society they could build. In much the same way the elites of the time experimented with how nice a house they could build (Montpelier!) or capital (L'Enfant). So: the progression from only landed free white men being able to vote all the way to eighteen year olds of any color or sex.

I am tempted to ascribe the success of the Progressive project to the large number of relatively comfortable, well off people who had access to education, hot baths, and decent meals, decided that was normal, and then worked to include more people. (If for no other reason initially to prevent starving, smelly, ignorant mobs from burning down their cities every decade or so. Not sure what took the French so long to figure that one out. Maybe my hypothesis is flawed? Maybe there's a difference between elites who gain power via education & hot baths vs. those who are born into it/got it via a coup?)

I've heard members of the business class - Wall Street Journal reading, Mad-Men era guys, talking about the virtues of unions** and the importance of paying taxes. Why? Because it benefits them. Assessing market needs are a means to an end: keeping their job to amass their family's personal wealth. The efficient market myth is just part of the apparatus to fleece unsuspecting investors.*** And should be properly regarded as a bug, not a feature. There is evidence that many in the business class do in fact regard the whole "maximize quarterly profits" phenomena as such a bug. The only debate is when it will crash the system the next time. (And, of course, where to park one's capital to protect it from system crashes.)

*not technically true, but go with it, please.
**works better than OSHA for safety rules and preventing child labor, but they were skeptical that they were still necessary.
***not regarded as a positive feature by said guys, but they can't figure out what to do about it, aside from letting the SEC tweak the rules every so often. There's some of the same pathologies that you and Teresa have noted regarding scams in general: the elite have often been scammed, and are not often willing to disavow the systems that scammed them, because that would have to admit to being scammed...

#191 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:52 AM:

I was worried that my voter registration did not move with me, but it turns out I am registered. I got my vote-by-mail ballot on Saturday - a little late for actual mail voting, but plenty of time to fill out and drop off before call-time for the Requiem mass. The church is a polling place. Not my polling place, but with vote by mail in CA, you can drop your ballot off at any polling place. Yay for convenience!

(still woefully undecided on a couple of Propositions. Guess that means a "no" vote)

#192 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 12:04 PM:

I voted last Weds. I've spent the past week with my, "I voted" sticker on my hat. I got a call yesterday from a friend (who has had the twin crises of becoming a bit more liberal, while the party he favors has gone off the rails to the right) ask me (as has become common in the last few years) for my recommendations on the ballot.

He can't vote for Whitman, and Brown infuriates him, so he voted Green, in the hope the lesser of the two evils he sees (which I think is Brown), gets the nod, and there is some value to an advisory vote. He did the same in Bush/Kerry.

As for Props, I voted, "against my interest" in that I said yes to increasing my vehicle taxes, and kept it from getting harder to pass fees. I hope the budget gets easier (simple majority. I might have been happier if it were 55 percent, but the present 2/3rds is completely untenable, and allows the minority to engage in heinous acts of political blackmail, while costing the state money in borrowed funds to cover day to day operating expenses, sometimes for months).

And... We shall see, as the polls come in.

#193 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 12:04 PM:

Victoria @183, the helm of Sir Pterry's Grant of Arms has the look it has because he is a Knight. It's one of the English conventions. A heraldic artist from another country might depict it differently, and English artists would still have choices on most of the detail. Generally, they would follow local conventions for the Arms of a knight. Likewise the "mantling", which was originally intended to keep the sun off--think of the traditional image of the French Foreign Legion in the desert--is almost entirely up to the artist.

Effectively, a blazon describes what has to be, and, subject to some additional rules, the artist decorates it with these extra details. There has to be a helmet to carry the crest. If there are Supporters, they have to have something to stand on. And, after that, it's turtles all the way down.

#194 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 12:10 PM:

Lori@189 - I think heavy turnout can be good for either party depending on the region. In most big cities, it's probably good for Democrats. In rural areas and conservative suburbs, it's as likely to mean that the Tea Party folks are riled up.

#195 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 12:52 PM:

Devin #123: Apologies back at you for being a tad touchy.

#196 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 01:44 PM:

I put my "I Voted" sticker on the side of my computer, right above my Windows XP Pro OEM Software product key certificate of authenticity.

#197 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 01:46 PM:

Hyperlocal News:
Woman reports to polling place to exercise her franchise, and after doing so, returns to work to find an open parking space right by her building entrace, indulges self with fantasy of civic virtue being rewarded.

This year in Tennessee, there are 14 independent candidates on the ballot for governor, including David "None of the Above" Gatchell (who supports the addition of a "None of the Above" to all ballots, and whose site boasts a picture of his terribly cute campaign manager), and Basil Marceaux (who is all over the map on issues, pretty much, but is very definite about the importance of the correct way to fly the US flag). This seems like a high number of candidates for a position which will become much harder to manage when the federal stimulus money dries up.

My congressional district has, besides the Democractic incumbent and Republican challenger (and that was an entertaining primary race) a Libertarian candidate, a Green candidate, and six independents.

WHile I was getting ready to hit the big green "Record Vote" button, one of the Local Youths wandered into the polling place, and came up to me, asking "How old to you have to be to do this? Is it, like, 18?" I said yes, and pointed out the clerks' table, saying "Those ladies over there can tell you how to register." The poll worker supervising the machines scurried over and told him "You have to step back; this lady is voting". He did, looking at me with amazement: "Really? No way!" because, you know, what is a person voting supposed to look like? It's an arcane and mysterious thing, this business of exercising the franchise.

#198 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Terry @ 181--thanks!

#199 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 02:06 PM:

Also, too--Michael Franti and Spearhead re-work for "Say Hey" for the San Francisco Giants.

#200 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 02:40 PM:

The part of Charlie's post on steampunk that I think is really to the point is the long paragraph at the end (well, long by internet standards), in which he lays out specific challenges for steampunk writers.

I think those specific challenges are worthy, and I'm sorry that Charlie doesn't feel up to writing them himself (he thinks either he or the writing would be too angry, I'm not sure which).

And actually, combined with James Nicoll's call for science fiction that acknowledges a possibility of a future in which the condition of humanity and the earth has improved, I think there's some heavy inspiration there.

#201 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Wow, fidelio--it almost sounds like you're describing my neck of the TN woods. Though as dubiously entertaining as our congressional primary was, I'm finding myself riveted against my will to the spectacle of the final election, since the Republican challenger is equal parts risible and terrifying, with a dash of pathetic, and I'm probably more concerned than I ought to be that she might stand a chance.

#202 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 02:54 PM:

Linkmeister @ 161... Something tells me that Mike Mignola was throwing in a homage. I'll definitely need to look up the movie if TCM ever shows it. Or I could add it to our NetFlix queuuuuuuue.

#203 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 03:12 PM:

alsafi @ 201--

I'm in Nashville, with Jim Cooper as my representative; IIRC the Republican primary here had 11 candidates on the ballot. I think it may have been the Tennessee district with the most people registered as candidates for all parties in the August primary--more than either of the two districts where the incumbent is retiring.

Interestingly, the 9th District, which is mostly Memphis, only had one Republican in the primary, which says a lot about how unwinnable the state Republicans see that seat.

We had a state constitutional amendment about hunting as well.

#204 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 03:38 PM:

Yup, I'm in Memphis, and our primary fun was Herenton's bid for Cohen's seat. Everything I've heard is that Cohen considers it safe, and that's comforting, but his one Republican challenger is a wild-eyed tea party wingnut--I don't know where they found her. She's an odd duck, Charlotte Bergmann, but her yard signs have sprouted up like mushrooms, and I know there are a whole lot of reactionary conservatives in and around Memphis. It has me a little worried, because I like Steve Cohen and think he's been doing a pretty good job, and I really don't want to have him replaced with an incompetent with a tenuous attachment to a reality-based worldview.

I saw the constitutional amendment re: hunting--I thought that was a bit weird, personally. Do you know if there's some story behind that?

#205 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 03:38 PM:

Hyperlocal News:

Local woman discovers that the Polish word for "Aunt" sounds exactly like a Spanish slang term for lady-parts. Nonetheless, she looks forward to meeting her first niece and/or nephew, even if they call her *unt Nerdycellist.

#206 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 03:40 PM:

re 117/119: Would you take exception to me saying instead "most of that money and effort gets put into things that don't really produce anything"? I think I would take exception to the notion that this is different from most of the money and effort that goes into developing and producing goods for consumer retail, or for vacations, or other non-capital use. Or for that matter, to be quite precise, police supplies (including weapons). Perhaps it is different, but I don't think we can quantify that difference.

The crucial point is pretty much where Terry finds it: Broder wants WW II to be the pattern, when has not in practice been repeated since. I think it is also the case that Broder assumes that Obama will go to war over Iran, not that he is advocating it.

#208 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 03:52 PM:

Hyperlocal news:

The artist formerly known as Barf Girl was still too unwell to go to school today; her mother was similarly afflicted and stayed home from work.

TafkaBG was in better shape than said mother, and wanted to "do something", preferably involving making things from yarn. She has a knitting doll already, and has been making crochet chains.

Said mother is a knitter.

However, said mother could not face the prospect of teaching tafkaBG to knit. "Images of needles sliding out of whole rows of stitches swam before my eyes," she is reported as saying. So there was much YouTubing, and both invalids learned the fundamentals of crocheting granny squares.

In related news, a long-haired figure was seen pounding on the door of the Crochet Embassy and demanding asylum, while a mob of knitters (with flaming balls of eyelash acrylic stuck on long needles) approached in menacing fashion*.

-----
* Hand-knit, with really intimidating cables

#209 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 04:08 PM:

Rikibeth at 158, I sympathize. About 12 years ago spring I had to replace 1) some internal washing machine hoses, because mice had chewed through them, and, some months later, 2) my whole damn STOVE, because the insulation was impregnated with droppings.

That's when I called in a pest control person, who administered little blue pellets of poison. No, I don't like having poison around. But yes, it got rid of the mice.

The cats were useless. They watched the mice with great interest, but did not catch them.

#210 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 04:23 PM:

alsafi @204--I think there isn't much need to fear the astonishing Charlotte will carry that district; if the state Republican committee thought it was winnable by a candidate of theirs, they'd have made a reasonable effort to get a less terrigying candidate in there, in hopes of appealing to swing voters.

I'm not sure of the entire story behind the hunting amendment--I suspect it's designed to appeal to rural voters, hunters, and gun owners and thus increase turn-out among segments the GOP hopes will vote their way. It reads fairly harmlesly--it does not restrict the right of the state to limit hunting of endangered creatures (and deer and coyotes, as well as possums, rabbits, raccoon and game birds can't be considered remotely endangered here), to regulate commercial activity connected with hunting, to require permits or enforce safety requirements, and does not interfere with the right to limit hunting on public or private property. Since I doubt the state of Tennessee was likely to put an end to hunting any time soon, this wasn't exactly a needed amendment, except perhaps in the minds of some conspiracy-minded souls.

#211 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 04:44 PM:

Jules @ #121 - It is entirely possible that Moose may be present.

#212 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 04:49 PM:

RE:

Fleas:

My dog had them for the first time, as far as I know. At least, for the first time since I adopted her six years back.

I honestly didn't know what was happening. She had a stiff / sore right leg at the beginning of the month, so when she started licking and chewing on this leg I assumed she was trying to deal with twinges of pain from arthritis or hip pain or some-such.

After hearing he scratch and suck all night Friday, I finally brought her to the vet. The assistant quite quickly found some of the little bastards.

I've never been super-concientious about apply Advantage, but I'd always had it around until a few months back. I'd remember to dose Kira every few months, which I guess was enough. Not having it around, I forgot totally.

By conincidence I had a bath and groomer scheduled for that afternoon. The groomer happily added flea treatment and anti-itch shampoo to the mix.

A remarkable improvement already.

I put her bedding through a hot dryer cycle. Should I be dosing and vacuuming the carpet as well?

#213 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 05:07 PM:

I amused my housemate by reading the job titles listed on the ballots. For example, for Treasurer, we have The Incumbent, a Businesswoman, a Retired Technology Manager, a Business Owner/Attorny, a Retired Professor, and someone who didn't list any job title at all. I realize one should do research before the election, but the amusement value of those job titles is worthy of note.

Yes, I got my vote in.

Hyperlocal news: traveler to San Francisco now in San Francisco, for those wishing to meet an occasional commenter face to face.

#214 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 05:33 PM:

Stefan: Yes. The life cycle of the flea is interesting. They have a larval phase, independent of the host animal.

They then pupate. When they are mature they wait until a warm body lies on them, and they they emerge, and pile on.

That humans don't have a specific flea is strong evidence that we have only been sedentary for a short while (on an evolutionary scale).

There are area products for dealing with lawns, meant to kill the larva, before pupation.

#215 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 05:45 PM:

207 C. Wingate: I like the idea of a cardboard flap rubber-banded over the lens. Cheap, easy to implement, and not quite as aggressive (and less likely to lead to a felony charge). But I'm weird.

#216 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 06:12 PM:

C. Wingate, #207: One of the 3 propositions we're voting on here is whether or not the red-light cameras should be retained. Ours have a distressingly high proportion of false positives -- tickets sent out over what turns out to have been a legal right on red after stopping -- so I suspect it's going to be voted down.

#217 ::: ErrolC ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 06:16 PM:

Dave Bell @168
I should have mentioned that the Ankh-Morpork Coat of Arms includes a mor(e)pork, so that aspect of Pterry's, while clever, isn't exactly original.
The College of Arms do, indeed, rock.

#218 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 06:53 PM:

Sandy B. @ 94: "My bad. I built little boxes and labeled them "This is good" and "This is bad" and then the thing I liked fit perfectly into the "this is bad" box and I didn't think it through sufficiently before hitting "post.""

I don't think there's anything wrong with your boxes, just the "good" and "bad" part. I definitely think you're onto something with the steampunk SF/Fantasy division.* Some steampunk takes the technological underpinnings of that time period very seriously, and some works treat it as a particularly brass-and-leather-intensive form of handwavium--I just think that the latter can still have strengths all its own.

* Rather, the mixing of elements from both those genres under the steampunk umbrella**. That might explain some of steampunk's appeal: it traipses freely between two closely aligned but separate genres.

Then again, it might also explain some of the grumpiness: people coming to steampunk with SF reading protocols might be seriously put off by the realization that the work they are holding is not *gasp* sufficiently rigorous.

** No doubt a self-opening model, with attachments for personal assault deterrents and/or flight devices.

#219 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 07:07 PM:

Mark Frauenfelder twitters us this link:

http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com/

Nicely well done.

* * *

My co-workers reports on her family's Halloween Candy Control measure.

On the evening after Halloween, the Great Pumpkin visits to take away spare trick-or-treat candy and leave presents.

The more candy left in the plastic pumpkin, the better the present.

And what happens to the candy the Great Pumpkin takes away?

It gets left in a bowl on the edge of her cubicle.

I like this custom.

#220 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 07:15 PM:

Lizz L @ 209... The cats were useless. They watched the mice with great interest, but did not catch them.

No mouse would be foolish enough to venture inside our house, not with Agatha the Cat Genius around. For the same reason, no bunny shows its twitchy nose in our backyard anymore.

#221 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 07:30 PM:

Cadbury Moose @ 211; Jules @ 121: Well you should be able to recognise me, if I make it there (I'll try to do so), because I'm in Serg's "Making Lights and Faces" Gallery (page 2 - sorry, I won't have the lemur on my shoulder. Oh, and I'm 5ft 2. And I'll probably be lugging a folding bike into the pub with me (I'm sure not leaving it locked up in B'ham city centre on a Friday evening, and I don't want to risk not finding a taxi and having to walk 1.5 miles from Dudley Port station back to the hotel, afterwards.

Hints for recognition?

#222 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 07:33 PM:

I have found one live flea in the past week and two dead ones.

I have twenty-four hours remaining before I declare phase one victory. I don't know what I'll do to celebrate, but it might involve vacuuming up the diatomite all over the place.

#223 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 07:52 PM:

fidelio & alsafi: I'm in Little Rock, and Arkansas has a hunting amendment on the ballot, too. I hadn't thought of it being intended to draw hunters to the polls. It's being touted as protecting our right to hunt when the evil liberals come to take our guns away, as (they say) is being done in other states already.

abi @ 208 After hearing so many people say they learned to knit when quite young, I'd been thinking about teaching my 7yo daughter to knit, but after showing her how to make some relatively simple friendship bracelets, I decided it might be a while. I am afraid one of us might end up impaled by one or more needles (not by my hand; I can just see her getting frustrated and throwing them, either up in the air...or straight at me). Maybe I'll suggest we both learn to crochet together instead.

#224 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 08:32 PM:

Heresiarch @27: I've been reading steampunk since the mid-eighties; what part of Blaylock, Powers, and Jeter did you miss?

It's much of the recent stuff I'm less than impressed by.

Serge @40: Steampunk has, by my metric, been around since about 1985. If you think it dates to 2006, you're rather late to the party -- that's merely when it went exponential. (Same as with paranormal romance: "Interview with the Vampire" came out in 1976, but it was the late eighties, IIRC, when vampire fic began to proliferate, and the mid nineties before it exploded.)

Teresa @48: One too many Gail Carriger novels, I'm afraid. I like Gail, but the ... excursions ... finally got slightly too far up my nose, and I sneezed.

Xopher @72: just back from a long weekend's hard work in Antwerp; trying to deal with various relatives having/about to have major surgery: preparing for another weekend's work in Birmingham. In other words, same old.

As a general aside:

Is it just me, or is most of the current steampunk boom American? I don't recall seeing much recent British steampunk, "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" aside. (Include, at this point, the usual half-formed polemic about how it's a reaction against current cultural perceptions of insecurity/unease about the future and a harking back to some vaguely imagined "golden age".)

#225 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 08:55 PM:

Tony @77: exactly.

I reckon late 19th century British empire jingoism looks a lot more attractive from the outside -- if your background is one that was not a participant. Just like the attractiveness of aristocracies, from the viewpoint of folks insulated from it by centuries of living in a republic.

SteveC @88: a few years back I was muttering about Dieselpunk -- intermediate early-modernist techno-fascist stuff about Air-mindedness -- but Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and/or Scott Westerfeld, got there before me. So I'll have to invent this alternate history genre set in the 1980s, with hairy post-hippy types called "hackers" doing too much crystal meth and worming their way into the vast electronic babbage machines of the military-industrial complex ... I think I'll call it something like "cyber" -punk.

Lucy @200: one of my up-coming self-challenges is: to write a near-future SF novel depicting a plausible future which readers would actually like to live in.

There is not enough of it about. (Talk about un-met consumer demand!)

#226 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 08:58 PM:

Re: hunting and fishing initiatives

On NPR's Talk of the Nation today an Arkansas resident posited that the proposed amendment in his state was a way to ensure those two activities wouldn't get caught up in animal cruelty legislation. From the show:

DAN: I wanted to comment about the ballot measure in Arkansas about hunting and fishing rights. I think it's also a reaction to attempts to get animal cruelty legislation passed in the state. It's been really difficult to get any kind of anti-animal cruelty legislation passed at the state level. And the argument against it is usually from the hunting and fishing lobby.

CONAN: So by putting the right to hunt and fish in the state constitution, it would make it much more difficult to pass that kind of legislation?

DAN: Well, at least it will protect - you know, the hunters and fishermen were - say that they're concerned that they might be swept up in animal cruelty legislation.

CONAN: Pamela Prah, does that make sense?

Ms. PRAH: That's very interesting, yes.

CONAN: Okay. And the same, obviously, would - might apply in the state of Montana, though I don't think in either Arkansas or Montana, these things are under immediate threat.

Ms. PRAH: That's right.

CONAN: All right.

DAN: No, no. And that's one of the, you know, bad things about trying to get any kind of real legislation against cruelty to animals passed. It's the hunting and fishing lobby - and farming also - come out against it pretty strongly.

#227 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 09:00 PM:

I'd also like to have a near-future REAL world that I'd like to live in.

#228 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:05 PM:

Fidelio @ 198:

I started with purl 1 for dots and purl 3 for dashes but found that purls weren't showing up well enough to suit me (I was using Cascade 220, and not using a contrasting colour for the code), so I went with:

Dot: Yarn forward, slip one.

Dash: Yarn forward, slip three.

Space between dots or dashes: knit one.

Space between characters: Knit 3.

It was a *very* short message, one 'word'.

If I ever want to say something complicated or start quoting John Done instead of Great Big Sea I'll probably have to make a blanket. This was a neckwarmer for on the bike, so unless I wanted it to reach to his waist, or else do the message in spiral and have a big chunk of knitting that looked as if I'd hit the gin hard a third of the way through the project and kept going, space was limited. On a scarf the extended apparent randomness might look better than it was coming out on the neckwarmer. As a panel on a sweater might also do well.

I have considered trying chunks of garter stitch on a knit surface, which will require two rows per row of message.

#229 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:15 PM:

Shakespeare performance in the original accent. I wish it was closer to me, because I would SO go to that. Listening to the scene clip reminded me of my college Chaucer class. (Yes, I know it's not the same thing, but some of the vowel values are similar.)

#230 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:18 PM:

Marna, 228: Hmm...the garter idea makes me wonder whether illusion knitting would work. (I haven't ever done any, myself. Or not yet, anyway. I keep getting distracted by lace.)

#231 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:39 PM:

228: How about a transatlantic cable knit?

#232 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 10:56 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 224: "I've been reading steampunk since the mid-eighties; what part of Blaylock, Powers, and Jeter did you miss?"

Perhaps I was mislead by the subsequent thousand or so words where you gave a convincing impression of having not read a decent thing since. Oh, sorry, you seem to have read Boneshaker--and to have missed all its commentary on Victorian gender and race issues in a fit of pique over insufficiently rigorous zombie science. When you name-checked Mieville didn't it occur to you that his monstrously good New Crobuzon series blows a rather large hole in your thesis?

I'm not thrilled with the preponderance of crap steampunk, but you do no one any favors by ignoring the spots of good mixed in with the bad. And if you just aren't able to find any good steampunk out there, I offer you your selection of either the timeless "If you don't like it then don't read it" or the particularly apropos "If no one else is writing it then write it yourself." Or both, really.

#234 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:11 PM:

Lee @ #229:

It does mention that they're going to make a recording of the production (though I realise that's not the same thing as seeing it live).

I remember hearing about the original OP productions at the Globe - apparently they did audience response surveys to make sure the pronunciation wasn't putting people off, and found that actually a lot of people found it more accessible than the posh pronunciation that's usually considered appropriate for Shakespeare.

#235 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:20 PM:

I voted for human beings.

I might not agree with them all.

Not all of them ran for office with completely noble motives.

Every one of them will make mistakes.

But they're all human.

No monsters, ogres, zombies or demons.

I voted for human beings.

#236 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:38 PM:

The hell with that, Mr. Patrick Connors! I'm voting an all-ogre ticket next year!

#237 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:39 PM:

I voted against some monsters.

#238 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2010, 11:45 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 224...

I think there may have been a slight misunderstanding. That reference to 2006 was indeed a reference to when it went, as you put it, exponential. That's when it entered the culture and so required no explanation. Again, I could have phrased that better, but that is what I meant.

That being said... I am very much aware that steampunk was around long before 2006. Not only had I read Blaylock, but in other posts I also mentionned The Difference Engine, and going even further back, Christopher Priest's The Space Machine. Not only that, but the link to my "Steampunk and Hollywood" talk showed that movies - the root of steampunk - go even farther back. In other words, I know whereof I speak, as much as you do.

#239 ::: Paula Lieberm ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 12:17 AM:

Sent to my congresscritter:

"Congratulation on staying [in office].
And please do not cooperate with ANYTHING with Mr Boehner. I have NOTHING polite to say about him. I have a higher opinion of a dead rotting rabid weasel. That's the POLITEST thing I have to say about him."

#240 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 12:25 AM:

The POS who is the next House Speaker, had some tears in his eyes doing a speech. But is HE going to get get called "sissy" for it, by the same hypocrites who dump on Democrats for tearing up? I bet not...

But at least the sales and marketing incompetent weasel who destroyed Hewlett-Packard offshoring tens of thousands of jobs to Asia, lost.

#241 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 12:26 AM:

Speaking of zombie weasels... It looks like New Mexico now has a Palindrone for governor. I need a drink.

#242 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 12:30 AM:

Paula @239 - I've just seen that nice Mr Boehner on the BBC. And apparently its time for Congress to roll up its sleeves and get to work. And listen to the people. Because there is stuff to be done. And the way to do it is to roll up your sleeves and get to work. And do all those things the people want. And not to celebrate. But instead roll up their sleeves and get to work.

"... I will do such things. What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be The terrors of the earth! You think I'll weep. No, I'll not weep..."

Well, except for the part about weeping

#243 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 12:35 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 225:

one of my up-coming self-challenges is: to write a near-future SF novel depicting a plausible future which readers would actually like to live in.

There is not enough of it about. (Talk about un-met consumer demand!)

Walter Jon Williams has remarked that he set out to write about some futures in which things went about as well as they could, and also about futures where they went very much the other way. I have to say I find the former more interesting because they are so much less common. They're also harder to write because a good story requires some sort of conflict, and good times usually don't offer as much conflict as bad times.

#244 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 01:35 AM:

On the Pratchett arms:
Interesting, the CoH blazon. I have sufficient figure-ground confusion to have blazoned that "Argent, on a cross patty throughout sable, an ankh of the field", and the hell with hangups about charge-on-charge.

I would not have thought the description of the roundels argent (which I would have called "plates", anyway) as saltirewise and issuant would have done. But there you are. My blazon would undoubtedly not have given the ankh sufficient space.

#245 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 01:52 AM:

Jacque@111

BarebonesCorp is a multinational enterprise with branches in England, France and the Socialist Republic of Wales. but our Head Office is, as you surmise, in Turkey. (though not in a particularly toujristy bit) Email to follow.

Charlies Stross @ 225

One thing that puzzled me in your initial piece was why something like Moorcock's 'The Warlord of the Air' which mentioned as showing up the problems with Steampunk isn't in fact Steampunk itself. (as well as being E. Nebit fan-fiction, of course.) It seems to bwelong in the genre much more naturally than anything I've read by Tim Powers, for example.

#246 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 06:14 AM:

Charlie @225

Don't give up on Dieselpunk.

Sky Captain seems to be one of those movies, like Tron or even Blade Runner which can stand on its own for a very long time.

As you mention, the Vampire stuff took a while to get going.

Steampunk is maybe too much a quasi-Victoriana, and that's been in movies for a long time. The Assassination Bureau comes to mind, and visually there is a huge amount of stuff which is essentially genuine Victorian adventure fiction. Dieselpunk is even less distinctive. It's a period we know, and it takes effort to make a film that's distinct from something such as The Big Sleep. You've really got to pile on the fantasy-tech.

And how do you get the punk into what would once have been contemporary pulp fiction, and within "living memory"? Can you punkify Biggles?

Anyway, back to NaNoWriMo for me. I have a Mexican-born Anarchist skunk in Republican Spain, in the middle of their Civil War, and he needs a disguise. Pepe le Pew in reverse, I guess. Time to get out the fur-clippers.

#247 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 06:29 AM:

Linkmeister @226

The laws in Britain which banned foxhunting were very controversial, prompted one of the biggest protest marches ever held in London (and surprisingly peaceful). 400,000 protestors in 2002, and apparently ignored by Parliament.

I can see why there's an attempt to amend a State Constitution in the USA: there is that rural/urban split, though these days my feeling is a more general derision of the political class as being a de facto tool of the robber barons for the modern age.

#248 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 06:32 AM:

Heresiarch @232: I was specifically whaling on the stuff that I consider to be sub-standard. China's work -- Perdido Street Station and sequels -- does not fall into the category of sucky second-artist swill, so I didn't mention it. I didn't mention loads of other authors -- Ian R. MacLeod, for example -- because I don't have them in my sights.

In the middle of a good old-fashioned rant about the Bad subset of [X], throwing in references to the Good [X] that's out there is a recipe for confusion and flame wars as people bounce in from half-assed and half-digested news items all over the internet, skim the first paragraph, and set their keyboards to "flame".

Serge @238: The Space Machine slipped my mind; possibly because it's so explicitly Wellsian that I have it mentally filed under "H. G. Wells Pastiche", rather than "steampunk" (and it predated even the mid-eighties steampunks by over a decade).

Bruce @243: Oh, you can easily have conflict in a "better" future -- unless your future is totally utopian, there are going to be islands of bad stuff in it. The trick is to suffuse the background with evidence that the world is, in fact, not going to hell in a hand-basket, whatever's happening in the foreground of the plot. (For example: have one of the characters scanning a news feed for something, and drip in some hints of good outcomes in the other items while they're searching.)

Praisegod Barebones @245: Of course The Warlord of the Air partakes of the steampunk theme -- however, it predates steampunk as a mass movement (as does The Space Machine).

I don't feel there's anything to be gained by pinning modern movement labels on earlier works. The existence of a literary movement provides a social context in which subsequent works can be evaluated; earlier works, written without the surrounding accretion of tropes, cliches and ideas are best looked at on their own merits. -- I wouldn't identify Murray Leinster's "A Logic Named Joe" as cyberpunk, and by the same rule of thumb I wouldn't tag "The Warlord of the Air" as steampunk.

#249 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 07:37 AM:

Edgar lo Siento @190:

I find this comment intriguing, but I'm not sure I'm really convinced by the thrust of it.

I like the idea that [t]he whole progressive movement from the 1780's on could be seen as an ongoing experiment to test serially distributing privileges to others to see how nice a society they could build. But I don't really see that as a way to preserve those privileges by the [former] ruling class.

That would pretty much require people to embrace change in the pursuit of conserving the status quo, which is contradictory in one of those ways that actually bug people†. I can see that being the logical choice in, for instance, de Klerk's South Africa, where the demographic writing was on the wall for the white minority. But how was that the case for male voters at the turn of the Twentieth Century? And yet women got the franchise**.

Many of the choices that have led to this serial distribution of privilege were not made in the face of revolution or the threat of revolution. Looking at the extension of marriage rights beyond heterosexuals, I don't see a lot of straight people who support it lest the gays take up torches and pitchforks. Most people who are for it without benefiting from it are because they think it is the choice that is in conformance with our stated ideals as a society, with a side helping of benefits to people who don't currently have them*.

In other words, I agree with this statement: I am tempted to ascribe the success of the Progressive project to the large number of relatively comfortable, well off people who had access to education, hot baths, and decent meals, decided that was *normal*, and then worked to include more people. I think that's a solid and useful place to base our politics. It's certainly where mine are based.

But I don't do it [i]f for no other reason initially to prevent starving, smelly, ignorant mobs from burning down their cities every decade or so.

And a certain number of people whose self-worth‡ is caught up in "winning" would actively resist the idea of extending benefits under threat. It's one reason I am uncomfortable with the argument that we should be a more egalitarian society because the peasants are revolting; a certain number of people will call out the National Guard rather than "give in" to even the justest of demands presented by a mob§.

Having said all that, I do agree that the smart money bets that water runs downhill and people vote in their own self-interest. The art of politics is, of course, persuading them that your particular watercourse has the altitude drop they're looking for.

And, by the way, I love this comment:

There's some of the same pathologies that you and Teresa have noted regarding scams in general: the elite have often been scammed, and are not often willing to disavow the systems that scammed them, because that would have to admit to being scammed…

-----
† Plenty of the contradictions in politics don't.
** ...rapidly followed by the blame for Harding's election; he was apparently the handsomer candidate.
* By which I mean not only the gays who get the right to marry, visit their spouses in the hospital, but also the children they can adopt and suchlike.
‡ And, in many cases, gender identity
§ obTroubles, there's a fair argument that this mindset is part of what turned a civil rights movement into a decades-long orgy of violence

#250 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 08:08 AM:

re 246: Sky Captain was visually striking but it would have been nice if any of the leads besides Angelina Jolie and Laurence Olivier had decided to actually act.

#251 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 08:30 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 248... I call the likes of "The Space Machine" steampunk, even though it predates the official origin of the word because, if I referred to them as RetroSF (a term I was using long before Jeter came up with his label), I'd get a blank stare. If I say 'steampunk', people usually know what I mean. Faster that way than my saying 'tales set in a Victorian-like age, but with technology ahead of what did exist in the known 19th Century'. That definition of mine excludes the likes of "Warlord of the Air" because it really is Edwardian more than Victorian. While I don't include the "HellBoy" movies because adding giant cogs to a story doesn't make it steampunk, I do call the recent "Sherlock Holmes" as steampunk not because of the electrical props, but because it reminds me that what the real Victorians came up with was damned advanced. As someone once pointed out, they went from muscle-based transportation to steam. Steampunk, for me, isn't a harkening to a false Golden Age. Heck, just thinking about their dental care is enough to make me shudder. What it is is a reminder that my world is one filled with wonders.

#252 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 08:36 AM:

Sky Captain was a concoction of tasty bits stirred into a doughy mess.

#253 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 08:42 AM:

dcb @ #221

> Hints for recognition?

Moose: Labcoat, bow tie, antlers.
Keeper of Moose: Beard, Glasses, (black) Campaign for Surreal Ale sweatshirt, Yellow/Red Kodak carrier bag (probably) .

#254 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 08:49 AM:

Election minirant: "Hurt U.S. Congress" beat Periello. dammit.

#255 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 08:51 AM:

Dave Luckett @244: A cross paty! THAT was the word I was looking for! I was going through the variations in my mind and going "not formy, not fitchy..." and being too lazy to get up and check my marvelous little book -- a clear, concise paperback called "Discovering Heraldry" by Jacqueline Fearn, which I've had since 1986.

I was under the impression that charge-on-charge was acceptable if the first charge was an ordinary -- I know I've seen PLENTY of charged bends. And crosses are ordinaries, after all.

And now I'm driving myself crazy going "label, *blank*, mollet, martlet" and not being able to remember the differencing for a second son. I can remember that the seventh son's is a rose...

#256 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 08:55 AM:

And now I'm driving myself crazy going "label, *blank*, mollet, martlet" and not being able to remember the differencing for a second son.

Crescent. I had to check. :)

#257 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 08:57 AM:

Carrie, THANK YOU.

#258 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 09:00 AM:

BTW, Superman: Earth One is outstanding. J. Michael Straczynski did a helluva job, and the Shane Davis art is terrific.

If they had the guts, they would make a movie adaptation of this. It would rock.

#259 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 09:16 AM:

nerdycellist...

One of your photos is now here in the "Making Light and Faces" gallery.
Let me know if you want the caption changed.

#260 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 09:54 AM:

abi, 249: a certain number of people will call out the National Guard rather than "give in" to even the justest of demands presented by a mob§.

A great many flamewars begin to make sense.

#261 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 10:23 AM:

San Francisco: recommends for things to see while I'm here. City Lights Bookstore has been dropped on me as a potential spot to visit. Of course the Exploratorium. Any other odd bits that should be looked into?

#262 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 10:44 AM:

abi @ 249... Many of the choices that have led to this serial distribution of privilege were not made in the face of revolution or the threat of revolution.

I blame that pesky Golden Rule.

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 10:52 AM:

Lin D @ 261... City Lights Bookstore has been dropped on me

Were you wearing ruby slippers at the time?

#264 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:12 AM:

Wesley @135: art critics who, in the authors' view, were reading too much into the symbolism of the paintings they studied.

I, on the other hand, am not an art critic and, in fact, am entirely uncrecentialed. Am, in fact, blowing smoke out of my, uh, left ear.

But I believe your point was well taken, which is that unfounded speculations about an author/artist's neurology is, at the very least, inappropriate. Speculation about their technique, however, I stipulate, is fair game. As long as it, too, is recognized as unfounded.

#265 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:47 AM:

Dave, #247: IMO there's a distinct difference between foxhunting and, say, deer-hunting. There's no way to even pretend that the foxhunter is doing it to put food on the table. If it's for "the thrill of the chase", why do you even need the fox? Map out a course, lay a drag for the hounds to follow, and Bob's yer uncle.

#266 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:47 AM:

Edgar lo Siento @190: Maybe there's a difference between elites who gain power via education & hot baths vs. those who are born into it/got it via a coup?

Well, there's certainly something to be said for having a personal basis for comparison.

#267 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:59 AM:

Various points of interest in SF:

Near Fisherman's Wharf, the Musee Mechanique has a large and eccentric collection of old coin-operated entertainment gear, from player pianos and old kinescopes to arcade games.

Just down the pier from the Musee Mechanique are two ships on exhibit --- the U.S.S. Pampanito, a World War II submarine, and the Jeremiah O'Brien, a liberty ship in operating condition. (The engine room on the J. O'Brien is tricky for those with fear of heights). A few blocks west is the Hyde Street Pier, with several older ships on exhibit; just inland of that, Ghirardelli square, with a nice ice cream shop.

In arts, the De Young museum is hosting an exhibit of post-impressionist masterpieces from the Musee D'Orsay (now under renovation); SF MOMA has a few interesting things up, including the Cartier-Bresson retrospective that was earlier at NY MOMA, I believe.

etc.

#268 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 12:04 PM:

Antonia Tiger #246 - they did sort of punkify biggles - they made a film in which he travels in time from 1917 or so to 198something in order to deal with some german super weapon. Cue pictures of biggles walking down the street with WW1 flying gear on, and his boss hides out in London bridge.
I can't remember much more, since I saw it in the cinema when I was a small child. I do of course have something like 40 biggles books.

#269 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 12:12 PM:

abi #249: serial distribution of privilege

That phrase sounds like it's coded with additional meaning beyond the simple words.

#270 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 12:38 PM:

Serge @259 -

The caption is perfect. Thanks for including me!

In other news, requiem was sung last night, solo was completed with only two mistakes (failed to subdivide a measure, resulting in an early note/chord change, and once again made an entrance a third too high. Luckily that third was in the chord anyway) and failed to bring shame upon myself or ancestors. And there was much rejoicing.

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 12:43 PM:

nerdycellist @ 270... And there was much rejoicing.

(Yayyyyyyy...)

#272 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 01:04 PM:

Abi@249, TxAnne@260: I don't like the idea of giving in to inappropriate pressure. If faced with an actual mob I might very well make the expedient choice, but in discussing it, I don't like the idea of that becoming mainstream. And reinforcing the behavior increases the frequency, right?

Of course, if I had the power, I'd tend to give in to demands that I considered reasonable rather before it reached the mob stage.

(Note: so far as I know, I'm quite healthy.) I've given, in the past, a bit of consideration to who should be assassinated should I find myself one day expecting 6 months of tolerable health followed by decline and death, and my conclusion has been that we're nowhere near the point where the benefit of getting rid of X, Y, or Z is of greater value than the cost of reintroducing assassination as a political tool. (We haven't had a lot lately; but 4 were a major part of my childhood.) We mustn't do what the assassins want, because if we do they win.

#273 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 01:07 PM:

Lee@265: People raising chickens and such might wish not to have foxes as neighbors.

The advantage of chasing a real fox would seem to be the unpredictability.

But it does seem a rather improper way to treat a fox.

