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February 7, 2011

Open thread 153
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:30 AM *

153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle with 17 items on a side. It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well.

Like half of all triangular numbers, it is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon.

It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it’s the sum of the cubes of its digits.

It is the sum of the first five positive factorials.

In the Dewey Decimal System, it is the code for mental processes and intelligence.

The connection with fish is more complicated.

Link back to Open thread 152

Comments on Open thread 153:
#1 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 02:06 AM:

open threadiness: How does one go about searching for something on past threads when there are no unique keywords, and I do not remember who posted this particular thing? Sorry I cannot be more specific. Does the search function pick up every mention of the word "hand", for example?


#2 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 02:38 AM:

On Google, you could refine by defining the website before adding your search term or phrase, e.g. hand.

On Making Light, you could try asking the Fluorosphere?

#3 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 02:51 AM:

ma larkey #1:

Google lists a mere 3270 entries on ML with the search term 'hand'.

Thinking good thoughts for you.

HLN: been rather busy/distracted. We finally moved into the new lab last week after some months of delays*. We now have less than a month to get everything ready to process a large number of vineyard samples come the grape harvest. The delays in shifting labs has greatly reduced our ability to prepare. Oh, and it's looking like an early vintage this year.

*About which the less said, the better.

#4 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:22 AM:

HLn: Greatest affliction of broken ankle, at present, is the sense that part of the cast lining is glued to my heel, and sometimes, "burns".

But the cast comes off on Valentine's Day, so only one more week of this part of the adventure.

#5 ::: rgh ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:34 AM:

I was watching a report on Russia Today about how the disappearance of Kiev's mayor for six months doesn't seem to have affected the city's functioning, and was reminded of an article I saw in Omni once, which might have been by Asimov, about how various groups of workers withdrawing their labour improved things (fewer deaths from elective surgery during a doctors strike).

#6 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:59 AM:

Excuse me if this has been covered, but spam has advanced to the point of making its comments look plausible by simply copying old comments from the same site.

#7 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 08:03 AM:

Where we have been, both sombre and perplexed,
relieved in winter by the thoughts of light
in coming seasons; knowing that the bright
hours that have passed will leave me no less vexed
than heavy cloud in this wintry context
of damp and rain and days that fade to night
with little notice. Nothing, it seems, is right
as we engage to find out what comes next.
This is the law by which our lives are bound
in lands both narrow and unseemly wide,
to face the future with unsteady arms
in fainting hope of finding safer ground
not certain that there is a winning side
and listening for the end of all alarms.

#8 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 08:09 AM:

Terry Karney #4: I don't know where you're located, but if it's anywhere with snow on the ground, my especial sympathies. My experience of crutches in the winter involved a lot of suddenly finding myself lying face down in slush.

#9 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 08:10 AM:

Xopher, redux: More good wishes! Feel free to join me in wondering whether tongue cancer is better or worse than bowel cancer. (Mom doesn't sing, but the dietary restrictions are totally turning her diet upside down... she likes her grains, veggies (fiber) and spices!)

#10 ::: CLP ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 08:24 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @4: Hopefully, someone will soon come up with a software fix involving, say, running each comment through Google.

Most blogs use the rel="nofollow" attribute, so they aren't getting Google juice. I'm sad that this wasn't enough to solve the problem.

#11 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 08:30 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #6:

That's been tried here a couple of times that I can remember; the commentariat has usually picked it up pretty quick.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 09:59 AM:

In the Dewey Decimal System, it is the code for mental processes and intelligence

That explains why Uncle Donald went insane after caring for him, along with Huey and Louie.
And let's not talk about Uncle Dern.

#13 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:16 AM:

Nancy @6:

We've been seeing that kind of spam for a year or two now, either from the original post or from higher up in the comments. It is often, but not always, fragmentary and disjointed.

The thing is, though our comments aren't threaded, the discussion has a natural progression. You can't really transfer text 200 comments down in a conversation and have it fit in. Between that and the known pool of people who get involved in each given thread (meaning that unfamiliar names get extra attention for tone and fit), I'm fairly sure that few or no such comments survive here.

We actually get relatively little spam, all things considered. We have good automated filters, which both Jim and I tinker with on a regular basis. But the really powerful de-spamming engine is the commentariat, flagging suspicious comments as they're made. That allows us to kill of the probe comments that spammers use as advance scouts for wider campaigns.

In case anyone was in any doubt, I for one am deeply grateful for that.

#14 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:48 AM:

The sum of the cubes of its digits? I get 1+125+9 = 135, not 153. (I only did the math because I was curious, not because I doubted you.)

#15 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:52 AM:

abi @13: We're a pretty good immune system, with multiple tiers like an immune system oughter have. :->

Sort of how like street crime mostly doesn't arise in neighborhoods that already have active, daily use of the street at all hours by law-abiding individuals; they need cobwebby disused corners (or quiet residential streets that only see residents outside at rush hour) to accumulate.

#16 ::: Bacchus ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:52 AM:

Just in the last couple of weeks I am starting to see a new flavor of automated spam that's making a much stronger run at being relevant to the topic of the post. Each one tends to be a dense info nugget that's been condensed from a web posting elsewhere that has strong key word identification with the post title. At this point I do not believe these are being prepared mechanically "on the fly"; the topics that have been hit for me have been topics that tend to be about competitive SEO terms, like online dating. So I suspect the spam infonugget is prepared in advance and just autodumped on blog posts that have a sufficiently strong keyword/relevancy match.

Needless to say, these still don't manage to feel like human conversation, and the link keywords and targets remain hopelessly spammy. Plus, the infonuggets themselves are not fully literate in English. Either they are machine prepared (the ones I have seen appear to be condensations of scraped RSS feeds, leaving out links and associated anchor text, which leaves odd linguistic holes in the text) or they are done/reviewed by somebody not fluent enough in English to understand that they aren't conversational in tone.

Entertainingly, the most recent one of these got dumped on the blog post I did about one of the big free dating sites getting bought by one of the big paid dating sites and then immediately removing from the web its blog postings critical of the paid dating business model. The spam infonugget appeared to have been scraped, you guessed it, from the RSS feed of the blog of the free dating site in question, at some point prior to when it got sanitized. So I would say that their keyword relevancy matching engine, at least, is working very well indeed.

#17 ::: stlpunster ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:59 AM:

Fox @14 The cube of 3 is 27 so the sum would be: 1+125+27 = 153. You inadvertently only squared the 3.

#18 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 11:13 AM:

I had to look up triangular numbers on Wikipedia because I couldn't make the explanation work. The problem turned out to be my reading insufficient emphasis on the word "into" -- it's the fact that not only are there 17 items on a side that's relevant, but then the rest of the triangle is also filled in with steadily decreasing numbers of the same items.

Wikipedia also points out that triangular numbers solve the "handshake problem."

#19 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 11:19 AM:


Candle to Brihid lit, and energy headed your way.

You can and will beat this thing --

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

#20 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 11:22 AM:

Xopher - keeping a good thought for you and hoping for the best possible outcome.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 11:34 AM:

Oh my... James Cameron is producing a 3D remake of "Fantastic Voyage".

#22 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 11:34 AM:

stipunster @17 - d'oh!, so I did. Thanks. No more math before coffee.

#23 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 11:58 AM:

Xopher, from the previous open thread -- best wishes for this to have the best possible outcome.

Squamous, but not actually tentacular, right? Could be worse....

#24 ::: pedantic ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 12:07 PM:

That 153 is a hexagonal number means that you can fill a hexagon with 153 evenly spaced points. There will actually only be 8 x 6 points on the sides and corners.

#25 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 12:18 PM:

Picking up on the triangles : This weekend we saw the A.R.T.'s production of R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe. Not surprisingly, given the subject, triangles and all sorts of (mostly triangular-sided) geometric solids show up prominently during the play.

Coincidentally, someone has been putting up snowdecahedra around Cambridge, MA recently. Probably not coincidentally, but delightfully, several appeared outside the theater sometime during the first act. Confusingly, I saw what I expected to see, after the show -- triangular-sided icecosahedra -- rather than what I was actually seeing -- pentagonal-sided snowdecahedra.

Fortunately, this wasn't during a D&D game.

#26 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 12:25 PM:

Xopher -- best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery from my corner of the world.

#27 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 01:02 PM:

Xopher- the best of thoughts to you, and to any rays or blades that might get involved.May they find all of their targets. And good luck for getting it covered.

#28 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 01:03 PM:

Xopher -- atheistic Good Thoughts from another Christopher.

#29 ::: P. Dan TcHoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 01:08 PM:

pedantic @24 — Saying that you can "fill a hexagon with 153 evenly spaced points" relies on a somewhat unusual definition of "evenly spaced," as depicted in the Wikipedia article. I would have called the centered hexagonal numbers evenly spaced, but 153 is not one of them.

#30 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 01:44 PM:

Xopher, I'm praying for your health and your singing. Take care.

#31 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 02:01 PM:

Xopher: holding you in the light. As you of course know, cancer is not a sentence. It's just a word. May you find all the resources you need to deal with this challenge. So mote it be.

#32 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 02:03 PM:

Hyperlocal news: Area woman receives job offer, 3 months after having been laid off from her previous job.

It's a good job with excellent benefits. I am quite grateful that it's only taken three months, in this economy and given my personal situation. You see, I have also been simultaneously engaged in the project of Making Baby. My due date is mid-March, and they want me to start right away - well, in two weeks once all the paperwork is processed - so I can begin to get up to speed. I will be eligible for health insurance immediately, and able to take a partially-paid maternity leave!

I will need to go back to work after the minimal 6-8 weeks maternity leave, but that was the initial plan anyway, before I was laid off. My husband will be the stay-at-home parent for the six months or so, and then we will see how it goes.

All in all, I'm excited about the work and the company, and the timing is about the best I could have hoped for.

#33 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 02:05 PM:

David W., #25: That's cool! (pun intentional) Just as I was wondering how it was being done, I came to the pictures showing the tools.

#34 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 02:08 PM:

This sums things up SO well:

Remembering Ronald Reagan.

#35 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 02:25 PM:

#25: Did the play begin with the actor who plays Fuller walking back and forth in front of the audience, looking them over with unnerving intensity?

The production I saw in SF many years ago did. Great performance.

#36 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 02:56 PM:

Stefan @ #34, an item left out of the strip was Reagan's refusal to acknowledge AIDS until six years or so after its appearance, much less fund any research into its causes.

#37 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 02:57 PM:

oliviacw @32: That is fabulous! Many congratulations on the job, the upcoming spawn, and the amazingly convenient meshing of the two.

#38 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:04 PM:

You can be angelic, a cherub or a seraph, but you can't be good and you can't live in heaven.

You can be evil, demonic, a devil, or an imp, but you can't come from hell.

You can be an orange but not an apple or a banana. You can be bread or cake but not a cracker, a biscuit, or a cookie.

Gareth can be a quick boy but Joanna can't be anything.

Just playing. Have fun with it.

#39 ::: skinnyiain ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:14 PM:


can you be a forest or timber but neither wood nor trees?

We call this game 'my Aunt May'. She likes whisky and brandy, but not spirits, for example...

#40 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:23 PM:

oliviacw (32): Great news! May the job be everything you hope.

#41 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:29 PM:

Xopher: Prayers coming your way. We have a lovely one for healing and support.

#42 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:35 PM:

Anyone read the Seamus Heaney Beowulf? Thoughts? Opinions?

My 14-yo's English class is tackling Beowulf next, having just finished Gilgamesh, which followed some Greek and Roman mythology (but not the Iliad or the Odyssey). The teacher has recommended that dd read the Heaney translation, which is not the version the rest of the class will be reading.

So I'm curious about the book. I've read and liked some of Heaney's poems, and reviews say all kinds of nice things about his Beowulf, but I'm wondering if someone I know has actually read it . . . .

#43 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:37 PM:

Melissa @42:

The Heaney translation is the reason my son's middle name is Beowulf. The Hub and I were reading it just before he was born.

We found it readable, intense, atmospheric, and just very, very good.

#44 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:44 PM:

Xopher, I send you a virtual cross-stitch, expressing my considered and eloquent opinions on cancer. (I would make and send you a real one if I knew where to send it.)

Love and good thoughts to you.

#45 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:47 PM:

B. Durbin
You can have a purse and keys, but not a wallet. An iPhone but not a Blackberry.

#46 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:48 PM:

oliviacw @32 Sounds great all the way around.

#47 ::: Ken ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 03:56 PM:

I was mildly disappointed to look back at the previous open threads and find that they didn't similarly extol the virtues, or at least interesting trivia, of their thread number. I thought maybe you were working on the uninteresting number paradox.

For those not familiar: A number is interesting if you can find some mathematical, physical, cultural, or other trivia about it. Thus 1 is interesting because it's the unit, 2 is the only even prime, 3 is the first non-trivial triangle, 4 the first non-trivial square, 5 is the number of fingers on the human hand, etc. etc. It seems that there must be uninteresting numbers. But if there are, then there is a smallest uninteresting number; and isn't that kind of an interesting property? So it's not uninteresting after all. I've never been able to decide if this is a true paradox, possibly related to Russell's, or if it really means that all numbers are interesting.

#48 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 04:00 PM:

B. Durbin @ 38: You can be male (XY) but not female (XX). You can be haploid (X or Y) but not polyploid (XXY etc).

#49 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 04:20 PM:

You can have Homer but not Heaney or Hughes.

#50 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 04:22 PM:

B Durbin @ 38 Ken @ 1729

You can count on Hardy, but not Ramanujan or Russell.

#51 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 04:31 PM:

Jumping ahead without finishing reading posts on the previous open thread:

Xopher, everything I can manage for you.

#52 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 04:39 PM:

One can be sporty but not athletic, polite but not well-mannered, and smart but not intelligent or knowledgeable. For spiritual beliefs, one is in the interesting position of being able to practice Zen but not Buddhism.

Oh, and one can have a Tumblr and a Flickr account but not a LiveJournal. ;-)

#53 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 04:41 PM:

Stefan Jones@35: It depends on what you call the beginning. "Fuller" came out before the lights went down, while the last people were being seated, and sort of casually smiled and waved at members of the audience and briefly fiddled with the overhead projector. It had the feel of sitting down to an academic lecture. A very, very good lecture, delivered by someone with a lot of intense energy (and with, let's say, better than usual A/V).

#54 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 04:57 PM:

Xopher @152/925: Yeep! I send up good thoughts and prayers of a vaguely-paganish flavor.

Possibly more helpful (hopeful): I had a tap-dance with squamous cell carcinoma about fifteen years ago. Dealing with it promptly (knock on wood) seems to have been sufficient unto the purpose. Of course, mine was iatrogenic in nature, so fixing the cause mostly seemed to take care of the problem. I hope that a similarly simple resolution applies to your situation as well.

Also, don't be bashful about asking for panic-management help wrt research, brainstorming, making calls and queries, and all kinda like that.

And, of course, {{{{{{hugs}}}}}}

Rikibeth @152/932: Would anyone like to join me in a distributed effort to fold 1,000 cranes?

You got a pointer to algorithms? It's been a while since I've done those.

oliviacw @32: Mazel Tov, both on job and on baby!

#55 ::: Martyn ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 04:57 PM:

Melissa # 42, my youngest loves Beowulf beyond any other literary work. He hates the Heaney translation with a passion; something to do with his school making him read it. You pays your money, etc.

#56 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 05:14 PM:

B Durbin @ 38

Istanbul, not Constantinople.

#57 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 05:15 PM:

Martyn: So far, though dd has disliked things that she had to read for school, it has not been because they were schoolwork. Warning noted nonetheless.

#58 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 05:19 PM:

I liked the Heaney translation and that it had the facing-page original. But I like words in general.

I am utterly failing to figuring out the this/not that thing, but I trust it will become clear.

#59 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 05:34 PM:

I like the Heaney translation a lot; it's got the vigour required of an epic.

You can be French but not Gallic, English but not British, and German but not European.

#60 ::: Dave DuPlantis ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 05:53 PM:

You can post, but you can't be a troll. (I wish that were always the case!)

#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:01 PM:

You can run, but you can't hide.

#62 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:11 PM:

Serge @61
Actually, you can run and hide. But you can't escape.

#63 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:12 PM:

I think you can hide, but you can't be hidden, Serge.

#64 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:24 PM:

You can sing, dance or whistle, but you can't fiddle or play the balalaika.

#65 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:28 PM:

Random thought: Someone needs to write a mystery novel, or series, called The Squamous Shamus.

Diatryma (58): I am similarly in the dark. It's starting to get frustrating.

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:35 PM:

You can have your cake AND eat it too.
Just not at the same time, Marie Antoinette.

#67 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:35 PM:

Good thoughts to Xopher!

#68 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:39 PM:

You can have lunch, but not breakfast, dinner, or supper. A snack, however, is fine, as is tea. (As long as you avoid the cucumber sandwiches.)

#69 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:55 PM:

Mary Aileen @ #65, Diatryma @ #58, you are not alone. 'Tis a puzzlement.

#70 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 06:58 PM:

Oh, wait: words that don't repeat a letter are okay? Is that it?

#71 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 07:16 PM:

You can read the Times, but not the Inquirer or the Chronicle. Both the library and the bookstore are off limits.

#72 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 07:21 PM:

I've been looking all over but can't find a consensus so i thought I'd just ask:

Which is the best (or most reliable/readable) translation of Master and Margarita? I'm rather fond of the the Burgin/Tiernan O’Connor translation but it's only available in the Penguin edition with tiny print. Any suggestions? Arguments for or against?

#73 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 07:27 PM:

xopher: good thoughts, hugs, and prayers for you.

I hope to be able to start reading ML regularly again. Best Buy had my computer for 6 weeks, just gave me a new one. I'm trying to re-establish habits.

#74 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 07:45 PM:

What, 74 comments in and nobody has yet mentioned that the fish reference is to the size of the catch in a story at the end of the Gospel According to John? Or did I spoil it for someone who was saving it for the 153rd comment?

#75 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 07:58 PM:

open threadiness:
I have a friend who recently decided that she really wasn't going to re-read most of her large Sci-fi and fantasy collection. So she weeded it out, (and gave me a bunch of stuff)but still has 2000+ books to do something with. Lots of first editions and out of print stuff (just a partial listing Burroughs, Asimov, Bujold, Anderson, Bear, Cadigan, Foster, Forward, Jordan, Heinlein, Niven, Silverburg, Bradley, Vinge plus a fair sampling of any science fiction/fantasy writer publishing between 1970 and 2000). So what should she do with the books? The library doesn't want them...she doesn't really have room to store them while selling them on Amazon or something, and she's been told that if she auctions them, a lot of them will end up being destroyed after having their covers removed and used for "art".

Any ideas?


#76 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 08:05 PM:

praisegod barebones @978 (OT 152, not looking into the future...yet): I'm having a difficult time picking out my new favorite proverbs.

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 08:29 PM:

Thank you again, everyone.

David 9: Feel free to join me in wondering whether tongue cancer is better or worse than bowel cancer.

No, I don't wonder. Bowel cancer is worse. Far, far worse. I do know that I'm not the worst off, by far, and I'm grateful for that fact.

#78 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 08:31 PM:

praisegod barebones @56, I like this version better...

#79 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 08:46 PM:

Xopher, prayers of course.

I like folding cranes.

#80 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 09:17 PM:

#6 Nancy: Excuse me if this has been covered, but spam has advanced to the point of making its comments look plausible by simply copying old comments from the same site.

We've been seeing, and deleting, that here for years. It doesn't work here because each comment has its own character in context and time as well as in topic.

The ones that are toughest to block are those that don't have a payload. They're also useless to the spammer, but they do disrupt the conversation.

#81 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 09:26 PM:

kyndra @75: does she have any interest in repopulating her collection with new and different books? if so, i strongly suggest bookmooch. hell, i'd suggest bookmooch regardless, but that's just because it would give me a crack at mooching some of them. :)

#82 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 09:55 PM:

Best wishes and so on for Xopher. When cancer attacked me, I recalled an ad I'd once seen, with a picture of a seemingly limitless cityscape at night, with the caption that more people have survived it than live in L.A. This was in '92. That really helped me, and I hope it helps you too.

#83 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:30 PM:

Ken@47: I agree that there is a smallest uninteresting number, and that's interesting; I don't agree that creates a paradox. Suppose it's 5,271,009. (It isn't 5,271,009, but that will do for a placeholder here.) The next number up is then not the smallest uninteresting number, that's still 5,271,009 -- it's the smallest uninteresting number except 5,271,009. And that property isn't very interesting at all.

#84 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:45 PM:

David Goldfarb @83

I've always heard it presented, and I tend to agree, as a proof that, as the smallest uninteresting number would create a paradox, that there can be no uninteresting numbers.

J Homes.

#85 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:45 PM:

Keith Kisser @ 72: I have the same translation, but in the Vintage trade paperback edition. My bifocals and I would say that the print is smallish but not tiny. Might be working checking out a copy if you can find one, or looking for a hardback at the library.

#86 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:46 PM:

My eight-year-old daughter has fallen asleep. When she wakes up, she'll be nine. Actually, since she was born in a zone twelve hours earlier than here, maybe she's nine already.

#87 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:48 PM:

Kyndra @ 75: if you friend lives near a specialty SF store that sells used books, they might buy some or all of them.

#88 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:48 PM:

Kyndra, #75: I'm assuming that since she asked the public library, she has no objection to donating them. Has she considered school libraries? There are a lot of schools which are strapped for money to buy library books, especially in poorer neighborhoods. And science fiction is a proven way to get kids interested in reading.

#89 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 10:51 PM:

Well. This goes back a ways for me, but it's been in my mind lately, and there just aren't people around that I can sing it to.

Minas Morgul was Minas Ithil,
Now it's Minas Morgul, not Minas Ithil.
Been a long time dark in old Minas Ithil.
On a moonless night,
By runic light...

The Uruk-Hai in old Minas Ithil
Lurk in Minas Morgul, not Minas Ithil
So if you've a doom in fair Minas Ithil
It awaits thee in fell Morgul.

Even old Mirkwood
Was once the Greenwood Great.
Why it changed, I dare not say.
(Evil One liked it better that way!) So—

Take me back to old Minas Ithil!
No, you can't go back to old Minas Ithil!
All the lights are out in cold Minas Ithil.

Why did poor Minas Ithil pop its corks?
That's nobody's business but the orcs!

(Lyrics ©2000 by Kip Williams.)

#90 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 11:16 PM:

Ah, an Open Thread, so I can commend -- perhaps especially for Abi, if she's not already familiar with it, or for whoever posts Particles -- the website

It's the first of three proposed articles on the Japanese Epcot-like Dutch theme park created during the economic bubble of a few years ago and (IMHO) presents a fascinating example of the thoroughness of Japanese monomanias.

#91 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 11:20 PM:

Kyndra @ 75: Paperbacks in good condition can be donated to prisons. This page has a list of programs in various parts of the US: Prison book programs

#92 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 11:32 PM:

Ping praisegod barebones: You will probably enjoy reading this. (Comments, too!)

#93 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2011, 11:56 PM:

Kip@86: Man, time flies. She's still that fierce-looking 1-year-old, in my head.

#94 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 12:04 AM:

Tim Walters@85:

Yes, I meant the vintage edition. It's not bad, just a tad on the tiny side and my copy is yellowing. But if I'm going to replace it, I'd like to find a good solid replacement and wouldn't mind spending a few more bucks for a better edition if there's one to be had.

#95 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 12:29 AM:

Kyndra @ 75:

You can donate books to soldiers, sailors, and airmen overseas. Look here for information on sending books to US military personnel.

#96 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 01:52 AM:

Xopher: prayers *and* good wishes for you!

#97 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 03:45 AM:

Xopher: sympathies and good wishes for the best possible outcome.

Rikibeth @ 932 on OT152: Yes, why not- done it before (all 1,000 - one of these days I must string them together and hang them up). So that makes 200 cranes each by my count: you, TexAnne, Jacque, Nancy C. Mittens, me.

Jacque, there's a reasonable set of instructions starting at
and a wonderful animated video (some instructions slightly different from the other one, but gets you to the same place) at
And there are at least two videos on YouTube - just Google for folding crane and you'll find all these. And/or provide an e-mail and I'll scan and send you a set of instructions.

What size paper are we going to use? I would use the 3-inch, because you can get packets of 250 sheets, and they're easier to store and take up less room than with the 6-inch, which would make it easier for sending them by post to someone (Rikibeth?) to put together and send to Xopher...

Terry Karney: sympathies for the cast. Just one more week. Then you get the fun of trying to move and strengthen the joint again - oh joy!

oliviacw @32 Congratulations & congratulations - hope both go well.

#98 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 06:33 AM:

J Homes @84

I disagree. The conversation goes like this:

"Seven bazillion is the first uninteresting number."
"Yes, which is quite interesting in itself."
"I see."
"The next uninteresting number is tweleve gazillion and six."
"Right. So that's the real first uninteresting number?"
"Yes. Which is interesting! So we go on to fourteen hundred squillion, one hundred and fifteen which is uninteresting. Which makes it actually..."
"I'm bored. Let's go watch a movie."

(The actual conversation usually goes on longer but eventually a more interesting topic introduces itself)

Melissa Singer @42

Heaney's Beowulf is very readable and I learnt where my grandfather's habit of starting conversations with the word "So" came from.

#99 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 08:05 AM:

I think it would be more like, "X is the first uninteresting number. Which makes it interesting."
"Really. So X+1 is...?"
"The first uninteresting number."
"But if X+1 is the first uninteresting number, then X isn't."

I don't think there is such a thing as an uninteresting number, but if there is, it's a pool of possibly-uninteresting, not a single value.

#100 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 09:30 AM:

Kip W. @89, that's ... marvelous. You need to come to a Mythcon and sing it for us!

I'd be happy to fold some cranes too. Been a long time but my fingers probably still remember how.

#101 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 09:59 AM:

Xopher@77: You're the second of my online connections who has come up with a cancer diagnosis recently; in both cases one of the least-deadly cancers they could have.

And it is totally and entirely clear from out here that "very good prognosis" and "best available cancer" and so forth are so completely and totally different from "everything is fine" that they're really nothing like each other at all.

Continued best wishes and good thoughts for you!

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 10:18 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Man's dog Freya, aka the grumpy Goddess of Love, quickly licked off cut's staples as soon as head's scoop was removed. Cut thankfully remains closed.

#103 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 10:22 AM:

I don't suppose for a minute that you remember, but a long time ago on an open thread we were writing hymns, and I wrote a secular humanist hymn.

Anyway, I've sold it to Moral Relativism Magazine. I think it's cool that there is a Moral Relativism Magazine, and even cooler that they publish poetry.

#104 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 10:46 AM:

Thanks, all, for the comments on the Heaney. I shall attempt to acquire same during lunchbreak today.

#105 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 10:52 AM:

(peeks head out of sick bed)

Um, been a while, I fear. I'm just emerging from long and vicious illness myself. I wish great and speedy recovery to Xopher. I've never had the experience of a month of sick leave before (and now none of my clothes fit. I've dropped 11K in three and a half weeks.) But it does really put your life in focus. Things are not helped by the political landscape at my workplace - and the likelihood that I will be repatriated within the next 12 months. But we endure, we persevere. We carry on.

#106 ::: V's Herbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 11:13 AM:

Re: the crane project...
I'd be willing to fold some as well! Xopher needs to get better!

Anybody willing to serve as a mailing point?

#107 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 11:25 AM:

The basic problem with interesting vs uninteresting numbers is that "interesting" is not a well-defined concept, within a system. It's an odd example of Bertrand Russell's paradox of the sets.

If "interesting" were well-defined within the system, rather than being a property of the observer of the system, then there could be un-interesting numbers.

#108 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 12:30 PM:

Found on Comcast's web site...

Church Approves Confession App

An iPhone app aimed at helping Catholics through confession has been sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

Say that again?

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 12:32 PM:

dlbowman76 @ 105... Best wishes for your recovery.

#110 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 12:39 PM:

Jo Walton (103): Congratulations on the sale!

#111 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 01:01 PM:

Serge @ 108: Yes, that was on the BBC too. It looks like it's essentially an updated version of the little prompt-booklets that have been around for centuries. They include checklists for examining one's conscience prior to confession, as well as the forms of various Acts of Contrition, and a reminder of the basic procedures and doctrines of the rite of Reconciliation.

Like those books, the app has apparently gotten the approval of at least one Catholic bishop.

The app is *not* intended to be a way of actually making one's confession. That's still done in person.

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 01:05 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ 111... The app is *not* intended to be a way of actually making one's confession. That's still done in person.

Thank goodness.
What would have been next?
Holy Host Servers?

#113 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 01:10 PM:

Re Jo Walton @103

If anyone else wondered, as I did, about the open thread with the hymns, it was Open thread 52 . Jo's post is @33. The rest, as always, is also worth reading. I think that predates my time here, or at least my regular visits, and I'm pulling myself away with an effort.

#114 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 01:18 PM:

John 111:

Alas, church is one of the few places where I'm not tapping away on my iPhone....

#115 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 01:33 PM:

Serge @ #112,

"Our Server Which Art in Heaven. . ."

Penance could be "Pull three cables 75 feet through drywall."

#116 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 02:01 PM:

Hyperlocal News: Pulled fridge out and removed huge clumped dust rhinos from the coil cover; theoretically I have lowered my electric bill by a meaningful amount. If I better insulated the two or three really bad parts of the house [laundry room and pull-down staircase to attic] I'd feel better about myself as a member of my chosen profession.

#117 ::: Melissa Ann Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 02:17 PM:

small giggle: Heaney _Beowulf_ shelved--correctly but slightly confusingly--under "Anonymous" in bookstore.

#118 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 02:29 PM:

The best rejection letter ever. (Apologies if this has already appeared on ML, but I don't remember it.)

#119 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 02:35 PM:

From a recent piece of spam:

"Revise manuascripts and get piad" [sic] [oh, so very, very sic]

#120 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 02:38 PM:

I'm overcome with gratitude for everyone's good thoughts. I never expected people to start folding cranes, for sure! (If I get them I will put them up. Absolutely.)

In other news, I've decided to stop taking a medication whose name is a Word of Power.* I found out from a pharmacist how to phase it out safely, since it's not a med you can just stop taking. My current supply is adequate for the phase-out process, which is good because it means I never have to fill that scrip again (and it's expensive).

It's an antidepressant. It may seem odd to stop taking an antidepressant when I've just been diagnosed with cancer, but apparently a total lack of ability to function is not only a known side effect, but a common one.

I can afford to have weeping meltdowns during this period (especially since several friends have volunteered their shoulders for crying targets). I cannot afford to be non-functional. That probably got me into this mess in the first place, since I might well have gotten a job by now had I not been crippled by this effect.

Yes, I'm blaming ALL my inability to deal on the drug. In order to maintain this belief, I will have to be functional, and take appropriate action to resolve my current difficulties.

See what I did there?
*(first name of Superman villain Luthor)+a+(short for 'professional')

#121 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 03:02 PM:

There's poetic fun in progress on the Bill of Whats thread...

#122 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 03:12 PM:

Xopher @120 -- Even if the failure-to-cope is not entirely due to the drug, it's a great working hypothesis!

#123 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 03:16 PM:

Xopher #120: just catching up here - I'm so sorry about your cancer, and I'm sending many wishes and prayers for strength and resourcefulness. Carcinomas are popular with the elder folk in my family--my mom blithely explained how the basal cell carcinoma she had removed from her leg was "the good kind of cancer," which wasn't entirely whistling in the dark, as they really don't tend to metastasize, even the more serious squamous cell type that you have. But any type of cancer utterly sucks, particularly with an insensitive doctor.

The main danger that my people have encountered is a tendency toward infection--a wound with cancerous tissue at its margins is more vulnerable to infection, apparently, and it can take a couple of procedures to produce totally clean margins. Please consider staying under observation (by a friend with a thermometer and a good eye, not necessarily a hospital or doctor) for 24 to 48 hours after any procedures that disturb the tissue.

*hugs* if you want them, and again many good thoughts.

#124 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 03:52 PM:

Or the Network Doxology: "Praise net through which all packets flow ..."

#125 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 04:11 PM:

Xopher - my father and my grandfather both had that type of cancer. Both survived just fine, though it does mean my father is very vigilant about seeing the dermatologist. Good luck with the drugs, the cancer, and finding of employment.

Hyperlocal news - After successfully managing to read Making Light threads for two whole days and actually beginning to feel connected again, I will be offline for at least a week, dealing with my grandmother's final illness, death, and the resultant drama currently on the horizon. (Expected, from Alzheimer's, at 94.)

#126 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 04:45 PM:

sisuile@125: My condolences and sympathies in advance. That kind of drama is rarely fun for those in it at the time, though it may later provide amusement.

(see: me explaining to the mortician about my father's chosen repository, a Maxwell House coffee can. see: the mortician trying to convince me my father was kidding. Guess who won?)

#127 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 04:59 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 107 — I don't think the ill-definedness of "interestingness" is a case of Russell's paradox. The two paradoxes are related, in that they are both based on circular definition (we are considering uninterestingness as one criterion for interestingness). But Russell's paradox is specifically about the property of "non-self-descriptiveness".

One way in which the paradoxes differ is that we may assume that all numbers are interesting, and then there is no contradiction. But there is no way to assign a consistent value to non-self-descriptiveness, as applied to itself.

#128 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 05:06 PM:

sisuile - thank you. And sorry for your loss, best wishes and strength for dealing with the drama, and look forward to seeing you when you get back.

#129 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 05:43 PM:

sisuile #125: Here's wishing you strength for your rough times!

#130 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 05:48 PM:

$c nt l gy under investigation for human trafficking. And not before it needed to be done.

Sandy, #116: My partner recently did something to seal the seam around the folding staircase to our attic when it's closed, and it's made a surprising amount of difference in our heating bill.

sisuile, #125: Still not fun. GoodThoughts to you, and come back when it's over.

#131 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 05:59 PM:

First, I'm late on the train but BIG HUGS to Xopher.

Second, praisegod barebones @56, THIS IS YOUR FAULT, YOU KNOW.

I have spent the last day and a half in Club Purgatorio. Let me tell you about it. Pretend I sound like Garrison Keillor; I don't, but just pretend I have one of those sonorous velvet voices that belong on public radio, telling you the kind of story that's going to stick in your head even though you might be better off if it didn't.

- - - -

Club Purgatorio. The fine print on the matchbooks reads "Not quite Hell, but definitely not Heaven either."

There's a wide ballroom, a little too brightly lit; heavy drapes and sad palmetto plants in urns along the walls, a scattering of tables around a dance floor where nobody is dancing, tables littered with crumpled napkins and other people's drinks that look more interesting than your own, which used to have ice in it but is now just sort of watery and funny looking.

Over in the middle of the back wall there's a jazz trio doing what they do. Guy at the drum kit with a brush on the cymbal goin' like this: Tshhh, ch-ch-tshhh, ch-ch-tshhh, a moderate swing, maybe a little tap on the snare. There's a string bass and he's walkin' it down, funky and low, same four note riff over and over and over. Horn player's fidgeting, looking kinda funny, buffs a smudge off his horn with his shirt sleeve, waiting for something to happen.

And then on the one wall the four guys, in their white tuxedoes with the black satin vests and pink cravats and a rosebud on the lapel, they start singin':

Istanbul was Constantinople,
now it's Istanbul not Constantinople,
been a long time gone, Constantinople...

And as they come to the end of a verse or two there's these four guys on the other wall, in their white tuxedoes with the silver-and-blue cummerbunds and the shiny shiny shoes, and they jump in and they start singin':

If you're blue and you don't know where to go
why don't you go where fashion sits?
Puttin' on the Ritz?...

And through all this the drummer's keeping up that steady groove, Tshh-ch-ch-Tshh-ch-ch-Tshh-ch-ch-Tshhh and the bass player's walkin' down the same four notes over and over again and the horn guy, he's lookin' back and forth out the corner of his eye and as soon as he can't stand it any more he busts out a wail so wild you can almost hear the words:

Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
Jericho, Jericho,
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
And the walls came tumblin' down!

and the sound of the horn fades out and the drummer keeps up that swing on the cymbal and the bass player keeps walkin' down that same four notes and the first guys, in their white tuxedoes with the black satin vests and the pink cravats and a rosebud on the lapel, they start singing again, and the other guys, in their white tuxedoes with the silver-and-blue cummerbunds and the shiny shiny shoes, they follow in as soon as they get a chance, and every so often the horn guy can't stand it any more and he busts out into a wail that would bring down walls of stone...

and the drummer keeps on playin' that swing. Tshhh-ch-ch-Tshhh-ch-ch-Tshhh...

- - - - -

I think I'm going on about 36 hours of this now, and it's your fault.

#132 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 08:09 PM:

Tracie @118: That is hilarious, and exactly the sort of thing I always dream of saying whenever I have to read Stein. (Though I feel like a philistine for it. Philistein.)

#133 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 08:21 PM:

JM, #132: Good ghod. I followed the link from the rejection letter to the Stein poem, which I had not seen before. Presented with that text and no author's name appended, I would have identified it as possibly the product of an autistic-spectrum child with OCD tendencies, about 8 years old. I guess that makes me a philistine as well.

#134 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 08:58 PM:

What was that story about the ogre who rose out of the sea and attacked all the lifeguards on the beach...


#135 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 09:16 PM:

dlbowman76 and sisuile, good thoughts and/or prayers from here for both of you.

Xopher, more and more power to you. Continued prayer/good thoughts/virtual hugs and terrycloth-padded shoulders for you too.

#136 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 10:37 PM:

sisuile @ 125: My sympathies -- this is one of the most difficult ways to see a loved one leave.

#137 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 10:41 PM:

Thena @131: Would throwing out more catchy tunes in rot13 help replace the problem, or just make it worse?

#138 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 11:45 PM:

Xopher, the best thoughts I have to muster winging your way.

#139 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2011, 11:54 PM:

It's official: The number of stories in the Harry Potter category at fanfiction dot net has passed half a million. That is individual stories, not chapters. More than 6,000 of them are novels. Completed only (or written by someone who has figured out that they're supposed to click the Complete button at the end of the story): about half that number. Counting only the completed novels in English brings the total down to just over 2,000.

I have been up late with fussy babies often enough to tell you: Yes, Sturgeon's Law applies.

#140 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 12:17 AM:

Hope and good luck, dlbowman.

sisuile- can't say much, except wishing you strength.

#141 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 12:27 AM:

I wanted to mention that my uncle, fairly recently, read a policy statement in a poetry journal about not accepting unsolicited poems, and he wrote to ask them about it. In the form of a poem. Which they accepted.

#142 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 12:55 AM:

Thena @ 131:

When I read your comment I immediately flashed on the scene in Zelazny's "The Graveyard Heart" where The Set is trapped in a failing dome on the ocean floor, dancing to hold back the fear that the dome will crack before rescue arrives.

Hmm, maybe that would work for you: if the dome cracks, the singing has to stop.

#143 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 01:19 AM:

Rediscovering WWII's female "computers".

They did important ballistics calculations; some of them moved on to help program early computers. And then they were quietly written out of history.

Men had built the machine, but [Jean] Bartik and her colleagues debugged every vacuum tube and learned how to make it work, she said. Early on, they demonstrated to the military brass how the computer worked, with the programmers setting the process into motion and showing how it produced an answer. They handed out its punch cards as souvenirs. They'd taught the massive machine to do math that would've taken hours by hand.

But none of the women programmers was invited to the celebratory dinner that followed. Later, they heard they were thought of as models, placed there to show off the machine.

#144 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 03:59 AM:

Question for the Encyclopedia Fluorosphericana (subset: Internet law):

There's a con in Dallas called ConDFW, which has been running for some 7 or 8 years. Their website is There's a relatively new media-con, also in Dallas, called All-Con, which the upcoming one is either the 2nd or the 3rd. All-Con has squatted on the domain and set it to redirect to their main website, with no acknowledgment that ConDFW even exists.

Yes, ConDFW should have thought of this and grabbed that domain name as well, and I know that normally there isn't much to be done about domain-squatters. But ISTM that in this particular instance there might be, since the squatter is (1) a direct competitor and (2) in the same city. The intention is pretty clearly to siphon off business interest and potential customers that should go to ConDFW, and in a way that seems fraudulent as well.

Is there anything to be done, and if so, how should the ConDFW concom go about doing it? Can they even make All-Con put up a link about "If you're looking for ConDFW, go here -- but you might like our convention too"?

#145 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 05:03 AM:

Serge writes: An iPhone app aimed at helping Catholics through confession has been sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

Our iPhone which art in pocket,
camo be thy case.
Thy 3G come.
Thy app be run
here, as it won't on Android.
Give us this day our daily tweet,
and forgive us our fat thumb swipes,
as we forgive those who trust their spellchecker,
and lead us not into iTunes Store
but deliver us from Amazon.

For cool is thy interface, thy UI. Thou art Shiny
but not such
a good phone.

Oh well.

#146 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 09:09 AM:

Jenny @ 139: Even with Sturgeon's Law, however, the probability that HP has spawned at least a few novel-length works superior to J. K. Rowling's original is quite high. (I would submit _Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality_, but YMMV. And it's not completed yet.)

I wonder how many other franchises which have not yet become public domain can say the same thing? Or is just within the past decade or so that we've achieved the critical mass necessary for such achievements?

#147 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 09:15 AM:

Yeah, th.ugh I th. v..ley of st.t.c
I will fear no boredom
for thou art shiny
thy games and thy music, they comfort me

#148 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 09:17 AM:

Lee #143:

There is a hell of a steampunk story waiting to be written, involving human computers linked together in a complicated self-rearranging network that "awakens" and acquires sentience outside of the intentions or understanding of any of the human computers.

