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August 6, 2011

Open thread 162
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 11:36 AM *

In the land of Lemuria, all coins that are not gold are silver.

One day, on a Lemurian street, Ms. Smith meets Mr. Jones. Ms. Smith says, “I have two Lemurian coins in my hand. The one on top is gold.”

Mr. Jones replies, “I have two Lemurian coins in my hand. At least one is gold.”

Assuming gold and silver coins are evenly and randomly distributed in Lemuria, and otherwise unidentified coins in the hands of Smith and Jones are no more likely to be silver than gold, what are the odds that Mr. Jones has more gold coins in his hand than Ms. Smith has in hers?


Continued from Open Thread 161

Continued in Open Thread 163

Comments on Open thread 162:
#1 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:23 PM:

Mu. :-)

#2 ::: TrashedMyCookies ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:23 PM:

Assuming that each holds *only* two coins, which was implied but is not the only possible interpretation of the text, the odds are one in four.

#3 ::: rosyatrandom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:26 PM:

Giving the top coin first and the bottom second, the solution sets are:

Smith - GG, GS
Jones - GG, GS, SG

Odds that Jones has more are 1/2 * 1/3 = 1/6

(We need Smith to have one gold coin -- GS -- hence the 1/2. We need Jones to have two gold coins -- GG -- hence the 1/3)

#4 ::: Mike Scott ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:32 PM:

It depends how many coins there are in Lemuria in total.

The easy case is if there are four. Then Smith and Jones each have one gold and one silver, and the probability that Jones has more than Smith is zero.

The other easy case is if there are a sufficiently large number that it's effectively infinite (in the context of this problem). Then Smith has either one gold (50% chance) or two gold (50% chance), while Jones has a 2/3 chance of one gold (four options: SS, SG, GS, GG, but SS is ruled out by the conditions) and 1/3 of two gold. The distributions for Smith and Jones aren't related (by our assumption that there are a large number of coins), and so the probability that Jones has more than Smith is 1/3 * 1/2 = 1/6.

If there are (say) 100 Lemurian coins in total, then it gets complicated.

#5 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:33 PM:

I can't do logic when it's over 100F out.

#6 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:35 PM:

Without looking at the existing answers:

Ms Smith has two coins, and the one on top is gold. This means there are two possibilities: that the one on the bottom is also gold or that the one on the bottom is not gold. We can call these S1 (in which Ms Smith has 2 gold coins) and S2 (in which Ms Smith has 1 gold coin).

Mr Jones has two coins, and at least one is gold. This means, I think, that there are three possibilities: that only the top one is gold, that only the bottom one is gold, or that both are gold. J1 (1 gold), J2 (1 gold), J3 (2 gold).

(I worry that there's going to be some sneaky probability thing that means that "the one on top is gold and so is the one on the bottom" and the "the one on the bottom is gold and so it the one on top" count as two separate possibilities, but for the moment I choose to ignore it.)

The combined possibilities are S1/J1, S1/J2, S1/J3, S2/J1, S2/J2, S3/J3. Of these six possibilities, S2/J3 is the only one in which Mr Jones has more gold coins than Ms Smith.

Therefore, my answer is: 1 in 6

And if my final answer is wrong, I expect to still get points for showing my working.

#7 ::: Mike Scott ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:35 PM:

Also, we really need to assess the probability that one or both of Smith and Jones are lying or mistaken.

#8 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:35 PM:

I have no idea, but S&P just downgraded Lumeria's credit.

#9 ::: Mike Scott ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:40 PM:

Actually, thinking about it, the conditions set in the problem are impossible. "Assuming gold and silver coins are evenly and randomly distributed in Lemuria, and otherwise unidentified coins in the hands of Smith and Jones are no more likely to be silver than gold" can't happen unless the number of coins is actually infinite. Assuming there are 2n coins in total (it has to be an even number), then the probability that an unidentified coin is gold is (n-2)/(2n-2) while the probability that an unidentified coin is silver is n/(2n-2) -- because we know of two gold coins, but no silver coins. Either the distribution of coins is not even and random, or an unidentified coin is slightly more likely to be silver than gold.

#10 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:42 PM:

Wouldn't it be slightly more than 1/6, though?

Gold is nearly twice as dense as silver, so if you have coins being randomly jiggled about (in a pocket, or a loosely cupped hand, say), the gold-on-the-bottom configuration should be lower-energy and thus more likely.

So if the top coin is gold, the likelihood that the other coin is also gold is better than the 50% that chance would suggest.

All of this assumes that each of them is holding exactly two coins — because even if each is holding exactly two Lemurian coins, there is no indication of whether there are foreign coins (probably made of some base metal) in either hand.

#11 ::: Mike Scott ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:47 PM:

Stephen makes a good point. We have no information at all about how many non-Lemurian gold coins each person is holding, so we have no way to assess the probabilities at all (except to note that the total mix of all coins in Lemuria, whether foreign or not, is exactly 50:50 and random, which doesn't help enough).

#12 ::: TrashedMyCookies ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:47 PM:

Ms Smith has two coins. We don't know if she has more than two coins. If she were holding five coins, it would be true (if misleading) for her to say she is holding two coins. She would be. She would be holding them with another three coins, which she didn't mention, but her omission wouldn't make her utterance false. From her statement, we have only a lower limit on the number of coins she holds, not an upper limit.

Mr Jones likewise.

Making the simplifying assumption that each of Ms Smith and Mr Jones holds exactly two coins, and the further assumption that the coin supply is essentially limitless, the problem becomes one of probability theory. However, these are assumptions, and are not the only possible interpretations of the text. In light of the multitude of possible interpretations, the problem is essentially unsolvable as stated. Selected simpler problems implied by the stated problem are solvable, but the relative chances of occurrence of these simpler problems cannot be calculated from the available information.

#13 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 12:49 PM:

This seems the best place to announce to the Flourosphere that I am now a resident of Jersey City, New Jersey.

#14 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 01:07 PM:

This is like the Monty Hall problem, or the boy born on Tuesday: one of those problems where being given partial information screws up our intuition of statistics, because we don't think the information should change the odds, and it does. What's Tuesday got to do with it, and why do I care that Monty's shown me an empty box? Because it changes the population under consideration.

Speaking of population, a less contrived example is life expectancy, and how if the average life of a newborn is sixty five, that doesn't mean the average years left to a sixty-year-old is five.

#15 ::: Ole Phat Stu ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 01:13 PM:

100%, because Jones mugged Smith, grabbing her coins (that's consistent with the sequence in the puzzle) ;-)

#16 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 01:23 PM:

I've seen the place. Neither one has any coins, and they're just trying to brag. Soon, the hollowness of their lives will overwhelm them, and they will each stand in front of a train. One train goes from east to west at 30 kph. The other makes four stops, each time either picking up a goose or letting off a monkey.

#17 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 01:25 PM:

I make it one chance in three, assuming each person is telling the truth, and that neither would say "I have two coins in my hand" when s/he has three or more (and ignoring Mike's point about infinities because I'm not sure how to take those into account with combinatorics).

If we list each person's top coin first, the possible coins are GG, GS, SG, and SS.

Jones has equal chances of GG, GS, or SG (and cannot have SS); Smith has equal chances of either GG or GS (and cannot have SG or SS).

So, there are six possible pairings of Smith's coins and Jones's:

Smith   Jones
GG     GG
*GG   GS
*GG   SG
GS     GG
GS     GS
GS     SG

Two of those six combinations (starred), or 1/3, fit the condition "Smith has more gold coins than Jones does." Note that for the problem as stated, it doesn't matter how likely it is for Jones to have more gold coins versus how likely it is for them to each have the same number.

Hyperlocal news: Local woman came home from the Greenmarket with yellow peaches, yellow plums, and some late strawberries and blueberries. So far we have eaten about a half pint of strawberries (in oatmeal) and one peach each.

#18 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 02:01 PM:

Cheating by representing this situation as a computer program:

coins =
    choice [True, False] >=> \msSmithBottomCoin ->
    choice [True, False] >=> \mrJonesTopCoin ->
    choice [True, False] >=> \mrJonesBottomCoin ->
    returnP (if msSmithBottomCoin then 2 else 1) >=> \msSmithGoldCount ->
    returnP ((if mrJonesTopCoin then 1 else 0) +
             (if mrJonesBottomCoin then 1 else 0)) >=> \mrJonesGoldCount ->
    assert (mrJonesGoldCount > 0) >>=>
    returnP (if mrJonesGoldCount > msSmithGoldCount then
             "More Jones" else "not More Jones")

Using the haskell probability library linked to from the page linked to by my name, I then get:

coins:
"More Jones" ==> 1 % 6
"not More Jones" ==> 5 % 6

I really need to recover or rebuild my ruby probability library; it yielded much clearer (albeit slower) programs.

#19 ::: Anaea ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 02:05 PM:

Assuming honest communication on the parts of Smith and Jones, aren't the odds even? Telling us that the coin on top is gold is functionally equivalent to telling us that at least one is gold, yes? Because in the case of Jones we know that either the top or bottom coin (and maybe both) is gold, so if the coin on top is not gold, just flip the arrangement, and now we have the exact same conditions and information as what we have for Smith.

We know they are in Lemuria, and that in Lemuria gold and silver coins are evenly distributed, so it doesn't matter whether the coins in the hands of Smith and Jones are Lemurian, the undesignated coins each have even odds of being gold or silver.

Or am I missing something obvious?

#20 ::: Mike Dixon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 02:09 PM:

The order of the coins is irrelevant. So, to reword:
Smith has two coins, one of which is gold.
Jones has two coins, one of which is gold.
Any undefined coins have a 1/2 chance of being gold, and a 1/2 of being silver.

Assuming Smith and Jones aren't being devious wordsmiths and only have two coins each, the only way Jones can have more gold than Smith is if his second coin is gold (1/2 chance) and Smith's second coin is silver (1/2 chance).

Answer: 1/4

It's certainly actually possible to reach the correct answer without ignoring the ordering, but it's more complicated since not all outcomes are equally likely. In particular, Jones' GG, SG and GS are 1/2, 1/4 and 1/4 respectively.

#21 ::: rosyatrandom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 02:34 PM:

@Mike D, #20:

"In particular, Jones' GG, SG and GS are 1/2, 1/4 and 1/4 respectively."

Why?

If these were pre-rolled d20s, not coins, and Jones said "Al least one of my dice is showing '20'", would you assign the same probability to '20'&'20' as to '20'&'1-19' and '1-19'&'20'?

No. p('20'&'20') would be the same as p('20'&'1'), p('20'&'2'), etc.

Each individual outcome gets the same possibility, and these correspond to GG, SS, GS, SG.

#22 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 02:43 PM:

Mike Dixon @20 -- This is a minor variant on the Monty Hall Problem. The probability of each of the three states (GG, GS, SG) is equal (1/3 each) for Jones's coins, with the information we have. For Smith, we know that the first coin is gold, p = 100%. That is subtly different than knowing you have at least one gold coin, believe it or not.

#23 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 02:52 PM:

Dawno @910: the program PDF says it'll be from 7-8 in room KK2 "Beading Make & Take"

That's odd. Page 71 of my pdf says 8-9.

#24 ::: Mike Dixon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 03:00 PM:

@rosyatrandom, 21:
We know that one coin is gold. It's 1/2 that the known-gold coin is the first coin, and 1/2 that it's the second. So G* and *G are equally likely. But whichever coin is gold, the other coin's chances are unaffected, so it's 1/2 that the other coin is gold.

So there are four equally likely outcomes for Jones:
#1: First gold, other gold (1/4): GG
#2: First gold, other silver (1/4): GS
#3: Second gold, other gold (1/4): GG
#4: Second gold, other silver (1/4): SG

#1 and #3 are both GG, so GG actually has a 2/4 = 1/2 chance of happening.

The d20 case is similar. We know that one die is a 20. It's 1/2 that the known-20 is the first die, and 1/2 that it's the second. So 20&* and *&20 are equally likely. Whichever die is 20, the other one is unaffected, so each outcome for the other die (including 20) has a 1/20 chance.

This gives us 40 equally-likely outcomes:
#1: First 20, other 20: (1/2 * 1/20 = 1/40): 20&20
#2-20: First 20, other 1-19: (1/2 * 1/20 = 1/40): 20&x
#21: Second 20, other 20: (1/2 * 1/20 = 1/40): 20&20
#22-40: Second 20, other 1-19: (1/2 * 1/20 = 1/40): x&20

#1 and #21 are both 20&20, so P(20&20) is 2/40, and each P(20&x) and P(x&20) is 1/40.

#25 ::: Walter Hawn ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 03:06 PM:

The order of the coins in the hand, or in the bush, doesn't matter. We have two coins in each hand, we know that one of them is gold. Disregarding stacking order, there are 4 possible sets of contents: hand1=GG or GS hand2=GG or GS

Therefore, the odds that one hand or the other contains 2 gold coins is 1 in 2, or 50%

If we don't specify that h2 contains at least one gold coin, then the odds change:
h1=GG or GS h2=GG or SS or GS

#26 ::: Walter Hawn ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 03:09 PM:

Oops, misread the final condition == h1 has MORE gold coins than h2. Oops

1/4 or 25% in that case

#27 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 03:16 PM:

Anaea @ #19: "Telling us that the coin on top is gold is functionally equivalent to telling us that at least one is gold, yes?"

You'd think so, yes? But you'd be wrong. It doesn't matter how you distinguish the coins, but telling you that one particular coin is gold is a very different thing from "at least one coin is gold". This is one of those "screws up our intuition of statistics" statements mentioned in #14.

Consider this: Of all families with two children of different ages, one fourth of them have both children boys, one fourth have two girls, one fourth have an older sister and younger brother, and one fourth have an older brother and younger sister.

Therefore, of the parents of two children of unequal ages who can accurately say "at least one of my children is a girl", one third will have two girls. Of those that can accurately say "my eldest child is a girl", one-half will have two girls.

Therefore, the statements "at least one of my children is a girl" and "my eldest child is a girl" are fundamentally different in that the second statement gives more information(*) even though our intuition says that it shouldn't matter.

(*) ~0.585 bits worth extra information, if you're counting.

#28 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 03:20 PM:

And after a few people answering correctly, we now have a stream of people being led off the rails.

If you got 1/4 or 1/2, you've likely made the mistake that the two statements by our coin holders are equivalent. They aren't; I think my parents example may help to clarify why.

#29 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 03:27 PM:

Vicki@17: You have correctly answered the wrong question. We are asked what is the probability that Jones has more than Smith. That corresponds to the fourth entry in your table, and only the fourth, so the chance is then one out of six, just as others have said.

#30 ::: Henning Makholm ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 03:36 PM:

We need information about under which conditions Jones and Smith would say what they happened to say here. Are we to understand, implicitly, that the only thing that could possibly have prevented Jones from saying his piece was it would be false (i.e. only if she has two silver coins would say something else than "at least one is gold")? Or could it be that under appropriate conditions Smith would choose randomly between saying "the one on top is gold" and saying "the bottom one is silver"?

The answer to such assumptions inform which kind of probabilistic conclusions we can draw from the observations.

#31 ::: Anaea ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 03:42 PM:

Daniel Martin - I follow you, and that's the coolest thing I've learned all week. Thanks for the explanation.

#32 ::: rosyatrandom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 03:57 PM:

@Mike D, #24

You've counted GG twice; your 4 equally likely outcomes are in fact 3 equally likely outcomes.

#33 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 04:10 PM:

Terry Karney @13: Yes, but what is the distribution of gold and silver coins in Jersey City, and how does it compare to Lemuria?

#34 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 04:19 PM:

Their hands are empty. "Smith" and "Jones" are actually spies, and they're exchanging passwords.

#35 ::: Walter Hawn ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 05:07 PM:

If we know that one coin of two is gold, there are two possible states: GG or GS. It matters not at all, the order in which they are stated.

If we are to make a statistical distinction based on stacking order, then we have *four* possible states in each hand GG, GG, GS, SG.

To put it another way: If my oldest of two children is a girl, there is a 50-50 chance my other child is a girl. If *one* of my two children is a girl, there is a 50-50 chance the other is a girl.

Stacking order makes no difference unless the outcome is dependent on stacking order. Had the question been, "What is the likelihood that h1 will have coins in the same order as h2?", stacking order would be important.

#36 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 05:35 PM:

siriosa@ 23 said: That's odd. Page 71 of my pdf says 8-9.

You're absolutely correct, my error. It's from 8 - 9. Sorry!

#37 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:02 PM:

Kip W @16
You Remember Lemuria?
That is a Mystery!

#38 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:09 PM:

It seems to me that one gets 1/6 if and only if one presumes that Ms Smith preserved the order in which she received her coins.