#274 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 01:31 PM:

Charlie Stross #225: Anyone who reads, say, J.A. Froude would find late-nineteenth century British imperial jingoism far less than palatable (Froude's idea of a joke, for example, is to suggest the introduction of Norwegian bears into the Blue Mountains of Jamaica where they could dine on the local fruit and "occasionally on a negro child" -- quoting from memory -- to the great amusement of the British officers at the cantonment of Newcastle in Jamaica with whom he shared this jeu d'esprit).

#275 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Fragano @274: that's the sort of thing I've got in mind. It makes today's anti-muslim feeling in the USA and Europe seem mild in comparison.

On another note ...

Does anyone here have any experience tuning Movable Type and Apache for really heavy loads? Right now my blog is taking on the order of 100,000 page views per hour[*], and while the static content is fine mt-comment.cgi is just about melting.

[*] I accidentally broke a major British political news story and it's gone viral; BoingBoing, Hacker News, Reddit, and a bunch of newspapers are whacking on me.

#276 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 01:46 PM:

Lee 265: There's no way to even pretend that the foxhunter is doing it to put food on the table.

Oscar Wilde accurately described foxhunting as "The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible."

#277 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 01:50 PM:

ddb #272:

Yeah, there's a good general point there: we should oppose bad tactics even where they accomplish good things, lest we encourage the proliferation of bad tactics.

Propaganda campaigns, smear campaigns, lying to us "for our own good," ignoring inconvenient bits of the constitution, banning or legally harassing evil political/social/religious movements, assassinations, mob violence as a way to get desired political change, exertion of monopoly power (government or private) to force desired change, all should be things we push back against, even when they're done to achieve good causes. Because you get more of what you reward.

But this is a very hard thing to do. People being people, most of us have a hard time recognizing the evil means used to get to ends we like, and a very easy time recognizing the evil means used to get to ends we dislike.

#278 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 01:54 PM:

#242 Ken

You may not have been listening closely enough to his actual words and the coded terminology in them. He basically indicated extreme obduratism and anti-bipartisanship and pushing the same stinking lying hypocrite agenda that the stinking lying Repukes in the House have been pushing the past two decade.. The Repukes have been a giant almost completely unified bloc in Congress, with an agenda only [fascists] and nihilist could love, looked at from a perspective with the political partisanship tube for tunnelvision and "party discipline" lockstep goosestepping removed. And what Boehner said last night is reinforcement of that.

#279 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 01:58 PM:

Unfortunately, albatross, sometimes you find yourself pushed into a corner where you have to either use a bad tactic or perish. For example, the local election I was working on all day yesterday was lost in part because the opposition went negative early and often, and our side wouldn't. I think next time we should tell the truth about them forcefully and call them what they deserve.

Of course, some tactics are still worth resisting even if they ARE winning strategies: the other side was also (according to several people who called us) paying the poor people in the projects $40 each for unsealed absentee ballots. THAT we will NEVER do, because we'd rather lose.

So yeah, sometimes the right answer is "perish." But it's a damn tough choice to make.

#280 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:03 PM:

abi @208: In related news, a long-haired figure was seen pounding on the door of the Crochet Embassy and demanding asylum, while a mob of knitters (with flaming balls of eyelash acrylic stuck on long needles) approached in menacing fashion*. — * Hand-knit, with really intimidating cables

Sounds like you either need to bring your fever down, or have gotten into the really good drugs.

#281 ::: Idgecat ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:09 PM:

Charlie Stross @275 -- only way I know of to deal with your current problem would be to split the static pages and comment system across two separate machines, dedicating a server to just the comments. Dunno if that's feasible for you at this time.

#282 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:12 PM:

@281: not at this time, no (and not on a sane budget -- I'd have to rent an extra server and work on reconfiguring the universe, so in US dollars we're talking a floor of $1000). As this is a really anomalous load I'll just have to suffer for the time being.

#283 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:14 PM:

#272 ddb and #277 alabatross

a) Political assassination is on-going in the US -- the Unabomber, the murder of MDs who performed abortions in counties where now there are no late term abortion providers whatsoever anymore, murder of some law enforcement official -- rare, but not non-existant in the USA. And there are allegations of murder regarding people who had "adverse information" about the Schmuck.

b) Until/unless the celebration of violent vigilantism and Secret Wars of paranormal high body counts in "entertainment" --film, TV, video and computer games, paranormal romances, urban fantasies, talk radio, Fux TV, etc, drop down to minor notes and entertainment and "news" which celebrates cooperation and progress and peaceful co-prosperity development instead of fearmongerig and high corpse counts and belligerent vile-mannered overgrown vigilante hulk "alpha male" heroes, the social climate is going to continue to be swayed by "everything's UNSAFE! Nothing is Secure! We need Charismatic Leaders to Save Us and Violently Defend Us from the Unworthy who are impoverishing us and scammig us...>!

Business doen't hire people when sales are low--they don't hire people when sales are high and they can squeeze more work out of the same peoople, or hire cheap overseas labor by contrct labor companies which paid tons of money to the Chamber of Commerce and pay them lower if not outright lousy wages with abusive work conditions in particularly Asia...

The Repukes (and the Democrats for that matter) provide no consideration for sole proprietorships/unincorporated individuals tryign to scrape and who aren't eligible for the programs aimed at EMPLOYEES or rather, businesses with employees.... THERE is the huge invisibility curtain, of the self-employed.... as opposed to all the bullshit about "small business." The level of fraud in small businesses doing cash sales is astonishing, as regards reporting of income....

#284 ::: Martin Sutherland ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:18 PM:

@Charlie#282: Google have just today released mod_pagespeed for Apache: http://googlecode.blogspot.com/2010/11/make-your-websites-run-faster.html If you're looking for a quick fix, this might help a bit.

#285 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:18 PM:

abi, 249,
first of all, you wrote:
And, by the way, I love this comment:
Which makes me squee with joy and gladness! Yay! I said something clever on Making Light!

Edgar lo Siento @190:
I find this comment intriguing, but I'm not sure I'm really convinced by the thrust of it.

Well, I'm not fully convinced of it either, and it's my comment. :)

One of the things I had in mind, was that people who's basic needs are not threatened, (and particularly people who's basic needs can't be threatened because of their level of privilege) are much more open to the idea of extending their advantage to other people. I can't prove that the logic runs in that direction (necessary but not sufficient error?) but I think it is clear that if you do threaten people's basic needs they flip out and start wrecking society. And by wrecking society, I really do mean barricades in the streets, coups de etat in countries that just got a weak democratic government, a vulnerability to charismatic politicians with a line of hate-speech, that sort of thing.*

I do think that some of the founders of the United States were worried about precisely that sort of scenario in 1787.** I do think many of the subsequent additions of rights were done by people with more than half an eye on what happened in France from 1789-1799. And I do think that those fellows did have a rather more experimental mindset than most elites. Perhaps they really were hypothesis testing.

But how was that the case for male voters at the turn of the Twentieth Century? And yet women got the franchise.
I think I could appeal to the idea that elites look out not only for themselves, but also for their families. It's difficult to think of family members as Other, though goodness knows some try. I think the causes were complex and interlocking.*** Industrialization goes a long way towards making women potential workers and therefore valuable as individuals: e.g. would you rather rely on your smart, hardworking daughter or your opium-addled layabout son in your old age? And if the daughter, why on earth would you deprive her of the same rights enjoyed by your useless son?

I also think that extending rights to the Other has a lot to do with discovering that the Other is actually pretty much like us, and is pretty harmless. I'm working from the "pretty harmless" aspect: if the Other can't harm you because you feel strong, why not invite them to the party? Note the framing still maintains the "Otherness" pretty well, and has strong overtones of "let's just co-opt their revolutionary fervor." Perhaps the wealthy, factory-owning merchant class didn't seem so "Other" any more, so it was obvious that their power should be joined to the wealthy land-owning class, and therefore the franchise was extended.

Most people who are for it without benefiting from it are because they think it is the choice that is in conformance with our stated ideals as a society, with a side helping of benefits to people who don't currently have them*.
I agree!


Earl Cooley III, 269:"serial distribution of privilege"
That phrase sounds like it's coded with additional meaning beyond the simple words.
Not by my intention. I merely mean advantages given to a series of groups. E.g.: Voting in the U.S. -> landed gentlemen -> many educated white men -> some black men -> all men -> most women -> most citizens and most Native Americans. Or scholarships: white men from certain families -> white men who can pass a test -> white men and women who can pass a test -> people who can pass as white and Christian and pass a test -> people who can pass a test.


*heads I win, Godwin, I lose.
**and actually is something I should do some research on. What kinds of failure modes for states had they personally seen by that point?
***I do wonder about specific local election laws and whether some people figured out that they could game the system if they could get two or more votes for their household instead of one. Figure that unmarried daughters, spinster aunts, and mother-in-laws might be included, giving the elite who could afford to maintain them, a 5:1 or better advantage over any particular single male in an election. Perhaps a different angle to maintain the power of the people who held capital over those who worked for them. This might matter quite a bit in the tiny squabbles over city council seats or library trustees. The smaller the stakes, the more bitter the fighting, I think.

#286 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Fragano @ 274... That kind of glossing over racism is the real problem I had with 1997's "Wild Wild West" movie. They could have gone the color-blind route like "Brisco County" did, but instead they asked us to believe that someone like Will Smith would have been allowed into the Secret Service.

#287 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:21 PM:

they asked us to believe that someone like Will Smith would have been allowed into the Secret Service.

Or that someone like Will Smith could have existed at that time.

#288 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:24 PM:

Xopher @ 287... Indeed. Alas, neither Branagh's scenery-chewing nor Salma Hayek nor the giant mechanical spider were enough to make up for that.

#289 ::: Martin Sutherland ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:25 PM:

Follow-up: given that it's the mt.cgi causing the problems, mod_pagespeed probably won't help much; you'd only be optimizing the bits that are fast enough already.

#290 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:40 PM:

I don't get today's xkcd. Diode? What?

#291 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:42 PM:

Xopher @290:

The pertinent fact about a diode is that electricity can only flow one way through it.

#292 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:51 PM:

Charlie: I wonder if something like varnish would help you. It's an caching http accelerator for dynamic websites. Wikipedia, project website.

#293 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 02:54 PM:

Martin @284, ooh, that looks tasty! I shall talk to my sysadmin about it. It won't fix today's problem, but it may help bulletproof me for future slashdottings. The blog is mostly static content so mt.cgi isn't the problem; it's the sheer load. I've just seen around 16,000 page visits in the past nine minutes ...

(Rubs eyes in disbelief.)

#294 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 03:06 PM:

Thanks, abi. Even with that information it still doesn't seem that funny.

#295 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 03:08 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 224: Include, at this point, the usual half-formed polemic about how it's a reaction against current cultural perceptions of insecurity/unease about the future and a harking back to some vaguely imagined "golden age".

It was, if not a golden age, at least an iron pyrite one. New bridges, railways, the London Underground, telegraphs, impressive postal systems, and so on. All sorts of technological progress packed into a short amount of time. Contrast that to the modern approach to public spending that refuses to pay for fixing leaky water mains, broken sewers, and creaky electrical distribution systems. It seemed like there was a spirit of "can be done", whereas now it's all about how things can't be.

Of course the system stank if you were poor, foreign, non-white, or whatever else was convenient. I know I look back on the period with disdain at many of the social aspects, but I admire the seeming can-do spirit and technology.

I would certainly like to read a story with a future I'd like to live in.

Prodded by Lee @ 229:

Does anyone have any pointers to information about the great vowel shift suitable for interested laypersons?

C. Wingate @ 250:

I like Sky Captain for the visuals and the sense of fun. The problem with it, which is also one of the main problems with the new Star Wars movies, is that it's amazingly hard to act against nothing but a blue screen.

Edgar lo Siento @ 190/285 and abi @ 249:

I have nothing clever to add at the moment, but I'm getting a lot out of this exchange.

#296 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 03:33 PM:

Edgar lo Siento @285:

I said something clever on Making Light!

Quite a lot of clever things, actually. It's not the first time, and I am reasonably confident that it won't be the last.

people who's basic needs are not threatened, (and particularly people who's basic needs can't be threatened because of their level of privilege) are much more open to the idea of extending their advantage to other people

I think this is where we part company, for a couple of reasons.

Basically, I think that there are far more people who are secure in their privilege than think they are. It's like the notion that there are very few rich people in the world, just a bunch of comparatively poor ones with money. This is doubly the case with privilege, which defaults to being invisible to the people who actually have it, kind of by definition.

In other words, though when you threaten people's needs they flip out and blow up society, I don't think the door swings so easily the other way. I think secure people can use their additional resources to strengthen society, but I don't think it's as automatic as the reverse.

This is perhaps the one place where I am an American Exceptionalist. I think that the founders of the United States did something all the more extraordinary because it was not necessary, because they were not driven to it. I think the decision to declare that "all men [sic] are created equal" was even more revolutionary because it was not as inevitable for the privileged as going to the barricades was for the poor.

I do think many of the subsequent additions of rights were done by people with more than half an eye on what happened in France from 1789-1799. And I do think that those fellows did have a rather more *experimental* mindset than most elites. Perhaps they really were hypothesis testing.

I'd agree with this statement.

But then we part company again, because I don't think you really have the flavor of masculine attitudes toward women even at the time of women's suffrage*.

It's difficult to think of family members as Other, though goodness knows some try. [...] would you rather rely on your smart, hardworking daughter or your opium-addled layabout son in your old age? And if the daughter, why on earth would you deprive her of the same rights enjoyed by your useless son?

Your daughter was not the equal of your son. Your wife was not your equal. It was natural for you to assume that the women under your protection were not as capable of the kind of serious intellectual endeavor as men. And that was a significant concern for the extension of the franchise, because voting is a serious responsibility, requiring careful and sober thought. It was an open question whether women, as a class†, were capable of that kind of rational decision-making**.

There is some argument that, under the careful guidance of a husband or a father, a woman might be able to exercise her franchise in a way to further his interests. This would be natural, of course, since her interests must align with his, as is natural for their roles as follower and head of the household respectively. But there's no saying that she might not fall prey to the frivolous impulse to use her vote based on quite trivial and irrational reasoning.

----
* and, indeed, today, in some cases. Can we go back to the invisibility of privilege for a moment here?
† there were always exceptions, women with almost masculine levels of good sense and intelligence. They were credit to the fair sex, though of course it wasn't very womanly to set one's self up in opposition to men in such a fashion. One wouldn't want to marry such a woman, for instance.
** outside of the management of the household, which was well within the capabilities of all but the least sensible of women

#297 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Charlie:

Go on, give us some links for who's running with the story.

You know you want to.

#298 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 03:50 PM:

abi @ 296... voting is a serious responsibility, requiring careful and sober thought

I did consider having a large drink after the Election was over then I reconsidered. I'd have woken up with a headache (even from a small drink) and I wasn't going to give that victory to the Other Side.

#299 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 03:59 PM:

Xopher @ #279, Russ Feingold (D-WI) can tell you all about sticking to principles in the face of massive propaganda assault and refusing to "fight fire with fire." Unfortunately, his principles were overcome, and so after 18 years in the Senate we no longer have one of the most Progressive if iconoclastic Democrats in recent memory.

#300 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 04:12 PM:

abi@114, 202: Hope you're both close to feeling better (and that no-one else is afflicted.)

Hyper-local News, Anatolian Edition: Turkish resident's daughter discovered to be under the impression that leading British news-papers include 'The Guardian', 'The Times', 'The Observer' and 'Making Light'

#301 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 04:16 PM:

Linkmeister, in other words he ran an incompetent campaign. I'm sick to death of Democrats who won't fucking FIGHT when a fight starts.

OK, I'm feeling bitter about what happened yesterday, but jeez, when the fight's in the mud the choice is get in the mud or lose the fight. I wonder if he thought he could win anyway, and if he thinks it was worth it now.

#302 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 04:33 PM:

... and Harry Reid *almost* managed to lose a race with a candidate who comes off as a raving lunatic. No doubt he's patting himself on the back over that victory.

#303 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 04:34 PM:

Hyperlocal news: Local resident, distracted by election, mistakenly puts 35-pound plates on bar instead of 25-pound plates, resulting in three sets of squats with 205 pounds resting on shoulders, jumping well ahead of the careful and appropriately-gradual increment to 185 since the hip replacement.

Next day, muscles quite sore but no other damage observed. Resident quite aware that the second day is the key, and hopes he won't be unable to stand in the morning.

#304 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 04:39 PM:

Clifton, and he spent a lot of time and effort portraying her as a raving lunatic. Which was true, but he had to "go negative" to say it.

He won, barely. If he hadn't attacked her, he would have lost.

#305 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 04:41 PM:

Xopher... Thrown out of better bars?

#306 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Charlie @ 248:
Oh, you can easily have conflict in a "better" future -- unless your future is totally utopian, there are going to be islands of bad stuff in it.

Very true. The two stories that I think of as bracketing this technique are

  • "Growing up Weightless" by Mike Ford, in a subplot of which the residents of what is certainly a utopian civilization compared to just about anything that exists today confront the Omelas Dilemma up close and personal.

  • "Sanity" (IIR the title C) by Fritz Leiber, in which it is revealed that the secret to creating a utopia is the effective use of the citizens' "quirks".

In the first, the badness comes mostly from outside (the sinister Vacuum Corp), and tries to engage with not-quite utopian internal factions. In the second, it turns out that the hero is not precisely the force for utopian goodness he thinks he is.

Steve C. @ 252:
Sky Captain was a concoction of tasty bits stirred into a doughy mess.

I'll agree with you about 75%, but two of those tasty bits made the movie for me: the giant robot attack scene, and that truly grotesque statue in the lair of the villain near the end, the one that looks like one somewhat Socialist Realist figure doing brain surgery on another.

#307 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 04:48 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 248: "I was specifically whaling on the stuff that I consider to be sub-standard."

That's hard to see when you're writing things like "But consider this: what would a steampunk novel that took the taproot history of the period seriously look like?" I think it would look a lot like Perdido Street Station, which exists, so what's up with the hypothetical conditionals? If you intended to make a critique of a specific sub-set of steampunk you don't like (I don't like it either!), then you failed: your critique comes across as condemning the genre as a whole for the actions of the, um, many.

"In the middle of a good old-fashioned rant about the Bad subset of [X], throwing in references to the Good [X] that's out there is a recipe for confusion and flame wars as people bounce in from half-assed and half-digested news items all over the internet, skim the first paragraph, and set their keyboards to "flame"."

Sorry, but what? Qualifying your sweeping claims and providing concrete examples of steampunk done right would decrease cogent appreciation of your argument? Even assuming the truth of that novel theory, the downside of doing so is evidently that plenty of people who are predisposed both towards you personally and towards your critiques (i.e. the ML community) nonetheless think you come across as a grumpy lunatic unacquainted with the very thing he's criticizing. And if you're not convincing us, who do you think you are convincing?

albatross @ 277: "Yeah, there's a good general point there: we should oppose bad tactics even where they accomplish good things, lest we encourage the proliferation of bad tactics."

What constitutes a "bad tactic," though? Oftentimes the definition of what gets labeled "bad" and what gets labeled "good" are an awful lot like those laws against stealing bread and sleeping under bridges. The obvious malintent of rioting, for example, is a lot clearer to those who have property at stake and other ways of expressing their political voice than it is to people who have neither.

#308 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 04:55 PM:

Now that the election is over, can they hurry up and arrest Angle for sedition, plz?

#309 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 04:58 PM:

I'm waiting for Angle, O'Donnell, and Palin to take their show on the road. They'll be the Three (dis)Graces.

#310 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 05:06 PM:

Xopher, #294: It's not supposed to be funny. I put it in the same category with How It Works -- a serious comment on a serious topic, but with a geeky twist.

And congratulations, Republicans. You just bought the recession. Have fun!

#311 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 05:06 PM:

Xopher, no. Feingold did not run an incompetent campaign. He refused to compromise his principles on campaign finance, even though had he done so he probably could have won.

It was folly, but it was admirable folly.

#312 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 05:26 PM:

Linkmeister, I thought you were talking about negative ads. I didn't really follow that race. Principles of campaign finance are in a different category.

#313 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 05:28 PM:

Lee, How It Works had a laugh in it. A bitter laugh of recognition, but a laugh nonetheless.

#314 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 05:30 PM:

There are principles, and then there are preferences. I'm afraid I'm actually unwilling to make up negative stories about my opponents out of whole cloth, and would withdraw my support from a candidate who did so. On the other hand, I merely think one should be somewhat considered in when and how you present the bad side of your opponent's behavior; I'm not against doing so on principle, I just prefer not to make that the whole campaign.

Let's not forget that some of the people who lost were severely out-spent. They may have run the best campaigns they could. Also, the spending on both sides wasn't mostly through the campaigns this year; it was independent "issue" ads.

Our local loon, Michelle Bachmann, managed to hang on against a fairly serious (and non-crazy, so far as I could see) challenger, but boy did she get funding.

#315 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 05:36 PM:

Wow, the people who voted for Michelle Bachmann after her behavior the past two years are evil, crazy, or both.

#316 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 05:47 PM:

It felt to me like the D's mobilized about two days too late. I may not have been following things closely, but I didn't see either of these things until Election Day :

http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDYgtJ2mpj4

#317 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 05:53 PM:

abi, 296,
I'm afraid I'll just have to...agree with you with almost no reservations whatsoever. (I think.)

That's odd, that never happens on the internet!

#318 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 05:55 PM:

As soon as I get over my Halloween candy hangover, I'm going to write the president and suggest he stop being so goddamn polite and understanding.

The Republicans cannot be allowed to claim unopposed that they speak for "The American People."

#319 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 05:55 PM:

Moose - "Campaign for Surreal Ale" shirt? Oh.... dear. Wants one, we does..

Charlie - Your blog isn't accepting my comments today, but if you're dealing with a sudden huge increase in traffic, that makes sense, and I shall leave it be rather than poking it until it responds. I was recommending we drink His Lordship's health, since he's obviously had too many over the years to drink any more himself, and delegate you to do it because buying drinks for authors is a generally Good Thing.

But given that silliness and yesterday's US election, it's been occurring to me that it would be really helpful if the US had a House of Lords in addition to the Senate, so politicians who've passed their sell-by date could be kicked upstairs to somewhere that's ceremonially ego-gratifying but also Mostly Harmless.

#320 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Bill Stewart @ 319... it would be really helpful if the US had a House of Lords

Jack Lord?
Tracy Lord?

#321 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 06:04 PM:

For evidence that the Dems have a nasty case of craniorectal inversion, consider this annoying bit of local incompetence: Several days before the election, one of the half-dozen election workers who swung by my place over the last couple of weeks, asked if I might need a ride to the voting place. I certainly did (it's a trek across an interchange, not bus accessible), so I gave her my number. Then I didn't hear from them, so the day before the election, I asked my mother to drive me, which she did Tuesday morning.

6:30 Tuesday evening, I hear a pounding on my door. It's another of Periello's volunteers, offering me a ride to the voting place. No callback in the interim, no prior arrangements... just a knock on the door at the time when most people would be preparing for, or eating, dinner. Not to mention long after anyone who actually wanted to vote would have long since given up.... This is not the way to bring in uncertain voters!

#322 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 06:19 PM:

Steve C @309, on "The Three (dis)Graces", and Xopher on Michelle Bachmann -

CNN's Nancy Grace is on my very very short list of "people who make Michelle Bachmann look sane",
and Bachmann was on my list of "people who make Ann Coulter look calm and unbiased", except that Coulter does her schtick for entertainment and is quite good at it, and that list was getting too long to be maintainable anyway.

There are some partisan Republicans who I can understand people voting for (though I think those people are wrong), but I totally don't get people voting for Bachmann.

Hyper not-directly-local news - local man's mom's grumpy about the Delaware election. She liked Castle, was happy to see O'Donnell trounced, but O'Donnell's opponent Chris Coons will be giving up his seat as head of New Castle County Council, being replaced by somebody she thinks is an idiot. Since she mostly works on local politics, encouraging things like parks and libraries, and since some of Coons's recent predecessors were also idiots, she's grumpy.

#323 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 07:30 PM:

So does Foundation X come from Nigeria?

#324 ::: Simon W ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 07:39 PM:

An alternative source for Charlie's server melting story is a politics blogger called Hopi Sen:

http://hopisen.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/the-lord-the-cabinet-minister-foundation-x-and-a-mysterious-5-billion/

With further speculation here:

http://hopisen.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/have-we-uncovered-foundation-x/

#325 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 07:39 PM:

OK, so in the election we just lost, our opponent had 79 campaign workers,* right? And one of them got paid $600 for something or other; the rest were paid $40 each, and every single one of those 78 filed an absentee ballot. (I was sure I'd mentioned this here, but can't find anything.) So our side filed a complaint about it. That should be enough to warrant an investigation, right?

Here's the "investigation" the Board of Elections decided to do: They walked around knocking on the doors of the people in question. Most of them weren't home. When they were (about a dozen or so), they asked the person "did you get paid for your vote?" All but one said no. The last one actually admitted it (I don't know if he was stoned or what).

So they threw out the vote of the guy who admitted it. They allowed the rest. End of investigation. As far as I know they didn't even ask the guy who paid him (since in fact they know the answer perfectly well).

The Hudson County Board of Elections is a sham and a fraud.
_____
* A week before the election. Trust me he had hundreds on Election Day.

#326 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 07:42 PM:

Keith S, 295
It was, if not a golden age, at least an iron pyrite one.

an iron pie, right in the sky?

#327 ::: Simon W ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 07:47 PM:

Oh, and can I give my commiserations on your recent election results - I thought it was bad enough in Britain with The Coalition (as the hybrid government seems to be styled) but at least most of the elected MPs aren't actually batshit insane. (Lords are a different story, obviously)

Latest horror news here is that going to university is going to cost £9000 per year in tuition fees alone (from costing £0 in fees less than 15 years ago when I started). Goodbye decent higher education to those unfortunate enough not to be born middle class...

#328 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 07:48 PM:

Very displeased with results of state legislative & gubernatorial elections. Suspect it will cost my household one or both incomes before the end of 2011.

Trying to convince myself that no, I don't really want to take up marksmanship as a hobby, I'm just spitting mad.

#329 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 08:08 PM:

abi @ 296: "In other words, though when you threaten people's needs they flip out and blow up society, I don't think the door swings so easily the other way. I think secure people can use their additional resources to strengthen society, but I don't think it's as automatic as the reverse."

Yes, I think what changes isn't that the secure class becomes enamored of extending rights to others so much as they simply become unwilling to dedicate the requisite effort to prevent it from happening. Movements extending rights to any disenfranchised group have nearly always been led by the wealthiest, best-educated, privileged members of that group, not benevolent and enlightened members of the enfranchised. The aristocracy was overthrown by the emerging bourgeoisie; the American Revolution (and pretty much every other colonial revolution) was led by the American elites; suffrage was led by women of the wealthiest class.

"This is perhaps the one place where I am an American Exceptionalist. I think that the founders of the United States did something all the more extraordinary because it was not necessary, because they were not driven to it."

I don't know, it seems to me that the rights laid out in the Constitution are fairly well-designed to ensure the freedom and security of the well-off, propertied, well-educated white males that wrote it against the excesses of the British crown. It's very self-interested; that some of their rhetorical choices laid the groundwork for further progressivism says a lot more to me about the difficulty of only being halfway just than it does about the benevolent foresight of the Founding Fathers.

#330 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 08:59 PM:

#226, Linkmeister: I wonder if the Arkansas "hunting and fishing is a right" ballot measure is identical to the Arizona one?

#235, Myself: Alas, most of the human beings I voted for lost. Stupid, stupid Arizona rat creatures!

#331 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 09:13 PM:

I don't know, it seems to me that the rights laid out in the Constitution are fairly well-designed to ensure the freedom and security of the well-off, propertied, well-educated white males that wrote it against the excesses of the British crown.

It seems to me that, given the times, that was an amazing enough achievement. They could, after all, have set up their own monarchy, or done many things worse than they did. (The compromise over the slave trade and the 3/4ths rule were bad enough, but hardly outside the mainstream of political thought at the time.)

It's also not surprising that elites are often the leaders of (or at least major supporters of) movements to extend rights. They are sufficiently secure that adding women, or blacks, or Catholics to the mix is unlikely to hurt them. It's not unlike how Bill Gates is against the inheritance tax.

#332 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 09:14 PM:

Qualifying your sweeping claims and providing concrete examples of steampunk done right would decrease cogent appreciation of your argument?

Yes, because it would inadvertently reveal that his argument can be more concisely expressed as "Sturgeon's Law applies to steampunk", which seems a lot less interesting than the long form. You can't make sweeping statements about a category *after* you've acknowledged its heterogeneity; it just makes you look silly.

I feel a little over-steampunked myself, but sweeping attacks on entire genres never turn out well. Even the people-having-sex-with-people-eating-monsters subgenre of fantasy probably has some good points, somewhere, even if I can't immediately identify them.

#333 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 09:19 PM:

Well, as far as the election went, my area remained solidly Democratic, which is fine with me.

On the home front, I've finally figured out how to upload video (crap video from the blackberry, but moving pictures nonetheless!) to my blog. It's a bunch of crazy kittens running around, pouncing, bouncing, going sideways, up and down the steps, and in general being silly. I've also posted a few more photos, but it's so difficult to get the full comprehension of kittens from photos.

#334 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 09:30 PM:

Even the people-having-sex-with-people-eating-monsters subgenre of fantasy probably has some good points, somewhere, even if I can't immediately identify them.

How about Buffy? Or did you mean something more specific?

#335 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 09:36 PM:

The aristocracy was overthrown by the emerging bourgeoisie; the American Revolution (and pretty much every other colonial revolution) was led by the American elites; suffrage was led by women of the wealthiest class.

ISTM that the simplest explanation for this is that the wealthy are the ones who have the *free time* to take up and lead causes because they can afford servants and labor-saving devices to take care of their routine household drudgery, don't have to hold down a full-time job at the same time they're pursuing their cause (or the boringly time-consuming parts of their aristocratic responsibilities can be delegated to servants), or both.

These days, many of the very wealthy *are* holding down full-time jobs, although they still have the servants and labor-saving devices; the people with the most free time are the elderly. (Of course, it doesn't hurt to be old *and* rich.) How this will affect the source of new political movements, I dunno; most (though certainly not all) old people aren't real big on new ideas.

#336 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 10:07 PM:

@334: I was thinking of books, but didn't specify, so it's a fair example. Although I could argue that the parts of _Buffy_ that were good and the parts that involved sex with vampires weren't the same parts, or even particularly overlapping, but maybe that's excessive nitpicking.

#337 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 10:14 PM:

I'm getting p***s spam again. I went months and months without getting e-mail asking me about the length of my p***s, inviting me to purchase drugs which would help me increase said length, inquiring about my favorite recreational activities with my (non-existent) p***s, inviting me to visit certain special entertaining websites -- you know which ones. Now, all of a sudden, blam! P***s spam.

I blame the Republicans.

#338 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 10:17 PM:

Repeating katster's mantra from last year's NaNoWriMo thread (or, in my case NaNoDraMo*): "Embrace the suck ... embrace the suck ... embrace the suck ...."

I have just finished very possibly the worst drawing I've done this year. Maybe this decade.

"Give yourself permission to suck. It's amazing how freeing this can be." Hm. Presumably after I get over feeling like I want to puke.... (I can't just rip it out, anyway. There are two not-entirely-horrible drawings on the other side.)

*National Novel DrawingMonth?

#339 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 10:27 PM:

I am not sure I would want to overlap parts with a vampire. Or have vampire parts over my lap.

Or have sex with people who are eating monsters.

#340 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 10:29 PM:

I will have to say this: katster and Mark have between them pushed me into tackling a project I've been putting off for a long time. It feels good to force through that fear. Thank you, guys!

#341 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 10:37 PM:

Particulate matter: I suppose I ought to feel positive somehow about how well Doug Henwood's analysis fits with what I see in the American economy.

#342 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 10:39 PM:

Kip W at # 17: D. Boone ... Davey Crockett ... fess.

I saw what you did there.

#343 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:00 PM:

heresiarch:

I haven't thought this out in depth, but it sure seems like a lot of movements to extend rights to currently-being-screwed-over people come from appeals to compassion and morality. Slavery is an obvious example, in which a great majority of the non-slaves opposing slavery were living far away from any slaves, and opposed it, as far as I can tell, because it was such a horrible thing to do to other human beings.

Similarly, gay marriage and other gay rights look to me like they're coming about because of a widespread conviction on the part of a large fraction of straight people that screwing gays over isn't okay. Without that appeal to morality, and without its success, gay rights would be an issue with the support of only that tiny fraction of voters who are gay.

#344 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:10 PM:

Xopher, #313: Trust me, there are people who will see the bitter humor in this one too. That's why I posted a link to it in the Dysfunctional Families Day thread.

#345 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:14 PM:

ddb #314:

Yeah, I think many people are reading my comment as being about, say, negative ads. Where I'm thinking of it in terms of stuff like actual lying, disinformation campaigns, smear campaigns, and similar destructive stuff, all the way out to assassination and terrorism and mob violence, or election fraud, or having the IRS or FBI or someone intervene to silence some especially annoying folks.

In many cases, those means can be used to get to valuable ends. Anytime a bad person gets elected, you could imagine that the world might have been made a better place by keeping him out of office--even by election fraud or having his supporters beaten up by your goons or having his whole campaign staff arrested for the last couple weeks leading up to the election. But those means are also destructive to the surrounding society, and having them used successfully once makes them more likely to be used in the future. It's not so hard to have your country become the kind of place where assassinating an irritating opposition leader is a normal part of politics, or where staged, coordinated violence on the part of your side's goons is a routine part of what political campaigns look like, or where the everyone expects leaders in the opposition party to spend a lot of time in jail. That leads us to living in a much worse country.

In less spectacular but similar ways, all forms of lying and misleading voters about your opponents, even if they're effective, are ultimately rather destructive. They mess up the decisionmaking processes of democracy, they foster an environment in which wild horrible rumors are always swirling around about every powerful/important person, they make it easier for real scandals to be reclassified as smear campaigns.

#346 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:31 PM:

Oh, this is rich. The Tea Party Patriots show what they're really about just a day after the election:

Tea Party Patriots Lay Claim to the Political Center in Debates to Come

The Tea Party Patriots, one of the the largest Tea Party umbrella organizations, with over 1,000 local chapters, hosted a press conference this morning to offer its reactions to last night’s elections and its vision going forward.

Co-founder Mark Meckler tried to pre-empt expectations among the faithful that Washington would shrink and the federal deficit would close overnight, instead alluding to a “forty-year plan” that the group was busy working out with its members. The plan, according to Meckler, was a highway with four lanes, only one of which was explicitly political. The other three were educational, judicial and cultural.

“All civilizations and empires have fallen because their cultures became decadent,” Meckler said. “We need to lift up conservative culture, family values and wholesome things by supporting conservative musicians, writers, artists and producers.”

So much for small government, reducing government influence over people's lives, and concentrating on the deficit.

They're a bunch of meddling, moralizing, nanny-state busy-bodies who want to control what you see, read, and think.

#347 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:32 PM:

#339 "Or have sex with people who are eating monsters."

What if they shower and use mouthwash first?

#348 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:35 PM:

A more subtle reason to want to get away from deception (what I think Slactivist would refer to as bearing false witness) is that is breaks democratic decisionmaking processes.

If we all broadly share a similar understanding of the world--with disagreements on some factual details, perhaps, and many disagreements on interpretations of values--we can have some kind of meaningful discussions. It's even possible to hope for sensible decisions to come out of elections, or at least out of the people who are elected.

Spin, propaganda, lies, deception, opinion management, and other bullshitting techniques introduce noise there. They're short-term effective--the Bush administration got us to go to war in Iraq by getting just about everyone in the responsible American media to loudly proclaim that Iraq had WMDs and was about to hand them over to Al Qaida. But along with being terribly destructive, they break democratic processes.

Under the Bush and Obama administrations, we've seen massive amounts of bullshit spread around about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen and God knows where else. My sense is that these techniques are quite effective--as witness how much outcry there was when the Apache video came out from Wikileaks.

Now, one result of that is, we as voters are called upon to make judgments about the wars, including ultimately to decide whether the wars
should continue. What information are we using to make those decisions? The information that's being withheld, doctored, spun, and manipulated to serve political and bureaucratic goals. It's easy for this to put us in a horrible position, where the decisionmakers with access to less-spun facts see a completely different picture than Americans, and yet, must make decisions in ways that will make sense to Americans who have a fantasy-land view of those wars.

This happens both for national-level bipartisan bullshit (the war on terror) and for bullshit that's mainly focused on one party. Imagine you're a relatively sane and decent Republican elected president in 2012. Talking to the people who actually know what's going on, you come to the conclusion that, say, Islamic terrorism is a relatively small threat that might be best handled by being really careful whom we issue visas to. Suppose after talking to scientists whose opinions you trust, you come to the conclusion that it's criminally stupid not to start taking what steps you can toward controlling CO2 emissions.

But suppose you came to power loudly proclaiming (as required within your party, and supported by your party's bullshit machine) that global warming is nonsense and that Islamofacists threaten every American's life and freedom every day. You now know the right things to do, but you cannot do them. Your embrace of useful bullshit means you more-or-less can't take the actions you need to take, without losing the support of your party and base.

#349 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2010, 11:40 PM:

Stefan #346:

One thing I've found really fascinating and disturbing about the Tea Party is how deftly that movement seems to have been turned from its origins (as a somewhat populist reaction to the huge bailouts of big banks, among other things) to much less troublesome-to-the-powerful stuff, like religious morality.

A cynical person would almost suspect that the goal of having Fox News and various high-profile Republicans support parts of that movement was to turn that populist anger in a more acceptable direction.

#350 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:15 AM:

David Harmon, #254, I knew Barnett wouldn't win; Wolf has had that seat for a century, I think. But he did get almost exactly a third of the votes, which is a really good sign.

The district next to mine has 820 votes between the two. The good guy has the extra, but there are some provisional votes to be counted, and the bad guy can call for a recount, so they may not have a winner for a week or so. Tom Davis, who used to be a representative, was consulting with local NBC news and when one of the anchors asked him if he missed it, he said "No, I left undefeated and unindicted!" He's never said why he didn't run again.

Jacque, #264, have you seen Wesley's art? Currently there's a Shakespeare faery.

Lee, #265, in this part of Virginia, we get so many deer that the Park Service arranges hunts. There's more food than deer and a lot die of malnutrition. It's a lot better to have it feed a human.

#351 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:21 AM:

I'm just at a loss to know what can be done this generation. I feel like nobody over the age of 20 can really be swayed in their opinions.

Leaves me sitting there going "So how do we fix our schools?" Because the short term doesn't really seem very fixable to me. At least, not until we start outnumbering the boomers in active voters, which is a pretty straightforward population game, and again, to a great extent, a matter of time.

And please -- I'm willing to admit that some boomers are pretty awesome, as long as y'all admit that there's still a huge values gap between our generations, when you start looking at statistical trends rather than individuals. Particularly on the question of many boomers wanting us to pay for their social services (because they "earned" them), while wanting to cut everything that might benefit the younger generation (but which doesn't directly benefit the boomers, even though they may have benefitted from such support in the past).