#149 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 10:35 AM:

LMM #146:

For independent novels with HP as backstory I'd suggest A J Hall's Lust Over Pendle and Dissipation and Despair.

#150 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 11:50 AM:

It took me a few moments to realize that the above posts about "HP" were not referring to Hewlett-Packard or to Howard Philip Lovecraft.

#151 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 12:36 PM:

Lee @143 -- thanks for that link. My mother and my partner's mother both worked as computers (not on that particular project, I'll bet).

#152 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 12:39 PM:

144 Lee: Note, IANAL, IAN even AA (merican).

But it looks like ConDFW has rights to assert unregistered trademark in the name. Once that happens, they can set an arbitration case under ICANN UDRP:

  • your domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
  • you have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
  • your domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

Since the choice of arbitration company is made by the complainant, strangely enough, arbitration more often than not leads to forced transfer of the domain to the complainant. Especially in a clearly bad faith use such as this, the problem should only be proving trademark by use.

Unfortunately, there are going to be costs to both ensuring the trademark is valid, and the arbitration filing. They should start on the trademark thing right away, though, just in general; then the "polite" way (to either the other con or to's domain host/registrar) before instituting arbitration (this would be a "cease and desist" letter, probably).

Also, I don't know what they are going to be able to do that will be have any effect by next weekend. Oh, except:

I happen to know that dfw is the home (or is the family home) of some fairly well-known (in the con world) web presences, who are good friends with some other fairly well-known web presences; none of whom will take this kind of game kindly (because the same thing could affect them), and who can be both outspoken and abrasive. Putting a small word in the ear of, say Enaql Zvyubyynaq or W. Tenag, both of whom I think have been regulars at ConDFW, might get that ball rolling.

#153 ::: John Fiala ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 12:44 PM:

Well, thanks Serge.

Now I'm considering "Harry Potter and the Horrible Angle"

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 01:19 PM:

John Fiala @ 153...

"Harry Potter and the Dreamquest of Empty Cartridge"
"Harry Potter at the Printing of Madness"

#155 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 01:32 PM:

Dear Fluorosphere, I've done some rewatching (ok, in some cases, first watching) of early Buffy seasons lately, and now I have to ask this: Is Bad Eggs actually accurate as a portrayal of sex education in the US?

#156 ::: Suzanne F ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 01:34 PM:

Emerging from extended lurk to send prayers to Xopher.

#157 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 01:44 PM:

Xopher, I'm thinking of you.

#158 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 01:58 PM:

Serge @154
Harry Potter and the Colour Out of Ink

#159 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 02:35 PM:

OtterB @ 158...

Let me guess.
The story's last line is...

"The toner. The Toner!"

#160 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 02:37 PM:

#126 ::: Melissa Singer

(see: me explaining to the mortician about my father's chosen repository, a Maxwell House coffee can. see: the mortician trying to convince me my father was kidding. Guess who won?)

My dad used to joke that a proper place to put his ashes would be in a fake flower bed at a McDonald's, as he'd spent as much of the rest of his life as possible there when away from home.

We managed his first choice: on the mountain knob overlooking the valley that he loved.

#161 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 02:58 PM:

Lee@144: Amateur opinion on this is worth at most what you pay for it. Here comes some now!

I think ConDFW has a good case here. Mycroft W.@152 seems to me to be on the right track (I'm an American, at least; and American trademark law works very differently from most of the rest of the world, as it looks like Mycroft understands).

Trademarks need not be registered to be valid, and there's lots of litigation about unregistered trademarks (so it's not unfamiliar territory; there's lots of precedent to show what's okay and what isn't).

Trademarks are established by use, and ConDFW has been using it consistently for 7 or 8 years, you seem to be saying.

Trademarks are valid only within defined business areas. Those pre-defined areas are large, and it's not likely that the other con can make any case for their being in a different (and hence non-competing) business area from ConDFW.

The likelihood of causing "confusion" in potential customers seems high.

However, I'm not sure there's any concept of "statutory damages"; the maximum that could be claimed might well be any actual loss of memberships that look like they went to the other con. Not sure what options there are beyond suing for actual losses.

I'd ask a competent IP attorney if it was worth asking a court for an immediate injunction, since time would appear to be of the essence right now.

This will almost certainly cost more than the number of registrations actually at stake this year can possibly directly justify. If it were my group, I'd be willing to stretch my resources somewhat because fscking domain squatters deserve to be whacked whenever possible, but the group resources may not stretch to doing a decent job at whacking. Possibly if it's blatant enough one can ask the court to award court costs? Ask a competent IP attorney.

I hear tell court is expensive.

#162 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 03:04 PM:

Carol@160: Sounds like a lovely resting place.

My father's first choice, asserted often during many decades and before, during, and after his own parents' final illnesses, was: cremation, Maxwell House Coffee can, bottom of the East River. He even kept a specific can in the tool closet which we all knew was "the" can.

Therefore, not a joke. (Also, I later learned, not even an unheard-of thing. A small but measurable percentage of people being cremated opt for coffee cans.)

So far I've managed the first two (though we should have gotten a bigger can; there are leftovers in a neatly-sealed box). The third has been waiting on my brother, who apparently has unresolved issues. I'm willing to chuck Dad into the river on my own but am afraid if I do, my brother will never forgive me, since he _swears_ he wants to be there. Okay, but it's been about 8 years now . . . .

(I'm also a little worried that in this day and age someone will think I've thrown something "terrorist" into the river. And disposing of human remains in this manner is illegal in NYC.)

So Dad's in a closet. I don't think he minds.

#163 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 03:12 PM:

Well. Apparently somebody caught wind of the ConDFW/All-Con flap very quickly (since it only started heating up last night)... and as of this morning, the redirect had been changed, quietly and without fanfare, to point to the main ConDFW website. I get a mental image of a vase shattered on the floor and a cat sitting off to one side, grooming itself, saying, "That horrible crash you heard? No, that wasn't me at all, I've been right over here the whole time."

ddb, #161: Trademarks are valid only within defined business areas. Those pre-defined areas are large, and it's not likely that the other con can make any case for their being in a different (and hence non-competing) business area from ConDFW.

That was exactly the thing that had caught my attention; having followed some fairly high-profile trademark-infringement cases, I think I have a decent grasp of what actual infringement looks like. (It maps to "heraldic points of difference on a larger scale" in my head.) In this case, the fact that it's a direct competitor for the same customer base was going DINGDINGDING!

#164 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 03:44 PM:

Lee@163: I had to brush up on this when the big advertising agency now known simply as "ddb" wanted back in 1999. I wasn't doing anything related to advertising or PR with it, and had been using "ddb" since before the Internet (and since before it cost money to register domain names), so I was pretty sure they couldn't take it by force.

And it was fun to point out to them that their attempt to trademark it had been turned down with prejudice (or some such) a few weeks before (I was on the phone with their general counsel).

They may have agreed with me, because they eventually made me an offer I didn't choose to refuse (that didn't have threats decorating the edges).

#165 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 04:02 PM:

@Raphael 155: Could be, but not in my (California) experience. We had sex-ed classes clear back in grade school ('this is what your body is going to do') and junior high ('yes, he used a cucumber as a visual aid.') I went to high school at a private Catholic girls' school, where we not only got sex-ed in our freshman year, we got education about how to decide what you want to do before you're in the hormone-befuddled situation itself, how to get out of situations you don't want to be in, and that "Sex is not soccer; you are allowed to use your hands."

With an anonymous questions box. And yes, the lady teaching the course was married instead of a nun.

Senior year is when we had the flour babies. I guess they went for weight over fragility.

#166 ::: V's Herbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 04:02 PM:

Melisa @162 and Carol at @160

My grandfather was buried in his old, well used tackle box and laid to rest in a veteran's cemetery. The graveside service had the remains solemnly presented by a half dozen marines in full dress uniform and laid on an altar. They were professionals and never let on that anything was wrong. I, on the other hand, couldn't look to the front of the room without snickering.

#167 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 04:16 PM:

Serge @ 150, combining both notions:

Harry Potter and the Printout of No Earthly Color

#168 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 04:19 PM:

Then there's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prints

#169 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 04:32 PM:

Here's two AKICIML, one probably quite challenging:

First one relates to my birth father's father, who died a few days ago. He was born Harold Goldberg, but went by "Pat" for much of his life. I have this story:

In his college days Pat played "JewBall" at CCNY. He then was an official referee for basketball games for a number of years as a side source of income. Apparently at some game, a fan, disgruntled with Pat's call, shouted, "Who do you think you are? Pat NameLostToHistory?" Pat NameLostToHistory was a famous referee in those days. Everybody liked the nickname and it stuck - part of the joke being the attachment of such an Irish name to such a Jewish man.
Anyone got any idea who'd be a famous sports referee named Pat in the '40s or '50s?

Second one: Not infrequently these days, I'm having a situation where Safari tells me that my computer is not connected to the Internet, and Google Chrome is giving me a 105 error whenever I try to navigate anywhere. But when I try Network Diagnostics it says my connection is okay, and other applications that need the net work: I can use ssh from Terminal, or Brettspielwelt...or Firefox! I have no idea what Safari and Chrome are trying to do that Firefox is doing differently. This is intermittent, but frequent enough to be annoying, and usually lasts about half an hour to an hour. It seems to be able to happen any time of the day or night. Any of the more tech-savvy types have an idea? (We might want to take this one to email: use goldfarbdj at gmail, rather than my "View All By" address, please.)

#170 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 04:38 PM:

Oh, and prayers from my end, for what they're worth from "clearly not a Real Christian", Xopher. Hopes for best recovery possible (Sorry, I am *really bad* at this, for reasons I've expressed before).

#171 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 04:41 PM:

Weird Al conducts the Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra of California.

Aside from the simple comedy of Weird Al being Weird Al, it's a demonstration that a good orchestra can conduct itself with minimal guidance!

#172 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 05:18 PM:

Mycroft W: I happen to know that dfw is the home (or is the family home) of some fairly well-known (in the con world) web presences, who are good friends with some other fairly well-known web presences; none of whom will take this kind of game kindly (because the same thing could affect them), and who can be both outspoken and abrasive. Putting a small word in the ear of, say Enaql Zvyubyynaq or W. Tenag, both of whom I think have been regulars at ConDFW, might get that ball rolling.

Otherwise known as the "Let's start at Defcon 1 and escalate from there" theory of diplomacy.

#173 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 08:01 PM:

dcb: The cast comes off, the boot goes on. I don't know when I get to start rebuilding muscle tone/flexibility, etc.

At least another 2 1/2 weeks.

#174 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 08:06 PM:

Well, heavy artillery is handy to have when you need it (that was last week's bit of fun with courses and departmental / sectional requirements - suffice it to say that a calm but forceful letter to useful people does wonders).

I usually think of it as the nuclear option. Be nice first, but be ready to go hot immediately if the situation warrants it.

#175 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 08:19 PM:

Harry Potter and the Lens of Arisia

#176 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 09:13 PM:

Oh, no -- now you've done it! You've made me think of Harry Potter and the Eye Of Argon...

#177 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 09:21 PM:

Harry Potter and the Fall of Lankhmar?

#178 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 09:39 PM:

Benjamin, #174: Be nice first, but be ready to go hot immediately if the situation warrants it.

That's my usual approach. Fortunately, in this instance the nuclear option appears to have been unnecessary.

I do wonder whether the reaction was, "Ohshit, who thought THAT was a good idea?" or "Ohshit, we got caught!" -- but I'll probably never know, and in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter.

#179 ::: Ron Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2011, 11:52 PM:

Harry Potter and his Electric Grandmother?

#180 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 12:37 AM:

Harry Potter Does Dallas?

Michael I @ 168:
Harry Potter and the Half-Pint Bloods
(little people gangs)

#181 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 01:03 AM:

David Goldfarb @ #169, "Anyone got any idea who'd be a famous sports referee named Pat in the '40s or '50s?"

Yeah, probably Matthew P. "Pat" Kennedy. He officiated over 4,000 games from the late 1920s to the late 1950s. He was the first ref inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

#182 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 02:01 AM:

Linkmeister: Looks like a good candidate to me! Thanks very much.

#183 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 02:32 AM:

Just heard that Brian Jacques has died. There's one last Redwall book in the pipeline.

#184 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 04:14 AM:

Tom Whitmore@107, the fact that "interesting" numbers aren't well-defined isn't a problem, it's sort of what makes it a good mathematician joke.

But the problem with the proof is that people are being too positive, or natural, or at least rational about it. Once you've gotten real, or at least irrational, the induction breaks down, because uninteresting numbers don't need to be a compact set, so you can have non-countable infinities of the things without having a "lowest" one, or a "first" one according to some enumeration. For instance, you could find all numbers up to 17 to be interesting, but most real numbers above that to be uninteresting, like 17.02312323423142134312...... All of the integers are interesting, though.

#185 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 05:28 AM:

All this talk of HP reminds me of a question I've been meaning to pose to this august and knowledgable group: are the Laundry novels suitable for a nearly-ten-year-old? My most excellent cousin gave my son a copy of The Atrocity Archives, which to my shame I haven't read. On a quick flip through, looks great but also quite dense of language in all senses. Said child deals fine with (e.g.) Buffy; would be fine I think with Cast A Deadly Spell if I can dig out the DVD. But would he need a crash course in Lovecraft for this to make any sense at all?

Any pointers from people who have read, or indeed written, said book gratefully received.

#186 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 05:39 AM:

Back in Open Thread 141 I asked

"AKICITF ... does anyone remember a book of essays on Shakespeare, published by Penguin or Puffin in the early 1980s and aimed at teenage students? For example, there was Germaine Greer on MND (shorter Greer: it's the Sex, stupid)."

AK was not in that instance CITF, but a couple of people expressed an interest in the book if ever I identified it. Well, a brute-force search (using Shakespeare as the search term ... not recommended unless you have lots of time on your hands) IDd the book as Shakespeare Superscribe, edited by Myra Barrs.

It's not quite as I remembered it - it's a set of transcripts of radio programmes with lots of people talking (everyone from Ian McKellen to Judi Dench), but the discussions are great at getting into precisely the right sort of questions for school students to be asking about Shakespeare. So, still recommended to anyone who would be interested in this sort of thing.

#187 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 07:27 AM:


Harry Potter and the Eye Of Argon

Also the sequels "Harry Potter and the Eye of Krypton" and "Harry Potter and the Eye of Xenon". I understand there is talk of a prequel called "Harry Potter and the Eye of Neon". All noble efforts indeed.

#188 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 07:58 AM:

Michael I @ 187: I feel a strong bond with you, I'm not sure why.

It's ionic, isn't it, that Harry Potter and the Eye of Ununoctium would never be the same movie as HP and the Eye of Unobtanium.

#189 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 08:40 AM:

With irrationals, you run into a new phenomenon: numbers that were interesting for a while, but then got kind of dull. But maybe they'll get interesting again later. Well, what else is on?

#190 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 09:12 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe #@174 said: I usually think of it as the nuclear option. Be nice first, but be ready to go hot immediately if the situation warrants it.

I was just listening to the podcast of WNYC's Radiolab -- ep "The Good Show" about altruism -- and they went deeply into the research that showed which strategy 'wins' extended tournaments of The Prisoner's Dilemma most often.

For those curious who don't feel like googling or getting the podcast, it's something called "Generous Tit-For-Tat." A simple algorithm. First try: cooperate. Second and all subsequent tries: Do whatever the other guy did last turn, except that if he defected, DON'T defect in return 1/10th of the time.

#191 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 09:18 AM:

And of course, then things get complex. Does φ+i/φ retain the interest of its components? Or eφi?

#192 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 09:55 AM:

Ginger @ 188... Not "Harry Potter and the Eye of Upsidaisium"?

#193 ::: Ken ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 10:44 AM:

David @185: The Laundry novels require more knowledge of mathematics, computers, and computing than they do of Lovecraft. An appreciation of both government and corporate bureaucracy is also helpful.

They also might be too intense for a ten-year-old. Atrocity Archives is probably the worst in that respect; let me rot13 this:

Gur gvgyr ersref gb gur nepuvirf bs gur Anmv rkcrevzragf jvgu bpphygvfz, juvpu vaibyirq gur hfr bs oynpx zntvp gb fhzzba qrzbaf naq Ybirpensgvna ubeebef - be, va-obbx, gur hfr bs pbzchgngvba gb pbagnpg rkgenhavirefny fncvragf. Gur qvfgvapgvba va jbeyq-ivrjf jbhyq cerfhznoyl or zvabe sbe gur crbcyr orvat zheqrerq gb cbjre gur fcryyf/pvephvgf. Gur perrcl cneg vf gung fbzr bs guvf vf erny; gur Anmvf ernyyl qvq cresbez rkcrevzragf ba gurfr yvarf, naq ernyyl qvq znxr fbzr bs gur... rdhvczrag naq fbhiravef qrfpevorq va gur obbx.

The other two novels are more bearable for me because they deal with Deep Ones, zombies, and other imaginary horrors. The short stories, by and large, deal with bureaucratic horrors in a somewhat-humorous way, although with the possibility of having your brains eaten if you fill out a form wrong.

#194 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:13 AM:

Strewth. Thank you.

... "although with the possibility of having your brains eaten if you fill out a form wrong" - this, happily, is now SOP in most places of work and indeed schools, so no worries there.

#195 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:34 AM:

The Atrocity Archives is certainly more accessible than William Browning Spencer's Resume with Monsters, which I'd recommend for adults with bureaucracy problems....

Bill Stewart @184, that's got to be the most elegant example of someone saying "Get real!" that I've ever seen.

#196 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:45 AM:

@192: Has anyone ever seen Voldemort and Mr. Big together?

#197 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:49 AM:

I started showing Sarah my Rocky & Bullwinkle DVDs, and started with the Mt. Flatten epic. She's enjoying them, I'm happy to say. I still have indelible eyeball memories from seeing them the first time.

#198 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:54 AM:

Kip W @ 197...

Inedible eyeballs?!!
("No, Serge... Indelible.")

#199 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 12:35 PM:

I can't help it...I would just LOVE to have something like this.

#200 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 12:50 PM:

Steve C. (199): That is pretty wonderful.

I'm currently lusting after one of these, which is at least much cheaper, if no more practical. (I have enough hats! I don't even like scarves! I want one anyway!)

#201 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 01:12 PM:

Steve C., that's awesome. A few years back, a lot of VW Beetles were sporting faux Rolls grilles. I wanted a faux Edsel grille.

#202 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 01:20 PM:

Lee, et al: I'm glad it worked out. I agree - and wonder if somewhere, in some dark room, someone is getting promoted into a position of no responsibility(*) (transmoted? I'm sure there's a term for this)

Re: Defcon1 diplomacy: Unfortunately, the "right" thing to do, business-wise, is to get a lawyer to send a C&D, assert the trademark, and register a complaint with the UDRP - and *then* quietly ask if they would transfer ownership of the domain. This is, in non-lawyerese, also called "being an asshole", and it really bothers me that failing to be an asshole can make it more likely that the legal process will screw you - just because it's nicer to say "Look, this is Just Wrong. How about you knock it off and we'll pretend this never happened, ok?" before introducing the Lava Axe.

Mentioning this to people who make their living from web-businesses and conventions, who would take cybersquatting games like this mildly unhappily, and who have both the skills and the audience to express their unhappiness in ways that will cost you for pulling such a stupid stunt, I think is Defcon 3 at best, given the landsharking option.

But point taken. I did sort of assume that if it got to "ask for help" that they had tried the "hey, would you mind quitting with the puerile games?" thing already and got nowhere, or they were preparing (because they thought it would, or they wanted to be prepared) for the polite request to fail. Maybe I should have been explicit about that assumption (I wasn't, because I didn't even think about it. Assumption, neh?)

* - Clarke's "should have been put in charge of the coastal defence of Wyoming" style (quote from memory - stupid Mickey Mouse Copyright Act)

#203 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 01:27 PM:

If anybody in the Boulder-Denver metro area is wants a job doing front desk / customer service / public information, contact me at the email at the bottom of the page linked from my name.

Thank you. That is all.

#204 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 01:51 PM:

Steve C @199:

Oh, want! For no practical reason whatsoever. But my first car was a split-screen '69 VW microbus*.

* shovels, rakes, implements of destruction optional

#205 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 01:51 PM:

Mycroft, when you make assumptions, you make an ass of the ump, and, um, he shuns you. Yeah, that's the ticket.

#206 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 02:03 PM:

Is there a statue of limitation when it comes to posting comments on a blog? Nonplussed and bemused minds want to know.

#207 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 02:41 PM:

The Venus de Milo wishes to take arms against your statue of limitations, Victoria.

#208 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 02:46 PM:

abi @ 204 -

Our family had a '66 Microbus at one time. We thought it a lot of fun, but it really dragged on some of the hills when loaded with a bunch of teenagers. :) Still, if one came my way in reasonable shape, I'd be sorely tempted.

#210 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 02:50 PM:

Terry Karney @ 173: okay, so you don't get to exercise the joint yet. But at least you won't have the cast lining stuck to your heel any more, and presumably you'll be able to scratch if you want to.

#212 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 03:10 PM:

#209: Alan Sokal is now in economics?

#213 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 03:10 PM:

David #185 - most definitely not. The Atrocity Archive is actually a form of horror story, and although I don't read horror, I don't think a ten year old could cope with it. And as has been said above there are too many in jokes and assumptions of knowledge about things like computers and mathematics.
What else are they reading at ten? At that age I had not yet moved onto Alistair Maclean and Ian Fleming, both authors with a certain amount of violence and realism, although perhaps not quite as much as the Atrocity Archives.

#214 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 03:14 PM:

Steve C., when we moved to Colorado in 1959, we had one of the only VW microbuses in the northern part of the state. Back then, if we saw another car like ours, both cars would stop, and the drivers would chat about their vehicles.

I understand we burned out an engine going over Loveland Pass once. It would have been before 1966, because somewhere around that time we started getting vans. Maybe it was '67. I remember at least one trip to Texas where I slept on the floor of the VW, between the two big wooden boxes Dad made. They were held apart by braces, and a board went over the top. It received heat from the heater, and I may have been the only one in the car that was too hot.

#215 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 03:37 PM:

Bruce Cohen @211: "Two thousand million or so years ago two galaxies were colliding; or, rather; were passing through each other." Maybe next year more people will recognize the source of that quotation.

#216 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 05:17 PM:

I am, after a long hiatus due to illness, back to marking papers.

I am learning interesting things, as always. Here are a couple of them:

Mary considered that just because women and men get educated in the same classroom and/or educated on the same topic doesn’t guarantee that women would be simulated into a man but it would promise women independence.

Her approach the feminine movement was half of philosopher, but also a female activist.

#217 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 05:26 PM:

Fragano @ 216: Be careful! That's strong stuff you're handling there.

#218 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 05:34 PM:

Fragano @ 216... Ginger @ 217... The simulation of women is no laughing matter.

#219 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 06:14 PM:

Tom #215 - why by next year? I recognised the source, but then I have most of his books.

#220 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 06:22 PM:

guthrie @219, I recognized the source, too, but if you click the link Tom gave, apparently someone's making a movie. I do hope they do a good job of it.

#221 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 06:24 PM:

Fragano @216, since you've quoted such things here before, I trust they won't send you into a relapse.

#222 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 06:34 PM:

OtterB - I did, but only saw the word lensman, never noticed the bit about a film. I've been wondering for years why they hadn't made one, since the stories have pretty much everything required for one, lots of violence but not much sex, and a nicely black and white universe.

#223 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 06:52 PM:

*dope slap*

#224 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 07:02 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 215:

I sure hope the people who make the movie know what they're doing. Done right, that could be as much fun as the first Star Wars trilogy.

But even if they screw up the story, they could have something else going for them. I don't think anyone's tried to make a large scale space opera movie (more ships than Serenity, aliens like Star Wars or Farscape) for quite awhile, and there's a huge library of really beautiful astronomical photos to use as backdrops and inspirations for backdrops.

And this:

Planets. Seven of them. Armed and powered as only a planet can be armed and

#225 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 07:30 PM:

OtterB #221: I sincerely hope not, though I am thinking of looking for the number of a suicide hotline.

Serge #218/Ginger 217: Oh absolutely.

I'm only grading a few tonight, since I have till Monday to return the whole load.

A couple more:

I believe their arguments are essentially the same due to the fact that they lived during the same time period and experienced similar issues such as not having the rights like men endured during that time period.

The previous statement supported the French men right from oppression.

#226 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 07:35 PM:

guthrie @222 I did, but only saw the word lensman
I thought maybe you were sure enough of the source right away not to click the link. I was pretty sure, but clicked through to verify and saw about the movie.

#227 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 09:06 PM:

New kitten picture, if anyone is interested.

Her name is Spot. This is a compromise; I can still think of it as being short for Brightspot, and my partner isn't dead-set against it. She's perfectly willing to spend hours sleeping on a human's lap, and is a strong emitter of sleepyon particles.

#228 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 09:47 PM:

Lee @ 297... Wasn't the name of Data's cat?

#229 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 10:04 PM:

OtterB, guthrie, and Bruce CSTM -- there was the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned anime version, which had nothing to do with Smith. And I did expect that many people here would already know the source.

The series would make a good series of movies, and the break points are good enough for film. Let's hope they start with Galactic Patrol, though, because I think it'd be hard to sell the first two books as film. Particularly the historical parts of Triplanetary (though each of the bits might make a good film in itself!).

#230 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 10:07 PM:

I refuse to believe that this is innocent. I think they want women to buy the jeans for their unsuspecting boyfriends. And giggle.

#231 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 10:59 PM:

Xopher @ 230... Hah! Hell will freeze over before I step in a Gap Store anyway.

#232 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:02 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 25 ...
#25: Did the play begin with the actor who plays Fuller walking back and forth in front of the audience, looking them over with unnerving intensity?
The production I saw in SF many years ago did. Great performance.

I'm curious if we saw the same performance. It was notable to me as well -- but because it's one of the few times my parent and I both found the play so dire that we fell asleep.

#233 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:13 PM:

#232: I loved it. YMMV.

I saw it in a theater / lecture hall like space in Berkeley, about 10 years ago.

#234 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:13 PM:

Serge @ 150 ...
It took me a few moments to realize that the above posts about "HP" were not referring to Hewlett-Packard or to Howard Philip Lovecraft.

You too? Made for a very surreal read...

#235 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:18 PM:

Serge @ 198 ...
Inedible eyeballs?!!
("No, Serge... Indelible.")

Of course they're edible. They make this great squish-pop like grapes! How could you possibly get confused about that?!?

#236 ::: ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:21 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 233 ...
#232: I loved it. YMMV.
I saw it in a theater / lecture hall like space in Berkeley, about 10 years ago.

Hmm... same timeframe, but downtown SF...

#237 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:33 PM:

xeger @ 235... This reminds me of a complaint someone once made about Boorman's Excalibur - that the ravens waited until the dead knights had rotten away before going for the eyeballs.

#238 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:37 PM:

xeger... By the way, planning to go to Reno's worldcon? Remember, it's less than 4 hours away from San Francisco by car. Me, I'll be driving from Albuquerque, and probably stopping for the night in Nevada's Tonopah.

#239 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:51 PM:

Another delurking to wish Xopher the best.

#240 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2011, 11:55 PM:

Serge -- at one point, driving to ComDEX and back from the Bay Area led me to drive from Tehachapi to Tonopah. Never been to Tucumcari, though.

#241 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:09 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ #240, but you were willin', right?

I'm partial to Ronstadt's version over Lowell George's, even though he wrote it.

#242 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:10 AM:

#236: Zzzt! You are right, the Fuller play was at a downtown SF venue.

I saw another strange production in Berkeley, an odd one-man play that included little astronaut puppets.

#243 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:39 AM:

Serge, #228: Precisely. So we still get geek cred for the name, just for different reasons.

#244 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:54 AM:

Lee @ 227 - I though that the soporific effect of cats was due to emission of napitrons. Do we have any experts on pheline physics to clarify the matter?

#245 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 02:46 AM:

Linkmeister @241 -- I'm still. Willing.

#246 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 03:50 AM:

Lee @ 227: Thanks for cute kitten picture. My cat is presntly sitting on my lap making it harder for me to type. oh well, better than when she parades across the keyboard and manages to move the text around.

#247 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 06:03 AM:

Tom #229 - Yes, starting at triplanetary would just be confusing. You could perhaps deal with the historical stuff in a sort of flashback montage. Do they allow voiceovers much these days, or has the guy with the impressive voice retired?
Starting with First lensman would sort of make sense though - it is set on earth, could be seen as making some pointed comments about political corruption, and gives something of a foundation for the rest of the series. Ending with a zoom out or graphic showing how small a volume humans have explored. Then picking up with Galactic patrol several generations later.
So many possible ways of doing it. I started reading at Galactic Patrol and didn't have any problem.

#248 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 07:43 AM:

Serge #228: Your time machine is working, I see.

#249 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 08:39 AM:

Ann @244: Napitron emissions? Back in the day, we called those Z-rays.

#250 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 08:56 AM:

Spun off someone's link: I found a site specifically devoted to spotting/reporting commercial "swipes" of peoples' art:

You thought we wouldn't notice?.

#251 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 10:32 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 184 — Assuming the axiom of choice, whatever set of numbers you choose can be well-ordered*, so there would still be a least uninteresting number, which would therefore be interesting. The problem is that there is no particular well-ordering we can point out. You always get that kind of problem with the axiom of choice.

* For anyone who doesn't bother to follow the link, please be aware that "well-ordered" means "ordered in such a way that every nonempty subset has a least element." People unfamiliar with the term tend to guess it means "assigned an ordering in an unambiguous way."

#252 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 10:40 AM:

This Greenwald piece is a big deal, probably more important news in some sense than anything on the front page of the NYT today. This is like something out of a William Gibson novel.

#253 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 10:43 AM:

Here is the coming attraction for "X-men: First Class".
Thos could be good.

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 11:06 AM:

"I'm with Helen on this one. It can't be a coincidence gangsters stole weird science doodads AND a weird skull."

(Atomic Robo to masked crimefighter Jack Tarot about his gadget-making daughter in the 3rd issue of The Deadly Art of Science.)

#256 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 11:38 AM:

Tom Whitmore@215: Though a hugely higher percentage of the population here is going to recognize it than of the general population.

Presumably this is related to JMS's project for a movie. I must admit that I'm only pretty nervous, instead of already committed to preemptive denial of the existence of any such movie. This counts as being rather optimistic, by my standards for movies made from favorite books.

#257 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 11:42 AM:

Guthrie@219: I can't immediately think of any of his books that I only have one edition of (if you include electronic). At least if I'm right in remembering an electronic edition of Masters of Space.

I have at least 6 of The Skylark of Space (and the Gutenberg edition of that was based on my images of the pages and I think first pass of OCR). No first edition of that one, other than the magazine images.

Well, except the Stephen Goldin books based on his Imperial Stars universe; I only have one edition of those.

#258 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 11:54 AM:

Guthrie@247: Triplanetary and First Lensman were written and published after the other 4, and I still tend to recommend first reads be in publication order. The trouble is, in the book editions, there are spoilers in the later books (Eddore is mentioned way too early).

I very much like First Lensman, but a lot of what I like is watching him fill in back-story on things I already knew about. And I've made the mistake of having people start there, and seen it not work for them.

How long after FL is Galactic Patrol set, anyway? What always bothers me is no indication anywhere that "Kinnison" is an important name in the history of the Patrol. That implies a really tremendous time-span, to my mind; but other things are rather against thinking it's huge. Your "several generations" seems reasonable, I can't think of any direct contradiction to it (though it doesn't resolve my quandry with the name).

#259 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 11:58 AM:

Sleepyons have been found and the data published; napitrons are the elusive particle that might be predicted by math but so far have not been confirmed.

Z-rays are entirely made up, although this term may be an outdated reference to the Z boson.

We know they have furmions and mewons, and that they are deeply involved in string. Young cats are also prone to high-speed collisions, potentially generating other, as-yet-unidentified particles.

#260 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 12:43 PM:

ddb #257/8 - thats good collecting. Regarding the series, I don't expect pulp to have exact adherence to a time line, although the issues triplanetary raise with the nevians are still a bit blatant. Regarding galactic coordinator Kinnison, I always assumed we were talking about 6 or 7 generations difference minimum, enough that although knowledgeable people recalled the founding of the patrol, it wasn't immediately obvious. Moreover, exploring and bringing into civilisation half the volume of the galaxy (or more) would certainly take a century or two. I don't know about your part of the world, wherever it is, but I've gotten the impression in the UK and from reading about elsewhere, that anything past grandparent isn't at the front of people's minds, especially in a fast moving technological society. Moreover there's the bit in Children of the lens when it mentions Kit having gone to the Earth academy because Kinnison is a common enough surname on earth.

I didn't actually realise that the first two were published later, although it was always obvious from the difference between the galactic patrol books and the purportedly earlier two.

#261 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 12:50 PM:

Hyper-local news: Librarian finds Asimov's More Tales of the Black Widowers hidden among old regional college bulletins and histories when weeding, takes it as a sign that this should be her lunch-time reading. Still puzzled as to how a PS 3551 could get shelved with the 378s, though.

#262 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 12:53 PM:

Ginger @ 259... No kittons?

#264 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:06 PM:

albatross @ 252:

I guess I won't be the only person here to shiver slightly at the fact that the company involved is called Palantir Technology...

#265 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:19 PM:

Please don't be silly. Z-rays can be seen to emit from sleeping persons. If they are too fast for you to perceive in real time, then look at a graphic representation on the comics page.

#266 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:23 PM:

ddb @257 -- IIRC, there's only one edition of the short story collection from the UK (The Best of E. E. "Doc" Smith); I haven't checked on that.

#267 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:28 PM:

Serge @262 -- you know what happens when you enter that particular term (k*tt*ns)-- the Norstrilians come after you! It's a littul dangerous.

#268 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:47 PM:

guthrie@260: My hyper location is Minneapolis MN.

Kit faces a harder problem, since his father has become rather famous. But if Kit thinks Earth will work to keep a low profile, then I suppose it would have worked for Kimball.

In the magazines, the progression was from Galactic Patrol (1937) through Children of the Lens (well, Triplanetary was published as a non-Lensman story earlier). Then, starting in 1950, they came out in book form (hardcover), with Triplanetary (newly-written stories and the repurposed title story) and then First Lensmane (newly written) published first, then the others in order. The text was somewhat revised, and additional introductions and such were added -- which spoil the fun some for people trying to read the book texts in original publication order.

#269 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:52 PM:

Tom Whitmore@267: There are two British editions and two American editions of the Best Of listed in ISFDB. I have one of each, I think.

However, although there has been more than one edition of Subspace Encounter, I'm pretty sure I only have one. (I'm not exactly actively seeking all the editions; but I tend to try to encourage publishers if I see anything new, or if there's any reason to think the text might be variant, or if I don't have plenty of spare copies already.)

#270 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:54 PM:


Yeah, you can get great information from this stone, and really, what possible downside could there be? Perfectly harmless, really.

Anyway, continuing the theme, This ars technica post discusses a somewhat related side battle.

I continue to enjoy living in an SF novel, but I'm not sure I'm thrilled about it being a cyberpunk novel....

#271 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 01:54 PM:

Ginger #259:

There are also fewmetions and p-ewmions, but mostly they are not discussed outside of the box.

#272 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 02:13 PM:

Sort of a follow-up, or continuation, of my comment here. I present another useful lesson gleaned from my work in security:

Let us say the bar has closed, and you and your sweety (a little drunk and a little horny) are wending your way back to your vehicle parked on an upper level of a parking garage -- a garage, let us say further, equipped with multiple security cameras on every floor.

Let us revise our earlier statement, and say rather that you are both a lot drunk and a lot horny. But driving is not an issue. The distance to your homes, or a hotel, is not an issue. For your vehicle is equipped with the darkest window-tinting available, so dark that only a determined voyeur with a strong flashlight would be able to see anything occurring within.

Having stipulated the situation thusly, let us share one piece of simple advice: Don't start taking off each other's clothing until you're IN the vehicle.

#273 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 02:14 PM:

#255 Sic semper tyrannis, but not an easy time. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

#274 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 02:26 PM:

There was a wretched, revisionist anime adaptation of the Lensmen books about 20 years ago. As bad as you might imagine.

Anyone adapting the series who wants to do it right should count on three movies, roughly following Galactic Patrol, Second Stage, and Children Of. I'd love to see it done "retro."

Steve Jackson Games did a very good RPG adaptation of the Lensmen books. It makes an excellent reference work. Out of print, although possibly available via their e23 PDF publishing wing. It includes a hilarious dialog between two Arisians that justifies why there are no microprocessors in the Lensmen future history; forseeing a degrading cyberpunk future where mental powers are never developed, the Arisians arrange for a beautiful woman to get into car trouble as William Shockley drives by; he falls in love and instead of inventing the transistor is influenced to develop super-high-voltage vacuum tubes, eventually leading to the Bergenholm.

#275 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 02:40 PM:

albatross #270: And isn't it interesting that hubris, and perhaps greed, were Barr's downfall? If he'd thrown in fully with the FBI instead of "angling for business", well then there might have been a direct confrontation between the FBI and the Anonymati. Barr would probably have gotten screwed over anyway, but if one or more of his names were right, he actually might have done some damage on the way. Or, if one or more names were really wrong, he might have ended up squished between the two....

Certainly it looks like he tried bluffing his way through a knife fight there!

#276 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 02:41 PM:

On the totally silly questions front, Lensman division -- I own the dedicatee's copy of the Fantasy Press edition of Second Stage Lensmen (copy 354 of the signed edition, with a lovely inscription, given to F. Edwin [Ed] Counts). Does anyone know who has the other dedicatee copies?

#277 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 02:42 PM:

Henry #273:

It's good to see a dictator kept in power by secret policemen and torture chambers flee before his people. It's not so clear what comes next, either in terms of domestic policies (democracy or dictator, human rights or more torture chambers and secret policemen) or foreign policy (continued peace with Israel, continued friendly relations with Israel and the US, continued cooperation on the Gaza blockade).

#278 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 02:54 PM:

ddb #268 - given also the ethos of the patrol as presented by Smith, I expect a lot of people would have worked out who Kit was, but wouldn't have said anything or treated him any differently.
Thats interesting about the magazines, it does make sense, Galactic patrol always felt a bit simple, and triplanetary as a non-lensman story definitely does make sense. It would be interesting to know what text revisions took place, persumably for continuity reasons.

#279 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 03:03 PM:

Project Gutenberg has the pre-revision version of Triplanetary available for download.

I read it a couple of years ago. Not bad.

#280 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 03:43 PM:

Bruce #272:

You should post a notice informing customers that really embarrassing surveillance footage will be posted to Youtube.

#281 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 03:45 PM:

The Hawai'i library system has almost all of the Lensman books cataloged. All, however, are reported as lost.

Rats. I gave away my paperback copies when we moved from the East Coast to Guam 40+ years ago.

#282 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 03:50 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 215:

Interesting news about the Lensman film. I hope they manage to keep the fun spirit, but I wouldn't be sad at all if they ignored the text and decided it was acceptable to have female Lensmen.

Of course, I think one of my favorite times-have-changed moments comes from the first chapter of Galactic Patrol.

"No, there's no catch to it," he continued in answer to amazedly doubtful stares, and lighted a huge black cigar of Venerian tobacco as he spoke. "You are Lensmen now. [...]

"We know your individual preferences, and each of you has his favorite weed, from Tilotson's Pittsburgh stogies up to Snowden's Alsakanite cigarettes—even though Alsakan is just about as far away from here as a planet can be and still lie within the galaxy.

"We also know that you are all immune to the lure of noxious drugs. If you were not, you would not be here today. So smoke up and break up [...]"

Xopher @ 230:

I laughed. It's things like that that was invented for.

Bruce Arthurs @ 272:

Your comment reminds me of these stories from a San Fransisco bouncer: These Aren't My Pants.

#283 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 05:06 PM:

guthrie @247:

Do they allow voiceovers much these days, or has the guy with the impressive voice retired?

The Movie Trailer Guy ("In a world....") died a few years ago, if that's who you're thinking of.

#284 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 05:10 PM:

lorax @ 238...

He passed away in 2008.
And can be seen in HERE in TCM's montage paying homage to those in Hollywood who passed away that year.

#285 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 06:15 PM:

Tom Whitmore@276: Interesting question. Do not know the answers. Pretty sure it's not me for any of them.

I did once see on a huckster table a book by one guest signed and inscribed to another guest. Happily, I do not remember anything that would let me reconstruct the individuals involved.

guthrie@278: That kind of text comparison is why I have the Skylark files I do. Not moving very fast on actually doing anything with them. Continuing on to Triplanetary would make perfect sense. Maybe some day. Maybe somebody will beat me to it, and save me the trouble.

KeithS@282: Heinlein commented on the Lensman universe's drug policies in Number of the Beast—by having them bounce out of there as soon as they realized where they were.

Remember, fayalin is stimulating, but non-intoxicating. And tobacco isn't a drug.

My immediate reaction to the suggestion of female lensmen (more than one) is that that particular restriction never made any sense to me in the first place, so sure, go ahead.

Leaving out Children of the Lens means you don't have to deal with Clarissa's followup visit to Lyrane in the later book, so you might well be able to make that work.

Actually, the big problem is how she ends up being a nurse, to meet Kinnison in the first place (and to be in on the Blakesley affair, where the hospital ship is captured and Kim rescues them). Plus you have to have the excuse to have Surgeon Marshall Lacey discussing comparative skeleton quality. (And Hanes, remember, describes Kim as "pure Kinnison", suggesting that HE knows the history at least.)