For example, it is possible that Ms Smith received two coins drawn at random from the pool of all Lemurian coins and put them in her pocket (which had no coins until then). Upon meeting Mr. Jones, she drew the two coins from her pocket in random order, and found that a gold coin was on top. If this is the case, then (I believe) the probability of Jones having more gold coins than Smith is 1/4.

FWIW, that is how I read the problem. Your milage may vary.

Best,
Jim Bales

#39 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:17 PM:

Walter Hawn @ 35: Flip two coins several hundred times. Each time, ask yourself whether at least one came up heads, and if so, keep track of whether one coin or both was heads. You will find that both were heads one-third of the time, not one-half. TH and HT are separate outcomes, and no amount of saying the order doesn't matter will make them not be so. Or, to put it another way, if you want to say the order doesn't matter, you have to bear in mind that the probability of one coin being heads and one coin being tails is twice that of both coins being heads.

Similarly, of the four equal-probability outcomes for each pocket, Smith's statement eliminates SG and SS. Jones' statement eliminates only SS. Therefore, the chance of Jones' pocket holding GG is one-third, not one-half.

If *one* of my two children is a girl, there is a 50-50 chance the other is a girl.

Not so. Of two-child families with at least one girl, two-thirds have a boy and a girl, and one-third have both girls (ignoring the slight difference in probability between boy and girl births). So if all I know is that you have at least one girl, then from my state of knowledge the probability that both your children are girls is one-third; that is, if a large population of parents with two children answers the question "do you have a daughter?" accurately, I know that about one-third of them will have two girls.

Probability estimates are really statements about one's knowledge. In this case the information we get from Jones is different enough from that we get from Smith that we have to assign a different probability to each.

#40 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:20 PM:

iamnothing @37: It's been a while. I haven't seen the place since I was a little shaver.

#41 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:28 PM:

Jim Bales @ 38: If you add information other than what Smith and Jones are telling us, you can come up with any probability you want. For example, if you know what all the coins are, the probability will be either one or zero.

But if we randomly assign two coins to Smith and Jones many times, and consider those cases where both Smith and Jones can honestly make the stated claims, Jones will have more gold coins than Smith about one-sixth of the time.

#42 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:29 PM:

39
The order may or may not matter (it wasn't specified, so I'm going with 'doesn't matter'). Combinations aren't the same as permutations - order matters for permutations, but not for combinations.

#43 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:47 PM:

Tim Walters @ 41

When Smith says "the top one is gold", we do not know if that a statement about:
a) the order in which Smith received the coins from the population of all Lemurian coins, or
b) the order in which Smith retrieved the coins from the population of the two in her possesion.

Smith does not say, yet we must choose one of the two meanings. Whichever we choose, we add information.

Best,
Jim Bales

#45 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:54 PM:

P J Evans#42: yes, but each combination represents a different number of permutations, so in the "standard case" where each permutations has equal probability, the combinations do not necessarily have equal probability.

Bigger example: Flipping three coins has four combinations (T³, T²H, TH², H³), but eight combinations (TTT, TTH, THT, THH, HTT, HTH, HHT, HHH) that gather unevenly into the combinations. T²H simply does not have the same probability as T³, it has three times the probability.

It always amazes me how this and related issues can make people cling so stubbornly to a wrong answer that's not just wrong, but easily provable as wrong. But then, honest casinos live off such mistakes....

#46 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:54 PM:

Myself @ 38

I convinced myself that I was wrong in believing the odds are 1/4 if Smith's "The top one is gold" is a statement about the order in which she retrieved the coins from the population of the two in her posession.

In this case, Smith drew two coins from the population of all Lemurian coins, and we know that at least one of the two is gold. Then the odds of the other being gold are 1/3, and the odds of it being silver are 2/3.

Similarly, the odds of Jones having two gold coins are 1/3.

So, the odds of Jones having two gold coins and Smith only one are 1/3 x 2/3 = 2/9 (a bit less than 1/4).

(If, on the other hand, we decide that Smith's statement "the top one is gold" is a statement about the order in which she drew two coins from the population of all Lemurian coins, then the odds are 1/6, as others have noted.)

Best,
Jim Bales

#47 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:55 PM:

Bah. Eight permutations. Serves me right for playing with superscripts.

#48 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:58 PM:

Tim Walters... I've been seeing a few suggestions come up thru your meetup. I voted for dinner on Wednesday.

#49 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:07 PM:

#38: No.

That is, you have not given a scenario which results in 1/4 probability. The second scenario you give results in 1/6, still.

It seems that probability problems like this are excellent tools for triggering SIWOTI syndrome among Making Light regulars.

#50 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:08 PM:

Jim Bales @ 43: No, we don't have to (and can't) choose. That's the whole point. We are assured that the process by which the coins were chosen and ordered is random and unbiased, so that's what we base our estimate on. As far as I can tell, you're wrong in thinking that it makes a difference, but if if it does, it's because (at least) one of your alternatives is not random, and therefore contradicts the problem statement.

If Smith were to say "if I get a gold coin, I'll put it on top," that would make the difference you say. But that's not random.

#51 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:09 PM:

In the land of Lemuria, all coins that are not gold are silver.

In the land of Argentina, all coins that are not gold are lemurs.

#52 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:15 PM:

Kip W@40: If I lived in a place where they made the coins out of real gold, I might take up coin clipping too.

I hate this problem. Not for itself, but it always comes up in Statistics 101, and most professors get it wrong. Instead of saying "at least one of the two glybnorfs is kryzniak," they say "one of the glybnorfs is," or "the first glybnorf is," or some other language that leads to the 1/2 probability instead of the 1/3, but expect "1/3" for an answer. Which leads to the same ObXKCD as the last open thread, but doing that gets you an F, or sometimes an "Incomplete" because of rotting in prison.

#53 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:17 PM:

Last I heard, Lemuria had been under salt water for several millennia, making it unlikely that silver coins would still be anything other than corroded lumps of silver salts. So the odds of all coins being gold is pretty high. On the other hand, their razor blades, having been stored in pyramidal cabinets, have remained sharp to this day.

#54 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:19 PM:

A geologist was playing around with some volcanic rock. Her friend, a chemist, asked "Do you think you could make a galvanic cell out of that?" So they extracted some compounds and played around with it a bit.

Then, the cops showed up and handcuffed them.

Why?


#55 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:32 PM:

They were naked.

#56 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:33 PM:

#46: The error here is significantly more subtle than in #38.

The error is this: in your post, you say:

In this case, Smith drew two coins from the population of all Lemurian coins, and we know that at least one of the two is gold. Then the odds of the other being gold are 1/3, and the odds of it being silver are 2/3.

That's not quite true - we actually know more than that. What we know is that Smith drew two coins from the population of all Lemurian coins, and that when she drew them out, the top coin was gold. This is something that is much more likely to happen if she had two gold coins than if she had just one.

In fact, it's exactly twice as likely to happen if she has two gold coins than if she has one. The end result is that in fact she is equally likely to have two gold coins as one of each.

This leads back to 1/2 * 1/3 == 1/6 chance once again that Mr. Jones has more gold than Ms. Smith.

#57 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:34 PM:

I've been musing on the question of whether saying "The foo coin is gold", where I don't know whether foo is a differentiator. If, for example, I said "The older one is gold", that might make a difference; but if I said "The yellow one is gold", it doesn't. If I said "The lighter one is gold", and I don't know whether that's referring to weight or color (if the silver were tarnished, it would definitely be darker in color, for example), or even whether it is a well-defined linear metric, would that make a difference? There's a certain problem with ambiguity here, and I'm not sure how to express it.

#58 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:40 PM:

Tom Whitmore #57: The question is whether the distinction adds information about the problem set, which in this case means "does it tell us whether the coin is gold or silver?" Given that we don't know the sizes of the coins, weight doesn't add information, and as as you note, "lighter" is ambiguous.

#59 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:56 PM:

This reminds me of when I managed to turn my D&D habit into a class paper, for math class. Lots of graphs of various die rolls.

One amusing discovery from then: rolling two of any one die type gives you a triangular probability distribution (for example 2d6 gives weights 1,2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2,1 for the numbers 2-12), but if you roll two different dice, you get a truncated triangle (for example 1d6+1d4 gives a range of 2-10, with probabilities 1,2,3,4,4,4,3,2,1). Also, 3d6 looks like a bell curve, but when you draw over it a real bell curve (with the same mean and deviation), you find it isn't quite as close as it looks.

#60 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 07:59 PM:

While the Lemurians (and Smith and Jones are really unusual names for Lemurians, I'd thought they had names more on the lines of Blavatsky) were playing logic games with gold and silver coins, Mu, Atlantis, and Islandia formed an alliance and conquered the dratted place.

#61 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 08:11 PM:

#57: The question is whether being foo is something that is equally likely to apply to gold and silver coins.

Or rather, what percentage of people with one gold and one silver coin would be able to honestly say "the foo coin is gold"; if that's 50%, then we're fine. (so really, all that matters is the property in the hands of people with one coin of each metal)

Going back to my parents example, suppose we are dealing with parents of post-pubescent children only, so that the puberty-inspired growth spurts have hit. Then the statement "my tallest child is a boy" is a weaker statement (in the sense of conveying less information) than the statement "my eldest child is a boy".

#62 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 08:12 PM:

#40 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 06:20 PM:

iamnothing @37 [You Remember Lemuria?
That is a Mystery!]

It's been a while. I haven't seen the place since I was a little shaver.

Lemuria was in Burma?

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 08:16 PM:

We make the nation out of heart and mind
but give allegiance only when we're paid
which means this kingdom's truly of the blind.

For all that we have been to truth inclined
its consequences make us all afraid;
we make the nation out of heart and mind

yet cannot doubt that we've still been consigned
to the old trap. We're in the same old trade,
which means this kingdom's truly of the blind,

and thus we know already what we'll find
once we unravel all the plots we'd laid.
We make the nation out of heart and mind

expecting history will be more kind,
granting some measure of good ease and aid
which means this kingdom's truly of the blind

since no such hope has ever been designed,
instead we'll have to do with what we've made.
We make the nation out of heart and mind,
which means this kingdom's truly of the blind.

#65 ::: Aryllian ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 08:38 PM:

I was convinced both by 1/4 and by 1/6 when I read the respective explanations, which I find rather odd.

But after thinking about it, the difference between the two explanations is the question of whether you assume that the gold coin, no matter whether it's the top coin or not, is known. Or to put it a different way, in the 1/6 explanation, "the top coin" is assumed to specify a specific coin (and the probability of the other coin being gold is one half), but "the gold coin that I'm informing you about" is assumed to not specify a specific coin (because it could be either the top or the bottom coin...but the only reason you're even thinking about top or bottom is because the statement before had a top coin...)

I think that in fact, "the gold coin that I'm informing you about" is a specifier of a specific coin, it doesn't matter if it's top or bottom, it's still a specific coin. Therefore the probability of the other coin being gold is 1/2, just like the probably of the bottom coin being gold was 1/2.

So the answer is 1/2 * 1/2 = 1/4.

#66 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 08:48 PM:

Kip W @16 wins the internet.

#67 ::: Komavary ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 08:50 PM:

I understand that the probability that Ms Smith has two golden coins is 1/2.

I understand that the probability that Mr. Jones has two golden coins is 1/3.

But if Ms Smith shakes the two coins in her hands, the probability drops from 1/2 to 1/3, right?

#68 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 08:51 PM:

IJWTS that Kip Williams is as brilliant as he was when we were tadpoles together, which is pretty brilliant, pretty much.

#69 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 08:57 PM:

The second coin is a cat. Now, the next question--

#70 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 09:00 PM:

Komavary #67: Not after we've already learned her odds! While Mr. Jones's permutations GS, SG, GG all have equal odds, Ms. Smith now has GS and SG sharing half the probability, while GG has the other half all to itself. (I suspect this is related to the transition in the true Monty Hall problem.)

#71 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 09:06 PM:

Logic problems. Pfft. What *I* want to know is what people called the Monty Hall problem before Monty Hall got famous.

#72 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 09:18 PM:

Unless, of course, Smith is as OCD as I am (which is slightly but not very) and always carries her coins in the same order.

In my case, if I tell you I have a 20, or the middle bill of my 2 bills is a 20, I've given exactly the same information.

#73 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 09:22 PM:

David Harmon @58 -- one of the problems from a human engineering viewpoint is that the person giving the information almost undoubtedly thinks it makes a difference about the data set, because s/he has chosen to add that information. It's the same sort of ambiguity explored in the opening of the last OT here. Whether the person is looking at the same data set we're trying to analyze is a difficult question to answer (particularly since most people don't disambiguate their data sets well, which could lead me off on a long diatribe based on some work I once did with the Language of Data Project).

#74 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 09:26 PM:

Daniel Martin @ 56:

Please note that the piece of #46 you quote begins "In this case ..."

The case being considered is set forth in the prior paragraph of #46, namely Smith's "The top one is gold" is a statement about the order in which she retrieved the coins from the population of the two in her posession.
[Emphasis added]

In that case (the case expressly set forth in #46), we know nothing of the order in which she drew the coins from the population of all the coins in Lemuria.

Best,
Jim Bales

#75 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 09:30 PM:

45
8 permutations of three items, but 4 combinations.
As I said, order matters in permutations - but that's not part of the problem as given.
(I had math classes that covered permutations and combinations, thank you. It was algorithm design, IIRC.)

#76 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 09:32 PM:

60
ROFLMAO!

#77 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 09:38 PM:

Daniel Martin @56 writes:
"What we know is that Smith drew two coins from the population of all Lemurian coins, and that when she drew them out, the top coin was gold." [Emphasis in the original]

The italicized portion is not to be found in the problem statement, which states:
Ms. Smith says, “I have two Lemurian coins in my hand. The one on top is gold.”

We are told that a gold coin is on top when Smith and Jones meet. Nothing is said of the ordering of the coins before that instant in time.

If one presumes that Ms Smith preserved the ordering of the coins from the momment she drew them until the momment she met Jones, then the probability of her having two gold coins is 1/2. If one presumes that Ms Smith did not preseve the ordering then the probability of her having two gold coins is 1/3.

Either way, one makes a presumption. The answer depends on one's presumption, and is either 1/6 (she preserves the order) or 2/9 (she does not preserve the order).

Best,
Jim Bales

#78 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 09:42 PM:

A.J. Luxton @ 54: for Basalt and Battery?

#79 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 10:04 PM:

I'm increasingly convinced that the answer is 50%, because seriously, the number of coins in the kingdom is presumably large enough to not be affected by the removal of a single other coin from the pool. The odds on the specific coin are 50% the first time they draw it, the odds on a specific coin are still 50% the 72nd time they draw it, and the "coin on top" is a statistically insignificant distraction. The entire conversation looks like an extended gambler's fallacy to me.

#80 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 10:11 PM:

Open threadery:

I read the story about Florida journalism students having to put out a paper using pre-computerisation tech with interest. I'd worked in newsrooms** in the 1970s and early 1980s (we still had copyboys who would come running when veteran reporters yelled "copy!", we had a spike on which unused copy went to die, we used manual typewriters on which we typed with two fingers at the amazing speed of 20 wpm, I kid you not) and found the shock exhibited by those young people most amusing. We kept some slugs of cold type around to remind us of the old days since the printers used plastic moulds to make the pages. They made decent paperweights.


*At the second, where I worked for three years, my desk was at the back of the morgue, since I was the research officer -- my title was research officer/staff writer -- and I combined the duties of a librarian, translator, feature and occasional editorial writer, and general dogsbody. Plus I was the shop steward for that branch of the administrative workers' union.

#81 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 10:18 PM:

P J Evans #75: Combinations are derivative; they represent the summation of available permutations. Ms. Smith's "drawing" of one coin rules out two of four possible permutations for her hand, while Mr. Jones' statement only rules out one for his.

Jim Bales #77: We don't need to know anything prior to the moment, because "dice have no memory". On the other hand, if Ms. Smith then shuffles her coins (as per Komavary #67), and then "draws" again -- say, announcing that the new top coin is again gold -- then our memory of the prior draw lets us refine the probability that she has two gold coins (to 3/4, I believe). (Of course, if her new top coin is silver, then we know she has one of each, with probability 1.)

#82 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 10:21 PM:

Smith and Jones could both be liars holding two gold *clad* coins with centers of lead, each hoping to deceive the other into advocating a return to the gold standard.

#83 ::: Aryllian ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 10:26 PM:

Why this isn't like the Monty Hall problem:

In the Monty Hall problem, someone added information. You started off with a known probability of a certain outcome, and then the host (who knows more than you do) changed the probability by opening a door, and the tricky part is that it's easy to think you should calculate probability according to the current situation as if it had sprung up without history, but actually you have to look at the original situation plus the action of the knowledgeable host. But the key thing is that the point at which you actually know the probabilities in the Monty Hall problem is what I'm going to call the original situation.