I begin to believe that while class warfare is still an issue, it is being assisted by a particularly ugly and self-serving form of generational warfare.

#352 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:35 AM:

#346 Stefan
Srh Pln and associates as Savonarola & associates.

#353 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 01:06 AM:

To be honest, I couldn't be happier to read that pretentious forty year plan / four lane highway quote.

Whenever some teabagger smugs that their movement is just about lowering the deficit and reducing the size of government, I'll have something to rhetorically rub in his face.

Just another bunch of moralizing blowhard conservatives.

#354 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:04 AM:

Wow. Rarely does one see such a blatant case of bald-faced plagiarism from a commercial entity. Anybody got suggestions as to what can be done about this?

#355 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:05 AM:

Simon W @324:

I note that the official website for the OITC, the candidate organization that Hopi Sen names, is returning a "bandwidth exceeded" message.

Not the behavior of an ultra-rich foundation with billions to spare to bail out the UK. Even one trying to maintain "plausible deniability".

I smell a 419 fraud writ large.

#356 ::: MacAllister sees spam @119 ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:14 AM:

The wholesale revisionist-history rejection of Enlightenment ideals that originally informed the U.S. Constitution in favor of a modern-fundamentalist neo-Puritan retelling of that history, coupled with the far Right's demonstrable willingness to lie, and lie, and lie some more is plenty bad enough. The natural outcome of rejecting rationalism, though, is a return to entire classes of uniformed, superstitious citizens who can't be trusted to feed themselves, vaccinate their children, or vote responsibly.

Oh, wait...

I cannot, for the very life of me, understand how the Tea Party and Fox News ilk are convincing people who really ought to know better (people who were educated before the Texas Board of Education's decision to eradicate the Age of Reason from textbooks) to vote against their own interests. And to do so with such great, gloating enthusiasm and zeal.

I recently had a long, strange conversation with someone about what constitutes a face, in which he tried to tell me that "facts aren't always so clearcut as all of that, though - try and convince a blind man that the moon is a sphere!" and he honestly seemed completely incapable of understanding that whether or not people believed something didn't somehow effect or define the truth or objective reality of the thing itself.

#358 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:34 AM:

That which we call a Mac by any other name would write as cogently.

I cannot, for the very life of me, understand how the Tea Party and Fox News ilk are convincing people who really ought to know better...to vote against their own interests.

Tribal loyalty. A kind of intellectual essentialism that asserts that what we think determines what we are, and then, transitively, that what we are should constrain what we think.

Ideas and beliefs can be not only something you arrive at through cognition and choose because they represent the underlying reality of the world, but also tribal markers.

But it's one thing for these tribal markers to be about the nature of the Trinity* or the merits of the Giants. It's another when they are about the remedies for economic recession or the rights of people to marry as they will.

Hm. This is the other side of that post on essentialism I've been noodling about with for a couple of weeks now. It's the mirror-image bookend to the argument that anti-Islamic sentiment is "not racist".

-----
* Though groups with different beliefs about the Trinity went on to have very real wars with each other.

#359 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:03 AM:

heresiarch @329:

I think what changes isn't that the secure class becomes enamored of extending rights to others so much as they simply become unwilling to dedicate the requisite effort to prevent it from happening. Movements extending rights to any disenfranchised group have nearly always been led by the wealthiest, best-educated, privileged members of that group, not benevolent and enlightened members of the enfranchised.

Well, the exception would be Abolition, which was substantially led by whites.

I don't think we can make a rule that fits all of the different ways that people decide that something is sufficiently Not Right that they have to change it. I think history varies too much for that.

suffrage was led by women of the wealthiest class.

There was a lot of debate at the time about how much suffrage was won on the backs of maids-of-all-work. Or their knees.

that some of their rhetorical choices laid the groundwork for further progressivism says a lot more to me about the difficulty of only being halfway just than it does about the benevolent foresight of the Founding Fathers.

Starting down that road was revolutionary and exceptional. If course they didn't see where it would lead. They could have created a new monarchy and aristocracy, but didn't.

#360 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:29 AM:

A birthday moment: I was gifted with a bread machine. Annoyingly, the manual only has about 8 recipes included. Anyone got a good bread machine recipe book to suggest?

I don't know how frequently I'm gonna use this thing, but it looks like it should make delicious bread and wonderful aromas.

#361 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:44 AM:

Linkmeister @ 360: There's a nice little book "Fresh Bread in the Morning" (subtitle "from your bread machine") by Annette Yates (0-7160-2154-4). Ingredient quantities given in g and oz.

There's a much larger book "Bread Machine" (subtitle "how to prepare and bake the perfect loaf") by Jennie Shapter (1-84309-399-5). It looks good but I haven't actually used it yet (got it as a present). Ingredient quantities given in g and oz and cups.

Note: whatever book you use, remember to add the ingredients in the correct order for your bread machine - mine for example starts with the yeast, then the flour, other ingredients, finally the water, while some use the opposite order.

Enjoy - the bread is so much nicer than shop bought, and comes without all those pesky "mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids" etc.

#362 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 06:03 AM:

Bill @319: as of 10am this morning, my server had served up my most recent blog entry 1.5 million times in 23 hours.

Ahem. That's just slightly more traffic than I'm used to ...

#363 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 07:25 AM:

Lee: There's no way to even pretend that the foxhunter is doing it to put food on the table.

Actually, this is one justification they use: foxes aren't edible, but they eat edible things like chickens.

Movements extending rights to any disenfranchised group have nearly always been led by the wealthiest, best-educated, privileged members of that group, not benevolent and enlightened members of the enfranchised.

Abolition: William Wilberforce was not black.
Parliamentary reform: many of the leaders of the Chartist movement were already radical MPs.
Peasants' Revolt: John Ball was a priest.
Irish home rule: Parnell was a rich Anglican landowner, and thus not subject to penal laws.

#364 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 08:00 AM:

KayTei, #351: Particularly on the question of many boomers wanting us to pay for their social services (because they "earned" them), while wanting to cut everything that might benefit the younger generation (but which doesn't directly benefit the boomers, even though they may have benefitted from such support in the past).

What drives me crazy is when people fail to understand how things that don't benefit them directly might still benefit them indirectly. Take schools--occasionally you'll get people complaining they shouldn't have to pay for schools if they don't currently have any kids attending them. As though they're insulated from all those other people's kids--as though those kids won't grow up to be their doctors, lawyers, plumbers and mechanics. Do they really not care how well, or badly, educated these people are?

#365 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 08:02 AM:

Marilee, #350: I should probably mention that I wrote that comic a few weeks ago, after reading Contested Will, so it's not connected to any conversations here.

#366 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 09:01 AM:

Dave @ 244, Rikibeth @ 255: Except that a cross paty is still a cross, with internal angles that come to a point. The main difference between a cross paty and the ground of Sir Pterry's escutcheon, apart from overall thickness, is that interior rounding.

Jacque @ 340: Who, me? I just told you it was OK. You pushed yourself. :)

#367 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 09:59 AM:

Ginger at 333: Oh, the kittens are awesome. Thanks for the link to the video and pix.

#368 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 10:19 AM:

Unless my records are inaccurate, today is the birthday of linkmeister... And of Paul A...

#369 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 10:44 AM:

Wesley @ 364

Yeah, definitely. I think what kills me about the "I earned it" argument, in particular, is that it assumes that everything I might ever contribute to the world is valueless against what the people making that argument have already done. It will never be possible, if they have their way, for me to earn equal priviliges to theirs. But they're all so focused on what they'll lose that they can't see or don't care about what they're taking away from other people...

#370 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 10:54 AM:

MacAllister @356: I recently had a long, strange conversation with someone about what constitutes a fac[t]

For some reason, I had recently been thinking of an exchange attributed to A. Lincoln:

So, if we say a tail is a leg, then dogs have five legs?

Correct.

No. Just because you call a tail a leg does not make it so.
#371 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 10:56 AM:

Ginger @ 333... The kittens. The kittens!

#372 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 10:58 AM:

ajay @ 363... foxes aren't edible, but they eat edible things like chickens

...and disease-carrying mice.

#373 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 10:59 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 320: I think that's known as "too much of a good thing"...

Linkmeister, Paul A and anyone else relevant: Happy Birthday

Linkmeister (again): I like putting our bread machine on overnight, with that lovely fresh-baked bread smell greeting me in the morning. We average about two loaves (made with 500 g flour each) a week, for two people. Making a "wholemeal" loaf but with about 150g of the flour being malted/granary rather than wholemeal makes a nice loaf - that's our staple. I'd make raisin-cinnamon bread more often but I eat it too fast.

#374 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 11:46 AM:

Wesley, #364: I refer to that mode of thinking as, "Oh, it's okay -- the leak isn't on OUR end of the lifeboat!"

#375 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 11:56 AM:

KayTei @369:

Cut the Boomers a little slack -- perhaps you're not aware that Reagan Administration DOUBLED the OASDI tax in 1983 so that the Boomer's Social Security benefits could be paid without bankrupting the USA.

This year, for the FIRST time in the history of Social Security, the program paid out more in benefits than it received in revenues -- not because there are more retirees, but because there are so many people who are unemployed.

Getting people back to work will take care of the revenue problem. Increasing the amount of wages subject to the OASDI tax (currently $106,800 per year) to $250,000 would keep the system solvent through the beginning of the next century.

For most of my working career I've paid my fair share to Social Security -- you better damn well believe I've earned it.

#376 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 11:58 AM:

I like the Bullshit Detection 101 link.

A useful tool I've found is to look for seas of linked-together people who have strong markers of expertise in some area. The science blogging and podcasting community is a nice place to look for those groups. If you can successfully distinguish a good network from a bad one up front, you can find more high-quality sources of information. Finding revere led me to Orac and Moving Meat. Gene Expression led me to Mystery Rays which led me to the Vincent Raccaniello's Virology blog and wonderful podcasts. And so on. At each step, I could cross link those blogs/people.

The flipside of this is the danger--you can find yourself in a kind of parallel world of "alternative" experts. These might be real researchers with a valid but minority take on some question, or quacks selling snake oil. Checking credentials and Googling and looking for other linked comments from other blogs all help with that, but at some point, you need some independent knowledge or references from people who know what they're talking about to get started. And you need a willingness to skeptically question their claims from time to time, and to recognize when there are areas where those trustworthy sources aren't too trustworthy.

A really useful tool for evaluating claims about the world (especially claims within a network of trusted sources) is Greg Cocharan's question: How would the world look different if this were true? It's surprising how often a plausible-sounding claim falls apart if you ask that question.

For example, it's a pretty common claim in some parts of the US political world that a large fraction of Muslims are terrorists, or would be terrorists if they had the chance, and pose a deadly danger to the US. And yet, this poses a Fermi's-paradox-like question: Where are all the terrorists? With 2-3 million Muslims in the US, wandering around free, why don't I see stuff blowing up all the time? Once you start asking "what would life be like in a country where, say 1% of the population were supporters of terrorism, and maybe 1/10000 were active terrorists?", it becomes clear that this claim is nonsense.

It's good to subject your own assumptions/beliefs to this measure, too. If my beliefs about X are true, then what would I expect to see in observable data Y? (Ideally, this is something you don't yet know about, so you get a meaningful check on the data.)

#377 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:08 PM:

albatross @376:

A really useful tool for evaluating claims about the world (especially claims within a network of trusted sources) is Greg Cocharan's question: *How would the world look different if this were true?* It's surprising how often a plausible-sounding claim falls apart if you ask that question.

obXKCD

#378 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:18 PM:

#363 ajay

The leaders of the many labor and trades union movements, for both men and women, in Europe, England, Russia and the U.S. seem pretty much exceptions to your assertion.

Emma Goldman, Samuel Gompers, A. Philip Randolph, the famous black organizer who organized the railroad company's largely black Pullman Porters, Ralph Hosea Chaplin who worked with Mother Jones organizing miners, and so many other leders and organizers were not of that profile.

This also pertains to the leaders and organizers of farm workers in the U.S. today.

The assertion that all progress comes from the middle class and aristos is very like, "What these people/tribes/nation/etc. needs is a honky."

But labor organizing and activism is very hard, very dirty, very dangerous and very heartbreaking, thus perfectly appropriate to leave to the non-sexy under and lower classes.

Love, C.

#379 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:22 PM:

ajay, Constance:

Before we get too far into this, I'd like to reiterate what I said in 359:

I don't think we can make a rule that fits all of the different ways that people decide that something is sufficiently Not Right that they have to change it. I think history varies too much for that.

Please at least consider this explanation before going where this argument looks to me to be going.

#380 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:31 PM:

For the past few months I've been away from this site, haring after various pursuits (including an almost-clean house), but political anguish drives me back -- and leaves me surprised that discussion of the US midterm election has only crept into this Open Thread, rather than getting a place of its own: a place to mourn and rant, in the aftermath.

Of course, a decade ago I moved from CA to AZ, a state where some degree of moderation has given way to a sea of gloating Red. All my candidates lost, to rogues and fools. Listening to them cackle and seeing them preen has been nearly unbearable.

It might almost be entertaining to see how biased cluelessness tries to deal with genuine problems, if school kids, Arizona's natural beauty, and anything resembling Reason were less likely to be trashed along the way.

Taking up activism at this point would require a complete personality transplant, and soon I may vanish back into my book reviews and hobbies. But for now, I rage and mourn!

#381 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:36 PM:

On Buffy, at least, they went to considerable lengths to justify the "sleeping with monsters" bits -- various ways to force a soul back into a vampire, a control chip, and a spell, as I remember it. And several times ran into trouble with other anti-vampire forces on the issue.

I would still not want to go so far as to say those were the better parts of the show, though.

#382 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:36 PM:

Not to mention the Civil Rights and Voting Act movements here in the U.S.

Love, c.

#383 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:37 PM:

Mark @366: Who, me? I just told you it was OK. You pushed yourself. :)

Well, okay. But you did point out the 1pic=1kw equivalence to me. So there. ;-P

Oh, &BTW, six frames in, now. Three of which are actually non-horrible!

#384 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:37 PM:

Faren @ 380... New Mexico elected a Palindrone for governor after the current Democratic was forced out by term limits - which is yet another argument against what may have seemed like a good idea to 'some' people, but has been anything but. As a result, I've been trying to focus on non-political pursuits and thoughts.

#385 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:38 PM:

Yesterday I had a maddening conversation with a conservative friend of mine who is in high dudgeon about the results of California's elections. "Now we've got Jerry Brown who's going to tax us, and the ballot measure that makes it easier for him to do so! I've got to move!"

And I'm thinking... you're the same one who's thrilled that the city Arborist comes to trim your trees so they don't hit the power lines. Do you assume he's a volunteer, trimming trees for the excercise? Thanks to Prop 13, your home's taxes have been kept artificially low for lo these many years! You may not have, nor ever have had, kids in the schools (and neither have or will I) but do you want to be surrounded by more and more ignorant people? Did you not attend a public school paid for by others, including the childless? I hope you never complain about a pot-hole again!

I just get really cranky about those people who pull the ladder out as soon as they've made it to the top, and also otherwise intelligent people who claim to know how to budget better than any of these lousy politicians, and yet can't seem to make the connection between taxes and fire, police, highway, and every other damn service we pay for. I mean, I'd love to go into the grocery store and just walk off with the foods I want to eat that week, but I do have to pay for my groceries, whether I think it's "fair" or not.

#386 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:40 PM:

David Harmon @321: asked if I might need a ride to the voting place. Then I didn't hear from them, ... 6:30 Tuesday evening, I hear a pounding on my door.

You sure that volunteer was a Democrat?

Marilee @350: have you seen Wesley's art? Currently there's a Shakespeare faery.

See? See!? My point exactly! ("Wait, what?")

KayTei @351: I'm willing to admit that some boomers are pretty awesome, as long as y'all admit that there's still a huge values gap between our generations

I've heard reference to this values gap, but (at least from the vantage point here under my rock) it's not apparent to me what it is? Care to espand?

If it helps any at all (and I'm sure it doesn't) I'm a late boomer, and I'm pretty confident that all of the money I've paid into Social Security will have gone up in smoke by the time I'm in a position to use it.

#387 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:41 PM:

KayTei@351: To the extent that Social Security works right (and doesn't get gutted or raided too badly or etc.), the idea is that you pay at about the same rates we paid, and the difference (caused by our larger numbers) is made up out of the trust fund, which was built up while we paid in (since there were more of us than the previous generation that we were paying for). That doesn't seem unfair to me -- we and you pay the same amount of our income for social security, and get the same amount when we collect it. It's both fair and sustainable.

It's a good reason to resist raids on the trust fund, though.

In terms of practical politics, far too many of us are going to be heavily dependent on those social security payouts, and will certainly vote to keep them coming -- it's a very high-ranking issue.

#388 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:46 PM:

There might be some tweaking to SS in the future, but the idea that the funds will be exhausted is primarily a scare story.

And ddb is right -- retired people have nothing to do on Election day but vote. :-)

#389 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 12:48 PM:

I also disagree with you all re Abolition, at least in England. Abolition in the empire, particularly the Caribbean only succeeded when the planter class itself found slavery more expensive than lucrative -- as their plantation lands played out from their capitalist like extraction, and the price of their cash generating crops fell against competition from less expensive substitutes and newer, more fertile, lands.

Abolition of the slave TRADE in England, that is something that owes to the aristos, but no one would have bothered if the small people, particularly of religious persuasions, hadn't been so insistent on keep it as an issue alive. Also, again, it got too expensive in lots of ways -- not mention the cheaper African goods were unwelcome competition for the locally raised, trained and acclimated ones.

Ultimate emancipastion in this country was a different story. It took a war.

No other nation needed a war for this. I think about what that means every day, and have done so for the last 30 years. Economics were at the bottom of it -- competing economic visions by two competing power elites in this nation -- for manifest economic destiny throughout the western hemisphere.

Love, C.

#390 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 01:31 PM:

KayTei 369:

Please tell me how my wanting the social contract the US Government has made with taxpayers enforced prevents you from getting what you need?

I not only expect the Social Security Administration to pay me my benefits -- I expect them to be paying you those you earned when you reach retirement age (or paying you disability should your health fail before you reach retirement age).

In case you haven't been following the Social Security cutters' public statements -- they're talking about going after the potential benefits of those born 1970 and after. The Baby Boom officially ended in 1965...

Now if you're angry with the Boomer-age politians who are trying to cut Social Security benefits to your generation -- I'm disgusted with them as well and intend to keep working towards getting them out of office, and doing my damndest to keep their plans from succeeding.

#391 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 01:39 PM:

albatross @376 -- I've forwarded a link to your comment to Howard R, as I thought he might be interested.

#392 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 01:44 PM:

#360: I bought a few bread machine recipe books from GoodWill. I can't say I've tried more than a half dozen or so breads.

One that I keep going back to: The standard white bread recipe from the Oster instruction manual, with the addition of a cup of oatmeal (rolled) and an egg.

It makes a nice solid bread that is great for toasting.

#393 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 01:48 PM:

#354 Lee
Martha Coakley is the Attorney General of Massachusetts. Since the publication is in Massachusetts, one approach might be to contact the MA Attorney General's office with a complaint against the magazine and its ownership....

#394 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:17 PM:

Bread recipes -- google, also go to site of bread machine flour makers, such as King Arthur...

on another topic--economics where something takes a large investment to change, things tend to not get changed until forced to it. E.g., recycling water for cooling and processing is less expensive over time than running more water from a river or lake or ocean through, but industrialists refused to recycle until forced to The investment in the tech and equipment to recycle the water the companies saw as impractical for any or all reasons of capital expense, effect on product price, downtime for installation and setup and lost production time, personnel training, changes in corporate thinking, effort involved, etc.. Once the changes got made, the operational costs were lower than the old no-water-recycling operations costs, for production--but until the changes got made, no one was going to believe/expect that, since there was no data to show that and no experience with it.

I saw firsthand conservative, "we mustn't do something new because we don't know how it's going to break!" thinking in place, when I was in the Air Force. The old way, the failure mechanisms were manifold, exactly how they happened wasn't necessarily known, but it was known that there WOULD be failures. They were -afraid=- to try doing thing differently because they didn't go in already -knowing- there were giong to be failures...

Yes, I know, it sounds insane. It IS insane, but that's what happens when hidebound conservatism takes over, you mustn't have ANYTHING change for fear of the unknown, even if the unknown might IMPROVE things! All those unknowns and the Experts' knowledge no longer applies/become superfluous-- OH! THAT is the true issue, that someone ELSE will get to be The Expert and get the perks and the attention and the funding and the accolades an Expert Status.

OH!

#395 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:30 PM:

Linkmeister:

If you like traditional style breads (grainy, sourdough, rye, pumpernickel, etc.) I highly recommend Rustic European Breads From Your Bread Machine. It has a lot of recipes where you use the bread machine to prepare the dough, then form it into a hand-shaped loaf and bake it, but also a fair number which you just bake in the machine. It also includes a number of techniques for doing a sponge or poolish right in the bread machine, then adding the rest of the ingredients later and running a second cycle to get a sourdough-style bread with virtually zero work.

#396 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:37 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 394... conservative, "we mustn't do something new because we don't know how it's going to break!" thinking

Like starting a new country?

Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Tell me, Mr. Wilson, when you were a judge, how in hell did you ever make a decision?
James Wilson: The decisions I made were based on legality and precedent. But there is no legality here, and certainly no precedent.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Because, it's a new idea, you CLOD! We'll be making our own precedent!

#397 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:42 PM:

Paula #394:

This might go better in the global warming thread, but your comment made me wonder about what changes we can and can't do with current technology, at acceptable cost.

I want to try a thought experiment here. Imagine we have a genie who will, upon request, replace as much of our physical plant (power generating, transmitting, and using infrastructure, cars, heat pumps, insulation, lights, appliances, etc.). Whatever we ask her for, we will then have to pay to operate and maintain and replace as it wears out (that is, if we ask her for trillion-dollar high efficiency solar plants that wear out every ten years, we have to pay depreciation on those plants every year). The catch is, we can only ask her for stuff that's existing, on-the-market-today technology, not something as yet uninvented. (We can't ask her for fusion power plants, for example.)

My question is, with access to this genie, can we get to an acceptable CO2 emissions level as a country, without suffering a substantial fall in standard of living? (That is, maybe I drive a smaller car or am more careful about turning off lights in my house, but I can still afford a car and a house.) I'm visualizing something like, say, replacing our electrical generation infrastructure with modern nuclear plants, replacing our stock of cars with electric cars or very efficient hybrids, properly insulating all the houses in the country, replacing old appliances with more energy efficient modern ones, etc. We can add more wind power, though my understanding is that it's quite hard to get anywhere close to US power demand with wind, and that it's rather expensive per kWh.

It seems to me that this is kind-of the defining question w.r.t. how we can realistically respond to AGW. If, given access to such a genie, we could make this transition without suffering a big fall in quality of life, then this is fundamentally doable. There's still a hard political problem to solve, but it's not hopeless. Further, developing countries currently growing into a first-world standard of living, and turnover in our physical stock of power plants and cars and appliances and houses and such, can be made to move us in the direction of an acceptable level of CO2 emissions.

If we can't do this even given access to the "capital replacement genie," then I think there's no real chance we'll address CO2 emissions until we get better technology fielded. Because in even minimally democratic countries (and even in not at all democratic countries), imposing a big fall in quality of life on the citizens is a recipe for regime change.

This is a kind of useful way to think about a lot of issues. For example, while it may or may not work out to reform US healthcare in practice, we can look across the Canadian border and see a working system that's possible at our level of technological and economic development.

#398 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:49 PM:

Remember the old joke? The reason God could create the world in 7 days is because he didn't have an installed base.

Big changes in infrastructure will happen, but it's not going to be immediate. Hell, in 1940, we still had horse-drawn delivery vehicles.

Incremental changes in technology will be the key. In 1920 biplanes flew at 150 mph. In 1940, aircraft were doing 400. In 1960, they flew at 1200 mph. Not all technologies will progress at that pace, but they will move forward.

At one time, oil was an alternative energy source.

#399 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:57 PM:

We can't move our computing away from mainframes! Think of the DANGERS! The COSTS!!!!!!

#400 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 02:58 PM:

We can't move our computing away from mainframes! Think of the DANGERS! The COSTS!!!!!!

Think of my job!

#401 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:02 PM:

They will pry my punched cards from my cold dead fingers!

#402 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:04 PM:

Well, yes, Serge, but do you know what we call refactoring code around my office?

Ripping out your debugged code to start a bug farm.

The conservative perspective that "we already know where the bugs are in this implementation" may not be the way to move to a juster and more honorable society, but it's an argument worth addressing on its merits.

#403 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:16 PM:

abi @ 402... True, but you and I would never have known each other if people had let that stop them. Mind you, more than once, in my 33 years as a programmer, I have seen tools touted that WOULD CHANGE THE WAY PROGRAMMING IS DONE, for the better of course, and most of them didn't work. That's given me a bit of a BS detector. That though is different from saying 'don't even think about changes'. I think it is anyway.

#404 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:22 PM:

abi @ 402:

Lightbulb!

Refactoring is supposed to be simple, logical transformations of the code until you get it to an equivalent, but architecturally better, design. At every point in the process the code should remain working the same way as before. Once you've started to do some housekeeping, then you can also start fixing the bugs because they should be much easier to see, and fixing them won't make such a tangle of things. The alternative is to rip out the old, mostly working code, and replace it with new code with its own sets of bugs.

It strikes me that a parallel can be made here with regards to policy. Taking power generation, for example, some people view alternative energies as ripping out the old to put in the new, and put forward that we know the current advantages and disadvantages of what we have, but we don't know everything about the new. The other view would be that of refactoring or rearchitecting, where we can phase in alternative technologies, learn them, work with them, still generate the power we need, and then start working on cleaning up the old bugs.

#405 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:26 PM:

KeithS @ 404... The alternative is to rip out the old, mostly working code, and replace it with new code with its own sets of bugs.

You've been talking to my group's manager, haven't you?

#406 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:28 PM:

Hyperlocal news...

Programmer receives email from other group within corporation.
Other person mangles man's name from 'Serge' into 'Server'.

#407 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:31 PM:

Fascinating post on the limits of Hallowe'en costuming for 5-year-olds: My son is gay. Or not.

Note that the author is the wife of a police officer.

#408 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:33 PM:

Steve C:

Right. But imagine telling someone without oil, living at the beginning of the industrial revolution, that they must do without coal. Just stop using those steam engines and coal furnaces, and suffer a massive fall in wealth and standard of living.

What I want to know is, by analogy, do we basically have oil now, and so the barrier to ceasing to burn coal is the changeover cost? Or are we looking at going back to wood? Those are two very different situations.

My understanding is that hydro and nuclear are basically what we could do now along these lines, along with efficiency improvements in buildings and appliances. Hydro plants only work in particular places, and I don't think we could find anything like enough places to build all the dams we'd need to power the country. Nuclear plants are expensive to build and operate, and we might run into fuel issues, but we could actually switch over to them if we needed to. From what I've read, biofuels don't really scale up to being a useful fuel source yet, though there's a lot of work being done on getting that to happen. How do wind and solar work in terms of operating and depreciation cost? (ISTR that solar panels take several years of operation to pay back the energy used in their manufacture.) Aren't most of the operations using those as power sources now heavily subsidized--that suggests that we couldn't afford to ask the genie for them.

#409 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:35 PM:

Y'know the Sidelight "Managing editor of Cook's Source magazine to writer she plagiarized: 'The web is considered public domain'"?

This apparently isn't the first or only time she's done it.

Among other sources: Martha Stewart, Weight Watchers, The Food Network, CNN, and WebMD: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=196994196748&topic=23238

#410 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:37 PM:

The Cook's Source complaint is spreading dramatically. Story's hit the Washington Post, and apparently they lifted stuff from Martha Stewart and Cooks Illustrated as well.

Stupid, stupid rat creatures. And they could probably have kept going just fine if they hadn't written the snotty note back. I sense a firing about to happen.... Once again, it's not so much the crime as the attempt to deny it that's causing the problem to get much worse.

#411 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:40 PM:

albatross @ 408:

There are other technologies for solar power beyond photovoltaic cells. The others that I'm familiar with rely on mirrors to focus the solar energy to boil water, and from there drive a turbine.

#412 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:43 PM:

albatross @ 408 -

Right. But imagine telling someone without oil, living at the beginning of the industrial revolution, that they must do without coal. Just stop using those steam engines and coal furnaces, and suffer a massive fall in wealth and standard of living.

People will accept almost anything except a setback in economic progress. If they feel that climate change adjustments will lower their standard of living, it simply won't happen.

#413 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:58 PM:

Bread Machine: We have one. I need a sticker on the side that says "This machine kills diets." 2 lb. of bread, that is delicious for the first day, among two people. Do the math.

Sustainability:
I want to try a thought experiment here. Imagine we have a genie who will, upon request, replace as much of our physical plant (power generating, transmitting, and using infrastructure, cars, heat pumps, insulation, lights, appliances, etc.). Whatever we ask her for, we will then have to pay to operate and maintain and replace as it wears out (that is, if we ask her for trillion-dollar high efficiency solar plants that wear out every ten years, we have to pay depreciation on those plants every year). The catch is, we can only ask her for stuff that's existing, on-the-market-today technology, not something as yet uninvented. (We can't ask her for fusion power plants, for example.)

If I'm understanding the question right, seven hells yes. If you GAVE me the first generation, I'd have 20 years to save up for the next generation. O&M is, like, 5% of the levelized cost of a solar plant and 95% of the cost is capital. We don't need the next generation of power plants for 20 years, so that's [conservatively] 5% of the levelized cost to save up for the next generation.

I could do a LOT if I was paying in ten-cent dollars. Or even fifteen-cent dollars. Seventy-cent dollars [which we have now on cost of capital] make wind cost-effective. Fifty-cent dollars make a lot of solar projects cost-effective. One-hundred-cent dollars make new refrigerators and insulation and new windows and new lights cost-effective.

Here's the industry standard (including 30% credit for renewables) for levelized cost of energy.

And here, the McKinsey study slide, is the stereotypical "Things we could do that would save money AND carbon dioxide" list.

With madly-cheap money, I'd look at CAES power storage, which lets you throw a lot more wind on the grid and get use out of it, I'd modernize a BUNCH of coal plants and maybe put a solar "first stage" on there, I would absolutely put a couple of 500 KV HVDC lines across the country so the sunny and windy parts can get energy to the parts with the people in them... and I'd build quite a lot of wind turbines and [probably] some power towers.

#414 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 03:59 PM:

So there's a potential scholarly dissertation in the Cook's Source incident: "Internet Flash Mobs as a Force For Positive Change". heh.

#415 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:03 PM:

Hyperlocal news: Vet gives cat weeks; woman thinks that's better than days.

#416 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:07 PM:

It seems I misunderstood the genie's offer. Drat. (also, many people posted while I was writing.)

If the idea is that the genie lets us swap, say, a $1 billion coal plant for $1 billion of renewables... let me think about that and do some more writing.

#417 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:11 PM:

Albatross @397

There are differing opinions on what an acceptable level of emissions is. However, roughly 50% of CO2 emissions are from coal-burning power plants, and we do have well-tested technology to replace them. Just replacing coal with nuclear power for electricity generation would cut CO2 emissions about 50%.

#418 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:12 PM:

For cripes sake, we're not talking about going back to whale oil and wooden teeth.

Is living in a well insulated house decreasing your standard of living?

Not making your daily commute in a vehicle designed for transporting a family's worth of camping gear into the mountains?

Using an on-demand water heater rather than a tank that keep water hot in an empty house 16 hours a day?

There are many, many, many things that Americans due that are wasteful, thoughtless that are easily avoided or many wasteful, inefficient things they use that are easily replaced.

Not being stupid is half the battle.

#419 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:20 PM:

James Macdonald #409--I rather suspect that a great big bus called Martha Stewart Omnimedia is about to hit that idiot, unless of course a great big bus labeled Food Network gets there first. Either way it won't be pretty.

#420 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:25 PM:

#419: She's allegedly hit Disney too. That's a train.

#421 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:27 PM:

Sabdy B @ 416... It seems I misunderstood the genie's offer

Or the genie misunderstood your request - a distinct possibility if it looks like Barbara Eden.

#422 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:36 PM:

There's a town in northwestern Missouri, Rock Port, which now gets all its electricity from wind generators. They needed outside funding to help with this, of course--4 of the big turbines, plus all the necessary bells and whistles don't some cheap, but they've done it. I think, as (and if) funding is obtainable, we'll see more small towns take steps to follow Rock Port and other places that have similar plans underway. That doesn't say anything about supplying the needs of larger places, of course, but Rock Port is a data point.

There's a town in east Tennessee called Alcoa--because Alcoa built a big plant there (starting just before World War I), using hydroelectic power from the Little Tennessee River for the smelting process. Certainly that part of the world had little more to recommend it as the site for a major industrial operation--eastern Tennessee is not exactly a transportation-friendly area, and in the early 20th century, a lot of upgrading in rail service was surely required to handle both the delivery of raw materials and of the processed aluminum. It's interesting to speculate what sort of relocations in industry we may see develop, in order to take advantage of proximity to wind power sources.

#423 ::: Kate Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:45 PM:

Marilee @350 "in this part of Virginia, we get so many deer that the Park Service arranges hunts. There's more food than deer and a lot die of malnutrition. It's a lot better to have it feed a human."

If only the deer could figure out farming, they could grow their own forage and take full advantage of the fact that humans have killed or driven off most of their natural predators. My brain is now full of a series of rather charming children's-book mental images.

#424 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 04:51 PM:

Sam Chevre: But we don't have a nuclear power industry that's reliably either honest or competent, and we also don't have a strong ongoing regulatory apparatus that could detect their errors and frauds early and compel genuine repairs.

Of course we don't have that for oil or coal either, but there is an argument - conservative in its Hippocratic Oath way - that we can at least avoid bringing more crooks into the mix knowingly.

#425 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:02 PM:

Stefan Jones@418: I added wall insulation in my last house, haven't in this one. They're both stucco exteriors, and there are a lot of houses around town that still show the places holes were drilled to put in the insulation, years and decades later. In the old house I had it done from inside; plaster is easier to patch (and paint) than stucco is to fix to match. But it's at least expensive, and may actually reduce the value of your house if you leave it looking ratty.

Giving up having a vehicle suitable for family camping trips into the mountains is most definitely a huge loss in standard of living, for people who like to do that. Most of them can't afford a dedicated vehicle just for the camping trips, and given manufacturing resource use there's a question whether that's a solution. So presumably the solution is to rent, but that can easily add an hour to the start and end of each trip, and constrain when you can leave and when you can come back. We need a rental industry better adapted to repeat short-term renters.

But they also need that vehicle to take the neighborhood kids to the Little League game, don't they?

I have only brief experience with on-demand water heaters from 15 years ago in England, but the two I used absolutely sucked dead diseased rats through a straw. There's also a problem with location, plumbing, and power supply -- and most of us heat our water with gas; switching to electric (which is the only reasonable choice for aftermarket on-demand, because too many bathrooms are interior) involves an energy efficiency loss.

I think we'd need 5 flow-through hot water heaters to do the job -- and we have fewer bathrooms per person than most Americans. This is starting to sound expensive.

While I'm sure this isn't a serious resource issue overall, I wonder just what the effect on water usage would be of not running out of hot water in the shower?

Writing us all off (or just most of us) as stupid is the usual mistake. Lots of us are making active efforts to be more efficient, and STILL ending up in places you don't approve of, for various reasons, which are mostly not our own inability to think.

#426 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:04 PM:

Albatross @397: yes, you need to ask the genie for a new supergrid, about a thousand fast breeder reactors, and about as much wind power as the UK (per capita) and as much solar as Germany (ditto) -- in both cases, 10-20% of total generating capacity.

This will not get the USA off oil for transport, but that's less than 40% of energy consumption; what it will do is break the reliance on coal, which is by far the worst source of carbon.

Cost estimate: $3-8Tn, or the entire US defense budget for a decade. In other words, it's entirely affordable but requires a major change in priorities.

#427 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:06 PM:

KeithS, #404 (how appropriate! *g*): Huh. I never knew that the process which made up a large part of my work at my last major programming job actually had a separate name. Technically, I was migrating the system from one machine to another, but in the process I was also converting it from spaghetti code into top-down structured design. And yes, we ran parallel tests on every piece of it until we were sure it worked the same way on both systems.

#428 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:08 PM:

ddb@425 On-demand water heaters have improved a great deal in the past few years--both in rate of heating, and in capacity, and there are quite a few gas models avaiable--they usually aren't situated directly at the point-of-use her in the US. You see them a lot on home-renovation shows, if you watch those much. I'd suggest goggling around and seeing what the latest technology has to offer, as they are something that's discussed a fair bit out on the internets--and there are several companies with web presences selling them.

#429 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:12 PM:

ddb @425: firstly, give us another 30 years and we'll have fully autonomous self-driving cars. You want to rent a car? You pay, and it turns up at your door, empty and ready to go, half an hour later.

As for the on-demand water heaters, they've come a long way in the past two decades. I don't want to replace my central heating system just yet, but as/when I do, I'll be moving to a modern combi boiler -- runs the central heating, and provides gas-heated water on demand. (That's methane, not petrol.)

#430 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:16 PM:

#397 Albatross
If you could pursuade the poorest 2 billion in the world to replace wood fires with cardboard boxes covered with tinfoil (and supply the tin foil and cardboard boxes) you could reduce global co2 emissions by 2 billion tons per year apparently. Or so it implies
here

That's a long way towards the US's current yearly emissions of 7 billion tons - and all it takes is cardboard boxes and tinfoil.

So yes, I think that we could bring down world co2 emissions, improve the lives of billions of people and slow the rate of extinction; and create a large number of new jobs while we were at it. And we wouldn't need hair-shirts, the abolition of the car or a retreat to caves to do it. Germany (hardly a third-world country) manages on one half the per-capita energy use of the US, without any strong green measures, simply be not being as wasteful. It is sobering to reflect that the average American must be spending twice as much as they need to on energy.

#431 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:18 PM:

Stefan Jones @418: Some folks may be stupid. Others just may not have the cash on hand to do the necessary updates and modifications.

Instead of a tax credit, why not set up something through the Department of Energy or HUD that would offer micro-loans to those who wished to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient?

I'd love to replace all my windows, improve the insulation, and go geothermal for my source of heating -- but I don't have the funds. Unless I hit the lottery or inherit money (not bloody likely) it isn't going to happen. I'm betting a lot of people are in a similar situation.

#432 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:19 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 429... give us another 30 years and we'll have fully autonomous self-driving cars

Why does that make me only slightly less nervous than the idea of flying cars?

#433 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:28 PM:

So, the GOP leaders outright said that their goal over the next 2 years is to prevent Obama's reelection.

This is going to be fun.
Not.

#434 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:31 PM:

The state of the economy will determine if Obama is reelected or not. If unemployment drops enough, he's got it.

#435 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:41 PM:

Steve C @ 434... True, but I can see them doing everything they can to make sure the Economy doesn't improve. They've proven again and again that power is what they're interested, not governing and doing what's best for the Country.

Next time someone tells me the Democratic Party is no different from the GOP, he/she will get an earful.