#286 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 06:42 PM:

ddb @ 258:

ISTR a line in the beginning of Galactic Patrol, maybe from the description of the graduates' march and drop down the grav tube, about the Patrol and the Lens having been around for almost a thousand years. That strikes me as reasonable; I don't care how fast your FTL drive is (and in that book I think they were limited to about 1900 c by friction with the interstellar medium, making a run from the rim on one side to the rim on the other take about 50 years), setting up a galaxy-spanning civilization takes time.

Stefan Jones @ 274:

No, no such anime was ever made in this universe. Anything that emits that much bogon radiation would collapse on itself and fall through Gunningagap.

David Harmon @ 275:

Barr is the second person in the last few weeks to boast of his security prowess and be brought down for it. What is it with these bozos? How on earth do they get contracts or jobs if they act like that (hint: security is about keeping secrets!).

#287 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 06:43 PM:

ddb #285 - the impression I got was that the whole no female lensmen thing was derived from the social mores of the times (somehow he could get his head around the nudity taboo but not necessarily womans lib, but at the time he was writing that wasn't surprising) and whatever he thought about it. Note that the women in his earlier stories are strong, but in traditional female roles, and of course they want to get married and have children.
Having a lens and going out fighting nasty aliens would of course rather get in the way of that. Hence, no female lensemen until right at the end, and even then they had to fit the mould regarding life, eg wanting a husband etc.
The problem with having them in a film is that it takes away the whole specialness about Clarissa. Maybe someone could write around it, but it would surely make things a bit messier. Smith didn't seem to me to be one of those women are 2nd class citizens people, more that there were rigid divisions between the sexes based upon the principle of the being opposites.
But then, he was writing entertaining pulp for sale at that time, so it was kind of expected.

Leaving out Children of the Lens would be get awayable with, but rather misses out the Eddorean aspect. The tricky bit with a film of Children of the lens is the same as with the book, the difficulty of filming telepathic stuff.

Clarissa being a nurse is not a bit problem at all, its just how the world works. Remember how many descendants someone has over 6 or 7 generations, you will likely have quite a spread of jobs, capabilities, etc. Since the lensman world is not portrayed as particularly aristocratic, I don't expect there to be so many people counting generations and complaining about how a descendant of Sams is a nurse.
As for all there rest of it, thats how the world works, ok. If necessary, you can postulate an Arisian pulling the strings behind the scenes, but if you are going to worry about conincidences, the first successful cruise of Kinnison in galactic Patrol has so many that it strains credulity.

I would expect Haynes to know the full story, with complete access to all records because of his job, and recall he had to tell the surgeon marshall, who didn't know. The Patrol is after all one big bureacratic fighting machine.

#288 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 06:45 PM:


Local man drops his phone into a hot cup of coffee; Apple Store employee takes pity on him and replaces the phone under warranty.

Come to think of it, there's a bit of a 21st Century moment there: how long has it been that phones were small enough to fit into a coffee cup?

#289 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 06:51 PM:

Lee @ 227: Oh, she's darling. My Moira is a similar model, only with a combination of a heavy brow and facial markings giving her a permanent scowl.

Ginger @ 259: Who knew physics could be so adorable?

#290 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 06:51 PM:

BC(StM) @288

The real question is, did they also replace your coffee, or did you drink it anyway?

#291 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 07:00 PM:

"I said I wanted a latté with FOAM on it!"

#292 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 07:12 PM:

Lorax, #283: I prefer to remember him in this. Still makes me giggle every damned time.

#293 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 08:23 PM:

Xopher: GoodThoughts!

#294 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 10:01 PM:

Thanks very much for the good thoughts and prayers and everything, my good friends.

Another friend of mine sent me a soft-toy octopus. Octopodes are the Destroyers of Crabs, you see. I've named him Siddhartha, and he's on my pillow.

#295 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 10:38 PM:

Well that's just ducky. In the midst of a minor crisis, my impeccably housebroken dog decides she will choose today to leave two puddles in the master bedroom. After a walk found her squatting every few feet, I guessed she had a UTI. I then came home to find that she had overridden the baby gate to leave a huge pile of barf near the balcony door. Plus another puddle of pee, a smaller amount of barf, and then a final puddle in the kitchen. There may have been a drop of blood in the puddles.

I have no idea what the hell is going on, only that I'm probably going to miss the vestry retreat, and not get any sleep while I watch her tonight. She will go to the vet first thing tomorrow morning, and I hope they can do a urine sample themselves because I don't think I'm going to be able to get a container under her for that.

#296 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 11:15 PM:

Dang! I never got all the Lensmen books because my Sainted Mother had them all. She still does ... in the Basement of Doom. Dang!

Xopher: I've put in a prayer request to my daughter's Wiccan church. (This is the South (tm) -- it's a church.)

#297 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 11:21 PM:

Thanks, Tracie!

I'm also going to call the octopus Henry the Eight, Lars Eightner, Ocho Baggins, and Octo Lieber.

#298 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 12:25 AM:

I had, as a result of years of thrift store and garage sale shopping, one complete and several somewhat-complete sets of the Lensmen books. I was hoping to complete the sets (all with different covers) to give to friends. But they all went to Powell's when I decluttered a few years back.

I'll buy the collections if and when I get a yearning to read them again.

#299 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 02:34 AM:

My addiction to SF came about honestly. Also in the collection is one of the Fantasy Press Lensman books with an inscription to my mother (in the signed edition).

Somewhere I've also got the original Gaughan psychedelic cover painting for Skylark Three....

#300 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 06:40 AM:

HLN, alternate reality division: this morning I dreamt I was in an ornate church, fending off two large Russian Mafiosi with a mix of aikido and sumo techniches; the incident ended when they recognised me as their one-time instructor. This in itself is not particularly weird*; what was weird was that I was John Scalzi.

I take as evidence that the fact of Scalzi's former position teaching Japanese martial arts the Russian mafia is so incontrovertible, it's accessible via the shared unconscious of the human race.

*for a dream, obviously; it's not something that really comes up in my day job

#301 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 08:39 AM:

Guthrie @287

Since the lensman world is not portrayed as particularly aristocratic...

To the extent that Kim and Clarissa don't actually seem to have any family.

Their daughters manage to swank around two galaxies in private space yachts with state of the art equipment. It's been a while since I read or re-read, so I don't know if these are parental gifts or not. Considering their abilities it's quite conceivable that they could have earned money for them.

#302 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 08:53 AM:

Re: Lensman, I remember reading an essay about Smith by Heinlein, I think in Expanded Universe. He mentioned some unpublished material that went beyond what pulp audiences were prepared to accept. It had to do with the women in the series, and the coy way RAH never said what it was, but stressed that it was a logical extrapolation from the series, made me think it was sexual.

Has anyone read those stories, or know what was in them?

#303 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 09:53 AM:

@302: There are some unsubtle hints that the new Guardians of the Universe will be the result of a polygamous incestuous relationship among the Kinnison children.

#304 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 10:52 AM:

"I've been Ayn Randed, nearly branded, Communist because I'm left-handed, well that's the hand they use, well, never mind" -

- Paul Simon, "A Simple Desultory Phillipic

The trailer to Atlas Shrugged is out. I don't think they will get quite the reaction from the general public that they think. It looks like they remade Wall Street and Gordon Gekko is the hero.

#305 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 11:27 AM:

Only 700+ comments on the Atlas Shrugged trailer. Call me cynical, but I suspect this one is actually going to match the comment that another studio made about The Lord of the Rings before it came out: "The only people who will see it are the people who downloaded the trailer the first day."

#306 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 11:57 AM:

Heh. I just left a comment thread at the LJ community Politicartoons on that trailer. I always said it should have been a TV miniseries. Five episodes of 90 minutes each would do it, and Thursday could be Monolog day.

#307 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 12:32 PM:

Palantir's offices are on University, in Palo Alto. I pass them 2-6 times a week.

The stuff on Anon and HBGary Federal is... priceless. It's got a wonderful sense of schadenfruede, and some Little Brother. The "Professional" didn't really grasp the mindset of his target.

That, and it seems his company wasn't all that secure.

#308 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 12:54 PM:

Note, everyone, that this is just Part One of Atlas Shrugged.

They might actually make a five-episode movie series.

#309 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 01:16 PM:

That trailer doesn't do much of a job making me want to know who John Galt is.

It does, however, make me want to know what Armin Shimerman's doing in there. (Collecting a paycheck, I guess.)

#310 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 01:19 PM:

Paul A. @ 309 -

It does, however, make me want to know what Armin Shimerman's doing in there. (Collecting a paycheck, I guess.)

Ha - some might think the Ferengi are Rand's tailor-made audience.

#311 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 01:25 PM:

Neil W #301 - well as a grey lensman he could just have appropriated them, although I assume he gets a decent salary for the job, and there was the small matter of the heavy meteor which he got to keep.

#312 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 01:27 PM:

Ginger @ 76

My current favourite is Борода не делает философом. (the beard doesn't make the philosopher). But what I'd really like is a little app. which would send a randomly selected proverb from that list to my RSS feed.

I also find myself being reminded as I read through it of a poem by Wendy Cope which begins

Fine words won't turn the icing pink
A wild rose has no employees
Who boils his socks will make them shrink
Who catches cold is sure to freeze

(Among the other Cope proverbs I remember are that lone wolves are seldom seen in threes, and that you can't shave with a tiddly-wink.)

(BTW, if there's anyone round here that doesn't know Wendy Cope's poems, I strongly recommend
Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, which I think would appeal strongly to a fluorospherian sensibility. It contains inter alia some excellent Shakespeare sonnet pastiches, including one that begins 'Not only marble, but the plastic toys/from cereal packets will outlive this rhyme')

#314 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 01:36 PM:

Terry Karney #307: The thing is, these days nobody is secure enough to challenge all comers! That's some sort of primate dominance game, but you can't bully an anthill. You can't bluff an anthill, or even beat it senseless.

Anonymous was/is not really playing the same game as the guy trying to investigate them, and it sounds like he was onto the wrong game entirely.

#315 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 01:59 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 78

I liked that when I saw it for the first time, but as a local friend pointed out some of the images strike people who actually live here as a bit problematically orientalist for people who actually live here. (Also, Turks really don't like being taken for/depicted as Arabs. It's not quite Japan/Korea, but in the same ball-park.) So I thought I'd play it safe and go for the no-text version.

#316 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 06:57 PM:

Trying to work out some SFnal ideas about life on other planets. Has anyone ever discussed (real or fictional) any ideas of planets with oceans of more than one substance? i e could a planet have an ocean of water and another ocean of liquid ammonia in two different climatic regions for example?

#317 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 07:12 PM:

Hyper-local news: Area woman rereads favorite Making Light threads as part of epic cat-vacuuming project related to sticky spot in novel-in-progress, regrets not having had the guts to delurk and stand up for MFAs during the Pitch Bitch incident.

#318 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 07:13 PM:

Erik, #316: You'll want to check out Hal Clement's Star Light. It's set on a planet with a mixed water-and-ammonia ocean, and some very odd atmospheric effects as a result. It also features some of the characters from Mission of Gravity.

#319 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 08:04 PM:

Open Threadiness: digital photo editing used to make actual art.

#320 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 08:16 PM:

Paul A:

As the 319th rule of inquisition says, never pass up an opportunity to work on a set with a poorly-guarded solid-gold dollar sign as a prop.

#321 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 08:23 PM:

David #314:

Yep. First, competent attackers are going to win over competent defenders in computer security. (In cryptography, it generally goes the other way, but then, crypto is only the weak point in your system if you've massively f--ked it up.) Second, even if you keep your own machines seriously locked down and secure, it's not really possible to do that for a whole company at the same level, and certainly not to also do that for everyone whose systems you rely on day to day. Someone who can't touch your machine may still be able to f--k up your VoIP service or your credit card account by attacking other peoples' systems over which you have no control.

#322 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 09:02 PM:

This weekend I have been marking papers. Interrupted by going to see Nixon in China.

I have learnt many interesting things, and undoubtedly will learn many more before the weekend is over. Here are a few:

Through these three faucets women would have the tools needed to survive independently, should the need arise, and be active members of society.

The major area in which both Marie-Olympes de Gouges and Mary Wollstonecraft agree is that should the equality of women come about, the moral degradation of women would continue and would be a detriment to society.

The role of the women during this time was mainly domesticated duties and inevitably male subordination.

In addition, during the decade following 1954 more liberties were enacted to dismantle thresholds of injustice.

Even though there are several different religions like Jews, Muslims, Protestants, etc., France was not always subjected to the idea of their religions bedsides Catholicism practiced inside of their borders.

Does anyone have a number for the Samaritans?

#323 ::: V's Herbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 10:06 PM:

Russ @300...
Scalzi's badassery is indeed generally accessible in the dreamscape. He once featured in one of my dreams as a camo-wearing, train-hijacking, metal-gear-solid-style, action hero.

#324 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 10:39 PM:

Xopher, just catching up here. Sending energy your way, for healing heart, body, and soul. Hugs!

#325 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2011, 10:56 PM:

HLN, dream division: Last night's dream involved ROT-13 encryption that I was, after a minute or so, able to read.

(I've had dreams that involved trying to decipher gibberish; this is the first one where I could.)

#326 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 01:31 AM:

It cannot be true that the state of Mississippi plans to commemorate Nathan Bedford Forrest on a license plate.

It cannot be true.

Can't be true.

Can. Not. Be. True.

When did I enter the alternate universe? I must have been asleep.

#327 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 04:27 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 322

I don't have a number for the Samaritans, but have passed these on to Mme (Prof. Dr.) Barebones, who is writing a book on Mary Wollstonecraft, and shares your pain. She also suggests that for other unsuspected insights into Maty W. it may be worth following @marythehyena on Twitter (though ominously, she seems not to have updated recently)

#328 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 07:15 AM:

LizzyL @ #326, do you find that more or less surprising than Utah's proposed Official State Firearm (which is, of course, a handgun)?

#329 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 09:35 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Man spends day cleaning up home office, finds birthday card's envelope from last year, with check inside.

#330 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 11:19 AM:

HLN: Man achieves previously unachieved levels of disgust for assholes. Drunken assholes. Drunken privileged assholes. Drunken privileged assholes trying to beat the shit out of each other.

Not too pleased with police taking over ten minutes to respond to call, either.

#331 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 11:20 AM:

And no, I did not have a good night at work.

#332 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 11:37 AM:

Why me?

Yet more crimes against my peace, common sense, and the Queen's English:

Within America slavery has shifted to a non-existence. There are no entities who issue forced labor onto human beings and civil rights are promised to all citizens within the state.

He also wanted the people to have a clearer understanding of the candidates running for office positions therefore he thought political debates were necessary to determine the voters decisions and debate type of setting are highly praised during America’s elections because it allows the people to understand who the candidates are.

They purported to convince the population that the talents and abilities of women spawn far beyond the current assumptions upheld by society.

Wollstonecraft and De Gouges concepts of political and social equality for women are feminist concepts that have hanged the role of women for ever.

#333 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 11:44 AM:

Fragano @ 332... There are no entities who issue forced labor onto human beings

Thanks to Frodo Baggins.

#334 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 11:53 AM:

HLN: Why is a desire to sleep in and wake up slowly a summons to the universe to provide disruptions?

#335 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 12:00 PM:

License plates honoring the founder of the KKK. Well. Only in Mississippi — one hopes. I'd like to think that something that blatant would get scuttled pretty soundly, but you never know. If nothing else, they'd certainly be a way to quickly identify people you probably wouldn't want to associate with any more than you could help, like certain bumper stickers (which are probably already in place on the vehicles waiting for the plates).

#336 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 12:01 PM:

xeger @ 334... Pipes or cats?

#337 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 12:11 PM:

Serge @ 336 ...

#339 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 12:14 PM:

Fragano #332: Eek!

The last one actually looks like a semi-coherent sentence, with an especially unlucky typo. More punctuation would help, or are you stripping that?

Your second item, though... that one prompts me to borrow the punchline from another joke: "Your Honor, that sentence should be taken out and shot."

#340 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 12:28 PM:

Lila at 328, the only thing that surprises me about the proposed law is that Arizona hasn't already adopted it.

Fragano, you have my sympathy. Thanks for sharing. ...the talents and abilities of women spawn... That sound you hear is my mind, boggling.

#341 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 12:39 PM:

xeger #338: <boggle>

#342 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 12:47 PM:

She left in the time of peach blossoms
The nights were getting shorter, the days were getting warmer
When she left, the days were cold, and the nights too long

Next year, at this time, it will not yet be the time of peach blossoms
The nights will be no shorter, the days will still be cold.
She will not be leaving; we shall wait on the peach blossoms

#343 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 12:51 PM:

xeger, 338: Glee! I'm sending that, pretty much everybody I know.

And while we're on the subject of unexpectedly wonderful webthings, allow me to suggest I'm Reading a Book.

#344 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 01:06 PM:

David Harmon #339: All punctuation is as I got it. I tell students not to rely on spell-check alone; they never listen.

#345 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 01:13 PM:

Dave Harmon: He (and a lot of other, "security types") has a paradigm problem. They don't really believe there is a way to have a functioning group, esp. one with a shared ideology, and (functionally) coherent plans, which doesn't have a structured hierarchy, and Table of Organisation.

For the same reason they don't understand that they might find the "founder" of a movement, and not be able to use that information to control/eliminate the group. I liked Little Brother, and there were some good parts in it (though I am not sure the parental unit who has the sudden revelation is as plausible as all that. I'd like to think that were the case but people are really stubborn and that sort of sudden shift, esp after the shock which led to it, is hard to shake off), the part which was most important was the idea of the amorphous resistance. Anyone could be "x", and given the right level of "ideas in the air" "x" is a sort of Hydra.

Anonymous almost certainly has movers and shakers. I don't think it has, "leadership". That failure of concept is what caused this hornets nest. The folks at Palantir seem to have some grasp of it; at least enough to not poke them with a stick when they discovered just what was being discussed/planned.

Which makes, IMO, Palantir a more dangerous group of people than the others. Yes, the others are likely to be able to get all sorts of contracts to do all sorts of nasty things, but Palantir seem to have a better grasp of how to keep groups which might actually blow the lid off of such things placated, which means the proposals they make, to effect the sorts of ends (say damage control/discrediting of infodumping whistleblowers) are more likely to succeed.

#346 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 01:27 PM:

Remember when Spock was supposed to have done "too much LDS" back in Berkeley?

Here's the proof.

#347 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 01:37 PM:

Picking up on the start of this thread: Penguin do a 3-CD set of Famous Seamus reading his own Beowulf (originally a Radio 4 broadcast). Recommended.

#348 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 03:06 PM:

Continuing to grade. Putting myself on suicide watch.

They both advocated for the advancement of women inside and outside of their homes during the French Revolution.

Gouges was considered a very bold woman for her creation of the “Declaration of the Rights of Women and Citizens” and were criticized by all her doings, but it ultimately paid off and benefit a lot of women.

On September 11th, 2001 the United States suffered a foreign attack by way of plane hijackers who crashed in the World Trade Center and Pentagon which killed over 3,000 people. The attack singled at serious threat to United States security.

Men who live in the nation civil liberties should be protected as well because; they are a part of the driving force of the nation.

The USSR and the rise of John Lenin were optimistic in attempting to spread communism as if it were a contagious disease that would affect all states in order to find a balance and force the citizens to cooperate with the leaders and do as they are told.

A working-class hero is something to be.

#349 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 03:23 PM:

Fragano @ 348...

John Lenin?
Imagine that.

#350 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 05:06 PM:

Serge #349: I suspect the student of Stalin for time.

#351 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 05:51 PM:

Terry Karney #345: The thing that strikes me is that "Anonymous" isn't all that different from what has gone before. Long before "flash mobs", people were using the Internet to organize demonstrations and the like, and surprisingly often to hunt down miscreants. I myself once ran a mailing list which occasionally blew way someone's anonymity, mostly responding to suicide notes! I suspect Anonymous is just the most visible example of such "lurking hordes", and that the general example will take hold in other areas.

#353 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 06:34 PM:

Possibly of interest: my new single is a Valentine's Day present for my beloved wife Josie, and a free download for you. Check it out if you're in a V-day mood, or would like to be.

#354 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 06:34 PM:

Poor Fragano: No lightning, just lightning bugs as far as the eye can see...

#355 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 08:07 PM:

Tim W @ #353, Link goes to the wrong place, sir.

#356 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 08:17 PM:

Whoops—looks like I left off the second slash, so it works on some browsers but not others. Let's try that again: my new single (

#357 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 08:44 PM:

David Harmon: I don't think Anonymous is the same as what you are describing. You are talking, I think, of piercing someone's anonymity.

Anonymous is taking collective action on things, from the place of anonymity. In some ways they are coherent (in that they favor a sort of freedom on the net which requires some support of it in other venues as well).

But they aren't setting up the sort of public demonstrations as we saw in Los Angeles on May Day and they have a collective sense of identity. Some of it maps. There was no one person whom The Authorities could have grabbed to stop the May Day demonstration, nor the protests at the Republican Convention (though they thought they could, and they seem to have tried).

The big difference is that Anonymous, while not organised, is coherent. It will do things on behalf of fellow travellers (for good or ill is left to the world to decide). It will also defend itself, and that's where the distributed nature of it will, for some time to come, bite people, and companies like BHGary. They don't know who is watching.

There are lots of little places leaks can get out into the world, and the odds are someone who is in, or just gives a damn, about Anonymous, will find out.

At which point all the talents, skills, scripts and the like will be brought to bear. It really is like whacking a hornet's nest.

#358 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 09:47 PM:

Terry Karney #357: They point of my example was just that we did swing into collective action, prompted by our group's purposes. But since our purposes were strictly in-group, that didn't hit the news. Likewise, Making Light has occasionally rallied to the aid of someone in a fix, sometimes involving multi-way cooperation. And then we had it fixed, and we went on.

Ultimately, Anonymous is a larger version of that sort of "talent pool" -- but the size makes a difference, and the group is headless by design. The only way to move it is to provoke it, but its detailed response is unpredictable, because it's all up to "who was around that day".

#359 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2011, 11:02 PM:

@303 - Thanks! Given the way Heinlein went, his tone makes a lot more sense!

#360 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 12:38 AM:

xeger @338 -- thank you for that! And the newer Professor Elemental video "What's your English?" is even more appropriate for this group....

#361 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 03:08 AM:

@cranes: I'm behind on this thread, so apologies if this has already been covered, but I didn't spot it on a quick scan: Where do we ship cranes?

With the delightful participation and company of Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little, the first Boulder consignment is ready.

#362 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 11:02 AM:

Bruce Cohen@286: Is there some kind of timestamp in that scene? I'll have to go look for it; I've never noticed it in the past, and have wondered about the time span for a while now.

Guthrie@287: You miss my point about Clarissa as a Lensman. If female Lensmen are normal, then she'd have taken the test like everybody else and gone into Lensman training at age 18 like everybody else who scored high enough -- and hence wouldn't have become a nurse.

#363 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 11:08 AM:

Lizzy L@340: Utah is honoring John Moses Browning by adopting one of his designs as the state firearm. He's arguably the most important firearms designer in history. Born in Ogden, Utah, in 1855.

#364 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 11:56 AM:

New York Times Article on the Bank of America contractors who were pitching a campaign of discrediting, intimidation, and computer hacking as a way of ridding Wikileaks of its support. There's a nice reference there to some previous intimidation done by them on behalf an overtly political issue (healthcare reform).

This was several removes from B of A, which probably meant that even if they'd done the stuff described in the story, B of A would only have gotten some bad press. (And only some kind of dirty f--king hippy would expect B of A's CEO to be held responsible for their actions, like some nobody caught with drugs or something.) And this tracks with the HP scandal from a few years back, and information that has come out about (among others) the PR strategy of BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

This is a big deal, describing a fundamental change in the shape of our world. How many companies and foreign governments and criminal organizations and even government agencies have retained someone to do this kind of thing? Say, to gather blackmail information and intimidate hostile journalists to drop stories, or activists to stop protesting and being gadflies?

And how does this tie in with the creepy blind spots we see in the media?

When I see the weird apparent skew in mainstream journalism w.r.t. Wikileaks, how much of that has to do with people running this kind of operation on them? I mean, it's worth noting the near-unanimity of American media skepticism/hostility to Wikileaks, and the fact that the people supporting them inside the US are mostly outliers of various sorts (like Glenn, who is openly gay and living in Brazil, with enough name-recognition as a blogger that any attempt by Salon to shut him up with just make him move), and the relative lack of hostility from the overseas media I've seen. Is that just patriotism, responding to the fact that Assange et al are pretty anti-American and that the US government is p-ssed off at him? Or is it the reflection of powerful people applying pressure? How would I know?

How about the lack of reporting about the crackdown at the RNC in St Paul in 2008? Was someone applying pressure to keep that from being reported? Or is it some native blind spot?

This matters, a lot. We need to know what the hell is going on with our media, how they're being controlled, what they can and can't report truthfully on. We need access to alternative sources of information, ones that are subject to different failure modes and methods of manipulation.

#365 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 11:59 AM:

Open threadiness: World War II battled out on Facebook

e.g., 27 September 19:40 Japan is now friends with Germany and Italy

#366 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 12:24 PM:

An addendum: The biggest issue here is the one that the NYT mostly misses. Computer security is asymmetrically hard--even competent people can't really lock down their systems well enough to resist serious attack, at least not without making their systems extremely hard to use.

Imagine you are a journalist reporting on mismanagement of funds by a large federal contractor. You've got notes, recorded interviews, contacts, dates, and unwritten story ideas sitting on your computer. Now, imagine that there's a PR office somewhere at that company, with a guy managing the company's response, and he has access to all that information, too. He has your Word document with your unwritten story ideas, because he "leaked" a PDF file on a public website with real information on it, but which also included a zero-day exploit that takes over Windows computers when the Adobe free PDF viewer is used to open the file. (This has been done.) That file installed a rootkit on your Windows machine, and allows him to get access to your files.

He knows you've got an interview for 3:00 today, and he has a phone number (from your smartphone, which he compromised when you synced it with your computer). He may even manage to turn on location tracking and find out where you meet the guy.

He's also compromised your private system, by sending you an email with an attachment type that your home email client automatically opens. So he also has your browser history, your collection of porno pictures, your emails to your mistress, and your deeply embarrassing Beegees collection on iTunes.

Think about what news coverage would look like in that world. ("How would the world look different if this were true?") What would you expect to see? Would some stories inexplicably just drop off the radar? Would points of view and facts upsetting to the powerful and wealthy seem to just, you know, not really get much coverage?

[1] The usual way to keep your computer secure is to run a script to get your default OS settings to an acceptable level of security, keep the patches up-to-date, have a virus scanner and a firewall and maybe a spyware scanner, and restrict the applications running on your machine so you don't put known-dangerous stuff there. Pushing further, you can run a different OS than Windows, get different browser than everyone else, use a different PDF viewer, open documents in Google Docs, install add-ons to block scripts and ads, use a VPN when you're browsing from open networks, use encrypting email services, tweak your machine and browser settings in ways that make your computer much harder to use and keep you from doing a lot of what you want to do.

At that point, you're more secure than 99.9% of the machines on the internet. And you're still probably going to be vulnerable to a targeted attack. And if not, if you can keep an attacker off your personal machine and home network, a competent attacker will still probably manage to get access to all kinds of data held *about* you or *on your behalf* from folks who aren't as careful as you are. Credit bureaus, credit card companies, phone companies, airlines, doctors' offices, hotels--all may be surprisingly willing to share your data on request, or may simply not keep it very well.

#367 ::: Ken ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 12:25 PM:

Erik, #316: Also by Hal Clement, Still River. It's best to have the CRC Handbook for chemistry available while reading it.

As for the two-ocean planet, ammonia boils around -30C, and water's solid there, so you can't do it at standard pressure. Take a peek at the phase diagrams to find something suitable. However, there's no way that the two will remain separate for any length of time.

#368 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 01:13 PM:

ddb: There are lots of ways they could honor Browning, a proclamation would be fine. They actually had a John M. Browning Day, on 24 Jan, 2011. That was, conveniently not tied to any significant date in Browning's personal life (not his birth or death, but to the adoption of one of his designs by the US Military).

By way of illustration, Utah was the last state to make Martin Luther King Day, Martin Luther King Day. Until 2000 it was, "Human Rights Day".

More to the point: It's not as if they have a an Official John Moses Browning Invention, it's that they have a State Gun, and it's conveniently the 1911 Colt. It's a good pistol, but there are a lot more significant (IMO) firearms Browning designed. The M2 comes to mind, or the High-Power. The Auto Five or the BAR. In practical terms the 1911 is, (again, IMO) more iconic than really significant.

Add the general political bent of the State, and the decidedly charged issue of the "gun-grabbing" administration. Utah has some questionable rules on carry (it is against state law for any school to prohibit the carry of a firearm, firearms are allowed in bars, it's a "stand your ground" state. I am of mixed mind on the latter, and combined with the first two, I am not sanguine about the general understanding of firearms risk). It is a shall-issue state, which I don't raelly have a problem with

Yeah, they say it's about Browning, BofA and the Chamber of Commerce also say they had, "no idea" anyone was being paid to do unsavory things in their behalf.

#369 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 01:55 PM:

albatross, #364: This is the corporate version of Nixon's "enemies list", and I'm sure that what we've seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg. After all, why abandon a strategy that's been proven to work?

HBGary acknowledged Tuesday in a statement that it had been the victim of a "criminal cyberattack," but suggested that documents placed in the public domain might be "falsified."

And that's the canonically-Republican "accuse your opponents of doing what you've done or are planning to do" -- but in a rather tone-deaf mode. That tactic doesn't work nearly as well once you've already been caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

OtterB, #365: Y'know, that would be a helluva teaching aid for someone in a History department. The timeline is accurate, and the medium is friendly to modern students. It also doesn't hurt that it's funny, because people remember funny stuff.

#370 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 02:13 PM:

Lee @369 that would be a helluva teaching aid for someone in a History department

It was passed on to me by my daughter in college. I don't know if the prof or TA in her history class referred them to it, or if she ran across it independently. But yeah, I would think it would be helpful.

#371 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 02:16 PM:

nerdycellist@295: how's the dog?

#372 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 02:33 PM:

albatross @ 366 ...
At that point, you're more secure than 99.9% of the machines on the internet. And you're still probably going to be vulnerable to a targeted attack. And if not, if you can keep an attacker off your personal machine and home network, a competent attacker will still probably manage to get access to all kinds of data held *about* you or *on your behalf* from folks who aren't as careful as you are. Credit bureaus, credit card companies, phone companies, airlines, doctors' offices, hotels--all may be surprisingly willing to share your data on request, or may simply not keep it very well.

A targeted attack of that nature is just another version of the lone gunman problem -- it's much easier to defend against the general case by simply being a bit faster/better protected than your neighbours. When it's you that they're after, the playing field changes substantially.

If you're really concerned about the security of specific data, however, you'll want to avoid any sort of networked connectivity, not to mention devices (USB drives, bluetooth, video cards, driver media ... [0]) that could potentially be infection vectors.

Personal data [1]? The US privacy laws are so laughable (and people in the US have been so conditioned to accept giving away certain information to anybody that asks) that it's bloody hard to have any hope in hell of keeping your personal information out of whatever hands care to have it.

[0] ... and that's before getting into the question of whether you can really trust any (computer) hardware that's out there in the first place...
[1] distinguishing between information about something specific that you're trying to keep out of prying hands, and information about you that you'd like to keep out of prying hands...

#373 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 02:56 PM:


Yeah, that raises a problem, though. Any form of communications is a potential vector for attack. Moving the computer with your really sensitive information off of even your local network, and moving all data by USB/sneakernet, blocks a whole large set of attacks and bad behavior. And yet, the USB drives can be used as an attack vector. Any mechanism you use to transfer data to/from that isolated machine to your networked machines will offer some chance of attack. (You can decrease the risk by buying USB drives off the shelf instead of, say, accepting them as gifts from crypto conference organizers.)

And really, taking a machine off the net makes it more vulnerable to many attacks; keeping it patched and up-to-date on virus scanner versions goes from automatic to a massive pain in the a--, if it's even possible.

The general asymmetry of computer security, in which attacks are just easier than defenses, is one of those things that I think is going to have a huge impact on the world in the next 30 years, perhaps comparable to the asymmetry in information flow that arises when radios become widespread. I don't know 1% of those consequences yet, but someone looking back from 30 years in the future will be able to point out hundreds of places where it changed history.

#374 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 03:02 PM:

David Harmon: I think we are slightly orthagonal. I don't argue that group identity/behavior on the net exists. I don't argue that it's not limited to "in group" (where the group is tribal... i.e. a sense of intimately shared idendity... clan perhaps. I don't have a direct familiarity with the members of ML. I am not likely to spot more than about 20 members on the street, even (oddly) some whom I have probably met in the flesh (P J Evans and I share enough LA commonality, over a long enough period I am sure we have met. I have no idea "who she is" to stop and chat, in an ML related way).

But (there had to be a but), if BofA decided ML were a real threat, and e.g. HBGary, were hired to take us down... we'd pretty much be toast. We don't have enough distribution of contact to survive (as a coherent entity) capable of continued action were the "head" to be lopped off.

Some of us would try to continue, but if we were cut off from our primary platforms how would we get the various words out? How many of us would know how (or whom to contact to get done) the sorts of revealing hackery which Anonymous has managed (repeatedly) to do in the service of its ends.

The interesting thing about this is more that Anonymous was being pre-emptively targettted. That tells me the "banking leaks will be small potatoes" isn't really what BofA thinks (and it would be funny, in some ways, were it that WikiLeaks did a bit of disinforming of it's own, and had docs on CitiGroup, and so the "wrong" docs just end up indicting BofA when they stand out like sore thumbs... but that's my devious little mind at work).

It also tells me the attacks, minor though they were in real terms, have BofA, et al., worried about what a "Little Brother/Stand on Zaanzibar" sort of countering to their attempts to keep things secret could do. That the people they have working in their behalf are so clueless as to the motivations/capabilities of the people they are trying, "neutralize" is comforting.

Because I know I can be knocked off the net, as an effective speaker. I know that I don't know how to break into someone's e-mail servers. I know that, apart from my friends, there aren't many people who wouldn't believe all sort of outrageous lies about me.

I am sure there are any number of credible lies which could be told about me, because I have been both public, and human. Half-truths and distortions would probably pervert a number of people who presently think well of me. Some trumped up allegations of prisoner abuse, and poof, there goes a huge amount of my wider credibility.

That's where I think Anonymous is different to more public groups. They are a collective which has the skills, and the amorphousness to pull survive that sort of attack. The infrastructure they've built has a lot of secrecy built into it. I am sure there are tunneling bits of it, and webs of trust, and all sorts of things.

Are there people who have infiltrated it? Certainly. Does that give them the leverage needed to compromise them? So far it seems not.

#375 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 03:07 PM:

Melissa @ 371 -

Test results came about an hour ago; standard UTI, no crystals. They gave us a week's worth of antibiotics and we'll pick up a second week's worth on Friday. Normal dog stuff, I guess, but we were used to her being pretty "easy" (except for the bilious vomiting, which we're managing with a ridiculous feeding schedule and zantac as needed) so it was a bit of a shock to find all of her bodily functions and on the wrong side of the baby gate at that.

She didn't have an accident in the house all weekend, so I'll have to see what I come home to.

#376 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 03:14 PM:

nerdycellist @375: what a relief. Hope she feels better (and stops leaving you presents) soon.

#377 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 03:17 PM:

... and here's the sneaky little ambulatory vet bill during happier, less incontinent times.

#378 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 04:16 PM:

So cute!

My tabby cat had a UTI, but he only peed in the tub. Which is, on the whole, easier. (Though I have dealt with vomiting in cats, thanks to hairballs and kidney disease.)

#379 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 05:14 PM:

Terry Karney@368: I just wanted to point out the significant Utah connection of the gun they chose. I'm not going to try to argue that choosing an official gun is not a political statement beyond honoring their native son (I think it clearly is intended as a broader political statement).

In Minnesota, I can (and have) carry while drinking in a bar or restaurant. Minnesota has adopted the IMHO extremely sensible policy of using rules similar to those for driving -- I can carry under the authority of my permit while my blood alcohol content is below .04. (Half the limit for driving, for those who don't have the numbers on speed-dial.) This seems to me infinitely more important than where I'm sitting; walking down the street drunk out of my mind and armed would be a Bad Idea, but sitting at the bar with a beer in my hand armed, and drinking that one beer over half an hour, really doesn't put anybody at any risk. (Rules of thumb for estimating BAC resulting from a string of drinks are famously inaccurate; but the simple case of one standard drink is the one they're best for, and at my body mass one standard drink shouldn't bring me particularly close to that limit. And that's where I leave it while carrying.)

I taught Utah carry courses as well as Minnesota, when I was doing that (specifically, I added a Utah section to Joel Rosenberg's version of the Mn course; had to send the content to Utah to get it approved, too). It sounds like they've liberalized things a bit.

The school thing is always a hot-button issue, because the RKBA community including me feels that allowing qualified civilians without criminal blemishes on their record to carry (essentially anywhere without very strong professional armed security presence) makes people safer (statistically), whereas prohibitionists feel that having anybody armed endangers people. There's an actual conflict of factual belief. So people who feel that school carry endangers their kids get upset, and people who feel that banning school carry endangers their kids get equally upset for exactly the same reason. (For those not familiar with the details, let me point out that carry permits are limited to people of age 21 or higher nearly everywhere; at least 18. So "school carry" is about teachers and staff, and graduate students, and adult college students; NOT about 11-year-olds!) It's interesting that most prohibitionists are not scared of armed security guards; in Minnesota, they're not required to have any more training than I am (hence, less than the total amount I actually have).

I'm neither a fan of the 1911 nor a firearms historian; but I could easily believe that several of the alternatives you mention are more historically important.

#380 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 06:16 PM:

New poodle pup here, black standard female name of Bella. Very, very smart. At nine weeks of age, already no accidents, and goes outside. I'm not absolutely saying she's completely house trained, but she is certainly very good for a pup.

And she's affectionate, lively, and bright as a button. All good.

Now if only Morgan, our aged other poodle, would socialise with her, my happiness would be complete.

#381 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 06:48 PM:

albatross @ 373 ...
Yeah, that raises a problem, though. Any form of communications is a potential vector for attack. Moving the computer with your really sensitive information off of even your local network, and moving all data by USB/sneakernet, blocks a whole large set of attacks and bad behavior. And yet, the USB drives can be used as an attack vector. Any mechanism you use to transfer data to/from that isolated machine to your networked machines will offer some chance of attack. (You can decrease the risk by buying USB drives off the shelf instead of, say, accepting them as gifts from crypto conference organizers.)

Er... that's what I was saying, although reading what I wrote again, I can see how it could be easy to misread. The intent was "no network communications, nor using things like USB drives, video cards, driver media, yada that are easy to infect".

And really, taking a machine off the net makes it more vulnerable to many attacks; keeping it patched and up-to-date on virus scanner versions goes from automatic to a massive pain in the a--, if it's even possible.

Do you actually care about that if it's not actually communicating with anything? I don't.

The general asymmetry of computer security, in which attacks are just easier than defenses, is one of those things that I think is going to have a huge impact on the world in the next 30 years, perhaps comparable to the asymmetry in information flow that arises when radios become widespread. I don't know 1% of those consequences yet, but someone looking back from 30 years in the future will be able to point out hundreds of places where it changed history.

I'm not sure that I see it as being anything new or different. It's pretty much always quicker to tear something down than it is to put it up, even with the minor caveat of wanting to try to preserve some of the contents of what you're tearing apart... (sack of $large_city, anybody?)

#382 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 09:03 PM:

381 xeger: "Do you actually care about that if it's not actually communicating with anything? I don't."

Well, no, except that the chance of it not actually communicating with anything and still being useful is incredibly low - it's just that "communication" is now USB and sneakernet and CF off your camera and...and, of course, you have to have physical security of it at all times (remember, the story is that Spc. Manning got the files of the technically "not communicating" network by pretending to listen to CDs).

And while there aren't as many attack vectors that way, and they're harder to implement, they're also harder to detect.

My Master of Orion computer (which is actually a win98 VM in my regular system) is "off the net". And it does something useful, I guess.

As my crypto professor said: "the only truly secure computer is one that has never been turned on, and is lying on it's biggest side, and used as a stepstool."

#383 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 10:23 PM:

Newest sonnet:

The newspaper asks, for Valentine’s Day, to sum
Up love in six words, and only six. I think at once
To my self of your beauty, love, caring; all from
My heart. In truth, I desire concupiscence
As well as benevolence, your strength as much
As your gentle touch; your boldness in love,
Daring to kiss me in public, to hold hands, as such
Lovers do, without care for any but each other, of
Your company in general, your delight in everything,
The way you comfort me effortlessly, without
Censure; the history you bring, without crushing
Your spirit, and then, above all, to come out
As an adult, long after one would expect such changes –
With great respect I look forward to our joint voyages.

#384 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 10:46 PM:

Mycroft W @ 382 ...
Well, no, except that the chance of it not actually communicating with anything and still being useful is incredibly low - it's just that "communication" is now USB and sneakernet and CF off your camera and...and, of course, you have to have physical security of it at all times (remember, the story is that Spc. Manning got the files of the technically "not communicating" network by pretending to listen to CDs).

... which then gets back to the standard questions about what your threat model is, and what your use case is ...

Speaking of physical security, I've run into at least one person who's been broken up with for his habit of taking the device that contains his keys with him everywhere, and always keeping it in close physical proximity ...