It seems to me that the 1/6 answer is trying to go back to the original situation (when the coins were picked up, they were picked up in some order, and the possibilities are four, but we have to eliminate one based on our current knowledge). However, unlike the Monty Hall problem, there's no new information added in at any time, and all we actually know about is the current situation. We don't know anything about the "original situation" except what we can reason about it based on the current situation. So we have to calculated using the probabilities we know, which are the probabilities of the current situation.

#84 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 10:26 PM:

Did Ms. Smith look before she spoke? If not, then she knew for certain without seeing it that the top coin was gold — therefore, they were both gold! If she didn't look.

ps: I'm not still a tadpole? Oh, crap.

#85 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 10:51 PM:

My father, when he was a kid, worked as a copy-boy for the New York Times. He says he filled up the paste pots in the morning, and he carried news stories to the people who arranged letters on the conveyor belt for the lighted-sign headlines.

#86 ::: Goob ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 10:56 PM:

Ms. Smith did not say anything about Mr. Doe. Everyone knew that Mr. Doe was at the war, like so many of the men. No one but Ms. Smith knew what he had left behind, what she kept for him, and now Ms. Smith had no way to tell anyone else. Ms. Smith did not let her worries wisp upward from her heart, keeping them away from the corners of her eyes. It would be improper if Mr. Jones would see the worry in the corners of her eyes.

Mr. Jones remembered Ms. Smith from before, long before, when the world was less careful. He remembered a handful of nights then, when his hand had been in hers. He shifted painfully on his bad leg and shook the memory away, pleased that all it left behind for him was kindness. With a small smile he pressed his coins into her hand and touched his hat.

The odds that Mr. Jones has more gold coins than Ms. Smith are nil.

#87 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 11:24 PM:

David Harmon @81 writes:
We don't need to know anything prior to the moment, because "dice have no memory".

The differnece matters becuause there are two different populations in question:
1) The population of all coins in Lemuria, and
2) The population of the two coins in Smith's posession when she meets Jones.

When Smith says that "The one on top is gold", is that from when she drew from population 1 or population 2? The difference matters, and she does not tell us.

Best,
Jim Bales

#88 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 11:34 PM:

Goob @ 86: Lovely. :)

#89 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 11:40 PM:

TexAnne @ 71... Or the Teddy Bear Cholla before Teddy Roosevelt?

#90 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 11:43 PM:

.. and that'll teach me to reread the question before popping off several hours later. Nice, self, very nice.

#91 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 11:50 PM:

I'm another one of those who was initially sure of knowing the answer to be 1/6, but then got more and more confused by the back-and-forth.

So I wrote a computer program.

Smith1 = 2
Smith2 = rand(2)+1
Jones1 = rand(2)+1
Jones2 = rand(2)+1
while Jones1+Jones2 == 2 do
Jones1 = rand(2)+1
Jones2 = rand(2)+1
end

if (Jones1 + Jones2) > (Smith1+Smith2)

puts "Yes!"

else

puts "No!"

end

To explain: a gold coin is represented by 2, a silver coin by 1. The program gives Smith and Jones each two coins, coin1 and coin2. For Smith, coin1 is automatically a gold coin. The other coins are drawn at random -- but then I toss out any outcome where both of Jones's coins are silver.

The program prints out "Yes!" if Jones has a higher total than Smith (which can only happen if Jones has more gold coins).

I ran it 60 times, and got 11 "Yes" answers. I'm not knowledgeable enough in the ways of computer programs to get it to run a few hundred or thousand times and automatically tabulate the result, but it's close enough to make me feel I was right in thinking it should be 1/6.

#92 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 11:52 PM:

i. She dreams of bridges,
soaring high above tempestuous bays,
dipping down in vertiginous arcs
to enter cities dense with winding pathways
and little whitewashed houses
stacked in impossible configurations.

ii. This is the measure of her innocence:
She sees the good shining clearly
through the hearts of those around her.
She sees the clear distinction
of evil; she knows well what can
and has
happened to the deserving and undeserving alike.
She does not make judgement.

This, then, is the measure of her naïveté:
She does not see the careless,
or, more precisely,
the Care-not.

iii. She dreams of water,
rivers flowing muddy and powerful;
waterfalls drowning viewpoints
in curtains of mist;
turgid lakes and stagnant swamps.

iv. Disillusionment is rarely large.
In literary fashion, one is hurt by something immense
and full of portent;
We do not write stories about the mundane.
But in truth, the armor of innocence
is fragile, shattered by the smallest things.

When one cares so much, it is impossible to comprehend
that some—
even the good and the kind—
are merely sleeping,
unconscious of the pain they leave behind.

v. She dreams of obstacles,
of pathways on the far side,
dark water under featureless skies,
boardwalks sinking into the mire,
of the coming flood and warnings left unsaid.

vi. He held her that night as she cried,
unable to articulate why.

vii. She dreams of rising waters,
and of dreamers who cannot swim.

#93 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 11:53 PM:

NB: This poem has nothing to do with anything happening in my life right now. It's something I've been kicking around in my head for years.

#94 ::: Aryllian ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2011, 11:57 PM:

Emily H. @ #91

I think you've just encoded your assumptions about the problem into a computer program.

Note that "otherwise unidentified coins in the hands of Smith and Jones are no more likely to be silver than gold" but it doesn't say anything about how the gold coins were acquired. We don't know that was random.

#95 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:03 AM:

I disagree, but I have to bow out for the night. I genuinely don't understand -- if the unidentified coins are equally likely to be silver or gold, then does it matter how the coins were acquired?

#96 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:03 AM:

94
I'm not sure that how they were acquired matters, either. Unless they were your Lemurian coins, of course.

(That's a nice example of Monte Carlo method.)

#97 ::: Aryllian ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:10 AM:

If your model acquires all the coins randomly and then throws out those cases that don't fit the information we have, you get a different result than if you take the gold coin as established and then acquire the other coin randomly.

#98 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:22 AM:

The answer, of course, is language.

#99 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:28 AM:

Aryllian@97: Yes, that's the whole point. In Smith's case you can take the gold coin as established and acquire the second one randomly, but in Jones's you can't.

#100 ::: Aryllian ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:38 AM:

David Goldfarb @ #99

I think that saying that is making an assumption about something that isn't stated in the problem. So far as I can see, we know five things:

1) Ms. Smith has a gold piece.
2) Mr. Jones has a gold piece.
3) Ms. Smith has a coin of unknown composition.
4) Mr. Jones has a coin of unknown composition.
5) Ms. Smith has (for whatever reason, and in whatever way) placed her gold piece on top of the coin of unknown composition.

I don't see how knowing #5 (or not knowing something similar to #5 about Mr. Jones) makes any difference to the probability of the coin of unknown composition being gold.

#101 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:48 AM:

For better or worse, the last dream of the night (or morning) is the one that stands the best chance of being remembered later. Indeed, it often happens that, just as the car's air conditioning inexplicably seems to have a teaspoon of cold air waiting to come out before a lot of warm when you first turn it on on a hot day, touching down on my pillow will bring just enough of the last dream into my head again that I start to recognize it and it breaks up like mercury in a puzzle and runs off in several directions.

One of those stayed with me. I had my digital camera down on a table and was observing it closely. It had, in some way, acquired some form of awareness. I put a mirror down in front of it and it jumped back at first, then it got very interested and came closer to investigate.

I wanted to record this interesting encounter, but unfortunately, it was the only camera I had.

#103 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 01:00 AM:

The gnomes in the high tower are inspecting my most recent post, having taken a joke in four links for something potentially spamalicious.

#104 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 01:35 AM:

I'll let you all know for sure what that second coin is if you help me get my cat out of this box.

#105 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 02:09 AM:

Aryllian @ 100: "I don't see how knowing #5 (or not knowing something similar to #5 about Mr. Jones) makes any difference to the probability of the coin of unknown composition being gold."

But it's not the order that matters, it's the determinacy. For Ms. Smith, one coin is determined and the other is unknown; for Jones both coins remain unknown and the only valid statement is about the whole population.*

Knowing only that there are two coins, and that coins may be either silver or gold, there are four possibilities:

Gg Gs
Sg Ss

If we can determine that one--it doesn't matter if it's the first or the second--is gold, then we need no longer make statistical guesses about that coin. We can eliminate two of the above outcomes:

Gg Gs
Sg Ss

If all we know is that at least one coin is gold, but not which one, then both coins remain indeterminate. We can only eliminate a single outcome:

Gg Gs
Sg Ss

Thus, the chance of there being two gold coins is only 1/3. Gs and Sg are not interchangeable--not in the unmodified table, where they make the chance of getting one of each twice as likely as two golds, and not after we've eliminated an outcome.

* The difference between knowing that there were two people in the room and one of them committed the murder, and knowing that there were two people in the room and that the tall one committed the murder.

#106 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 02:34 AM:

Heresiarch @104 -- so you're saying there is an essential difference between being told (with absolute certainty) that one of two coins someone is holding is gold, and being shown that one of two coins that someone is holding is gold. Because the coin you're shown automatically becomes, in some sense, the first coin.

That's where this whole thing becomes completely counter-intuitive to me. I know what the answer is, and how to determine it -- but I really don't get how that magic works.

#107 ::: Komavary ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 03:17 AM:

David Harmon #70

So let's do the same thing with Mr. Jones.

Now he looks at his hand, puts the certainly gold coin on the top, and declares that the top coin is gold.

There is no change in the probabilites (still there is 1/3 chance that he's got two gold coins).

So far, so good.

But how do we know that Ms Smith didn't do the same thing?

#108 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 04:08 AM:

Jim Bales @#77: I see I should have been more clear.

What I mean to say is that we know that Ms. Smith drew two coins from the Lemurian coin population, and when she drew the coins out of her purse upon meeting Mr. Jones, there was a gold coin on top. I meant to imply something about the ordering at that point only, and I see that I could have phrased it better.

Aryllian@#97:
I think that the best way to think about it is to take nothing as established, then throw away the universes that don't fit our information. We could take Smith's (but not Jones's!) one gold coin as established and we get the same answer if we do, but for clarity's sake, let's not.

I have now reconstructed my ruby-based probability system that uses that technique, and applied it to the scenario Jim Bales was using to get his 2/9 answer. To run this, you first need to pull down ambenv.rb and probworlds.rb. Then, we can code up the whole thing as this:

require 'probworlds'

puts "coins"
probability_pretty(' ') { |u|
# Ms. Smith has two coins from the population on the island
msSmithCoinsPocket = [u.choose(:g, :s), u.choose(:g, :s)]
# When she meets Mr. Jones, she puts them into her hand at random
# I phrase this as "randomly choose an ordering, then pick out
# the pocket coins using that ordering to make the hand coins"
msSmithCoinsHand = u.choose([0,1],[1,0]).map {|i| msSmithCoinsPocket[i]}
# Mr. Jones has two coins from the population on the island
mrJonesCoins = [u.choose(:g, :s), u.choose(:g, :s)]
# The top coin in Ms. Smith's hand is gold; otherwise throw out the universe
u.assert(msSmithCoinsHand[0] == :g)
# Mr. Jones has a gold coin; otherwise throw out the universe
# you can read this as "there exists a coin among mrJonesCoins that is gold"
u.assert(mrJonesCoins.find {|x| x == :g})
# Now tally each person's gold coins.
# I do that by saying "make a list of all coins such that the coins are gold,
# and tell me how long that list is"
mrJonesGoldCount = mrJonesCoins.find_all {|x| x == :g}.size
msSmithGoldCount = msSmithCoinsHand.find_all {|x| x == :g}.size
# Finally, collect this as the statistic we care about - whether Jones has
# more gold than Smith
mrJonesGoldCount > msSmithGoldCount
}

I think that the only bits of slightly odd ruby syntax in there are {|var| expression}, which you can think of as an abbreviated way to pass a one-argument function and :symbolName which for these purposes you can think of as a fancy way to make a string. Anyway, when you run this, you get that the last line yields "true" 1/6 of the time, as expected.

#109 ::: Jenna Moran ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 04:31 AM:

Tom Whitmore @#105 -

The magic comes from the fact that if Mr. Jones looks at the top coin and sees a gold, he says, "At least one is gold."

_And then he stops._

Whereas if he looks at the top coin and sees a silver, _he keeps going._

He then looks at the bottom coin, and if he sees a gold coin, he says the exact same thing he would have said if he hadn't seen a silver first---"At least one is gold."

At least, that's the process that our culture's standard puzzle-solving logic assumes that he's using, and it means that he's effectively reporting, "Either I have a silver coin and a gold coin, or a gold coin and a coin I haven't looked at."

And let me rephrase that a bit. He's saying: "Either I have a gold coin and a silver coin, or a gold coin and a coin that has a 50% chance of being silver."

Rephrasing again: "I have a gold coin, and a coin that is definitely silver if it's on top and has 50% chance of being silver if it's on the bottom."

Rephrasing again: "I have a gold coin. Plus, I have a silver coin on top, or a silver coin on the bottom, or a gold coin on the bottom."

If that's not what he's saying, then our cultural puzzle-solving logic doesn't work, and we fall back to having no idea about the circumstances and being probably unable to solve the problem.

#110 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 05:17 AM:

"At least one of these two coins is gold" is not, probabilistically speaking, equivalent to "the first of these two coins is gold." This may look like a strange exercise in hair-splitting, but it is incredibly important to think this way when one does genetic counselling. Looking at the standard rules of Mendelian inheritance, one would expect the chances of inheriting a condition to be 1/2 for an autosomal dominant condition and 1/4 for an autosomal recessive, but when you do a full genotype analysis of a family tree, you often end up with probabilities of 1/3 or 2/3.

And a nitpick: the ODDS are 1:5, the PROBABILITY is 1/6.

#111 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 05:43 AM:

I really think people should examine my parents example from #27. The issue is that the population of people who can honestly say "at least one of my children is a girl" is larger than the population that can honestly say "my eldest child is a girl".

Likewise, if we have a bunch of people walking around each with two coins one on top of the other chosen at random with their ordering chosen at random, one fourth will have two gold coins, one fourth two silver coins, one fourth a gold and silver (gold on top), and one fourth will have a silver and gold (silver on top).

Therefore, of the people who can make the statement "at least one of my coins is gold" truthfully, one-third of them will have two gold coins.

Of the people who can truthfully say "My top coin is gold", one-half of them have two gold coins.

That is all. We make no assumptions about how the people making these statements came by their knowledge of the coins they carry.

We do assume that there's no bias for or against carrying coins of differing metals, and that if one has coins of different metals there's no bias for carrying a particular one of them on top. But once you get through the assumptions necessary to say that the four populations I mentioned four paragraphs ago are all the same size, the rest is just a matter of restricting ourselves to those cases where the statements made are true.

#112 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:12 AM:

heresiarch @104 * The difference between knowing that there were two people in the room and one of them committed the murder, and knowing that there were two people in the room and that the tall one committed the murder.

To be more in line with the puzzle "...and one or both of them committed the murder..." and "...the tall one committed the murder and we don't know if the short one was involved, but it's pretty suspicious that they're hanging round with a tall guy murderer."

Also, being six and a half feet tall, I'd just like to note that I'm not always the murderer.

#113 ::: Komavary ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:20 AM:

Daniel Martin #109

"if we have a bunch of people walking around each with two coins one on top of the other"

Why do you think that this is the Lemurian custom?

"with their ordering chosen at random"

Why do you think the order of the coins is random?

#114 ::: Mike Scott ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:46 AM:

Right, can't stand it any more. Let's try to do this properly.

We shall assume that statements about "coins" are actually statements about Lemurian coins, and that Smith and Jones are both telling the truth, since without those two assumptions the answer cannot be determined. We shall also assume that of the two contradictory statements "Gold and silver coins are evenly and randomly distributed in Lemuria" and "Otherwise unidentified coins in the hands of Smith and Jones are no more likely to be silver than gold", the former is true, because the difference in likelihood that invalidates the second statement is probably small enough to be ignored by someone who isn't being very careful.

So, assuming there are n gold coins and n silver coins in Lemuria in total, we can make a little table:

Smith	Jones	Probability
GG	GG	((n-1) * (n-2) * (n-3)) / ((2n-1) * (2n-2) * (2n-3))
GG	GS/SG	((n-1) * (n-2) * (n)) / ((2n-1) * (2n-2) * (2n-3))
GG	SS	((n-1) * (n-1) * (n)) / ((2n-1) * (2n-2) * (2n-3))
GS	GG	((n) * (n-1) * (n-2)) / ((2n-1) * (2n-2) * (2n-3))
GS	GS/SG	((n) * (n-1) * (n-1)) / ((2n-1) * (2n-2) * (2n-3))
GS	SS	((n) * (n-1) * (n-2)) / ((2n-1) * (2n-2) * (2n-3))

(if you multiply it all out and remember to count the "GS/SG" cases twice, then add it all up, it does add up to 1.)