#436 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:42 PM:

It might help Obama if he started another war, or such.... (Not thinking that he would, mind you!)

#437 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:48 PM:

Refactoring, 402 et al:
The key (and I know I'm not imparting any actual information here) is that you write the tests first, and confirm that the current code matches the tests, and (attempt to confirm) that the tests are complete. If you can't write a set of tests you're reasonably comfortable are complete, then the job's too big for refactoring at once - refactor a smaller bit.

Only then do you rip out debugged code to put in a new bug farm. But it sits private and hidden until it passes the tests, at which point it should be as debugged as the old bug farm.

Of course, if the tests aren't complete, what you get is something that meets Schneier's rule, in context - anybody can write code that they can't break. And the first few times people do this, they're very very bad at building complete test farms (and unless the company has bought in to more than just buzzword bingo, "writing the tests" won't be counted as development time, so there will be a strong incentive to skimp on the test farm, even after the first few times), so what you get is abi's 402.

The other half of that is QA and bugfixing: in code-ready-to-refactor, when a problem is found, the test reproducing the bug is written first and added to the suite. *Then* the code is fixed. Again, that process is going to work well in shops that buy in, and will fail, spectacularly, in buzzword bingo shops.

I like the *concept* of agile programming - but I have years of experience trying to get "overhead" past the suits, and am less idealistic than I was before.

#438 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:52 PM:

Lori: You don't have the funds in cash. Do you have the funds over time(ie can you pay back the microloan?) I see two possibilities:

1) You'd be able to repay the loan with the amount you saved, ie the microloan pays for itself, or
2) You wouldn't be, and that's not a good deal to ask the genie for.

There may already be loans for your state.

(As an example, here's a nice one for New Jersey:
http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=NJ17F&re=0&ee=1 )

#439 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 05:59 PM:

One of my favorite examples of programming mish-mash is a complex program that was designed to feed clean data into a system. This was done decades ago for a city water board. It took months to develop. It had edits and validations out the wazoo. It was perfectly structured, and when they ran it, it ran without error - nothing got through. Not one single record.

So they sat sat down and examined the requirements, and every requirement was deemed necessary, and every piece was code was unit tested and it was 100% on the money. Every record of the input had something that triggered a rejection.

Eventually they scrapped it and came up with programs that were less unforgiving.

#440 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 06:10 PM:

#439: You mean, "requirements that were less unforgiving." The world is filled with people who don't really want what they ask for.

Hmm... that statement ties back into the politics part of this thread nicely.

#441 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 06:14 PM:

ddb- a lot of people (est. 90%) buy a huge SUV for what a compact station wagon could do. In most cases SUV's have startlingly little cargo room. The reason SUV's are so popular is that they're considered "light trucks" so they're allowed to get appalling MPG, and they are allegedly cooler than minivans. Heck, a lot of them aren't any better at going camping in the mountains than the compact station wagon would be. In that sense, yes, we could cut the oil spent on the highways by 10% or 20% quite easily. That is a visible, if not necessarily meaningful, cut in the "standard of living". Cars are status symbols.

More on the "genie that swaps out powerplant" - rooftop solar hot water heating is very practical in a lot of the country [a lot geographically, maybe not by population.] Insulation (remember, the genie doesn't have to punch holes in the walls, it's magic) is quite cost effective, I'm told but have not researched. I don't know if wind is truly cost-effective by comparison; it's worth doing with a 30% federal subsidy. Much of this depends on where you're building the wind towers. Solar thermal "power towers" - we have the technology, although we only have a few pilot-sized actual towers- make claims of being comparable in cost to coal, although we don't have any long-term proof. So speckling southern California, Nevada, and the like with them is a pretty good bet. Especially if concrete heat storage continues to look good when applied on an industrial scale.

Hybrid coal-solar power plants [3-10% less coal per MWh, using solar to preheat] are also very cost-effective.

Compressed Air Energy Storage looks like a pretty good bet to me, although it is also an undertested technology. There are two systems in the entire world using it and they're working on two more pilot systems. I don't know if that meets the bar for "existing technology", though.

New refrigerators, new air conditioning, getting people to open the windows at night and close them at 6 AM, those are also cost-effective right now, right here. Apparently the fans on most home A/C units make heat transfer guys cry in their beer.

#442 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 06:19 PM:

Sandy, 441: I agree with almost everything you say, but my asthmatic lungs require me to take issue with the "open your windows" idea. Pollen in the country, smog in the city...plus the fact that many people live in areas where open windows are at best an invitation to be robbed.

#443 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 06:28 PM:

Loans and grants to weatherize homes would be, in the long run, much cheaper than (say) a war against Iran to ensure cheap oil supplies.

Of course, the parts of the economy this would stimulate aren't the industries that traditionally pay big lobbying dollars.

#444 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 06:29 PM:

Serge 401: They will pry my punched cards from my cold dead fingers!

Ah, the old days. I remember when my friend Marjorie moved into a new apartment, the station wagon (remember those?) hit a bump, and her compiler wound up all over the hillside.

That sentence is imparsable by Kids Today.

Tom 407: Definitely shows what the reasonable people are up against. It particularly struck me that moms ABC were bullying the kid (as well as the mom) allegedly because they were afraid he'd be bullied!

#445 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 06:43 PM:

Sandy B., #441,
Insulation (remember, the genie doesn't have to punch holes in the walls, it's magic) is quite cost effective, I'm told but have not researched.
getting people to open the windows at night and close them at 6 AM, those are also cost-effective right now, right here.

Three things:
1. Insulation: Insulating and using a radiant barrier in your attic to prevent heat getting in is effective. (Powered attic vent fans are not effective - air doesn't transfer heat from solids very well, and moving air nullifies the effectiveness of fiber insulation.)
2. That said, a fan that vents the house through a duct from the upstairs ceiling to the outside (even through the attic) can make a big difference. Opening the windows at night can work quite well paired with this. (Try #1 first.)

3. I have a love of usable shutters, which make open windows at night, or during storms much more viable. Can anyone living in Europe tell me if they are useful? I understand that they are actually used there. (They are decorative plastic in most places I've lived in the United States.)

4. Humans, thanks to our moist skin, transfer heat pretty okay in a breeze. Thus using ceiling fans can let you save 2-4 degrees of air chilling, provided the humans are moist enough and the air dry enough. (But try #1 first.)

5. I understand from reading Consumer Reports and the This Old House website, that the average length of time you need to have new windows to pay off the energy savings is...25 years. They don't actually say "make sure your storm windows fit right and spend the money on higher R-value insulation" but...try #1 first.

#446 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 06:55 PM:

Serge #320: Duke Ellington.

#447 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 06:59 PM:

Lori, #431: Exactly. We live in a 60-year-old house; energy efficiency wasn't something to be thought of when it was built. We've added insulation where we can (rather a lot in the attic, some foam-seal stuff that has to be blown thru the walls), but there is much more that we'd like to be able to do and simply can't afford. Double-glazed panes for the heat-sink picture window in the living room; a completely new sliding patio door; repair of the foundation so that the doors don't leak like sieves around the edges despite weatherstripping; the list goes on and on. We do what we can; do we save more by pulling the heavy curtains over the windows in the winter than we use by then having to run the (CF) lights all day long? We'd like to have an on-demand water heater (actually two, one for the kitchen/laundry and one for the bathrooms), but they're STINKING expensive. (Also, having hot showers available while the power was out after Ike was nice -- giving up our gas water heater would have lost us that.)

Oh, and the car issue. I'd love to have a smaller around-town car than the minivan. But we use that minivan as a con-going vehicle, because it'll haul 3 tables' worth of stuff with all the rear seats taken out. Adding another car to the insurance is out of budget, so I drive that one.

Tom, #436: Setting aside completely the moral bankruptcy of invading another country to jump-start your own economy -- no, even that wouldn't work, because it would be the Republicans leading the hue and cry against it. Remember, war as an economy-booster is a Republican-patented solution.

Stefan, #443: I fear you've touched on one of the cruxes of the problem.

#448 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 07:04 PM:

On solar power, I always direct people to the Scientific American special on a plan to have the USA replace fossil fuels with solar power by 2050. More here:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan&page=1

Their summary:
A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.
A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.
Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well.
A new direct-current power transmission backbone would deliver solar electricity across the country.
But $420 billion in subsidies from 2011 to 2050 would be required to fund the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive.

Note that the expected subsidy cost which will cascade downwards in the proper Keynesian way, is less than half a trillion dollars. Not 3 trillion which I seem to recall seeing someone say upthread. This is all a lot cheaper than people think, and definitely cheaper than invading other countries.

Here in the UK the idiot government has subsidised photovoltaic power, when you can get more energy for your money with wind or as I mentioned up thread, solar water heating.
Myself, I have cavity wall insulation, pretty much every concrete and brick and breezeblock house can have it done, but only about 20% are done so far. I havn't added the numbers up but last winter when it was around freezing, my heating came on half as often, ie every 2 or 3 hours instead of every 1 to 2. (Yes I know there are issues with older housing being very hard/ impossible to retrofit with insulation. But if we can't even build new ones properly, what chance have we got with the old ones?)

As far as I cam concerned, building houses with high insulation is a mature technology, just for whatever reason (cough cough) the government doesn't seem to want to mandate near zero energy houses.

In hotter areas, what is far more cost effective than air con, which ideally would be banned as being such a waste of energy, is redesigning houses in hot areas to deal with the heat. Thick walls, no or small south facing windows etc. THis is all mature technology, been known about for centuries.

My main energy uses are the car and heating my flat. I expect in 10-20 years time the gas powered heating will get replaced by electric again, since gas will be too expensive to burn given the cost of importing it. Possibly getting rid of the night storage heater was a bad idea. (Although it did give me a nice stretch of wall for bookshelves)

What I actually want for the bathroom is a small electric water heater, you can get them quite easily now. There's no point firing up the gas boiler just to give me a bit of hot water when I'm washing my hands, that has to come through 7 metres of piping.

Albatros #408 - Spain should now have 3 gigawatts of solar power generation. Thats 3 nuclear reactors worth.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Spain

I don't however quite understand what you mean by

"What I want to know is, by analogy, do we basically have oil now, and so the barrier to ceasing to burn coal is the changeover cost? Or are we looking at going back to wood?"

The way I see it, we can maintain something like our current level of energy use by switching to renewables (solar, wind, wave, hydro, a wee bit of biomass) and efficiency improvements, and nuclear. Doing so will allow us to stop burning coal, oil and gas. We can save the oil for plastics, which it is just so useful for, and eke the gas out a bit longer for fertiliser. Hopefully that'll give us enough time to see teh population reduce later in this century, improve and change our farming techniques to save soil and not need so much fertiliser and pesticides, and avoid the worst problems with global warming. Although in the latter case it looks like we're going to get at least 2 degrees average, which to me still seems like we're fucked, but I'd rather not get too depressed right now.

#449 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 07:05 PM:

Constance #389: Eric Williams pointed out that the British abolished slavery because the rise of industrial capitalism in Britain (fueled by capital produced by slavery in the West Indies) found West Indian slavery and other pre-industrial capitalist formations a drag on its profits.

The abolition of slavery in the West Indies was a result of an alliance between the emergent middle class and working class in Britain, given a significant fillip by slave revolts in the West Indies. It's no accident that Buxton's Abolition Act was passed after the Great Reform Act,and after the Christmas Rebellion of 1831-1832 in Jamaica.

#450 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 07:11 PM:

Lee #447 - how expensive is stinking expensive? Here in the UK, ok its online, I can find this:
http://www.discountedheating.co.uk/shop/acatalog/Ariston_Eureka_Electric_Water_Heater_2kW_13_Litres.html
for £116, which isn't too bad, I'd be tempted to buy it myself.

I wonder if it would be worth giving money to people to improve their home enery efficiency and then they pay me back over the next few years?

Edgar #445 is correct - insulation comes ahead of double glazing. Insulation in walls and roof will make far more difference than going form 1 to 2 panes of glass. When you do get double glazing, make sure it has wooden or plastic frames, since metal ones conduct the heat nicely.

Car wise, my ford mondeo estate is one of the largest cars you can get in the UK, and does indeed have interior space as great as many suv type vehicles. And yet it has a top speed of 130mph and does around 45 miles to the imperial gallon.
The next step would be for me to get a job that I can commute to by walking/ public transport, and end up sharing a car or two with other people. I can see that happening quite soon if things get as bad as they might here in the UK. Sharing a car would help with depreciation and mean you don't have 1.5 tonnes of metal sitting about doing nothing most days.

#451 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 07:20 PM:

Serge @432
Why does that make me only slightly less nervous than the idea of flying cars?

I don't know. Why does it?

Seriously, in the time span Charlie is talking about, we should have autonomous vehicles that are a lot safer than all too many drivers today. At very least, they can be relied on not to be engaged in a dick length contest, or to have had a skinful before setting out.

At last, I'll be able to afford a chauffeur.

J Homes.

#452 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 07:28 PM:

My apartment is a mixture of stupid and efficient.

The insulation and windows are incredibly efficient. I don't need to turn on the (electric) heaters very often.

The water heater arrangement really bothers me. The tank is in a closet off of the balcony, while all of the taps, the shower, and the washing machine are within about 15' of each other. In the morning, I catch the "warming up" water in a garbage can and use it to flush the toilet. When I do a warm or hot wash, I do it right after the shower.

If I didn't have a dog, or she had a yard to run in, I'd bike or walk to work. A 7 mile round trip, but I'd do it.

The bike thing might work now, in the summer months at least. I'd have to arrange my schedule carefully, to be back in time for "walkies."

#453 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 07:43 PM:

re 394: I don't know how much this figures in the thinking of Big Power but the history of big private infrastructure development is that they go broke before becoming viable. Or at least a lot of them go broke, and then the survivors pick up the pieces at deep discount. For a pretty recent example we have the Iridium system, which went belly-up but has since proven viable when bought at $25M (compared to $6B start-up cost) after the bankruptcy sale.

#454 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 07:50 PM:

We can't move our computing away from mainframes! Think of the DANGERS! The COSTS!!!!!!

I'm getting this argument as our library starts to ponder a plan for discontinuing acquisitions of VHS tapes. Everyone's whining about the cost of replacing tapes with DVDs and what to do about items that don't have DVD editions

"But some materials are only available on VHS!" is the biggest argument against so far form faculty. Perhaps updating your curriculum to something made within the last 15 years would help.

It's as if this idea that VHS would be going away snuck up on them.

#455 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 08:02 PM:

Stefan: I would LOVE to make the house more energy-efficient than it is. This year we've had to replace the HVAC (which did have a significant savings on our summer bills) and the windows (likewise.)

However, these things come with a significant cost, and though we did get fairly nice savings on the energy bill, it does not completely offset the cost of the improvements. To put it mildly, we're tapped out. So no new insulation for the attic (thirty years old and very tamped down) even though that would be another huge improvement; no replacement dishwasher, though that would save us a ton on our newly metered water bill*. No replacement for the light fixtures that need replacing or the sinks that do as well.

When you buy an expensive piece of equipment, you do so with the understanding that you need to make it last for as long as possible. A lot of businesses are in that situation— their equipment isn't at the level of the "beater" car, just at the level of the car that's a decade old. A Camry, perhaps. Maybe the mileage isn't what it used to be. Maybe you need to give it oil more often. But the brakes work and it's reliable, and you just don't have the money to replace it right now...

*The guy who told me they were installing a meter said, "Some people find their bill goes down." Ha. The only way my bill would go down would be if I were to let the lawn die off entirely (which would raise the A/C bills, FWIW), not do the dishes, AND never do the laundry.

I've also got to call them and have them explain the bill structure since there is no "Understanding Your Bill" on the website, and if I'm reading it correctly, they're charging me twice what the website says for the meter.

#456 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 08:46 PM:

Via Ravelry: A SPINNER IS HER. Cat Bordhi does it again, this time making yarn with 4 rubber balls and 3 coffee mugs.

#457 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 08:52 PM:

Fragano @ 446... And BB KinG?

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 08:55 PM:

Xopher @ 444... Another reminder that steampunk is fine for stories, but not as something to live in.

#459 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 08:59 PM:

J Homes @ 451... How many stories did Ron Goulart write where a car goes crazy? Asimov did a few too. And Zelazny wrote "Auto Da Fe".

#460 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 09:17 PM:

Serge @ #459, not to mention Stephen King's Christine.

Imagine if Herbie had had a nasty disposition.

#461 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 09:20 PM:

Even Heinlein did a "cars go crazy" (or, rather, "stop crazy") story, in "Waldo". Lots more out there that are very obvious.

#462 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 09:54 PM:

I just discovered a new form of self-reproducing code. The app I was testing threw an exception with an error message I'd never seen before. I entered it into the issue tracker, and when I pasted in the error message, the issue tracker crashed with the same message.

#463 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 10:03 PM:

#401 Serge
a) SPLAT! 027 keypunch on your head
b) CHAD!

#464 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 10:10 PM:

Kate Shaw, #423, and I realized late last night that I swapped the words. It should be more deer than food. They still have some predators -- I live in the middle of a small city and we had wolves come down the branch behind us and kill everything. But it's true that deer will stay in environments that their predators can't.

Charlie Stross, #429, Google already has a self-driving car. I saw it on the news. They're still putting a person behind the wheel at this point, but they've never had to use them.

#465 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 10:53 PM:

Let me see if I can clarify my thoughts on this somewhat, without completely exploding things. Apologies; I know this is somewhat disconnected.

I've zero problem with social security, as an institution. Single-handedly responsible for preventing a lot of elder poverty, and that's wonderful. I'm not arguing to get rid of it, at all.

But it looks a lot like the politicians used "raising your social security taxes" to fund other things. Which means that money is spent, on things that have already been used up. Which means it falls to my generation to pay -- at the same rates you are -- either for your benefits, or for those services consumed at that prior time. At the same time, we are being told to prepare to have our benefits reduced, but probably not until the cuts are absolutely unavoidable, by which point they will have to be draconian to catch up.

I'm aware of the argument that Social Security is stable, but I see no protection against further raids, so that doesn't seem like something I can rely on.

Maybe it looks different in other places. California's budget "dialogue" is ... beyond weird, and I'm sure that influences how I see things.

But I do think we all have an equal obligation to each other, to make sure that if cuts have to be made, they don't just hurt one segment of the population. That they don't benefit one generation, while another generation, paying the same taxes in the same amounts, gets stuck with minimal services, because the money's already spent and has to be caught up. I do not perceive that adequate care or consideration is being taken in that regard. I am really afraid that this is the path that California is on. It worries me that Congress is on this path too.

I'm extremely glad that there are people willing to fight that sort of thing.

#466 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 11:10 PM:

465
The claim is that they put IOUs into the pot - but since Social Security taxes are put into special treasury bonds, they really can't do that, if I understand it correctly.

What I see are people who think that SS is not really run by the government (because 'government can't do anything right' in their way of thinking), or it really can't be working as well as it appears to be. (I think there's also a certain amount of racism involved: these are, a lot of them, people who don't believe non-white-males should have jobs that pay more than minimum wage.)

#467 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 11:23 PM:

Well, any bond constitutes an IOU, a promise to pay. If SS funds had purchased equities, such as stocks, I wouldn't have felt very secure.

But in terms of functional relationships, payroll taxes go into one place, and SS checks are paid out of one place. A trust fund, or lockbox, or what have you, is a convenient fiction.

And that's basically what money itself is -- it has value only because we believe it has value.

#468 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 11:45 PM:

Serge @459 et al,

Oh, I'm not claiming that autonomous vehicles will be perfect, or immune from the occasional nasty failure. Just no worse than, and quite likely better than, the present crop of nuts behind the wheel.

Real life failures of meat-platform driving software, resulting in catastrophe, are even more common than science fiction stories of autonomous cars Going Wrong.

And if you want to cite Zelazny, make it "Devil Car" rather than "Auto Da Fe". "Auto Da Fe" is about vehicles that were intended to be dangerous, as if you cited the real-life bullring as an argument against oxcarts.

J Homes

#469 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2010, 11:58 PM:

Sure, but those IOUs have to be paid by someone -- in this case, by someone in the future, who isn't benefitting from what those funds went to purchase. That's pretty harsh on the people who end up paying the IOUs.

It's not the lack of security that gets to me. I've done enough future saving and planning, I shouldn't need it, barring something really unforseen. But the dialogue that seems to run "I don't owe you anything, but you have to pay for the debts I've been running up for years, and I expect you to do without until they're paid up" ... that subtext really bothers me. And it is sounding really loud, all throughout California's politics.

#470 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 12:48 AM:

Linkmeister #460: not to mention Stephen King's Christine. Imagine if Herbie had had a nasty disposition.

Imagine crossover fan fiction of a Herbie/Christine/KITT love triangle. I do not think it would end well....

#471 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:53 AM:

I keep wanting to say, "Hyperlocal news: area electron shifts between orbitals. 'He seemed like such a nice lepton,' says neighbor."

Maybe somebody already made that joke.

Anyhow. My news is that I seem to have raised a big pile of money for text adventure development, in the past three days. Sufficient for to let me quit my job at the end of the year, to be a starving game developer full-time. And this means that I'll have quite a while before I start starving.

Details, very early game demo, and (if you are inclined to support crazed life-changing decisions) a contribution/pre-order page is at http://eblong.com/kick .

#472 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 02:43 AM:

Earl @ #470, add a cross-species subplot by introducing Airwolf to the other three.

#473 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 02:54 AM:

Fragano at # 446, Serge at #457:

Don't forget Count Basie.

#474 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 03:07 AM:

Earl Cooley III: Imagine crossover fan fiction of a Herbie/Christine/KITT love triangle. I do not think it would end well....

Neil Gaiman's comments comes to mind: "(although I still find the idea of Good Omens slash fiction fairly mindboggling) (er, and Knight Rider slash fiction. I think that Knight Rider slash fiction is pretty weird, to be honest)." And the followup: "(I wasn't making up the Knight Rider thing either: I remember a table selling printed fanzine slash fiction, before there was ever a world wide web, with several volumes of "Now impale yourself upon my throbbing gearshift" stories which I thumbed through with delighted and horrified amusement. But then, I was never a David Hasselhof fan.)"

#475 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:01 AM:

Well, I was initially a little hesitant about kicking in $25 to get a CD that is going to clutter up the place like all my other CDs. Especially since people with iPhones will be able to get it for only $5; while I don't have an iPhone nor plan to get one.

Then I asked myself, "Self, have you gotten $25 worth of entertainment from playing Zarf's games?" And myself shot back a "Fuck yes!" (And I, like Beowulf Shaeffer, am not the sort of person who often uses profanity for emphasis.) So I went for it.

#476 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:51 AM:

Linkmeister #472: Earl @ #470, add a cross-species subplot by introducing Airwolf to the other three.

After Herbie, Christine and KITT amicably resolved their differences, nature took its course and chapters two through seven are slash fiction. Airwolf, jealous at being left out of the party, makes a compromising video of the other three with terahertz surveillance equipment (which sees through walls), narrates the video with snarky comments, and posts it to YouTube.

#477 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:55 AM:

Sandy B @441:

I think you underestimate the psychological reasons people by SUVs, particularly in cities.

Station wagons sit lower. SUV's are bigger, more visible, with a more commanding presence. And as someone who comes back to the SF Bay Area every few years, I've been watching the subtle arms race on the roads that makes that visibility desirable. Everyone's driving faster, closer together, in among all the trucks, on roads that feel dangerous because they're so bumpy.

A high driving position gives a feeling of control in a situation that pushes all of the driver's "this is unsafe!" buttons. SUVs may not actually be safer, but they feel it.

(At home in the Netherlands we drive† a Hyundai Matiz*, which is small enough to put in your handbag if parking is scarce. I'd never drive that in the Bay Area.)

-----
† An average of three trips a week: two to climbing, one to the grocery store. All else is bike and bus.
* Unfortunately, we won't be able to drive it for many more years. Not only is it falling prey to more, and more expensive, mechanical difficulties, but we're about two eldest-kid growth spurts from the back seat being uncomfortably small.

#478 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:31 AM:

J Homes @ 468... I stand corrected, regarding Zelazny's auto tales. Still, should a car designed to be like a bull escape into the wild - unless its name is Ferdinand, of course...

That being said, yes, robocars wouldn't be worse than many humans. Still, I'd rather not go around in something with an O/S designed by Bill Gates. Also, what if all the street sensors went on the blink because of the grid having failed while I'm on a highway surrounded by other robocars also going at 75mph...

My Mother the Car would be safer, being spiritually motivated, but she'd drive me (literally) crazy. (You've never met my mom.)

#479 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:34 AM:

'As You Know' Bob @ 473... And the Court's spiritual counselor would be Thelonius Monk?

#480 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:36 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 470... fan fiction of a Herbie/Christine/KITT love triangle

CrashFic?

#481 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:39 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 463...

Ow! Ow! Stop! And here are my paper tapes too!

#482 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:47 AM:

Off topic (and off road?)... HERE is a photo (taken by their mom) of my two oldest nephews with two MythBusters. Woot!

#483 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:53 AM:

#389 ::: Constance:
How important is it that the US is the only country that needed a civil war to end slavery? If you found out, would it be likely to tell you much about what the country is like now?

#484 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:10 AM:

Charlie @429: As for the on-demand water heaters, they've come a long way in the past two decades. I don't want to replace my central heating system just yet, but as/when I do, I'll be moving to a modern combi boiler -- runs the central heating, and provides gas-heated water on demand.

Having lived with them for a while now I wouldn't recommend a combi boiler, actually. Yes, they're a lot better than they used to be, and nowhere near as inefficient, but they still typically limit your hot water flow rate to about 10L/min, rather than the 25L/min you could get from either a mains pressure system (which has the potential to explode, so should probably be avoided) or a thermal storage system (which doesn't, so is probably better). The latter two systems also have the advantage of producing water at a fixed temperature that doesn't vary according to how quickly you're running it (or, indeed, how quickly somebody else in your house is also running it), which is very much an issue with every combi I've ever used.

#485 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:12 AM:

'As You Know Bob' #473: Nor, for that matter, Lord Tanamo.

#486 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:14 AM:

dcb @221, Cadbury Moose @211: As for recognising me, I'm un(?)fortunately pretty nondescript. But I will almost certainly be attending with a friend who doesn't post here, but who happens to be rather easy to spot: male, 6'4", long dark hair, ponytail.

#487 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:24 AM:

Andrew, 471: Congratulations, and good luck!

#488 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:46 AM:

Open thready appeal for good thoughts:

A dear friend of mine died suddenly last night of a massive heart attack. He leaves bereft a wife, two teenaged daughters, both parents, many siblings and a large extended family, co-workers, old SCA buddies and pretty much everyone he ever came in contact with.

I wish I could have hugged him one more time and told him how much his friendship has meant to me over the past 30 years.

#489 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:58 AM:

Cool EPOXI flyby image of Comet Hartley here.

#490 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 08:02 AM:

ddb@425 I grew up in a house with a flow through water heater made by a French company. My parents imported it from Canada in the early eighties. It was propane powered and worked beautifully for about twenty years at which point it was replaced by a more efficient also propane powered model. Both heaters have an easy to light pilot (basically you just push a button) so my folks only light it when they need hot water. We always had plenty of hot water for us and (in the winter) our livestock.

More recently I lived in a house with an electric flow through heater which was a pain. It did heat the water but could be overwhelmed if you drew too much water too fast.

The other thing I would say makes a difference in house design is orientation. The house I grew up in and the house that my husband and I built were both passive solar. All that really meant was that the southern side had more windows and the roof pitch was designed to block the sun in the summer. Both houses also had (mostly) passive ventilation through the gables. I say mostly as my parents' house has a ceiling fan to help raise the hot air through the house and we had a large exhaust fan in each end of the house we built.

Even in the 90+ year old house where we currently live I can tell that I'll have to put drapes up to keep the sun out of the south windows in the summer and I suspect that unless its very cold I'll be able to turn the heat down on sunny days.

#491 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 08:03 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 471... My best wishes!

#492 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 10:56 AM:

Lila at 488 : You, and everyone who is mourning your departed friend have my condolences and whatever good and supportive thoughts I can generate.

#493 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:06 AM:

This has been one crazy week - except for last night, I did not have a single night where I did not get home from the lab, find food and then code (in Matlab, writing data analysis or experimental stimulus code*) until the wee hours. My weekend is not going to be particularly calm either - I'm headed to the East Coast tonight for the wedding of a close friend from university. And, as a groomsman, I get the pleasure of being in a tuxedo for the event. Now, this is not uncomfortable, but the combination of a respectable black tuxedo with a canary yellow vest and tie was a bit shocking when I went to pick up my rental last night.

Oh, and the rest of the month is not going to be particularly calm either. Between now and December 2nd, impressive busyness will be the order of the day - my students are handing in term papers in a week (roughly eighty of them, minimum length 5pgs; around one-third of my students have to write a 10-15pg version), I have a funding application due to the NSF two weeks from today, I need to get a conference abstract in by December 1st and the aforementioned students have their last examination of term on December 2nd, which will then need to be graded quite quickly.

...how I know I'm a graduate student, reason 321.

*In my end of things, Psychophysics Toolbox and Matlab are they way things are done. There are other things out there, but the vast majority of vision researchers doing visual psychophysics or behavioral paradigms write their experiments thusly.

#495 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:19 AM:

Lila (488): My condolences. Good thoughts going out.

And a when-worlds-collide moment: An old friend of mine who still lives in Atlanta just posted on Facebook about the death of a friend who must be the same individual.

#496 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:22 AM:

Kyndra@490: Are you talking about a central flow-through heater? I thought they were put at point of use (one of the benefits being not wasting the water in the pipes from heater location to tap location). For a central one natural gas is easy enough; it's when located near bathrooms, in particular (which tend to be buried in modern house designs), that venting tends to be a problem.

#497 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:36 AM:

I've been looking at tankless water heaters at Home Depot (web site). I see two issues; the first is that the big central units are rated for either 35 degree rise or 45 degree rise. I believe that gets your maximum hot water temperature up to about 85 degrees in the winter in Minnesota; that's obviously not useable. I'm not sure if the low flow rate (8 gallons per minute) would be a problem in practice or not; I suspect it makes it even more important not to run the washer or the dishwasher while anybody is showering.

Also, they're $1000 units, compared to about $300 for a normal tanked heater (Yikes, that's scary; the last time we replaced one it cost about $150 for the heater). They're 200,000BTU heaters, i.e. significantly more powerful than many furnaces that heat the whole house.

Alternatively, there are electric point-of-use heaters for around $250. These take 240V 50A wiring (i.e. 1/4 of the entire household power supply if you have modern 200 Amp service) and produce a 45 degree rise at 2 gallons / minute or a 77 degree rise at 1 gallon / minute. A 77 degree rise would actually get you a hot shower in the winter -- if 1 gallon a minute was adequate, which it isn't. These are sink heaters, not shower heaters.

There must be something better available in other countries, or something; these look to me to simply not be usable.

#498 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:47 AM:

Wow, Andre-Joseph Leonard, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium, is a true and thoroughgoing scumbag.

Apparently he thinks AIDS is "justice" for gays:

“All I’m saying is that sometimes there are consequences linked to our actions,” the archbishop said, saying of AIDS, “this epidemic is a sort of intrinsic justice.”
In contrast to the harshness with which he views gays, his view of pedophile priests is more compassionate:
He said: “Priests who abused children in their care must be made aware of what they did but if they’re no longer working, if they have no responsibilities, I’m not sure that exercising a sort of vengeance that will have no concrete result is humane.”
His spokeman resigned over his remarks about AIDS, saying “Monsignor Leonard at times acts like a motorist driving on the wrong side of a freeway who thinks all the other motorists are wrong.”

Osiris, what an asshole.

#499 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:49 AM:

Btw, other RCC bishops have said he's speaking only for himself, so this isn't a "the RCC is evoll" post. It's just this one guy.

#500 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:54 AM:

KayTei @469: Aha! California -- that explains a lot... Believe me -- I will never stop fighting to see that all who pay in to OASDI will get the benefits they've earned.

Those so-called IOUs are United States Treasury Securities -- identical to the bonds we sell China, Japan, Germany and other private investors.

IF the Treasury were to refuse to redeem the securities held by the Social Security Trust Fund,* they would be committing sovereign default.

What do you think the global financial community's reaction would be?

*Please note the investor who holds the majority of U.S. debt IS the SS Trust Fund, NOT China.

(Can you tell my first federal job was with the Soial Security Administration?)

#501 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 12:02 PM:

Blast it! "Social" not "Soial"

I'm so glad it's Friday...

#502 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 12:30 PM:

ddb @497

Degrees Fahrenheit, I suppose.

A quick Google suggested a safe maximum of 104F, which I calculate as a suspiciously rounded 40C.

The problem is that temperatures of less than 130F in the hot water supply aren't enough to prevent Legionella. So hot water systems need to supply dangerously hot water.

#503 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:06 PM:

"Hgiyiyi (hgjhjh, hjhk) (Paperback) by jjjj" now has a (used copy) seller on Amazon.

#504 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:06 PM:

Jules @ 486: I'm definitely planning to be there. With a folding bicycle, which may be disguised as an implausibly large black canvas bag, and a small blue bag/backpack. Mustard yellow shirt, field green coat. I'll look for the tall friend as you suggest. N.B. It's Wetherspoon's Beer Festival...

#505 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:07 PM:

Dave Bell@502: 104F is an absurdly low safe limit. Water doesn't even feel warm on your skin until right around then. If you prevented people from showering above 104F you would have riots and soon a revolution on your hands. (I paid a lot of attention to the feel of various temperature water while doing darkroom work, so I had accurate thermometers handy, for a couple of decades long ago, and I still remember my benchmark numbers.) The graph of time and temperature to do damage here looks more accurate to me (and they don't put anything below 130F on the chart at all). Answers.com gives an average shower temperature of 107.5F.

#506 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:09 PM:

ddb @497: Here in the UK you can now get systems that store energy in a thermal mass (typically a large tank of water that isn't used directly, but rather is pumped as required into a heat exchanger) and use this to instantaneously heat your flowing water. These can put more power into the water than other kinds because they're able to store it up in advance and then use it faster than the infrastructure (whether electric or gas) can provide. A typical installation would have a 6kW electric heater for the thermal store, and would use this to supply about 50kW of on-demand heating to the domestic water, or about 170,000 btu/hr. This is calculated to supply 22 litres/min (best part of 6 US gallons) with a 35 degree C rise, but they can be set for higher temperature by installing a flow rate limiter. Some designs make the water substantially hotter, then mix with cold water to produce a regulated output temperature. These units are more expensive than the ones you're talking about (I think you'd be looking at around $3,000 for one like I'm talking about here, down to about $1,500 for ones that might not be able to manage the higher temperature rises), but they have numerous advantages, not least being able to run off a fairly ordinary 240V/25A supply, i.e. they're a drop-in replacement for an ordinary ahead-of-time domestic water heater.

#507 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:16 PM:

Dave Bell @502: "The problem is that temperatures of less than 130F in the hot water supply aren't enough to prevent Legionella. So hot water systems need to supply dangerously hot water."

That's another advantage of the system I'm talking about above: not only do you hold your stored hot water at a hotter temperature than the water you use, so Legionella is very unlikely to grow in it, you also don't generally find yourself exposed to it, so even if you did get your hot water tank infected, you'd likely not become infected yourself.

#508 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:24 PM:

#483 Nancy Lebovitz

I do pretty much know why by now, and yes it says enormous amounts about why we are the way we are right now -- which is pretty much how we've been all along. But now we can trace the threads, strands, reasons, personalities, philosophies, etc. of why and how.

Love, c.

#509 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:25 PM:

abi #477: I think you underestimate the psychological reasons people by SUVs, particularly in cities.

I got the chance to ride in the passenger seat of a huge Toyota Tundra truck some time ago, and the urge to crush lesser vehicles under the Tundra's mighty wheels was nigh overwhelming.

#510 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:30 PM:

Jules@506: That's fascinating. Given that the whole purpose of this exercise was to get rid of the inefficiency of heating and storing water until you needed it! So the solution to that is to heat and store water...until you can use it to heat other water when you need it? How can this possibly be an efficiency win? Anything that could be done to insulate the high-temp reservoir could be done to insulate the ordinary hot-water storage tank in a conventional heater.

#511 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:33 PM:

ddb @510: Ah. Missed the point; I understood the primary problem to be getting rid of the slow flow rates you get out of a traditional system. Sorry. :)

#512 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:40 PM:

ddb@496&497

In the house I grew up in the water heater is mounted on the wall about 10-15 feet from the bathroom sink and shower and the kitchen sink (good house design means all of the plumbing is in one part of the house for easier service/installation). The water will get hot enough in the winter in under 5 minutes that you can't put your hands into it until it cools. That house had (still has) the best shower water pressure I've ever experienced (and with hair I can sit on I like a lot of pressure for getting the soap out).

Technically I don't think that it is a point of use heater, just a tank-less one. I've never seen the point of "point-of-use" except maybe in a hospital or hotel with lots of bathrooms etc. Seems to me that having a water heater for each sink etc. would be a maintenance headache, more opportunity for break-down and leaking.

On coping with Minnesota winters: the propane heater my parents had originally was used in Maine and Canada so it or something like it should work fine.

Two additional advantages to gas of some kind: you can usually light the pilot with a match so you have hot water regardless of power outages (didn't apply when I was growing up as we were very rural and on a private well so no electric=no water anyway). Also there are models (more expensive) that mount outside the house and seem to do a fine job (some friends have had one for years and wouldn't be without it).

The electrical type like we put into the house we built use a lot of power, and it's not normal household wiring either, the feed line going into it was about as big as my wrist.

If you'd like to know what my folks have I can ask.

#513 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:41 PM:

I wonder how much improvement in hot water heater efficiency would come from, say, insulating the hot water pipes on the way from the water heater to the faucets or showers or whatever. For that matter, it seems like a lot of improvement could come from improving the insulation of the water heater. (At the extreme point, I guess the tank could be a very big steel Thermos bottle with a heating element and thermostat stuck in from the single opening.)

#514 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:42 PM:

Earl #509:

For the full effect, remember to leave your windows down, so as to hear the lamentations of their women.

#515 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Jules@511: Well, that's how I've understood the discussion here, anyway. But in the wider world there are other reasons besides efficiency for tankless heaters I'm sure.

Kyndra@512: good house design means all of the plumbing is in one part of the house for easier service/installation You can perhaps achieve that in new construction of small houses (and in fact some older small houses are done that way already, for the reasons you give.

However, you basically can't sell a new house with only one bathroom any more. Three is about the minimum, for a small house (and small houses are much out of favor). It's getting MUCH harder to cluster them!

#516 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 02:12 PM:

guthrie #448:

You wanted to know what I was getting at with my question

"What I want to know is, by analogy, do we basically have oil now, and so the barrier to ceasing to burn coal is the changeover cost? Or are we looking at going back to wood?"

What I am getting at there is, are we talking about a small impact on quality of life, or a big one. Is it more like trading in your SUV for a station wagon, or like no longer being able to afford a car?