My Master of Orion computer (which is actually a win98 VM in my regular system) is "off the net". And it does something useful, I guess.

... which is funny, since the whole idea of things being "on the net" is so comparatively new.

As my crypto professor said: "the only truly secure computer is one that has never been turned on, and is lying on it's biggest side, and used as a stepstool."

... and ultimately, human factors are almost always more of a challenge to secure. Machines tend to be (at least mostly) deterministic. Humans OTOH...

#385 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 11:07 PM:

My dog has an endearing habit; a limited form of Postponing Pleasure.

If I give her a treat in the morning as I'm leaving for work, she doesn't touch it until I get home. When she sees I'm back for the day she gleefully tears into the rawhide / kong full of biscuits / chewie thing.


This morning, I get home to find two piles of dog heave on the carpet. They're dry, and composed of barely used kibble. In other words, she'd eaten and immediately upchucked her breakfast.

And just like the way she deals with treats I provide to her, Kira waited until I was in the door and patted her on the head to eat the piles of puke.

I wonder if she thought I'd provided the puke for her to enjoy.

#386 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2011, 11:48 PM:

ddb: I left out the various questions of the real merits/flaws of the 1911 Colt, because they aren't really relevant (unless one is actually talking about adopting an arm as a functional piece of equipment.

I will say that I think a lot of your thoughts on carry are strongly colored by the amount of training/care you have put into it. I've probably spent at least as much time around guns/training people to use them. I've probably spent less time (or at most no more) working on shoot/don't shoot training. It's colored my thinking in different ways.

I am not against private carry. I am, however, a lot less sanguine about it's second order effects. I'd seen the patterning on the part of trained shooters, people who do well on a range, when they are taking snap shots, even "aimed" shots, under stress (the Army and the LAPD have some very good simulators, as well as the LAPD having good simunitions, and a nice area to play with them).

Lets just say the amount of lead which went much further downrange than intended was significant. I think the best I've seen was about 70 percent consistent hits. That was me, and it wasn't steady. I'm probably not better than 50/50 at 25 yards with a pistol, and the same at 150 yards with a rifle. At 10 yards I'm in the 70-80 percent range, about half the time. The rest of the time, about 50/50. Stress is a huge detractor. I've seen cases where the hit rate was as low as five percent: this was without any more stress than the sense of time pressure: there was nothing which could, "kill" the soldiers doing the shooting. They did have a limited supply of ammunition.

I don't think that having an allowance of .04 (which is for most people 1/2 a drink in an hour) is that smart either. I've seen the effects of inhibition on rational thinking. I've also (when doing drug and alcohol treatment training) seen the effects of .04 on fine motor control, and the various rates at which alcohol actually leaves the system. I do know that getting in an accident (at least in Calif.) has very different effects if one is at all impaired; even if less that legally drunk.

Given the much higher rate of accident among those who are impaired, but not drunk, this doesn't make me feel all that convinced that .04 is a safe upper limit on carry.

It's not that I'm against carry (and it's certainly not that I'm against ownership. I also think the, "assault weapon" issue and magazine capacity is a bunch of red herrings). It's that I don't think the philosophical idea of "herd immunity" apply. The number of confounding variables is too high, and the nature of the damage a failure inflicts is such that states which have a growth industry in carry permits for out of state individuals makes me a lot leery, because I don't trust the people who have so great a desire to have a weapon in arms reach at all times that they will go out of state to get such a permit don't strike me as actually being good for the common welfare.

The balance is tricky, and the issues are intractable. I'm a bit on the fence, but I don't think "anywhere, anytime" is actually a good idea, because it discourages the sort of thoughtful consideration of how using a firearm actually works, which I think essential to having someone packing the sort of game changer a handgun happens to be.

#387 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 12:17 AM:

HLN: As woman opens car door, adorable little dog runs down driveway and jumps in. Knocking on neighbors' doors reveals no claimants. A trip to the nearest vet reveals no microchip. Adorable Dog rides around for hours, even to Atlanta and back, curled up against woman's leg.

Adorable Dog is now sequestered in a bathroom away from Original Dog, a cranky older corgi-chow blend named Bella. Tomorrow the signs go up in the neighborhood.

AD appears to be a whippet-chihuahua mix, clean, housetrained, and affectionate, with a new collar without tags. She has not been spayed and her claws are overdue for clipping, suggesting she is loved, but her people don't quite know how to take care of her.

#388 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 12:18 AM:

Two things:

One, to paraphrase an old New Yorker cartoon, my love for Valentine's Day is less than my love for any other day of the year.

Two, as VD goes, this one wasn't so bad. I pretty much ignored it.

#389 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 01:33 AM:

Ginger @ 383... With great respect I look forward to our joint voyages

With Gilligan,
The Skipper too.
The millionaire
And his wife,
The movie star,
The professor and Mary Ann.

#390 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 02:02 AM:

Xopher @388 -- as we were sitting down to dinner, my partner Karen commented that this was probably her best Valentine's Day ever. We had both ignored it -- treating it as just another day. That continued after the acknowledgment.

#391 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 02:14 AM:

Terry Karney... Would you know what kind of revolver could have been used in Norway during WW2? I thought I'd look that up for a novel my wife is writing.

#392 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 05:23 AM:

For me, "Valentine's Day" has a much more useful identity as "Mom's birthday". My Local Sis & I went over to talk with her and see she hasn't actually melted from the cancer treatments (though her guts might argue the point -- she's had a rough week :-( ). I got her a tote bag with Mike Ford's "Janus sonnet" on it, and one of my homemade cards.

Remote Sis will be down from the Frozen North on Wednesday for another mini-gathering.

#393 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 07:06 AM:

Happy Birthday, Abi!!!

#394 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 07:49 AM:

Serge #393: I echo that.

#395 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 08:03 AM:

Happy birthday, Abi -- hope you're managing to do something enjoyable for the occasion.

#396 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 08:53 AM:

Stefan Jones @385: The explanation is the punch line of a memorable David Letterman story from many years ago. Dave was changing anti-freeze and there was a tray of it in his driveway. The dog raced up to it and lapped it all up. Then he vomited. Dave went to get something to clean it up, and by the time he got back, well... "Dogs just aren't like you and me," he says, which pretty well explicated the ellipsis as far as I was concerned.

#397 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 09:44 AM:

ddb, re open carry in bars: the blood alcohol level of the person carrying the gun is not, in my bystander opinion, the only relevant factor in determining the potential risk to the public.

Maybe I've hung around with too many Aikido students. ("If the enemy has a weapon, then you have a weapon--if you can get it.")

#398 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 10:00 AM:

Happy birthday, Abi.

#399 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 10:03 AM:

Happy Birthday, Abi!

#400 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 10:24 AM:

Terry Karney@386: We worry about many of the same issues, certainly.

When I first started thinking about this, back when Florida was debating their shall-issue law (which makes it around 1985 I think; the law was actually adopted in 1987), I expected the level of collateral damage from civilian carry to be much higher than it seems to actually have been -- and still thought it might be worth it. With the actual problems something like an order of magnitude less than I initially expected, I've been pretty much in the mode of pushing on. Civilians seem to do much better than one could reasonably expect in the crunch. (One thing I'm pretty sure this suggests is that pushing people to carry is a horrible idea; I strongly suspect the surprisingly low damage rate is largely due to self-selection for who carries, and if that's true, then pushing more people to carry would break that.)

I'm amazed how little pressure will seriously degrade some people's performance. In the shooting qualification for the Minnesota permit, I've seen people fumbling with their weapons, especially if they get anything even as simple as a stovepipe jam (spent casing not fully ejected, and caught in the ejection port, for those not familiar with the term). There's really not much pressure (it's timed, and requires a reload, but I've seen people do it easily reloading a revolver from loose cartridges, it's not like one actually has to hurry; also, if they fail, they can re-test without paying more money).

Sounds like you've had more experience with simulators and stuff more closely approximating live-action training than I have. Not that I think the people running ordinary ranges are wrong to be fairly restrictive about what they'll let people do; but it does make it hard to find places to do anything beyond what's essentially bullseye shooting. (I can practice drawing from concealment at home, with an unloaded gun, but finding a place where you can go all the way from concealment to shooting is hard.)

There are two classes of restrictions on place/time for carry. Some places have quite real needs for higher-than-normal security, and they have their own people on duty providing it. Jails and courtrooms fall comfortably into that category for me. They're unusual environments, and they actually have much heavier security presence than random spots on the street or other buildings. Not wanting amateurs confusing the issue seems to make some sense.

Other places are described as "sensitive" because they're crowded, or have lots of children, or something. Schools, sometimes parks, sometimes sports arenas (fan conflicts may be part of the thinking when sports arenas are declared off-limits). So far as I can tell, the thinking behind these restrictions is that my having a gun endangers those around me; and while that's marginally tolerable in most venues, in the most sensitive places it's not. If that's in fact true -- then I shouldn't have a gun at all. And if it's NOT true -- then schools and parks and so forth shouldn't be deprived of the benefits of qualified armed civilians. These restrictions get to the basis of the argument.

The effects of alcohol at low levels seem to be far less than the effects of adrenaline at the levels involved in a deadly conflict, so I'm not too concerned with the alcohol effects below .04.

#401 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 10:27 AM:

Lila@397: In actual experience in the field (not solely mine, you understand), it's very very rare for civilians to be disarmed and the gun used against them or somebody else. This is most likely because we largely carry concealed. This is a concern for police a lot, and there are lots of instances of it happening to police (even though they use special retention holsters to try to minimize it). The difference, I think, is open carry, plus (huge deal) police need to approach people and secure them, whereas civilians don't. So the police MUST get close to the attacker.

#402 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 10:52 AM:

ManyOpinionsACIML: if a person who likes French and books were to set up a gmail account, do you think she should pick hername.reads or (There is no, to her eternal disappointment.)

When I settle on a name, I'd be happy to use my shiny new gmail and boring old street address* as the clearinghouse for Xopher's cranes. I'm going out of town shortly, but the post office is very good about holding my mail.

*I just typoed that as "stress." Oh, brain.

#403 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 11:07 AM:

TexAnne @ 402... Oui.

#404 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 12:01 PM:

Happy Birthday, Abi!

#405 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 12:08 PM:

Kip, #396: Sadly, the real punchline of that story is likely to be, "And a few hours later the dog was dead," unless there was an immediate trip to the vet and a stomach-pumping involved. Antifreeze is severely toxic.

#406 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 12:12 PM:

Tracie @37:

Sounds like Adorable Dog may be an Italian Greyhound

I rescued a Japanese Chin many years ago under similar circumstances...

#407 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 12:14 PM:

Joining in the birthday chorus to abi! May it have been happy when you look back on it.

#408 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 12:25 PM:

ddb: I've looked at the Florida stats, it's why I'm not all that bothered by a state issuing for it's residents.

It's the combination of aggressive agenda, and letting anyone, from anywhere, get such a permit.

A large part of my concern is with the agenda being pushed increasing the number of people who aren't as thoughtful. Yes, at present, most of them don't seem to be taking the effort, but I'm seeing a lot more people touting the ability of anyone to get a permit from Utah... which tells me the motivation is going up.

And I've done a lot of work on the issues of how aggression works, and how perceived threat leads to pre-emptive defense. That's a problem. A lot of that doesn't rise to shooting, but it does lead to a lot of people getting convicted for, "defending themselves."

I commend Marc MacYoung.

And I'm with Lila, the threat in bars isn't, per se, the impaired person who is carrying. It's the greater chance for something to go wrong, and the minor impairments of judgement to lead to things like overreaction to not-quite-yet threats.

As an aside, I think the greater number of police disarms isn't the function of open carry (even an S1, in good condition, is hard for someone who isn't the user to get clear; without being noticed, and stopped. A holster with no restraint is a different matter), it's a function of practice. A lot of cops draw their weapons well before need, which exposes them to disarming attacks.

This is a self-reinforcing loop, because the aggressor has the exposed weapon in the front of their attention, in ways they don't when the cop is being purely verbal/postural in the attempt to assert control.

Civilians tend to draw later in the situation, so that the gun is (ideally) disruptive, not structural, to the escalation.

And yeah, the amazingly low level of additional stressor needed to completely discombobulate people is boggling.

#409 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 12:52 PM:

HLN: I no longer have a fiberglass sock: replaced with adjustable pressure "boot".

I am not allowed to walk in it (though, in theory, it's built for walking). I am allowed to place some weight on it. Standing is both pleasant, and strange.

There has been some atrophy, and wasting. Today is being exhausting. It is heavier, softer, but more restrictive (though in all ways this is more comfortable). I can take it off. I soaked in the hot tub, scrubbed the dead skin, took a shower, slept.... all without anything rigid on my foot.

It's going to be a while before I am not putting my feet in a "box fort" under the covers. The swelling isn't completely down, the skin is really sensitive (not surprising, as it's had a very limited set of sensory input for a month), and some motions (e.g. pointing my toes) hurt.

I can take it off in a month, and that's about when I can start walking again. Based on how standing feels, that's going to be interesting.

#410 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 01:31 PM:

Terry Karney@408: it's strange that Utah is getting the (negative) publicity on granting permits to out-of-state people, because they're among the stricter states doing it. They require a certifying letter from a Utah-certified instructor, and they insist on reviewing and approving the material taught in the course.

I haven't gotten any of the out-of-state permits. The places I've traveled at all frequently either don't recognize any other permits, or else already recognize the Minnesota one.

I can get a New Hampshire permit by sending them $20 (and evidence of my Minnesota permit) (and it's good in one of the Dakotas that my Mn permit isn't, so there's even a reason I might do so).

Florida and Utah have the biggest list of states with reciprocity, and the Florida standards are much laxer than Utah. What they want is a very general letter from an instructor saying we've taught the students the basic requirements, and they don't have any method of checking out the instructors. Or, they'll accept any armed forces honorable discharge as evidence of competence. I think quite a few people get through a hitch in the forces with less relevant firearms experience than I've had (time shooting a tank gun, or a rifle at 300 yards, or throwing grenades, doesn't teach too much relevant to civilian carry) (obviously some, in some specialties, get a LOT more), and I'm virtually certain that they teach nothing about the issues of carrying and using deadly force as a civilian. I signed people off for Minnesota, Utah, and Florida after my courses. They knew quite a lot about Minnesota and Utah law, rather less about Florida (and I taught nothing at all about other states that honored any of those permits; I did teach the supreme importance of doing their research before carrying in any of them). (Florida and Utah were the leaders in number of states that recognize their permits last I checked.)

I have the impression people practice lifting weapons out of S3 holsters while sitting around in prison (without props, obviously). I've certainly seen people demonstrate it live (planned demo, not actual disarm). I haven't worked on the skill myself, but the technique was not hard. Police practice of drawing earlier may well be relevant. I think their need to approach to secure the criminal at the end is a big part of it, myself.

@409: Congratulations on progress. Being able to scrub off the dead skin and such would I expect significantly improve quality of life! Good luck with walking, when it comes to that.

#411 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 01:43 PM:

Lee @405: I know. Toxic, and very sweet, apparently, to dogs. Only Dave didn't say anything about a subsequent punch line where his dog curled up its toes right after the funny part, so perhaps it pitched it once more and that time it stayed out.

#412 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 01:50 PM:

And the antidote to antifreeze is alcohol.

I already knew that, but was reminded of it yesterday when I went in to apply for a grain alcohol permit--that's one of the listed uses.

#413 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 02:09 PM:

albatross @252: This Greenwald piece

Sweet Creation. I read this stuff, and I just want to hide under my rock and tremble.

#414 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 02:11 PM:

Happy Birthday, abi! Abi-t dies (that's Latin, folks, I'm not saying abi dies), so have fun while it's still here.

Bright, bright blessings of the day, and many more to come, dear friend.

#415 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 02:52 PM:

Serge, Fragano, Patrick, Lizzy, Melissa, Raphael, Tom, and Xopher:

Thank you for the birthday wishes.

It's been a good day. It started when Alex came into my study and sat on my lap before breakfast, not because he remembered it was my birthday (he didn't), but because he loves me that much every day.

I went to work, bringing ten boxes of cookies (three types: oatmeal, snickerdoodles, and chocolate drop cookies). A bunch of my colleagues had a pleasant time standing around ranking the three types and arguing with each others' preferences. I brought some to teams we interface with, and got useful information in exchange. I caught the shyest of my team sneaking off for yet another one; she smiled more openly at me than she usually does. I brought ten empty boxes home.

The workday was good. We had a couple of useful and productive meetings. I learned that Polish has three words for "if" with varying implications of probability, and that my goal of drinking enough vodka to impress my colleagues on that business trip was achieved. A bunch of things went horribly wrong, some of which I sorted out and some of which I will sort out tomorrow. All of this is ammunition for my quest to take over my boss's job. And I have almost forgotten the mental image of my development counterpart hopping like a rabbit in pursuit of the role of Bad News Bunny of the day.

Then I came home to a delicious dinner (beef stew and garlic bread), some very nice presents, a well-timed parcel from Pendrift, and a chocolate cake.

And now I am writing back to everyone who wished me a happy birthday.

What a contrast to last year, when I was mortally depressed and feeling trapped in a suddenly de-skilled job! (Though I did like having the visit to Brooklyn to look forward to then.)

#416 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 02:56 PM:

abi @ 415... Alex came into my study and sat on my lap before breakfast, not because he remembered it was my birthday (he didn't), but because he loves me that much every day


#417 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 03:08 PM:

I'm late, I'm late ...


#418 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 03:20 PM:

Hau'oli lā hānau, abi!

#419 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 03:26 PM:

Kip W #411

Toxic, and very sweet, apparently, to dogs

To people, too. In 1937 a company used diethylene glycol as a solvent to make a liquid form of sulfanilamide, the new antibacterial wonder drug. It dissolved sulfanilamide better than water or alcohol would, and had pleasant smell, taste, and consistency. In those days most people weren't as familiar with diethylene glycol as we are now, and the chemist who designed the preparation didn't realize that it would also
destroy your kidneys.

More than 100 people died. The manager of the company denied all responsibility. The chemist committed suicide. The end result was laws requiring pre-marketing safety tests for medications.

#420 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 03:26 PM:

Happy birthday, Abi!

#421 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 03:31 PM:

Am I the only person who gets a twitchy feeling when hearing people talking about concealed carry as if it's something they NEED to do, all the time, and don't feel right without?

#422 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 03:44 PM:

Serge @391

I don't know about the Norwegian civilian market for revolvers, but the two military pistols I'd expect to be around would be a version of the Nagant M1895 revolver, which was replaced by a license-built version of the M1911 Colt .45 ACP.

This page has an outline of the use of pistols by the Norwegian Police.

I do some writing of stories set in the 1930s, and there are a lot of obscure small calibre pistols in Europe. Calibres such as .25ACP and .32ACP are commonplace.

#423 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 03:58 PM:

HLN: Man discovers, to his surprise, that some warmed-over leftovers from the previous day taste better than the original meal had tasted. (Probably because heating them all up together led to a richer and tastier broth than preparing them separately.)

#424 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 04:15 PM:

Happy Birthday Abi!

#425 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 04:18 PM:

I made it into the church local to my office this lunchtime. Candle officially lit for Xopher, and one or two other people I know in need of it.

#426 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 04:30 PM:

Lee@421: No, of course you're not. I have seen levels of compulsiveness in that area that worried me, too.

But, let me try to lay this out from the RKBA point of view, which I generally share.

Do you get a twitchy feeling if you're in a moving car without your seat-belt fastened? Are you nervous from the time you notice one of your home fire-extinguishers is due for inspection or recharging, until it's returned certified for use? Does the idea of not having health insurance, or car insurance, or home insurance, really bother you? When did you last test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors?

Well, some of us regard firearms as important to our safety in the same way: they're vitally necessary in infrequent but tremendously serious situations (so infrequent that I may well go my whole life without encountering one).

I don't fasten my seat-belt only when I think I'm about to do something dangerous; I fasten it all the time, because I know that quite a lot of danger happens outside of my control (and I try to avoid doing dangerous things in my car). (In fact, I'm required by law to wear that seat-belt these days, and to maintain car and house insurance.) (No, wait, actually the house insurance is required by contract with my mortgage company, not by law.) I don't bring in fire extinguishers and smoke alarms only during the heating season, or only when deep-frying, or whatever; I keep them around all the time, because I don't know when something might catch fire.

The reaction to not being belted in in a car is learned; it's something I remember deliberately training myself for. I suspect one thing you sometimes see with some people working on carry is that they're training themselves to do it regularly, and therefore being particularly absolutist about it. It'd be smarter to explain that, rather than giving other people the explanation you give yourself, but not everybody will think of that at the time.

For us, firearms are another emergency tool. We get twitchy without our basic set of emergency tools. (I use the flashlights a lot more often; though usually just as a minor convenience, not a life-saving tool.)

(I'm trying to get across how things look from over here. This post isn't particularly about convincing anybody of anything beyond that.)

#427 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 04:35 PM:

Happy birthday, abi!

#428 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 04:37 PM:

Dave Bell @ 422... Thanks!

#429 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 04:51 PM:

TexAnne... Speaking of cranes for Xopher, think he'd want Captain Crane? Provided the latter stays away from radioactive material, he's not likely to turn into a werewolf.

#430 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 04:52 PM:


The story is expanding. One of the creepy bits, to me, is the movement of people between military and spy agencies to private companies, which then offer their services to other private companies, and to political activist groups of the right kinds, and perhaps also still to government. This is how you build up an interwoven network of power across all parts of our society. People bound by ties of loyalty and owed favors and future employment across the organizational charts of their employers. People who can be gone to to get a news story spiked, or a contract with an annoying group canceled, or a bit of extra equipment of unstated origin hooked into a client's network, or a case dropped by a prosecutor or a regulator, or some medical or financial records looked up quietly, or....

#431 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 06:16 PM:

albatross #430: Given recent developments in politics, I had kind of assumed there were some folks around specializing in such things; In the wake of Blackwater, I'm unsurprised to find some of those wrapped in a corporation. And also unsurprised to find that they're not really smarter than the rest of us, just less principled.

#432 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 06:23 PM:

Also, Happy Birthday Abi, and congrats to Terry on ongoing healing!

#433 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 06:26 PM:

Happy birthday Abi!

(I'm hoping that due to time differences this posts while it still actually is your birthday. But Murphy will no doubt have his say.)

ObGoogleTranslate: The babelfish tells me that the Dutch for 'Happy Birthday' is...'Happy Birthday'. Which seems unlikely...

#434 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 06:30 PM:

Happy Birthday abi!

#435 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 06:30 PM:


Hartelijk gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag.

(that came from Yahoo answers. hope it's right!)

#436 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 06:41 PM:

ddb: Do you get a twitchy feeling if you're in a moving car without your seat-belt fastened? Are you nervous from the time you notice one of your home fire-extinguishers is due for inspection or recharging, until it's returned certified for use? Does the idea of not having health insurance, or car insurance, or home insurance, really bother you? When did you last test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors?

Yes. But none of my friends have been killed by seat belts, fire extinguishers, insurance policies, or smoke or CO detectors.

To date, I've had 3 friends, the spouse of a friend and the parent of a friend killed by handguns--all in the hands of people who had the legal right to own them and no history of violent crime, right up until they pulled the trigger. I realize I'm an outlier, but I think this sort of experience is as relevant as the other sort.

I believe this constitutes my monthly quota on this topic, so I'll talk about something else for the rest of the thread.

#437 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 06:46 PM:

praisegod barebones@433

The babelfish tells me that the Dutch for 'Happy Birthday' is...'Happy Birthday'

I can speak Dutch now! Who knew? :-)

#438 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 06:48 PM:

On Valentine's Day: Katie and I have always pretty much ignored it, because we think of February 26th as one of our anniversaries (our first date) and that sucks all the air away from the 14th.

I know that it's no longer abi's birthday where she is, but I want to add a slightly belated "happy" as well.

Terry Karney@409: I ruptured the Achilles tendon in my right leg, in summer of 2000. This put me in non-weight-bearing cast for six weeks, and a walking cast for six more. Even now my right calf muscle is still slightly but noticeably smaller than the left. I found that physical therapy was worthwhile.

#439 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 07:21 PM:

ddb, #426: Bluntly, you have not convinced me of anything except that I have damn good reason to feel twitchy. Concealed carry is absolutely NOT in the same category with seatbelts or fire extinguishers or insurance policies. You'd stand a better chance of making your case if you were talking about guns in the home.

More specifically:

Do you get a twitchy feeling if you're in a moving car without your seat-belt fastened?
Maybe, mildly. I do have the automatic "fasten seat belt before starting to drive" habit, but I can override it -- and have done so, under some very specific circumstances, without feeling unsafe.

Are you nervous from the time you notice one of your home fire-extinguishers is due for inspection or recharging, until it's returned certified for use?
No. This is not something I monitor closely. At the moment, I know that the fire extinguisher in the garage does need recharging, but that's fairly unusual.

Does the idea of not having health insurance, or car insurance, or home insurance, really bother you?
Heh. Health insurance is a BAD comparison to make in this instance. My partner and I haven't been able to afford it for... well, since I moved here. Yeah, it bothers me to be on the Republican Health Plan for People Who Don't Matter, but I have to live with the options I've got. Car insurance is legally required in Texas, so that's not an issue. Home insurance... I wouldn't want not to have it, but I've known plenty of people who didn't, and I didn't think there was anything wrong with them.

When did you last test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors?
They get checked roughly once a year, when we happen to think about it. We certainly don't think about them every day, or fret about them when we're not nearby.

There are some people for whom concealed carry is a necessary measure -- bank or jewelry couriers, for super-obvious example. But if you, as J. Random Guyonthestreet in a normal city environment, don't feel safe without having a gun strapped to your side... I don't feel real safe around you.

Oh, and I don't carry a flashlight around with me all the time either, or even an umbrella.

#440 ::: V's Herbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 07:57 PM:

TexAnne- thanks for volunteering your address! You don't happen to live in Austin, do you? We could get together and have corporate crane folding!

#441 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 08:00 PM:

Happy Birthday Abi!

#442 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 08:17 PM:

Lee #421: You are not. I knew an idiot once who cured me once and for all (he died because he believed guns were magic wands; what he died of was blunt force trauma, with five bullets still in his S & W .38, it's amazing what a crowd of people can do to you).

#443 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 08:25 PM:


Local couple acquires notional pet of species "Nonce"

(She said we were done cooking for the nonce. I pointed out that we were done cooking for ourselves, too. It devolved. She is now threatening that if I do not remember to feed it and clean its bowl, she will call the ASPCN.)

#444 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 08:32 PM:

Lila @436 said: I believe this constitutes my monthly quota on this topic [gnus, their use and control], so I'll talk about something else for the rest of the thread.

You remind me of something my English 102 professor said something very useful to us, the first day of class.

During the syllabus rundown, right after telling us how many papers would be due during the semester, he said, "And you get to pick your topics." At the ripple of pleased relief, he interrupted, "But I want to tell you right now, there are three topics that are completely banned. And not just from this class -- banned for the rest of your academic career."

"Those topics are gun control, abortion, and marijuana legalization. Why? Not because I don't want you to write controversial, difficult, emotional papers -- I do. But because those topics are so incredibly over-picked by students every single semester, that despite my best efforts to judge you on your own merits, I can't help but grade YOUR paper, subconsciously, against the ones making the same arguments from past years. And no matter how good a writer you are, I seriously doubt YOUR paper is going to be the SINGLE BEST paper on whatever that I've ever seen."

"So pick something else. Wow me. If nothing else, choosing a topic or an argument I've never seen before will keep me from being bored, and I'm not going to pretend that doesn't subconsciously affect the grade you'll get, too."

Then, as an example of building a controversial, solid, argumentative paper, he gave us eight really good arguments for why telling our kids Santa is real leads to street crime down the line. :->

#445 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 08:52 PM:

Happy (belated) Birthday, abi!

#446 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 08:53 PM:

V's Herbie, 440: Alas, I moved away from Austin...oh dear, almost ten years ago! *sob* But there are other Fluorospherians in Austin, and also in Houston and Dallas.

#447 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 09:07 PM:

Hi all -- I have not been back here in a while and apologies if this has already been mentioned, but Kirill Yuryevitch Eskov's The Last Ring-Bearer seems like something you will mostly want to know about. In case it is not already old news.

#448 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 09:43 PM:

I never feel safe around anyone, even someone I know I can trust, if they have a gun.

I never feel safe around a gun, period.

This is not a phobia. It is a completely rational response.

Anyone who feels safe in the presence of a firearm (yea, even to an allegedly unloaded firearm) is kidding hirself.

The presence of firearms is not safe. Period, paragraph, ever. And I learned that from the guy who taught me to shoot one.

#449 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 10:56 PM:

Lori #406: Adorable looks a lot like those Italian greyhounds -- same size, shape, weight and color. No response yet on the signs. After much whining and scratching, she ended up sleeping with me last night. Today she got a sweater because she shivers so much outside. She and Bella met in the yard this afternoon and no one snarled or barked. I'm afraid if I don't find her people, I'm doomed. Doooooomed!

#450 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 11:08 PM:

Belated happy bday, Abi! I highly value your tenure here.

#451 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 11:09 PM:

Tracie, 449: I've been privileged to know a couple of Italian greyhounds. There are worse dooms than being their person.

#452 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 11:14 PM:

AKICOML: I have just heard that a former online friend from Baen's Bar has died, with a book in her hand, and wondered if anyone in Houston might have seen her obituary or death notice? Her name was Pogo, Pam Poggiani in real life; Lady Melusine Whitcroft the Petite in the SCA.

We knew her as our Library; she had all the answers, in the World Before Google.

#453 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 11:22 PM:

Ginger, 452: I'm sorry for your loss. Do you know when it happened? I couldn't find anything in the Houston Chronicle obits.

#454 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 11:28 PM:

TxAnne @453: The sketchy information I have suggested that she was found dead last Saturday. I haven't found anything either, but it sometimes takes a while to get information online.

It's funny, isn't it, how much of a community we become online, how real we all are to each other. I never met Pogo in real life, although we almost connected in San Antonio (her car broke down that weekend).

#455 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 11:36 PM:

Sat 2/12? I'll ask my mom to keep an eye on the dead-tree version, if you like.

#456 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 11:45 PM:

A sergeant told me once, back in the day,
That firearms have a curious property:
They kill. Perhaps they kill you, maybe me,
Or maybe it's somebody far away
Just minding their own business. You might say
The thing is mad. It doesn't care, you see.
It simply kills. An accident? Maybe.
It doesn't care. It does it anyway.

So treat it like it's mad. Like it'll try
To kill you for no reason, or for sport.
As if it loads itself, just on the sly,
So it can kill you, or a passer-by,
Or anyone at all. It's mad. It ought
To be locked up. Too right. Dead set, I thought.

To which I add only this: I am the citizen of a nation where nobody may lawfully carry a concealed weapon of any type; where only licenced security guards and the police may carry handguns in public; where automatic or self-loading firearms of any type whatsoever are unlawful, period; and where the use and carriage of other firearms for any purpose whatsoever is very much restricted, and does not include or assume any right to carry firearms in expectation of self-defence or defence of property.

I believe I understand the historical circumstances that led to the gun protocols of the US. I understand that it is not possible to effectively prevent Americans from obtaining and carrying firearms of practically any kind - the only real limiting factor appears to be cost. I understand that the right to carry firearms of all types is very deeply identified by most Americans with their personal and political rights, and is culturally unassailable.

I can only remark that this was one of the main reasons why I was distinctly uncomfortable in the US, and will be reluctant to return.

#457 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2011, 11:59 PM:

Ginger, #452: I haven't heard a word -- which surprises me, because she was on the ApolloCon concom and I'd have expected something to come across that mailing list.

I didn't have much to do with her; she was a TPer of the IGMJFY variety, so we had nothing at all in common outside of ApolloCon. But if I do hear anything I'll post it.

#458 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 12:05 AM:

Lee -- mind unpacking the acronyms? Googling on one gives too many possibilities, on the other gives none.

#459 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 12:21 AM:

TxAnne @455: That's what I heard, and thanks!

Lee @457: I knew she was on the Apollo concom, and I figured someone would eventually hear something from somewhere. Since I left the Bar long before the Tea Party began, I had no idea she'd gone down that road -- but all kinds of people have joined. One of my cousins -- a smart guy, hard-working and financially successful -- has become a Tea Partier too. I've had to block his facebook posts from view to keep my blood pressure down.

#460 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 12:29 AM:

Sorry for your loss, Ginger. As for having friends that one never meets, well, such is the heart that distance doesn't matter as much as it could.

#461 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 12:40 AM:

TexAnne - My thanks as well for volunteering to the bet Great Crane Recipient. Jacque and I have, as previously mentioned, a certain number of cranes folded that is more than 20 and less than 100. Jacque, will we be getting together for another folding session before we mail these, do you think?

Xopher! Best wishes and prayers and lots of energy being sent your way. Along with the cranes. Also, you should watch this video of a katamari rolling up 1000 cranes because it is awesome.

We took some pictures at our first craning session. What should we do with them? I am thinking of uploading them to flickr under a specific tag, like "Cranes4Xopher," so you can find them all at once. Or add them to a group, if a Flickr group can be set up. Anyone got Opinions?


Because I promised Serge: It's an Open Thread, so that means I have to announce that Ellen Datlow's anthology that includes my short story will be out in September. Now you know as much as I know.

Also, I just submitted another short story to a different anthology, and am feeling rather sparkly about it. I have credible information that fellow Viable Paradise alum Zak Jarvis has done the same. Go team VP!

#462 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 12:44 AM:

Re carry: I have a varied feeling about carrying firearms. I am not bothered by having one, nor all that bothered by not having one.

I've been in war zones.

I live in a part of town where the sound of gunfire isn't completely unkown (in the past three months I've heard about a dozen instances of gunfire. In the past year I don't know how many. I did hear what was either a couple of people engaging in a heated firefight, or a lot of celebratory shooting).

There was a homicide by gun across the street, and three doors down about nine months back, at about nine in the evening.

I don't feel intrinsically unsafe around them. Then again, I have slept with them in my arms (basic training, and the aforementioned war zones). I have, at times, felt more comfortable for knowing I had one, and the means to load it, in arms reach. Those were usually nights of extreme moodiness, and a bit of flashback (see above, re combat zones)

They are a tool. They are a tool of limited utility, and most of the utility they have, I think, comes from being visible. I don't think the diamond courier, etc. needs one, esp. not concealed. The diamond store clerk, maybe.

I think, actually, if he is any good at his job, the gun is detrimental to the courier. He wants to be unknown. If he is known to be carrying diamonds, he is not going to get any benefit from gun. The thief will either shoot him outright, or have a weapon in hand, at which point the utility of the gun is greatly diminished.

The guys who need guns, need them to be seen. The armored car runner, he needs a gun. Not because he is going to be able to use it against the skilled/intelligent thief (sometime when you want to hear about stupid, buy me a drink and ask me about armed guards, and the things I see, and how they've not gotten any better in the past 25 years).

I do believe in the right to keep and bear arms. I, however, believe in it for the reason so many people scoff. If we ever decide we need to have a revolution again, that's when the weapons are needed. Which means I am in favor of, "assault weapons" and .30 caliber rifles. Pistols, overrated. What they are good for is shooting up post offices, workplaces, and shopping malls.

They are fun, but I don't really think they do squat for "self-defense", because the real meat of the matter lies elsewhere. It wasn't guns which cleaned up New York City, and it's not the presence of them which keeps Bozeman, Montana safe. It's other factors, and the Bernie Goetzes of the world don't make me feel better.

Because I don't think I can really add anything else to this, I'm going to drop it for now.

#463 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:27 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers), Linkmeister, Benjamin Wolfe, Ginger, albatross, David Harmon, praisegod barebones, Michael I, Steve C, David Goldfarb, Soon Lee, Laina and Clifton Royston:

Thank you for the birthday wishes, which do not go stale.

Steve C is correct that "Hartelijk gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag" is the usual Dutch birthday wish. It means "Hearty congratulations on your birthday," and is usually delivered with a handshake and three kisses on the cheek.

Relatives of the "Jarige Job" (birthday Job*; I know not the reason for the term) area also congratulated, presumably for putting up with the celebrant for a whole year.

* Huh. That's a third word that's pronounced differently if it's capitalized.

#464 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:53 AM:

Xopher @448: I never feel safe around a gun, period. This is not a phobia. It is a completely rational response.

Well, if you want to get rational about it, then: A completely rational person, free from any and all forms of cognitive bias, would never feel entirely safe at any point, ever. Because even in the absence of guns, there are chicken bones to choke on, bathtubs to slip in, furniture to stumble against, asteroids to be crushed by, etc. I saw a photo once of an apartment building that had partially collapsed after a car had crashed into it; sometimes, at night, I wonder what it'd be like if that happened to my building while I was sleeping.

#465 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 07:20 AM:

Nicole @ 461... I just submitted another short story to a different anthology, and am feeling rather sparkly about it

Glad to hear! And let us know when you have more news about Datlow's antho.

#466 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 08:01 AM:

So, does anyone else think that Gizmodo and io9 and the other websites in the Gawker group did a stinky redesign?

#467 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 09:04 AM:

Ginger, about Pogo: My mom says she didn't find an obit, but she also pointed out that it costs a fortune to put one in. Do you know where she lived? There might be a local weekly.

#468 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 09:21 AM:

In case interested readers here didn't know, Peter Watts is in the hospital having suffered necrotising fasciitis.
His post here: Peter Watts
He is getting better. Perhaps Jim can fill us all in on signs to watch for.

#469 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 09:39 AM:

Sounds like we're down to people having different opinions and perhaps somewhat varying facts (in the firearms discussion). I don't need to re-state anything at the moment, and don't really want to try to go up to the next level of detailed argument, so the thread can be done so far as I'm concerned.

With one slight exception...

Lila@436: That's a terrible list of close deaths, certainly. My sympathies.

#470 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 09:44 AM:

Ginger, sorry for your loss.

#471 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 09:45 AM:

Constance, may your natal anniversary be truly felicitous.

#472 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 10:28 AM:

TxAnne @ 467: Thanks for having her look -- I suppose the Concom or ReadAssist groups would have an address for her. I don't recall where she lived, because it's been so long since I was even in Texas and I've lost the contact information I had.

#473 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 11:00 AM:

Tom #458:

Does taking the fourth letter and sliding it along to sixth place help? I've seen the phrase both ways.

#474 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 11:34 AM:

Steve C @ #466 -

I agree. And it keeps getting worse - not only do I have to toggle to blog view, the words "blog view" no longer appear next to the toggle icon. When the banner ad covers up the top story, I have no idea what view I'm looking at. Furthermore, if I want to read a full article or comments, I have to click into that article and then reload, since it never loads more than a greyed-out article in the first place.

I'm certain that for Gawker media these are Features rather than Bugs. Guaranteeing that someone will look at your ad, and then doubling page-views must look good to advertisers. It does mean that I look at the pages less frequently, which is not a threat or a boycott, but just the natural reaction to the content no longer being worth the aggravation of trying to access it. I no longer read any of the Gawker sites at home, and now only when I'm super-bored at work.

#475 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 12:18 PM:

Michael @437

Started on prose yet?

#476 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 12:49 PM:

xeger #381: (Re threat models)

I'm imagining someone who's not a serious security expert, trying to run a newspaper or an activist group or an investigative blog, without being easy to penetrate to the level of some target of the investigation/activism reading his emails, his calendar, his contacts, his notes, and his draft stories or posts or whatever. Doing that requires that he be able to move information into/out of his secure machine.

The first question is, how does he move the information to/from the secure machine? That's the place he'll want to keep data he doesn't want leaking out. But either it's on the network, or it's sneaker-netted. Either way, there's a potential path to attack it, and a potential channel to move information back off when you've taken the machine over. (Assuming you don't want to just vandalize the guy's machine or corrupt his files or something.)

I'm assuming he's moving files onto his secure machine--PDFs, Word docs, Excel docs, text files, etc. And he's using USB drives, or CD-RWs, or floppy drives, or a network connection of some kind to do the moving. Both of those mean that up-to-date virus signatures and patches to applications are necessary, to avoid the threat that you (the attacker) can slip something to him that takes over his secure machine, and listens for further commands.

I can think of stuff I'd do to make such attacks harder. Anything that moves me away from standard configurations makes my attacker's life harder[1], in fact, since he'll want to use off the shelf attack tools if possible, and since someone is charging by the hour for time wasted figuring out what the hell my internal network looks like, what program I'm using to view PDFs, etc.

But given competent attackers vs competent defenders, the attackers are going to win given a bit of time and resources. In general, there are *dozens* of paths to attack your computers (local network, USB drives, Bluetooth, DVDs, backdoors in installed, widely-used programs, file type vulnerabilities, etc.) and millions of possible techniques, and you only have to leave one open to be vulnerable. It's really hard not to leave one open. To even close most of them, you end up doing a lot of extra work, not able to get access to some things you want to be able to read or use (hey, this PDF file *needs* Javascript execution to be meaningful), spending a lot of time burning files to a CD-RW and walking them across the room to the secure machine, etc.

People who live with classified systems, or with systems trying to do a decent job of medical privacy, will tell you how quickly this all gets damned tedious, and how often it gets in the way of your work.

[1] Though if I'm, say, running a uranium processing operation or a Tibetan expatriates' newsletter, the attacker will care enough to learn my configuration and adapt his attack to it. Obviously, few journalists or activists have attackers anything like that dedicated. Though if I were involved with Wikileaks, I'd assume I did have attackers that serious. And if I were Glenn Greenwald, just now, I'd also be wondering whether I had attackers that serious.