Now, we must exclude the cases where Jones has SS, which are not allowed by the conditions. So the total probability of all the allowed cases, which will then form the basis for our conditional probability, is: (6n^3 - 14n^2 + 16n - 6) / (8n^3 - 24n^2 + 22n - 6)

Jones has more gold then Smith in the GS GG scenario only, and the conditional probability of that is: (n^3 -3n^2 + 2n) / (6n^3 - 14n^2 + 16n - 6). And that is the real answer (based on my initial assumptions, which are the minimal assumptions needed for there to be an answer at all).

As a check, we note that it should be 0 when n=2, and it should approach 1/6 for large values of n. And indeed this is what we find. For fairly small values of n, the probability is significantly different from 1/6 -- for example, if Lemuria has 10 gold coins and 10 silver coins, the probability is 0.151 instead of 0.167.

#115 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 08:43 AM:

Mike Scott @ 112:

I absolutely agree with your analysis as describing the case where we know that:
1) the first coin Smith drew is gold and
2) one of Jone's coins is gold.

However, I don't see how we know 1) from the problem statement. (Ms. Smith says, “I have two Lemurian coins in my hand. The one on top is gold.”)

It is reasonable to presume 1), but it is equally reasonable (IMHO) to read this text and presume that the ordering in Smith's hand is uncorrelated to the order in which the coins were drawn from the population of all Lemurian coins.

(I believe this is the point that is being made by Aryllian @ 100.)

Best,
Jim Bales

#116 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 08:44 AM:

Chris Lawson @ 108:
Thank you for the picked nit -- I am one of the guilty parties!

Best,
Jim Bales

#117 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 09:31 AM:

I really don't think there is an even probability that a Lemurian coin is either gold or silver. Wouldn't silver be more common?

#118 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 09:46 AM:

Thongor says: enough of this; let's go kill some lizard men.

#119 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:03 AM:

You know the logic problems about the two guards at two doors, and one always lies while the other tells the truth.

I get the feeling that somebody here would point out that we're only assuming the guy who explained the problem is telling the truth.

I think I shall go lie down in a darkened room.

#120 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:10 AM:

Nancy, #117: That's assuming that the Lemuria in the problem is the same Lemuria from our mythology. If Lemuria is actually a colony world named after our mythical country, the relative distribution of various metals may be significantly different from that of Earth -- cf. Darkover, where copper is the rarest (and therefore most valuable) metal. :-)

#121 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:11 AM:

Jim Bales #87, Mike Scott #112 :::: For starters, the problem has made it clear that before either speaks, their coins are assumed to be drawn randomly from "Lemurian coins". That "patter" signifies only that before they tell us anything, we are to assume that any coin has a 50/50 chance of being gold or silver.

The total number of coins in Lemuria is not on the table here! By problem conventions, a nation's currency is assumed to be "very large", such that the handfuls at issue do not noticeably affect the supply.

Heresiarch @104, Jim Bales #113: Expanding on Jenna Moran #107:

an essential difference between being told (with absolute certainty) that one of two coins someone is holding is gold, and being shown that one of two coins that someone is holding is gold.

No, that's a conflation. What you've been told is that a particular one of Smith's coins is gold, whereas at least one of Jone's coins is.

Because the coin you're shown automatically becomes, in some sense, the first coin.

Yes. As soon as you distinguish the coins, they're no longer "in a bag", they are ordered. If you only knew one of three coins, the calculations get more complex, but Smith still no longer has three coins in the bag, you'd have two in the bag and one "drawn". Jones, in contrast, has (still) given us partial information about the contents of his bag, so that we can now differentiate it from "Lemurian coins" in general.

Komavary #106: Yes, but perhaps not for the reasons you think -- By peeking and then potentially swapping two coins, Mr. Jones has simultaneously added, then destroyed information, leaving us with no more knowledge about his hand than before. In fact, that peek-and-swap was implicit in his ability to tell us that "at least one" of his coins is gold.

Consider a table listing all 16 possibilities for the four coins: Several of the rows are ruled out immediately by the two original statements: mark the ones Jones rules out with X, and the ones Smith ruled out with Y.

Jo Sm ??
------
Gg Gg
Gg Gs
Gg Sg Y
Gg SS Y

Gs Gg
Gs Gs
Gs Sg Y
Gs SS Y

Sg Gg
Sg Gs
Sg Sg Y
Sg SS Y

Ss Gg X
Ss Gs X
Ss Sg XY
Ss SS XY


Some rows are ruled out by Smith, some by Jones, some by both. Jones's peek-and-swap makes his Gs and Sg rows indistinguishable, but doesn't rule out any more rows. However his telling us that he has "at least one gold" does rule out 4 rows, but two of those are also ruled out by Ms. Smith's statement. There are six rows remaining, of which exactly one gives Jones more coins than Smith.

#122 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:16 AM:

The best answer to this question can be determined by planting a Magnet-Shroom and upgrading it to the Gold Magnet, which will suck all Smith and Jones' coins away from them, both gold and silver, and then you can count them at your leisure.

Erik Nelson @85: did he also polish up the handles of the big brass door?

#123 ::: Aryllian ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:40 AM:

heresiarch @ (oops, did the numbers just change? they were different the first time I looked)

* The difference between knowing that there were two people in the room and one of them committed the murder, and knowing that there were two people in the room and that the tall one committed the murder.

I can see why someone would want to know which person is a murderer. It's a social thing, thinking that you might have to walk into a room and interact with a murderer. But logically, if you want to reason about the person who is not a murderer and you don't have to walk into the room and identify them by some visible trait, then identifying the two people as "murderer" and "not murderer" would identify them sufficiently for reasoning. I think the same is true for coins.

Also, you're assuming that each of the three options according to your arbitrary separation of the population into top vs. bottom had an equal chance of occurring, but I think that what we actually know (one coin is gold) affects the prior probabilities. Which is to say, I think that the probability of having drawn Gg given that we know one of the coins that was drawn is gold is different than the probability of drawing Gg if you get to retry when you don't get any gold pieces.

Jenna Moran

If that's not what he's saying, then our cultural puzzle-solving logic doesn't work, and we fall back to having no idea about the circumstances and being probably unable to solve the problem.

Are you a programmer? Because your cultural puzzle-solving logic looks a lot like how an if-then-else logic construct works. However, I don't think that there's any reason to assume that any of this looking and not looking was going on. Which is to say, your cultural puzzle-solving logic does not match my puzzle-solving logic, which I'd guess is also cultural? It's what I learned in school. I happen to think that your logic is adding a great deal to the problem that wasn't stated in the problem, while mine isn't, but I suppose YMMV. There are a lot of people who want to add exactly what you want to add to the problem.

Daniel Martin

Your previous example about children is actually pretty interesting, but I don't think it proves what you think it proves. Here's why: Let's say you have a situation in which someone has one female child and another on the way. They haven't checked the gender of the unborn child. They can truthfully state that "My eldest child is a girl" and "after my unborn child is born, at least one of my children will be a girl". The probability of the unborn child being a girl is, however, still 50% (more or less, I read somewhere that actually slightly more boys than girls are born, but we shall ignore that for the purposes of this problem).

Since we know about the girls, or the gold pieces, we're not looking at the entire population. We are looking at the population of people who have gold pieces or girls, and trying to figure out the probability of their other coin or child being gold or girl. Having one gold piece or one girl doesn't change the probability of having another gold piece or girl.

I think that the best way to think about it is to take nothing as established, then throw away the universes that don't fit our information. We could take Smith's (but not Jones's!) one gold coin as established and we get the same answer if we do, but for clarity's sake, let's not.

I think that doing this will give the wrong answer. Throwing away universes is basically applying the probability of those universes equally to all the other universes as if we didn't know anything about their probabilities, but we know more than that.

#124 ::: Aryllian ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:51 AM:

We could take Smith's (but not Jones's!) one gold coin as established

Okay, one last thing. We do in fact know that Jones has a gold coin. Saying that we can't take Jones's gold coin as establish is denying information that we have.

#125 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 11:14 AM:

Aryllian @ #123 said:

Throwing away universes is basically applying the probability of those universes equally to all the other universes as if we didn't know anything about their probabilities, but we know more than that.

No, it's applying the probability of those universes to the remaining universes in proportion to the known probabilities of those remaining universes. And it gives the proper answer, as any number of experiments here have shown.

Komavary @ #113:

When we are asked "what is the probability of something happening", the question is a bit vague - since the coins in Jones's and Smith's pockets aren't in a state of quantum flux at their meeting, in one sense the answer is "either 0 or 1". However, that's not meant. What's meant is "if we were to take all situations of equal likelihood in which the statements of the two could be truthfully made, what proportion would have Jones with more gold than Smith?"

Therefore, I'm not assuming anything about whether it is general Lemurian custom to wander around with two coins.

As for the order of coins and which one is on top when carrying two coins of dissimilar metals, I believe I did make it rather explicit (in the last paragraph of #111) that that is in fact a hidden assumption being pulled in by the general tradition of puzzles phrased in this way - when something is not explicitly stated, it is assumed to occur with uniform probability across all possibilities. If Lemurians with coins of differing metals prefer to carry the gold on top with probability p, then the probability of Ms. Smith having two gold coins given her statement is 1/(1+2p); we get 1/2 for the chance of Smith having two gold coins because we assume that p == 1/2. If p is 1, then Ms. Smith's statement tells us the same thing Mr. Jones's does (and each has a 1/3 chance of carrying 2 gold coins); if p is 0, then Ms. Smith's statement is equivalent to "I have two gold coins".

#126 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 11:23 AM:

Aryllian: I fear we are talking past each other.

Let's try to simplify the problem by taking only one part of it: suppose Jones meets Smith and Jones says "I have two coins, and at least one of them is gold". Imagine that this is a normal sort of interaction in Lemuria and that Jones has not phrased his statements in this ambiguous way for any particular reason. Again, assume even, wide distribution of the Lemurian currency.

What then is the probability that Jones has two gold coins?

Am I correct in reading your arguments that you believe there is a case to be made for the probability in these circumstances being 1/2 ?

#127 ::: Komavary ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 11:50 AM:

David Harmon #121 and Daniel Martin #125:

My problem with the 1/6 probability was illustrated well by Mike Scott (114):

"We shall also assume that of the two contradictory statements "Gold and silver coins are evenly and randomly distributed in Lemuria" and "Otherwise unidentified coins in the hands of Smith and Jones are no more likely to be silver than gold", the former is true"

Actually, both of the statements are true.
One is about Lemurian coins in general, and the other is about the exact four (or two) coins they hold.

From the first sentence, we know that the coins are evenly and randomly distributed in Lemuria - but we didn't know anything about how did Smith and Jones choose the pairs from their evenly and randomly distributed coins.

If we didn't have the second statement, we might assume that the distribution was random (therefore the answer is 1/6) or we could say that we need more information.

But we have that extra information. We have three statements. One from Smith, one from Jones, and one from the narrator of the puzzle.

So we know that (1) Smith has one gold coin (position doesn't matter), and one unidentified, and (2) Jones has one gold coin (position doesn't matter), and one unidentified, and (3) also know that the chance an unidentified coin is gold in this situation is 50% (or more) (therefore the distribution of the coins was not random).

#128 ::: Aryllian ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 11:55 AM:

Daniel Martin

No, it's applying the probability of those universes to the remaining universes in proportion to the known probabilities of those remaining universes. And it gives the proper answer, as any number of experiments here have shown.

I agree. This will calculate the answer correctly according to the assumptions under which you set up the problem.

I still feel like this sets up the problem in a way that assumes the 1/6 answer. Why should you ignore the fact that both parties have one known gold coin? That is what I can't get my mind around. Why are you assuming that there is any significant ordering involved at all? Isn't "top" an irrelevant description that could have come about in any way at all? Why would it change anything if Mr. Jones told us whether it was the top or the bottom coin that was gold? If he knows at least one of them is gold, he must know which one it is (assuming of course that he's even arranged his coins in a stack and not side by side).

But I think the most important question I have is: why should we look at the entire population of people who have two coins randomly acquired instead of looking at the population of people known to have one gold coin?


And yes. I think that if we have one known gold coin, and one unknown coin, then the gold coin is gold with 100% probability and the other coin is gold with 50% probability, and therefore the probability of having two gold coins is 50%.

#129 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:15 PM:

Rikibeth @122 -- but you must not forget the Coffee Bean in the daytime, o Best Beloved. To mix references.

#130 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:16 PM:

Erik Nelson #85: Paste pots? Those were always on the subs' desks. At the Gleaner we had two operations going simultaneously and two sets of editors supervising the product. That could make for a hectic time at mid-morning and late afternoon, since there were two "bedtimes" a day.

Sometimes I had odd things to do, such as the occasion when I phoned the leader of the opposition's wife to remind her husband that we were missing his Christmas message. I being the only person on the floor with her direct line.

#131 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:17 PM:

B. Durbin #92: Very nicely done.

#132 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:22 PM:

Tom Whitmore @129: I've experimented. While you need the Coffee Bean in the daytime to capture buckets, football helmets, screen doors, and ladders, it's perfectly possible to plant a sleeping Magnet-Shroom and add the Golden Magnet, and watch it immediately start capturing coins, no Coffee Bean needed.

#133 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:37 PM:

Aryllian @ 123: "Also, you're assuming that each of the three options according to your arbitrary separation of the population into top vs. bottom had an equal chance of occurring, but I think that what we actually know (one coin is gold) affects the prior probabilities."

Again, it's not about top and bottom, it's about there being two unique, separate probabilistic occurrences. If we know anything for certain about one of those occurrences, it falls out of the realm of statistics and into determined reality. (Smith.) If all we know for certain is about the population as a whole, then it all remains probabilistic. (Jones.) Order doesn't matter; uniqueness does. I suspect you know this, and it is just the small population in question that is confusing the issue. So let's try it with a larger population:

GGG SGG
GGS SGS
GSG SSG
GSS SSS

When you flip a coin, or draw a coin from an infinitely large supply, if you disregard order there are four possible outcomes: three gold, two gold and one silver, one gold and two silver, or three silver. But, crucially, the chance of those four outcomes is not the same--the middle two are each three times as likely as the fore- and lattermost. Out of the possible outcomes where I could say, "at least one of the three is gold," what are the chances that I have three gold coins?

"They can truthfully state that "My eldest child is a girl" and "after my unborn child is born, at least one of my children will be a girl". The probability of the unborn child being a girl is, however, still 50% "

Yes, but they're not the only ones who could truthfully state that after their child is born. The population that you are crucially excluding are those who had a boy first and a girl second. In other words, why are you assuming that Jones didn't have to check both coins before finding at least one gold?

#134 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:40 PM:

A few thoughts about your "What's Going On" .

I've heard that a bullet being stopped by an object in a pocket (commonly a Bible or a deck of cards) wasn't all that rare at an earlier tech level (American civil war?), but I haven't heard of a modern case. Have I just been missing out on cool unlikely events, or is it a highly implausible story?

It's my impression that a *lot* of riots, especially the long-lasting ones, are set off by police abuse. Not all riots, certainly-- there are also riots that result from sports event and demonstrations. Does anyone know if I'm seeing an actual pattern?

The police wanted to do horseback charges at crowds? Is this standard practice?

I realize the link is to a piece which is as much an editorial as reporting, but I don't know how much to discount any of it, and the same would apply to more mainstream sources.

#135 ::: Walter Hawn ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 12:57 PM:

#39 Tim Walters, your analysis is correct for items of pure chance, but here we have eliminated one half of the chances by specifying that, in each case, one of the two coins is gold.

If one coin held by each is gold, and we know that, and there is an equal chance of the other coin being gold, then the odds that a particular person has two gold coins and the other has just one is 1 in 4.

(NB: we are not drawing from the full population of coins, we are comparing two separate populations of two coins each, only one of which has an unknown state, and that state is equally likely to be gold or silver.)

In either hand we have only TWO possible states to determine whether Jones has more, equal or fewer gold coins: Therefore the odds are 1 in four that Jones has more gold coins (not an equal number, that's evens) than Smith

In your coin flipping, you are perfectly correct *if we flip both coins*, but here we are flipping only ONE of the two coins. The other stays at heads. Under that circumstance (excluding variables beyond our control), half of the flips result in both coins being heads.

#136 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 01:27 PM:

I'm going to briefly note something here, harking back to Open Thread 161, though I probably will not wish to discuss it further:

Running into those 'Clarissa' cartoons last week really rattled me badly, particularly with no advance warning of the direction they were going to take.

I felt mentally off-balance and fragile for the better part of the week, even though they did not directly push buttons from my personal history. As it happens, someone very dear to me suffered regular "bedtime stories", called just that, and it's been difficult to let go of thinking about that after reading those cartoons. She is not the only close friend who went through some serious abuse in childhood. Even apart from our annual Dysfunctional Family Day, statistics - if you trust them - suggest that some number of the regular readers here have direct experience of sexual abuse and might be a wee bit sensitive on the subject even if they don't want to say so.