The impact of a change in energy sources on quality of life seems like it's dominated in the long-run by operating costs for energy sources[1]/higher efficiency uses of energy, but in the short-run it might be dominated by the cost of changing out still-working infrastructure. So I want to separate those issues out, to work out whether we are basically in the position where a big one-time expenditure might make our current standard of living possible with low CO2 emissions, or whether the only available way to substantially decrease emissions involves a permanent drop in quality of life. Those two situations lead to radically different political situations, as far as I can see.

#517 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 02:25 PM:

ddb, 497,
There must be something better available in other countries, or something; these look to me to simply not be usable.
I can only speculate about other countries*, however:
traditional tanked hot water heaters have several (traditional) advantages.
1. You only waste as much hot water as the tank contains, so if you are profligate with a tankless water heater, you can waste as much energy as you want letting the shower run.
2. They don't run as hot, so engineering risks (fire, metal fatigue due to expansion/contraction of burners) are less. This should reduce maintenance costs.
3. They are a known technology, with really finely-adapted engineering solutions to the problem of keeping hot water hot while using as little energy as possible. You can get models that are pilotless - the relighter is computer controlled and only runs when needed, modern burners can be very, very efficient, and most of all, you can get tanks that are exceptionally well insulated.
4. If you switch to solar hot water, the an existing tank is useful for increasing the total amount of available hot water.

The price increase from $150 to 300 might factor in a different warranty period, which means different physical standards for components. CR bought a whole bunch of tanks, cut them up, and discovered that price correlates directly with warranty length, and thickness of tank, heating elements, insulation, and burner.

Note that the temperature rise you need to consider is the temperature of the cold water line as it enters the house - well below grade in Minnesota. That shouldn't vary much over the year. What temperature do you have now?

*frex, many countries in Europe use 230 volts for distribution, which means you can use smaller conductors per output rating. Curiously, Japan seems to use 100v, but also lots of point-of-use hot water heaters. Perhaps they are mostly natural gas?

#518 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 02:48 PM:

Edgar lo Siento@517: There's significant summer-to-winter variation, clearly perceptible on the skin; 20-30 degrees F difference would be my guess. The pipes are set about 6 feet down, that's not far enough to get down to the "constant 47F" level.

Which also means it's probably colder than 47F in the coldest parts of winter.

Darkroom stuff is packed, so I'm not sure I'm equipped to measure the actual temp without considerable rummaging.

#519 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 02:50 PM:

albatross@513: The tanks are now pretty well insulated; that's now standard. Not sure there's much payoff for increasing from the current level.

#520 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 02:54 PM:

Just as a general comment on alternative energy sources, my very amateur understanding of this stuff makes me really like solar thermal power, because it's rapidly possible to scale up. I mean, we already have a lot of industries devoted to manufacturing heavy steel stuff with electronic motors, computer control, and finicky tolerances. We can build heat engines pretty well, too--we've been doing it for a really long time, and we have a lot of manufacturing base to do it. Similar comments apply to wind power, though I think it's easier to find good sites for solar power plants than for wind turbines. But it's easy to see how, with an economy and society that looks rather like ours, we can actually build that infrastructure.

I wonder how hard it would be to convert some fraction of the world's car-building capacity to building smallish solar thermal generators. I'm surely missing a lot of details, but it sure seems like people and equipment that can make a car could also make solar thermal generators. (You need to be able to make bigger mirrors, and the tolerances there may be hard to deal with.)

The other question this raises in my mind is alternatives to energy storage. I wonder whether there are ways to make it economical to shift the energy use of industries around the availability of solar or wind power.

#521 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 03:05 PM:

ddb @ 510... there are other reasons besides efficiency for tankless heaters

...but it's a thankless cask?

#522 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 03:13 PM:

ddb@515 Retro-fitting a tank-less water heater to an older house might not make sense. I know my friends with the exterior one have several bathrooms (it's a good sized house with an addition) and it seems to work fine for them.

I wonder if it would make sense to use flow-through for the primary bath and the kitchen but a tanked heater for the rarely used bathrooms (guest room etc.)? Or maybe the other way around would work better?

#523 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 03:26 PM:

Kyndra@522: The most-used bath is probably the one on the master bedroom, or maybe the kids' bathroom (if they don't all have their own). And those are generally nowhere near the kitchen. The public bathroom is probably the least-used in a modern house.

And in some designs, the commonly used bathrooms are two floors away from the utility space, too.

#524 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Serge@491 -- thanks.

David@475 -- (repeating comment from email) One of my friends once joked that a CD drive in a computer really should just rip the data and then fire the CD into a recycling bin. (Well, actually he said "eject the CD as a jet of fine dust" but that's messier than keeping the CD whole.)

In any case, this option remains available. :)

#525 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 03:50 PM:

albatross @513--I know a few people in cold-weather areas (and some is warmer areas like Tennessee where house have poor insulation) who use insulating jackets for the water heater and pipe-wrapping insulation on the hot-water pipes. I don't know how much difference these things make, or whether it's a matter of a penny here, a nickel there, and they'll add up to a dollar sooner than you think.

#526 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:06 PM:

dcb@ #361, belated thanks for the book advice. I'm puzzled by "bread flour" v. "all-purpose flour." Not so much the distinction between the two as the lack of availability of the former at my local Safeway and even the organic market down the street. The manual for this Bella Cucina machine says plainly "must use bread flour," but if I can't find it without expensive online ordering and shipping that's going to reduce my usage of this gadget.

The organic place sold me some whole wheat flour which the clerk swore was the closest equivalent to bread flour they had, and I'm sure it will make whole wheat bread just fine, but what about other breads?

I didn't think there were so many complexities involved in breadmaking beyond the actual chemistry involved.

#527 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:18 PM:

My experience is that bread recipes are pretty resilient (with the frustrating exception of ryes). Bread flour will give you chewier bread with more interesting texture, but I doubt you will kill any of your recipes by using all-purpose.

#528 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:30 PM:

I cut this down from an even bigger wall of text: let me know if I overcut.

#448/520: Air conditioning is only a waste of energy in some parts of the world. I visited Texas twice, once in July in a heat wave, and living without AC in Texas would be a significant change in quality of life. I know MY brain shuts down after an hour and a half above 87 F. I have repeatedly done the measurement.

Solar thermal: You have a couple of inefficiencies in solar thermal. One is temperature: the hotter you get stuff with solar, the more it radiates and the less efficient the heating process becomes. Turning the heat to work, power towers are around 59% Carnot efficiency, vs. 63% for fossil fuel steam, but they're trickier to build than the trench-style ones. The other one, much less tractable, is capacity factor. [100% CF = running all the time at full power. 50% is half the time at full power and half the time at zero, or all the time at half power, or whatever.] You only get 28% CF from sunlight on the surface of earth. You can store some of that and have a smaller turbine, but you're fundamentally buying something, using it less than a third of the time, and paying interest on it ALL the time. Storing the heat has challenges and problems of its own (heat exchangers are a 10-20 degree loss going into storage, and 10-20 degree loss coming out, for one thing.)

#447 and 477: Regardless of why people buy SUV's, prestige or illusions-of-safety or whatever, most people COULD do the same job with a small or medium station wagon. I've argued before [maybe not here] that a car that is "good enough" 90% of the time is no good- a car that is "good enough" 98%+ of the time is about right. One could hypothetically rent or borrow more car for 6 days a year. (If a minivan makes sense, drive a minivan. If a station wagon makes sense, don't get a big fluffy SUV.)

#519 and previous: My understanding matches yours: most of the hot water energy loss is not through the tank walls, it's through things like fittings and pipes. There are times when you would like two hot water tanks- it's fairly standard for solar hot water heating, so you can add antifreeze to the stuff that goes outside. There might be an explanation for two hot water tanks in another situation- I can't think of one right now, but that may say more about me than about the problem.

#529 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:33 PM:

ddb@497, in climates warm enough to use solar hot water heating (i.e., probably not Minnesota, at least for winter), the tankless systems can be an effective addition to the solar to deal with dishwashers and times that you've used a lot of the hot water and the solar system hasn't reheated it yet (so you can get your morning hot shower even if you used most of the hot water last night.)

#530 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:35 PM:

ddb@523 And I guess that's where I have a problem. Why must we insist that everyone have their own bath and then complain about inefficiency/ cost of energy?

Some of that is just doing it because you can (ie the really rich people I used to pick-up and deliver oriental rugs too when I worked for my Dad) and some of it is imitating the really rich when it doesn't really make economic sense.

Extra bathrooms and the cost of heating the water for them won't make you go broke, but they'll put you that much closer to it and when you add in the extra cost of heating/cooling those extra rooms ('cause you can't have children share a room of course) plus playrooms, dens, living rooms etc, the modern house is expensive whether or not it has the latest and greatest in energy efficient technology.

There are people who need five or six bedrooms and three or four baths. They have ten children, plus their parents living with them and they get lots of company.

But how many people have all that room because they really need it? Mostly I suspect they need it because they want to brag that "Janey, has her own room all decorated in Laura Ashley." (or whatever the current rage is). Then they complain about the cost of living or energy or whatever.

I'm not including you in that lot. It just irks me, because if people really wanted to design livable, efficient houses they could.

#531 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:42 PM:

ddb, 518,
Oh, it appears I am wrong on the internet :)

I'm in hot water now!*

*I'm on a tub.

#532 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:46 PM:

I have this sinking feeling.

#533 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 04:49 PM:

Linkmeister@526, bread flours are high-gluten, which makes strong chewy dough that holds the gasses from yeast rising well. Cake flours have less gluten, and produce light fluffy dough that works well with baking powder, so it's what you'd use with cakes and pancakes. All-purpose is somewhere in between.

#534 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 05:21 PM:

@526/533

You can purchase wheat gluten all by itself, and add it to regular flour, which might end up being more cost-effective shipping-wise. (I seem to recall, Linkmeister, that you are in Hawaii or someplace else where shipping is expensive and complicated compared to the continental US.)

disclaimer: I have never worked for Bob's Red Mill, nor have I ever bought their wheat gluten, but I've bought their other products and been well pleased with them; if your local health food store stocks their products (as many do) you may be able to special order through them and combine shipping....

#535 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 05:43 PM:

Kyndra@530: I personally have never lived in a house with more than 1.5 baths. But a HUGE number of people add bathrooms to existing homes, as well as building new homes with multiple bathrooms. And with both parents working quite often these days, getting the parents and kids up, showered, ready to go to work/school puts quite a heavy load on the bathrooms in a house. I think most families in America today would consider going back to a single bathroom to be a very large decrease in standard of living.

Needs are nearly all relative, not absolute. In the end, we're either going to have a society in which people decide what they want for themselves, or else we're going to have a society in which people get told what they can have. I know which one I want to live in!

Bill Stewart@529: Back in the early 80s, a lot of solar hot water went in in Minnesota. Of course it's nearly all broken down, and just cluttering up roofs, these days. I'm sure today's systems are better, but my immediate reaction is that it's a technology that failed once. But anyway, people at least thought it was worth trying here, and worth subsidizing here, back then.

#536 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:07 PM:

#535, Lee: Back in the early 80s, a lot of solar hot water went in in Minnesota. Of course it's nearly all broken down, and just cluttering up roofs, these days. I'm sure today's systems are better, but my immediate reaction is that it's a technology that failed once. But anyway, people at least thought it was worth trying here, and worth subsidizing here, back then.

The "solar panels" on top of the Carter White House were actually solar thermal water heaters, I believe, and I've seen claims that a 2010 version would be three times as cost-effective. Nothing I'd trust enough to cite, but it's a plausible degree of improvement in the last 30 years. My solar thermal course [last spring] seemed to indicate that they're reasonably practical at those latitudes- the examples were all set in Madison, WI, where the authors of the textbook are based.

The fact that nobody's bothered to fix the old ones doesn't necessarily mean anything- the early-80s wind turbines in the Altamont Pass were crap, and people have finally started putting new turbines on the old sites. You wouldn't want to fix those turbines, you really wouldn't.

#537 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:14 PM:

Sandy B @528:

Regardless of why people buy SUV's, prestige or illusions-of-safety or whatever, most people COULD do the same job with a small or medium station wagon.

Not if the job is "make me feel safe when driving".

Denying the nature of people's relationships with their cars, insisting on only a subset of their priorities being valid, is not the way to get them to change their behavior. It comes across as hectoring, finger-wagging, moralizing.

#538 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:43 PM:

Abi: I was trying to solve the problem I was given. A 4,000 lb. SUV could be replaced by a 1,800 lb. car at no loss of "quality of life" in terms of still having a car that does the same things. And the station wagon is much less likely to flip over when someone swerves to avoid a skunk [no people or skunks were hurt in that example, but it did happen.]

In my actual life, I'm going to concentrate on producing renewable power as cheaply as I can. Because lecturing people is, as you have clearly and elegantly pointed out, not useful. Besides, the NASCAR fans think yachts are a waste, and the yachters think NASCAR is a waste, and your luxury energy is yours to spend.

Besides, if we're ever going to get off this planet we need LOTS of luxury energy. Enough to make Las Vegas look small and cruise ships look reasonable.

#539 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 06:55 PM:

Sandy B @538:

A 4,000 lb. SUV could be replaced by a 1,800 lb. car at no loss of "quality of life" in terms of still having a car that does the same things.

You're not hearing me. A station wagon does not "do the same things" as an SUV. Because it does not make the occupants feel safe.

That is a thing that an SUV does.

(This is different than making the occupants safe. I do not dispute that.)

If it doesn't make the occupants feel safe, they will not buy a station wagon. Because it does not do the same things as an SUV. No matter where it goes or how much cargo it holds.

#540 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:08 PM:

Bill Steward and Thena are right. Bread flour has higher gluten, but all-purpose will work OK.

You can buy 20# bags of bread flour at Costco, and it's damn cheap! I actually used to do that when I was baking a lot, but somehow I fell out of the habit.

Also, definitely get the yeast there: you can pay about $1 each for those little yeast packets at the supermarket, or you can buy a bakery-sized package at Costco for, I think $4 or $5 for 100s of times as much - easily a year's supply for the home baker. Keep it in the fridge or freezer and it will last a long time.

#541 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:09 PM:

Stewart, not Steward. Sorry, fingers must have had the spell-checker activated.

#542 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:39 PM:

Thanks, breadfolk! Would you believe I found Gold Medal's "Better for Bread" flour at a niche market called the Navy Commissary? I should have looked for yeast there too, but by the time I got to that aisle I was casting one eye over my shoulder at the rapidly-lengthening checkout line. The commissary has more varieties of flour than Safeway, which surprised me. Not rye, however, which is one I really want to try.

I think I have all the raw materials necessary for my first attempt.

#543 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 07:40 PM:

On yeast: Last month, shortly before relocating, I was making bread and had forgotten to get yeast. I found a package with a use-by date in 2005. Worked fine. Part of the reason yeast survives so long is that you don't actually need anywhere near as much as one of those packets if you're willing to let it rise a bit longer. Exponential population growth can be a good thing.

#545 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 08:03 PM:

Abi is right about one of the functions of an SUV. My BF and I just bought a Kia Sportage. He'd just survived a 65 MPH collision with a deer and was not in a mood to get anything smaller.

#546 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 08:19 PM:

Ha! I spoke too soon! I have plenty of vegetable oil and olive oil, but I have no shortening. Does anyone have a preference? 1:1 oil-to-solid, or 1.25:1, or what?

#547 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 08:22 PM:

I've found that if pre-mixed recipes for bread machines are time-expired, it's worth adding a packet of dried yeast.

You don't have the easy option to wait a bit longer for the bread to rise, so...

#548 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 08:31 PM:

Oil should be 1:1 for shortening. If you were replacing butter, you'd use less (0.8:1 maybe) because butter contains some water.

#549 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 08:59 PM:

... it looks like I'm outvoted on the SUV's. Fine. But I'd like to show you my telecentric imaging parabolic solar death ray [1]. ANYONE GOT A PROBLEM WITH CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER? ANYONE?

[1] Will not work on overcast days or at night. May lose up to 50% of power due to dusty mirrors. Defocusing lens may melt. May not in fact produce parallel-ray image of sun due to 32' radius of solar disk[2].
[2]I should just rename it "mild annoyance ray", shouldn't I?

#550 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 09:15 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ #548, Thank you, sir. I realized margarine = solid fat just like shortening, but I might have slightly overdone the amount (I used 2 tsp, which is the amount of shortening called for). We'll see in about 3 hours.

I'm excited to see the results! I'm trying basic white bread; for one thing, if I'm gonna bake much I need to lay in a supply of things like brown sugar, molasses, raisins, and other stuff I currently don't have lying around the pantry.

#551 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 09:26 PM:

Speaking of solar-powered death rays... On December 8, the MythBusters are going to revisit their Archimedes experiment, due to a challenge by some fan of theirs called Barack Obama.

#552 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 09:27 PM:

abi @ 359: "I don't think we can make a rule that fits all of the different ways that people decide that something is sufficiently Not Right that they have to change it. I think history varies too much for that."

If we are making rules, though, "led by relatively privileged members of the victimized class" explains a lot more cases than "bestowed by benevolent individuals not themselves affected". And "did it out of self-interest" explains a whole lot more than "did it against their own interest". It's true that there are a lot of moving parts involved, and mobilization of the oppressed is only one of them, and that moral arguments can shape the role of otherwise uninvolved groups. But moral arguments only grow in fertile soil, and a countervailing self-interest creates a hostile environment indeed.

"Starting down that road was revolutionary and exceptional."

Then shouldn't the credit go to the Roundheads? Or to the barons who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta?

"They could have created a new monarchy and aristocracy, but didn't."

But the whole point was that they, as non-aristocrats, didn't want to be aristocrats or have a king. They wanted to be juridically-equal landed gentleman-farmers, and so they created the political system that would best allow them to be so.

albatross @ 397: "The catch is, we can only ask her for stuff that's existing, on-the-market-today technology, not something as yet uninvented."

Between this and Charlie's 426, I think you have demonstrated why a number of leading environmentalists have started to seriously push nuclear power as the only viable green solution. The problems with solar and wind power are at least partially impossible-to-predict technological ones; the only hurdles nuclear needs to overcome are infrastructure and ideology.

#553 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 09:28 PM:

Open threadiness:

"Please move your obstructive legs right now" is my new favorite sentence.

I foresee many uses for it.

#554 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 09:28 PM:

" It's a ray that causes instant death. Why don't you just say death ray?"
- Eureka's Sherriff Jack

#555 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 09:30 PM:

Steve C. 412: "If they feel that climate change adjustments will lower their standard of living, it simply won't happen."

Or rather, it will happen later and far more brutally.

In the long-term, anthropogenic CO2 emissions are coming down. The only question is how many people die in the process.

#556 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 09:36 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 471: "My news is that I seem to have raised a big pile of money for text adventure development, in the past three days."

That is super awesome news. Yay you! Don't forget to keep us updated!

#557 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 09:58 PM:

The train station I commute out of has 'point of use' water heaters in the rest rooms, because it's an all-electric building and there's no central water heater. They seem to work fine for that purpose.

I wish we had one in the kitchenette at work, where the hot tap water is never hot enough. (I'll get it from the coffee-maker instead. Faster and hotter.)

#558 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 10:25 PM:

re 538: An 1800 lb car is a very small car, on the order of a 1970s VW Rabbit. I haven't found anything that light today so far; for instance, a current VW Golf weighs in at 3000lbs.

A big part of the reason why people buy SUVs is that once you have a couple of kids, the need to carry quite a lot comes up frequently. The smallest Toyota SUV, the RAV-4, has a curb weight of 3360lb, compared to 2280lb for the comparable-sized Corolla. The latter has 12.3 cu. ft of cargo space, though, while the RAV-4 has 37.2 cu. ft. Smallish station wagons have again ceased to exist, so I can't make a comparison there. But I would bet they aren't that much lighter than a comparable SUV.

#559 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 10:39 PM:

558
The old Honda wagons could handle quite a bit of cargo, although it was a good idea to keep cargo length under 6 feet. They were considerably smaller than SUVs, got better mileage, and were comfortable.

#560 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 10:40 PM:

@550 When you start experimenting, tell us how the cinnamon raisin bread turns out, substituting minced dried pineapple for the raisins.

'Cause I don't have a bread machine, and it's intriguing me.

(We're still recalibrating our yeast recipes to the new oven, bought three years ago. Recipes that used to work fine just.. don't, anymore.)

#561 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:39 PM:

heresiarch@555: And it will be used as an excuse to take control by countless demagogues. Also, most adults of my generation remember the onrushing ecological doom of the 70s -- and have noticed it didn't happen. I'm reasonably sold on the climate change story, but I understand how a lot of people can not be.

#562 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:45 PM:

This Wikipedia page is the first result for Googling odd time signatures. I am in awe of the table of contents alone.

#563 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:47 PM:

FWIW:

Never or lightly used bread machines can be found at thrift stores. Often you'll have your choice of models. The more conscientious owners include the instructions when they donate them.

Just make sure that the little stirring paddle is still in there.

* * *
I had one of the first popular bread machines, distributed by a mail order outfit called DAK. ("Drew A. Kaplan," a friend of a former boss and a very quirky fellow.) It was an R2-D2 looking thing with a heavy glass globe. The cylindrical loaves were kind of fluffy, really only good for toasting.

I eventually lent the machine to my aunt, who used it to make soy-free bread for my grandmother. She basically used it up. The Oster I bought with the money my aunt gave me is much better.

#564 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:50 PM:

SandyB@538 and elsewhere: We can usefully try to educate people -- show them when an SUV really is safer and when it isn't, for example. The truth there happens to fit our goals (I have similar goals here; I'm arguing a bit about methods and things), might as well use it!

As a nitpick, you need to recalibrate your sense of what cars weigh. Look up what a Prius weighs some day!

One of the people I know who owns a vehicle some people call an SUV (a Subaru Forester) has it for a reason including one that hasn't been mentioned yet: this person is older, and finds it much easier to get into and out of because the seat is at a more convenient height.

#565 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:50 PM:

on SUVs: I have a Honda CRV, because I can fit myself, my teenager, my two toddlers and all their crap, and my 115 lb dog in it all at once. And it'll also hold a lot of lumber, which is one of my art supplies of choice. It got better gas mileage than anything else in my price range that would hold that same amount of stuff (around 25 mpg.) I angsted a lot before buying it, but I haven't come across anything else in the years since that would have been any more environmentally sound. So for some of us, SUVs do actually make sense.

#566 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2010, 11:56 PM:

Our Toyota Sienna minivan is no SUV, but, once I've popped out the back seats, it sure can hold a lot of crap - literally crap when I take Spring's yardwork cleanup to the dump.

#567 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:04 AM:

564
Starting with the 50 kg (or thereabouts) of rechargeable batteries and the heavier-duty starter battery. It's not really a subcompact; it barely fits in some compact parking spaces. (Official curbside weight is just under 2800 pounds.)

#568 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:30 AM:

Sinister forces paid me to ruin your productivity by posting this:

Into Space

#569 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:30 AM:

Sinister forces paid me to ruin your productivity by posting this:

Into Space

#570 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:32 AM:

Linkmeister: Katie and I have The Bread Machine Book, by Marjie Lambert and Marjie Lambert's New Bread Machine Book and are quite pleased with them.

#571 ::: Gennis ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:47 AM:

Delurking to say that nighttime rocket launches, viewed across the ocean, are really cool. There was just enough fog to produce a fairly large glow when the engines lit up, but not so much that we didn't get a clear view of the rocket as it started to rise. The light was so bright it left a trail across the water. The rumble was just audible over the waves.

(It was a Delta II launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base. They'd been trying to launch since Sunday, so it was nice to finally see it go up.)

#572 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 01:36 AM:

Sandy B.@549: ... it looks like I'm outvoted on the SUV's. Fine.

Did you see the Malcolm Gladwell SUV article someone posted a link to a while back? One of the psychological reasons why people in the focus groups mentioned in it wanted SUVs was because "If the vehicle is up high, it's easier to see if something is hiding underneath or lurking behind it." Hectoring, finger-wagging and moralizing are quite possibly going to be wasted on such folks. They'll change their behaviour when they can't afford to run the things any more.

#573 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 02:18 AM:

Stefan Jones #568-569: Sinister forces paid me to ruin your productivity by posting this: Into Space

My heroic NoScript Firefox extension thwarts your evil plan!

#574 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 02:40 AM:

My first loaf came out pretty well. Plain white bread, but tasty. I'm sure I can improve on it; it's a little chewy. I can see how adding things like fruits and nuts and maybe cheese would make it more interesting. However, it was fun and not difficult to do.

David Goldfarb @ #570, I found Bread Machine Bounty from Better Homes and Gardens published 1992 at a local used bookstore. It's not bad. I'll definitely look for Ms. Lambert's books, though, as I expect to want more and different recipes than the 100 or so I've got. Thanks.

#575 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 02:44 AM:

Andrew Plotkin, #471, wow, congratulations!

Lila, #488, I'm so sorry.

Suzanne, #565, Palmer?

#576 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 02:46 AM:

Charlie Stross@426: Cost estimate: $3-8Tn, or the entire US defense budget for a decade. In other words, it's entirely affordable but requires a major change in priorities.

You cannot dump something the size of the US military into the toilet at a moment's notice and expect to still be able to get the seat down, AWYK. And having large numbers of the trained-to-kill wandering around disgruntled (unless you've found them all jobs assembling and mucking out fast breeders) is not a failsafe recipe for peace and quiet, as Paul Bremer so effectively demonstrated.

Damn practical suggestion apart from that (and the nimby issues with the reactors), tho'.

#577 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 03:23 AM:

Lori @ 500
Yeah, I'm willing to accept, for now, that the whole California trend hasn't spread as much as it sounds to me like it has.

On the question of treasury bonds, I'm confused. When I say "but that's debt we have to pay for at some point," I keep hearing "no, it's treasury bonds, that's different." I don't think that's what people are actually saying, but I'm not sure what I'm missing. Correct me if I'm wrong (not sarcastic!), but when we sell bonds, we're effectively taking out loans. We get money we can spend immediately, and we promise we'll pay it back, plus interest money, at a future date. At the point where we pay back the bond-holder, all that money has to come out of taxes. And those taxes are paid by then-taxpayers, i.e. the future.

If it's that I seem to be singling out social security, it's as a small part of a larger problem. State and federal deficits, underfunded government retiree health benefits, uncontrolled Medicare costs -- all those delayed costs will have to be paid by the future. And I'm fine with making good on all that, up to the point where people say "but don't tax us, and don't change our benefits. Take the money out of those social programs over there, the ones that mostly benefit younger families and children. And take it out of their future old-age benefits, because they have time to recover, and we've already made irrevocable decisions."

That feels like a serious violation of social contract. It's a total cost-shift, at the expense of future generations. I worry that the younger generations are being set up to fail, by loading us down with huge debts, and then refusing to provide us with any support.

#578 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 04:16 AM:

ddb @ 561: "And it will be used as an excuse to take control by countless demagogues."

No, I mean that climate change will destroy the built infrastructure that supports our current population level and billions of people will die. They will then, after a brief interval, stop emitting carbon dioxide. Demagoguery doesn't come into it.

(By "long-term" I mean 100 years plus.)

Kaytei @ 577: "Correct me if I'm wrong (not sarcastic!), but when we sell bonds, we're effectively taking out loans. We get money we can spend immediately, and we promise we'll pay it back, plus interest money, at a future date."

Generally it's not paid for by taxes, but by issuing another set of bonds. This seems at first glance to be like paying one credit card off with another, but differs in two ways: one is that treasury bonds pay out very little interest, usually a fraction of a percent over inflation. Right now, the interest rate on certain types of bonds actually just went negative. The second difference is that, as long as the tax base is growing faster than the interest rate, then paying off debt in the future is cheaper than paying it now.

This is all to say that government debt can be carried in a healthy manner, not that is actually is being done that way now.

#579 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 04:40 AM:

KayTei @577

What makes the business of the Social Security Fund different is that it's the government shifting money between different pockets. There are taxes paid in for a specific purpose (they have a specific name, but they're still taxes), which needs to be kept safe for future use. The money not needed for current expenses is lent to the rest of the government, by buying Treasury Bonds, and interest will be paid for that.

It beats buying derivatives from Lehmann

But there's one pretty obvious consequence. |People have mentioned the government "raiding the Social Security Fund", which I suppose means that money has been permanently removed. Why couldn't they simply have shifted a few more Treasury Bonds?

I'm not saying there are no things that would justify a permanent transfer of money, but it's a bad precedent. It's a corruption of the process. Loans are different.

#580 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 05:26 AM:

Condolences and best wishes, Lila.

#581 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 07:32 AM:

Heresiarch #552 wrote:
"The problems with solar and wind power are at least partially impossible-to-predict technological ones; the only hurdles nuclear needs to overcome are infrastructure and ideology."

I disagree completely with the first part, and somewhat with the second. For the first part, my previous links upthread have demonstrated both ideas and actual real examples of solar power in use and probably developments. Regarding wind power, I don't see what hard to predict technological issues are left, given that we've had commercial wind farms in the UK for 10 years and more and they've started building very large (and more efficient ones) out at sea. Sure, there are always material technology improvements that can be done so they need less maintenance, and someone invented a more efficient gear box a year or two ago, but I don't know what you are talking about with regards to hurdles being impossible to predict technological ones.
Your second point surely depends on how much value is placed upon the waste disposal, and of course the nuclear proliferation issues you face when expanding nuclear to more countries. Correct me if I'm wrong though, but I thought nobody had built a third of fourth generation reactor, whatever the modern safe by design type are? Surely if nobody has built one like it before it also has hard to predict technological problems?

#582 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 07:46 AM:

I want an atomic-powered flying car.

#583 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 09:19 AM:

A computer question...

Is Windows 7 a distinct improvement over the ghastly Vista, and is it not-a-step-down, compared to "XP"? Also, do softwares that run under "XP" experience compatibility problems under "7", and vice versa?

#584 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 11:28 AM:

Marilee, #575: indeed.

#585 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 11:29 AM:

Serge, people I know think Win7 is better than Vista and at least as good as XP. I haven't tried it myself. (Note that where I work, we use XP, and we're in the process of upgrading to IE8. Or some of us are.)

#586 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 11:33 AM:

PJ Evans @ 585... Thanks. The place where I'm thinking to go for a new machine gives me the choice of which O/S I want. They did, two years ago anyway, when I bought my wife's laptop there.

#587 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 11:33 AM:

Serge #583: So far Win7 appears much improved over Vista; jury's still out on whether it's actually any better than (or as good as) XP, though at some point MSoft will stop releasing security patches for XP and one will have to upgrade anyway. We've seen a few glitchy problems particularly w/ wired network connections, but no substantial issues and no software compatibility problems so far. To be fair, though, my workplace is not what anyone would call cutting-edge when it comes to these things, so we don't have a lot of Win7 out there yet. HTH.

#588 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:15 PM:

Adrian Smith@572: "If the vehicle is up high, it's easier to see if something is hiding underneath or lurking behind it." Hectoring, finger-wagging and moralizing are quite possibly going to be wasted on such folks. They'll change their behaviour when they can't afford to run the things any more.

For some people -- women alone who must drive or park in deserted areas, for example -- the ability to see quickly whether or not their vehicle is safe to approach is a matter of nontrivial concern.

#589 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:31 PM:

588
It's pretty hard to lurk under a car, and not so easy to lurk behind one, if you can see through or over it. Both seem to me to be far more easily done with an SUV or a pickup.

#590 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:35 PM:

Suzanne @ 587... Thanks. One thing I'll make sure when I look into getting a new machine will be related to hardware. I mean, whose brilliant idea was it to put a laptop's main cooling fan under the laptop? ("Overheating? What overheating?")

#591 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:39 PM:

Serge #590: if you find yourself sitting with a laptop at a desk for long stretches of time, you can get little pads for it to sit on that diffuse the heat better than the desk itself will, or, for more money, slightly larger ones that have little fans in them. Not really portable, but great if your laptop is largely stationary.

For a while I was using my laptop at home and I'd actually prop it up on a couple of my kids' building blocks. Worked great, couldn't beat the price (-:

#592 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Suzanne @ 591... You can see here my own solution: braces bolted together and making a frame high enough than I can push the keyboard under the computer. The old clunker though has become so finicky that, when I have it on my lap, my skinny thighs still block enough of the fan that the machine will shut itself down.

#593 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 12:54 PM:

Serge #592: even better than my cheap fix.

If the machine works fine except for the overheating, have you tried blowing the dust out of the fans with some canned air?

#594 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 01:30 PM:

open threadiness:
does anyone have recommendations for a first time visitor to Saigon? I've read a little about the city and will be there for the next three days. Largely internet-less, unless I manage to find a cafe. I'll be in District 1, and reading about the warnings for travellers who are alone has kind of spooked me. thanks.

#595 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 01:40 PM:

Serge

I had to get Windows 7 in my new one. I don't like it anywhere near as much I LOVE my XP Pro desktop. But that's what I was able to get. It IS infinitely better than Vista, but it has many, many problems, most of which seem to me that the MS crew -- to quote an IT pro friend -- 'are so fucking lazy they couldn't be bothered to make it compatible with what went before.'

This includes everything from your netgear router, to Outlook Express -- if you used that as your e-mail manager, it's not supported by Windows 7 -- to older versions of Photoshop, and probably older programs for playing dvds from an external player on your computer.

So re-populating your new system can be very time-consuming.

My husband also just got a new laptop that also had to have Windows 7 on it, and he really really really hates it. But he's even more conservative than I am when it comes to such changes. But he also is finding more trouble with it when using Firefox and so on.

I don't like the so-called 'library' system. I really hate the way it handles photos. Most of all I hate how it tries to force me into 'socially networking' with fb and all kinds of sites I want nothing to do with.

Love, C.

#596 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 02:51 PM:

Suzanne @ 593... I checked and the fan is good. Anyway, what finally got me seriously thinking about a new laptop is that the old one recently fell off the coffee table. No harm to the machine itself, but the adapter's plugin part broke off. I eventually found a universal adapter, but none of its heads is a perfect fit. When the cord slides out, it switches the laptop to battery mode, and the battery leaves a bit to be desired.

#597 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 02:53 PM:

Constance @ 595... Outlook incompatibility would be a major problem. Arrogant idiots...

#598 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 04:38 PM:

Several of the things people mention with regard to XP to W7 switches are things people shouldn't be using on ANY level of Windows anyway -- Outlook Express and IE; they're far too dangerous to use.

I went from XP to X7 at home for the 64-bit support (and I've now put 8GB of RAM in this box), and it's been relatively painless. I lost one add-on card, a low-end SCSI adapter, because there are no 64-bit drivers for it (which caused me to upgrade my flatbed scanner to something really better than I need, because it was the lowest-level scanner that had the features I need). And I lost one free piece of add-on software that doesn't seem to work right on W7 (XKeymacs, which is a very sad thing to lose). Photoshop, Thumbs Plus, Bibble, Photo Mechanic, and so forth all work fine for me. I even managed to install Nikon Scan 4 (which tries to refuse to install; it can be fixed by editing tine .info file, and once installed it works fine).

#599 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 04:42 PM:

Serge@590: I suspect somebody who thought the laptop would sit on a table. The case has bumps to create enough clearance for cooling air flow in that case.

I did find the perfect laptop stand (link to my blog article, with link to manufacturer). Simple piece of aluminum bent like a "J"-card.

#600 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 04:45 PM:

guthrie@581: I don't know about "impossible to predict", but I understand that the wind turbine designs (from all manufacturers) are not coming close to their rated life in actual field use. They're having bearing failures far too early. This is throwing the cost projections into a cocked hat. The solution may require actual science; I don't think they're using the cheap bearings, so I don't think there's a clear-cut "better" design to switch to.

#601 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 05:05 PM:

In regards to power in general— I believe the loss of power in transmission (power lines, etc.) is in excess of 30%.

IOW, 30% of all of the power we generate is basically bled off into the ether.

It's not developing new forms of power that we really need; it's a means of cutting into that percentage. The person who develops a better battery is going to change the world.

#602 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 05:05 PM:

On having space under laptops and other computers for airflow:
When it's on a solid (not flexible) surface, I've used a wire sink rack. Works pretty well for me, and is generally easy to find at hardware/home stores.

#603 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 05:20 PM:

I had written a riff off the SUVs and subjective feelings of safety thread relating more specifically to the subjective feeling of unsafety I currently feel relating to the disappearance of my SUV from my driveway earlier this week. But the posting got screwed up and I'm too depressed to reconstruct it. Let's just say that I'm currently very much on the side of subjective feelings of safety ... backed up by objective differences in local crime rate statistics.

#604 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 05:22 PM:

ddb @ 599... Hmmmm... That just gave me an idea. Thanks.

One thing I've been thinking of doing for my home office is to find one of those articulated monitor holders, but instead of a screen I'd bolt in a small platform for the laptop.

#605 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 05:30 PM:

guthrie@581: I don't know about "impossible to predict", but I understand that the wind turbine designs (from all manufacturers) are not coming close to their rated life in actual field use. They're having bearing failures far too early. This is throwing the cost projections into a cocked hat. The solution may require actual science; I don't think they're using the cheap bearings, so I don't think there's a clear-cut "better" design to switch to.

#606 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 05:32 PM:

Note that the gnomes kidnapped ddb's comment 598. I have rescued it from their clutches (I put on a green kirtle. Makes 'em twitch every time) and renumbered comments as needed.

#607 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 05:36 PM:

IOW, 30% of all of the power we generate is basically bled off into the ether.

Turned into heat, mostly, if I remember my basic physics.

#608 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 05:43 PM:

That's the way I feel about fbook -- too dangerous to use in any way at all.

Yet there are at least as many people using fbook as use(ed) Outlook Express (I loved Outlook Express) and Internet Explorer -- which I don't know if I love but its compatible and it works and I have always used it.

Love, C.

#609 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 05:56 PM:

Wind turbines don't generate acid rain--producing them can, but so does producing fossil fuel power plants. Wind turbines don't put particulate matter in the air which goes into the lungs of people and animals, and which comes down making people have to spend time and effort and resources and income washing windows, cars, etc. Wind turbines don't create atmosphere pollution which causes asthma attacks and other health expenses and productive losses.... it's not ONLY climate change that are deleterious effects of fossil fuel usage.

Wind turbines don't have a continous supply of fossil fuels being deliver to them by truck, pipeline, and/or occasionally railroad car, all requiring power expenditures to move the fuel to the fossil fuel them, and by truck and usually rail too, belching of noxious exhaust into the air from consumption by combustion of fossil fuels....

Wind turbines don't put radioactives in the air (coal burning does), don't create mounds of often toxic, acidic ash to deal with and which is environmentally destuctive....

Again, making wind turbines creates pollution, but so does making fossil fuel power production plants.... the fossil fuel production plants, however, -produce- pollution and expenses worldwide (radioctivity coming down on lichens in the Arctic from powerplants worldwide and caribou concentrating the radiation --dioxin, too, I thinkg, clouds of air pollution from China belched out coming down worldwide, Cinergy's damned Dirty Dozen which were SUPPOSED to be either permanently shutdown or rebuilt to the strictest EPA rules back in the NINETEEN SIXTIES in Ohio, continuing to pollute the air and ground and water in New York and New England--but NOT in Ohio... ) and illness from contaminated air, water, soil, plants, and animals worldwide....