#477 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 12:54 PM:

Tom, #458: Ginger has decoded the first acronym. The other one is "I've got mine, Jack, fuck you." As noted by joann @473, different people use slightly different versions of the phrase -- I've also heard it both the way she suggests and as FYJIGM. Googling the latter does bring up enough results to suggest the decoding, so apparently my version is less-preferred.

#478 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:07 PM:

Steve Halter @468: Go here for more information.

#479 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:09 PM:

Terry Karney @ 462... when you want to hear about stupid, buy me a drink and ask me about armed guards

Would the promise of a drink suffice?

#480 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:10 PM:

One useful trick is to use an intermediate computer, running say BSD off a live-CD. It starts clean with each boot, and can't alter its boot state. You mount the thumb drive (no auto-execute) and scan everything with your virus scanner (trying to make it hard for the attackers to use off-the-shelf components).

Open the word documents in open office and re-save as RTF. Cut and paste the PDF to RTF. Set aside anything that's really terribly hard to read for later. Write your copies to the other thumb drive, remove them, reboot, mount the second one, scan again, and THEN take it over to your real computer.

No, it's not foolproof, or genius-proof. Yes, it's significant extra effort. You could hire an assistant to help with the extra effort -- thus opening another attack vector.

Those things that were hard to read -- try them in your Windows virtual machine on the clean system. If they're important, you can probably cut and paste the text off again.

You can even browse the web from a similar clean system.

#481 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:18 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 458: IGMJFY unpacks for me into "I Got Mine Jack, F- You". I have to say I would never have expected Pogo to become a Tea Partier of that type.

#482 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:19 PM:


ISTM that the unhealthiness of various bits of our society is relatively easy to see[0]--lots of stuff isn't working as you'd like it to, there are lots of places where fairly obviously right decisions aren't being made for internal politics reasons, where powerful people are lining their pockets or screwing over the peasants, where things are getting worse for many people, where critical societal mechanisms are visibly not working right.

But what's not so easy to see is why. When confronted with visible society-wide brokenness, different people, with different starting positions, diagnose it differently. Very often, they[1] diagnose it based on their prior beliefs. If they started out believing that Christianity was the basis of goodness in our society, then they'll see lots of evidence that the core problem is Christianity's falling influence. If they started out believing that the core problem of society was the rich screwing the poor, then they're likely to find plenty of evidence that this is the problem. And on down the line: declining trust in authority, media consolodation, racism, big oil, immigrants, feminists, the military-industrial complex, the Jews, the Catholics, labor unions, gays, the mafia, the cops, whatever. All powerful groups will sometimes act badly, members of any hated minority will include a few with extreme bad behavior of various kinds, etc., so there's always enough evidence to convince me that the people I started out hating are indeed responsible for the problems I see.

And that makes it easy for the same observable reality to drive people in weirdly different directions. Alice sees the horrible failures of the last decade, and concludes that the problem is Fox News, talk radio, and the Koch brothers. Bob sees the same failures, and concludes that the problem is the liberal media, the gay agenda, and the War on Christmas. Carol sees scary increases in government size and power behind these problems. Dave sees scary levels of deregulation and handing over the reigns to the rich and powerful at the base of the same problems. And so each of those four people is pushed toward activism in very different directions, by the same observations about reality. The system is failing, so Alice goes to antiwar rallies and sends money to the ACLU and votes Democrat, while Bob goes to tea party rallies and sends money to Focus on the Family and votes for Tea Party Republicans. And the more they do those different things, the more they get selected, filtered evidence that supports that set of beliefs.

It's damned hard to avoid a feedback effect w.r.t. media re-enforcing your prior beliefs, even to the point of spiraling off into truly nutty ideas. (Ever talked to someone convinced that Sharia law was right around the corner here in the US? Or that the UN was about to grab all our guns?) That's one reason I prefer to be a bit of an outlier in online communities, and to read/listen to a wide variety of views. It's even harder to try to devise honest tests of the hypotheses that you've become convinced of, though it's useful to do so. (Writing the predictions down and looking later is really helpful. My predictions of how much worse the Bush administration would get were too pessimistic; my predictions of how bad the Obama administration would be were pretty close, so far. The model that says "powerful people act to keep and expand their power" explains more of the world than the model that says "liberal constitutional law professors care deeply about limiting government's powers," alas.)

[0] There are times I feel like the evening news should be set to the tune of the Lynyrd Skynyrd song "That Smell."

[1] We, since I do this too.

#483 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:47 PM:

From the ApolloCon mailing list:

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Pogo (Pam Poggiani). She passed away in her home last Saturday, a victim of cardiac arrest.

Pogo has been active in Houston fandom for many years, and here at ApolloCon for several. Her work on the Con Newsletter was invaluable, and we will miss her passionate advocacy for science fiction.

ApolloCon will be sending condolences, and will most likely make some sort of donation in her name.

#484 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:51 PM:

Open-thready Massachusetts-local news: I was just saddened to hear that Bob Slate is closing its stores in March. They've been my default stationery supply shop for many years, and a place I'd often just stop by to browse in a general toy store way.

Assuming no one steps in to buy them out (and they are still for sale), does anyone have favorite alternatives they can suggest? I'd even take non-local or internet options, but the closer and more physical the place the happier I'll be.

#485 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:51 PM:


#486 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:57 PM:

I heard about Bob Slate closing over the weekend - I'm bummed. I've loved going there for years, and they got me in to fountain pens back in 2004 or so.

In terms of other stores in the Boston area, it depends what you're looking for. If you're a fellow fountain pen user, Bromfield Pen Company in downtown Boston is a good option, but I don't know of any other stationers on Bob Slate's level. The art supply stores around are not bad, but they're a pale shadow of the absolute awesome that is Bob Slate.

Since I now live out in Berkeley, I think I'll ask a friend back in Boston for a favor once their closing sale starts at the end of the month. I'm still really bummed though... and I won't be back in Boston until the third week of March.

#487 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 01:59 PM:

Another useful security method (slightly less secure than sneakernet, but a lot less hassle) is simply a physically interruptible link between the secure computer and everything else. IOW, plug in the network cable, download patches, transfer files, unplug the network cable.

#488 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 02:07 PM:

Completely separately from my previous post, except to capitalize on the posting momentum, I'm going to push past the I'm-only-an-occasional-name-online-and-why-should-they-care-what-I-say reluctance to blurt:

Xopher: My best wishes and general good thoughts.

Abi: Happy birthday!

To each of sisuile and Ginger: I'm sorry for your loss.

#489 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 02:46 PM:

I don't like "concealed carry" because it means the people carrying the hidden weapons are liars.

Liars can't be trusted. A person carrying a hidden weapon cannot be trusted. The only rational assumption in regard to hidden weapons is that the person carrying said weapon is a dangerous person and a Bad Guy.

What the "Concealed Carry" advocates are saying, in effect, is that they have a "right to ambush".

Working as a security guard, I've dealt a couple of times with people who were doing the Open Carry thing. And other than an initial "Oh, he's got a pistol on his hip," that's never been a problem. The weapon is out there, it's visible, you know you're dealing with someone who's chosen to carry a weapon. And if the person carrying openly isn't an obvious asshole (they haven't been), it's not a biggie.

I worry more -- a LOT more -- about the push to carry concealed, to make it easier for ANYONE to carry hidden weapons ANYWHERE.

Here in Arizona, that's exactly what's trying to be done. Required classes for a concealed carry permit? Gone. A push to legalize hidden weapons in schools, churches and bars? Being pushed hard.

That last part especially, being allowed to have hidden weapons in bars, is the one that really gets to me. ("In bars? What? No. No! Fuck no! What the fuck is wrong with you? ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE?!")

The property where I work is a new one, opening stores and venues bit by bit. One large, popular bar opened about six months ago, another about a month ago.

Both bars are asshole factories. They overserve, they don't cut customers off when they're obviously past a reasonable limit, and they shove their troublemakers out the door for the property's regular security (like me) to deal with.

The idea that these jerks, these morons, these drunken assholes, should not only be allowed to carry hidden weapons, but should be ENCOURAGED to carry hidden weapons? Fuck that. Fuck it sideways. Why is ANYBODY letting such crazy shit come out of their mouths?

Back up in post #330, I alluded to a fight between two of those drunken assholes that happened a few nights ago. A bad fight. One of the worst fights I've ever seen. Both of them out for blood, and if their friends hadn't been piling on and trying to keep them pulled apart, that blood would have been spilled. (And as it was, one of the women trying to pull them apart got an elbow to the head, with a black eye and cut resulting.)

The fight was between two guys, who I'll call Blue Shirt and Pink Shirt. Mr. Pink Shirt was the relatively sane one; it was only taking one or two of his friends to keep him from diving back into direct combat.

Mr. Blue Shirt? He was absolutely bugfuck. There were three guys trying to hold onto him, and he was still lurching and lunging all over the sidewalk, dragging them with him, his eyes bulging, veins standing out. He was stone-cold crazy with rage.

Mr. Pink Shirt wanted to beat the hell out of Blue Shirt. But Mr. Blue Shirt wanted to kill Mr. Pink Shirt.

If Mr. Blue Shirt had been carrying a concealed gun, there's no doubt in my mind he would have tried to pull it out and start spraying bullets.

But some gun advocates want to say people like Mr. Blue Shirt have every right to drink, to get drunk, to get belligerently drunk and to carry a hidden weapon at the same time.

Fuck that crazy shit. People like Mr. Blue Shirt are a public menace, and people who want to enable Mr. Blue Shirt to carry deadly force are just as much of a menace.

#490 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 02:59 PM:

HLN: A trip to the vet over the weekend revealed that, while the lump on Donkey's hip is benign, the tumor in Tiny's mammary gland is not.

Perversely, the latter is (comparatively) good news, as removal of the mammary tumor would overmax the household's finances. Watchful waiting, paliative care, and extra luvin-snuggles are not only the recommended course of treatment, but the option which is, in fact, entirely within the capacy of the caregiver.

Additionally, householder has concluded that obtaining a second carrier is a priority, as 2.6kg of guinea pig is too much to comfortably hold from one hand for more than a half a block or so.

#491 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 03:06 PM:

Moderators, #489 does not strike me as polite, well-considered, or in any way likely to contribute to any sort of useful forward-going discourse on this or, really, any other topic. (Most particularly, the first three lines; although there are some insanely variant-to-reality bits elsewhere as well.)

So far, I've made my saving throw against contributing to the problem beyond this.

#492 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 03:07 PM:

abi appears to be thirty-nine years less two days older than my grandpigs Donkey & JJ. Happy birthdays, all!

#493 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 03:16 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @489:

But, see, in NRA-land, Mr. Pink Shirt would have had a gun too, and he could have shot Blue Shirt first. (And probably the three guys trying to hold him back, but what's a little collateral damage between friends?)

This is the concealed carry scenario that gives me the willies: You're a cop, you've just responded to a call of a bad guy on a rampage in the mall. Shots fired, multiple casualties. As you walk into the mall food court there are half a dozen people with guns drawn and pointing at each other, most of whom fit the vague description you've been given. You have a split second to make the call, who do you shoot?

(It's worth noting we almost had a tragedy of this type with the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. Thank god the cop in question risked his own life and held his fire.)

#494 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 03:19 PM:

I agree with ddb. I understand the anger and upset, and can sympathize with the ideas behind it (drunks with guns sound like a pretty bad idea to me, too). But it's got the distinct scent of gasoline poured on a fire, to me.

#495 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 03:21 PM:

ddb, 491: The first few lines are perhaps over the top. The rest is an expression of a person's experience. Don't dismiss it just because it's different from your experience.

#496 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 03:29 PM:

A thousand words. (Who says those two things don't mix?)

#497 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 03:35 PM:

Tracie @449:

Italian Greyhounds (IG) really feel the cold -- like Chihuahuas they definitely need a sweater at this time of year. Hypothermia is a real danger for shorthaired toy dogs.

If you really can't afford to keep AD, contact the rescue group associated with the breed. You can usually find them at

Note: The breed rescue may be willing to help with the bills if you volunteer be AD's foster parent.

#498 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 03:46 PM:

TexAnne@495: Perhaps over the top? I and a number of my friends are being explicitly and in so many words called liars. And so confusedly that I can't even figure out what it is that I'm being accused of lying about.

I have never seen an article or heard an RKBA activist support people carrying while drunk. And I suspect I have seen a LOT more of that stuff than Bruce Arthurs has, in decades of paying attention to the issue somewhat closely. While I obviously can't claim it has never, in the history of the universe, happened, it's very much not the norm, not mainstream in the RKBA movement, not even a fringe position that's widely seen. So that's the other bit that I feel I can and should object to.

Agreed, there's no reasonable objection, and I make no objection, to the recounting of personal experience in the mall around the asshole-factory bars (I found that part interesting; real-world experience and all that). And he does remember to say "some gun advocates"; however, the position he attributes to us there is one I've never heard a gun advocate express. It's a caricature, and one far afield from anything I've seen in the real world.

#499 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 03:47 PM:

ddb, you are a person who carries a deadly weapon, who pretends to be a person who is NOT carrying a deadly weapon.

End of discussion.

#500 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 03:55 PM:

Chris W@493: Possibly you (as the cop) should not shoot anybody in the situation you describe? At least unless one of them threatens you in some way?

It seems to me that anti-carry people seem to be, as a group, remarkably free in suggesting that people should be shot. Probably because it's not really real to them, I'd guess.

And I must point out that your hypothetical doesn't seem to happen in the real world; not in states with no requirement for a carry permit, not in states with decades-old shall-issue laws, and not in states with brand-new shall-issue laws.

You're quite right that those kinds of situations are among the trickiest to deal with. About a third of the classroom time in the Minnesota carry permit courses I've taught has been spent on that sort of issue. Still, as a cop, I'd rather come up to a standoff like that than to an active shooter and larger piles of dead bodies.

#501 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 04:04 PM:

I'm beginning to think that discussions of the gn are about as much fun as the matter of brtn.

Just saying.

#502 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 04:14 PM:

Serge@501: I'm beginning to think that discussions of the gn are about as much fun as the matter of brtn.

Both topics are the kudzu of rational discourse.

(At the point where, in #499, we have one Fluorospherian giving another the lie direct in a public post, I think we can safely say that the subject under discussion is not one conducive to peace and good order.)

#503 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 04:51 PM:

Xopher @448: I never feel safe around anyone, even someone I know I can trust, if they have a gun. I never feel safe around a gun, period.

I am minded of a case here in Boulder, some ten or twenty years ago, wherein a marksman (somebody with much training and long experience with guns) was cleaning his "unloaded" weapon. It went off. The slug went through the wall, into the next apartment, and through the head of the woman who was eating pizza with her brother.

I believe jail time ensued. Needless to say, nobody in that situation was ever the same again.

#504 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 04:56 PM:

ddb, 498: You're right, calling someone a liar is impolite. But I'm finding it hard to be upset on your behalf. You lost me forever when you started talking about bringing guns into schools. I'm willing to put up with being called a "prohibitionist," even though the Eighteenth Amendment isn't even close to being a parallel, and despite the lack of anyone here trying to take your guns away from you--but I draw the line at firearms in schools.

For the record, I don't support armed guards or police officers in schools, either. There are certain places where IMO and IME guns don't belong, and schools are at the very top of my list. Nothing you have said on the matter convinces me, and since you keep saying the same things--and discounting the experiences of others because they're not just like yours--I don't see any reason to continue the discussion.

#505 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 04:58 PM:

Serge@ 501; Debra Doyle @ 502: Actually, we had a long, involved and civil conversation about brtn here - back in 2007, I think. Took a lot of careful reading and careful writing, but it did happen.

#506 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 05:02 PM:

dcb @ 507... we had a long, involved and civil conversation about brtn here - back in 2007

I feel like I should be saying that while doing an impersonation of Gabby Hayes.

#507 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 05:02 PM:

Tracie @449: I'm afraid if I don't find her people, I'm doomed. Doooooomed!

Oh, poor you. </snark>

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @461: Jacque, will we be getting together for another folding session before we mail these, do you think?

I think this is an entirely reasonable expectation. Turns out that, compliments of Presidents' Day, I do not have a short weekend upcoming. Saturday aft, as previous?

Xopher: I second the katamari video. Deeply and profoundly silly.

Ellen Datlow's anthology that includes my short story will be out in September.

Yay! All hallowed be teh Feelthy Pro!

#509 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 05:54 PM:

I have a position on concealed carry in schools. If the Georgia legislature passes such a law and applies it to private institutions such as the one I work for, I'm taking early retirement. The idea is bugfuck insane.

#510 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 06:47 PM:

I find it very difficult to think of carrying a concealed weapon as any more of a lie than what haircut someone chooses. That a person may choose to reveal or conceal certain things about hirself doesn't mean that person will lie directly.

We've all got things we reveal or conceal -- a handgun may be more dangerous than some, but it's not the most dangerous thing about any person. What's going on in the person's head is more important.

#511 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 07:42 PM:

Congratulations, Nicole. and thanks for the good news (I needed some).

One more bit of good news: Hawaii's Senate voted 18-5 today to allow same-sex civil unions. The only thing left to do is for the governor to sign it; he's said he'll do that in the next 10 days, and the law will take effect next January.

#512 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 07:44 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 510... a person may choose to reveal or conceal certain things

All right, I confess.
I really am Sean Bean.

#513 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 07:50 PM:

Adorable Dog's person called me. Yep, she's her dog. And as I suspected, she really isn't in a position to properly care for a dog. Not home or awake enough for a very social dog -- this little dog sticks to me like Velcro. AD was let out to do her business without a fence, without tags, and she didn't come back before her human had to go to work. Argh! Her human works at night, so I'm keeping her for another night. She's curled up on my bed now. Her name is Sweetie Pie, and she certainly is.

#514 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 08:01 PM:

#513: Some pet stores have vending machines that will etch a tag for you While You Wait. Might be a good "here's your dog back" gift that will save her and Sweetie Pie a lot of trouble.

#515 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 08:38 PM:

Everybody run!
The Homecoming Queen's got a gun!

#516 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 09:10 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @489: Your post made me realize just what it has been that made me uncomfortable about concealed carry: the concealment. Amongst other things, I don't see the utility in concealing a weapon.

I grew up in a small town where every hunting season the hunters were 'out back', and going into the woods without blaze orange was foolhardy. I've eaten my share of venison and rabbit, and have no trouble at all with guns for hunting or for sport shooting.

I do have issue with guns for protection, and I think I'm resolving why, in my mind:

(1) the person carrying the gun feels safer, clearly. I get this. The problem is, the rest of us do not automatically feel safer. In fact, the rest of us feel more unsafe, in general.

(2) the person carrying the gun feels safer and feels that society is safer, when numerous studies have shown the exact opposite: having guns in the house increases the likelihood that they will be used against the owner or the family.

I think this is part of what Terry and other experienced gun handlers have said, along with anti-carrying folks: there's no evidence that carrying a gun makes anyone actually, really safe. It doesn't make society safer. History has shown that many "wild west towns" became safer only after guns were banned from the town premises.

I do get that the carrying gun owner feels safer. I really do. However, this just does not translate into increased safety for the society around us, nor does it translate into increased feelings of safety in the rest of the population, excepting other people with CCP.

In this day and age, I think it's time to reflect upon why having a gun makes some people feel safe when there's no evidence to support this. Life isn't safe, and there are other ways to feel safer about one's life that actually have been shown to increase the overall safety of the general population -- like restricting gun sales, putting stringent controls on licenses and permits, and setting waiting periods for purchases.

I appreciate having gun owners feel safe, but I appreciate even more having the rest of us feel safe, too.

#517 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 09:15 PM:

I noticed that it's taken three years for the sweat lodge deaths to come to trial. This seems like a long time for a rather straightforward disaster, but there's a lot I don't know about such things.

Is three years typical for the US? For other countries?

Does three years seem like a reasonable amount of time?

#518 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 09:38 PM:

How I Spent My Winter Non-Vacation.

I'm going to briefly interrupt, well, I don't even know, because who has time to read all this stuff?? Not me! But I'm posting anyway because I just gotta share this with somebody, and there aren't all that many places I can go where there're likely to be people who have actually worked in book/print production to appreciate what I've been doing. I just put together a pre-invoice for the publishing company for whom I do typesetting. It's been a busy winter. Their first book hit my desk around the second week of November. The big new project was "Introduction to Naturopathic Gastroenterology": a two volume set, plus digital-only bibliography volume. The typography included various medical symbols, myriad diacriticals (for the names of European and Asian researchers), Greek letters, and Chinese characters. Besides the main body of text, there were 367 tables, 261 sidebars, 228 boxed lists, 232 illustrations, 627 in-text cross-references, 5,782 index entries (at least I didn't have to actually make the index!!), and 9,495 entries in the bibliography. Volume 1 was 270,000 words and 900 pages. Volume 2 was 221,000 words and 830 pages, and the 9495 bibliographic references were put in a third volume of 300,000 words and 900 pages, to be made available from the publisher's website as a downloadable PDF. This project was turned in on January 15th, so if you take a week out for Christmas, it was right at eight weeks.

The remaining works are new editions of books I've typeset in previous years, so I get to take advantage of my own previous markup and my pre-existing systems and procedures to speed things up a bit. They included study manuals for the naturopathic physician's board exams which, like most of these works, have to be revised and re-typeset every year. The exam has two parts: 'basic science' and 'clinical practice'. The Basic Science study guide is 492 pages. The Clinical study guide is two volumes: 494 pages and 432 pages. Then there's two books with practice questions to help prepare for the board exams: one at 226 pages, one at 624 pages, and finally a book containing two 'practice' exams. The previous books are laid out to make it easy to learn the material. This book is to help the reader practice taking the actual test. 438 pages. I added 'thumb tabs' to the practice question books this year (each section has a big black rectangle on the outer edge that bleeds to the trim, providing a visual indication of where each section begins and ends from the outside of the closed book).

Adding it all up, it's six editions comprising eight physical books (and one PDF-only book), for a total of 5,500 7x10 textbook pages, representing around 80-100 pages per workday.

I. Am. Pooped.

#519 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 10:01 PM:

We've all got things we reveal or conceal -- a handgun may be more dangerous than some, but it's not the most dangerous thing about any person. What's going on in the person's head is more important.

OTOH, I feel that someone who isn't normally in danger of being assaulted or robbed (that is, most people) probably doesn't need to routinely carry a gun, and even more probably doesn't need to carry one concealed, especially in a bar, a hospital, or a school.
The reasoning given all too often seems to be closer to 'I want to be able to blow away anyone I don't like the look of' than actual protection.
(I commute with uniformed law enforcement. Someone trying to start something with one of them will not have the sympathy and help of the rest of us.)

#520 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2011, 10:34 PM:

Ginger and PJ:

Just as an aside, my impression is that there is generally not any noticable difference in number of murder or crime rate generally, when states start issuing concealed carry permits. So I don't think there's much evidence that it makes society as a whole either safer or less safe. (I'm certainly interested in links to data in either direction, here.)

Probably, a lot of this is explained by the fact that the set of people who bother with permits, at least if they have any requirements attached, has little overlap with the set of people who are most likely to settle bar fights with their guns or shoot people for cutting them off in traffic or whatever. Issuing or not issuing permits doesn't actually determine whether people will carry a concealed gun, just whether they can be arrested for it. (I wonder how much impact issuing concealed carry permits has on how many people are walking around armed on a given day.)

#521 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 02:08 AM:

Very late semilocal news:

The Dell Award was announced. This is for SFF writing by undergrads.

Students from the Alpha Young Writers Workshop took eight of the honors, including the award itself. Eight!

More stories by Alphans were given awards this year than stories by anyone in any of the last ten. Ten stories were honored. It was apparently a really difficult year to judge-- lots of stories, very high quality.

I'm just so proud of my Alphans. I can't wait for them to take over the world.

#522 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 04:01 AM:

re "liars": there is something to the underlying argument in it, because a lot of the CC rhetoric, esp as I've seen it for the "shall issue" lobby, is that having the, "bad guys" not know who might be carrying has a deterrent effect.

In essence, they are arguing for an active role of dissimulation.

Time to tell a story. I have a friend whose son got 16 years for 2nd degree murder. He tried to argue "self defense". Self defense is a hard defense to make, because it's an affirmative defense, and the first thing one has to do is cop to the underlying act. At that point it's a question of what the jury believes, your story, or the prosecution.

The verdict was guilty (it didn't help his son is latino, and was hanging out with less than stellar friends. He felt threatened. He pulled a pistol. It's not clear just what happened (either the victim saw the gun and turned, just as the trigger was pulled [which was the defense he made... in the heat of the moment he, in fear for his life, pulled the gun, and was already committed to pulling the trigger], or he saw him turn and pulled the trigger anyway).

I don't know what would have happened had be been unarmed. I am pretty sure he wouldn't have spent 14 year in Folsom. I am also pretty sure (because, while we weren't friends, I did know him tolerably well) that he wasn't a murderous thug who planned to kill someone.

I do think his having a concealed, as opposed to openly carried weapon, was a contributing factor. He felt more secure (and may have let things escalate in a way he wouldn't, were he not packing), and the other guy also felt more secure.

That, with emotions running high, is a bad mix.

#523 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 06:52 AM:

Open threadiness because the original thread seems to have been closed:

Extortionist booksellers to become unemployed. All the usual excuses about online vendors, ebooks, economies are trotted out but if things are so bad, why did the bookstore that employs me just have its second best Christmas ever in 30 years of trading?

According to several publishers' sales reps I deal with, nothing has changed at A&R since the days of the extortion letter. If anything, the cluetrain hasn't stopped at that station once since then. They still persisted in treating books as fungible goods and smaller publishers as a burden until the day they died... which was today, effectively. I have sympathy for the many soon to be unemployed staff but none at all for the management who most certainly brought this on themselves.

#524 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 07:23 AM:

I'm beginning to think that discussions of the gn are about as much fun as the matter of brtn.

The Matter of Britain is great fun; I haven't had many discussions of gnu, but I'm willing to give it a go.

#525 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 08:29 AM:

Gnu ctrl and brtn is, I assume, a discussion of attempts by the British government to impose control over the free software movement?

#526 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 08:50 AM:

I feel that someone who isn't normally in danger of being assaulted or robbed (that is, most people) probably doesn't need to routinely carry a gun, and even more probably doesn't need to carry one concealed, especially in a bar, a hospital, or a school.

Note that this is one place where it gets tricky. You can feel entirely safe at school, and need to walk through an area that is not (as) safe to get there. And you can't make policy based on "most of the time".

#527 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 08:52 AM:

Rereading Bruce's comments without as much of a knee-jerk, I got a lot more of the full message being conveyed, I think. Bruce is working as a mall security guard, and is, I think, creeped the f--k out wondering which of the next a--hole he gets to confront (confronting a--holes being a large fraction of security guard work, in general) will be carrying, perhaps while also being as violently bugfuck as Mr Blue Shirt. I get this about as well as I'm going to, outside of having the experience. I'd be creeped out, too.

From Bruce's perspective, as I read it, openly armed people are announcing the stakes right up front (so he could, say, call the cops if a conflict were imminent), while concealed-carry people are potentially waiting to announce the stakes of any confrontation (not "I'll kick your ass" but instead "I'll murder you") till it's too late for him to do anything but try to get behind something solid. Am I understanding this properly, Bruce?

This much isn't about political policy or law or anything, at least not directly. (Obviously it leads to such discussions pretty naturally, though.) And though I'm not a huge fan of gnu ctrl in general, I'm absolutely sure that if I had Bruce's job, I'd f--king *despise* the idea that some of the a--holes I was required to confront for my job might be carrying guns, and I might never know till I had a gun pointed at my head.

#528 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 09:01 AM:


Britain's Gnu control
seriall and plastering
what small pervy leg

#529 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 10:39 AM:

Okay, I think I've had enough distance to respond non-emotionally to the actual content of some of the posts in the last day. I guess we'll see.

It's interesting. Most states require concealed carry for permit holders; Minnesota is unusual in that our permit covers both concealed and open carry. But the general advice has been that concealing causes less disturbance, and doesn't "scare the horses". This discussion is the first time I've heard people express a distaste specifically for the concealment aspect.

Another datapoint here is the strong reactions against the open carry movements growing in many states (sometimes because state law allows it but doesn't allow concealed, sometimes as a political act; I've attended two "open carry" picnics here in Minnesota, and at the most recent one we got lectured by a police officer who chose to come by to tell us it was a bad idea to carry openly because it disturbed people).

Making it specifically illegal to carry in schools and hospitals is, to borrow a phrase from Fragano, bugfuck crazy in my view. As the adults in charge of schools, we have a duty to protect the children we require to be there (and similiarly for hospitals, where people are less able to defend themselves than usual). Making those sensitive places advertised unarmed-victim zones is worse than just insane; it's criminal. It's inviting people who want to make a big noise to come right in and do so, secure in the knowledge that they will not face armed opposition.

TexAnne, you can exclude my gun from a school -- for precisely the reason that it would be harmless there; because I'm rational and will obey such a law. You can't exclude the gun of somebody committed to doing harm there, short of airport-level security (and even they miss a good fraction of the guns that come to them, both test cases and people forgetting they had a gun in a bag). "Banning guns" only blocks guns carried by law-abiding people.

For decades, "cleaning his gun and it went off" was code for "suicide"; in an era when suicide had even more of a stigma than it does now. I've cleaned guns a time or two; I don't see how this actual accident can occur during the cleaning. Cleaning a gun is not actually a dangerous activity. I do suspect it's the excuse people give if they screw up somehow (violating three safety rules at once) at home. Yeah, people screw up now and then. In addition to Jacque's story, a bullet passed through the apartment of some friends of mine here in Minneapolis, around 25 years ago (that one didn't hit anybody). What we've got here is an event so rare that we remember the last time we heard of a case, 20 years ago. More people drown in 5-gallon buckets.

I've been present for one negligent/accidental discharge (some gun-safety advocates argue there is no such thing as an "accidental" discharge). The gun's owner had loaned it to a friend; when returned, it was put away without checking whether it was loaded (safety violation #1; arguably #1 and #2, the friend shouldn't have returned it loaded either). It was then being taken out to show to us. At this time my friend did open the chamber to verify it wasn't loaded (proper procedure). However, his fingers slipped on the bolt when it was 3/4 open, allowing it to slam closed again (actual accident). This was enough to cause the round still in the chamber to fire (long guns, which this was, generally have far less good safety mechanisms than handguns; in a handgun suitable for carry, it won't slam-fire, the firing pin is blocked unless the trigger is pulled back). The muzzle was pointed in a safe direction (proper procedure), so the load of shot was discharged upwards into a ceiling beam. So, two mistakes plus an actual accident, and still nobody was particularly endangered. Very surprised, though! The safety rules are there for a reason, and do a decent job; really bad outcomes require multiple violations.

Believing that somebody not displaying visible arms is not a threat is delusional. Anybody vaguely rational and with evil intent knows enough to look innocent until the last second, and it's easy to do. Watching for behaviors indicating immediate intention is more useful. Not perfect, subject to both false positives and false negatives, but better than just deciding people are not a threat because you don't see a weapon.

Many of the studies of the risks of having guns in the house are too broad; they include illegally owned guns, for example, meaning they include active gang members and such. Strangely enough, being an active armed gang member is considerably more dangerous than being an ordinary working dude with a carry permit. They may be correct within their own terms, but that may not accurately reflect the risks one given individual would face if they bought a gun. I do find that the more people's interest in guns focuses on self-defense, the better their safety habbits are. The accident rate among permit holders seems likely to be lower than that among police (though I can't establish that it isn't selective reporting giving this effect; but, in general, anything involving a civilian being harmed with a gun does get reported).

The classic study showing that crime moves elsewhere when a county changes its permit issue practices is More Guns, Less Crime. Lott has his detractors, but the worst anybody has been able to do to this study is argue that maybe it shows no effect. So: worst observed outcome of moving to shall-issue seems to be "no effect". (In every state debating going to shall-issue permitting, some politician eventually gets around to using the phrase "blood in the streets"; strangely, in every single state that's tried it, which is now the vast majority of them, that's not how it turns out.)

There's a range of studies on defensive uses of firearms; perhaps the least controversial is the 1994 Department of Justice sponsored Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms (pdf). This one got a number of 1.5 million defensive uses per year (defining and counting defensive uses is inherently difficult; one study managed as low as 108,000, somehow). The 1994 study was allegedly commissioned with the express purpose of showing that earlier studies showing similar numbers were wrong; but apparently they made the mistake of hiring honest researchers.

Blackman's The Armed Criminal in America, based on nearly 2000 prison interviews, shows that criminals are directly deterred by the prosect of a prospective victim being armed.

#530 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 10:44 AM:

ajay... I wonder if Pierre Berton ever wrote anything about gnu.

#531 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 10:47 AM:


I get most of your argument, but I really wish you wouldn't rely on John Lott. Lott doesn't just "have his detractors." He's been repeatedly accused by credible sources of actively fabricating data. When called on systematic coding errors which dramatically changed his conclusions in other works he's tried to deny he ever drew the conclusions that relied on the errors. All this isn't even touching the "Mary Rosh" incident, which didn't directly affect his academic work, but did reveal a man more than willing to lie and cheat in order to get his way and burnish his own reputation.

#532 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 10:51 AM:

What size paper are we using for the cranes? I cannot find where that was decided.

#533 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 11:10 AM:

Chris W.@531: I'm aware of Lott's shortcomings. Still, this particular study has stood up quite well to people, scenting blood in the water from the other problems, trying to dispose of it.

Also, most of the RKBA contingent are less bothered by Lott than I am, so this is the one that's cited all the time, so it's the one I can find a pointer to easily. What else should I be looking at?

#534 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 11:15 AM:

Nancy, 532: It wasn't decided; I think we're all using what we like best.

While we're on the subject of Distributed Folding, my email is gknaar ng zr gbq zbp. Two things: I'm not folding fast, and I'm leaving them flat for ease of shipping. I think it might reduce tangling if we put each string in a plastic grocery bag. It would make my life easier if people could string their own cranes, though I certainly will if it's needed. Email me for address and a possible time frame. (This means you, too, Xopher--I lost your email when my computer died.)

#535 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 11:39 AM:

I just heard that the Iranian ships that wanted to transit the Suez are called the Alvand and Kharg. Great. They're naming their ships after Klingon battle cruisers.

#536 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 11:51 AM:

535: understandable, given that the USS Enterprise is in the area.

#537 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 11:52 AM:

Paul Duncanson: Not to enjoy bad news for folks in general, but do you know if Michael Rakusin has gotten a clock that chimes the hours or at least a nice breakfast out of having predicted A&R going down in flames four years ago?

#538 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 12:20 PM:

Tex Anne 534 - In case he doesn't check ML for a while, it's at the end of the last OT.

#539 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 12:26 PM:

pgbb, 538: Thank you! I'd missed that.

#540 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 12:32 PM:

Re. cranes:
Nacy @ 532: I suggested 3-inch paper, but didn't get a response, so I'm using that anyway!

TexAnne @ 534:If we're stringing before sending, strings of 20, 25, 40 or 50?

#541 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 12:40 PM:

dcb, 540: I just emailed Xopher to ask his preferences about string length. I'll post his answer here, assuming he doesn't beat me to it.

#542 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 12:58 PM:

ddb, #529: I suggest that you be a little careful about how you throw around that word "delusional". It's just as easy for me to say that operating under the assumption that anyone you see on the street could be an immediate danger is not only delusional but stands a good chance of making you become the immediate danger. There's a point at which the functional imitation of paranoia turns into the real thing.

#543 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 01:04 PM:

Lee@542: You could say that, but it would be self-evidently untrue. (I was careful to limit the label to the particular belief, not the person holding it.)

I've heard many women explain that that assumption is exactly the one they operate under when out alone. It's not rare, and not limited to men or to gun nuts (in fact I'm pretty sure it's rather more common among women who don't like guns).

#544 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 01:18 PM:

I wonder when TCM's next showing of "The GNUs of Navarone" will be.

#545 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 01:20 PM:

ddb @#543: I've heard many women explain that that assumption is exactly the one they operate under when out alone.

A woman assuming that a random man she sees when out alone might be a threat is so far from a man claiming he has to carry a gun in a school to defend the children that I'm hard pressed to explain the difference to you.

I don't have any dog in the gnu-control fight. I can see it both ways. But as you're the part of the population that's something like 6 times less likely to be attacked in the street, whether anyone involved has a gun or not, I suggest you might want to back away from that particular line of argument.

#546 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 01:23 PM:

I'm astonished to discover that according to this list, the homicide rate in Turkey appears to have dropped by two thirds - from about twice the rate in the US to about two thirds of it.

(It's surprising because it corresponds roughly to the time I've been living here, and don't think I've ever heard anyone mention it, let alone say why it might be true.)

Bruce Arthurs: if I choose not to wear my underpants over my trousers, am I lying about whether I wear underpants?

ddb: you complained about Bruce Arthurs calling you a liar. I'd rather you didn't describe me as 'delusional'. (I'm well aware that people who aren't visibly armed can be dangerous, as the building that I normally teach in was the target of a - thankfully unsuccesful, and by all accounts rather incompetent suicide bombing. But it doesn't mean that I think that everyone I see in that building is a threat.)

Re gnus: can anyone locate for me the Ogden Nash poem in which a gnu escapes being hunted because no-one is able to pronounce the word for the thing they wish to go and hunt?

#547 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 02:01 PM:

None knew where the gnu gnawed at noon?

#548 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 02:11 PM:

I've heard from Xopher! He says that crane size and string length are up to us, quoted w/permission: "variety is great, because it shows that different people are working on it. I'm overwhelmed by this. Thank you so much."

#549 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 02:11 PM:

TexAnne @534: gknaar ng zr gbq zbp

I just tried to email you; it's-a no woik. I tried several different variants. No dice.

It would make my life easier if people could string their own cranes

Thank you; I was wondering about this. I will take string to our next Boulder folding.

I think it might reduce tangling if we put each string in a plastic grocery bag.

Ah! Excellent idea!

#550 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 02:15 PM:

Jacque @549:

I will email you with the correct address.

TexAnne, drop me a line from it.

#551 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 02:27 PM:

praisegod barebones @546: a gnu escapes being hunted because no-one is able to pronounce the word for the thing they wish to go and hunt

I just watched Prince Caspian last night, and was startled when one of the characters says the word "sword" and actually pronounces the w, and even manages to make it sound not-funny. English is so weird.

abi: Roger.

#552 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 02:51 PM:

Barebones @ 546

Ha! Found it!

#553 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 02:58 PM:

Well, I've been trying not to go on here from my place of underemployment, but right now I'm waiting for the database I'm supposed to be testing and updating to be available, and I can't get anyone to tell me if it is, when it will be, or even when they think they might be able to tell me when it might be.

So heck.

Quite beyond what I said to TexAnne, one of the things that to me manifests the Divine is a lot of people doing the same thing in different ways (or doing a lot of different things in the same way, but that's more mysterious). This to me is Community in its holiest sense: harmony, not unison is its beauty.

Words cannot express how honored I feel to be cared for by the members of this community.

In other news, due to the generosity of my dear friend Lenore, I will be at Boskone! Anyone else?

#554 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 03:06 PM:

praisegod barebones@546: I was very careful not to call anybody delusional. I called the belief delusional.

I can't really back away from saying "I think the belief is incorrect". That's not really different in denotation from "delusional", but it's less emotional. With the level of emotion flying around, I wasn't able to back off that far when I was writing that.

#555 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 03:15 PM:

And when will TCM show "Gnufight at the OK Corral"?

#556 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 03:28 PM:

abi: Somehow I missed the Happy Birthday abi subthread. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ABI!

Jacque: Yes, Saturday afternoon works. I'm free after 5. Thanks for volunteering the string! I have boo-koo needles.

Serge and others: Thanks for the happy! And yes, I will try to remember on my own without email nudges to report back here as soon as I have more info on anything story-selling-related. :-)

Dave H. and Diatryma, for various reasons: Congratulations!

#557 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 03:35 PM:

Serge: I await the showing of The Left-Handed Gnu and, in these days of unemployment, This Gnu For Hire.

#558 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 03:41 PM:

D.Potter @ 557... Incredible as it may seem, I've never seen Richard Boone's "Have Gnu Will Travel".

#559 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 03:52 PM:

Look out for Serge, he's bad gnus.

#560 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 03:59 PM:

One of Gregory Pkec's best roles was in The Gnus of Navarone.

#561 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 04:02 PM:

And there's the historical classic The Gnus of August

#562 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 04:14 PM:

The Gnus of Neverwhere?

It's a subplot about how the Shepherd of the Bush ends up with livestock he didn't expect...

#563 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 04:40 PM:

I think one of the longest-running TV series in the USA was James Arness's "Gnusmoke".

#564 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 04:53 PM:

And of course there's the Gnu Song by Flanders and Swann....

#565 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 04:56 PM:

abi @ 550: I'll need that e-mail address too, please.

Hyperlocal news: local woman visits doctor, confirms almost-certain metatarsal stress fracture (not visible on x-ray, but they often aren't for 2-3 weeks).

So, local woman will be missing planned half-marathon 1st weekend in April and is already going stir-crazy not being able to -walk- properly. Stir-craziness from being unable to run will build over the next days and weeks.

Of course, local woman may have more time to fold cranes...

#566 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 04:56 PM:

Gnu's Moke? What was this, some early and primitive version of Top Gear?

I mean, I suppose your average ungulate mammal would want a tough go-anywhere vehicle with a relatively stripped-down interior, but isn't it kinda small for a quarter-ton beastie?