To be clear, I don't want to open up standard Internet spoilers discussion #17; you've all seen it before, please take all points on both sides as read. I'm glad the link was shared and I wouldn't want to have missed those cartoons, because they're brilliantly, angrily, well done. I'm still thinking about sharing them with the friend I mentioned above. However, a little bit of warning to brace yourself for a very bumpy ride would be considerate and appreciated. Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance if you're ever able to accommodate that request.

#137 ::: Aryllian ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 01:45 PM:

heresiarch

Again, it's not about top and bottom, it's about there being two unique, separate probabilistic occurrences. If we know anything for certain about one of those occurrences, it falls out of the realm of statistics and into determined reality. (Smith.)

Hmm. But how does naming one of the two occurrences change the probability? That's all that top really is so far as I can see, it's naming the gold coin that we know about top. We still don't know anything about the other coin, and we know exactly the same thing about Jones's situation: one gold coin, one unknown coin, we just don't know that the gold coin is also named top. I don't see how that makes a difference.

Out of the possible outcomes where I could say, "at least one of the three is gold," what are the chances that I have three gold coins?

I understand the math. I don't understand why you're starting with all possible outcomes when you know you have one gold coin. The only unknowns, the only thing you have to calculate probability for, are the coins that have not been stated to be gold.

Yes, but they're not the only ones who could truthfully state that after their child is born. The population that you are crucially excluding are those who had a boy first and a girl second. In other words, why are you assuming that Jones didn't have to check both coins before finding at least one gold?

I'm actually assuming that Jones looked at both of them at once, or at least that Jones knows what coins Jones has, and is choosing to give a certain amount of information about them. But I don't know that it really matters what Jones knows or what Jones checked, if Jones doesn't tell anyone that.

I wrote something longer right here and deleted it because I managed to completely confuse myself, so if anyone wants to explain why naming one of the instances changes the probabilities (or why top is more than a name), I would be interested in that, because I think I've managed to convince myself that it might but it still makes absolutely no sense.

#138 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 01:51 PM:

Why are we doing your homework?

#139 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 02:11 PM:

So let me see if I'm getting it.

Let us start with the case of Ms Smith.

Smith draws two coins at random from the pool of Lemurian coinage, and puts them in her pocket. We know that there are three possible outcomes:

Smith has two gold coins (p=0.25)
---OR---
Smith has one coin of each metal (p=0.5)
---OR---
Smith has two silver coins (p=0.25).


Later, Smith reaches into her pocket and randomly stacks one of her coins on top of the other. If the coins are different, it is equally likely that the gold will be on top as the silver being on top.

So, without looking at the stacked coins, the possible outcomes are:

a) Gold on Gold (p=0.25)
---OR---
b) Gold on Silver (p=0.25)
---OR---
c) Silver on Gold (p=0.25)
---OR---
d) Silver on Silver (p=0.25)

Now Ms Smith looks at the stack, sees the top coin, and finds that "The top coin is gold".

This excludes c) and d), so either a) or b) is true, and each now has p=0.5 (i.e., they are still equally likely, and are the only two remaining possibilities).

[To say it another way, let us assume we have an ensemble of many, many Smiths -- perhaps we cloned her. They all do the same experiment, and we have the ones who find a gold coin on top to stay, and those who find a silver coin on top we tell to go and become stormtroopers for Gearge Lucas. Of the ones who stayed -- i.e., the ones who found a gold coin on top when they randomly stacked the coins -- half will have two gold coins and half will have a gold and a silver.]


Now for Mr. Jones. He, too, picks two coins at random from the stock of Lemurian coins, and agian we know that there are three possible outcomes:

Jones has two gold coins (p=0.25)
---OR---
Jones has one coin of each metal (p=0.5)
---OR---
Jones has two silver coins (p=0.25).

He doesn't stack them up randomly, he just peeks in his pocket and says "I have at least one gold coin". This excludes the last category, leaving us knowing that there are two possible outcomes:

Jones has two gold coins (p=0.333...)
---OR---
Jones has one coin of each metal (p=0.666...)

And so the probability of Jones having more gold coins than Smith is 1/6.

Thoughts? Comments?

Best,
Jim Bales

#141 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 02:19 PM:

Walter Hawn @ 135: but here we have eliminated one half of the chances by specifying that, in each case, one of the two coins is gold.

Not so. Jones has only eliminated one of four permutations.

Smith has GS or GG, with equal probability. Jones has GS, SG, or GG, with equal probability. Therefore the answer is 1/6.

Jim Bales @ 86: When Smith says that "The one on top is gold", is that from when she drew from population 1 or population 2? The difference matters, and she does not tell us.

No, it doesn't matter. For that matter, it could have been changed to gold by the fairies at the last second, or she could have drawn it from a pile of only gold coins just to mess with us. All we need to know is that (1) her first coin is gold, (2) all unspecified coins have an equal chance of being gold or silver, and (3) Jones has at least one gold coin.

I invite anyone who disagrees with this to do a simple experiment: toss two coins a bunch of times and keep track of the results (Daniel Martin has done this for you above, but maybe you should do it yourself). Then, letting heads stand for gold:

--how often can you make Smith's statement? (half the time)
--how often can you make Jones' statement (3/4 of the time)
--what fraction of Smith-compliant flips have two heads (1/2)
--what fraction of Jones-compliant flips have two heads (1/3)

Here's a Dr. Math FAQ about the Monty Hall problem, which is essentially the same.

#142 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 02:23 PM:

Me @ 141: It occurs to me that you could also toss three coins at a time, representing Smith's second coin and Jones' two coins. Throw out tosses where both Jones' coins are tails, and again you'll see that 1/6 of the time Smith's second coins is tails and Jones' coins are both heads. This shows that it doesn't matter why Smith's first coin is gold.

#143 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 02:39 PM:

Nancy @134

The bullet element of the story suggests that it was pretty low-powered round. .22 rimfire rather than 9mm Parabellum, for instance. That's still enough to kill somebody, but it would combine with the standard Police clothing, at least resistant to bullets.

The bullet which didn't quite wound my grandfather struck a .303 round, hitting the actual bullet, and the family story is that it was a "spent bullet". Long range, slowed by the air, still nasty if it hit in the wrong place. Shift the point of impact an inch, and it might have been a bit different. I don't know where he was carrying his ammunition, but the Pattern '08 ammunition pouches were on the waist-belt, so the bullet would otherwise have his him in the guts.

So, yeah, these things happen, but when a Mauser bullet can penetrate 4 inches of wood at around 2000 yards, pocket bibles aren't likely to make much difference.

Oh, one of the BBC reports is here.

#144 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 02:48 PM:

One day, on a Lemurian street, Ms. Smith meets Mr. Jones. Ms. Smith says, “I have two Lemurian coins in my hand. The one on top is gold.”

Mr. Jones replies, “I have two Lemurian coins in my hand. At least one is gold.”

Smith and Jones are pickpockets, comparing loot. But both are hedging their statements, because Thieves' Guild rules say partners have to pool their loot and split evenly. And neither wants to admit they both have two gold coins.

In other words, the real question here is: How many coins do you have in your pocket?

#145 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 02:50 PM:

Jacque @44: Yes, but which is it? Smith and Jones or Smith and Jones?

You forgot about Smith and Jones.

#146 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 02:53 PM:

Aryllian (128): If [Jones] knows at least one of them is gold, he must know which one it is

Not if he could have started the day with a lot of coins, both gold and silver, and he kept track of his spending well enough to know that he has at least one gold coin left, but he's lost track of whether the second is gold and silver.

Why are we assuming that Smith and Jones both drew two coins from a population, instead of having two left after buying stuff that day? (Because it's unsolvable otherwise? Pfft.)

I'm also unsure how Smith's coin could be meaningfully "on top" after rattling around in her pocket or wallet. Does she habitually carry two coins stacked flat on her hand? Why?

-----------
In other news, logic problems like this bother me because the situation as recounted makes no sense. I'm with whoever it was up-thread who said that Smith and Jones are spies and these are their recognition codes.

#147 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 02:57 PM:

Bruce Arthurs (144): How many coins do you have in your pocket?

None. They're all in my wallet, which is in my purse. They only time I have coins in my pocket is when I take a roll of quarters to the laundromat.

#148 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 03:05 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #134: Well, there was Teddy Roosevelt -- the bullet wasn't completely stopped by his folded speech, but he went on to give the two-hour speech (and wave the bloodied pages for emphasis!).

IIRC, the other "classic" bullet-stopper is a folded silk handkerchief -- that apparently happened often enough that nowadays, multiple layers of silk are commonly used in bulletproof vests and body armour.

#149 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 03:25 PM:

@134 - the blog linked to is that of a very strange man who appears to believe that a descent into open 'class war' is a good idea. He also seems to believe that the police are both so cunning as to orchestrate riots for PR purposes, AND so stupid as to carry out their 'extra-judicial killings' by dragging people out of taxis and capping them on the ground. This view is akin to that, quite widespread amongst the deludedly bien-pensant, which holds that the police shot Jean-Charles de Menezes on purpose - as if a Brazilian electrician was some kind of second prize in the quest for an Al Qaeda cell. Conspiracy always trumps cock-up, apparently.

Tragically, this kind of mentality is fed by the police's tendency to spout the most transparently absurd arse-covering flannel as soon as anything goes wrong - worryingly suggesting that their operations are conducted in an atmosphere of ongoing panic. Still, the truth does come out, and I'd rather have policing conducted by publicly-accountable bodies than by people who call themselves 'Lenin' and almost audibly lick their chops at the prospect of deadly violence.

#150 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 03:30 PM:

Aryllian @ #128: Would you like to play a game?

Here's the game: we have a dealer who everyone agrees is totally fair and impartial, who enjoys shuffling and dealing cards. I hand the dealer a full deck of cards (52, no Jokers - you can inspect the cards ahead of time), and he shuffles the deck and deals me two cards that I can see but you can't.

If I get two black cards, I show them to you and throw them back in the deck for the dealer to shuffle and deal again. Otherwise, I show you a red card, and you make a decision whether to bet that I have two red cards. If so, you pay me $2 to reveal the other card I got, and if it's red I'll pay you $5. (So if I had two reds, you're up $3, but if I had one of each color you're down $2)

Now if your theory is correct about the probability of having two gold coins when one says "I have two coins and at least one is gold", then this would be a good game for you to play over and over and over.

Would you care to guess what a computer simulation shows about your long-term financial prospects when playing this game over and over again?

#151 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 03:32 PM:

Jim Bales #139: Yes, exactly!

Aryllian #137: Essentially, these, or any such collection of objects, are considered "naturally distinct" -- that is, you could conceivably line them up in a row and number them. That means that the probabilities you get are based on all possible permutations. If, in a given case, you can't distinguish between the objects, that means you have incomplete information, but "the world" still knows which coin (or whatever) is which.

The mathematics of combinations was developed largely to deal with exactly that situation, and for a more complicated case (say, drawing four coins out of an bag of ten), there would be various formulas that make the calculations practical.

Intuitively: Mr. Jones is saying "oh yeah, I've got a gold coin in here", while Ms. Smith is saying "so do I, and here it is!" Her "hand" looks stronger because she's shown something up front -- and the question at hand isn't so much about what they actually have, as about the odds we can fairly give for each to have a second gold coin.

#152 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 03:40 PM:

Aryllian #137, cont'd: You can imagine that Ms. Smith pulled out a coin and slapped it on the table ("look, gold!"), whereas Mr. Jones rummaged in his pocket, pulled out a gold coin, but then dropped it back into his pocket. The difference shows up the next time they reach into their respective pockets....

#153 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 03:49 PM:

Well, this has been a weekend for discovering toxic posts on the internet. There's a well-written blog about screenwriting by an aspiring screenwriter that I read courtesy of Harry Connolly, who pointed it out on his site and his LJ awhile ago. She put up a post yesterday because of cretins that are dropping in for personal attacks followed by sockpuppetry asking a) Don't be a dick, b) choose an identity and stick to it or the sockpuppets will be deleted, and c) if you're a lurker don't be afraid to join in on the conversation.

The second comment to show up was a furious flounce in what I think of as Subsection 1a: poor imitations of Jack Nickelson in the courtroom scene of A Few Good Men followed by the old "won't comment, won't read, you're all snobs and sycophants" line. Everyone here has seen this one before, usually executed better. I got curious enough to look at some recent comments, and they brought me back to the time where I commented on the upcoming release of The Spirit and which I found myself wishing to the Universe that I'd never made because it triggered Mike's unending ugly justifications of Frank Miller's sexism and rape in film and refusal to admit that there were reasons that folks were objecting to the skies over his continued defense of both, so in my case her post seemed both reasoned and reasonable.

Then I ran into a mention of a guy that had made a short SF film on YouTube which went over so well that he's been chosen to direct a remake of The Evil Dead which Rami and Campbell are producing. He posted about the film after he uploaded it to YouTube in the forums section of "CG Society The Society of Digital Artists" and mentioned they'd done the live action shooting for $300.00: you can see the final result here.

Well. He was promptly attacked for being a liar because it would be impossible to get the shots he needed with that amount of actors for $300.00 (clearly said by someone who's never experienced the power of offering something to go into an extra's portfolio), being a pirate because the software costs more than $300.00, for stealing from another filmmaker's work (who was listed in the credits, and who had helped out with the project), for being a liar because the whole thing couldn't have cost $300.00, and probably mopery.

It reminded me of William Goldman's comments about most directors and their relationship with scriptwriters, "They can't write, and it makes them crazy" and made me miss Mr. Ford's comments on film here. (This is not meant as a slight on Mr. Macdonald's postings on film: the difference to me has always seemed to be the difference between someone who knows and loves both theory and practice, and someone who knows both but is mainly concerned about what keeps or doesn't keep the audience in their seats.)

Maybe the underlying cause for both examples I've given was excess bile, or too much bad weather, or reading comprehension damage from too much exposure to bad screenplays: I'll admit that after I waded through the one written by the Wachowski brothers for Plastic Man I felt the way I did after running a fever for two days running, and that was just one script. Anyway, I make note of it for anyone reading up on film and film-related posts this week.

#154 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 03:59 PM:

Julie L @ 145

There's also Smith and Jones (alas)

#155 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 04:07 PM:

I've figured out what (else) is bothering me about this logic puzzle. Assuming for the sake of argument that Lemuria has the practice of issuing its each of its citizens with two coins, each of which could equally be silver or gold, Smith didn't say that her "first" coin was gold (or her second, for that matter), she said her "top" coin. Which doesn't tell us anything at all about the order in which it was issued to her. For that matter, for all we know the official Issuer of Coins reaches into a huge bag, picks up two coins, and hands them over at the same time, in which case there *is* no order. "Top" is a red herring. And, no, it's *not* as if "Mr. Jones rummaged in his pocket, pulled out a gold coin, but then dropped it back into his pocket." The puzzle clearly states that the issue is whether or not his other coin is *also* gold.

#156 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 04:20 PM:

Aryllian @124: We do in fact know that Jones has a gold coin.
We know that he says he does. The puzzle statement doesn't confirm it. I don't even know if that's his real name.

***

Slider picture puzzles can be challenging. Especially if the blocks are all different sizes, and the pictures are correspondingly distorted within them.

Not to mention that you don't know what the finished picture is supposed to look like. Hippos at the top? At the bottom?

Helpful clue: try and find the blocks where a segment isn't distorted. Knowledge of Photoshop is a plus. Mumbling to yourself is perhaps helpful, or maybe it merely provides solace. If you finish the last one, take a screen shot before clicking "high score" — though I suspect they don't have a high score for that one, even though it pretends it does. (ps: There's a 'mute' button in the upper right of the window — I had to look for it after a couple of minutes of the music.)

#157 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 04:31 PM:

I'm going to add to the group of people who think that the Lemurian coins question is underdetermined.

Basic probability

posterior odds = (likelihood ratio) x (prior odds)

We know the prior odds -- the probability of each configuration of Lemurian coins. We don't know the likelihood ratio, because we don't know anything about how likely Smith and Jones are to make these particular statements for particular arrangements of coins. Knowing they aren't lying or even that they aren't intentionally misleading isn't enough.

Suppose Mr Jones says "at least one of my coins is gold" only when he has two gold coins, and otherwise says "at least one of my coins is silver". Or suppose he says "at least one of my coins is gold" only when exactly one is gold, and says "I'll buy you a drink" if both are gold. Or whatever. The same applies to Smith.

This distinguishes the problem from Monty Hall, where we have an exact description of Monty's behaviour: he opens one of the doors with no car, choosing at random if there are two.