But the "costs" for fossil fuels for habitat damage, fishing grounds damage, healthcare (asthma, lung cancer--yes, air pollution contributes to that, other cancers, autism I expect (acid water leaches all sorts of nasty stuff of pipes to contaminate drinking water.... one of the ironies of the W. R. Grace EPA site polluting the water supply in eastern Massachusetts is that the person who first got the attention to a whistleblower on the situation initially in all likelihood was a victim of the pollution, though that I don't think was a factor in the person reporting the water pollution... it was mostly a coincidence I believe [and not I will NOT put the details here...]), etc., don't get totalled up as "costs" when comparing fossil fuels versus solar and wind and geothermal and water power.

#610 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 06:01 PM:

#665 ddb
For many years there was a wind turbine operating in Burlington just south of the 128/US3 North interchange... it came down becase rot-in-hell Reagan terminated all the federal support for alternative energy programs and development (even though the fossil fuels lobby got MORE federal financial incentives and support to drill for oil and gas and mine coal and pump and ditribute oil and gas and build powerplants burning them....)

#611 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 06:10 PM:

P J Evans #602: On having space under laptops and other computers for airflow: When it's on a solid (not flexible) surface, I've used a wire sink rack.

Clever. Alton Brown would be proud: you've turned the wire sink rack into a multi-tasker. heh.

#612 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 06:14 PM:

Constance #608: That's the way I feel about fbook -- too dangerous to use in any way at all.

I currently use it a lot; from my point of view, it's the front lines of the Meme War. I know the risks.

#613 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 07:01 PM:

DDB #600 - ahh, that sounds more likely as a major issue, thanks.

You know, since they've started putting wind turbines out at sea, you even get people complaining about that, even though they're 5 miles away in the ocean. Now there has been a couple of catastrphic blade failures in the UK, that i recall reading about, which is a little embarassing for the manufacturers.

Better energy storage would be great, lithium batteries just aren't quite enough to do all we want them to do, and I despair sometimes when we get more fuel cell propaganda - they've been fiddling about with H2 storage for over a decade and somehow nobody seems to manage a breakthrough despite all the headlines. (Although I suppose thats partly because of the screwy science funding by press release methods we seem to run things by these days. And here in the UK it can only get worse, since we've had over a decade of saying you can only do research if it is directly valuable, which means no science gets done at all, only engineering. Which is valuable, but kind of misses the point of doing scientific research)

Regarding power transmission, I seem to recall reading that they've worked out that theoretically there's no problem with actually having room temperature superconductors, its just working out what to make them from and how to make them that is the issue. Just like fusion...

#614 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 07:05 PM:

PJ Evans... Earl CooleyIII... I think I'll buy a dish rack for the laptop. Might work too when I'm sitting in the comfy chair.

#615 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 07:55 PM:

Well, an advantage of cooling pads (with fans or more arcane cooling tech) for sit-down use of laptops is that, in addition to cooling the computer, they also keep your thighs from being slow-cooked.

#616 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 08:59 PM:

Heather Rose Jones, #603, it was stolen? Do the police have any ideas?

#617 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 09:50 PM:

Serge, you might want to look at the little tray-tables for eating in bed (or in a chair). I've seen pictures of some that are wood, and could be modified to allow airflow through them.

#618 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 10:13 PM:

PJ Evans @ 617... Good idea. Also, one could drill lots of holes in them.

#619 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2010, 10:30 PM:

Marilee @616

Yes, stolen. The police have the same idea everyone else does: it'll show up abandoned somewhere after being stripped for parts. They'll let me know when it turns up, but it's not like they're going to go look for it or anything (or do much to find the thieves when it does turn up). Me? Bitter? I've had three burglaries and a car theft in the last 5 years. I'm tired of playing Santa Claus to the local crackheads. I'm coming rapidly to the conclusion that it's time to go plant my garden in other soil.

#620 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 12:36 AM:

Serge at # 583: Under the covers, Windows 7 is a reworked Vista. In fact its internal version number is 6.1 (to Vista's 6.0); the 7 label is just marketing. So if your software works with Vista, it will work with 7; and if not, not.

#621 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 12:48 AM:

Stefan Jones at # 563: a mail order outfit called DAK.

I bought my first notebook computer and first modem from DAK, an Epson PX-8. Started my online experience with CompuServe in 1986.

#622 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 01:03 AM:

re 549/572: SUVs go back a long way: if you believe Wikipedia, the Chevy Suburban is the oldest automobile nameplate, dating back to 1936. But they existed in two forms: the bigger Suburban-type, which was a station wagon inflated into a small truck, and the smaller Blazer-type, which was a small pickup with an enclosed bed. Like the minivan, the breakthrough Ford Explorer was a hybrid vehicle: it took the seating plan of a sedan a put it into a long bed pickup, sacrificing the front part of the bed for the extra row of seats. (It also came in the the-conventional 3-door configuration.)

There were a lot of reasons why SUVs got popular. CAFE was a major driving force: for whatever reason trucks were left out, and given that people that point wanted larger vehicles, the car manufacturers needed a way to sell a family-of-four/five car that escaped from the CAFE standards, because comparable sedans used too much fuel. To some degree they had to, because they had to be bigger and heavier. In a typical regulatory unintended consequence some of the dividing lines were based on weight, so that for instance Ford eliminated the F-100 series simply to get their pickups over the weight line and out of CAFE. SUVs were attractive to the people who were already buying minivans in droves (remember when the Dodge Caravan was the archetypal suburban vehicle?): the SUV had a similar capacity, and as a driving vehicle, was on the whole more competent.

Besides the "I feel safer" issue, I think a large part of the driving force is that although most driving is commuting, I suspect few cars are purchased without thought towards off-hours uses. These as a rule require larger or more capable cars. It's just not going to happen that people are going to mostly end up driving one ton cars, because that's simply too small for the non-commuting uses of a huge segment of the population.

What's tending to happen is that SUVs are starting to morph back into cars, at least in terms of the body construction. Therefore much of this discussion may well be moot in a few years.

#623 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 01:06 AM:

Allan Beatty @620, oh, gak, I don't think I wanted to know that. Sausage manufacturing.

#624 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 01:13 AM:

I'm beginning to hate my dog, for the sole reason of making me go out in weather like this.

#625 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 01:16 AM:

#612 Earl

I manually delete stuff from

C:\Users\{computername}\AppData\Roaming\Macromedia\Flash Player\#SharedObjects

and

C:\Users\{computername}\AppData\Roaming\Macromedia\Flash Player\macromedia.com\support\flashplayer\sys

I went to the Adobe page relevant and installed something to have that crap accessible--seeing and able to -delete- the so-misnamed Flash cks (disemvowelled, remove oo i e .... I do NOT have appreciative thoughts for people so noxious as to name something after "the Cookie Monster" program, which is NOT friendly software....)


That gets rid of one of Facebook's modes of tracking...

#626 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 01:44 AM:

Heresiarch @ 578; Dave Bell @ 579; belated to Lori @ 500:
Still thinking it out, but thanks. :)

Heather @ 619
We went through a phase where our car was broken into twice, stolen once, and a second theft was interrupted, all within a year. Our insurance agent told us we needed to move, to avoid fee hikes... I needed to move anyway, to feel at all safe, and it was cheaper to pay higher rent than to replace or repair every three months.

Anyway, what they finally told us, the fourth time it happened, was that although they generally don't take prints where we lived (!), you can take it to the location where they DO take prints, and they'll um... do some kind of tracking stuff to it. The time we did that, they eventually caught the guy, so ... justice served, I guess. (Our car showed back up three blocks away after having had the guts run out of it. But we had to take it in ourselves to get it printed.)

Anyway, good luck. And moving was really a good option for us. Even though we moved from there into the house of doom, it was still a thousand times better, just to feel safe again.

#627 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 03:30 AM:

KayTei @626

It took a lot for moving to become the most attractive option. I've lived in this house for 25 years -- almost half my life, and certainly longer than I've lived anywhere else. I own the house and it includes two rental units besides my own. (Although I have to say that getting out of the landlady business is one of the attractions.) On the plus side, I wouldn't be constrained by sell-by deadlines, and ideally, what with downsizing and moving to the suburbs, I'll end up with a significantly lower mortgage.

#628 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 04:05 AM:

Paula Lieberman #625: That gets rid of one of Facebook's modes of tracking...

The BetterPrivacy Firefox extension has a configurable Super-Cookie Safeguard. I also use the NoScript and HTTPS-Everywhere Firefox extensions, as well as Piriform's CCleaner tool (which I've developed the habit of running after I exit the browser from a FB session).

#629 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 04:19 AM:

Oh, and it's also a good idea to run CCleaner (or your crud zapper of choice) before a FB session as well, and exit from all browser windows after a FB session, then run CCleaner again, like bookends.

That may seem a bit much just to rein in a website's sociopathic tendencies, but if you make it a part of your routine, the extra seconds don't feel wasted, at least to me.

#630 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 04:58 AM:

Serge @604: Ergotron do a good range of mounts, with accessories including a laptop tray. I have one in my home office: the only downside is it's so easy, a 3 year old can use it.

Re the SUV discussion: do they sell Nissan Qashqais or Peugeot 3008s in the US yet? I think the marketing category is "urban crossover", but they're basically shrunken SUVs.

#631 ::: Janet Kegg ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 06:29 AM:

Using a laptop in your lap: I've been very happy with my light-weight aluminum LapGenie. It's pricy but worth it to me. I almost always use my laptop while sitting in my armchair and the contraption positions it comfortably and the heat dissipates OK.

#632 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 07:14 AM:

Mike McHugh @ 630... Thanks. Like their site says about their latest offering, "Shiny!"

#633 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 08:14 AM:

ddb and others: Yes, it turns out I need to recalibrate my sense of what a car weighs. [very quick websearch- 1992 honda civic: approx. 2300 lb; 2011 honda civic, approx. 2700 lb., but there may be other differences like number of doors.]

C. Wingate @558, Smallish station wagons have again ceased to exist, so I can't make a comparison there. But I would bet they aren't that much lighter than a comparable SUV. A very unscientific approach is to look at an existing station wagon and the coupe version and compare. The Mercedes E350 station wagon is about 400 lb [or 10%] heavier than the E350 coupe, and the coupe has 15.4 cubic ft. of cargo vs. 20 ft. [seats up] or 57 cubic ft. [seats down] for the wagon. So an imaginary Corolla wagon might be 2600 lb. and have anywhere from 18 to 40 cubic ft. of cargo room.

(I drew a curve through one data point. I'm a rebel and you can't stop me! )

ddb @600 ,that's bad about the wind turbine bearings. The number I heard in my course was "a blade gets stressed on the order of 100 million times in 20 years" so I'm not entirely surprised at any given part of the wind turbine failing early, because normal engineering doesn't work like that, but that's still somewhere between unfortunate and terrible .

B. Durbin @601, There's a lot of numbers thrown around as far as "What energy gets lost where". I think transmission line losses are around 8-10% in the US. There may be some losses at either end which my number didn't include and yours did. I'd love to see high voltage DC buried along interstate highways [there are so many people who've had my idea that there's a press release on the topic] or, better yet, high temperature superconductors.

Heather @603: I am sorry about your vehicle.

#634 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 10:14 AM:

And going all the way back to the steampunk kerfuffle: a Terry Pratchett lecture had the following content:

“For me this was fantasy that was happening in the real world,” Pratchett says. It told of people who would save up to buy a tray to put around their necks so they could sell hot pork sandwiches for a living. It calculated the amount of money they’d spend on mustard. In passing, it explained that they’d pick up corpses and take them to the morgue because a bounty was paid for that service. “It was stranger than Camelot and a great deal nastier. The very early Victorian world was a world full of stories untold.”

#635 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 11:41 AM:

Adrian @576: You're quite right, but I should like to note that nuclear reactors take lots of staff (the one example I've got some passing familiarity with, Torness, has two reactors and directly employs 400-500 people full time, not including the British Nuclear Police who guard it). We can extrapolate from a thousand reactors to half a million jobs quite easily -- many more jobs involved in building them, lots of secondary employment providing services to the staff and the industry, and so on. And it's not as if the US military is short on people with nuclear experience -- they're probably the largest single employer of nuclear know-how on the planet, on one level (consider how many reactors the US Navy runs, for example -- they're smaller, mobile PWRs, but they're still reactors).

#636 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 12:07 PM:

The lecture by Pratchett brings to mind one of the snarkiest review lines I'd seen, which was in a review of "On Writing" by Stephen King. In one of the nuts-and-bolts sections King explained that he does three drafts and why he does it--and given differences in style the reasons are similar enough to Pratchett. The reviewer excerpted that section and added "What a pity he never uses a fourth draft." I wanted to write the reviewer and ask "Have you been carrying that moose-turd pie around awhile, or did you bake it fresh just for the review?"

#637 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 01:21 PM:

Paula @625: my next computer will be a Macbook Air.

I will not be installing Flash on it. (I don't do flash games, and youtube videos are all available in H.264 anyway; if J. Random Other video site can't be arsed using non-proprietary standards, I see no reason to patronize them.)

#638 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Earl Cooley III @628, thank you for the tip.

#639 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 02:17 PM:

Random OT-ness (it might be seen as related to the recent steampunk debates, but that's just a coincidence): I was readingthe Wikipedia entry on sephamore telegraphs, and- does anyone else think that in this photo, the left one of the two human beings (or is it a statue? I'm not sure) looks rather creepy?

#640 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 02:18 PM:

(Link correction)


Random OT-ness (it might be seen as related to the recent steampunk debates, but that's just a coincidence): I was readingthe Wikipedia entry on sephamore telegraphs, and- does anyone else think that in this photo, the left one of the two human beings (or is it a statue? I'm not sure) looks rather creepy?

#641 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Heather @ 627
That's rough. We were just starting out, and living in an anonymized apartment complex, so it was a lot easier for us to cut ties. (Particularly with an office manager who told us bluntly that no, they wouldn't do anything, and this was what we deserved for living in such a low rent area.)

#642 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 06:01 PM:

The discussion of bread machines prompted me to dig mine out of the cupboard again. It's now whirring away on the counter making a batch of polenta-quinoa bread on the dough setting. (That way if the yeast turns out to be dead, I can add live yeast and just run it through an extra cycle before baking.) If I continue to feel inspired, I'll buy one of those Costco bags of bread flour and proceed. Yay bread!

#643 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 06:47 PM:

Clifton @ #642,

My first loaf. It turned out fairly well, although not as flavorful as I'd expected. I'll be trying again once we've eaten this one. It's good with jam and/or honey, but as plain bread I was a little disappointed.

#644 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 07:08 PM:

Posting this over here because I don't want to derail the conversation over there: I keep reading the title of the Tolkien-and-steampunk thread as "Are those gears on your stuff?"

#645 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 07:11 PM:

Heather Rose Jones, #619, that's a lot of crime! I hope you find a better place.

#646 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 07:24 PM:

Made a loaf yesterday. Standard white bread from the Oster book, plus an egg and a cup of 8 Grain cereal. Cinnamon, nutmeg, MSG, and a cup and a half of raisins and chopped up "Mangoes and Berries" mix from Costco.

Turned out nice and moist.

The "Bread Machine Magic" (Rehberg and Conway, St. Martins press) has a recipe I'm going to try out: Tomato bread. It has a can of tomato paste, and various savory stuff. I'm going to throw in chopped up sun-dried tomatoes, plus sliced olives.

#647 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 07:45 PM:

For anyone following the Cooks Source debacle, someone has had the final word:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC-tVHLM99w

#648 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 08:06 PM:

Here's the scumbag Archbishop of Belgium getting hit in the face with something...supposedly a cake, but it's hard to see. They don't show what happened to the HOTR* (who appeared to be wearing a choir robe or something) who gave it to him.

Myself, I hope s/he got away clean.

Other people rush to help him, though he's mostly licking his fingers, which means it was probably a waste of good cake more than anything. And I can't think why they're being so sympathetic; it's a kind of natural justice, after all.

Oh, maybe they think he's a pedophile, so they're treating him with kindness on that basis.
___
*Hero Of The Revolution

#649 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 08:31 PM:

I just used a 33%-off coupon and a gift card to buy acquire The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook at Borders. It's from 2000, but how much can recipes change? I got the paperback edition; the hardcover wasn't available. But at the price of "free" plus leaving a balance on an old gift card, I figured it would be hard to go wrong.

#650 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2010, 09:33 PM:

Sandy B@633 "imaginary Corolla Wagon" - One reason I haven't gotten around to replacing my 1987 Chevy Van is that I can't find anything that's a suitable replacement for the 1985 Toyota Tercel wagon I used to have, much less a small wagon with 20-years-newer engine technology and therefore much better gas mileage than the 27mpg the Toyota got. The van was a great vehicle for telecommuting, but I started a job with a Real Office a couple of years ago, requiring a Real Commute.

And yeah, I've gotten real used to driving a tall vehicle with great visibility and comfortable headroom, though I'm ok driving a somewhat tall sedan, and there are enough SUVs still on the road that I can't really get a Smart Car that's easy to park (plus those don't really get proportionally good gas mileage anyway.)

My motivations for wanting to replace it have been mostly economical, though I should be paying more attention to wasted gas. On the other hand, the vehicle has been talking to me increasingly often about the availability of compatible parts for old Chevys, so it may be time to take the whole thing to the recyclers and buy a suboptimal replacement.

#651 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 12:00 AM:

#637 Charlie

a) You transitioned to successful income working for yourself, over here one of the top requirements for the jobs I apply is facility with Windows.

b) I stayed too long using the Amiga instead of having a Windows PC at home at the end of the 1980s. Financially that was a VERY bad decision.

c) By subjective metrics, Apple products drive me bugfuck, and my opinion of them involves phasor diagrams indicating impedance mismatch and poles and zeroes and such between what is "intuitive" to me and the outlook of Apple design. Objective metrics of such things as howls of frustrations, language considered highly impolite, curses, curses on not only people extant but their ancestors, snarls, etc., definitely demonstrate that Apple products and are are a match made in hell.... I'm not a Microsoft fan, but objective criteria of proof of user dissatisfaction is an order of magnitude higher for me for Apple stuff over Microsoft

#652 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 12:30 AM:

Bill @650

Can I recommend that you take a look at the Scion xB? It's a very boxy box, but it gets adequate mileage, sits you up as high as an SUV, and has quite a lot of cargo room for such a small car. More, I'd think, than the Tercel wagon did, remembering what my Tercel non-wagon was like. And it's fairly cheap, as new cars go. Well, new cars from manufacturers I'm willing to trust, anyway.

We like our first-generation one; I understand they've remodeled them a bit to make them somewhat less boxy and to add side air bags.

Our xB is actually shorter than our Toyota Echo, which was Toyota's smallest car at the time. (Now they've got a new smallest car. They seem to change smallest cars regularly.) I think I read somewhere that the new xBs are a bit longer, so they might now be the same length. In any case, it's easy to parallel park.

We got it when my husband's Honda Civic hatchback died the final death. We couldn't find a small hatchback for love nor money. Well, we could have bought a Civic hatchback, but only in the upscale expensive model with leather seats. Who wants leather seats with a hatchback?

#653 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 02:59 AM:

Cally@652, thanks. I have friends who also have an early-model xBox, and love it, but they've said that each different year's model seems to be a different height, and the recent ones are too short, which makes them a lot less interesting or comfortable.

#654 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 10:04 AM:

An open thread question:

I started a new sourdough starter. In most ways, it seems happy and healthy. My flour/water mixture got colonized within 24 hours. The sponge proofs in one hour -- very nice and bubbly, smells good.

But when I mix up bread dough, it won't rise. It just sort of sits there, and dries out at the top. I'm on my second attempt. I let it rise overnight last night (in a cold oven, warmed by the oven lightbulb), and it barely increased in volume.

I'm using the recipe here. Briefly, two cups sponge, mixed with 4t sugar, 2t salt, and 2T olive oil, then knead in about 3 cups flour to make smooth, springy dough.

I'm letting it rise all day today too. Maybe it will just be like no-knead bread and need 18-24 hours. (Although my no-knead bread always turns out very flat, too. But that's because it's very wet dough and oozes out to cover the bottom of the pot I bake it in.)

Any ideas or suggestions?

Possibilities I've thought of:

1. My oven may get too warm with the lightbulb on and inhibit yeast growth. I don't have a thermometer, but going by feel I'd say it's about 80 F in there. This recipe for no-knead sourdough suggests that wild yeast multiply best at 70-75 F. Maybe I should leave it on the counter? (Room temp right now is more like 65 F, though I could turn up the heat.)

2. I may have kneaded in too much flour. For my second attempt I went lighter on the flour and left the dough a little wet and sticky. It does not seem to have helped the rise.

(I have considered bringing in a sample and asking the lab down the hall if I can have a look at it under their microscope, to make sure I've got enough yeast growing.)

The good news is, although the first loaf was flat, it tasted excellent.

#655 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 10:24 AM:

From 15 years, Clifford Stoll opines on the impossibility of commerce on the Internet.

Excerpt:

Consider today's online world. The Usenet, a worldwide bulletin board, allows anyone to post messages across the nation. Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors and publishers. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen. How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it's an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can't tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

As I recall, I bought my first book from Amazon two years later.


http://www.newsweek.com/1995/02/26/the-internet-bah.html

#656 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 10:38 AM:

A reason to use laptop cooling pads: erythema ab igne, "toasted leg syndrome".

#657 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 12:03 PM:

If you have not yet managed to get your flu shot, Lysol is offering a cash incentive. (Cross-posted to flu thread.)

#658 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 12:16 PM:

Reading the sidelights about the neonazis getting kyboshed by yeast spread, this is the same outfit, with the same cavalier attitude to copyright, that nicked a render of the 3d CGI model from a website to use in election propaganda. Though, even if the image had been legal, they would have been mocked by choosing a Spitfire flown by a Polish pilot.

#659 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 12:17 PM:

The LHC has reportedly achieved a quark-gluon plasma. In other news, Earth continues to exist.

#660 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 01:48 PM:

Clifton:

I'm pretty sure all the rules of the internets required you to end that with

...continues to exi

NO CARRIER

#661 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 02:10 PM:

I have a rather strange question that I can't figure out where else to ask:

Fox stoles--the kind that are multiple pelts sewn together, complete with heads and tails--do they also include the legs?

The images I can find via Google aren't clear enough to be sure. It looks as if some might have legs and some don't, which would be fine, as long as I know.

#662 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 02:16 PM:

Once again, I am usefully distracted from sinking into outrage fatigue. Variety is the key.

#663 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 02:33 PM:

There's something about Charlie's anti-steampunk rant that has been bugging me, and that has gone on as a kind of subthread through this discussion. And maybe I'm misunderstanding his point. But there seems to be this idea that there's something wrong with setting a story in some world, without focusing heavily on the ugliest parts of it. This seems like a really dumb basis on which to criticize art.

Blindness about the ugly parts of the world, pretending ugly things don't exist or aren't ugly to avoid getting starving urchin stains on your spiffy gear-covered vest, that's bad art, because it's building a f--ked up map of reality. But art is always about choosing what you focus on. Not every story written in a near-future world where multinationals are powerful and computers are omnipresent needs to be cyberpunk[1]. Similarly, not every story about the past, or some variant of the past, needs to be focused utterly on the half-starved guys working 14 hours a day in some godforsaken mine somewhere, or the lousy deal offered to women and blacks and Chinese and Indians and most everyone else, or how much dental work and surgery had to suck in a world before anesthesia and the germ theory of disease became widespread.

If you set a story in the modern US, my feeling is it's okay to write a story about the characters and setting you want to write about--even though US prisons are godawful, we've spent the last decade blowing people up for what are basically domestic political reasons, a hell of a lot of people have been ground up in the gears of our financial and medical care system, and we've surely executed an uncomfortable number of innocent people in the last decade. Those are all important things to talk about, but they're not the only topics allowed--neither in factual discussions, nor in fiction. Fiction that pretends things are different from reality in those areas runs into a big problem, but I can't see what's wrong with fiction that is simply focused on something else. It seems no more reasonable a complaint than the opposite one, where you focus on the horribleness of (say) US ghetto schools, and ignore the very nice lives lived by people a few miles away in a safe and prosperous suburb.

[1] Actually, I always assumed that the great majority of people living in the world of Neuromancer had pretty good lives.

#664 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 02:49 PM:

#659: Actually, no. There was a backup.

#665 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 03:09 PM:

Mary Aileen @661 - my mother had a fox stole, I think it was two pelts end to end. They did have heads and tails and I believe front feet but not rear. I can't check because we recently cleaned out that closet and it had started shedding too badly to keep.

#666 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 03:14 PM:

oliviacw #665: My first thought was "Who stole your mother's fox?"

#667 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 03:28 PM:

So it seems that newspaper has a shallower stacking angle than sand.

FYI.

#668 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 03:31 PM:

oliviacw (665): Thanks. That helps.

#669 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 04:43 PM:

Dave Bell @ #658

...even if the image had been legal, they would have been mocked by choosing a Spitfire flown by a Polish pilot.

Not just a Polish pilot, but a Spitfire bearing the markings of one of the Polish squadrons involved in the Battle of Britain.
(Yes, they were mocked for it too, obviously insufficiently though.)

#670 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 05:02 PM:

albatross @ 663: You've just put into exact words what's been bothering me about the steampunk discussion, too. Even if you (and I!) have misunderstood Mr. Stross's point, I've been seeing plenty of other people making the argument that if it isn't gritty grimdark it's crap, so thank you for providing a counterpoint.

#671 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 05:04 PM:

Caroline #654:

No help here.

80 deg F should be optimal for yeast growth. Colder means slower rising; too hot (over 98 deg F) & the yeasts will die off.

I can't see anything obviously wrong in what you describe. That the sponge proofs quickly tells me that it's a good healthy starter, that your sourdough yeasts are growing & multiplying at a rapid rate.

As for the additives, the salt & oil added are not in quantities that should affect yeast growth and the sugar, if anything, will help by providing the yeast with a food source even more accessible than the flour.

#672 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Caroline #654:

You could try omitting the oil & salt on the off chance that your starter happens to be ultra-sensitive to oil or salt? You could add the salt to the top of the loaf just before baking?

Oh, and this article about the use of salt in bread looks interesting.

#673 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 05:18 PM:

Xopher, #498: Props to the spokesman for standing up for what's right, even at his own potential expense. As to Msgr. Leonard, is it excessively cynical of me to believe that he's openly angling to be the next Pope?

Earl, #509: Bumper sticker: "Entirely too much social behavior is based on the theory that you don't need road manners if you have a two-ton truck."

Kyndra, #522: This doesn't help the large numbers of people living in older houses where efficiency wasn't part of the design. In ours, the laundry is next to the kitchen, but both bathrooms are all the way at the other end of the house -- about 100 feet of total pipe length away, because it all runs thru the attic. Even with insulation, that's a problem... and during the summer, the cold water isn't very cold, either!

And @530: For purely practical reasons, any house with more than one person living in it needs at least a bath-and-a-half, because it's not going to be an uncommon experience for Person A to need to pee while Person B is in the shower. Effectively, that's what we have right now, because the stall shower in the master bathroom is unusable -- the pan has failed, leading to water damage in the walls around it. If we both had day jobs, plus kids in school, and everybody needing a morning shower, the logistics would be much less workable.

Edgar, #531: As opposed to being on a horse? :-)

abi, #539: I feel much safer in my minivan than I would in an SUV. But then, I've looked at the numbers, which a lot of people don't.

KeithS, #562: Damn you, I don't have TIME for that this week! Bookmarked...

Earl, #612: it's the front lines of the Meme War (re Facebook)

Could you unpack that a bit, please? It sounds like something that might interest me.

Heather Rose Jones, #619: That sucks, both that your car got stolen and the lack of response. It's another potential downside of SUVs that people often fail to consider -- being extremely popular, they're prime targets for theft even if you don't live in a "bad neighborhood".

C. Wingate, #622: And the original Chevy Suburban was positioned as a light-duty business delivery vehicle, something less expensive than a box-body truck. You can see that very clearly in the older Suburban body design.

Also, let's remember that SUV is short for "Sport Utility Vehicle". That high under-vehicle clearance, which creates a roll-over safety hazard in emergency maneuvers, is necessary for a lot of off-road use, such as hunting. The way to cut down on the number of SUVs on the road is to remove the CAFE loophole from any vehicle sold with a luxury passenger interior trim package.

Bill, #650: Riffing on what Cally said, you might want to look for a used Scion XB rather than a new model. The original design was really a "box on wheels", very stylistically distinctive; after a couple of years they redesigned it into something essentially indistinguishable from any mini-SUV. They do have a very low under-vehicle clearance, if that matters; OTOH, this also makes them popular with older people who have mobility issues -- I've been told that the most popular add-on for that model is a wheelchair lift!

Earl, #662: Ye ghods. Notice, though, that the victim in this case was riding a bicycle. I think that says much more about the reason for non-prosecution than the DA's statement does.

#674 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 05:49 PM:

Mary Aileen @661: An analogous situation--my mother had a mink stole that was something like four or six whole minks nose-to-tail...literally. Feet included. Such a thing must have been purely decorative (for some value or another of "decorative"), because it wasn't wide enough to be of much value in the keeping-your-shoulders-warm department.

#675 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 06:47 PM:

Syd #674:

You have reminded me of several church women of my grandmother's generation, who came complete with mink neckpieces. The eyes glittered, the teeth glittered pointily, the little toes shone blackly; combined with the tight gleaming white curls, big glittery brooches, diamante' spectacles, and beady eyes of the ladies wearing them, it was quite a sight--scary as all hell.

Note: I'd call such a thing a neckpiece and not a stole, because it's one pelt wide. Stoles, which generally didn't include all the body parts, were several pelts wide and came down the front on both sides, rather than being an Ourobouros-style wraparound job. Lots more minks involved, all anonymous.

#676 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 06:56 PM:

Bill Stewart, #650, I would buy a new minivan if I could afford it, but the guys who work on my 87 Astro have made a couple of parts for it. The Astro only stopped being sold a few years ago, and a lot of it is still close to mine, so usually they get new parts.

#677 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 07:00 PM:

Fox stoles: revised and updated.

#678 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 07:14 PM:

Syd (674), joann (675): Thanks! That's very helpful.

I've been saying 'stole' because that's the term I've always heard for the one-pelt-wide version, but Google Images was showing lots of the bigger ones.

TexAnne (677): That's actually not too far off my idea: I want to make a stole/neckpiece out of stuffed-animal cats. (Yeah, I know, disturbing. But inspiration struck, and now I have to make one.)

#680 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 08:39 PM:

This is Making Light, right? Many members of the Fluorosphere like to write poetry, right? Then the The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form is just the thing!

The goal is to "write at least one limerick for each meaning of each and every word in the English language. The current estimated date of completion is 17 October 2035.

[insert limerick with references to Fluorolore here]

#681 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 10:52 PM:

Pendrift @680
"write at least one limerick for each meaning of each and every word in the English language"

I suspect the new coinages will come in faster than the limericks. Watch the ETC disappear over the blue event horizon.

J Homes

#682 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 11:17 PM:

#679: I just sent that link to John Rogers. It has the makings of an episode of Leverage.

#683 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2010, 11:21 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 682... Nah, The premise would be too unelievable - even for us fans of "Leverage". :-)

#684 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 12:07 AM:

For anyone in need of a good dose of schadenfreude, this should cover you for at least six months:

Andrew Shirvell story

#685 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 12:12 AM:

Someone must know the story I want.

It's Superman fanfic. In it, Lois comes to tell Clark that she knows the truth about him and Superman, and she wants a favor: will he ask Superman to march in the Pride Parade?

I want to send it to a friend, but I can't come up with anything specific enough to Google.

Hyperlocal news: six days after the muffler is reattached, brake fluid escapes car. Local woman unthrilled, considers it to be a sign that she needs a real job.

#686 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 12:32 AM:

Diatryma, #685: Here you go. I knew I'd linked it on LJ a while back. I love the tag function. :-)

#687 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 12:52 AM:

Sandy B: Unfortunately, my crazy packrat mind won't tell me where I got the figures, but I reconstruct it thusly— Loss is a function of translation. The further the distance, the higher the loss... and likewise, the more times there is a conversion, the more power loss. Think of what happens to image files every time they're compressed or transferred. Right now the quality is high enough you might not notice, but I work at a photography studio and the color literally shifts every time we run an image through a different program*.

So we may be bleeding off 8-10% in power lines, but that's only one step of the process. We lose energy just getting the power from, say, the turbines to the substation. That's why "wind" or "solar" by themselves isn't an answer— the further we try to send the power, the worse the loss bleed-off. There might be enough power from the Columbia River dams to power Northern California, but not after transferring the stuff.

*Very, very annoying when you discover that you literally have to reorder your whole process to something less logical from a preparation standpoint because of the color shift. It's a lot easier to color-correct, then crop, THEN add text, but going through three rounds changes the color so much that you have to color-correct and add text in one step, which means that if you re-crop you have to do color all over again and Ghu help you if you forgot to write the numbers down.

#688 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 01:12 AM:

John @ 679:

I was scrolling up to try and catch the tail end of this thread when I came upon your post and clicked. Dr. Milo, the cyclist in the story, just so happens to be a good friend of mine from college, ten years removed. We played on the baseball team together at Johns Hopkins.

Further serendipity: my post @ 684 (posted before reading yours) eerily mirrors your latest blog entry.

Strange overlappings in the ether... I'm still floored by the pictures of Steve I found on google images.

#689 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 01:56 AM:

AKICIML: There's a reel called either "Tam Lin" or "The Glasgow Reel". Is it a modern composition, or is it public domain? I've found a couple of places that suggest it was written by a musician named Davey Arthur, but it's hard to be sure. Anyone know for certain?

#690 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 02:01 AM:

My grandmother had one that sounds exactly as oliviacw described. What fascinated me most as a child was the clasp. One of the heads had a spring mechanism in the mouth, where the head of one fox would grasp not too far behind the head of the second. Rather gruesome, when you think about it.

#691 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 04:04 AM:

o/t aargh of frustration: all domestic computers chez Les Os-Denude are virussed (this is a hit and run post from work in a gap between classes). Folks awaiting email may have a while to wait. Particular apologies to Jacque @ 111.

#692 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:01 AM:

ChezLesOsDenudes @ 691.. La mort aux propagateurs de virus!

#693 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:03 AM:

Hyperlocal news...

Man's wife receives very nice check from her publisher for delivery of novel's manuscript.
Family rejoices.

#694 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:38 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 689: When my band recorded Tam Lin, our manager did the copyright research and concluded that it's trad. If you've found sources suggesting otherwise, I'd love to know about them.

#695 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 09:15 AM:

Open threadiness. I enjoyed this, and it linked in my mind to the discussion of the secret life of fossils here a couple of months ago.

Portion of dinosaur skull clearly visible in rock wall of a Catholic church in Italy

Pointed out by Kristine Smith via Elizabeth Moon's LJ

#696 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 09:22 AM:

David & Mark: Tam Lin (aka The Glasgow Reel aka The Howling Wind) the reel and Tam Lin the ballad are not related other than having the title in common. The ballad is traditional. The traditional words (or versions of them) are also sung to some modern tunes with identifiable composers. Davey Arthur is usually credited with having composed Tam Lin the reel, although many musicians think it's traditional. There are a number of songs and tunes that fall into this category -- newly composed but quickly and firmly accepted into the tradition. Calliope House (a jig by Dave Richardson) and The Witch of the Westmoreland (Archie Fisher) are two familiar examples of this. Wild Mountain Thyme, while based on an 18th century song, The Braes of Balquiddur, is sufficiently different to be copyrighted, and is still under copyright, though the copyright holders have given up trying to enforce it.

#697 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 09:52 AM:

Soon Lee, thank you for the suggestions! I will give a try to leaving out the oil and salt, just to see what happens.

#698 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 10:15 AM:

No, don't leave out *all* the salt! Are you using table salt? I prefer kosher salt.

#699 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 11:06 AM:

DanR @ 684:

Shirvell has just been "fired for conduct unbecoming a state employee".

Armstrong's lawyer discusses the case.

#700 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 11:08 AM:

Marilee: I have nothing but good things to say about Astro Vans- my brother's used three of them for his business [general contractor] and he usually runs them up to around 280,000 miles. [his first one was BOUGHT with 180,000 miles, and I don't know where the mileage was on the other two.] If you need to move 3/4 of a ton of cinderblocks, or other things that are large or heavy, they'll do the work. I wish you equally good luck with your next vehicle.

Serge: Congratulations!

B. Durbin: There are losses all over the place in power generation; I'm learning just how much and where. This seems to indicate an average of 6.5% in transmission and distribution losses, which is actually better than I was expecting. I'm not saying that the losses are trivial or ignorable- I don't know that- but that adding [say] 100 miles of transmission _may_ have a smaller effect than you think.

I may have had some "argument spillover" from talking to people who insist that 2/3 of our energy is wasted in generation and transmission, which includes the heat-to-electricity step. Carnot wept.

#701 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 11:20 AM:

praisegod barebones @691: :-( :-( No worries, no hurry. Hope your computational flu clears up soon, with a minimum of hassle.

#702 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 11:44 AM:

OtterB @695: I particularly love this bit: But, of course, the H.P. Lovecraftian overtones of this story—a monstrous skull in a church wall—are too obvious not to mention: an easy scenario for imagining whole plots and storylines in which the ancient forms of an unknown species are discovered hidden in cathedral masonry, opening previously unimagined horizons of time and radically revising theories of the history of life on earth.

Wait—didn't Doctor Who do that episode last season...?

#703 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 12:14 PM:

TrishB (690): Thanks.

OtterB (695): That is immensely cool.

#704 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 12:41 PM:

HLN. Area resident takes delivery on hollow log for a drum. Arborist supplies additional chunks of tree for other projects.

Passing neighbor observes, "You know, you can grow trees, now. You don't have to build them."

#705 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 01:54 PM:

CBS News helicopter films apparent missile launch off California coast. Various defense agencies say "that wasn't us".

Since AKICITF, do any of y'all have any idea what that might have been? Could a hobby rocket produce a contrail like that? Did the Mythbusters forget to file a flight plan?

#706 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 01:56 PM:

Hyperlocal news...

Man receives t-shirt for year's merger work.

#707 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 05:19 PM:

NPR weighs in on the Cooks Source IP brouhaha.

And of course, there's one troll down in the comments saying, "If it can be accessed for free, it's free, and you can't do anything about it, nyah-nyah!" But most of the other commenters do seem to have a clue.

#708 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 05:44 PM:

Lila @ 705 -

There's been speculation that it was some kind of interceptor missile test.

#709 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 05:49 PM:

Serge @ #706 -

This area woman is impatiently awaiting the delivery of her 5th Anniversary Work gift - a Cuisinart waffle iron.

T-shirts and waffle irons for everyone!

#710 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 06:00 PM:

C. Wingate: Thank you very much for pointing me at that roundup of red-light-cam studies! Someone on my Facebook friendslist was loudly lamenting the fact that they were resoundingly voted down; fortunately, she's a member of the reality-based community, so tossing actual data in her direction put an end to the argument.