#567 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 05:00 PM:

If you add one more layer of bad punning, there's the classical monumental biopic Gnudhi.

#568 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 05:05 PM:

dcb @565:

Email sent.

#569 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 05:12 PM:

Broadcast Gnus

#570 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 05:21 PM:

Bruce @ 537: I don't know him and Tower have undergone some reorganisation since then - they're now a part of a group of allied small publishers but they seem to be doing well. I suspect the decline and fall of A&R will be a major topic of conversation the next time their rep visits. I suspect he's feeling a bit like Vir Cotto, standing in the gardens of the Centauri imperial palace, looking up at what's on the pike. Maybe he's waving.

#571 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 06:49 PM:

Serge 560: One of Gregory Pkec's best roles was in The Gnus of Navarone.

Ah, fond memory: I told a schoolmate I was reading a cool book called The Guns of Avalon, and he smugly corrected me: "That's Navarone."

#572 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 07:03 PM:

Praisegod Barebones 546:
It's not by Ogden Nash. It's by Hilaire Belloc, from A Moral Alphabet. To wit:


whose weapons of Defence

Are long, sharp, curling Horns, and Common-sense.

To these he adds a Name so short and strong,

That even Hardy Boers pronounce it wrong.

How often on a bright Autumnal day

The Pious people of Pretoria say,

"Come, let us hunt the—" Then no more is heard

But Sounds of Strong Men struggling with a word.

Meanwhile, the distant Gnu with grateful eyes

Observes his opportunity, and flies.

Child, if you have a rummy kind of name,

Remember to be thankful for the same.

[found online at since I was unable to locate my real copy.]

#573 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 07:19 PM:

More wrongness from the U.S. Government:

DHS and ICE block and brand 8,400 innocent sites as child pornographers. And upcoming legislation is likely to make things worse.

#574 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 07:56 PM:

Stefan #514: Thank you for the suggestion. Sweetie Pie (her official name) was proudly wearing a red heart tag with her name and phone number when I turned her over to her human today. I also said that if she ever needed someone to look after Miss Pie, I would be happy to do it. I do hope she doesn't escape again.

#575 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 09:08 PM:

David @ 573: Not 8,400 but 84,000.

#576 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 09:37 PM:

Johnny Got His Gnu got Trumbo blacklisted.

#577 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 10:05 PM:

Albatross @ 559: No gnus is good gnus.

#578 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 10:52 PM:

Going back to about #381 - a job (but a few employers) ago, I worked for a company that acquired a security company. The first order of business (before any public announcements) was a truly rigorous examination of our own systems. Announcing that you are now in the security business is pretty much painting a target on yourself.
Generally in computer security scans, the customer (scan-ee) restricts the scanner (pen or penetration testers) in various ways. (This is silly. Bad guys follow no rules.) The instructions given to the test team in our case were "go nuts." No rules, no restrictions, a license to try anything, even potentially destructive tests.

They managed to steal the content of an entire database of customer information, quite handily. We fixed that, of course.

We also addressed physical security - an expert and I broke in to our offices using only a sheet of paper and an unfolded coathanger. That was rather embarassing. We had a common kind of "secured area" exit door - a motion detector unlatches the door when you approach. There was enough gap below the door to get a piece of paper on a coathanger under it, and wave it around.

IF you work in security, you need to like the flavour of your dog food.

#579 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2011, 11:57 PM:

Xopher @ 571... I for one would welcome reading Zelazny's Guns of Navarone.

#581 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 12:23 AM:

Thanks, Nicole! Here is the Alphablog post on the subject. My name's on the Past Honorees list a couple times, as are the names of quite a few friends, and seeing Alphans just makes me feel like the Shake'n'Bake Kid: "And I helped!"

#582 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 12:39 AM:

ddb: While one could make an argument that delusional means incorrect, the denotation is slight different; and is palming a card.

delusion /de·lu·sion/ (dĕ-loo´zhun) an idiosyncratic false belief that is firmly maintained in spite of incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary

In part because, pretty much everyone does exactly what you call delusional. People who think everyone they see is some sort of threat are the people we say have paranoid delusions.

In greater part because you did say praisegood barebones was delusional. When someone says they have a belief/practice, and you call that belief/practice delusional, you are saying that person has delusions. Own your words.

I don't think, honestly, that you actually have the emotional distance you think you do. I don't really think, because of your personal investment you can have that distance.

In support of my position I proffer your comment to TexAnne. You tell her, in effect, she ought not have the concerns she does because you have a safe gun. That's not relevant to her position, that (as you say; see above re the need to see people as threats) those who have guns include those who ought not be carrying them in schools.

Unless you can prove everyone who has a right to carry is just as careful, circumspect, level headed, able to properly define real threat and appropriate response, etc. to the level you aver you have; her position is tenable.

I feel for you. You have a strong belief, one you feel the facts support you in. You are beleaguered by people who vehemently disagree with you. Who also have strong beliefs, and feel they have facts, and reason on their side.

But the facts aren't clear cut. This isn't algebra, where there is only one correct answer. This is a calculus of how society best manages the questions of threat.

You may not be as absolutist, but you have staked out a fairly extreme position; that concealed weapons are adequately regulated, and those who carry them are needed (look at the rhetoric of your comment on schools... it's "bugfuck crazy" to make schools places in which one can't carry, as a civilian, because that paints a target on them... the argument you are making is that having armed citizens [as opposed to on campus police] will somehow keep the Patrick Purdys of the world from targeting schools. I don't think you can support that. Purdy's attack didn't take much longer than it would have taken someone to get to a place where they could shoot back. Unless the were willing to risk a really long exchange of fire across a playground full of children and teachers. You can argue that I'm wrong, but it doesn't make the position I'm taking unreasonable, just debatable, which is what you are claiming it isn't... unless "bugfuck crazy" somehow means, "open to debate").

Which is to say, I think this is a topic which really needs to be dropped, because most of us, no matter how much we try, are becoming more emotionally invested in it.

#584 ::: Bruce Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 01:05 AM:

No one has mentioned this news yet, so I thought I'd bring it up.

It turns out that not all Democratic politicians are invertebrates. The 14 Democratic State Senators in Wisconsin have walked out of the Senate chambers, leaving only 19 Republican Senators when 20 are required for a quorum. This means that the Senate cannot consider the bill that the Governor is trying to ram through that would remove collective bargaining and other rights from government employees such as teachers (but not police or firefighters, some of whom supported the Governor's election). The Republicans tried to get the Sergeant-At-Arms and the police to hunt down the Democratic Senators, who are rumored to have left the state, and therefore any jurisdiction that the Wisconsin Republicans can control.

About damn time some Dems started resisting the attempts to screw over the non-rich.

#585 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 05:18 AM:

Terry Karney@580: Here, have a ♪

Apropos of nothing in particular, I was thinking about the Tautology Club xkcd and this came to me:

"The first governing rule and regulation of Pleonasm Club is the first of the laws that control the behavior of Pleonasm Club members."

#586 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 07:04 AM:

Is there any known footage of a gnuslinger in action?

#587 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 08:17 AM:

By the way, if anyone is wondering why "Doktortitel" is currently a trending topic on Twitter, it's because of this. It involves both questionable behavior by conservative politicians and apparent academic plagiarism, so perhaps some in the Fluorosphere might be interested.

#588 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 08:49 AM:

Bruce Cohen@584: Back around 2003, if I remember correctly, there was a Democratic walkout in the Texas legislature, and the Republicans wound up calling in the FAA, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals in an attempt to haul them back.

#589 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 09:03 AM:

Three things from The Atlantic which are probably of interest to various Fluorospherites:

#590 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 09:14 AM:

David Wald @588, Yes, they fled north to Ardmore, here in Oklahoma, to stymie DeLay's gerrymandering attempts.

Watching the Wisconsin situation with great interest. And getting in Facebook arguments with a dear friend who happens to be conservative and resents unions because of some past problems with having to pay union scale to some people. I try to be all Coffee Party and talk about common ground and so on, but there's just a rigidity to the mindset and a sort of inability to look at an issue in isolation from the whole neo-conservative package and consider it logically. Frustrating.

#591 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 09:33 AM:

Terry Karney@582: Not happy about being held to higher standards than anybody else in the discussion. My use of "bugfuck crazy" was an explicitly attributed quote. Nobody objected to its being used by other people, but apparently it's off-limits to me. If, as you say, that particular question (carry in schools) is near the tipping point, highly debatable—then that's true from both sides, and "bugfuck crazy" is an inappropriate description of either position.

I was going to hit some other points, but for now I think I'll just leave it at that.

#592 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 09:47 AM:

ddb @591:

Don't bruise your hand clutching that martyr's palm too tightly. You're getting away with as many ill-tempered elisions and rhetorical tropes as anyone else in the discussion.

I'm not listing them, because that would mean not letting you get away with them. Just trust me, this is still a fair fight.

#593 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 09:56 AM:

Paul #575: ack.

... happily, there are also white-hat reputation firms.

They don't really balance out the sharks in the infosphere, but it's something. I note with dismay "We actually won't even serve certain customers...anyone even accused of harming a child." Aside from Missing the Point, that opens up a really simple DoS attack for hardcore players.

#594 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 11:41 AM:

Help! I've let my schedule slip and have something utterly unimportant and yet completely vital to finish in the next hour or so. Can someone point me to an easily-accessible, easily-recognizable image of Magneto as the leader of the X-Men?

#595 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 11:52 AM:

The only Bond novel I ever read was The man with the Golden Gnu...

#596 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 12:02 PM:

Shows you how much out of touch I've been with comics, John AA -- I'd always seen Magneto as a villain, opposed to the X-Men, rather than their leader.

#597 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 12:06 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man back from yearly medical. Man liked it when nurse said that she rarely if ever sees somebody who doesn't take any medication. No unspoken "...for your age..."

#598 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 12:29 PM:

Man liked it when nurse said that she rarely if ever sees somebody who doesn't take any medication.

"My god. You mean Serge's like that all the time?"

/Arde Mayhew

#599 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 12:35 PM:

Medication is different from recreational drugs, like sugar. (Why, yes, I do mention that as a drug when doctors ask me about drug use....)

#600 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 12:43 PM:

ajay @ 598... Humph! Darn kids. No respect.

#601 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 01:05 PM:

Tom @ 596: I should've put a spoiler alert there. My apologies. On the other hand, I think your old knowledge is current again.

Oh, wait.

#602 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 01:15 PM:

John AA @ 601... The first "X-men" movie was quite explicit about Magneto being one of the group's founders. By the way, "First Class" looks like it may make us forgive them for "Wolverine".

#603 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 01:32 PM:

Serge @ 602: I did not know that. But is there a particular photoshoppable image of Magneto that sums it up?

#604 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 01:49 PM:

John AA @ 603... In the first movie, when Wolverine asks how Magneto knew how to sabotage Cerebro, he's told that Magneto had built it. He may not have been the leader, but he was a founding member, and probably not one to give in to Xavier's wishes easily.

#605 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 02:25 PM:

Serge @595 The man with the Golden Gnu...

I don't think I'll ever be able to give this one its correct title again. And I want to see the cover art, too.

#606 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 02:30 PM:

OtterB @ 605... I want to see the cover art

This looks like a job for Mary Dell, whose PhotoShop Fu is strong.

#607 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 03:00 PM:

Serge @604 -- None of that makes me think that Magneto was a "founding member" of the X-Men (in the first issue, he was the founding villain -- I remember buying it). That he worked with Professor Xavier before the X-Men existed, I'll believe. But the X-Men were the students at Professor Xavier's School, and didn't exist as a group (AFAICT) at the time when Xavier and Magneto worked together. Admittedly, I stopped reading years and years ago. There could be some retconning that's happened. But you haven't convinced me....

#608 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 03:10 PM:

Tom Whitmore #607: I stopped reading them a few years ago myself, but they've always had a "my brother, my enemy" vibe, and in Xavier's absence, Magneto has led the school at least once (so has the White Queen). The X-men proper, however, fall back to Cyclops as leader. (At least it was so; they may well have rearranged things again.)

Of course, there are various other timelines and what-ifs, and I'm sure there's at least one where Magneto ran the X-men!

#609 ::: Bruce Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 03:18 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 590:

Eric Martin at Obsidian Wings points out that Governor Walker created the economic situation that he's using to justify breaking the unions. I commented there that I see this as a classic example of Disaster Capitalism, and a particularly bold and brazen one at that.

#610 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 03:21 PM:

OT - Belgium breaks world record for length of time without a functioning government.

(Given what the current coalition government is wreaking in the UK, my immediate reaction that not being able to put a governing coalition together might not be such a bad thing is rooted more in anger than in

#611 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 03:37 PM:

I myself stopped reading "X-men" a couple of years ago. I had enjoyed Grant Morrison's work on the characters, and Joss Whedon's after that, but the rest left me going 'meh' or 'blah'. It also soured me that Marvel had the brilliant idea of having one mutant shut down the mutations for almost everybody touched by them, which left Earth with only 300 of them.

Mind you, if they published a comic-book focusing on Hank McCoy, I'd rush back. He's always been my favorite X-man.

#612 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 03:55 PM:

ddb: I don't think you are being held to a different standard. I think you are being held to the standard someone who makes an affirmative defense of something deserves to be held to.

NB: This comment is on the form of the argument, not the underlying content. I can't address it without taking teh specific examples into account. I am not expressing my personal opinions on the content, merely the method, of the arguments.

You are arguing that the presence of concealed weapons does two things. 1: It makes the people who carry feel safer.

Ok; that's been stipulated to. I understand it. When I am carrying (be it open, or concealed) I tend to feel a bit more secure (with the caveats that my carrying a rifle is different from carrying a pistol, and I refuse to take an "armed guard" job because in that situation I feel less safe; this is more a function of how ineptly armed guards are, in general, required to behave, but I digress).

What has happened in reply is a number of people (not all of whom are against guns, per se) explaining why they are uncomfortable with people engaging in concealed carry.

2: You have made an affirmative argument that concealed carry is beneficial to the society at large.

Ok. You've been asked to defend it. People don't like your sources. You've been asked to defend them.

That's what happens when one makes an affirmative defense.

I have to do the same thing when I say torture doesn't work, and "plain vanilla" interrogation is better. If I do that in a venue I know is disinclined to believe me... well I get the same feeling that I am not being listened to.

This, like brtn, is a difficult subject because none of us is coming to it as anything close to a blank slate. The most we are likely to see is a slight shift in position; and even that is unlikely.

This is the sort of debate where tone matters, a lot. It's also one in which knowing/recalling what has been said before, and the standing of the speakers matters.

Fragano, is a teacher. He is reacting to the idea of his day to day environment changing, in a pretty drastic way. Given his personal history with firearms in school environments, his reactions seem not unreasonable.

Yes, he used strong, and colorful (even perjorative) language, but the content of his claim isn't substantively different from yours.

He (and TexAnne, also, IIRC, also a teacher) say that changing the present bans on private individuals being armed is bad, because they see it as making their lives more dangerous.

You argue, in reply, that not making it legal to carry in schools is a moral wrong because it means anyone who wants to attack a school would know it's a soft target.

Those are flipside arguments. Looking at it, from here, I'd say the burden of proof is on you. You need to show that the lack of concealed carry has made schools fundamentally unsafe, and that the inclusion of them in the list of places concealed carry is allowed is a provable, not theoretic good.

Because at present the situation isn't that schools are being overrun by people using them as generic targets.

It's hard to be spoken to in heated language. At the risk of being sententious, that's what happens when one picks up a subject which is full of strong feeling; and has been argued more than once, by everyone in the conversation. Everyone begins to feel no one was listening last time, and they vent more.

**** End of non personal comments******

I feel, slightly, responsible for all of this: I was the person who started the political aspects of this topic; in my expansion as to why I didn't think Utah was being honest in why is chose to declare a state gun.

I was the one who said I didn't think guns in bars was a good idea. You could have let it be. You could have waited until you had seen something more concrete than my reservations.

You didn't. You also did some pretty significant lumping. People who (like me) have some ideas about where people might be denied carry (schools, bars) were termed, "prohibitionists". Even when we aren't. (All things being equal, I find that moderately offensive. I also find it makes some of the rest of your arguments a bit harder to read dispassionately; since people like me; who happen to think concealed carry is not a blanket evil and that most states would be better served with easier access to carry than they have; though with perhaps more training that most have at present. I.e. I would be happier with more "shall issue", and a higher level of specific training on the when/how of the use of deadly force. I'd also like to see states which have, "shall issue" do away with, 'fighting words' defenses, and dispose of, "stand your ground" principles. I've seen how fights escalate, and the sense that one can refuse to defuse a situation, and then claim pure self-defense [even if the law doesn't actually allow for that] is troublesome enough when fists are the only thing likely to fly). Calling me a prohibitionist, when all my commentary on the subject has made it plain I am not, well that's not all that high a standard to expect someone to keep, and I let it slide.

As abi said, I've seen a few more things which you have passed over and elided, in the course of the debate; which, all in all, you did most of the work of starting, so I don't think you've been handled all that roughly. I think you are (as we all do, at times) suffering from being the person in the minority. A minority which probably feels as a minority of one.

That's hard. It means one has a lot to deal with, and it tends that everything you say has more than one person responding to it; which makes it feel you are being asked to do more than anyone else.

#613 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 04:55 PM:

Terry Karney@612: I used the term "prohibitionist" in 379, which was in response to you. I was not lumping you with prohibitionists; I was commenting on the fact that many people who are prohibitionists aren't worried around armed security guards, even though (specifically in MN) they carry on exactly the same permit I do, and have no requirement of additional training. (Of course, a sane security company could choose to train their guards more than the minimum, or more than I have taken myself; but I know from talking to a few that not many do.)

It didn't occur to me to read it as applying to you. I know perfectly well that you aren't a prohibitionist. I was discussing the adversarial positions of two groups, and applying fairly common labels to the two groups.

Sorry for the confusion on that!

(Weirdly, my first text search through the page did not turn up the several references to "prohib" on the page. I set out to read through all my comments, to see if I said something equivalent not using the root word -- and found the actual word. And then found it in text searches. Possibly a difference between quick search (with a slash) and regular search, or a confusion about current position in the document, or something. Anyway, I had a VERY narrow escape from posting a really dumb-sounding message claiming I'd never used the term, since my searches didn't find it. Ouch! Being hyper-careful pays off.)

Not intending to ignore the rest of the content in various messages including the rest of yours, but wanted to get this short issue responded to; and then ended up spending time I didn't have to get it right.

#614 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 05:11 PM:

And now for something completely different:

As many of you know, I work for the Federal Goverment. And there's a situation coming up that you need to know about -- it looks like a government shutdown IS going to happen.

This isn't like 1995 -- that year some of the appropriation bills (like Defense) had already been passed, so some agencies were able to continue functioning. This time the Dems didn't pass ANY appropriation bills, so when the continuing resolution expires at midnight on March 4th all of the Executive Branch agencies close.

Those of you expecting Social Security checks after that date will not be receiving them. Those of you on Medicare -- if you have to see your doctor(s) after that date, they will not be reimbursed for care given for there will be no one to process the paperwork and no authority to release those funds. SSA offices may be open -- but with limited staff and fewer hours.

I do not know how this will affect air travel, as both air traffic controllers and TSA screeners are Federal employees -- I am sure that some towers/airports will be kept open, but they may have to restrict hours.

The National Parks and the Smithsonian will be closed. Anyone in the parks at 12:01 am March 5th will have to leave -- immediately.

All freight subject to inspection by Customs will just sit on the dock when it arrives. It will take longer to clear Customs and Border Control if you are coming into the US -- I don't think they'll close this down completely, just limited hours and personnel.

I'm not sure what this means with regard to Veterans benefits, or the VA clinics and hospitals. I have no idea what this does to the Defense Department....

It's tax season -- I'm sure the IRS offices will be open, again with limited hours/staff. If you'll be getting a refund, you may want to file no later than February 23.

The Republicans have put a poison pill (defunding Health Care Reform) in the latest continuing resolution, which is why the shutdown may occur.

#615 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 05:35 PM:

#614: "Yea! With the goverment offen our back we're going to have our freedoms back!"

[/tea bagger]

A hobby-oriented discussion board I frequent has folks who apparently think like that. I'd post links to choice examples, but I figure our collective blood pressures are high enough.

Yeah, I'm prepared to loan my parents money. They're not dependent on Social Security, but they are on Medicare. I don't know how things will shake out, but I'm staying more fluid than usual just in case.

#616 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 05:36 PM:

A long-time co-worker has been working from home, taking care of her husband who has a week or two left on the outside.

I took up a collection for a "waiters on wheels" type service that takes orders and delivers meals from membership restaurants to homes and offices. I figured it would be a help, especially when relatives visit.

In three days, I took in $530.

I work with good people.

#617 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 05:54 PM:

Stefan, one member in my household is totally dependent on Social Security for income -- their check would arrive on March 9. I will have a month and a half worth of money on hand. If the shutdown lasts into April, I'll be filing for unemployment benefits.

What I listed above is just the things I know of off the top of my head. Thirteen appropriation bills and not one of them passed by Congress before October 1, 2010...

At least I have some funds -- but there are Federal employees out there living paycheck to paycheck. This isn't going to be pretty.

#618 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 06:10 PM:

Magneto ran Xavier's school in Xavier's absence circa 1985. He's flipflopped back and forth between hero and villain status numerous times since then, at the whim of whoever's writing. Currently he's with the team in San Francisco, but not in a leadership position.

#619 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 06:18 PM:

Coffee's not the only way to summon an Old One. (I will admit to checking if the author was Bob Howard...)

#620 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 07:14 PM:

Lori Coulson @614, do you think a government shutdown will prevent automated direct deposit of benefits?

#621 ::: Bruce Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 07:55 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 214:

Oh, wonderful: I'm living on Social Security plus drawdown on my retirement savings so that means more drawdown; luckily I'm not yet on Medicare, so that won't be a problem until July (and if the government is shut down that long I predict we will have an Egypt-style rebellion).

For me this is only an inconvenience, at least for the short term; for my mother, who was teaching ESL in New York City until last fall and is now living only on Social Security, this is going to be more than an inconvenience.

I say again, with the Federal debt so high, we can't afford to pay salaries or benefits for Congresscreatures or their aides. Let's see how they like it.

#622 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 07:58 PM:

Earl Cooley @ 620: Yes, it will affect direct deposit. Nothing will be processed. No one will be working on the processes.

I am also a Federal Employee, and count myself lucky to have savings that I can draw upon. F(*&%$# Republicans and their f*&^@#^ games.

#623 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 08:13 PM:

Ginger... Those guys really make Nixon look good, don't they?

#624 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 08:28 PM:

Yeah, nothing screams "functional, well-run government" quite like political squabbles shutting down all kinds of important government functions.

#625 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 08:49 PM:

@614 passim

And of course, an extended federal shutdown would make my job a lot more ... ... interesting, at least for awhile, because I draw wage (and little else, being temp) processing payments for state services that come from, wait for it, the fed. Nobody to push the button on the Fed end, no wires coming into the state; no wires coming in, no pass-thru payments going out.

It's not going to make anybody happy at all. (People are already pretty unhappy with the recently-installed governor, a teabag type who scraped out a 38% "win" in a tight three-way race. He's predictably been giving the middle finger to state workers and retirees. And no, I don't live in Wisconsin.)

Apocryphal Chinese curse, we has it.

#626 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 09:02 PM:

albatross @ 624... This of course assumes that they are interested in a functioning and well-run government, as opposed to accumulating power.

#627 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 09:06 PM:

Lori @ 614 I have no idea what this does to the Defense Department....

Military service members will continue to do their jobs, but they won't see a paycheck until there's a budget, or another Continuing Resolution.

Some civilian employees of the DoD will be declared emergency essential and will continue to work. They'll get paid for their work --- eventually. Federal employees who are not emergency essential will be sent home. So far as I know, Federal employees who were sent home have been paid after previous Govt. shutdowns were resolved. It's anyone's guess what will happen this time. I don't know what will happen to contractor employees, but I think they're just sent home.

Which civilian employees are considered emergency essential depends on the mission of the organization, and orders from higher headquarters. In 1995, I saw one of the Senior Service schools send home every civilian employee. One of the Staff Colleges said that education was the mission and it was not possible to perform that mission without civilians. Their library had only one person who was not considered mission essential (the director's admin assistant).

#628 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 09:15 PM:

Serge, I don't think they want to accumulate power so much as deny it to everyone else. Because we're all unworthy of their notice, or something.

I would like to see every non-civil-service federal official, elected or appointed, living on their personal savings for the duration of a government shutdown. No paychecks, no pension checks, no expense checks, and no other benefits. If they can't do their jobs, we shouldn't have to pay them.

#629 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 09:46 PM:

Plus the arguments that a shutdown under these circumstances is different than the previous shutdown and would be seen by foreign investors as evidence of unreliability of the U.S. Dollar. If we get a retreat from the dollar as currency of record under those circumstances, our financial problems since 2008 would seem as pleasant as a walk in the spring rain. It's the financial version of the magnetic poles switching, and it would be a rapid lesson to the freshman members of Congress that steps taken beyond the continental borders that do not involve troops can actually have effects they can see.

What with their constituents RIOTING and all...

#630 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 10:19 PM:

Between those a-holes in congress, Wisconsin's douche-canoe of a governor and Bartleby the Shitweasel here, I'm wondering what it's going to take for teabaggers to figure out the difference between Right and Wrong. Maybe they need to go back to kindergarten or something.

(incoherently angry right now, sorry...)

#631 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 11:02 PM:

#630 Back to kindergarten?

#632 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2011, 11:58 PM:

well, in theory they went through kindergarten when they were chronologically four or whatever age it normally is at.
That they seem never to have reached the mental age of four (or have somehow regressed past it to infancy) is another can o'worms.

#633 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 12:40 AM:

The Modesto Kid @576: Speaking of Johnny Got His Gnu, here's Arch Oboler's radio version starring James Cagney. I thought I'd gotten it from, but I can't seem to find it there now. At its length, it's obviously a bit of an abridgement, and you don't get hippie Donald Sutherland, of course. Still, Cagney! (Which reminds me, openthreadily, that Edward G. Robinson's turn as Sam Spade in the Lux Radio Theater version of "The Maltese Falcon" is just as good as anybody could ever want.)

Raphael @586: I don't know about footage. I drew a cartoon some decades back with the caption, "Well, that was mighty impressive, Mister, but if you'll look at the ad, you'll see that we advertised for a -gun-fighter."

#634 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 12:42 AM:

VA Benefits (says someone who is living on them) are paid on the first of the month. Unless the shutdown is long enough to make it to April the effect on pensions/compensation/GI Bill payments ought to be all right.

On the other hand... I don't know what this does to VA hospitals.

#635 ::: Bruce Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 12:45 AM:

Thena @ 625:

Apocryphal Chinese curse, we has it.

I don't agree that the times are interesting; irritating, hell yes.

#636 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 01:13 AM:

ddb: There was no direct harm done. What I was, in the main, trying to point out is that you aren't really being held to a standard of perfection. That you have made the same sorts of mistakes you took so personally when others made them.

As I said, this is the sort of conversation which demands a lot from the participants, esp. the participants who start them (and while I did make the parent comments, if you had not defended the things I was saying I had concerns about, the rest almost certainly would not have happened).

I am not blaming you. I am, though it may be hard to see, sympathising with you, because I have been in your shoes, in this very community.

The trick (and it's hard) is to recall that the sentiments are almost certainly not directed at you, the person (no matter how much it may seem that way). You just happen to be the embodiment of the position you are taking (this, of course, applies primarily to comments by persons known to you. First time commenters are not going to be possessed of that goodwill which comes of being known... though the sting of perceived insult may be less, the assumption of actual cruel intent is easier to justify).

#637 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 02:02 AM:

HLN: Local man was able to take part in a study which may shape future interrogation practices for both military, and police doctrine (the CIA will, of course, do whatever it damn well pleases).

#638 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 06:11 AM:

The Real Losers In A Government Shutdown: "The first wave of Social Security deposits after a shutdown -- to about 12-15 million people -- is scheduled to go out on March 10."

#639 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 07:04 AM:

Terry Karney @ 637... Congratulations.

#640 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 09:05 AM:

Kip @633: Whoa, great! Thanks.

#641 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 09:34 AM:

Terry@636: Thanks. And I'm aware I'm not being held to a standard of perfection; lucky thing, since I'm aware I'm not achieving perfection, and in fact have mentioned it in something like two of my last 4 messages (haven't gone back to count, it may be further back by now).

#642 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 09:45 AM:

Happy Birthday, Rikibeth!

#643 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 09:56 AM:


It's precisely about power. In particular, it's about a dysfunctional situation that often arises among decisionmakers in many different situations: The decisions you need to make to win the internal political struggle for power are disastrous for the organization on whose behalf you're making decisions.

Not to proclaim my deep wisdom or anything, but I could pretty-much see, as the war on terror ramped up after 9/11, that most of it didn't actually make any sense. Either it wouldn't have much effect on the threat of terrorist attack, or it would spend $X^2 to prevent an expected $X of terrorist damage. Serving congressmen and their aides, the president and the top political appointees, all must have had a much better idea than I did of this. At least, they must have had access to genuine expertise that let them evaluate it. And however dumb they sometimes act in public, it's an act--they're overwhelmingly very capable folks with very capable folks supporting them.

They didn't care that it didn't make sense. They passed (and continue to pass) the Patriot Act, which was a wishlist of the stuff the FBI had been asking for for the previous decade, with essentially no debate. They went along with the Iraq war, despite having access to much better information than we did in the public. They've gone along with silly politically-motivated color-coded warnings, ineffectual TSA groping regimens (after creating the DHS and the TSA in a post-9/11 rush), and huge opaque watchlists. It's not really plausible that the average congressman, who is a very smart and accomplished person with very smart, capable staff, couldn't figure out what I could see from my armchair.

But opposing those things was politically hard. It made it easy for someone to run against you, with emotionally-appealing ads that worked well with low-information, frightened voters.

And this is the norm, not the exception. It's a dysfunctional system. I think all democratic governments have the same disease to one extent or another, but for whatever reason, it seems like our government, over the last 10+ years, has been extremely susceptible to it. Real problems go unaddressed, for years and years, because addressing them would be bad for the short-term prospects of the polticians who have to address them. Pretend problems are trumped up to some kind of crisis, and used to do things that make no sense in terms of the well-being of the country, but which make a great deal of sense in terms of having a bigger pot of money to hand around to supporters or bring back to the politicians' districts. Disastrously dumb things are done, knowingly, by people who'd much rather keep power than make better decisions. I see little reason to expect our political class, supported by our media class, to do anything different in the future. If keeping power another decade will wreck the country after that, I expect the majority of politicians will wreck the country with open eyes. If they weren't the kind of people who would do that, they'd have long since selected themselves out of their field.

#644 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 10:37 AM:

albatross @ 643... Overall, I agree, but I think you give them too much credit for intelligence. Of course, if one's target IS power, then they are smart. If not, and they refuse to see beyond the short term, then they are incredibly stupid.

As for with silly politically-motivated color-coded warnings... One of these days, I'll have to scan and post the one that someone had based on Sesame Street.

#645 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 01:07 PM:

HLN: Local man has waking-up conversation with his wife.

Wife: "Wow, I was just having a vivid wish-fulfillment dream."
Husband [perking up]: "Oh? Does that mean you'd like to get... *ahem*... frisky?"
Wife: "I dreamt you'd cleaned the house."

#646 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 03:21 PM:

Serge #644:

You mean this Sesame Street version of the Rainbow of Doom?

#647 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 05:46 PM:

thomas @ 646...

The very same.
I knew there was something suspicious about that Elmo.

#648 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 06:49 PM:

If the government doesn't shut down, I get to move in June from extremely expensive individual (over $8000 a year) health insurance to Medicare via Kaiser. This change is going to make a huge difference in my life. I have no idea what happens if the government shuts down in March and doesn't return to functionality until say, mid-June.

I don't expect that, BTW: if the government does shut down, I would expect the duration of the shutdown to be counted in weeks, not months. But this is not politics as a spectator sport for me.

Also, that assistance low income folks receive to pay their gas and electricity bills? I've been using it for years. Don't want to lose it.

Angry. Yes.

#649 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 07:26 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 645 ...
HLN: Local man has waking-up conversation with his wife.

Wife: "Wow, I was just having a vivid wish-fulfillment dream."
Husband [perking up]: "Oh? Does that mean you'd like to get... *ahem*... frisky?"
Wife: "I dreamt you'd cleaned the house."

That has just totally and completely made my day :D

#650 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 08:22 PM:

1) I have a memory of reading, and not factchecking, that the first [public] use of the PATRIOT act, which was only to be used on scary terrist types, was to hunt down the Texas Democrats who were preventing quorum by fleeing the state.

2) My first experience with Professor Elemental was "Fighting Trousers" . Did I not acquire that here?

#651 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 08:48 PM:

Living on Disability here. My Humana plan might insulate me from a Medicare shutdown (maybe), but losing the SSI would be bad fairly soon.

#652 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 09:27 PM:

Sandy B #650

I have a memory of reading, and not factchecking, that the first [public] use of the PATRIOT act, which was only to be used on scary terrist types, was to hunt down the Texas Democrats who were preventing quorum by fleeing the state.

As far as I can tell, this isn't actually true, but it is vaguely truish. In 2003, the "Killer D's" fled Texas for Oklahoma. The Texas police (legitimately, if rather overenthusiastically) tried to find them and return them to the Capitol. There were unsuccesful attempts to get the Oklahoma State Police and the FBI involved.

The Air and Marine Interdiction and Coordination Center, which is part of Homeland Security, did get involved, in finding the plane belonging to one of the Dems, which helped in locating them.

So. The PATRIOT Act wasn't used. The surveillance apparatus of the Dept of Homeland Security was used, but Air and Marine Interdiction and Coordination Center can't be blamed on the PATRIOT Act -- they've been doing the same sort of work since long before 9/11.

If it had been the PATRIOT Act, it's still not clear precisely what would be meant by "first use" of the Act. A lot of the border-control and money-laundering procedural changes certainly happened before 2003.

#653 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 09:37 PM:

My long-term panic plan was to sell my comic and MTG card collectibles, but nobody's buying. A life of violent crime is impractical for me as well.

#654 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 10:15 PM:

ISTR that Tom Delay, or someone like that, was trying to get information from the FAA on the 'missing' Texas legislators, and may have tried to get the military to locate them. It's been a while, so I won't swear to it. (But I know that one of the 'missing' was a pilot and flew his own plane. I'd lived in his district.)

#655 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 10:25 PM:

While following a thread on Slacktivist, I got curious about income disparity in the U.S.

2009 figures from the Census Bureau:

90th percentile household income: $137,632

95th percentile: $180,001

Congressional salary, 2009 (source: $174,000 (note: individual salary, not household income)

I think I see why they're out of touch. (Disclosure: our household falls between 50th and 80th percentile, so I speak from a position of privilege.)

#656 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 11:38 PM:

Lila—I also think of Congresscritters as being in a self-reinforcing loop known as The Beltline. It's what happens when you're cut off from other ideas and opinions, and everyone around you is reacting a particular way, so you think nothing of sticking thousands of dollars in bribe money in the freezer, or cheating on your wife with a Congressional staffer (frightening applicable to both parties, that one), or in general acting like someone who doesn't have a clue what non-Beltway, non-political life is really like.

(This is not unlike Hollywood, another group that seems increasingly out of touch with most of the country.)

I've discussed a lot of ideas, and I wish there were a way to have a Congress that was only resident in D.C. for a minority of the year, with the rest of the year to have them resident in the area they represent. One good effect of getting them out of D.C. would be to make lobbyist jobs harder... no big pool of people to work on, you have to take them on individually...

Ah, well. I can dream, can't I?

#657 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2011, 11:42 PM:


Whenever I see these income statistics, I always want to point out the huge impact regional cost-of-living differences have. In many ways, $100K/year in DC is less than $60K/year in small-town Missouri, for example.

As an illustration of this: Montgomery County, MD has a median household income of about $91K. In Boone County, MO, it's about $46K. That is, to be right in the middle of the income distribution in Montgomery County, you've got about twice the income of the household right in the middle of the income distribution in Boone County.

So a lot of the raw income differences are probably regional differences in cost of living. I've never seen the statistics for inequality broken out in a way that accounts for that, though I'm sure it's been done somewhere.

I think technological and social change has had an interesting effect on this, in complicated directions. For example, the more manufactured goods are sold on a national or global market, the more benefit the people living in Montgomery County are getting relative to the people in Boone County. There's a limit on how high the local stores can set prices for anything that's at all reasonable to ship, when I can just go off to Amazon and find someone who'll ship it to me for $X. On the other hand, the housing bubble went crazy here in Montgomery County, and I think it was much tamer in Boone County. (I wonder how much of the money to start the housing bubble came from Amazon-related drops in the cost of buying a lot of stuff.) So houses still cost an obscene amount here, relative to Boone County, and people at comparable income levels in Boone County are overwhelmingly likely to have a nicer house and shorter commute than their counterparts in Montgomery County.

#658 ::: Jacque cleverly disguised as Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 01:05 AM:

113 Cranes. (Sounds like it ought to be a title of something.)

#659 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 01:11 AM:

Steven Weber is probably best known for playing one of a pair of pilot brothers in the old sitcom Wings.

He's been writing a political column lately. I really like the latest one; a fine rant based on a line in "The Third Man."

Connecting the Dots

#660 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:09 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 659... Thanks for the link.

#661 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:45 AM:

albatross @ #657: fair enough.

State median household incomes vary tremendously (Vermont, highest, $65,028; Mississipi, lowest, $35,693; these are averages of the 2008 and 2009 figures).

Incomes are also quite volatile. Over that same 2-year period Georgia's median household income dropped 13.1%.

Cost of living varies even more: this handy calculator suggests that $50K per year in Atlanta is the equivalent of $113K in Manhattan.

It's notorious that Los Angeles teachers, firefighters and police officers can't afford to live in L.A. (And no wonder, with a starting teacher salary of $31K!)

#662 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 11:21 AM:

Follow-up. My brother lives in part on SSDI. He has a severely damaged heart, no health insurance. (Oh, yeah -- he lives in AZ.) If the government shuts down, I presume his money stops or is delayed.

He won't starve if he misses one check. But it infuriates me that his minimal requirements for food and shelter should be in jeopardy while US corporations like ExxonMobil shelter their income overseas, and pay no federal income taxes.

#663 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 11:23 AM:

The last numbers I saw for the minimum income needed to live in Los Angeles was $23,000 a year - and you'd have a hard time finding a decent place to live on that kind of money. It's part of why there's no curbside parking around most high-density housing: a lot of people have to have a second (or third) income to afford their unit, which means multiple cars and one official parking space. With houses, you might have several people getting together to rent one, or the owner will rent out the spare room(s).

#664 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 12:10 PM:

Is it time to explain the fish connection, or have I missed it?

#665 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 02:43 PM:

Tykewriter #664. For the fish, see Allan Beatty #74. It's a reference to John 23:11

#666 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 03:03 PM:

Discussion of translation-- the most surprising bit was that Shakespeare is translated in Russian so as to sound classical-- "smooth elegant lines, very neatly formed".

#667 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 04:51 PM:

DDB has a point about being held to a higher standard. From where I'm sitting, Bruce Arthurs @489 and @499 are far and away the most offensive things anybody's said in the gun-related portions of this thread.

I'm not thrilled with Xopher @448 or Fragano @509 either.

#668 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 05:08 PM:

Avram @667:

I would disagree that it's been that one-sided; I think that 500, for instance, was pretty far over the line in a conversation that included 436.

#669 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 05:55 PM:

I don't read Avram as saying it's been one-sided, myself. Nor do I think it has been. There's still been some good discussion, though.

#670 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 06:14 PM:

Anyone else has ever seen John Sturges's 1959 western Last Train from Gnu Hill?

#671 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:01 PM:

Abi 668, did I say it's been one-sided?

The thing about DDB's 500 is that it's a response to Chris W @493, the first paragraph of which starts out portraying gun-rights supporters ("in NRA-land") as eager to shoot people, and goes on to set up a hypothetical situation that assumes the only reaction a cop can have when coming upon a scene of violence is to shoot someone.

(How close are we to reenacting the old joke about the prison joke book?)

#672 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:34 PM:

Avram, 671: It's not a prison joke book, it's a vaudeville convention. It's also the way my family habitually tells jokes to each other--a significant look is usually all that's necessary.

#673 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:49 PM:

A few hours ago I was cruising along forest-lined US 360 near Skinquarter, Virginia, when I glanced to the side of the road and saw cranes. Origami cranes, in several sizes, some quite large. No apparent reason, the were just strewn along the side of the road. All righty, then.

#674 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:59 PM:

Say, how about dropping the subject of gnus?
Or is that too much to ox?

#675 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 09:10 PM:

Serge (674): No gnus is good gnus?

#676 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 09:16 PM:

Mary Aileen... Moo-st definitely.

#677 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 09:33 PM:

TexAnne @672, but I thought vaudeville was dead.

#678 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 09:59 PM:

Regarding Cranes for Xopher:

I should like to contribute, if there is room for more volunteers, could someone send me the details? My gmail address is the same as my nym here, but as a single word before the 'at'.

#679 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 10:19 PM:

Singing Wren's comment reminds me that I don't know how many cranes we have so far. Will the Distributed Crane Folders please email me either your goals or your total to date? Or both?

#680 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 12:08 AM:

Don't let them cow you into not talking about gnus.

* * *

I found two Footrot Flats books at Goodwill yesterday. Ones I didn't have. I love when stuff like that happens.