Now, the problem does become soluble if you adopt a rule that reduces the problem to binary, eg, if you say that each person thinks up a statement that they could make about their coins without knowing whether it's true, and then checks to see if it is true, and then says whether it is true. In that case the answer is that Jones is more likely to have more money. But that's such an unnatural way to produce speech that it's hardly surprising it causes problems.


#158 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 04:57 PM:

Lee@120: My recollection is that Darkover was metal-poor, and so copper took the cultural place of gold because they didn't have any silver or gold.

#159 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 05:05 PM:

David Harmon @152, thomas @157

I think these two comments spell out the issue quite clearly. The proposed procedures at 152 (take out one coin and, on the one hand, put it on the table, while on the other hand put it back in the pocket) are very slightly implied in the question, but they are by no means necessary.

Because Smith and Jones say different things, the puzzle-trained mind leaps to suspecting that they have different knowledge, or have done different things. And perhaps they have, but we don't actually know that. They are, after all, different people. Perhaps Smith holds her coins tightly, so she knows which is on top, while Jones habitually bounces them in a loose fist, so he doesn't know their current position. They both looked at what they had in hand when they took the coins out, but aren't looking presently. In that scenario, the odds are equal but the statements (and the differences in the statements) make sense.

#161 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 05:45 PM:

So Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford each have two actual gold coins. By Hollywood convention, who winds up with them at the end of the movie?

#162 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:03 PM:

The female lead, of course.

#163 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:08 PM:

HLN: Discovered that some people unknown to me have (yet again) gone and dumped things on the end of my (city, alleyway) driveway. Am considering tripwires and explosives, also putting up a 12' fence[0].

Reasonable suggestions appreciated, however.

[0] Time and money make both of these less likely than I'd really prefer, unfortunately.

#164 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:19 PM:

Aryllian @ 137: "But how does naming one of the two occurrences change the probability?"

It makes it not a probability at all, but a certainty. Whereas if all we know is that, out of the statistical population a certain number of them have a certain value, we still cannot say with certainty what the value of any particular coin is, meaning that Gs and Sg are both still live probabilities. Let me put it another way: if I have twenty gold coins, and at least eight of them are gold, what is the most probable number of gold coins for me to have: 10 or 14?

To go up another order of magnitude, if I flip a coin one thousand times, and I tell you at least four hundred and ninety nine flips were heads, then what is the most probable number of heads flipped? Do you see how that is different from flipping the coin and getting heads four hundred and ninety nine times in a row, then flipping it another five hundred and one times?

Mary Aileen @ 155: ""Top" is a red herring."

You are quite correct that the order doesn't matter, but here "top" or "first" is standing in linguistically for "a specific occurrence," as opposed to "one of a number of occurrences."

#165 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:33 PM:

Let me put it another way: if I have twenty gold coins, and at least eight of them are gold, what is the most probable number of gold coins for me to have: 10 or 14?

Um. 20?

#166 ::: Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:34 PM:

I flipped a quarter and a penny and at least one of them came up heads. What are the odds both came up heads?

Then I flipped a quarter and a penny and the quarter came up heads. What are the odds both came up heads?

#167 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:40 PM:

heresiarch #164: I think some folks here have been bitten by too many quines, while others seem to get claustrophobic in problem boxes. :-)

#168 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:53 PM:

xeger @ #163, cheap portable webcam/video recorder?

#169 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 06:55 PM:

#156 ::: Kip W

Thanks for the game, I think.

Getting the pieces undistorted adds to the satisfaction of finishing the puzzle. I think I'm grateful that rotating the pieces isn't necessary.

#170 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 07:09 PM:

heresiarch (164): You are quite correct that the order doesn't matter, but here "top" or "first" is standing in linguistically for "a specific occurrence," as opposed to "one of a number of occurrences."

It is possible that you are correct in puzzle-universe; however, I am not a resident of puzzle-universe and find it almost impossible to visit there. In other words...Huh?? If the order doesn't matter, why does the order matter?

#171 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 08:11 PM:

#168 ::: Linkmeister @ 168 ...
xeger @ #163, cheap portable webcam/video recorder?

I've thought about it, but the closest 'safe'[0] place I'd be able to put such a thing is about 70' away, with a fence and part of a tree canopy in the way :(

Hmm... OTOH, there's nothing wrong with a warning sign and something that looks appropriate... and it'd be easy enough to (say) rig up a red led with a battery... and that'd last for ages...

Hmmm....

[0] Unattended objects still have a habit of vanishing without warning around here... it's a shame that the end of my driveway has started having things appear.

#172 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 08:11 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 170: If the order doesn't matter, why does the order matter?

It's specificity that matters: something to distinguish between the two cases of one-of-each. Spatial order is a natural way to do this, since two coins can't be in the same place at the same time, but Smith could say "the coin that was minted earlier is gold" with the same effect, assuming that one could always determine that. For any ordering there are two one-of-each possibilities (GS and SG), and she's eliminating one of them from consideration, while Jones is not.

We're used to thinking about probability as describing reality, but while it's possible that probability is baked into reality at the quantum level, usually probability statements describe our knowledge of reality. That's why we don't need to worry about whether Smith and Jones are telling the truth, or whether the description of Lemurian currency is accurate; we have no knowledge of that, so it can't affect our calculations. All we can do is say that, given what we're told, Smith's coins can be in two equally probable states while Jones' can be in three.

#173 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 08:21 PM:

Tim Walters (172): I...almost understood that. I think.

I grok that the order matters in the case when the coins were acquired in a certain order. I can't quite see it mattering when they already have the coins and are just describing them. But. I almost understood that explanation.

Although I still think they're really spies exchanging coded messages. ;)

#174 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 08:35 PM:

173
The coins are hollow, and the messages are on microfilm inside them. Gold coins are clearly for more urgent messages.

#175 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 08:42 PM:

xeger @ #171 wireless webcam for $27 plus s+h. Looks pretty unobtrusive. Channel the inner "Mission Impossible" spy of your choice when concealing it. I'd suggest Barney; he was the engineer. ;)

#176 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 08:42 PM:

::shakes head::

Nope, sorry, I lost it again. They each have two coins. In each case, one coin is definitely gold and the other could be either gold or silver. I just don't see how knowing that Smith's definitely-gold coin is currently on top tells us anything at all about the probability of either's indeterminate coin being gold or silver. (Note that I'm not asking for further explanations. I see what you're saying, but it's just not going to make sense to me.)

P J Evans (174): Oh, yes, obviously!

#177 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 08:45 PM:

Mary Aileen #173: Another way to put it is that initially the hands are standing in for what these problems normally call a "bag" -- that is, an unordered collection, about which you have limited information. Once an item is individually identified (Smith's gold coin) it has been "drawn", and is no longer in the bag.

The original wording is confusing here, because it describes the identified coin as still being in her hand. (Which is why up at #152, I reworded it in terms of "pockets", which are intuitively bags.)

#178 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 09:17 PM:

Hmmm. This sounds related to the "socks in a drawer" problem. You have a drawer full of socks, all identical except that some are red and some are green. You must remove socks from the drawer without looking. How many socks do you have to pull out to be sure that you have a matching pair, color unspecified? How many do you have to pull out to be sure that you have a pair of red socks?

#179 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 09:27 PM:

This is insanity! The answer is so obviously 1/4.

Think of it this way...

Ms. Smith has only one unknown coin. Regardless of anything else, she has a 50% chance of having two golds (GG), and a 50% chance of holding one gold and one silver (GS).

Mr. Jones, who definitely has one gold coin, has one other coin, which is unknown. 50% GG, 50% GS.

Each can pocket one gold coin without changing the equation.

#180 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 09:40 PM:

I think I've figured out the disconnect here. We're actually talking about two slightly different situations:

Tim and David (and others) are dealing with the case where a large number of people are wandering around, each with two coins. In this scenario, Jones is in the set of people with at least one gold coin in any position, and Smith is in the smaller set of people with a gold coin on top.

DanR and I (and others) are dealing with two people, each of whom has two coins. Jones has one definitely-gold coin and one that could be either gold or silver; so does Smith. (Maybe their other coins are covered with crud or something.) The fact that Smith's definitely-gold coin is currently on top has no effect on her other coin. The other, indeterminate coin has an independent (though fictional) existence that is not affected by position. One or both of Smith's coins could be under the livingroom sofa, but they'd still be the same coins.

...And now I really am dropping this.

#181 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 09:44 PM:

Wait, are we assuming that Ms Smith draws two coins randomly out of her pocket and looks at one and then passively reports that the top one is gold? I had assumed that Ms Smith deliberately placed the (or a) gold coin on top.

I suppose there's also the possibility that Ms Smith knows the one on top is gold, without looking. This implies that both of her coins are gold. Or maybe that she can taste things with her fingertips.

#182 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 09:52 PM:

DanR @ 179: Mr. Jones, who definitely has one gold coin, has one other coin, which is unknown. 50% GG, 50% GS 33-1/3% GG, 33-1/3% GS, 33-1/3% SG.

FTFY.

#183 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 09:56 PM:

Tim Walters @182:

If Mr. Jones takes his aforementioned gold coin and puts it on top, how is his situation different than Mrs. Smith's?

#184 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:10 PM:

Avram @ 181: Wait, are we assuming that Ms Smith draws two coins randomly out of her pocket and looks at one and then passively reports that the top one is gold? I had assumed that Ms Smith deliberately placed the (or a) gold coin on top.

It makes no difference at all. We are assured that her second coin is equally likely to be gold or silver, and that's all we need to know.

I think people may be failing to realize that the probabilities that Smith and Jones calculate may be different from ours (in Jones' case, certainly will be). This is no weirder than the fact that my estimate of the probability of my having an ace in the hole in stud poker will be different from my opponent's--mine will be one or zero, his will be in between. Jones knows the location of at least one gold coin that we don't know; if he's looked at both his coins, from his point of view the probability is either 1/2 or 0. Likewise, if Smith has looked at her hole coin, for her the probability is either 1/3 or 0. (If she hasn't, her answer is the same as ours.)*

But the question is about our knowledge, not theirs, so the probability is 1/6.

Mary Aileen @ 180: Tim and David (and others) are dealing with the case where a large number of people are wandering around, each with two coins.

This is what probability means. Given a repeated series of events with the same information, in what proportion of them will Jones have more gold coins than Smith? If our information is different, our calculation of the probability may be different, even though the reality is the same.

*I hope I did all these right. But if not, it's the principle of the thing, mmkay? I had a gig last night and I'm still trying to wake up...

#185 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:15 PM:

DanR @ 183: Jones can put the gold coin on top, chuck it into a wishing well, or turn it into a newt. As long as he doesn't tell us about his numismatic activities, our probability estimate doesn't change, because we have no new info.

#186 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:17 PM:

Puzzles and logic problems tend to fall into two categories for me:
1) This is a trivial question that requires no effort and thus is boring.
2) Someone is mocking me and trying to make me feel stupid.
I should avoid logic problems, I really should.
It helps to know that "probability" is not a real thing, in the sense of being something that can be collected in a sack of probability or distorted by an Improbability Field. That's why "probability" problems like the Monty Haul and the gold and silver coins things make no sense in relation to the way things happen in the real world.

#187 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:37 PM:

Okay... assume that Lemurians can only fit three coins into a hand... what becomes of the probablilty calculations if one of these characters always tells the truth and the other always lies? Better yet, if one always tells the truth and the other only lies when carrying gold?

Even better... disregard this message.

#188 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:46 PM:

I'm backing off the main problem because at this point, it's been explained quite thoroughly, several times by several people in different ways. I do need to object to this:

Dr. Psycho #186: That's why "probability" problems... make no sense in relation to the way things happen in the real world.

On the contrary... the particular problems may be somewhat contrived (and always somewhat simplified), but probability is all about how things happen in the real world -- a real world where "sure things" usually aren't, and you almost never have complete knowledge of the situation.

Probability and statistics are how we can deal sensibly with uncertainty, and folks who don't understand them, are just that much more vulnerable -- both to natural "flukes of chance", and to exploitation by the malicious.

#189 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:47 PM:

Linkmeister @ 175 ...
xeger @ #171 wireless webcam for $27 plus s+h. Looks pretty unobtrusive. Channel the inner "Mission Impossible" spy of your choice when concealing it. I'd suggest Barney; he was the engineer. ;)

Hmm... I wonder how well that'd do hooked up to a solar panel... Hmmm.... :D

#190 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:47 PM:

My thanks to David Harmon and Tim Walton for sticking with me in working out the conditional probabilities embedded in the problem posed in the original post!

I think that I now have a better understanding of conditional probability than when I first encountered -- learning of the Monty Hall problem some 25 years ago, while having dinner with other grad students at Crossroads Pub and Grill on Beacon Street.

(What allowed me to get it then was actually running 15 trials of the Monty Hall problem while waiting for our pizzas to reach the table. My friend [a computer scientist] who played Monty noted that he only had a choice as to which door to reveal one time out of three.)

Best,
Jim Bales

#191 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 10:51 PM:

Dr. Psycho @ 186: That's why "probability" problems like the Monty Haul and the gold and silver coins things make no sense in relation to the way things happen in the real world.

But they do, very much so. See Chris Lawson @ 110, or how Bayes' Theorem comes up in counterintuitive medical test results.

I wish I were better at explaining it, because I think probability is something people should understand. I wish I understood it better myself. Until we achieve omniscience, probability is what we're stuck with.

#192 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 11:02 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 180 writes:
Tim and David (and others) are dealing with the case where a large number of people are wandering around, each with two coins.

Let me reinforce Tim Water's reply @ 184:
This is what probability means.

When studying Statistical Mechanics as a grad student back in the Reagan administration, we spoke of ensembles -- that is, we imaginged running the same experiemt on multiple, identicle, indepedent systems in parallel. If one quarter of those systems would have the same outcome, then the probability of that outcome was 0.25.

If Mary Aileen should decide that she is not *quite* done with the topic after all, perhaps she (or anyone else doubting the 1/6th result) might look over my analysis of #139 and let me know what seems less than persuasive and what seems to be reasonable.

Best,
Jim Bales

#193 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 11:23 PM:

Jim Bales @190 (& Tim Walters):

The difference between this and the Monty Hall problem lies with the knowledge of the revealer... that is, Monty Hall deliberately does not reveal the car, and thus gives the contestant a 2/3 chance of selecting it by switching doors.

In this problem, we are not told whether Jones has seen both coins or only one, and so we must work under the simple premise that one of Jones' coins is a known entity and the other an unknown. The same goes for Smith. We do not know if she purposely placed the gold coin on top, or if it just landed there. Since we cannot assume anything further from the framing of the question, Jones' matrix should be taken as identical to Smith's.

#194 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2011, 11:51 PM:

DanR @ 193: In this problem, we are not told whether Jones has seen both coins or only one, and so we must work under the simple premise that one of Jones' coins is a known entity and the other an unknown.

The passive voice is revealing your problem. The question isn't what is a known entity (to whom?)—it's what you know. You know that Jones doesn't have two silver coins, and that's all you know about his coins. That eliminates SS, but not GS or SG.

Again, I suggest running a few trials with coin tosses. You will quickly see that Jones will report that he has at least one head three times out of four on average, and that one of those three will be GG.

#195 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:00 AM:

Tim Walters @194: You know that Jones doesn't have two silver coins, and that's all you know about his coins.

Again, how does this differ from what you know about Smith's coins?

#196 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:04 AM:

...and suppose we make it even more like the Monty Hall problem: instead of telling you he has at least one gold coin, he looks at both his coins and plunks a gold one on the table. The probability of his having another one is still 1/3, not 1/2, because we already knew that he had a gold coin, and can produce one this way from any of those three states where he has at least one gold coin. Just as Monty's revealing the goat doesn't give you any info about the box you picked (because he can always reveal a goat), Jones' revealing the gold coin doesn't give you any info about his other coin (because he can always reveal a gold coin).

Jones' knowledge doesn't affect your estimate, because you only know what Jones tells you.

#197 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:10 AM:

DanR @ 195: Again, how does this differ from what you know about Smith's coins?

You know that a specific coin of Smith's is gold, leaving only one unknown coin. You don't know that about Jones--he has two unknown (to you) coins. Knowing he has at least one gold coin doesn't determine the metal of either of his coins.

Smith has ruled out SG, but Jones has not.

#198 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:12 AM:

What we know:

Mrs. Smith has 1 gold coin.
Mr. Jones has 1 gold coin.

Is there supposed to be an implied distinction between a coin being "on top" or somewhere else in the hand?

#199 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:16 AM:

Tim Walters @197: Knowing he has at least one gold coin doesn't determine the metal of either of his coins.

Aha! Schroedinger's coin... Still, I assert this does not matter. We are not trying to determine the metal of "either of his coins," but both.

#200 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:16 AM:

Can you see that one-third of the people who can make Jones' claim cannot make Smith's claim, but that everyone who can make Smith's claim can also make Jones' claim?

If not, I'm out of ideas for how to explain this.