#711 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 06:05 PM:

nerdyellist @ 709... T-shirts and waffle irons for everyone!

I'll give you my waffle iron if you send me your t-shirt.

#712 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 06:51 PM:

Tracie@696: Thanks for the info. Next question: if I want to use a recording of the reel as background music for a podcast, do I need to get Arthur's permission? (It's a recording of Jo Walton's Tam Lin Shakespeare play, so it seemed appropriate.)

#713 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 07:39 PM:

There's now a (sort of) apology on www.cookssource.com

#714 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 07:51 PM:

AKICIML: Does anyone know why all the terrestrial planets are inside the Belt and all the gas giants are outside? It can't be a coincidence, can it?

Maybe because a gas giant farther in would be ripped to shreds by the solar wind? Seems dubious.

#715 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:14 PM:

Xopher @ 714... I think that some solar systems have been found with gas giants almost as close to their sun as Mercury is to ours. But it's expected that they originated farther out, where it's much colder. I wonder. When that giant's envelope has evaporated, what will the core look like?

#716 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:17 PM:

Xopher @714, maybe because any terrestrial planet hanging out near Jupiter or Saturn got pressed into service as moons? Ganymede, Titan, and Callisto are all around the same size as Mercury (though not as massive).

#717 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:35 PM:

OT RE: the reel - I'm looking for CDs full of stuff like that. Ensembles playing sets of reels and jigs and hornpipes, preferably with at least one fiddle, no lyrics, no modern rock drum sets. What do you guys recommend?

#718 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:46 PM:

And another music question: some years ago I was going through the International District and, as part of a community festival, there were players of what would probably be called Big-Ass Japanese Drums. Couldn't get close enough to get the name of the group, but was wondering, if someone knows, what this type of ensemble would be called and the name of a group or CD I could look into since the last hospital stay has me stuck in bed 3 or 4 hours a day.

#719 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:48 PM:

Serge @715:
Yes, and there are quite a few cases where there's a gas giant considerably closer to its star than Mercury is to the Sun. These are the so-called "hot Jupiters", and they're thought to have formed further out and migrated inward, as you mention.

Xopher @ 714:
I think it's a combination of things. Gas giants are supposed to get started when relatively massive (solid) planetary cores form and become massive enough to accrete and hold onto gas from the surrounding protoplanetary disk. Further out from the star (beyond the "snow line"), planetary cores are able to form from both dust grains and ice, which probably helps them grow faster; close to the star, it's too hot for ices, and so planetary cores have to form from solid dust grains alone. In addition, cold gas is easier to hold onto than hot gas, so it's easier for a planetary core to start accreting gas if it's further away from the Sun, because it's surrounded by colder gas. There's a limited time (~ a million years?) before the increasingly bright star evaporates/blows away the gas disk, which is one reason why not everything turns into a gas giant.

The question that's been puzzling people for the past ten years is why inward migration of gas giants -- which clearly happens in some (many?) cases -- didn't really happen in the Solar System.

#720 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:50 PM:

Shadowsong: You're most likely to find song-free sets on CDs designed for Irish dance classes, unless you go for Scottish pipe bands. Or you could go on Amazon or iTunes and just buy the tracks you want.

#721 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:53 PM:

Bruce @718: That one I know! You were probably listening to Taiko drummers. Kodo is probably the easiest ensemble to start with.

#722 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 08:54 PM:

Bruce @ #718: I believe the word you need is "taiko" which is both the name of the type of drum and the type of music. (And for extra appropriateness, 'taiko' means 'big drum'.)

#723 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 09:06 PM:

Serge @ 715 -- There's been some speculation that the gas giants may have oceans of fluid carbon (popularly misnamed "liquid diamond") under the gas layers. I'm not sure what would happen if most of the atmosphere were to be stripped away; presumably the pressure wouldn't be high enough to let the fluid carbon remain in the same state.

#724 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 09:20 PM:

Jacque 704 "You know, you can grow trees, now. You don't have to build them."

But that takes a long time. You lose some of the spontaneity.

#725 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 09:28 PM:

The TP mandate, explained.

shadowsong, #717: Try the CDSS store. They specialize in CDs by contradance and English dance bands, much of which is going to be the sort of thing you're looking for. You may need to contact them directly if you don't want percussion -- when I started dancing there were no bands that used it, but that's very much no longer the case, and you'll need help sorting that out.

#726 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 10:01 PM:

Texanne, 677:
I did a double-take when the article referred to yam choices when knitting a vegan fox, but then I realized that it was an example of keming.

Kermit gives Miss Piggy a Mink:
http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Maureen_the_Mink

#727 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 10:05 PM:

TexAnne @720 and Lee @725: Thanks for the advice! Poking around on Amazon tells me that I'm really looking for ensembles with more fiddles than accordions or pipes; or fiddlers with backing bands. Like Natalie MacMaster, but less aggressively Cape Breton.

#728 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 10:26 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 723... I seem to remember a story from Analog that was set on the dried core of a gas giant, and one problem the colony had was the prevalent diamond dust sandblasting everything.

#729 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2010, 11:30 PM:

Serge, Avram, and Peter: Thank you! I knew there had to be a reason. Or a bunch of reasons.

#730 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 01:21 AM:

Among our friend Anne's belongings (I'm handling her estate) were two mink stoles, one a flat-style shoulder wrap and the other one of the whole-pelt style described in 661.

Being as old as I am, I assumed they'd be fairly valuable. Not so, some research showed. The popularity and status of furs has dropped drastically over the last several decades. That, plus the age (the furs probably were originally owned by Anne's mother, which would date them back to the 1950's) and some slight damage to each, brought the value down to about thirty bucks each. Even at that price, no takers at an estate sale several weeks ago. The shoulder wrap got taken by a vintage clothing store for ten dollars; the whole-pelt piece ended up at Good Will. I am croggled (and feel even older and more out-of-touch than usual).

#731 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 06:02 AM:

Avram @ 716:
maybe because any terrestrial planet hanging out near Jupiter or Saturn got pressed into service as moons?

That's an intriguing idea, but I think the accepted model for the Galilean moons is that they originated in a secondary disk of gas and dust that formed around Jupiter. In fact, some models suggest that the moons which formed first would have spiraled into Jupiter, and so Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto are just the lucky, final-generation survivors (having formed late enough that the circum-Jupiter disk was too thin to induce much inward migration).

(If the Galilean moons had formed elsewhere and then been captured by Jupiter, we'd expect them to have a mixture of orbits, with some orbiting retrograde to the planet's rotation -- as is the case for Triton, which is thought to have been captured by Neptune. But all the Galilean moons orbit in the same direction as Jupiter rotates.)

#732 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 10:03 AM:

Is this a great country or what? You can make money doing anything.

(I take back all those times I thought *I* had a shitty job).

#733 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 10:15 AM:

Bruce @730, I concur with your experience. At one point, my closet had two cape-type mink stoles, a jacket, and a neckpiece, courtesy of two grandmothers, a great-aunt, and a friend's attic. My mother absolutely refused to wear the jacket, even for black tie events, because she feared that people would throw paint. I tried wearing it once, to the symphony, and discovered that the sleeves were an inch too short. It wasn't worth it to me to have it altered, so I wound up giving it to an African-American co-worker whose husband was a minister, since she considered it appropriate church attire, and I would just as soon have it go to someone who'd wear it. The neckpiece -- three flat minks with their appendages -- I boxed up and mailed to Jillian Venters of Gothic Charm School, because she'd said she'd happily wear it; I can't think of anyone without her lovely but eccentric aesthetic who could get away with something like that. The cape-type stoles, I'm holding onto; one was monogrammed with my grandmother's initials, which are also my niece's initials, so I'm keeping it for her, and the other, which was my great-aunt's, I wear maybe once a year, generally at a science fiction convention when I'm doing full evening wear for party-hopping -- so it's essentially a costume.

It's just not the fashion any more. I commend the compassionate principles that have made fur go out of fashion, and I doubt I'd ever buy new, but I don't see any reason not to wear furs that were made before I was BORN.

#734 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 10:22 AM:

I was hoping for a more uplifting "you can make money doing anything" job story. I did hear once about a couple of women who decided they wanted to get a job eating leftover birthday cake, so they formed a company to do just that. I'm pretty sure the company is no longer around, but it probably lasted longer than the typical startup restaurant- and you can't beat the startup costs. [I thought I remembered the name, but all web searches get lost in weird fetish stuff.]

#735 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 11:17 AM:

Erik Nelson @724: Hah! Love it!

#736 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 12:38 PM:

NPR had a segment on yesterday, the World Trade Organization judged the USA guilty of selling subsidized cotton in Brazil for less than the cost of production. Brazil threatened retaliation by applying punitive taxes on incoming OTHER goods from the USA in retaliation.

The political wheels in the USA started turning as Big Business and its shills and whosoever the Intellectual Property Association may be is, got notified and applied presure to Congressshits. the Congressshits response was NOT to remove the income transfer payments from the US Taxpayer to the cotton farm owners (probably many of whom wouldn't know a cotton boll weevil from a leafhopper or a cotton boll from milkweed fiber...) subsidizing all that cotton that goes to Brazil and China to make cotton fabric and clothing made offshore and sold in the USA as textile products, no, instead, the Congressshits decided to give Brazil FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLARS A MONTH, or $120 million per year....

The cotton growing in the USA of course is all in the SOUTH. Are the Republican Congressshits going to cut the federal dole to their constituencies in the South getting checks for cotton which benefits foreign workers and corporate owners and executives who offshores all the textile production to China and Brazil, and get rid of the $120 million per year payola to Brazil which is a quadruple screwing over of the US taxpayers in the rest of country--all the people whose jobs have gone away because the damned taxpayer-subsidized cotton in especially Texass get shipped out of the country to be processed into cloth, some of which comes back here to be sold in chains like JoAnn's on bolts which often are short of the claimed yardage (source--store workers including a relative) or made into clothing offshore and shipped to the USA... our tax dollars, subsidizing raw materials supplie to foreign factors, AND $120 million MORE per year of taxpayer money as payoff to BRAZILIAN farmers to NOT grown cotton.

Congressshits. Let's see how the Texass congressional contingent deals with--or ignore--this...

#737 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 12:51 PM:

shadowsong, #727: When talking to CDSS, tell them that you're looking for bands that play primarily Celtic and/or New England style.

Rikibeth, #733: I commend the compassionate principles that have made fur go out of fashion, and I doubt I'd ever buy new, but I don't see any reason not to wear furs that were made before I was BORN.

Quite so -- it's like buying or wearing antique ivory, while still supporting the ban on poached ivory. And should you ever need it, I offer you a punchline I saw in (I think) Reader's Digest many years ago. The story involved a woman who had inherited an expensive mink jacket from a relative. The first time she proudly wore it to church, the minister asked her, "What poor creature had to die in order for you to wear that coat?" Her answer: "My aunt."

#738 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 01:01 PM:

More adventures in estate-settling:

Anne had an extensive collection of music, in large part early/Medieval/ethnic/world music. A lot of the more modern stuff she had sold at the estate sale a few weeks ago, but the genres she favored went largely untouched. So I contacted the ASU School of Music to see if they'd be interested in a donation.

Due to budget cuts, they're actually asking donors to PAY to donate music collections like Anne's. They no longer have ANY funds to convert old-format material into digital files for their music library. They used to have a staff position where some student could make meager wages converting material. That position was eliminated, and any conversions would now have to be outsourced to private companies at $17-40 a pop.

Jeezus. I can't even give this stuff away?

I'll be checking with the new Musical Instrument Museum here, and the local Irish Music Society, to see if they have any interest.

#739 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 01:09 PM:

Wow. I hadn't seen this before. Andrew Shirvell is so clueless it's terrifying.

Now that he's been fired, I worry about Chris Armstrong's physical safety.

#740 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 01:51 PM:

Shirvell clearly has a very different and special view of the world. I really hope that people come to see just how damaging that view can be. Including Shirvell.

#741 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 01:55 PM:

Paula @736:

You know we're not very mealy-mouthed around here, but I think you're really pushing the line in terms of invective there. Can you dial it back a bit, please?

#742 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 03:52 PM:

Hyperlocal news...

For 3rd day in row, man gets headache after going to office.
Might be due to working with decapitated fowl.

#743 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 04:30 PM:

Rikibeth @ 733: "I commend the compassionate principles that have made fur go out of fashion, and I doubt I'd ever buy new, but I don't see any reason not to wear furs that were made before I was BORN."

Fashion is a social enterprise--when you wear fur, regardless of when it was made, you're making the case that wearing fur is acceptable and (insofar as you look good doing it) desirable. The more people are exposed to that visual argument the more effective it becomes, and the greater the market there is for new fur coats. It's not the most immediate nor the strongest cause and effect relationship, but it's not incomprehensibly distant either.

#744 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 05:11 PM:

abi, #741: Paula is, unfortunately, one of those people who make me go, "GET OFF MY SIDE, YOU MORON, YOU'RE MAKING ME LOOK STUPID BY CONTAGION!" Her worldview and choice of language would be a much better fit for the Freepers than it is here.

#746 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 06:33 PM:

Lee #744: Her worldview and choice of language would be a much better fit for the Freepers than it is here.

I disagree. Paula is a master polemicist, and I appreciate her efforts on our behalf.

#747 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 06:38 PM:

Lee @744: Paula often has interesting points and perspective. Unfortunately, I find her style uncomfortable enough to read that I nearly as often remain ingnorant of them.

#748 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 07:19 PM:

Was the guy who interviewed Shirvell being clueless too, or was it a case of "this was writ ironic"?

It's hard for me to tell.

#749 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 07:40 PM:

Reading about the Simpson/Bowles proposals makes me want to outrant Paula.

#750 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 07:47 PM:

I tend to skip over Paula's posts, even though we're supposedly on the same side, because her rhetoric is too much like the rhetoric of those I most dislike on the other side.

That said, obviously everyone's MMV, and Paula, you are clearly a longer-established and more-central member of this community than I am, so my opinion is irrelevant.

#751 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 08:09 PM:

Erik 748: If you mean the last one, it was for the Daily Show, which is comedy. The interviews in that format are done for laughs. In this case, also to make fun of the ridiculous clown being interviewed, but all Jason really had to do was get out of the way and let the fool indict himself.

Lila 750: Paula, you are clearly a longer-established and more-central member of this community than I am, so my opinion is irrelevant.

I can't agree with that last statement, or let it pass undisputed. While people may give more weight to the opinions of people they've known for longer, and/or to people who comment frequently, your opinion is not irrelevant. It matters what everyone thinks.

As for me, it's mainly her paragraphing that keeps me from reading Paula. My eyes don't want to track big long paragraphs, so I usually skip them.

#752 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 08:41 PM:

Lila, #705, it was a jet contrail seen from an odd angle during sunset. It was too slow to be any kind of a rocket.

#753 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 09:24 PM:

Lee! Thank you! I have been halfheartedly looking for that for ages now because a friend of mine really likes messing with Superman and superheroes in general, mostly through plays.

Hyperlocal news: Phase One Victory declared! Local woman rejoices.

#754 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Huzzah, Diatryma! I remember how long that took when I battled fleas last year. May they stay very gone.

In local news, I'm really glad that tomorrow is a university holiday - I've had a couple of crazy-busy weeks (last week was a week of late nights; I was in NJ Sat-Mon for a friend's wedding, and now I'm trying to get a funding application together and to get an experiment to work). Graduate school is an infinity of things to do in a non-infinite amount of time. It's all doable, just tiring.

#755 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 10:57 PM:

Benjamine Wolfe, I am so looking forward to tomorrow because a) short school day, and b) end of trimester, so there's no school Friday, and I am visiting home for two nights. It means losing some here-social time, but then, a lot of what's been wearing me out lately is here-social time.

I don't work a lot, not by actual standards, but a sanctioned Day Off in a school year where I've worked every possible day but one is... well, it's very nice.

#756 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 11:12 PM:

752
Marilee, respectfully, that's the oddest airplane contrail I've ever seen, and to look like that at sunset, it would have to have ... done something a lot closer to being a rocket.

#757 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 11:29 PM:

The local coyotes are getting really cozy. They were yapping it up less than an hour ago (7:30 pm).

#758 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 12:44 AM:

I had not intended my comment @741 to be an invitation to talk about Paula in the third person. Please strive to avoid doing this about people in the community or the conversation.

#759 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 01:43 AM:

The mystery contrail seems to be narrowed down to US Airways Flight 808 from Honolulu (why is it OUR fault?) according to CBS News. They relied on a guy who has a Contrail website (a WHAT?!?), although Googling for his name (Mick West) doesn't turn up any likely sites.

This one's gonna stick in the conspiracy theorists' heads for a long time, I'll bet.

#760 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 02:09 AM:

Hyperlocal news...

Man pays stack of bills, renews "Weird Tales" sub, finds there is money left in savings.

#761 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 03:06 AM:

Lee @ 744: I see that in your scramble to distance yourself from Paula for her poor rhetorical choices you managed to call her a contagious moron. Lovely.

#762 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 11:07 AM:

[response from me to a post in another forum, where authors were commenting about their works, even the ones on their websites which they posted as free reading, being illegally distributed by third party Internet sites... )

I heard on NPR yesterday that in the wake of the World Trade Organization ruling cotton grown in the USA is being shipped to Brazil sold below cost there hurting the livelihood of the Brazilian cotton growing business (due to the US Government paying subsidies to the owners of cotton farms), the US Government is paying Brazil farmers $15 million a month ($120 million per year) to avoid Brazil applying punitive import duties on other products imported from the USA. This has been in effect for four months so far, apparently.

There seems to be an organization called the Intellectual Property Association (NPR mentioned them) that was among the groups successfully lobbying the US Congress to Do Something to prevent punitive import duties. It seems to me that perhaps a class action suit by authors and publishers persuadable to join in, to the World Trade Organization against the countries with the ISPs which host the distributors (Japan and Eastern European companies) with a lot of promotion and publicity pressuring Congress for its nothing-effective-so-far-done-handling, demanding either the host countries shut the distributors down, or if they don't pay, either punitive import duties on products -and services - (hit the offshoring of white collar jobs to Eastern Europe) or the US Government compensate authors and publishers....

==================================================
(not included in my response, for various reasons....)
[Note, I am highly suspicious of the Intellectual Property Association because the website does NOT include names of individuals and corporations involved... I suspect that is a creature related to RIAA and MPAA. There NOTHING I've seen on its website showing the slightest interest in the rights and well-being of individual artists/performers/authors unless they are business entities.. "If you are a non-profit organization, entrepeneurial association, or n emergening businesses [sic] in need of Pro Bono assistance, ples ue the form below to contract us...." http://www.intellectualpropertyassociation.com/organizations.html ]

#763 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 11:36 AM:

Question 1:

Sometimes I see the phrase that someone "built better than they knew."

Where does this originate? My googling skills do not avail me.

#764 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 11:50 AM:

Question 2:

I have heard, of some prolific writer, that he "never permitted himself the luxury of an unpublished thought."

This seems to be a popular insult among literary people, and one may find it attached to John Updike and to Father Andrew Greeley, among others.

I can't help feeling that this was once a clever remark, long ago, that people keep repeating. Who said it originally, and about whom was it said?

#765 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 12:25 PM:

Mycroft W @745: With the comma, that phrase implies there are 5 boxes rather than 4. Which one is missing?

#766 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 12:49 PM:

shadowsong @ 727: I'd offer up my band, but I think we'd have a bit more percussion than you want.

Here if you're nonetheless interested.

#767 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 12:53 PM:

On the monetary value of second-hand fur garments:

In addition to changes in fashion and attitudes towards the use of fur, there is the problem that fur (and leather) garments need regular conditioning to keep in prime shape. Back when fur garments were fashionable, there was an entire industry that dealt with conditioning and storing them to keep them from physical degradation. Today, I suspect, you'd have to search a bit to find someone with the knowledge and expertise. To say nothing of finding owners who are aware of the need for it.

The leather backing of the fur dries out and becomes brittle -- especially if stored in attic-like conditions. Insects can get into the garment and chew holes in it. (And this is aside from wear-related issues like matting or rubbing of the hairs.)

I collect up second-hand fur garments to use in historic costuming, which generally involves disassembling them down to their component parts. So I don't normally want to work with items that are still in prime wearable condition. It also allows me to work around brittle, matted, or torn areas. But when you disassemble a garment, it becomes apparent just how much damage there is -- something that isn't always immediately noticable in its original state. For my particular uses, I tend to buy coats arount $20-25, jackets or large wraps around $10-15, and collars or "whole-animal" stoles for $3-5. (Although at the moment I have a fairly large unused stash, so I haven't dipped into the market very recently.)

#768 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 01:00 PM:

Mark @766, I was thinking of suggesting P.V. O'Donnell to shadowsong @727. I think you've got the physical CD -- do you know if it's got distribution channels other than buying direct from him?

#769 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 02:01 PM:

This year's Dance Your PhD Winner has been announced.

#770 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 02:11 PM:

Paula Lieberman @762 RE the Intellectual Property Association -- something seems rather odd there to me, as well. Their about statement suggests they exist primarily as an educational outreach organization and to provide pro-bono attorney services to defend IP rights of individuals, businesses, and organizations. But they have a whole menu of supposed services that include things like "copyright registration" and "IP enforcement" that are curiously lacking in details or specifics.

They've got very little Google footprint, which seems unlikely for an organization so theoretically expert on digital and e-publishing/distributing. The articles they link to appear to be articles available elsewhere (like The Economist) and it's not clear whether the authors of those articles have any actual relationship with the IPA at all.

I've written via their contact form to request information about their services, since no specific information is available on their website and almost every menu item leads either to a contact form or to an article available elsewhere online.

I'll note that there is no photo credit on the high-rise building image captioned "Intellectual Property Association"...which seemed odd and not particularly encouraging, for an organization theoretically so concerned with credit where credit is due.

Then again, I can be a paranoid and suspicious old woman, sometimes, too.

#771 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 04:03 PM:

765 Tom Whitmore: That was my thought. It would have been worse without the Oxford Comma, because there would have been four "baskets", for four boxes, and one would read it as if they had been using the Oxford Comma.

The article doesn't make anything clear; my *guess* is that the four boxes are: "solid Murkowski votes", "possible Murkowski votes", "write-ins for other candidates, blank or over-marked ballots", and "ballots cast for Miller or McAdams".

#772 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 05:26 PM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey: # 763

I think "built better than he knew" is from Emerson's poem "The Problem" (1839)

The hand that rounded Peter's dome
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome  
Wrought in a sad sincerity; 
Himself from God he could not free; 
He builded better than he knew;-- 
The conscious tone to beauty grew.

That's the earliest citation I've been able to find, and the other early citations were also US, such as a poem for Longfellow's 75th birthday, which includes


Surely the shrewd, persistent pioneer
Built better than he knew : he thought to build
A shelter for himself, his kith and gear ;
But felled the trees, and grubbed and plowed and tilled,
That in the course of time might be fulfilled
A wondrous purpose, being no less than this,
That here a poet might be born to bliss.

A Google search for "built better than he knew" emerson also shows that Harold Bloom (who should know what he is talking about) attributes the phrase to Emerson.

#773 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 06:29 PM:

I blame Milton for this one.

They come to model Heaven,
searching wide and deep for standard candles;
grasping rays with mirror and lens,
reaching with long arms to feel the metric ring
as stars collapse.
Eyes opened wide over many octaves
they fathom the voids and structures of matter,
inferring the shape of the dark background.
Peering into the past they are given
visions of the deep time to come.
Give them a place to stand
and they will know the sky.

#774 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 06:43 PM:

shadowsong @ 727, Rikibeth @ 768: P.V. O'Donnell's web site has some sound samples, but not an online form for ordering his CDs - only contact information to order by mail. Still, if you like very traditional Irish fiddling, I know few better.

P.V., by the way, is still playing and traveling some, but the fight with brain cancer has made him a wisp of himself. He's visibly smaller and more frail, and his voice has become weak and brittle, but his spirits, last I saw him, were still pretty high.

#775 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 06:56 PM:

Thanks Mark, I'll take a look at you and O'Donnell as well.

#776 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 07:11 PM:

My google-fu is weak. How would I determine the typical number of days an airport is closed due to winter weather? It'd be perfect to narrow it down to, say, mid-January, but I'm not picky.

#777 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 07:30 PM:

Around 6:30 Pacific time this morning it appears that someone (somebot?) in Algeria broke into my gmail account and sent some spam messages to some of my contacts. The messages were sufficiently bogus that gmail caught and deleted at least some, if not all, of them before they could be sent. If you received any spam from me, I apologize. I've changed my password and nuked all sessions open on my gmail account, so this shouldn't happen again any time soon.

#778 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 08:14 PM:

Bruce@718 - as other people have pointed out, the drums are Taiko, and almost any musical group using them will have Taiko in the name somewhere.

The problem is that the experience of listening to them doesn't really render well on recordings, not so much because of [insert audiophile rant about CDs or vinyl or MP3s here], but because unless you've got a speaker system somewhere close to the size of the drums, you just can't produce that much sound, and maybe your ears will get a similar experience to the real thing, but the rest of your body won't. You'll still be able to hear the rhythms, which is a good start, but it's just a start.

#779 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 08:30 PM:

Bill Stewart, hmm. A speaker system close to the size of the drums, huh?

#780 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 08:35 PM:

Bill H. -- Beam Jockey: I can't attribute your quotes, but Dorothy Parker codified one of the standard answers to this sort of question:

If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.

#781 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 09:03 PM:

#780:

I wish I had said that!

#782 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 09:04 PM:

P J Evans, #756, I've seen an awful lot of rockets and planes with contrails (I came home from pupil dilation at night on Tuesday and the planes coming into Dulles looked like space squids), but here's experts: Military and NASA and Non-military

Stefan Jones, #757, we've had so much development farther and farther out that two years ago we had a band of coyotes come down the branch and eat anything smaller than they were.

#783 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 09:06 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 73: That's good.

No, sorry, I didn't mean to sound surprised. It's good because it's free verse that works. I can't do something like that to save me. You just have. Congratulations.

#784 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 09:08 PM:

Sorry, that last comment should have been about Bruce Cohen @ 773, not 73.

#785 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 09:19 PM:

You will, Erik, you will.

#786 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 10:14 PM:

This guy may be the greatest living piano improvisationalist. He takes requests from the audience, then sits down and plays stuff like "Rhapsody in Blue" in the style of Debussy, or the James Bond and Pink Panther themes woven together as a double fugue -- completely off-the-cuff.

#787 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 10:51 PM:

John A Arkansawyer:

One source that takes quite a bit of work is Bureau of Transport Statistics

They have individual flight data on cancellation, on-time arrival, etc, available for download. Then it takes processing. If you were interested, I could probably do you some tables -- it would make a good student exercise for the future.

#788 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 10:52 PM:

Lee @786: if you ever have a chance to listen to Somtow Sucharitkul improvise on the piano, you might revise your opinion as to "greatest". He's pretty amazing.

#789 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2010, 11:33 PM:

Marilee, I found another version of the video where there's an actual airplane flying past the contrail, so you have the contrast in direction and speed. It's near the end of the video.

#790 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 01:49 AM:

Linkmeister #779: not even close

The drum in the linked image is not the biggest taiko drum I've seen played.

#791 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 02:01 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ #790, oh, well. To get a speaker that size you'd have to be buying professional arena equipment. Mine's consumer-grade.

That is a big honkin' drum.

#792 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 03:44 AM:

wrt taiko drums, they're sometimes used in movie soundtracks-- iirc they were in The Last Samurai and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-- so anyone who saw those in theatres probably got a reasonable taiko-emulation experience, though perhaps not up to the standard of a live performance. I went to a taiko concert a few years ago, and the entire floor felt like a subwoofer-- great massage-chair action from the seats; very little chance of falling asleep. The visual aspect is a huge part of the experience as well.

More specifically for Bruce, wrt the location on his LJ user page, there's apparently a taiko event in Seattle this Saturday, as well as several local groups that give lessons.

#793 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 03:46 AM:

Here's an image of one of the really big taiko drums.

#794 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 06:15 AM:

Bruce Arthurs@792 : That's a two-cow drum, yup.

Now I'm contemplating what you'd have to do to get a BIGGER one. Redwood trunk and an elephant, maybe?

#795 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 06:49 AM:

thomas @ 787: That would be incredibly kind of you, but I wouldn't ask you to go to that sort of effort just for my sake. I'm mostly interested in my odds of making it back on time (or not) from a trip my boss has given me time to take during a busy time of the year. Thus my interest in the Atlanta, Charlotte, and Little Rock airports and their weather in mid-January (the exact details which, if you do decide to design the exercise, would be most interesting to me).

#796 ::: john ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 07:07 AM:

P J Evans @789:

Not sure if you posted this for the "plane contrail" side, against it, or merely as another source of information? But between parallax motion on the airplane crossing left to right, foreshortening, and significant difference in flight level, the version you linked definitely looks like two airplanes to me. (We know the l-to-r airplane is very low, because we can clearly distinguish its silhouette and it subtends a noticeable angle. It may also be a small aircraft, not a large passenger jet, in which case it's even lower and closer.)

I find this more credible because I've sat in a pub garden dead in line with an airport runway, but with no line of sight to the airport itself. With no parallax and planes just a couple of miles out, I can't judge motion at all: it looks exactly as if the planes are dropping out of the sky and past the local skyline, plumb vertical and very slowly. A high contrail near the horizon and no parallax... yeah, it'll look like the videos and stills do.

ObFather Ted: "This cow is very small; those ones are far away. Small... far away."

#797 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 08:07 AM:

Every airport has a weather station; maybe you could just call and ask ?

#798 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 10:07 AM:

Open Thready: has the fanfic, "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" been mentioned here before?

Warning: I'm on about chapter 48.

#799 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 11:26 AM:

Several times, SandyB @798; it's still worth the ping.

#800 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 01:53 PM:

::mutter:: ::mutter:: technology is so cool. when it works. ::mutter:: ::mutter::

#801 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 02:28 PM:

Gnn. There are classes I enjoy, and classes which only serve to demonstrate What Not To Do. I just sat through two hours of the latter. Unamused.

Especially when I have better things to be doing, such as finishing my funding application to NSF, due in a week.

#802 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 02:30 PM:

And Open-Threadiness (if a bit late to ask): having enjoyed the BSFS meet with the talk by Charlie Stross last Friday, and enjoyed meeting Jules & Cadbury Moose there, I'm getting up at too-early tomorrow to drive up to Nottingham for Novacon (okay, so we'll miss this evening's offerings, which is a shame). Any chance anyone else will be there?

#803 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 02:34 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 788:

Is there anything that guy can't do? SF writer, filmmaker, symphony conductor, prince. Oh, wait, he hasn't had to form a government in the wake of a revolution ... yet.

#804 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 03:58 PM:

Sandy B @798, yes, I'm pretty sure it has.

I liked the early chapters, but finally gave up on it somewhere around chapter 53. It was taking too long to get anywhere, and the clunkiness of the prose finally wore me out.

#805 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 04:34 PM:

Dave Luckett @ 783:

Thank you. I must confess that's the first free verse I've written that I really liked. I started it trying to decide whether it should be a sonnet or set of couplets, at which point the poem informed me that it was going to be free verse, live with it. Can't really argue with that.

#806 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 04:34 PM:

Dave Luckett @ 783:

Thank you. I must confess that's the first free verse I've written that I really liked. I started it trying to decide whether it should be a sonnet or set of couplets, at which point the poem informed me that it was going to be free verse, live with it. Can't really argue with that.

#807 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 04:43 PM:

dcb @ #802

It was a good meeting (even if it was like a sauna at times). Good to meet you, though I didn't spot Jules in the crush. 3:O(>

Unfortunately I don't do Novacon these days, but have a safe trip and an enjoyable time.

#808 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Bruce Cohen @803 -- you do know that he's related to the Thai royal family, so what you said might not be outside the realms of reasonable probability, right?

Obligatory note: I am not asserting that he is a member of the royal family, just that he's related to them.

#809 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 05:39 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 808:

Yes, that was the joke (maybe a bit grim considering the current political situation in Thailand). As I understand it he's a grandnephew of a cousin of a consort of a former king, which puts him about in the same rank of succession as the Secretary of Veteran Affairs is to the US President.

Oh, and I forget to mention that he's composed 5 symphonies, 5 operas, and a ballet. He's a better candidate for head of state than any I've seen running around lately, especially here in the US.

#810 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 06:20 PM:

John A Arkansawyer:

Proportion of days in January over the past 15 years where more than 15% of flights through these airports have been cancelled -- the airpots you were interested in and a few others for variety.


ATL CLT DCA DEN LIT ORD SEA
0.03 0.03 0.07 0.00 0.03 0.09 0.00

Results are similar if I just use cancellations for weather, but this information is available only for the past 7 years so is less precise.

#811 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Bruce Cohen STM @809 == Yes, it's a bit odd to have a Heinleinian ubermensch in our social circle.

Oh wait. This is the Fluorosphere. Make that "another Heinleinian ubermensch, with appropriate flaws". There seem to be several here.

#812 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 09:45 PM:

The warmest coat I ever wore was an amazing, wonderful real fur coat I purchased at some secondhand store sometime around 1967. It wasn't very expensive. It was not mink. It might have been sealskin, it might have been raccoon, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. But it helped me survive five brutal Chicago winters, and I am grateful. When I moved to California, I passed it on to someone who I knew would need it.

#813 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2010, 11:36 PM:

796
I'm reasonably sure that the right-to-left plane is on approach to LAX; I think it would be somewhere below 10,000 feet, but not sure about that - those make the final turn south of downtown LA and go in from the east.

On the other hand, the nearest airport southwest of LA is Honolulu (everything else in a westerly direction is, well, a lot farther away), so anything coming in from the west or southwest should be either on approach or at cruising altitude and going farther east.

#814 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 01:23 AM:

"What's your cat's name? Abi, or Agatha?"
- my mom-in-law

#815 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 04:10 AM:

As I was going out for game night, I looked up towards Jupiter and noticed another light in the sky, very nearly as bright, moving slowly south, which quickly dimmed and faded. I just got home and looked on heavens-above.com: I had indeed just happened to look up at exactly the right time to see an Iridium flare.

#816 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 07:33 AM:

thomas @ 810: That's wonderful data! I shall book my trip immediately and hope Mr. Murphy doesn't pay me too harsh a visit. Thank you immensely! I hope your students get some good from the exercise.

I was speaking recently with our church administrator about my service on the board and various committees, and she told me, "I find you ask just the right questions."

And here I fretted about having so few answers.

#817 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 09:48 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 815 -- Late Thursday afternoon, the Ottawa-region CBC weather guy mentioned on the radio that if people happened to be looking skywards the following day just after 6 p.m., they'd be able to see a fast-moving light: reflection from the International Space Station. He then commented that of course, what people really should be watching at that time was him on the regional TV news broadcast.

#818 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 02:59 PM:

Lazyweb/AKICIML: Anybody use a light-box for phototherapy for SAD? Any recommendations?

#819 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 03:14 PM:

Clifton (818): There was a discussion of that last fall in Open Thread 131. It seems to start with this comment, then it's kind of intermittent down the thread.

#820 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 04:24 PM:

Clifton @818:

I have quite severe SAD, and have been using a light box since 1998. The model I use is British, and isn't in production any more, but it takes bulbs for this current model. I sit in front of it for an hour every morning, tapering up from the beginning of October, and tapering back down in March.

Morning treatment is more effective than evening treatment; light therapy in the evening can affect your sleep, even if you give it the recommended two hours between turning it off and going to bed.

Light boxes are quite expensive, but mine is certainly worth it. (Martin says it's the best thing we've ever bought.) The bulbs become less bright over time; I replace mine every two years or so, and really notice it when I do.

There is some thinking that it's the blue end of the spectrum that triggers your body clock, so that blue light alone would mitigate SAD. I have a travel light box built on that principle, but I'm intensely defensive of my sanity at home, and consequently haven't tried relying on the blue lights alone except for short trips. And since those short trips also included jet lag, I can't say I've given blue lights a fair shake.

They do give some people ferocious headaches. When I used mine at Patrick and Teresa's in February, I had to make sure to angle it so that no one else was in the light. And they do also make one look ghastly; I wouldn't have one at work.

What I do have at work is an ordinary halogen desk lamp, in whose light I tend to bask. It's amazing how much benefit one can get from being right next to a light source for the full day. When it's all a bit much I tend to rest my forehead lightly against it so the light is right there in front of me.

Of course, there are a number of things one can do to mitigate SAD in addition to light therapy. It's all the usual stuff: get enough sleep, get some exercise during the day (preferably outside; now you know why I commute by cycle even in the snow), eat right, be moderate in your alcohol consumption. Don't rely on caffeine too much; it can trash your sleep patterns, and insomnia is a common symptom of SAD at the best of times.

I've learned what things tend to indicate that I'm underlit, and I monitor my well-being as much as I can. One very common sign that my SAD is slipping the leash is a strong craving for bread. My family is also very good at pointing out when I'm being a little overly crabby.

Another SAD-related bit of kit that I love to a highly improper degree is my dawn simulator alarm clock. I'm always prone to waking up naturally at sunrise, which is its own pain in the summer. My dawn simulator simply moves that natural, easy waking to whatever time I set.

#821 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2010, 10:23 PM:

And for abi to consider, probably in the category of "He was a self-made man, proving once again the horror of unskilled labor," really cheap Mac bookbindng

#822 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 01:54 AM:

abi @ 820: The propensity for IT types to keep their office environment as cave-like as possible probably makes your desk lamp all the more necessary.

#823 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 04:06 AM:

Clifton Royston @818, et al: My doctor recently told me that new research shows vitamin D supplementation may have even more of an effect than lightboxes on seasonal affective disorder. YMMV, of course, but the over-the-counter D3 and prescribed D2 have made a difference for me.

#824 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 06:38 AM:

OtterB @ 695

Those who liked that may also like this interview with Brother Guy (continued here)

(Parental advisory: Bad Latin warning, unless the dative/ablative can be used in ways of which I have no inkling.)

#825 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 10:19 AM:

I was in Boston this week for a conference. While there, we (my best beloved and I, that is) took the opportunity to head up the road to UMass to see Number One Son. Also to have a small gathering of light with Kouredios.


#826 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 10:29 AM:

To whoever tore open my package from Dover and stole 6 of my 11 books:

You are a boil on the ass of humanity.

#827 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 11:45 AM:

At this moment Vaquero's attending a
commemorative event - ceremony down in the Lower 9th honoring the girls who were the center of the battle to integrate New Orleans's public school system
.


Today at 9 a.m. -- the exact time that "The McDonogh 3" integrated the school 50 years ago -- three women and the federal marshals who once escorted them will unveil a state historical marker in front of McDonogh No. 19."[/quote]

More story from yesterday by the same splendid New Orleans writer on the history of this, with some chilling photos, here.

Considering the turns this nation is taking in terms of hatred for any public good and everyone who isn't like me, these kinds of remindful commemorations are at least as important as Armistice Day, it seems.

Love, C.