#681 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 01:43 AM:

Conflating two topics:

An origami gnu.

#682 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 01:58 AM:

albatross, #624: The Republican Party has openly stated that their #1 priority is bringing Obama down. They don't care if the rest of the country goes with him, because it won't affect any of the People Who Matter. Worse yet, none of this will stick to them because it's always the current administration that gets the blame for such a clusterfuck.

Serge, #626: It goes deeper than that. They believe, as an article of faith, that government can't do anything right. Yes, even though they ARE that government -- it's an amazing level of doublethink. But because they believe that, they have no interest in governing well, and a substantial incentive to make sure that the government can't do anything right. A self-fulfilling prophecy, as it were.

Bruce C., #635: Not "interesting" to those of us who have to deal with it, but to future historians. Times of peace and prosperity aren't very interesting from a historical viewpoint.

Earl, #638: An awful lot of TPers are retirees on Social Security and Medicare, or people on SSDI and Medicaid. While I'm generally sympathetic toward those who are going to be adversely affected by this shutdown, I'm finding it impossible to extend my sympathy to that subgroup.

#683 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 02:10 AM:

Thank you for the birthday wishes, Serge!

Also, re: the discussion of gnus, do I have to divert everyone with zombies again?

It probably wouldn't work as well this time. I don't think zombies are perceptive enough to avoid those carrying openly, so the ability to carry concealed isn't an advantage with zombie antagonists. Or have I missed something?

#684 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 02:21 AM:

Rikibeth @ 683

I always thought the real threat was from the chimpanzees. Gorilla warfare is no laughing matter!

... But you could probably convince me to worry about the threat from zombie apes. Especially the cybernetic, psychically enhanced kind. Creepy...

#685 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 05:51 AM:

thomas @665: 21:10 in my copy, but thanks.
(Opens can of worms. (Pun intended.)) Does the number have numerological significance, anybody.

#686 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 06:54 AM:

Lee @ 682... They believe, as an article of faith, that government can't do anything right. Yes, even though they ARE that government -- it's an amazing level of doublethink.

Not necessarily. We want governing. They want ruling.

#687 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 06:55 AM:

Rikibeth @ 683... re: the discussion of gnus, do I have to divert everyone with zombies again?

It's what's for dinner.

#688 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 10:06 AM:

Steve C. @ #466: So, does anyone else think that Gizmodo and io9 and the other websites in the Gawker group did a stinky redesign?

Penny Arcade's Tycho was quite eloquent on the subject.

(Sorry, this is kind of a late response; I knew I'd seen a rant somewhere, but couldn't immediately recall where.)

#689 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 10:59 AM:

Avram @677: TexAnne @672, but I thought vaudeville was dead.
Actually, it was sent to prison.

#690 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 12:51 PM:

TexAnne @ 679: I was aiming for at least 100, up to 200 if needed. I've lost count how many crane folders there are. Any idea?

Singing Wren @ 678: the details are: fold cranes (your choice for size, colour - I'm using three-inch paper, multiple colours (20) and I may put in some on patterned paper for fun); attach into strings, wings flat, send to TexAnne.

Bruce Arthurs @ 681: That's a good gnu (see, these is such a thing as good gnus). I managed a nice rhino once, but there's a difficult fold I never quite managed again - must try again, sometime.

#691 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 01:16 PM:

dcb, 690: You, me, Rikibeth, and Jacque and Nicole, plus now Singing Wren; if anybody else is interested, post here and Abi will send you my email. No one will complain if we end up with more than 1000 cranes!

#692 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 01:16 PM:

Kip W @ 689... vaudeville was dead.
Actually, it was sent to prison.

To Sing Sing?

#693 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 02:05 PM:

TexAnne @ 691

I believe V's Herbie also expressed a willingness to participate @ 106. Janet Brennan Croft @ 100. Nancy C. Mittens expressed interest at 79, and what I think probably counts as a confirm at 532.

But that's just a quick glance-over.

#694 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 02:10 PM:

Which would make six people, 166 cranes each. But I think Nancy C. Mittens offered @ 79 - which would make seven people, a mere 144-145 each - or maybe less from people new to crane-olding and more from those of us well-versed in this activity?

I've only folded 20 or so so far for the "Xopher's 1,000 cranes" project, but as I said, with the stress fracture stopping me running, I've more time for folding cranes (I could even fold cranes while on the exercise bike, once I've modified the left pedal of the bike so I can cycle without putting pressure on the wrong bit of my foot) - exercise and crane folding both at the same time.

#695 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 02:14 PM:

Right, heads up. Anyone who wants to participate and doesn't have TexAnne's contact details, please say so. I will then fish your email address out of the back end and get you in touch with her.

To distinguish this from previous expressions of intent, please use one of the following words in your post:

{platypus, murnival, serpentine, vortex}

(Why? Because. Next question?)

Alternatively, feel free to email me at and I'll put you in touch.

#696 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 02:45 PM:

abi @695: Got TexAnne's details from you already, thanks, but I have to thank you for introducing me to a new word (murnival)!

#697 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 04:13 PM:

Avram, I don't understand what's over the line about my post that you cite. Please explain.

I've been staying out of the gnu cnotrol conversation because I have strong opinions and I'm not sure where the line is, but that post wasn't an example of it. The most pro-gnu person I've ever known (who belongs to a gnu club with a sign in the lobby that says "Free Men Own Guns. Slaves Do Not") taught me that a gnu is never safe, that you never point even an unloaded one at someone, and many other things that contribute to BEING safe(r) around weapons...including never FEELING entirely safe in their presence.

Please explain why either a) you think this sentiment was inappropriate or b) that isn't what you got from my post. I will try to improve.

As for Murnival...a Murnival is royal. (Why? Hint: China.)

#698 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 05:28 PM:

abi #695, dcb #696: And from "murnival", I've now been exposed to the game of gleek!

#699 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 05:29 PM:

abi #695, dcb #696: And from "murnival", I've now been exposed to the game of gleek!

(Prior version held with bum link, sorry.

#700 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 05:39 PM:

Xopher: I think (as I remember my reaction to the comment) it was the implication that the mere presence of the gun trumps other considerations.

I know that I don't feel specifically unsafe just because there is a weapon about. I know that I should like to think that people who know me wouldn't feel de facto less safe just because I happen to have a weapon on me (and for different reasons to ddb's, I happen to pretty much always have a piece of cutlery on me, and the nature of the beast is that my having it means it's a potential weapon of intent, but I digress).

Because the weapon has no volition, it's not possessed of the ability to act (unless one accepts aspects of Aristotle's "Final Cause" which I think even he would balk at).

So your statement that you never feel less than unsafe if there is a gun present is a statement that you never trust someone who has a gun.

At least that's what I think Avram meant, based on how I read the comment at the time.

#701 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 09:40 PM:

Xopher @697, first, I didn't say your comment was "over the line", I said I was "not thrilled with" it.

Why was I not thrilled? Oh, where to start? First, your comment was basically an attempt to emotionally preempt any rational argument anyone could make in support of gun rights, made worse by the claim that it was "a completely rational response".

Second, the thing that really pissed me off was something in both your comment and Bruce's #499: Attempts to declare your particular emotional response to be beyond the bounds of rational discussion. In your case, "Period, paragraph, ever"; in Bruce's case, "End of discussion." (Bruce's offense was worse, as it's also an attempt to declare the conversation over.)

Put those two things together, and I have to ask: What contribution did you think you were making? You couldn't have been presenting your opinion for discussion, because "Period, paragraph, ever." You couldn't have been engaging with someone else's points, because you didn't engage with anyone else's points. Did you just think we all urgently need to know that you feel unsafe near guns, in case you were planning a surprise visit? Quick, honey, hide the guns; Xopher's coming up the stairs! In what manner is "I never feel safe around a gun, period" anything but an attempt to make the conversation about you -- a thing Abi has, in the past, criticized DDB for?

#702 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 09:53 PM:

Avram, you might want to consider that they were saying that they weren't going to discuss it further, that that was their view.

Otherwise, I have to read your comment as expecting everyone to continue discussing things whether they want to or not.

#703 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 10:08 PM:

I thought Betty Hutton was quite cute in Annie Get Your Gnu.

#704 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 10:09 PM:

P J Evans: I don't think that's a completely justifiable reading. Bruce, when queried, said that anyone who practices concealed carrying is engaged in deception; and used pretty prejudicial language to do so.

Xopher said anyone who doesn't feel unsafe in the presence of a firearm is deluding themselves.

Neither of those was a statement of being personally done with the subject. They were presented as statements of fact, not open to debate.

#705 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 10:13 PM:

I knopw it wasn't Star Trek's best episode, but I still liked Specter of the Gnu.

#706 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 10:34 PM:

Well, it's a good thing thrilling Avram isn't one of my goals in life, because I daresay I would never succeed.

My point was GUNS ARE DANGEROUS. Using them requires TRAINING and MINDFULNESS. Feeling safe around them disrespects their power, and leads to carelessness, which leads to accidents.

Read in whatever you like, Avram. You really seem to enjoy interpreting anything I say in the worst possible light.

#707 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 10:36 PM:

I've never cared much for Tom Cruise, going as far back as Top Gnu.

#708 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 11:24 PM:

Xopher@705: Dangerous, check. Training, check. Mindfulness, check.

We part company at saying that feeling safe around guns disrespects their power. I won't resort to pejorative terms, because it's not to my mind inherently crazy, or a matter of fact and untrue, or any of those things. It just doesn't fit my model, my training, my experience. It's not a common position among gun experts, either; not even common enough to be a recognized controversial stance. (Obviously at least one exists who does think that, since that's where you learned it.)

And it may be as much a question of how people describe their experiences as a real difference in how many people feel. Doctors have to have exactly those three characteristics, and pilots, and drivers. All can harm, even kill, other people if they make mistakes. To me, guns fit into the categories that cars and planes and scalpels and radiation treatment machines do. But I wouldn't say I don't feel safe, ever, around a car. Or a scalpel.

#709 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 11:50 PM:

I'm taking a bit of time off from this conversation to keep from losing my temper.

#710 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 11:52 PM:

Did you know that the French title of "The Sand Pebbles" would translate back into English as "The Gnuboat of the Yang-Tse"?

#711 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:03 AM:

I assume other drivers are fools, because that way I'll keep an eye out for what they might do with their multi-ton weapons. It's a lot safer than assuming they know what they're doing.

#712 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:14 AM:

I'd volunteer to fold some cranes, but the way I've been coughing and sneezing and blowing my nose and then sneezing some more, I probably shouldn't be sending anything I've touched to anyone else....

#713 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:21 AM:

I don't know whether anyone is still interested in that sweat lodge story, but it came up in a replay of aSherman Alexie interview-- he said that is is never appropriate to tell people that they shouldn't leave a sweat lodge, and no Native American would put shame on anyone for doing so. That bit starts at about 4:30.

#714 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:04 AM:

Avram @700:

Making the conversation all about you requires that you keep contributing to it. Both Bruce and Xopher (until prompted) didn't do that.

Also, note that pretty much all of the expressions of anger are really expressions of personal pain and fear, either about the topic or because of other factors the community knows about. I explicitly include ddb in this statement.

But to answer the accusation I hear in your comments: the whole thing blew up in a busy and difficult time for me. I try to be here pretty much all the time, but sometimes I simply do have a life, and sometimes I don't have the spoons for a gun control discussion at the draggle-tailed end of winter. By the time I came back, the damage was done. It seemed better to let it die down. I particularly appreciate Terry's recent comments, which I hope make ddb feel less isolated.

Despite your re-ignition of the subject, I still think the best thing we could do would be to walk on and go gently for a time.

And, by the way, if you want better moderation, pick a shoulder and put it to the wheel. Be around more often. (Once you have your temper back, of course.)

#715 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:08 AM:

Earthquake disaster in Christchurch, NZ.

Link goes to what I think is a streaming live feed from an on-site report. 65 people are confirmed dead; structural damage is extensive.

#716 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:20 AM:

ChCh earthquake. is also a good source. And NZ Herald for more detailed reporting when they catch up a bit.

The earthquake was smaller than last September's one, but shallower and closer to the city. Quite a few buildings have collapsed; not clear who is underneath them.

#717 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:28 AM:

ddb @ 707:

And it may be as much a question of how people describe their experiences as a real difference in how many people feel. Doctors have to have exactly those three characteristics, and pilots, and drivers. All can harm, even kill, other people if they make mistakes. To me, guns fit into the categories that cars and planes and scalpels and radiation treatment machines do. But I wouldn't say I don't feel safe, ever, around a car. Or a scalpel.

Other people being hurt doesn't necessarily require that the operator make a mistake, although that certainly is a common cause of such accidents. The one time I was most worried about getting hurt by a gun (other than in combat) was when a rather brainless individual was so excited by hitting the target with a rifle bullet that he turned around to express his excitement by waving the muzzle in my face. However it is possible for machines to have failure modes that hurt or kill people without any stupidity on the part of the operator; guns have done that many times in the past1, and even radiation treatment machines have done so2. Any machine capable of lethal action should be operated respectfully and with a certain wariness. If that requires not feeling completely safe, that's an acceptable tradeoff in my opinion.

1. If nothing else, the fact that some automatic pistols can fire if dropped can cause injury or death.
2. Google "Therac-25" for a nasty example. I worked with an engineer once who had spent 2 years on a project to design a completely fail-safe radiation treatment machine, after the Therac debacle became known. It is amazing how few of the techniques they used had been used on any other design.

#718 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:44 AM:

I think important to allow people their feelings, particularly their feelings of unsafety.

Xopher doesn't feel safe around firearms. Bruce Arthurs doesn't feel safe at work because of the risk that the people he's dealing with may have them. ddb doesn't feel safe in society unless he's able to carry one. TexAnne and Fragano don't feel safe if they're are allowed in schools.

None of these reactions are likely to be changed by a discussion on the internet. People are not talked out of their fears in this manner. All that happens when one tries is that they get upset.

Walk on?

#719 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:52 AM:

Bruce C., #716: One thing I get really tired of is hearing (IMO fallacious) comparisons between guns and life-saving equipment. Guns are designed with the intent of killing things -- animals or people. That some people use them for other purposes doesn't change this -- and those people will generally say, somewhere along the line, that the reason you use a gun for other purposes is so that you can kill someone or something with it at need.

Cars and airplanes and medical equipment and all these other things that get brought up for comparison are designed for other purposes first and foremost, although they can kill if misused. With guns, killing is the purpose, and other uses are secondary or ancillary. That sounds like one hell of a bright line to me. "Emergency equipment", my ass.

#720 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:54 AM:

Sorry, abi, cross-post.

#721 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 03:56 AM:

Re Christchurch Earthquake: I haven't seen anything from fantasy author Helen Lowe since her blog comment this morning. Hopefully she is just out of contact (power and/or phone issues), or has higher priorities.

NZ Red Cross FB page (main site is patchy)

#722 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 06:03 AM:

Hopes and best wishes to everyone in New Zealand. How are nearby Fluorospherians doing?

#723 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 07:00 AM:

abi @ 713... I try to be here pretty much all the time

...and we thank you profusely.

#724 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 07:10 AM:

If I may, I'd like to recommend 2009's "Creation", in which Paul Bettany plays Charles Darwin.

#725 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 10:39 AM:

Rikibeth @ 683 - Oh. great. Now I get to worry about zombie gnus.

As the somewhat reluctant owner of a couple of amphibian pets some 30+ years ago, I will attest that no newts is good newts. This may also apply to politics.

#726 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:22 AM:

Anne Sheller @ 723... I will attest that no newts is good newts. This may also apply to politics.

Years ago, I read a column by the San Francisco Chronicle's Herb Caen. It was a reprint from when Newt was still not that well known. Apparently, someone, upon hearing his name, said that Newt Gingrich sounded like a character from "Dune".

#727 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:25 AM:


For the lazy among us, is there a good link to a writeup of their techniques anywhere?


I was especially impressed with the aerodynamics of the gnus they flew in that movie. You wouldn't think such a big, heavy thing could move like that, even with big jet engines strapped on.

#728 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:28 AM:

Bruce Cohen@716: I know of the Therac story, and yes, that wasn't operator error. (Arguably engineering error to a level possibly criminal.)

I don't fly (as pilot), or operate scalpels, but I do work to maintain mindfulness and so forth when I drive a car, as well as any time I'm handling guns. I wouldn't argue that people should be indifferent to the possibility for serious harm if they screw up in any of those cases; in fact I argue the opposite, here and elsewhere. I just don't think it's either inevitable or somehow required.

I do think that if people are too nervous dealing with some tool, it can actually increase the risk of error. If this is a learning stage they pass through (which it often is), it calls for special care from both the student and their teachers. If it's a permanent thing they can't get past, though, it might be better for that student to not drive, or not fly, or not carry a gun, or not give medical treatment.

Your footnote 1 -- long guns are much more likely to be subject to slam-fire and firing when dropped than pistols. There are certainly still handguns in existence that can fire when dropped, but I'm not aware of any modern designs, anything that it would make sense to choose for carry, that can do that. Various mechanisms, but generally these days (for both revolvers and semi-autos) if the trigger isn't pulled back, the firing pin is blocked, or the hammer/striker is blocked from hitting the firing ping, by a simple solid bar of metal. (I suspect that since long guns are fired at much longer ranges, a clean smooth trigger action is much more important, and safety mechanisms that interact with the trigger are forgone in its favor.)

So the big danger when you drop one is that you might unthinkingly try to catch it—which could result in some finger through the trigger guard and pulling the trigger, if you're unlucky. And that will for damned sure cause it to fire.

Lee@718: Guns were certainly invented as a weapon, but I see that as a historical statement of fact, rather than any sort of moral statement about guns.

Some emergencies involve being attacked with deadly intent, by people or animals. I can't carry around a bunker or even a suit of armor, and I can't always foresee what stores, restaurants, schools, or neighborhoods to stay out of.

#729 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:30 AM:


His name is certainly no weirder than "Duncan Idaho." (Or, for that matter, "Wyoming Knott" or "Hiro Protagonist" or "Diziet Sma.")

#730 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:41 AM:

albatross @ 727... His name is certainly no weirder than "Duncan Idaho."

I want to read a story in which Duncan Idaho falls thru a time warp, runs into Indiana Jones, and they team up to rescue Tennessee Williams.

#731 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:45 AM:

abi@717: Slight modification—"safer", rather than "safe". Absolutes aren't useful around questions of safety, I don't think, since "absolute safety" doesn't exist on a planet with the Yellowstone Caldera, the New Madrid fault, HIV/AIDS, lightning, tornadoes, sharing a system with probably billions of chunks of rock floating around in various orbits, and 6+ billion other monkeys (list of threats incomplete and not claiming to be the top risks).

I've got two huge posts on firearms-related topics partly drafted, but they'll probably end up hitting that "this is inadequate, and to make it adequate I'd have to write a book" barrier, or else end up elsewhere. (One was never intended for here in the first place.) (About 3500 words between them currently, and one is barely half done.)

For me there is an aspect of being "out" about supporting the RKBA. It's easier for people to demonize gun owners if they think they've never met one. Lots of gun owners prefer to keep a low profile; due to teaching courses and some political activism, I already had a visible profile, so it seems a productive thing to me to use that. This does mean that I'm very easily summoned—casual remarks assuming a shared abhorrence of guns will do it every time.

#732 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:51 AM:

In other news, the Colonel apparently said (among other things) that since he doesn't hold any office, he can't resign, and since he doesn't have any power (no, sir, it's all the people's power), he can't give up power.

Oh, and he says he hasn't even really started using violence yet, but he soon will. Ugh.

#733 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:56 AM:

In Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon", the Gnu Club launches a capsule to the Moooooooon.

#734 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:12 PM:

Local author Melinda Snodgrass is back from Boskone with a probably broken hand, due to her encounter with a Canadian ninja in Chinatown.

#735 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:15 PM:

Guns are killing tools, that much is true
and fit for killing, in a time of strife
and times may come, when options left are few
and killing is the way to save a life.

But we live now in towns, and under law
that keeps the peace, and holds us back from sin
the killing tools we see seem more a flaw
oft used for evil by the worst of men.

The guns in hands of good men, disappear
invisible; who fears what they don't know?
the ones in hands of evil men bring fear
and rare madmen can make that fear to grow.

And stories use these tools another way
to cheaply raise the stakes on weekly shows
convincing some still more to fear their sway
as magic wands in hands of frightful foes.

The truth is more mundane, they're simply tools
not worth the risk for me, though they're not banned
a danger to the mad, to kids and fools,
though day may come I wish I'd one to hand.

#736 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:17 PM:

I'd like to apologize to Avram and this community for the whiny spitefulness of my post at 705.

I'd like to thank ddb for his calm, measured statement at 707; we disagree, but I can understand that position.

End of topic (for me (I hope and will try hard)).

HLN: Man tears up expressing affection for a dear friend, announces "These tears are my victory over [name of drug]!" He continues to feel increasingly effective as the antidepressant leaves his body; though there is also a downside, it's well worth it.

#737 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:36 PM:

albatross@733: Oh, nicely done! (I hope I can say that without stirring the pot that most of us seem to feel we've come to the bottom of.)

#738 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:44 PM:

Xopher@734: You're welcome. I haven't expected to convince much of anybody (at the level of changing established opinion); my main hope was to get some people to understand better than they had, even while still disagreeing.

And glad to hear your choice about antidepressants seems to be working out for you! I know enough people who feel antidepressants keep them alive and functional that I have to classify myself as basically in favor of them -- but only the right one, in the right dose, for the particular situation of the particular person. If the right dose for you now is none, then I'm in favor of that.

#739 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:49 PM:

The video (from the particle) of the hamster-powered walker in action is amazing! It works much more smoothly than I expected. Must puzzle the cats quite a lot!

#740 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 02:02 PM:

The Nebula nominees have been announced.
I'm especially glad that MK Hobson's "The Native Star" is among them.

#741 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 03:28 PM:

...that is the end of the Gnus, here is the weather forecast:

England and Wales is expected to cover much of the country tonight, reaching Scotland in northerly areas and giving rise to patches of high ground, especially in areas of divergent altitude.

Finally, a late footballe result:

Real Madrid - 2
Surreal Madrid - a banana.

#742 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 04:01 PM:

Wow . . .

Glenn Beck Conspiracy Theory Generator

Virtually indistinguishable from the guy's actual output.

#743 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 04:24 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 740 -

Oh, I'm rolling! That's awesome.

#744 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 04:39 PM:

Abi: #713, "Making the conversation all about you requires that you keep contributing to it. Both Bruce and Xopher (until prompted) didn't do that."

Oh, I've been contributing massive screeds to the discussion, but they've all been staying in my head and not getting transferred to the keyboard.

Which I probably should have done with my initial post as well. But I've had disagreements with ddb's posts about gnus for a long time, and haven't stated them before.

So why didn't I resist the impulse this time? That's one of the things I've been thinking about, and come to realize that a large part of it was about serious job frustration in general, and major frustration about that mall fight I described.

Working as mall security usually falls into two categories: I'm either acting like a Boy Scout, helping people, providing information, solving problems, etc., or I'm acting like a High School Hall Monitor, enforcing some of management's more petty or inexplicable policies. (They spent millions and millions of dollars to make the place photogenic; why am I supposed to tell people not to take photographs?) The Boy Scout part, great; make me feel good about my job. The Hall Monitor part, not so great.

But in incidents like that mall fight, my job is to be a Useless Fuckwad. Call 911, stand back, and wait for the police. Which in this instance, meant waiting for over ten minutes.

Being a Useless Fuckwad -- being told to be a Useless Fuckwad -- really, really gets to me. Anger, frustration, shame.

I'm a paunchy old guy with glasses, and the little hand-to-hand training I've had (Army Basic)was nearly forty years ago. I'm not the guy who should have to even think about stepping into a situation like that fight.

Every other property I've worked at that has had popular bars on site has also hired off-duty cops to provide extra (armed) security on weekend nights. They get fewer fights and disturbances, and when they do, there are people right there trained and equipped to deal with it.

But not this property. They won't do it; they won't hire that extra security, even in the face of continuing incidents like that fight. They don't want police officers standing around on their hoity-toity, high-class development, bringing the tone of the place down, and they don't want to pay the $48/hr it would cost to hire off-duty police.

I'm frustrated over this. I'm furious over this stupidity. Furious, and very close to quitting. (If I hadn't already put out feelers about transferring to another, more sedate, property, with a strong likelihood of getting a position there in the next month or so, I'd probably already be gone.)

So that's the emotional backdrop when I was writing that comment back at 489. And having thought about it a lot, I've come to realize that a lot of that frustration and anger slopped over into my writing of that comment. Careless writing, loaded writing, antagonistic writing.

So I apologize to ddb for however much of what I wrote was taken as personally directed against him. (I was trying to keep my words directed towards the subject of concealed-carry in general, rather than towards ddb or any other specific individual; I may not have been completely successful.)

(But jeez, ddb, how can you, never mind. NEVER MIND. I'll stop now.)

#745 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 04:52 PM:

Bruce Arthurs@742: Happy to talk, in person and unarmed, over a beer, coffee, water, single malt, whatever, if we end up in the same neighborhood. Perhaps on another subject; whatever.

No apology is necessary; or I will offer a reciprocal apology for places where I rushed past the line.

Sympathies on the job situation; hope you get a saner place. I'm sure you're not paid nearly enough to make having to be a useless fuckwad on the job worth it.

Lots of malls have what seem to me very strange anti-photography policies. I have no idea what they think they're protecting themselves against. And I'm sure they don't stop 10% of the people wanting photographs, though they may manage to avoid being immortalized in great art (great art tends to come from bigger, more obvious, cameras).

#746 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 05:21 PM:

re 737: If I went to conventions I would feel moved to build a da-Vinci-punk hall- er, not costume exactly, but a sort of pedal-powered walking carriage which walked along using Jansen's linkage.

#747 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 05:54 PM:

Earl Cooley @620:

Ah, what faith you have in direct deposit -- payments appear every month automagically!

All direct deposit means is that you've given the Social Security Administration (IRS, VA, etc.) permission to put your benefit check into your bank account. It has nothing to do with how or when those payments are processed.

The Social Security data is prepared monthly, by an honest-to-Goddess human being (or several), as the amount to be transferred to your account has to be deducted from a particular pool of money. Social Security updates its info every month, as some beneficiaries die, and others may age out of the program (children of a deceased beneficiary get funds up until they are age 22 if they are students).

In the past SSA sent the checks out once a month (at the beginning of the month) but the number of recipients has increased to the point that they now do several batches -- Mom gets her check the second Wednesday of the month, so it's very likely that the shutdown would mean her check for March wouldn't arrive.

For those getting tax refunds -- those are one time things -- which means every batch will be different, and again, it's a real live Federal employee entering the necessary data.

Without the necessary authorization to dispense funds and the human hands to process them, those direct deposits cease.

#748 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 06:30 PM:

albatross @ 725:

Sorry, no, I did some looking around at the Los Alamos online library, where the work was done, and couldn't find anything. My colleague's name is Doug Hahn; I haven't seen him in almost 20 years, but the last I heard he was working for Predictions, Inc. a chaos-theory-based stock market predictions company started by 3 Los Alamos scientists which was gobbled up by UBS 5 years ago or so. I heard about the work in a seminar that Doug gave when we were working at Tektronix Computer Research Labs.

Stefan Jones @ 740:

You know, of course, that you should never look that site up on Google, or the black helicopters will come for you.

#749 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 06:42 PM:

abi @695: {platypus, murnival, serpentine, vortex}*

Time considered as a helix of...What!?


* Yes, this may be construed as an expression of intent, if retroactively redundant.

#750 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 06:51 PM:

#746: As a Black Helicopter Corps Reserve officer, I have nothing to fear.

(Hey, that would make a great novelty patch . . .)

#751 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 08:00 PM:

Albatross @733: And stories use these tools another way

I always wanted to see a "MacGyver" scene where he's stuck in some trap with another good guy, and they find a gun. "Oh boy!" says other good guy, "Now we have a gun! We can—"

And MacGyver's already getting out his screwdriver. "Yes! I can use this firing pin as a crude spark generator, and if I take these bullets apart, I can improvise a sort of flare and signal for help! Then the barrel can be used as…"

"No, no! We pull it on our captors and make them let us out!"

"Huh? I don't follow you."

Stefan Jones @748: I once suggested to a friend that we design and make big black decals in the shape of helicopters to stick on the back of street signs (STOP and such) with cryptic instruction on them. Just to bug the paranoids.

#752 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 08:06 PM:

I was hoping to not feel the need to step in again. Guns and cars are a problematic equivalence(I am going to ignore doctors because that's a whole 'nother can o' worms. I don't see how specific training to engage in helpful procedures being screwed up can be anything but a false equivalence), and I'd like to point out why.

The only way in which one can draw a true equivalence is to make the direct comparison of cost/benefit. For all that I like guns, I don't know that it can be done. It's not really possible, even in places with reliable public transit to remove cars and have society function (as it does at present). Since the same can be done for firearms, the need for them; in the same way there is a need for cars, seems to fail the test of equal value.

So, if one wants to make that comparison, the need is there to support it with actual arguments as to the utility, to the whole; supported with some sort of facts, not just they make me comfortable/intuitively must work in "x" manner.

#753 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 08:12 PM:

Has anyone heard from Soon Lee, or any other known Kiwis?

#754 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 08:29 PM:

Serge #724:

Christopher Hitchens once wrote a column in which he stated that he initially misheard Gingrich's name as 'Coot Sheepdip'. Ever since, I have had difficulty in thinking of the former congressman from Georgia as anything else. Except once, when for purposes of an American Government class, I created a character called 'Hoot Chipwich' who was Speaker of the House of Representatives.

#755 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 08:29 PM:

"My other Black Helicopter is a TIE Interceptor"

#756 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 08:30 PM:

Soon Lee posted that he was ok, Terry.

#757 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 08:35 PM:

Fragano @ 752... I once came across Coot Sheepdip - of all places, on the streets of San Francisco. Unfortunately Karl Malden and Michael Douglas didn't show up to throw him in the slammer.

#758 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 08:38 PM:

Open thread, insert mouth:

If anyone has a chance to say "that's like lipstick on a Venus Fly Trap", I'd appreciate it if they did so.

(City of Heroes moment: Plant Controller pet + customized color scheme. AND I HAVE NOWHERE TO SAY IT. Yet.)

#759 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 08:53 PM:

Sandy B at #756:
That image will stay with me. But I can not think of anything I am inclined to say is like it.

#760 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 09:03 PM:

Abi @695: Yes. Therefore:

{platypus, murnival, serpentine, vortex}

Also, thank you to Jacque @747, because I missed Abi's the first time around and only found it because your post so becroggled me that I absotively had to go find its context.

#761 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 09:13 PM:

Terry Karney @750: this is going to be a meta-reply.

Don't worry, folks: no gnu content.

However, Terry's been using a piece of punctuation in a way with which I am unfamiliar, and I wondered where he'd picked up the usage.

You seem to be using the ; character (semicolon) in ways I would use comma, or an em-dash, or even a set of parentheses: to set aside a whole subclause, sometimes in the middle of a list of things you are delimiting with semicolons. Using semicolons for lists is perfectly fair, especially if the list items have commas in them; however, the only other use to which I put them is to effectively weld together two whole or almost-entire sentences that I feel really 'belong' together as a single idea, despite being grammatically expressible with a period and new capital letter between them.

Specimen texts from past posts of Terry's, rot-13ed for triggery semantic content: V nyfb svaq vg znxrf fbzr bs gur erfg bs lbhe nethzragf n ovg uneqre gb ernq qvfcnffvbangryl; fvapr crbcyr yvxr zr; jub unccra gb guvax pbaprnyrq pneel vf abg n oynaxrg rivy naq gung zbfg fgngrf jbhyq or orggre freirq jvgu rnfvre npprff gb pneel guna gurl unir; gubhtu jvgu creuncf zber genvavat gung zbfg unir ng cerfrag. ... Fvapr gur fnzr pna or qbar sbe svernezf, gur arrq sbe gurz; va gur fnzr jnl gurer vf n arrq sbe pnef, frrzf gb snvy gur grfg bs rdhny inyhr. ... Fb, vs bar jnagf gb znxr gung pbzcnevfba, gur arrq vf gurer gb fhccbeg vg jvgu npghny nethzragf nf gb gur hgvyvgl, gb gur jubyr; fhccbegrq jvgu fbzr fbeg bs snpgf, abg whfg gurl znxr zr pbzsbegnoyr/vaghvgviryl zhfg jbex va "k" znaare.

#762 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 09:38 PM:

Terry at #699: Because the weapon has no volition, it's not possessed of the ability to act (unless one accepts aspects of Aristotle's "Final Cause" which I think even he would balk at).

Nevertheless, Chekhov said the gun will go off in the third act.

#763 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 09:41 PM:

Elliott Mason @758: ::curtsy:: Happy to be of service. (And in turn, your post made me lol and scare the guinea pigs.) :-)

#764 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 10:20 PM:

or Newt Rockne?

#765 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 10:29 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man turned in his Hugo nominations tonight.

#766 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:22 PM:

Fragano @ 752: I have never thought of him as anything but Newt Grinch, ever since the Newsweek cover illustration in December 1994.

#767 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:26 PM:

Flames. FLAMES at the side of my face.

"Myths About Unvaccinated Kids"

This is SO very wrong. I had a friend post this as an approving link over at Facebook and I had to write an extended rant (nicely tempered, she is a friend) just on a few points. I couldn't even finish READING it, it's so wrong.

" "Herd immunity" really doesn't exist. If it did, we wouldn't be seeing disease outbreaks in highly vaccinated communities, we'd be seeing them in communities with lower rates."

GAH! Must KILL with SCIENCE! You do not know what the term "herd immunity" MEANS!

P.S. Has the article writer ever heard of "immune compromised"? That's those people who can't be vaccinated because they don't have an immune system to kick in, because of disease, or chemo, or age, or extreme youth. You bring your unvaccinated kid within fifty yards of those folk and if they're a carrier, those folk could die.

#768 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:45 PM:

While there's apologizing going on, Xopher, I'd like to apologize to you for unnecessarily adding to your existing stress. Also, there've been plenty of times when you've thrilled me.

And Abi, I'm sorry for heating up the thread, and not paying more attention to it earlier. I don't know if anyone else has said anything, but I've noticed that, for 20% of Making Light's staff, you've been putting in a lot more than 20% of the effort, especially recently. Thank you for that.

#769 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:46 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 761... Don't worry, folks: no gnu content

Like we haven't herd that one before.

#770 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:02 AM:

Avram, 768: Abi has been putting in 100% of the effort for quite some time now.

#771 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:13 AM:

B Dubin:

*Sigh* I don't think she quite understood what she was talking about w.r.t. four of the five myths. (Though obviously, she's right that unvaccinated kids who haven't been exposed to measles aren't going to be giving anyone measles.)

I don't know her, but my guess is that she arrived at her decision not to vaccinate her kids for reasons that have nothing to do with any of these assertions, and that she then backfilled her justifications. Unfortunately, that's how a depressing amount of day-to-day argument works--I start out having decided what side I'm on for reasons of identity or something, and then I come up with a backfilled argument to justify what I've already decided.

#772 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:18 AM:

Someone on here recommended the Captain Alatriste books, or at least mentioned them. I am trying to keep what Spanish I can* and reading books that aren't... well, I took a couple lit classes in college, and while I don't want to say that all Spanish stories are depressing, all the ones I read were depressing except one by Allende. Also the movies. And this one book I read in translation this year which was basically FUTILITY HAHA between two covers.

I cannot find the first Alatriste book in Spanish anywhere. Does anyone have recommendations for nondepressing ideally-YA-or-otherwise-simply-written books in Spanish?

*in a seventh-grade Spanish classroom, when asked if I spoke Spanish, I said, "I think so." A while later, when the teacher said that yes, I spoke Spanish, I mentioned I'd minored in it.
Today, in Rock Band class**, I offered to sit by my student and help him keep up. "Do you read music?" asked the teacher. "I can keep up," I replied. This, after singing for... ever, basically, and getting more money from my vocal scholarship in college than I ever did TAing. I am apparently not allowed to say I'm good at things.

**this exists! In a different junior high! With real instruments!

#773 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:41 AM:

An anthology for aiding those in need in Canterbury (including Christchurch) is being put together.

Errol in Auckland

#774 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:53 AM:

Avram @768, TexAnne @770:

It's somewhere between 20% and 100%. There's usually someone else posting on the front page, which is a mercy. I've not had much time to keep interesting content coming.

Fortunately, the community rarely bursts into flame.

And I'd like to apologize for my tone to Avram. I did not pounce on the controversy as soon as I woke up in the morning...I simply ran out of energy. But having committed to doing this thing, I care a lot about doing it right, and I did not, in this case, do so. Getting defensive when someone notices that is not a useful response.

I'd also like to explicitly apologize to ddb for not coming in on the side of the minority, as is my wont. Between my own emotions on the subject and the issues I mentioned above, I left you exposed where it's my job, as moderator, not to do so.

#775 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 01:30 AM:

TexAnne @770: I was going to post something to this effect before abi did, and I want to anyway --

None of us who aren't moderators know how much each of the people involved here put in*. Except that we know that each puts in 100% of the work they put in. abi's been quite the most visible recently, doing a great deal of good work; and others do a great deal of the article-posting and thread-starting. Without taking away from what abi has been doing (which I greatly appreciate), I'm quite sure it hasn't been 100% of the work necessary to keep this fine group functioning.

*I doubt any of the moderators knows, either.

#776 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 01:37 AM:

Diatryma @772 said: I am apparently not allowed to say I'm good at things.

I was in choir and intensively singing (while casually -- not intensively -- being trained to sing) all seven years of grade school☆. In high school, I didn't bother to look for opportunities to sing, beyond auditioning, badly✿, for roles in the twice-yearly☂ musicals, and ending up working costume crew instead.

In my first month at college, I noticed flyers set up around the place for the university chorus ... but they said you had to audition, so my inner YOUFAIL voices spoke up, I wilted, and I never tried. It wasn't until over five years later that I found filk, remembered how much of my soul's white-hot core singing touches, and got back into the habit of doing it regularly.

It was driven home to me fairly recently that even my rustier levels of skill, even back then, were high enough that I'd've probably blown any non-sight-singing part of that audition so far out of the water it'd have a daylong walk BACK to it. But I didn't even try, because, well, it was only a hobby, right? It's not like I was GOOD at it.

A large part of my personal journey in the last decade-plus has been learning to KILL THAT VOICE WITH FIRE, without letting the overspray damage any parts of me I really WANT to keep.

☆ I skipped a grade. Eighth. It's complicated. Also, my mother is devious.
✿ In retrospect, I blew my auditions because of (a) extreme nervousness and (b) utter lack of experience or training in theatrical arts or auditioning, rather than (c) total lack of talent. Also, I had no idea how to pick audition pieces that would show me off to advantage, for the vocalist roles. The kids who got to be in the plays and musicals were basically the kids who'd been acting and dancing for years already in school stuff or side clubs, before getting into high school at all. When there are only 5-6 biggish roles per production, and a school of 1200ish students are eligible to audition for it, and upwards of 80 DO, regularly, a timid, self-hating, inexperienced-but-enthusiastic kid doesn't really have much of a chance, no matter how supportive the teachers want to be.
☂ If I said bi-yearly, would that mean at intervals of 1/2 year or 2 years? Man, this stuff confuses me sometimes. And I was an English major, so-help-me! And let's not even bring up inflammable or irregardless. Or, y'know, do➹, if you'd enjoy it. :->
➹ I really like footnotes. Probably because my natural mode of language generation involves long rambling parenthetical dependent clauses.

#777 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 01:39 AM:

Tom, I value your opinions, but in this case I disagree. I feel strongly that Abi is (and has been for a while) the only one doing the visible work of moderation--which is not the same as spam-killing or posting. And Abi, I don't think you need to apologize for not pouncing on an incipient problem first thing in the morning. You give us the benefit of the doubt all the time; don't forget to do the same for yourself.

#778 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 01:43 AM:

Terry #753:

I'm o.k. as are immediate family & close friends. Auckland where I live is on a different island to Christchurch. Even so, New Zealand being such a small country, we all know people who have been affected by the earthquake.

Yesterday was a bit of a shock, today's mood at work has been subdued.

#779 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 02:09 AM:

Ping Teresa: Hamster T-shirt!

#780 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 03:15 AM:

Soon Lee: I knew you weren't in Christchurch, but the geology of the geography isn't plain to me (even though, being Californian for the past 36 years, I am quite familiar with earthquakes).

#781 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 03:49 AM:

Terry #780: is an excellent earthquake resource for near real-time seismic activity in New Zealand, including recent quakes (Christchurch is experiencing a number of aftershocks) & a graphic of quakes in and around Christchurch in the last 60 days.

#782 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 05:07 AM:



#783 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 05:56 AM:

Okay, popping over to see the xkcd that ajay referenced also sent me to look at today's

Flying cars

#784 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 06:56 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 775... Without taking away from what abi has been doing

An excellent suggestion.

#785 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 07:55 AM:

Terry Karney@752: The odds of taking away all firearms from society are smaller than the odds of taking away all cars, I would judge. They're smaller and more easily hidden (which both makes it hard to remove the existing ones, and easier to bring in new ones). And they can be made in a surprising number of basement workshops, if it comes right down to it.

And, if you succeeded, you'd have the big strong people feeling much more confident that they could overcome their intended victims.

Besides, I'm not claiming equivalence; I'm a step down that ladder, at "analogy". Cost/benefit is the point.

Gotta run, 7am meeting!