#201 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:17 AM:

Can you see that one-third of the people who can make Jones' claim cannot make Smith's claim, but that everyone who can make Smith's claim can also make Jones' claim?

If not, I'm out of ideas for how to explain this.

#202 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:18 AM:

Lee@178: To be assured of a matching pair, I need to pull out three socks. With the information given, I have no way to be assured of getting a red pair, because I don't know that there are two red socks in the drawer. If I'm given that there are at least two red socks, then it depends on whether I know how many green socks there are -- if I do, I must pull out that many plus two; if I don't know how many green socks there are, then there's nothing for it but to pull out all the socks.

#203 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:19 AM:

Tim Walters @200: Can you see that one-third of the people who can make Jones' claim cannot make Smith's claim, but that everyone who can make Smith's claim can also make Jones' claim?

See Avram @181.

#204 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:24 AM:

So, from probability let's go to geometry. I got this from the latest MT VOID, so if anyone here subscribes to that (I'm pretty sure Kip W. does) you'll have seen this.

In _Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows_, there's a geometric figure which represents the Hallows of the title. In the first movie we see this in two places, on some jewelry and in a signature. In both cases, it's a triangle enclosing a circle inscribed within it (the largest possible circle that the triangle can contain) with a single line over it, the perpendicular bisector from the triangle's apex.

(Those who aren't familiar with the sign and have trouble with the description can see it here.)

On the jewelry, the triangle is equilateral. In the signature, the triangle is an isosceles right triangle with the right angle as the apex.

For both cases, what is the length of the up-down line, in terms of r, the radius of the circle?

#205 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:25 AM:

Dave Bell at # 119: You know the logic problems about the two guards at two doors, and one always lies while the other tells the truth.

Live action version.

#206 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:32 AM:

The Order of the Stick had an amusing take on those problems as well.

#207 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:33 AM:

DanR: See me at 184. We are assured that unknown coins have an equal chance of being gold or silver. If Smith is allowed to make her claim regardless of what order her coins were originally in (by reversing them if necessary), then her second coin has a two-thirds chance of being silver. So by the definition of the problem, that can't be what she's doing.

I think the problem would be clearer if something out of Smith's (ordinary) control like mint date were used, but it doesn't actually mattter.

#208 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:49 AM:

Tim Walters @207:

You are referring to the wording, "otherwise unidentified coins in the hands of Smith and Jones are no more likely to be silver than gold."

I think this is where we diverge. I believe that by saying, "at least one of them is gold," Jones effectively identifies one of his coins. I do, however, see how this could be interpreted otherwise.

It's late and I am cooked... in the hour or so we've spent on this, the value of the Lemurian gold coins has gone up "at least" 1%.

Peace, D.

#209 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:59 AM:

re the slider game mentioned in #156 - I *did* manage to finish it, but between NoScript, cookie blockers, and not counting as I did the sliders, I didn't realize I was at the end until I'd actually finished (and the picture went away). So it can be done.

#210 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:00 AM:

Okay, not done.

I know that's what probability means.

But I'm stuck on real people wandering around with real coins. Real coins don't change just because we know what/where another coin is. It may change what we can know about it, but the coin stays the same.

We're talking about different things.

----------------
You know, this is stupid. Even before I was dumb enough to get involved in it, I could tell that this was going to cause a bigger fluorospherical flame war than anything else in the last three years.

#211 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:02 AM:

Good night.

#212 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:11 AM:

I've gotten to the Chinese Seed Peddler screen of Not To Scale, and Crain of California doesn't show up in google. I suspect it isn't an American company.

#213 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:47 AM:

Melissa Mead @ 78: Exactly. (With a conspiracy charge on top, of course.) Sorry so late to answer back. I got caught up in stuff.

General thread stuff: Statistics and probability is one of those fields of study that has always struck me as vaguely Lovecraftian. Gaze into it for long enough, and you'll go cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs, usually at some staggering moment of "The Universe actually... works that way? FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU--"

(I don't know if Lewis Carroll did much in the way of prob & stats work, but I wouldn't be surprised.)

#214 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:47 AM:

See, the thing bothering me here is that I don't understand Smith's motivation for telling us that the gold coin is on top.

In the case of the Monty Hall problem, I know the rules by which Monty is operating, so I can work from that to figure out that there's a 1:3 chance that staying with my first door choice is right, and a 2:3 chance that I'm better off switching.

In this case, I don't know how Smith's description of her coins fits into the probabilistic distribution of those coins in the space of potential-Smith-hand-contents. How does Smith behave with a pocket full of silver? With more than two coins? With just one coin? That's why I don't take the statement that the gold coin is on top is meaningful.

#215 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:48 AM:

Terry Karney @13: Welcome to Hudson County!

Lenore (in Hoboken)

#216 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:52 AM:

I went to see Xopher this afternoon (Sunday). He is still feeling pretty woozy. However, he perked up enough while I was there to enjoy hearing all the e-mail messages.

He was doing much better than yesterday. We had quite a conversation despite his inability to speak at the moment while the tongue heals. He filled several pages of his notebook with his part. He’s definitely up to visits. In fact, he’s bored! He’s a little too woozy to read, but not woozy enough to sleep. The pain meds are quite effective, but they have their downside, for sure.

He told me that the surgery went three hours longer than expected because they carefully removed layers of the tumor until they had clean margins. That was good to hear; we’d worried about why it went so long. Makes sense.

They told him the feeding tube is scheduled to come out Wednesday, when they anticipate the tongue will have healed enough for normal eating, and they would also then close up the tracheostomy. He’s sure looking forward to that, and to coming home, but he’s healing well, and his spirits are good (if woozy).

Lenore

#217 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:57 AM:

Avram: Would it work better for you if it was like this?

You're there on the street. Jones holds up a gold coin in her right hand and shows it to you. "I have two coins," she says. "One in my hand, one in my pocket. This one in my hand is gold." (And as you can see it, you can tell that she's correct.) Smith looks in his pocket. "I have two coins in my pocket," he says. "At least one of them is gold."

To my mind this is an equivalent formulation to what Jim gave.

#218 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 04:30 AM:

OK, I think I've successfully explained it to myself: Smith and Jones each get get a random coin on Saturday, and another random coin on Sunday. On Monday they meet at the pub, but each only shows up if he or she got at least one gold coin, because the drinks are expensive. Smith reveals that the coin she got on Saturday is gold. What are the odds that Jones has more gold than Smith?

I think there are 16 possibilities as of Sunday night:

  • Smith got gold on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, silver on Sun
If both of them show up at the bar on Monday, that knocks out all of the possibilities where one of them gets two silver, leaving us with 9 possibilities:
  • Smith got gold on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got silver on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, gold on Sun
Now Smith reveals that she got gold on Saturday, knocking out every option where Smith gets silver on Saturday:
  • Smith got gold on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, gold on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, gold on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got gold on Sat, silver on Sun
  • Smith got gold on Sat, silver on Sun; and Jones got silver on Sat, gold on Sun
That leaves us with 6 possibilities. Out of those there's only one in which Jones has more gold than Smith does.

#219 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 05:31 AM:

I agree that's an equivalent formulation of the problem, and a correct solution.

#220 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:39 AM:

@216 Thanks for the Xopher update, Lenore! More good thoughts heading his way!

#221 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 07:03 AM:

#44, #145, #154:

The original post specifies that Smith is a Ms., so it's not any of those. (Nor is it Smith and Jones, since in that case it's Jones who's the Ms.)

#222 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 07:14 AM:

Dave Bell #115, Allen Beatty #205: When I clicked the link, I thought it was going to be the scene from Labyrinth. Would an actress and two Henson Labs creatures count as live action?

#223 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 07:23 AM:

Lenore #216: Yay, good to hear he's doing well!

#224 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:48 AM:

And with 217 and 218, I think I can articulate why this is so baffling/irritating to some people.

In the situation in 218, the answer is clearly 1/6. In the situation in 217, and the situation in the problem, it's not clear that the "coin on top"/"coin in hand" was selected at random, and unless it was, then the answer is NOT 1/6.

The equivalence of the 3 questions is a convention, and it adds information. If you work with probability math regularly, you are so used to the convention that you don't notice it.

*Note that probability is very closely related to what I do; I'm definitely in the "seen these problems before" camp.

#225 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:57 AM:

I apologize for losing my temper last night.

#226 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:00 AM:

I know, I know, the thread's moved on. But it took me long enough to explain this to myself* that I can't not post it here. The large number of people who've got this now can just skip ahead :D

It started making sense to me when I thought of the situation in terms of properties of the coins themselves.

We exist in a limited universe where Coins A, B, C and D are objects which have only have two properties, properties whose values consist of mutually exclusive pairs: top/ bottom and silver/ gold. Top implies not bottom, silver implies not gold, and vice versa.

The rules of the universe are such that:

The {top, bottom} properties of A and B connected as a pair with a rule. The {top, bottom} properties of C and D are connected as a pair with the same rule. The rule is that if one of the pair is top, the other is bottom (this rule is deduced from the assumed physics of our pocket** universe).

The {gold, silver} property is connected for AB with the rule “one is gold”. Let’s call this physical law “Jones”.

The {gold, silver} and {top, bottom} properties are connected for CD with the rule “the top one is gold”. Let’s call that rule “Smith”.

Other than these rules, A, B, C, and D have an equal chance to be distributed top, bottom, gold and silver - the relationship of AB has no influence on the relationship of CD.

In this universe, under Jones, AB can be:

A is {top, gold} B is {bottom, gold}
A is {top, gold} B is {bottom, silver}
A is {bottom, gold} B is {top, gold}
A is {bottom, gold B is {top, silver}
A is {top, silver} B is {bottom, gold}
A is (top, silver} B {bottom, silver}
A is {bottom, silver} B is {top, gold)
A is {bottom, silver B is {top, silver}

In 2 of these 6 combinations, AB is gold/gold
     => the probability of Jones having GG is 1/3

CD under Smith can be:

C is {top, gold} D can be {bottom, gold}
C is {top, gold} D can be {bottom, silver}
C is {bottom, gold} D can be {top, gold}
C is {bottom, gold D can be {top, silver}
C is {top, silver} D is {bottom, gold}
C is (top, silver} D is {bottom, silver}
C is {bottom, silver} D is {top, gold)
C is {bottom, silver, B {top, silver}

In 2 of these 4 combinations, CD is gold/silver => the probability of Smith not having GG is ½

     =>The probability of Jones having GG when Jones does not is (independent probabilities multiply) 1/3 * 1/2 = 1/6
Or another way of putting it - the total possibility space is 6 * 4 = 24 combinations (for each of the six ABs there are four possible CDs) and of these there are 4 cases where AB is GG when CD is not:

A is {top, gold} B is {bottom, gold} ; C is {top, gold} D is {bottom, silver}
A is {top, gold} B is {bottom, gold} ; C is {bottom, silver} D is {top, gold}
A is {bottom, gold} B is {top, gold}; C is {top, gold} D is {bottom, silver}
A is {bottom, gold} B is {top, gold}, C is {bottom, silver} D is {top, gold)

* Yes, I really did have to write it out long hand before I could convince myself.

** Heh.

#227 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:10 AM:

SamChevre (224): I think you've got it.

Also, I at least was (became) distracted by a possibly-unrelated point: probabilities are all very well, but they don't actually tell us about the reality of a particular case.

Two examples, to hopefully make this clearer:
1) Tim mentioned a card game in #184. He knows whether or not his hole card is an ace, so for him the probability is either one or zero. (Talking about probabilities when he already knows strikes me as deeply weird, but let's leave that aside.) His buddy doesn't know and has to figure the probabilities. But no matter how much information the buddy has or doesn't have, or how accurately he does the computations, none of that changes what Tim's hole card actually is *in this hand*.
2) A few years ago I had a very rare drug reaction. It took quite a while to diagnose, because my doctors were (quite understandably!) looking for the horses that made the hoofbeats, when I had been run over by a metaphorical zebra. (Probably escaped from the zoo. ;) They were right to consider the more-probable causes first, but that didn't change the fact that I really did have a 1-in-10,000 drug reaction.

#228 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:29 AM:

Mary Aileen:

The thing that gets confusing in a lot of probability problems is that you can reason that X has no effect on Y, but due to the other information you've been given, knowledge about X gives you new information about Y. So you can have a situation where X can't possibly do anything to Y in the physical world, and yet when you find out X you also find out Y.

A simple example of this: suppose I have flipped two fair coins. Now, because they're fair coins, they have no effect on each other. The first coin coming up heads has nothing to do with whether the second coin comes up heads. So right now, if I tell you that the first coin came up heads, this doesn't help you at all guessing the second coin.

But suppose I also tell you that the coins came up the same--both heads or both tails. Now, with that information added, if I show you the first coin, you know the second coin, even though the two coins have no physical connection. Nothing about the coins is connected except the information I've given you about them.

The first time I needed to think in terms of things that were physically independent, but where learning one changed my information about the other, I remember finding it really confusing. Playing with probabilities in tricky ways is a lot of what I do for a living, so I've gotten used to it. But it still makes my head hurt a bit when I think about it in words instead of in math.

#229 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:33 AM:

Open threadiness:

I wonder whether, ten or twenty years from now, we'll look back at the downgrade of US debt as a funny historical blip, or as a sign telling where we were headed.

#230 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:42 AM:

Lenore @216--thank you--I am so glad to hear that Xopher is doing as well as he is, and hope to hear more good news soon.

#231 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:49 AM:

Kip W @ 156

I was meant to be doing some work before sleep and somehow I got distracted...

(I did actually take a picture of the last one if anyone wants it.)

#232 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:51 AM:

Andy @209: Yeah, I solved them all as well. I thought I'd said that, but apparently it's ambiguous, so I'm saying it now. (Because what other reward do I have for solving it, apart from saying so here? So said!)

#233 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 10:10 AM:

Nancy @ 134, and David Bell and David Harmon @143 and 148--I think there are two big factors to keep in mind with regard to "stuff wot stops bullets", and they aren't the nature of the object stopping the bullet.

Type of powder is one--black powder has less oomph (non-technical, non-ordnance term) than more modern powders and so tends to impart less velocity to the projectiles it's used with.

Type of weapon is another--a rifled barrel as opposed to a non-rifled barrel. Rifling imparts spin to the projectile, which affects the manner in which it travels.

To take Nancy's American Civil War as a target date (there are plenty of stories about How a Bible* [or sometimes a deck of playing cards--less pious, but probably just as likely] Stopped a Bullet from that war), they were still using black powder, but most combatants had rifled muskets**. So projectiles had the advantage of rifling, but the disadvantage of black powder, and bullets were more likely to be stopped by a somewhat solid object (think, not a metal plate or thick piece of wood, but something with many layers, like a small book or deck of cards, or a wallet or cartridge box) at anything but close range. Before the general use of rifled muskets (about the time Minié developed his bullet and musket, which Wikipedia claims to be around the Crimean War), muskets were smooth-bore weapons and did not impart spin to their projectiles, and so these bullets were even more likely to be stopped.

In most cases, as I understand it, a bullet is easily stopped because it's losing force as it travels--becoming a "spent round" because it's spent its impetus. Bullets from non-rifled, black-powder-charged weapons lose their impetus earliest, those from rifled, black-powder-charged weapons next, and those from rifled weapons using modern powders last. So distance from shooter to target matters here, as does what's being fired and what it's hitting--and the type of weapon and propellant used have a direct effect on the first item--the distance at which a round has lost enough momentum*** to be easily stopped.

I suspect the Mythbusters have played with this one, but I can't recall which season.

*Probably a pocket New Testament, but I'm not arguing with popular culture here.

**The introduction of rifled muskets as general issue seriously screwed up infantry tactics, which is one of the things that made battles in the American Civil War so awful--mst senior officers had learned their tactics with smoothbores, and had no clue about how effective massed rifled musketry fire was going to be. See the career of Braxton Bragg for a specific example of this failure to comprehend.

***I am probably greatly abusing the sense of both "impetus" and "momentum" as technical terms in physics; I seem to be making them nearly interchangeable and I doubt they actually are. Please be kind; I was a Greek major.

#234 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 10:14 AM:

My first reaction to this video (which does indeed show a mounted police charge, which knocks at an unmounted officer of his feet) was to note how much less effective the Metropolitan police are handling a real riot than they were at kettling and arresting students during a planned and peaceful protest. Clearly shooting fish is harder without the barrel.

#235 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 10:19 AM:

Length of barrel of the weapon is another variable. A bullet from a revolver with a two-inch barrel will have less energy than the same round fired from a weapon with an eighteen-inch barrel.

You'll also find a bit of reporting bias. A bullet stopped by a Bible will be remembered. A bullet that goes in one side and out the other of a Bible, killing the trooper, won't be remarked.