#828 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Another SAD-related bit of kit that I love to a highly improper degree is my dawn simulator alarm clock. I'm always prone to waking up naturally at sunrise, which is its own pain in the summer. My dawn simulator simply moves that natural, easy waking to whatever time I set.

Abi, I love rising with the sun, and I have been thinking of getting a dawn simulator clock for winter mornings. Is there a particular brand or type you really like?

#829 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 01:40 PM:

praisegod barebones @824,thanks for the pointer to the interview with Brother Guy - I enjoyed it.

#830 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 02:17 PM:

Lizzy @828:

My dawn simulator is no longer in production, either, and it was from a British manufacturer.

Were I to buy one now, the one thing I would look for that I don't have is a silent—or as close to silent as possible—activation of the light. Mine gives a slight click as it begins to illuminate, which can wake me if I'm in a fragile sleep. That robs me of about 15 minutes of dozing time, and if I'm in fragile sleep mode, that's time I can't afford.

My clock also has a slightly more illuminated dial than I would otherwise choose. (It's analog.) My son has one with a digital display, which is dimmer and less intrusive. (But his also has the extremely unfortunate habit of giving off a piercing beep if it loses and regains power. I suppose it warns one that the alarm won't go off in the morning, but it's a little disruptive.)

Many clocks have a "sunset" mode with gradual dimming as well. I find that completely incomprehensibly useless, but maybe others go to sleep more easily with the darkling. Many also make noises: birdsong, waves, wind. I'm not particularly keen on that, but other people will no doubt be more interested. Tastes vary.

#831 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 02:55 PM:

abi, I've been looking at this one.

#832 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 02:59 PM:

Lila #826: Um... do you really think the thief is likely to be reading here?

But yeah, my sympathies, and humans can be pathetic. My bookstore puts out some of its overflow on a "free books" table. A couple of weeks ago, someone took the table....

#833 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 03:03 PM:

abi, count me as one of the people who finds the sunset mode amazingly useful. In fact, I just bought a cheap dawn-simulator clock and was greatly discouraged to find out I'd misread the list of features and it didn't create sunsets. I have difficulty falling asleep at the best of times, and if I DO manage to read myself into drowsiness, I rarely succeed in turning off the light. Sunset mode not only promotes drowsiness for me, but it guarantees that the light will be off when I sleep.

I think I've found a workaround that doesn't involve me buying another, more expensive clock: I use the radio sleep timer to remind me, when it shuts off, that it's time to turn out the reading lamp.

#834 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 03:09 PM:

Lizzy @831:

Given the features and the reviews, I'd certainly consider it if I were in the market for one. I think the variable sunrise times stretch further than necessary (120 minutes? Two hours of gradual awakening?), but it seems to have everything I would want.

#835 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 03:19 PM:

Abi at 834: I agree, but there it is...

#836 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 03:28 PM:

Lizzy @835:
Ah, the rococo impulse to add more features to an otherwise usable device.

I suppose the real benefit is that you can use the owner's manual as a spare stool if you have more visitors than you do seating.

#837 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 06:21 PM:

I'll third or fourth the value of a sunrise clock. Years ago when I was getting up before the sun (except in high summer) in order to run for an hour with my dog before getting ready for work, I had one such clock, and it made waking up much more tolerable than any sort of nasty electronic noise, or even decent music.

I'm thinking of getting one again (the old one broke sometime back, and at that point I wasn't running in the morning anymore) because I can't find a normal alarm that isn't booby-trapped in some way (goes off even when disarmed, goes into snooze mode and won't come out, waking me up an hour after going to sleep, has a nap button five times the size of the off button, etc.) and I've been reduced to setting my phone alarm to "Harp" and setting it on the night table. That way Eva can wake up and tap me on the shoulder to wake me up.

#838 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 06:21 PM:

I'll third or fourth the value of a sunrise clock. Years ago when I was getting up before the sun (except in high summer) in order to run for an hour with my dog before getting ready for work, I had one such clock, and it made waking up much more tolerable than any sort of nasty electronic noise, or even decent music.

I'm thinking of getting one again (the old one broke sometime back, and at that point I wasn't running in the morning anymore) because I can't find a normal alarm that isn't booby-trapped in some way (goes off even when disarmed, goes into snooze mode and won't come out, waking me up an hour after going to sleep, has a nap button five times the size of the off button, etc.) and I've been reduced to setting my phone alarm to "Harp" and setting it on the night table. That way Eva can wake up and tap me on the shoulder to wake me up.

#839 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 06:37 PM:

David @ #832, of course not. That was a combination "ARRRGH!" to the universe in general, and bid for sympathy.

#840 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2010, 10:27 PM:

Lila, you certainly have my sympathy.

#841 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 12:55 AM:

Apparently I reinvented the wheel, badly, with a 24-hour timer (such as you'd use for a pool pump or similar) and a ordinary table lamp. Having a light on made it a LOT easier getting out of bed in the morning. That was a basement apartment. As an aside, that was the place where the landlord told me, "every basement in New Jersey floods when it rains." Oh, is THAT why the front room has indoor/outdoor carpet?

#842 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 09:46 AM:

Lila, my sympathies!

I've used a regular timer and a light to provide a secondary alarm, and I've used that light alone as my morning alarm. Now I have a bed-shaker (iHome comes with one) to replace the loss of my alarm clock from the past 14 years, and that's doing a nice job. I still have my bedside light on a timer, which means that when the light goes on, it is REALLY time to get up. Now.

The cats don't even try to wake me. They're too nice.

#843 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 03:57 PM:

Bread Machine subthread:

I wanted a loaf of warm Tomato Bread waiting for me when I got home, but the recipe called for milk, eggs, sugar, and olive oil. This, in combination with the delayed start setting, is apparently grounds for the creation of Ptomaine Loaf.

So, yesterday afternoon I put all of those petri dish fluids in a plastic container and froze it.

This morning, I slid the mush into the bread machine, poured the dry ingredients over it, spooned on the yeast and set it to start mixing at 2:30 pm or so.

I'll let everybody know how it turned out.

And tomorrow I'll know whether I got food poisoning.

#844 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 05:15 PM:

Aside from our esteemed hosts, will any other Fluorospherians be attending SFContario?

#845 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 06:15 PM:

Madeline Ashby @ 844 -- I was really hoping to get to SFContario; I've had to miss too many conventions this year because of a series of health problems. Unfortunately, I'm still not well enough. For those who will be there... make sure you don't miss Karen Linsley, the filk GoH. She's a remarkably talented singer/songwriter.

#846 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 06:49 PM:

Bill Stewart @778: Taiko ... unless you've got a speaker system somewhere close to the size of the drums, you just can't produce that much sound

Friend loaned me a copy of a Kodo CD. Couldn't listen to it: if the loud parts were tolerable (i.e., quiet enough to not bother my neighbors) I couldn't hear the soft parts. If I could hear the soft parts, the loud parts were intolerable.

Interestingly, their video didn't have that problem.

#847 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 06:49 PM:

Re: the new sidelight... How long do you suppose it will take before that photo, or an artist's rendering of it, graces a newly released SF paperback?

#848 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 10:07 PM:

This is just to say
That I have eaten some of the corn bread
Which just came out of the oven
And which is going to accompany chili for dinner.
It's delicious: fluffy and corn-tasting and warm.
(And slightly sweet. Call me a heretic.)
OM NOM NOM NOM.

#849 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 10:12 PM:

841
I have a light on a timer. It comes on about 15 minutes after the alarm goes off and shuts off about 7 am, then comes on again in the evening.
It doesn't always keep me from going back to sleep, which I can do in less than two minutes, some days.

#850 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 10:13 PM:

This comment belongs in one of our many threads about the TSA, but frankly I'm too lazy/tired to hunt back through the archives and find one.

I just heard a story on NPR that every major USA airport now has a scanner, and that all travelers (pilots, flight crew, passengers) are required to either go through the scanner, or submit to a pat down.

The pilots' union points out that given the number of times pilots and crew will need to go through the scanner, in no time at all those people will have been exposed to prohibitively dangerous levels of radiation. Hey. I'm not in that class, but I'm not all that happy to be exposed to radiation if such exposure is not medically necessary. I fly, oh, 5 times a year: at least three of those trips are between the SF Bay Area and Phoenix, AZ. They are important to me: they are the only way I can see my only brother, who is seriously ill. 5 trips are the equivalent of 10 x-rays. Do I want to do that to myself? No.

Do I want to go through the pat down procedure, which sounds like it's been made deliberately uncomfortable and humiliating? No.

What to do? Trains -- oh, don't get me started. (Want high speed rail. Want. Want.) Drive myself? Eh. I no longer enjoy driving eight hours at a stretch, sleeping, and waking to do it again.

What to do?

#851 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 10:29 PM:

Madeline Ashby @ #844: I had hoped to go for at least a day; however, since I've had lots of trouble simply walking around my house for the past few weeks, I'm certainly not getting downtown for the con.

Of course, since I am much more of a lurker than a Fluorospherian, this answer really doesn't count. :)

#852 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Lizzy L, at this point i'd rather drive or take a train. I've had a LOT of x-ray exposure as a child (I had a severe burn on my back as a little infant and had to undergo surgery to release the scar every or every other year of my life until they did a skin graft at 12 years old. And every time I was admitted i got a full chest x-ray.

I've had a lot of other exposures and am not really excited about any more.

On the other hand, a friend of mine who is originally from South Africa, asked, several years ago, why the US hadn't started using the kind of x-ray they're now using for airline passengers. After all, they've been used for years and years at diamond and gold mines in South Africa. Every Day. On every employee who goes in and out of the mines. For loss prevention. YIKES.

#853 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2010, 11:20 PM:

Yeah, given the choice between public humiliation in person, and not-so-public humiliation by remote viewing plus a free dose of x-rays, I pick "C. Give up flying." Luckily I have only one close relative outside of driving distance. The only practical difference it makes is that I can't go to professional conferences any more unless they're nearby, but that had pretty much become the case anyhow for financial and scheduling reasons.

#854 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 12:50 AM:

Lizzy, Lila, Paula, and just about everybody:

Here is info on the upcoming Senate TSA Oversight Hearing, November 17. That's in two days!

Right now is a great time to contact your senator and their staff and let them know just how you feel about the whole "naked scanners or pat-down" choice. Senate committee members are listed on the page I linked to, but even if your senator is not on that list, call and let them know the issue is of great concern to you.

My whole family is scheduled to fly to LA to see my mother-in-law for Thanksgiving and her 95th (!) birthday. This was all planned out and tickets bought before I heard about the plan to force everyone to go through the scanners or pat-down. Now I'm really torn which unpleasantness to opt for, and still more so for my son (who recently had a heavy dose of X-rays due to CAT-scan.)

From Hawaii, train is not an option and boat to the mainland is not practical. If you want to go anywhere, other than by cruise ship, tramp freighter, or private yacht, you're flying.

#855 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 01:38 AM:

The Google Maps directions between Hawaii and Los Angeles are interesting; they suggest you take a kayak from Hawaii to Gas Works Park in Seattle, then drive about eleven hundred miles south on Interstate 5.

#856 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 01:55 AM:

One of the travel columnists on the WashPost suggests that you use smaller airports. Many of them don't have the scanners, like the airport here in my city.

#857 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 02:00 AM:

Question: Why am I arguing about Universal Languages (natural v. artificial) on another site?

No, sorry, it was a trick question, the answer is "Because I'm stupid and they pushed my stupid buttons." "Because they pushed my buttons" is NOT sufficient for credit; please try again.

#858 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 09:23 AM:

Thanks for the pointer, Clifton. Message sent to committee chair.

#859 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 10:27 AM:

I've been really heartened to see what seems like the beginnings of a backlash to our stupid security theater policies. Though I assume it will all go away as soon as the authorities produce some moron who tried to buy a bomb from an FBI agent, and the media turns the story into the next week's fear-amplification routine. ("Does the most recent attempted terrorist attack prove that Obama is a Socialist Muslim, or might he merely be an ineffectual liberal? To discuss this, we have invited independent analysts Charles Krauthammer, Lynne Cheney, and Newt Gingrich to discuss the matter.")

#860 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 10:55 AM:

The pilots' union points out that given the number of times pilots and crew will need to go through the scanner, in no time at all those people will have been exposed to prohibitively dangerous levels of radiation.

Unintended consequence: pilot on a shorthaul aircraft hits his maximum permissible radiation dose for the year by mid-February, takes the rest of the year as compulsory paid leave.

#861 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 11:34 AM:

Preaching to the choir here, but I thought this was an excellent article on Israeli airport security and why it works.

#862 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 11:51 AM:

Janet @ 861 -

That's a good article, and no doubt has some lessons for us. But Israel is dealing with just a few major airports. I imagine the cost figure is classified, but my guess is it would be a good bit higher than security at US airports. The US has many more international airports.

#863 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 12:26 PM:

In re SAD, sunrise lamps, etc.

My case is probably relatively mild (though it was problematic enough for ME). In lieu of spending beaucoup de bucks and not knowing if it was going to work, we started with something that turns out to be perfectly adequate as a final option ... total cost, something like $20.

We bought a halogen spotlight from IKEA (the ones that look like little rocket pods and mount to the wall). We plugged it into a standard you-went-on-vacation 24hour light timer, set to turn on at 5:45 every morning and turn off at 10AM (start and end times arrived at based on my personal schedule, through trial and error). The spotlight is aimed roughly at my pillow, with the puddle of light arranged to provide the least possible spill-over interrogation-lamp effect to my bedsharing spouse.

Very rarely, the spotlight itself wakes me up. However, with the spotlight going off when it does, my alarm (radio, really) turning on at 6:45 reliably DOES wake me up, gently and cheerfully, instead of me clawing myself awake at some later point and still being groggy.

I deliberately picked the bedroom with the large south-facing windows for our use (and put the bed where sunrise hits me in the face), so I only need the spotlight 'armed' for about seven months a year -- the ones where sunrise is significantly later than 5:45 in Chicago, or where overcast icky wintry weather tends to put clouds between Nature's Own Spotlight and my face.

YMMV. But it's worth trying, for those who've been told to attempt light therapy and are reluctant to shell out triple digits as a start.

#864 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 12:43 PM:

Steve C. @ 862:

I imagine the cost figure is classified, but my guess is it would be a good bit higher than security at US airports. The US has many more international airports.

But I wonder just what the total cost is when you add in externalities like lost time for passengers. We (the US) are very bad at accounting for costs realistically. In any case, TSA is always hot to prevent the most recent terrorist plot as described by CNN, but don't seem eager to close the holes that inspectors continue to find in their procedures, holes that would allow shipment of bombs in luggage, carrying of firearms onto planes, etc.

#865 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 01:48 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 861... Using people and plated glass? Butbutbut... What about all those expensive devices that we use instead? Don't you want to relaunch the economy? (Yes, my sarcasm subroutine is overheating.)

#866 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 02:34 PM:

I know, Serge, silly of me, innit? But it really does address the big problem I've seen brought up again and again -- in the US, there is no security BEFORE the TSA line, and anyone wanting to cause utter mayhem need only insert themselves in that line and do whatever they were planning to do. (I say with trepidation as I fly Friday...)

#867 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Those long, densely snaking lines are an interesting potential target, aren't they?

#868 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 03:11 PM:

Elliot Mason @863:

When we were considering getting a dawn simulator alarm clock, we also considered a timer + light solution. In the end, the two things that decided us against it were (a) that all the timers we looked at seemed to activate with an audible click, and (b) they didn't gradually brighten the light; they tended to just turn it on.

The question I always ask people who are considering dawn simulators is, "if you sleep in an inadequately curtained room, do you wake up at sunrise?" If people tell me they sleep through the sunrise even with the blinds wide open, I tell them not to spend the money.

(I do wonder if the dawn simulator has trained me even more thoroughly to wake up with increasing light, and thus contributed to my frankly terrible sleep patterns in the summer. But I suspect the real problem is that the blinds in our bedroom don't block out all the light.)

#869 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 03:14 PM:

On 'security' x-rays:

I don't think x-ray dose is good reason to be worried about using the naked screening device -- there are plenty of much better reasons.

Initially there wasn't much specific information about dose, and so there was some reason not to trust the TSA claims that it was safe. Detailed dose data has been released now, and the Health Physics Society and the American College of Radiology both agree with the FDA that the dose is much, much smaller than you would get by actually flying. Now, the dose from flying isn't necessarily negligible, but if you're worried about the dose from screening you were presumably planning to fly.

Especially in the context of fighting pointless security theatre I think it's important to have realistic assessments of the actual problems with the screening process. Soon we may have terahertz scanners in use, and they won't have any ionizing radiation dose, but that won't make them ok.

#870 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 03:35 PM:

Regarding the imagery from the Nude Screening Devices, I don't buy the assurances that it's not recorded. And even if the machines don't record, what's going to prevent TSA guy from whipping out his cell phone and clicking away?

#871 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 03:52 PM:

Steve @#870: I have to say, whether the picture's recorded or not is not a big deal for me. Granted, I am cissexual and have no history of sexual abuse, but from what I've seen of those shots...let's just say that, if someone's so hard up (um, no pun intended) that those count as porn, they're welcome to mine--especially given that there won't be any identifying information attached to it.

It's not an academic question, either, as I'm going to be flying in a few weeks, with either two or three security screenings depending on how the transfer I'm making works out.

I mean, I object to the imagers because they violate privacy, but I don't think that the possibility of the recording of the images makes the privacy violation worse.

#872 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 04:26 PM:

Hyperlocal News update:

Woman runs errands at lunch, is forced to deal with high winds. Observes, "Steering the truck on the interstate was bad enough, but watching the wind blow out the plexiglass windshield of the golf cart being towed by the truck ahead of me was the kicker."

#873 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 05:03 PM:

There's a good tale about avoiding the TSA scan here (the link was floating around Twitter). It includes a link to the UCSF letter.

#874 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 05:07 PM:

Earl @ #855, those directions miss the most important step: First, acquire a kayak.

Matt Yglesias has some anecdata about Israeli airport procedures which counter the Toronto Star's article.

#875 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 05:39 PM:

Linkmeister @ 874: Adding my own anecdata: I'll take El Al security over TSA any day for efficiency and, particularly, professionalism.

#876 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 05:58 PM:

abi @868: Natural sunrise doesn't wake me up, but apparently the sudden influx of light DOES do something to my sleep cycle, that makes me capable of waking up rested an hour or so after said 'sunrise'. So for me it's valuable, but as a sort of stain pre-treatment, not the alarm clock itself.

The click didn't bother me much, but we're currently using a light timer built into a wall-mounted, wired-in light switch (push button to turn on or off, plus it goes on and off when pre-programmed to do so), and I haven't been able to hear that one at all, even when I'm already awake when it goes off. Of course, it's clear across the bedroom instead of right by my head like the old plug-into-the-outlet timer was, but still.

#877 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Steve C. @ #870: Good call.

Of course they're going to store the images. How will they defend themselves in court after detaining someone "suspicious" without their x-ray image to back them up?

#878 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 06:57 PM:

WashPost article on SAD.

#879 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 07:23 PM:

Bread Machine Thread:

My clever attempt to combine delayed start and perishable ingredients was a flop.

The resulting loaf was short and dense. Edible, but crumbly and a bit doughy. Tasty, though, and my dog is nuts about the result. It may end up as dog treats.

The badness: It was encased in a shell of unmixed flour. I'm guessing that the frozen perishables did not thaw in time, resulting in partial mixing.

#880 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 08:32 PM:

Stefan @ #879, Here's my second adventure in bread making. While I didn't have perishables, I did miss one of the items in the recipe until I'd started the machine. Then my corrective action reset the cycle, which was distressing.

Fortunately, it all turned out just fine. My version of light rye turned out to be just as tasty as almost any commercial brand I've ever had.

#881 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 09:32 PM:

Oh, missing out on ingredients has happened to me plenty of times. I've also had to reseat the mixing paddle, and scraped the sides when things just didn't seem to be mixing.

I've stopped my machine as much as a half hour into its cycle and restarted w/o noticable problems.

Glad to hear your rye turned out well.

#882 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 09:47 PM:

What was annoying was that I couldn't get it to stop and restart where I wanted. It insisted on setting it as a 2-lb loaf in the LCD panel and setting the clock back, neither of which were accurate for the amount of ingredients I'd measured into it.

Ah well. It's how one learns.

#883 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 09:49 PM:

It suddenly occurs to me that I should have switched it to Manual mode right at the point when I added the forgotten ingredients. Presumably that would let me control it better.

As I said, it's how one learns.

#884 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 10:44 PM:

Can anyone recommend a good brand of bread that specifically has no HFCS?

#885 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 11:23 PM:

Earl, 884: Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat--but be careful. They make two kinds of whole wheat, and one is chock full of HFCS. I can never remember which is which, so I just read the ingredient list every time I buy bread. (As opposed to making it, which really doesn't take as long as I think it does. All hail stand mixers with dough hooks!)

#886 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 12:08 AM:

Speaking of HFCS, here's something really appalling. The last time I went to KFC, I asked for some honey for my biscuit and got instead a little packet of something called "Honey Sauce". Now, I'd seen this before, and the ingredients list had been "honey, corn syrup" the last time I looked. This time it was: "HFCS, sugar, corn syrup, honey, [2 or 3 other things]". No way was I going to put that stuff in my mouth! I ate my biscuit dry.

#887 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 12:16 AM:

Orowheat makes several varieties of HFCS-free breads, all with big banners proclaiming their free-ness (some of them still have the stuff so check for the banner. I found one of their HFCS-free whole wheat loaves to be alarmingly sweet, but they've got a really good multi-grain & flax that I've been eating whenever I require bread.

That "honey sauce" is vile. I know there have been issues with bees disappearing and all, but it's not like honey is prohibitively expensive. Although with the corn subsidies, maybe KFC is being paid to distribute that nastiness.

#888 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 01:38 AM:

...and Craig Ferguson dirty dancing with a full-size Dalek must be seen to be believed.

#889 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 07:52 AM:

Earl at 884: Recently for sandwich bread I've been buying Peppridge Farms' Whole Grain German Dark Wheat. It's made without HFCS (or corn syrup at all). It's not as soft as some of PF's varieties. They also have non-dark whole wheat bread without HFCS.

#890 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 08:24 AM:

Be aware that HFCS is about to change its name to "corn sugar", since folks have started trying to avoid it.

#891 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 10:11 AM:

We re-homed our bread machine after a few weeks of "artisan bread". The basic recipe we use is from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, a Christmas present, but there are plenty of fine recipes on line. The basic recipe calls for flour, water, yeast, and salt. Period. You make up a big wad of dough, no kneading needed, and store it in the refrigerator, removing grapefruit-sized wads to bake as desired. No preservatives? No worries. It doesn't last long enough to go stale. It doesn't actually take only five minutes a day, but it averages that after a while.

#892 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 10:12 AM:

Open threadiness: NYT piece on a program fighting bullying with babies.

I recommend the video clips of toddlers demonstrating altruism, linked to within the piece, as an antidote to the despair over our species that the plagiarism & privilege thread produced in me.

#893 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 01:28 PM:

Has anybody bought the new book Investigative Bloggers: Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Xeni Jardin, Kathryn Cramer, Kevin Drum?

Not me.

Theoretically someone has, because Amazon lists one used copy available, in addition to five sources of new copies.

Actually, it's a sausage-machine robot-compiled book something like the Icon Group books about which I commented some time ago.

But this one is from Books LLC (which may or may not be the same outfit as General Books LLC, publisher of the most horrible physics book I've ever seen; the Web sites look awfully similar). It appears to be a 23-page print-on-demand volume compiled from Wikipedia.

Amazon does not list a sales ranking for this book at this time.


#894 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 01:55 PM:

"Investigative Bloggers: Teresa Nielsen Hayden" sounds like an excellent TV crime show.

#895 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 02:36 PM:

#884 Earl

When Pigs Fly bread

#896 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 04:51 PM:

In re the making-bread subthread:

My husband has been making cornbread a lot lately, because our toddler has decided it is OMG THE BEST THING EVER and will gladly devour 1/6th of a loaf per meal, plus whatever else she's eating.

We bake it in a 9" cast-iron skillet. He's using mostly the recipe from the Better Homes Than Yours (sorry, and Gardens) New Cookbook -- the red gingham one -- only with half the sugar they suggest because we prefer our cornbread to taste like a quickbread, not a muffin. The recipe includes 1/4c fat, and says almost any fat is acceptable.

He started out using vegetable oil, because it was handy. That was all right but not spectacular. Then he made it with butter, which was made of om-nom-nom. Then, thanks to having cooked a lot of meat all at once, we happened to have handy a bowl of skimmed rendered pig lard, and another of chicken fat, so he made one loaf with each. The lard was noticeably different than the veg oil, but not nearly as tasty as using, say, bacon fat. The chicken fat was unexpectedly successful; as succulent as the butter, but with a distinct, well, chickeny note. Would do again, if I happened to have skimmed clean chicken schmaltz handy.

This has been an infobulletin from Experimental Geek Cookery, Ltd. No rights reserved. Most products nummy. Your kitchen may vary. Some contents may have settled in transit.

#897 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 06:50 PM:

Hyperlocal News: Local woman after three years of school and six months of searching, lands good job in her field. Is elated.

I'm going to be a polysomnographic technologist for Minnesota Lung/Sleep Institute. Whew. Student loans are coming due.

#898 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 07:02 PM:

#897: Congratulations!

* * *

Once in a while I make cornbread. I'd like to try the skillet variety someday.

Maybe for Thanksgiving? That and some underdone venison and root vegetables would make for a very authentic seasonal feast.

#899 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 07:03 PM:

Wasn't there something about algorithmically created romance novels in Orwell's _1984_?

#900 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 07:04 PM:

Moving this over to the open thread from a side-thread where it is far less relevant:

I'm a great believer in Weird Minor Superpowers. My husband has a cardinal-direction-sensor, which seems to NOT be magnetic☮. I can scan a page of text, barely paying attention, and spot typos and grammar problems with what must be a subconscious parser.

My mother's eidetic -- that's a superpower most people know about. It's beyond good memory and mnemonic tricks; there are many situations where she can't NOT remember something exactly, even if she'd rather not (or finds it irrelevant). But she ALSO has completely exact color-memory: she can see me in a shirt, and eight months later buy me another garment (or yard goods, etc) that matches or coordinates with it PRECISELY, even if she saw it in sunlight and is buying by fluorescent, etc. I've always wondered if she has the Weird Extra Rods tetrachromat mutation, or if her three rods are at least not quite the same as everyone else's, because she can also distinguish between fine gradations of shade that most people would lump as the 'same' color.

As far as I'm concerned, if it's something that Person A can do simply and with great ease (i.e. not a long-learned skill like being able to play piano or tapdance or sing Gilbert & Sullivan patter songs at speed), that many other people can't even manage to do badly, I categorize it as a superpower. Sure it's not flying or turning things to liquid silver or teleportation, but it still counts, IMHO.

I characterize them this way because there are a lot of things people assume 'everyone' can do, because they can, until they suddenly find out that lots of people CAN'T. For example, I have far greater tongue dexterity★ than my husband. Every time our daughter does something along those lines that he can't do despite preschool years spent attempting to practice it, he draws it to my attention and I say, "Oh, you mean this [does it]?" and he gives me a dirty look.

My grandfather managed on nearly every trip out to dinner to 'just happen' to pass a used bookstore between where we parked and the restaurant, but that wasn't a superpower, that was just extreme sneakiness (and a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the locations of Chicago used bookstores).

--
☮ When I say 'sense of direction' I mean he automatically knows which way is north, etc. Not stopping to think about it, just knowing off the top of your head the way [most adults] know that 2 + 2 = 4. We suspect it's not magnetic because moving from lake-south Toronto to lake-east Chicago meant he was off by 90deg in his dead reckonings for nearly six months, which gobsmacked him when he realized how consistent it was, and in what direction.
★ Not like that, you jumper-to-conclusions. :-> I mean like being able to flip it over, and touch the tip of my nose with the tip of it. Superior range-of-motion.

#901 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 07:08 PM:

Stefan Jones @898: Cast iron is a superior material for baking dishes, IMHO. Gives you a nice even heat and holds it a long time. Plus, if it's properly seasoned, it's basically nonstick (butter it anyway), and cleanup is accomplished by wiping it out with a slightly-oiled paper towel while it's still warm and hanging it up.

#902 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 07:18 PM:

#899: If by "romance" you mean "p.0rn," yes.

As I recall, the MiniTrue division in charge of producing the stuff was staffed by women, and the device that made it was described as a sort of kaliedascope.

And if a party member was caught reading it he got 20 years hard labor.

#903 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 09:03 PM:

Elliott Mason #900: [re: her tongue] I mean like being able to flip it over, and touch the tip of my nose with the tip of it.

<Boggle> at combined image... ;-)

Seriously, I have particularly good color vision (runs in my family), but otherwise, most of my special talents fall in the Aspie vein -- hyperlexia, "computer talent", a bit of art talent, etc.

#904 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 10:14 PM:

David Harmon @903: A minor point-of-order type nitpick: he. We are a Daddy-and-Papa family, not a Daddy-and-Mommy family.

#905 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 10:25 PM:

@904 Elliott - Actually, thanks for clearing that up, I'd been mis-pronouning you for awhile. (And thinking that 'Elliott' was an unusual name for a woman.)

Right, back to your regularly scheduled conversation.

#906 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2010, 11:55 PM:

nerdycellist @ 887:
I know there have been issues with bees disappearing and all,

You might be happy to hear that the cause of colony collapse disorder may have been found. It appears to be a combination of a viral and a fungal infection.

#907 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 12:17 AM:

I am feeling really old, having just watched an online trailer for the upcoming GREEN LANTERN movie, and finding in the comments people complaining about the screenwriters having changed Green Lantern into a white guy.

#908 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 12:25 AM:

Thena @905: Actually, therein lies a tale, in a way.

Though I am told there's a female Dr. Elliott [Something] on Scrubs. Often by people I've just met. :->

In my case, I prefer to liken myself to Elliott Stabler, Elliott Ness, and the Elliott who was apparently played by an actor a year older than my spouse.

#909 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 12:28 AM:

In semi-related but much more pleasant news, Project Rooftop, where superheroes go to be redesigned and recostumed, is featuring a wonderful set of illustrations for a mashup between THE SEVEN SAMURAI and JUSTICE LEAGUE.

#910 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 01:13 AM:

Elliot Mason @900:

My son can touch the tip of his nose with his tongue, too.

I have your mother's color memory, or something that works the same way. I also am an Electrostatic Reproduction Machines Whisperer (photocopiers and laser printers, but not inkjet printers).

My father can find donut stores in strange towns. We think there's an analog to pigeons and magnetic fields involved. This Christmas, when he's visiting, I'm going to check if it extends to oliebol* stands.

-----
* deep-fried balls of sweet dough, coated in powdered sugar. Reason 7,483 why the Dutch Should Be Fat and somehow aren't; filed just after gevulde spekulaas† and just before pancakes for every meal‡§.

† spekulaas is a gingerbread-like substance, but with more allspice and cloves and a touch of cardamom. It comes as either crunchy or soft cookies. Gevulde spekulaas, ("filled spekulaas" is the soft stuff with almond paste in the middle.

‡ Except breakfast. We got stared and and commented about when we served my daughter's Dutch friend pancakes for breakfast after a sleepover.

§ I gather I use too many unexplained examples. So I'll use too many footnotes instead.

#911 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 01:15 AM:

[sigh] Apparently multiple polls show that 80% or more of Americans approve of full-body scanners, and the TSA is now whining about how they are heroes on the front line and how could the heartless public be so mean to them as to object to having their genitals groped?

It's been a depressing few weeks, politically.

#912 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 02:45 AM:

Your description of an oliebol sounds an awful lot like a zeppole to me.

My mom can touch the tip of her nose with her tongue. I never could.

I have an uncanny ability to find a bathroom. When I can't get a fix on a bathroom, I get all nervous even if I don't have to go—yet. I call this ability "reverse dowsing."

#913 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 04:19 AM:

Clifton @911

If anyone is going to grope my genitals for money, I want to be the one writing the contract.

With a clear non-perfomance clause.

#914 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:51 AM:

Elliott Mason #904: Whoops, sorry.

#915 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:12 AM:

Apparently, it's not that common to be able to raise one eyebrow in a Vulcan's display of amazement. I thought it was quite easy to do. I did have to practice before I could do the "Live long and prosper" sign though.

#916 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 08:38 AM:

Clifton @911, yes, I was just talking to my parents and I was shocked to find THEY were shocked by my vehement reaction to the scanners. "If it stops just one terrorist..." No, that's not the real aim of the system.

Anyway, any other Fluorospherians attending Upstate Steampunk this weekend in Greenville SC?

#917 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:03 AM:

#915: To do the sign, it helps if you're Jewish.

#918 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:15 AM:

abi @910 said: I also am an Electrostatic Reproduction Machines Whisperer (photocopiers and laser printers, but not inkjet printers).

A high-school friend of mine later spent several years working at Kinko's (a large copy-shop chain). He and his buddies, getting together after work, would have conversations rather like this -- barring my own lack of expertise in the subject:

A: "So, how was YOUR day?"
B: "[horrid staticky onomatopoeia, followed by three very precise bump noises]"
A: "Oh, man, the [serial number] threw a [part] again? That sucks."
B: "What about you?"
A: "[boinging onomatopoeia followed by ripping noises]"
B: "[instantly identifies the culprit machine just by the noise of the failure]. MAN, I don't envy you!"

My friend first honed these skills by copying modem handshake noises accurately at parties. :->

Serge @915 said: Apparently, it's not that common to be able to raise one eyebrow in a Vulcan's display of amazement. I thought it was quite easy to do. I did have to practice before I could do the "Live long and prosper" sign though.

I love cataloging the things people can often only do on one side. I can Vulcan, but more fluently with my left than my right. I've known any number of people who can only wink on one side, and a couple who can't wink at all. Early data leans towards our daughter being able to wink on both sides, or at any rate to close one eye at a time without squinting the other; whether she'll be able to learn to do it VOLUNTARILY later is probably a matter of preschool-age practice with a mirror. :->

#919 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:24 AM:

Elliot @#900:I'm a great believer in Weird Minor Superpowers.

I have a couple. I can move my little toes without moving the rest of my toes, which is just a matter of slightly weird jointure, I suspect.

My real minor superpower is much odder: I don't show up in random photos. I mean, if someone sets out to take a picture of me, they can, and if someone, say, decides to get a picture of everyone at a party, they can, but if there's just a guy with a camera wandering around taking random shots of a gathering I happen to be at, I won't be in any of them. Sometimes you'll get my elbow or something, and it's fairly common for me to recognize that I was just out of frame when one particular picture was taken, but it won't be a full shot of me, and rarely even a full shot of my back.

This extends to my house; the shot on my county's property website is in fact of the house two doors down and so oblique you can't even see my front door.

#920 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:40 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 917... So I thought I had heard. Thanks for the confirmation.

#921 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:44 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 918... I can Vulcan, but more fluently with my left than my right

I can't really do it with my left. I wonder which side's mobility is more prevalent.

How old is you daughter already?

#923 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:18 AM:

"Lucille, God gave me a gift. I shovel well. I shovel very well."
"Honey, you shovel better than any man I've ever known, but that does not make you a super hero."
- William H Macy as the Shovel in Mystery Men

#924 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 11:27 AM:

Elliott Mason -- You're reminding me of the "Car Noises" sketch by the Frantics. Peter Wildman does/did some amazing vocal work; I recall a brief sketch on their TV show in which he acted out frying his hand on a griddle, complete with all of the sizzling and spatula-scraping sounds.

#925 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 12:56 PM:

Homemade Velveeta. Potentially useful if your kids love the stuff, because this version has far fewer Miracles of Modern Chemistry in it.

#926 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 01:03 PM:

I learned the vulcan hand sign by the time I was in cub scouts, as I think that there's a picture of me doing it in some important at the time ceremony.

#927 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 01:24 PM:

Serge @921 asked me: How old is you daughter already?

21 months, as of yesterday. :-> She's currently got quite a few mouth-words, in addition to her previously prevalent signed words, but is not yet up to phrases. Certain things that to adults are phrases are words to her: 'That's funny' ("eh-fuh") and 'Don't want it' ("do-wah"), for example, but that's not her grammatically forming phrases, it's a chunking error in her quantizing fluent adult speech coming into her ears.

She's alllllmost good enough with stairs for me to not need to obsessively hover one step below her the whole trip up or down. She can drink out of grownup cups without dumping the whole thing -- if they're half-full or less while she tries, and if she's paying attention. She enjoys dancing to a wide variety of music: Glenn Miller, the Ramones, the Wiggles, and the theme music from Doctor Who are some of her favorites.

She is also ridiculously over-the-top charismatic, and easy to photograph. She regularly deploys what my spouse refers to as 'weapons-grade cuteness'.

#928 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 01:25 PM:

Cagney - our terrier terror - is a great fan of my Vulcan belly rub.

#929 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 01:30 PM:

Minor superpowers:

I can wink either eye, and raise my right eyebrow in amazement. The Vulcan handsign isn't really that hard, it just requires practice. On the other hand, I still can't do the handsign that Leo McKern did in "Help"1 after more than 45 years of trying.

My primary superpower is the laying on of hands to heal electronic devices such as computers, televisions, etc. This has been extremely useful, since my wife Eva has the complementary superpower of causing electronic devices to enter bizarre dysfunctional states.

1. Extend all fingers out straight , holding palm flat. Now curl ring finger around so the tip touches the palm, without bending any other finger. Point result at enemy and await Kali's wrath upon them.

#930 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 01:35 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 929...

All these years and I didn't know I had something in common with McKern.
Besides the prominent conk, that is.

#931 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 05:53 PM:

I never had any trouble doing the Vulcan hand sign. When I was a kid I was a huge Star Trek fan, and I taught myself to raise one eyebrow by looking in the mirror and raising both while holding one down with my fingers -- eventually I got the knack of controlling the muscles to do just one at a time.

#933 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 10:07 PM:

Bruce, I can't do that either, but I do what I call the Xopher wave: Hold hand palm out with all fingers splayed. Bending only middle joint of ring finger, wave last two segments up and down, keeping rest of hand immobile.

#934 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2010, 01:57 PM:

Bill Higgins Beam Jockey @ 891

Bizarrely, the used copy is more expensive than the others.

Free online updates is also a nice touch.

Am I the only one looking expectantly at the Amazon reviews? I'm rather hoping that someone will come along and draw attention to the omission of inter alia tnh's role in the discovery of the part played by malachite and aniline in photosynthesis

#935 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 06:30 PM:

abi@868: I am so happy to have a nice basement room, with one window filled with a reasonably opaque air conditioner and the actual window covered with black plastic.

Unfortunately, light leaks in if I sleep with the window open, which I do when the weather is suitable.

Similarly, I like hotels, because they have good opaque curtains that really darken the room.

I can finally get enough sleep in the summer and on weekends.

#936 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2010, 06:50 PM:

@933

Now I have to meet you, Xopher. *performs the secret fingerwiggle of greeting*

#937 ::: TexAnne sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2010, 04:07 PM:

Really, really obvious spam.

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