#786 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 09:35 AM:

Serge #757:

That would have been a worthy outcome.

Ginger #766: The Capitol Steps did a song once, 'You're a mean one, Newt Ginggrinch'.

#787 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 09:58 AM:

I have to offer hearty congratulations to my sister Linda, the Author -- she got a two-book deal with Tor, and her first novel is scheduled to hit the shelves next summer. Her feet haven't touched the ground in the last 24 hours.

#788 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 10:04 AM:

Steve C @ 787... Congrats to your sis!

#789 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 11:46 AM:

Cat Laser Bowling.

AKA "short is good, funny is good, short AND funny is better".

#790 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 11:54 AM:

Lee (789): That's priceless!

(Except I feel sorry for the cat. Are they trying to train it *not* to chase the laser dot?)

#791 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:45 PM:

TexAnne -- I hear your disagreement, and respect your thoughts though I continue to disagree. Praise, no blame.

#792 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 01:57 PM:

ddb: You miss my point. I am not making an argument about guns/cars (nor even one about banning/confiscating; which is a different one altogether).

And I am not going to.

I am making a point about argument in general. When one makes attempts to make an apples to apples comparison, one is obliged to make sure they are comparing apples.

#793 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 02:50 PM:

Sandy B. @ 758:

I may have an ability to use that phrase with my friend's plant dominator. And it makes for a great image, too.

#794 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 02:53 PM:

More creativity in an Amazon review....

#795 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 03:15 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 794:

That's absolutely delightful, and also has one of the best uses of Emily Dickinson I'm ever likely to see.

#796 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 04:39 PM:

Tom Whitmore @794: Oh my, that's lovely. I'm impressed with the poetry but laughed hardest at J. Fitzsimmons's very short review.

HLN: Woman gets hired to copyedit a whole book for a real publisher! Is very excited! And utterly convinced of imminent failure!

#797 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 05:45 PM:

Open Thread query:

External back up systems, specifically Carbonite?
Anybody use it? Anybody use something like it?

What's your experience?

#798 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 08:54 PM:

TexAnne@777: Not to take away from Abi's excellent work, but . . . posting is, in my opinion, part of the visible work of moderation. And spam-killing is one of those ongoing jobs which seldom gets the appreciation it deserves because it only becomes visible when it doesn't get done.

#799 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 09:58 PM:

JM @ 796... Congratulations!

#800 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 10:12 PM:

In other news, local woman becomes hypnotized by Entanglement. "It's even worse than Auditorium," she said. "I'm not telling any of my friends in case they have jobs and families. This stuff is as addictive as books."

#801 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 10:19 PM:

Following up on a recent story, local woman is confused by the failure of her link. She apologizes for any inconvenience.

#802 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 10:33 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man finds that it's possible to take a day off without work-related disruption. Man rejoices.

#803 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 10:35 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man to fly to Bay Area next week for traning. Training not to be held in San Francisco or even in San Leandro, but in Pleasanton. Man does not rejoice.

#804 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 10:38 PM:

TexAnne @800, they've snazzed up the artwork since I got caught up in playing it last summer. Here's a screen shot I snapped of my highest score.

#805 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 10:42 PM:

For people who like a look behind the scenes: a veteran Foley artist talks about his work.

#806 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 11:26 PM:

"Genius is often little more than the ability to see connections no one else can."
"Sounds like insanity."
"I won't deny there are a few superficial similarities."
"A few, huh?"
"Sarcasm is not an endearing quality, Robo."

(Atomic Robo having a chat with his dad - Nikola Tesla - in the 4th issue of "Atomic Robo and The Deadly Art of Science")

#807 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 11:39 PM:

Well, at least it isn't summer.
(Serge, I grew up in the next town over from there. San Francisco was a day trip, and not something done often either.)

#808 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 11:52 PM:

PJ Evans @ 807... With BART reaching all the way there, it won't be that bad a ride, but I expect the training's location in Pleasanton to result in a lunch-break even more dull than in San Leandro. Quite a contrast to when the office was on San Francisco's Market Street.

#809 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 12:04 AM:

Elliott Mason in re: auditions—

You're absolutely right that auditioning is a specific talent set. I'm apparently not very good at it, since I know for a fact I can out-sing and out-act at least one of the people currently cast as a principle in my current production (the part that annoys me is more that the person given the smallest principle role, with no solos, is SO MUCH better than the one who's stumbling, so why wasn't SHE cast there?) Also, for the record, the only principle role I've had as an adult is one for which I was not only pre-cast, but one which was written for me. (Then she cut my chromatic solo song, with my blessings, because it *was* a children's show and we had to watch the timing.)

That particular director/friend is probably the best actor and singer I've ever known. I wish she would move to my town so we could be in productions together again.

Anyway, I wish I knew what the heck it was I'm doing wrong, because everybody says that I'm singing great and I'm reading well. Maybe it's just that I'm too tall (STILL the tallest woman in the cast, though for once I'm not standing out like a redwood in a forest of firs.) It would be nice to know.

#810 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 12:22 AM:

B Durbin @ 809...

They tend to prefer casting Munchkins?

#811 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 03:13 AM:

An insane person can see connections no one else can.

A genius can see connections no one else can, and then explain them to others.

A cult leader can convince others that they can see connections no one else can.

#812 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 07:06 AM:

heresiarch @ 811... I like that.

#813 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 08:31 AM:

heresiarch #811: A Mad Scientist can see connections no one else can, and can build stuff out of them. (Bwa-ha-ha!)

#814 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 09:30 AM:

"Given the results of last night's experiment..."
"Y'mean the failure."
"There is no failure in Science, Robo. Only missteps on the path to greater understanding... Let's see what we can do to physics today, hm?"
"Should it be doing that?"
"I have no idea."

(Atomic Robo and his father, Nikola Tesla, in the 2nd issue of "Deadly Art of Science")

#815 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 11:25 AM:

abi@774: Thanks. It actually makes me feel considerably better, even after the fact, to know I wasn't just ignored when I called for moderator assistance.

No problem with your having a life, and rating it more highly than your participation here, of course. That's right and proper.

#816 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 11:34 AM:

The opposite of genius
is genius.

#817 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 12:25 PM:

Serge, a restaurant guide for Pleasanton.
They aren't all chain restaurants.

(With time and a vehicle, I'd recommend Tommie's Deli in Livermore.)

#818 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 12:34 PM:

I've been to Pleasanton a couple of times for PeopleSoft classes. It's a decent enough place.

#819 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 12:53 PM:

HLN: Nashville woman contemplates new set of flood warnings for area, and reflects that perhaps the good people of Middle Tennessee should not have whined about having snow so often this year, as the snow was not, for the most part, invading anyone's basement or ruining their businesses.

#820 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 01:03 PM:

PJ Evans... Thanks. Steve C... I hope that Pleasanton spot is no worse than near the San Leandro BART station. It's got no bookstore. Not even a Starbuck's. But it does have a Wendy's.

#821 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 01:31 PM:

B Durbin @767: I have a very good friend whose younger child is mostly unvaxxed.

Said child has a history of significant negative reactions to vaccines which have at least twice resulted in hospitalization. She also has asthma and several allergies where slight exposure leads to ER visits. Mom carries an Epi-Pen at all times; child, now 9, has begun to carry one as well.

They have a medical waiver which allows the girl to go to school despite lacking required vaccines.

The mom often finds herself on all the wrong sides of the vaccine argument. When people find out that her child isn't vaxxed, they assume she's anti-vax and either try to convince her to vaccinate (even saying that the negative reactions are "not as bad as you're making out" or "all in your/your child's head") or praise her for her courage in standing up to the medical establishment (or some other version of the anti-vax argument). She's pro-vax but can't risk it for her child.

The child's pediatrician at one point said they might consider vaccinated her later in life if her overall health stabilized but they haven't tried yet.

#822 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 01:46 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man discovered last night that his newly redesigned & decluttered home office has resulted in a desk surface spacious enough for him to fold laundry.

#823 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 01:57 PM:

More about The Last Ring-Bearer -- Yeskov, who sounds like a seriously fun guy, writes about writing the book in Salon today. (Oddly in Salon's "Movies" section, not "Books".)

#824 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 03:21 PM:

Serge @ #822, has that local man's cohabiting cat identified the desk surface as a potential lounge area?

#825 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 03:34 PM:

Linkmeister @ 824... Nope. Instead, the hyperlocal cat immediately took up residence on one of the new shelves. As you can see HERE, the nearby lamp may have something to do with the feline's choice.

#826 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 03:46 PM:


New bed may require steps, rope ladder or pole (for vaulting) for area woman to alight. Area dog chagrined by lack of bed access.

#827 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 04:52 PM:

lamp, plus ability to view outside world without being seen.

#828 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 08:51 PM:

nerdycellist: I have a bed in much the same school of thought. The cat opts to bounce on it via adjacent chairs... or, if he's feeling hardcore about it, from the floor to the top surface, a jump of several (4+) feet.

My bed might be a bit much.

#829 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 08:56 PM:

ddb@731: (Note to all. This post is NOT about gnuctrl.)
"It's easier for people to demonize gun owners if they think they've never met one….I already had a visible profile, so it seems a productive thing to me to use that." I take this to mean that you are inclined to engage rather than avoid, so that other people won't think of gun owners as some abstract "other." I am also going to assume that your hope is that they will be more likely to adopt a position that is less distant from your own than they might otherwise have done.
It makes a lot of sense. I have occasionally dropped a comment into a conversation at an appropriate point that reveals the fact that I'm in a same-sex relationship, or that I'm a Christian, for much the same reason.
So, IF my stated assumptions are correct, then with the intent of assisting you, I wanted to let you know that this was not the effect that your argument in this thread had on me. For context, I will say that I don't have gnus on my top-ten list of Issues, but am in favor of notably stronger restrictions than we generally have now.
In order to inhibit "my" tendency to demonize gun owners, you have to not only be visible, but you have to be somebody "I" can empathize with. If you're taking a position "I" disagree with (and what's the point if not to sway the people who disagree with you), you really have to bend over backwards to avoid any hint of shrillness or taint of fanaticism. Because (as a representative of the hypothetical demonizers) "I" am going to (unfairly!) overlook rants, raves, and ad hominem attacks from people who agree with me, but pounce on those from the other side.
I almost didn't read post 731, because somewhere in the 600's I'd decided "everybody's just ranting, and ddb is just another one of those gun nuts." This post revised my opinion of you upwards enough that I decided to post this message, which I hope will prove to be useful to you. I don't know if I could make a convincing case for being a 'typical' "people", but for what it's worth, your statements here were making it *easier* for me to demonize gun owners, not harder.

#830 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 09:20 PM:

"We're growing a strange crop of agnustics this year."
- Hornbeck in Inherit The Wind


#831 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 10:25 PM:

Dave Howell@829: Well, one does what one can. I recognize this part of the discussion from various other contexts. Yeah, when being something of an ambassador, it's possible to do more harm than good. It's also possible to drive yourself completely bats trying to live up to external expectations. Both can be bad.

#832 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 10:45 PM:

HLN: Local man, fire lit under him by circumstances, films first episode of a YouTube (heavy black quote mark) cooking show (heavy black quote mark). Hopes it will get easier.

Ate the dish cooked with the filmmaker. A good time was had by all.

#833 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 11:32 PM:

Boulder cranes shipped. Should get there sometime next week.

#834 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 12:27 AM:

Melissa Singer: That child is the reason anti-vaxxers make me so angry. Some people CAN'T get vaccinated—my husband has a niece who literally had no immune system for a number of years, so not only were vaccines worthless and contraindicated, anyone who came in contact with her who had as much as a sniffle could give her a life-threatening illness. (Gamma globulin shots, two hours away and $1000 a pop—some folks just won't listen when you tell them something is serious.)

Some friends of mine had a kid who had to get a special vaccine series because of an egg allergy (which he has since outgrown.) I fully understand and appreciate that some people just can't do the process. Anyone who says, "My child hasn't been vaccinated because..." and follows it up with references to the medical professionals who have been advising in that specific case should have no reason to fear censure. Should.

The whole point of mass vaccinations is to create a buffer for the infants, the allergic, the immune-suppressed, the chemo patients, and the very elderly. The fact that it also protects one's precious child might induce a rational person to get it, but apparently not.

#835 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 12:33 AM:

Just got a letter from the IRS, suggesting I owed them $13,818 in past-due taxes, interest, and penalties.

Somewhere along the line, the $397.47 in royalties I got from Publisher X in 2009 got reported as $39,747.

It should be an easy problem to correct. I have the 1099 form showing the correct amount, and the 1040 form showing the correct amount being correctly reported.

But, you know, if my freelance writing earned that kind of money, I wouldn't mind paying the bill.

#836 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 12:47 AM:

Stefan Jones, I have said before that someday, I will have a job that requires me to pay taxes.

My more infuriatingly conservative acquaintances replied, at one point, that then I'd be sad seeing what my money was spent on. But since I have been supported by taxes for the last twenty-four years, whatever. Besides, a job that requires me to pay taxes would be a job that gives me more than just enough money to survive. I will leap gleefully into whatever higher tax bracket I can achieve.

Someday. Someday.

#837 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 01:25 AM:

TexAnne: I blame you. I followed that link.

Then I plunked down 1.99 and bought the expansion.

I just made 57th on one of the boards.

I took screenshots.

I must say I like the name generator.

#838 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 01:27 AM:

Stefan Jones @835: I've had to deal with the IRS in the past about a similar problem (they'd double-counted some income of mine) and they were polite and easy to deal with about it. I sent in the documentation, and the problem went away.

Which, as I tend to be very scared of Large Bureaucracies, was not what I was expecting.

#839 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 06:33 AM:

Lee @805: Foley

Cool!! I've been sort of conscious of the art of Foley, but this really reinforces that I'm probably only even yet dimly aware.

I remember doing some very primative sound effects when I was a wee tot making "radio shows" on my mother's dictaphone (crumbling paper sounds like crunching celery, didja know?) and I've occassionally thought that would be a fun art to get into. But I get tired and sweaty just watching this guy.

#840 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 06:41 AM:

me @833: Erm. Possibly ambiguous. I shipped cranes to TexAnne. Xopher will have to wait until TexAnne slings 'em his way.

#841 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 07:02 AM:

Can the fluorospherians shed some photon onto how common it is to find scanned and printed copies of old books are not fit for purpose?
I ordered a copy of Berthelot and Ruelle's Corpus alchimistes Grecs, vol 3+4 via amzon. I have the first two volumes, and they are fine, but in this case well more than 20 pages are missing or totally illegible, and a similar number are partly damaged.
I can't tell for sure if the scanning process was bodged or the printing process, but either way I'm returning it as not fit for purpose.

So how often do these occur?

#842 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 09:11 AM:

Dave Howell @136 spoke about timbre in group singing

I've often hated my voice for being high, pure, and clear-to-white -- not QUITE a boy-soprano sound, but very personalityless. In no way warm, brown, and fuzzy, if you see what I mean.

However, it has led to a minor singing superpower: I can blend with almost anyone, and make it sound like they're doubletracking. I literally have a voice made for singing backup, since if I'm paying attention to singing just behind someone, magical things happen to the sound.

This was mostly learned during grade-school choir, when we had a game we called 'psychic singing'. One person would start singing something the rest have probably never heard before, and we'd do our darnedest to sound like we had the hymnal right in front of us. It's actually a lot of fun; you anticipate notes (easier in some genres of music) while singing vowels, then switch to what the leader is doing as fast as you possibly can. Most esecially, you watch the leader's lips and body english closely so you can breathe when the do, anticipate consonant sounds, make the same phrasing, etc. With decently skilled players, musically naive outsiders can't tell it's happening.

It's stood me in good stead both in filkcircles and while attending religious services in unfamiliar congregations.

#843 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 10:05 AM:

Hyperlocal news...

Man watches 2006's "Sharpe's Challenge".
Man sure that TexAnne wouldn't be interested.

#844 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 11:27 AM:

Thanks for running point on that, Jacque. I'll be uploading the pics soon - prolly tomorrow.

Elliot Mason @ 761 - ah, so it's not just me noticing that.

#845 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 11:29 AM:

...and by "tomorrow" I meant, actually, "today," as I wrote that post last night, hit Preview, wandered off to another tab, and forgot I never hit Submit. Clearly last night would not have been a good night to manipulate digital photography.

#846 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 12:17 PM:

Nicole, Jacque, and other crane-folders: I'm kind of amusing myself by choosing pieces of paper to fold that are decorated, or recycled from some other use that I find meaningful.

Last night at dinner, for example, I took the scribbled-upon kid's menu my daughter had just finished with, and folded four cranes from it.

#847 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 12:19 PM:

guthrie @ 841: I've looked at thousands of scanned books online but never ordered a reprint. In my personal experience (I don't have statistics), missing or damaged page images are unfortunately common. It seems to depend on who's done the scanning and what their quality standards are.

When looking to acquire a reprint of a scanned book, you might find it worthwhile to search for an online preview, e.g. in Google Books or the Hathi Trust.

#848 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 01:00 PM:

Benjamin Wolf @ #828 -

My dog is a rather gravity-bound corgi mix and will therefore not be attempting any bold feats of parkour just to get on my bed.

In reflection I think I may be more saddened by her inability to share the bed than she is; she's also got a fancy new memory foam bed that she is quite fond of. I will just miss having naps with my dog.

#849 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 01:11 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 842 - I've had someone do that with me once. It was rather disconcerting to have her singing along, since I'd written the lyrics and was fairly certain she'd never heard the song before.

#850 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 01:17 PM:

That's like a stunt some composers pulled on a friend who had just finished writing something. Details are hazy, but they either overheard him playing it or got a peek at the score, and one of them was the sort of prodigy who could pull a thing like that off. They played it for the astonished composer as a work that had been around for a while and had him half believing he might have remembered it rather than composing it. The anecdote is in The Great Pianists by Harold Schonberg.

#851 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 05:57 PM:

Your good wishes are solicited.

My stepson Gavin is a Search and Rescue volunteer.

He is currently on his way to Christchurch, where his team will be relieving one of the teams that has been hard at it since the quake. Given the time that has passed, they are likely to be finding more bodies than survivors.

So, please, your good wishes, in whatever form you consider approriate, for him in what is going to be a really fraught time.

J Homes.

#853 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 06:53 PM:

Anne @ 849 & Elliott @ 842

I had that happen to me at a song circle once and it was beyond "disconcerting", alas. I was debuting an original song and the person singing along -- however well intentioned -- distracted me sufficiently that I had to stop in the middle and request that they stop.

(And by "debuting" I don't simply mean that the rest of the circle had never heard it before -- it was the first time I'd ever sung it in public, so my own grasp on it wasn't quite strong enough to stand up to an echo.)

#854 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 08:25 PM:

#851: Best of luck and all strength to Gavin.

#855 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 10:31 PM:

J Homes #851:

Best wishes to Gavin & all the USAR. It's a massive international effort going on in Christchurch at the moment, and we are grateful.

#856 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 10:33 PM:

Gavin: be safe, be strong, be well cared for and accept my gratitude for the work you do.

#857 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 10:40 PM:

Bright Blessings to Gavin (AIBHOW) for the work and his own safety.

#858 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 11:34 PM:

Elliott Mason @842: ::taps fingers together evilly:: Hm. I should find you and try to clone that superpower. That would be a very cool one to have.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @844: re: @761 ah, so it's not just me noticing that.

Nope, not just you.

#859 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 11:42 PM:

Elliott Mason @846: I would have liked to do something like that, but my matter-stream is so tight that the only recycled paper around the house is junk mail and newspaper (and the latter is used by the guinea pigs so is not, um, suitable.)

I'm terribly proud of myself that I resisted the urge to design our own custom decorator paper. (Though, if it turns out we need more cranes, I will probably succumb to temptation. I gifted Niki with some just-barely-used printer paper* for rough-draft fodder. If she'd be willing to contribute printer ink, we could probably come up with something cool.)


*A couple of times now, the last line of a Word file has provoked the printer to churn out an endless stream of blank paper, save for one line of gibberish across the top. I speculate that the text is intercepted transissions from the Martian invasion fleet.

#860 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 11:48 PM:

Gavin: go with the blessings of the Divine in your efforts. May you find happy suprises.

#861 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 12:07 AM:

Jacque @858: I'm willin', if you can figure out where we'd meet: I'm pretty sure I can't teach it long-distance. :->

#862 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 12:14 AM:

J Homes #851:

Many thanks for all international assistance.

USAID blog entry (note @DARTgirl on Twitter)

List of teams from two days ago


Various, including Aussies

#863 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 06:02 AM:

An update to my #744:

Management at the property where I work has (finally!) changed its mind about hiring off-duty police for weekend nights, when the bars' customers get *ahem* rather a bit more than rowdy.

All it took was two more fights, in one night, with one of them involving a sexual attack as well.

I'm still trying to get transferred to a different property, but I'm feeling a lot less stressed about continuing there for now.

#864 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 08:23 AM:

J Homes... Good wishes to Gavin.

#865 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 10:31 AM:

Best Wishes to Gavin!

#866 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 01:44 PM:

HLN: Fluorospherian amuses friend of Dutch origin, visiting Ankara for opening of exhibition of her watercolours of the city by claiming not to have eaten any cheese from the town of Edam

#867 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 04:47 PM:

Thanks, Gavin! You improve this world.

#868 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 05:20 PM:

J Homes #851:
Can you spot Gavin?

Also, TV interview with team member
John Campbell interviews member of American Aid team

#869 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 06:20 PM:

Elliott Mason @861: I'm willin', if you can figure out where we'd meet: I'm pretty sure I can't teach it long-distance. :->

Yeah, that's the tricky part. I kinda have to be in physical proximity for my superpower to kick in. (I'm not sure it's not, like, chemical.) Sadly, I have no plans to travel in the forseeable future. You don't happen to have any plans to come through the Denver/Boulder area anytime soon, do ya? I can offer crash space and lotsa guinea pig snuggles...? ;-)

#870 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 06:27 PM:

HLN: Local woman wonders why people who are otherwise intelligent, thoughtful, and conscientious have such a hard time with the concept "No plastic bags."

After spending an hour at the local recycling facility helping fish trash bags full of, well, trash out of the compost bin, and shredded paper out of the durable plastics bin, her faith in her fellow humanity is somewhat shaken. And she's tired and grumpy.

She was, however, reported to be amused by the graffito scrawled on the side of the compost dumpster: "Do Not Eat."

#871 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 06:37 PM:

Re the "End of the IT Department" article;

I myself feel that using ambient services outside your space (free web based email etc) sets up a weird dependency. It's like standing outside with your mouth open because it's always raining instead of having a water glass in your house.

#872 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 06:37 PM:

I read the End of the IT Dept particle and it has much the same flavor as some of the more "gee whiz!" Libertarian posts I've read. "Market forces can take of that" becomes "use the cloud!".

#873 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 07:36 PM:

end of IT: Ah, yes, because if you're using a hosted service then you don't have to do anything technical, ever again. My firm just started using a hosted tool for managing projects, as a replacement for a tool we managed ourselves. It can do some things quite nicely, but is sadly lacking in others*. The response to quite a few questions on "how do I do this?" is "use the web API". Why, yes, I really want to write and manage code written to some vendor's proprietary API.

It's also going to be fun to see companies put their workflows, calendars, email etc into some hosted product -- and then want to switch to another vendor. That will provide plenty of IT employment!

*When you find a tool that is better than all other tools in all respects, let me know.

#874 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 08:22 PM:

Jacque, #870: As far as I can tell, there's a significant subset of people who see any sort of waste receptacle and just think "garbage bin", no matter what kind of signage is on it. And then there are always those who just don't give a shit, and these days there's also the possibility of some people who are willing to go out of their way to do it from spite.

#875 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 08:41 PM:

Jacque @870 and Lee @874 I lived for a while in an apartment complex with recycling bins for paper and cans/plastic. They were large dumpster-sort-of bins in the parking lot next to the trash dumpster. And in the six months I lived there, I caught myself twice dumping the wrong kind of stuff in the wrong bin. If I extrapolated that to the number of people living in the complex, then every single day several people would be screwing up what went where.

#876 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 09:35 PM:

end of IT ... because sharecropping land just isn't as much of a moneymaker as it used to be..

#877 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 09:57 PM:

Lee and OtterB, and then there's the time when, after months of carefully separating all your stuff into the correct bins, making sure you put only trash in the trash and only recyclable paper in the recycle bin, you work late and see the cleaning person come by with ONE wheelbarrel* and dump all of both into it.

I've seen this more times than I can count. Companies pay lip service to recycling, but they don't (usually) actually spend the money to keep the trash separated. Lying, cheating, stealing mofos, all of 'em.

Death to capitalism.

Oh wait, sorry, I left my Rantometer™ set to Flame On. Let me turn that down.
*not a typo

#878 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 10:00 PM:

Dammit, the SECOND you hit Post...

That should be RantoStat™, of course. The Rantometer™ only tells you how hard you've been ranting.

#879 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 10:13 PM:

Xopher @ 877... Flame On

You really are Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch?

#880 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 10:29 PM:

Of course not! But then I WOULD say that, wouldn't I?

#881 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 10:45 PM:

Disambiguate! Are you flammable or inflammable?

#882 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 10:50 PM:

HLN: Local woman discovers that nails, even the teeny ones, are driven much more easily if one aims the pointy end into the wood.

Neighborhood guinea pigs, when reached for comment, assert, "The End Is Nigh!"

#883 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 10:57 PM:

Jacque @ 882... This reminds me that, in the recently watched "Sharpe's Challenge", one recalcitrant Indian kingdom liked to send 'messages' to the Empire by driving 9-inch nails into the skull of British officers.

("I said to send messages thru the mail, not with a nail.")

#884 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 11:07 PM:

Lee @874: there's also the possibility of some people who are willing to go out of their way to do it from spite.

I'm inclined towards this last speculation.

OtterB @875: And in the six months I lived there, I caught myself twice dumping the wrong kind of stuff in the wrong bin.

Yes, I've seen this with the bins at my condo complex. (Me? Recycling Police? Moi!?)

The shredded paper in the plastics bin, I could see, just from the way the place is laid out. But what's really weird is that this is a facility that you have to go to some effort to find, you have to check in at the window, and if you drive a car (which is most people), you have to actually pay money to leave stuff off there. Furthermore, there are no landfill (trash) bins at this place. Seems like a helluva lot of work and expense to go to, just for spite.

Only thing I can figure is that it was somebody's first time there, or somebody's cousin from SomeplaceThatDoesn'tDoRecycling was unwillingly along to "help", so they were feeling resentful and/or they didn't quite get the concept.

Altogether, very puzzling.

I'm kind of laughing at myself for getting so worked up and about this. Best explanation I can come up with is that (aside from Someone Being Wrong) is that I put a fair amount of effort into disposing of my matter carefully. If somebody ruins a batch with contaminants, then that potentially potentially wastes my time and effort. Hmph! say I.

#885 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 11:14 PM:

Xopher @877: you work late and see the cleaning person come by with ONE wheelbarrel* and dump all of both into it.

I would have an aneurysm. But then, we've already established I take this stuff way too seriously.

I laugh, because where I work, we have the opposite problem. If the cleaning staff finds the wrong stuff in the bins more than a few times, they'll narc you out to the Zero Waste authorities, and your department will have to go to a Meeting, where they will Review the Guidelines.

But this is Boulder, after all.

#886 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 11:34 PM:

My apartment complex has two recycling centers, each with eight clearly labeled bins for various sorts of paper, glass, plastic and cardboard. Specifically, rolling bins behind big metal doors with slots to drop the recyclables through. The doors bear the clear "what to put in here, what not" instructions.

Through the years, two of the doors in the center nearest me have been broken off. So all you see are the bins.

Many of the bins have been taken. So, the "Green Glass" slot leads to a metal shelf. The "Clear Glass" bin is an ordinary trash can.

But even before the place fell apart, a sufficient number of folks (choose one or more):

1) Couldn't read

2) Were too lazy too walk an extra 30' to an actual dumpster

3) Just didn't give a fuck . . .

and dumped bags of unsorted trash, dog shit bags, fast food wrappers in whatever bin suited them.

I once witness a dump. Guys in a pickup, who I took to be a dad and his teen sons, stop in front of a recycling center. One boy runs in with a bag. "Hey, this is for recycling!" He calls from inside.

Dad: "They'll sort it out."


I used to wonder if it was worth putting a sign reading "RECYCLING" above the door to the recycling enclosure. I don't think it would be. Too many fuckwits. Too many lazy slobs.

I'll continue carefully sorting out my stuff, putting it in the right bins, and putting dog shit bags in dumpsters.

#887 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 11:34 PM:

Oh, ghods. And now I feel like a horrible, evil, NASTY mommie. Yeti was hiding under my footstool (terrorized by the pounding, as reported above). I caught him with my foot when I sat down, but I thought he got out of the way quickly enough that I didn't do him any damage. But now I see he's hopping around favoring a front paw.

Gaahhh! I'm HORRIBLE. :-(

(Although he's still running around, makin' eyes at the girls, so he must not be doing too badly....)

Oof. You don't see them actually keeping a hand off the ground very often. I musta really nailed him.

Well, we do have some weasel juice* on hand. That'll maybe hold him until tomorrow. Then I can see if he needs to go to the vet. (Though what the hell they'd be able to do for him, I have no clue. I can't imagine a cast on a limb that small would be very practical.)


*AKA metacam

#888 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2011, 11:51 PM:

881 and 882, speaking of disambiguation and nails, why is it that on an arrow the head is the pointy end but on a nail it's the other way round?

#889 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 12:01 AM:

Oddly enough, our city has a single recycling bin for everything—glass, plastic, cardboard, and all. I've always wondered how they sort them; I can't really believe it would be "if" because they don't charge homeowners for the bins, even if you want a second one.

I figure that, worst case, they have an automatic sort for bottles and cans (i.e. the heavy and potentially profitable stuff) and dump the plastic and paper off to the side until they can figure out a sort process.

We also have "green waste" bins. I called to request a second one* and they warned me that they couldn't take it back for a year. My reaction (private) was along the lines of "You haven't SEEN my backyard."

This could also be classified as How Many Green Waste Bins Does It Take To Ship Out a Tree? How About Two?**

*I do not compost thorny stuff—of which there is a lot—weeds, branches, or oleander. The holding action we've been undertaking on the backyard has meant a lot more green waste than compost.

**Actual total of trees that needed to be removed from my sub-quarter-acre property: five. Current status: Downed tree is about halfway cut apart and in huge brush pile and angled tree that leaned over the fence was taken down to the fence line by the neighbors. (With permission and blessings.)

#890 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 12:30 AM:

Thanks for the good wishes, all.

Just to make it clear, Gavin and I are New Zealanders, from Wellington.

And yes, we are very grateful for the international support.

J Homes.

#891 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 12:34 AM:

Serge @833: one recalcitrant Indian kingdom liked to send 'messages' to the Empire by driving 9-inch nails into the skull of British officers.

"So do you, like, get my point?"

#892 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 12:35 AM:

Erik Nelson @888: Thank you, Erik. That's going to bother me all night, now.

#893 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 12:44 AM:

Recycling that is all mixed together is 'co-mingled'.
My City moved to it a couple of years back. You get more stuff that you can't recycle, and it is more hassle to process. BUT, less stuff hits the landfill (or whatever), as people find it less hassle to recycle.

Corporate PR description of process at

#894 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 01:00 AM:

B. Durbin @889: I've always wondered how they sort them

Why, I'm glad you asked! "Zero Waste by 2025." (I'm very proud of myself. My personal landfill output is down to about a pound or two a month. Mostly clamshell deli containers, blister-pack packaging, and, um, Häagen-Dasz tubs. Now all I need to fix is my home heating and water use efficiency.)

#895 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 06:07 AM:

Jacque @884:

Furthermore, there are *no* landfill (trash) bins at this place.

Well, there's your problem, as they say.

A person cleans out their garage and goes to the place-that-fills-the-mental-space-of-dump (heretofore to be referred to as ptftmsod) with a mixed carload of recyclables and garbage. And there's no place to put that last thing.

Ain't no way they're going to drive home from the ptftmsod with a bag of garbage. So they put it somewhere. They may not have meant to be antisocial, but there wasn't any social option that didn't involve bringing garbage back home.

Water flows downhill. People don't rtfm and bring only the appropriate things to the ptftmsod. You can either accept that and provide for it, or keep fishing garbage out of the recycling.

#896 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 06:57 AM:

My county runs its own recycling centers (and collects from street addresses, but my development has dumpsters instead. Apparently, they've tried to have recycling, but gave it up because people kept using the bins for ordinary trash. (Lots of immigrants, plus see below.) Accordingly, I need to occasionally convince someone with a car to haul my recycling out to the county facility. (In fact, my sister just did that with me yesterday.) (Also, I'm trying to skip some chaff involving city/county distinctions.)

However, a super-commingled recycling facility (that is, they can sort a household trash and pull out the recyclables!) recently started up nearby, and started taking business away from the county facility. After the failure of the inevitable lawsuit to shut down the interlopers (sigh), the county and many of the private haulers have started switching over to the new facility, but my development is not among those....

As far as the bins: I get annoyed at "misfiling" trash too, but I also see a lot of factors biasing me towards forgiveness. Not only is there the language issue, but:

People have a limited amount of added complexity they'll accept into their lives, after which they start just blocking stuff out. And they especially don't want to learn new routines, when nothing else has (apparently) changed! ("I've been taking the garbage out for 30 years, who are you to tell me how I should do it different?") Actually being concerned about the environment is sadly not universal either.

#897 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 08:21 AM:

THanks Susie #847.

#898 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 11:25 AM:

It drives me batty that my roommate doesn't recycle. And he doesn't recycle a lot. Here I am, with overflowing bags because I am green but lazy*, and I open the trash to find it's full of water bottles or cardboard or anything, slimy with another layer of food on top. And he leaves the light on in the laundry closet with the door closed. And, and, and.

*and because I stopped crunching milk jugs. The boy's friends like to play with swords. Milk jugs are excellent enemies.

#899 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 11:38 AM:

Erik Nelson@888: The pattern drawn by the OED (at least the slightly out of date edition in my possession) is:

(II.8) The upper or principal extremity of various things, esp. when rounded, projecting, or of some special shape
of which the first two subsections are
(a) The striking or cutting part of certain weapons and instruments...
(b) The rounded or knobbed extremity of a pin, nail, screw, etc...
That's not so much an answer to "why?" as "what's the pattern?", of course.

#900 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 12:04 PM:

I suggest that the "head" is the end with a knob on. The same pattern you use to find the head of a snake.

#901 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 12:08 PM:

Serge @883:
Nail in a post, nail in the post, what's the difference?

#902 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 01:10 PM:

geekosaur @ 901...

"Not a metal stamp, you nitwit!"

#903 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 01:35 PM:

Lila, 900: Oh, like a wizard's staff! /obSirPterry

#904 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 01:53 PM:

TexAnne: exactly my point!

#905 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 03:15 PM:

abi @895: Yes, exactly. It's like the software companies who design their products for how the designers feel they ought to be used, but ignore how people actually use them, causing everyone a lot of wasted effort.*

And I have to ask: is "ptftmsod" a real word? Context suggests that it is. (I presume if so, it's Dutch?) It tickles me; it looks like it ought to be an acronym for something. I deduce that it means, approximately, "recycling center?" If so, I'm going to have to pass this along to the Sustainability folks at work.

Diatryma @898: I have a dear, beloved friend, for whom I otherwise have deep respect, who didn't, in the past, recycle. I was deeply relieved, when I visited him recently, to find that this moral short-coming had been rectified.

The core problem, of course, is that recycling is a hack solution. The real solution is refuse-mining, as David Harmon @896: reports above (although I have to wonder how/if they deal with compostables). The problem won't really truly be solved until stuff is not allowed into the market without its "end-use" being identified first.

The above-mentioned Häagen-Dasz containers being a case in point: if milk cartons can be recycled, why the hell can't they come up with something for ice cream containers?

The good news is that, by all accounts, the latest generations of children coming up tend to be, if allowed and empowered, somewhat obsessive about this stuff.

One of my great fantasies is that someone finds a profitable, sustainable way to go out and mine the Gyre.


* This is, tangentially, one of the things I love about ML. It's designed by people from my own tradition of online discourse, for the way I grew up participating. It just plain works like I expect it to. Were it mine, there are a few extremely minor tweaks I'd make (like putting time stamps in with the links in the "Last N000 comments" list). But, in fact, suggestions I've made in the past have gotten picked up, so I can't even really sustain that complaint. ;-)

#906 ::: V's Herbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 03:16 PM:

Re: crane project...

I believe I have the wrong e-mail for Texanne. Is this correct? (rot13'd but not otherwise fiddled with)

grknaar ng zr qbg pbz

#907 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 03:40 PM:

abi@895 - one of the people I regard as a mentor in the early days of my computing career expressed a principle of "make the right thing the easy thing." For reasons unknown (likely turf disputes?) the right thing is rarely the easy thing. Sometimes the right thing is just about the least convenient of all choices.

serge@883 - iirc, the British responsive message to that included novel and memorable forms of execution, like firing the rajah out of a suitably large cannon. You don't meet many men of that calibre anymore...

#908 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 04:21 PM:

Strolling by the creek --
Blissful frogs croak in chorus:
Spring! Hallelujah!

#909 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 04:37 PM:

Grumble, grumble, whinge. The NY Times charges USD45.50 for permission to make 10 copies of a single article for non-profit classroom use. That's more than twice the cost of the whole paper (it wasn't a Sunday article), and you still have to pay for the printing yourself. No wonder most people just copy it without permission.

#910 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 04:51 PM:

V's Herbie @906:

You've got mail, to the address you use at the back end of Making Light.

#911 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 04:56 PM:

Jacque (905): You're correct that 'ptftmsod' is an acronym, for 'place-that-fills-the-mental-space-of-dump'.

#912 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 05:00 PM:

Jacque @905:

Mary Aileen is correct. The Dutch for recycling center is retourette. At least, that's what it says over the door of my local one.

#913 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 05:18 PM:

Open thread 154 is open for business, by the way.

#914 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 05:35 PM:

thomas @ 909: And they may well be legally entitled to just copy it; "multiple copies for classroom use" is one of the examples of copying that specifically mentioned as possibly fair use under US copyright law. (It isn't *necessarily* fair use, but it often is.)

#915 ::: V's Herbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 05:37 PM:

abi @910

Thanks! and thanks for the comment here, my spam folder slurped it up!

#916 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 06:02 PM:

Henry, #907: Re "make the right thing the easy thing" -- that has applications far outside the realm of programming. For example, in promoting public transportation, you have to make it easy for people who don't care about being green to use it, or they just won't. Make it easy, and promote the convenience factor ("No fighting rush-hour traffic!"), and they will.

thomas, #909: And lo, you've just provided another example of the above principle!

#917 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 06:13 PM:

#907 Sometimes the right thing is just about the least convenient of all choices.

And see ye not yon narrow way
So thick beset with thorns and briers?
That is the path of righteousness
Though after it but few enquires.

#918 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 06:28 PM:

#907 ::: Henry Troup:

In re "make the right thing the easy thing": Since I don't believe in absolute personal responsibility (I believe that people generally affect each other quite a bit), I'm inclined to think that a standard of doing what one can to make it easy for people to behave well (something I don't have well-defined, but I'll assume something like maximizing enjoyment of life) is plausible.

#919 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 06:55 PM:

Lizzie L @908: Now I have seen everything. A real haiku, on the internet. And an enjoyable one at that. Not just seventeen syllables, but a haiku sentiment, expressed economically.

Thank you.

#920 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 07:22 PM:

Kip W., you are very welcome. Thanks for noticing.

#921 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 09:39 PM:

With a season and everything!

#922 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 10:01 PM:

And a lovely pun on "sing hallelujah" as well.

#923 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 10:14 PM:

Is it too late to lend a hand on the crane folding?

#924 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 10:25 PM:

heresiarch, 923: No, not at all!

#925 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 10:38 PM:

Great! You can contact me at [my user name] plus [257*2] at google's mail service.

#926 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2011, 01:46 AM:

Kip W. I am not sure how I feel, since I am tolerably certain I have done the same thing (unless you are insistent on the 17 syllables, in English).

#927 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2011, 12:56 PM:

Bruce Arthurs@863: Sounds like the job stress will be a little down, so that's good. Hope you get a MUCH better place to work soon.

#928 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2011, 01:35 PM:

I am in for at least 5 cranes. I just finished grad school officially this month, and was planning to chill for a month or two, get my head together, decide what I want to do with my life, and finish writing up the work I have done, then start hunting out a job, but circumstances have intervened - i.e. all the job hunting programming put on by the school is occurring NOW. I find I don't have nearly the relaxation time I want. (sigh. poor baby. you have resources to help you find a job. The world's smallest violin, etc.)

What is the deadline on cranes? I will fold what I can before that time, then mail off what I have.

#929 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2011, 02:51 PM:

Nancy @928:

Check the email address you use on the back end. If it's not one you can check any more, drop me a line at and I'll connect you with TexAnne.

#930 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2011, 12:59 AM:

Terry Karney: I must have missed something. It's just that most "haiku" I encounter seem to be seventeen syllables about error messages, or pudding, or elevators, or something that fails to meet the requirements of the form. (Indeed, 17 syllables, in English, may be too many, but that's a much more purist view than mine.) Hence my standard rejoinder,

"One, two, three, four, five
Six, seven, eight... how many?
Seventeen? I'm done!"

If I missed yours, my apologies. I often run out of time to read everything on the web, and sometimes fall so far behind even on the few ML threads I follow that I race through comments and miss much of what is written. You know I'm not bragging, right?

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