#236 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 10:20 AM:

Fidelio:

I thought rifling just made the bullet go in a more straight line. Does it keep the bullet from slowing down as much as it passes through the air? I guess if the bullet is oblong, keeping it from tumbling should make the bullet go faster (less cross section), but if it's a ball, it seems like spinning or not wouldnt have much effect. But I have no faith in my intuition here....

#237 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 10:42 AM:

Open thread:

Child murderer wins damages over police torture threat

Warning: Might be triggery for the obvious reasons.

Since there have been many threads about torture as well as police violence before:
I am very happy that such a verdict is possible despite the fact that Germany's biggest tabloid was screaming and agitating against this. The usual suspects are more or less claiming now that convicted felons should have no human rights left and other b*llsh*t.
I begin to think that there is a significant part of the population who do not like the rule of law or is too stupid to understand what a great thing it is.

#238 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 11:01 AM:

JMD @ 235: True on both counts. You can't get a good revival sermon out of a pocket testament that didn't stop a bullet.

albatross @236. Losing the tumbling increases both range and accuracy-I suppose that the tumbling effect wastes the energy that could otherwise contribute to speed/range. Wikipedia has an article on rifling and one on internal ballistics, which is all the things that happen inside the firearm, and the design choices that affect all of that. The internal ballistics piece also has links to the articles on external ballistics and terminal ballistics, for those that are interested enough to click.

The expert should feel free to argue; I admit I am at the limits of my understanding of the technical aspects at this point.

#239 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 11:54 AM:

Jorg, #237: I begin to think that there is a significant part of the population who do not like the rule of law or is too stupid to understand what a great thing it is.

I think it's much simpler than that -- just the usual case of a double standard. What's wrong when They do it somehow becomes right when We do it. And always for the best of justifications; note that the situation described in the article was a real-life application of the "ticking time bomb" scenario.

#240 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:01 PM:

Question for the assembled non-conservatives: Would you agree with the statement that "the radical left has never held as many levers of power in this country as they have under Obama"?

#241 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:05 PM:

Jorg and Lee:

The value of the rule of law, morals, principles, etc., is always harder to see than the value of violating those things when they are getting in your way. Their value is subtle, stretched out over many years, and probabilistic.

And it seems like politicians and media types overwhelmingly push against those things. Every time there's another executive power grab, silent acceptance of some domestic spying scandal, decision to "walk on by" or "look forward, not backward" about official misbehavior by the powerful, acceptance of police abuses because "they're putting their lives on the line for us every day" or "no price is too high to keep our kids safe," we become a society that has fewer safeguards against becoming a police state, having a coup, or having the folks in power silence their political enemies, and the less safe every citizen is in their own home. (Note the way the war on drugs and excessive use of SWAT teams has led to deadly armed midnight raids by jackbooted thugs on the homes of suspected small-time drug dealers. Failing to push back on this has let it become all too common.)

#242 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:17 PM:

C Wingate:

I sure don't see that from Obamas policies. It sounds like empty rhetoric, but it would be interesting to ask how we would know if it was true. For example, how would we measure the number of members of the radical left who have powerful positions? What actions would we expect to see in a world where the radical left held greater power than ever before? How would we define radical left to make the question meaningful?

Off the top of my head, I'd expect that in such a world, we'd see a large scale shift from military and intelligence resources to domestic spending, especially on social programs. I'd expect much more intervention in markets, both in terms of regulations and in terms of government takeovers of politically important industries. I expect we would see large rises in tax rates at he top income brackets, and large increases on capital gains and corporate taxes. I imagine we would see fewer illegal immigrants deported, and more favorable laws passed for making unions more powerful.

My impression is that we have seen very little of this, and that the leftward moves we have seen in policy have been relatively limited and primarily in Obamacare and re-regulation of the financial industry--both things that almost anyone in office would want to consider, given the impact of health care costs on the US economy and budget, and the huge financial meltdown that just happened.

#243 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:19 PM:

Putting on my ballistics-geek hat. [1]

Bullet penetration is one of the endlessly-interesting questions. There are really only two big factors.

1) Bullet energy at impact
2) Bullet cross-section size

Engineering matters a lot. With a muzzle-loader, before the Minie ball, there's a very strong trade-off between how tightly the bullet fits the barrel and how fast you can re-load. And since black powder builds up carbon and crud in the barrel, the bullets generally were fairly loose-fitting so that even when firing repeatedly you could still load. With that loose fit, velocities were low--so lead ball worked fine. Old-style smooth-bore muskets were not unlike modern shotguns shooting old-style slugs. From physics, energy is mass * velocity^2--a slow-moving bullet needs to have substantial mass to have enough energy to be effective--so a big bullet is a necessity. The British Brown Bess was .75 caliber--about like a 12-guauge shotgun--so a bullet would have weighed 1 1/3 oz.

Rifling makes the bullet spin; with rifling, your bullet can (actually must) be longer than it is wide--so a rifle bullet has a smaller cross-section than a same-weight musket bullet. AND, since rifle bullets must fit tightly in the barrel, the achievable velocity is higher.

Once you have bullets that fit tightly in the barrel, you start trading mass for velocity--so the army goes from the .75 caliber Brown Bess, to the .58 caliber 1853 Enfield (34 grams at 900 fps), to the .45 caliber Springfield, to the .30 caliber rifles, to today's .22 caliber M16 (4 grams at 3000 fps).

Basically, slow-moving, large-diameter bullets don't penetrate as well, so they can be stopped by a pocket bible or a pack of cards. Think of the difference between having a thrown baseball hit you, and a bowling ball roll into you.

To accentuate the effect, lead is soft; as velocities go up, the bullet material that touches the barrel has to be harder, and so bullet expansion can be controlled. A lead bullet will squash out into a pancake-shaped object even a fairly low velocities. This cuts penetration even further. (Think of a lead bullet as a tomato, and a jacketed one as an apple.)

1) I do have a large collection of geeky hats, don't I?

#244 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:26 PM:

C Wingate @ 240

I'm fairly conservative, but will take a shot at answering anyway.

I really don't think there's a unified left to talk about. Culturally, I'd say those who aren't classical liberals have more power in this administration than I've seen before (defining the classical liberal as concerned with reciprocal rights, and left as concerned with power/marginalization concerns). On economics and issues of force, the non-left technocrats seem clearly to be in the drivers seat, as they have been since the mid-1970's.

#245 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:43 PM:

Well, this is special:

Your Meetup Group's content was brought to our attention as specifically promoting a one-time event, which is not in compliance with our Terms of Service.... As a result of our inquiry, we've closed your Meetup Group and refunded your Organizer Dues.

So my idea for planning the Renovation GoL must be considered a complete dud. I can probably reconstruct all the suggestions from e-mail, but before I do: how did people feel about Serge's suggestion? I thought it was the most appealing.

#246 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:44 PM:

SamChevre @ 244... The idea of a Unified Left reminds me of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" tale about when cats used to rule over mankind until one of them dreamed the opposite - a situation that'd easily be reversed if cats could agree with each other on anything. :-)

#247 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:52 PM:

So, like, did I hallucinate the following? Seems to me, when I registered my PayPal account, they said they never communicate only in email, that if they had something to say to a user, they'd put the message through the internal message system, too.

Well, I got a notification that I have to validate my PayPal account by attaching it to a bank account, but I can't find the internal message. Also, I sent them a query about this, and haven't heard back. (Or haven't been able to find the answer in my account.) I can haz Fluorospheric Wisdom, plz?

#248 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:55 PM:

Tim Walters #245: Wait, you'd paid for that, and they cut you off? As in "we don't need little people like you, we only want big customers who'll give us lots of repeat business"?

Oy gevalt, there's a service that's doomed by its own leadership!

#249 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:56 PM:

Jacque #247: That would be a phishing message, wanting to harvest your password. Also, the reason they don't do announcements solely by E-mail.

#250 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 12:59 PM:

As a check on this, I recommend looking at the Wikipedia page on Obama's cabinet and following a few of the links. Quickly browsing them, it seemed to me that there was one person who could plausibly be described as bring on the radical left, and two more that I couldn't tell enogh to judge. Overwhelmingly, his cabinet is full of moderates, including a number of people who were elected governor of red or redish states, many people who worked as prosecuting attorneys (not noted for their flaming liberal sentiments with respect to accused criminals), and a couple who'd been Republians at some point.

My guess is that this is a claim that sounds plausible enough to people who really don't like Obama that they'll believe it without checking. This is quite common in politics.

#251 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:00 PM:

David Harmon @ 248: And to bring this back to probability, the chance of my forgetting to cancel the group in time to avoid being billed for a second month would have been noticeably greater than zero...

Seems like enforcing the provision would cost them more money, even ignoring goodwill issues, than letting it go. But whatever.

#252 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:07 PM:

Jacque (247): Also, Paypal does want you to "validate" your account by giving them your bank account info, but as far as I can tell you don't actually have to. I've been successfully ignoring those notices (real ones) for years now.

#253 ::: Ken ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:10 PM:

I think the original problem needs to be broken down into two parts.

Problem 1, suitable for a freshman math class: Smith holds one of GG or GS, each with probability 1/2. Jones holds one of GG, GS, or SG, each with probability 1/3. What is the probability Smith has GS and Jones has GG?

Problem 2, which (given the above discussion) should be limited to a postgraduate course in educational psychology: Propose an alternate phrasing of problem 1 in the style of the original puzzle, but lacking any ambiguity.

#254 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:14 PM:

Tim Walters #251: Let alone if you'd decided "hey, I'll be going to another few cons this year, maybe I should just keep the account active, and hey my company's talking about having a summer barbecue...."

And yeah, then there's that whole reputation thing. After all, if I'm looking for someplace to organize a meeting (say, a book discussion), I now know to find some other way/place to organize it. And if, say, my book discussion develops into a monthly book club... well, I already have a way to organize it, and no reason to drop that working system for these guys.

#255 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:19 PM:

C. Wingate @ #240, if they have, I wish they'd start pulling them.

#256 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:24 PM:

Tim Walters... Your worldcon meetup group is gone.

"It's not my fault!"
- Han Solo

#257 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:24 PM:

Regarding the coin conundrum: I consider it essential to have much more information about the psychological state of persons who would offer such bizarrely phrased information about their financial status to an apparent stranger. Those who suspect espionage seem to be on a plausible track, although an evaluation with respect to Asperger's tendencies might also be useful given the anti-Gricean specificity. Do Smith and Jones have a prior history such that either boasting of or downplaying their cash-on-hand would make sense? What are the expected consequences of a financial inequity between them? Is the triggering of those consequences dependent on certain knowledge or only on each one's evaluation of the odds? And what is the narrator's percentage in all this? What is his/her prior history with Smith and Jones? And with Lemurian financial dynamics?

Normal human beings in normal social interactions do not make spontaneous statements of this kind. Therefore attempting to solve the riddle as if it depended purely on statistics with no element of human psychology or pathology is unlikely to produce a useful answer.

#258 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:28 PM:

HLN: Juvenile sparrows have not yet come to terms with the concept of "glass." Local woman anticipates some iterative testing will be required to resolve the confusion.

#259 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:35 PM:

@240: Without discussing Obama's particular appointments or laws:

There have been periods where the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, there was a Democratic president, and we had a so-called "legislating from the bench" Supreme Court. I don't know how far left the Democrats were in the 90th Congress, but at that time we had:
64 D senators
247 D representatives
LBJ in the White House

And that was the Warren Court (although it looks like most of the famous civil rights cases were before 1967.)

They did a lot of fairly left-wing things, especially by the standards of today's right wing. Gun control and limits on wiretapping come to mind.

(all info skimmed from Wikipedia and not checked in detail.)

#260 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:39 PM:

@243 - 'bullets' in rifles [such as the Kentucky long rifle, and the British Baker rifle] were actually 'balls' throughout the C18, and until the development of the 'minie [acute on the e] ball' around the mid-C19. So they don't have to be longer than they're wide.

That's with my history geek hat on... ;-)

#261 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:56 PM:

Tim Walters @245:
Special indeed.

Okay, I've set up a yahoogroup: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fluorosphere. As it's set up now, I think anyone can join. I'll try to piece together the suggestions from Meetup, and make it a poll.

#262 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 01:59 PM:

I just realized: If García Márquez' Hundred Years of Soliitude were to be translated into English by somebody committed to using Kipling's "Just-So Stories" narrative voice (which would not be too far off the proper thing to do), the first clause of "El mundo era tan reciente, que muchas cosas carecían de nombre, y para mencionarlas había que señalarlas con el dedo." would become, "What with the world so new-and-all,..."

#263 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:05 PM:

C Wingate @240:

I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read that question.

Nobody within a bargepole's reach of a lever of power in the United States is part of any form of radical left. The fact that anyone is even asking it shows how far the Overton Window has moved.

#264 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:05 PM:

albatross (228): This seems to be winding down, and we should probably let it go, but I do want to clear up one misconception.

Yes, you telling me more about your coin toss does affect my ability to predict the probabilities. I get that. I got that a while ago. But it is irrelevant to my point. My point is that my knowledge or lack thereof does not affect the results of your coin toss. It doesn't matter if I was standing there watching you toss them, or if you gave me partial information later, or if I was in Madagascar counting lemurs and never heard of you or your coins. In all those cases, your results were the same. My ability to predict the probabilities is different, but I'm not talking about the probabilities.

I've now said that at least three different ways, so I'm bowing out again unless someone addresses me by name.

#265 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:09 PM:

And I've set up a poll:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fluorosphere/surveys?id=2691620

Join the group only if you're going to be at Renovation, please. We can keep the group going and use it for further organizational exercises.

#266 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:20 PM:

albatross, #242: You're forgetting the BIG issue where "left-wing" gains have been particularly visible: gay marriage and the demise of DADT. For a lot of people, that swamps everything else.

Beyond that, it's a combination of "whatever we say must be true" and "this will mobilize our base".

#267 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:24 PM:

C Wingate @ 240 - That's really a "coffee-all-over-the-keyboard" question. My answer would be "Absolutely", but not for the reason you think. Back before the Rove/Norquist/Neocon seizure of power in the Republican Party, which got George W. Bush elected, "radical left" meant people who were on the left, and radical. But now, at least on Fox News and the right-wing Angry Parrots who echo it, "radical left" means anybody to the left of Barry Goldwater, and even he was too much of a RINO to be acceptable to the New Bosses. And nobody else out there is using the phrase, except for a few young leftists who think they're "radical" because young people always do.

So yeah, if you think the radical left is people who would like there to be Social Security when they get old, or think that gay people should be allowed to exist (whether or not they should be allowed to marry), or think unions have at least sometimes been useful, then there are more radical leftists in holding the levers of power than ever before. But you can relax, because you've kept them too scared to actually pull any of those levers since about 2006 when they got a majority in Congress.

On the other hand, if you haven't bought into that worldview, and think that the "radical left" might or might not include the Progressives, then no, even the Progressives don't have any significant power in the Democratic Party, who've been telling them to shut up because they have to get Obama re-elected first, and having people wanting single-payer health-care or stopping the wars is just a distraction.

(I'm a Libertarian, so I get to claim to be neutral in the Democrat/Republican arguments (and whether that counts as "objective" or "clueless" will be left as an exercise for the reader.) It's been really annoying to see the right wingers calling Obama a "socialist", when I live near San Francisco and Berkeley and know actual socialists. Once Dennis Kucinich gets elected President and Medea Benjamin is secretary of either State or Defense, then we an have a discussion about whether there are any radical leftists holding the levers of power.)

#268 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:29 PM:

xeger @171: Hmm... OTOH, there's nothing wrong with a warning sign and something that looks appropriate... and it'd be easy enough to (say) rig up a red led with a battery... and that'd last for ages...

If it doesn't add too much expense/time, make the led blink. Friend of mine couldn't afford a proper alarm system for his car, so he just rigged an led to a motion sensor, (spare electronic components were easy to hand) and put the light next to the locking button on his car door so it would blink irregularly.

#269 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:31 PM:

Siriosa @ 261, 265: Thanks for rescuing the situation with a solution much better than the original one!

#270 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:35 PM:

siriosa, #265: Joined and voted. Note: the poll is set up as multiple-choice checkboxes, presumably to duplicate Tim's original "vote for whatever you'd be able to attend and the most votes wins" scenario, so that's how I treated it.

I think the idea of having a Yahoo group for this and the coordination of future meetings is a good idea. Meetup never struck me as an ideal method, for exactly the reason that bit Tim -- it's designed for something entirely different than what we were trying to use it for. Evite or Socializr might have worked, but they're not as widely-used as Yahoo Groups. Also, I think both of those are host-driven (the host must send invitations to specific people), whereas this method is participant-driven.

I still think we should put "Fluorosphere" on the message board, as a backup method for communications at the con itself.

#271 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:41 PM:

The Modesto Kid #262: I like that, but go on, would the second clause be the literal "many things lacked a name" or "many things didn't have a name"? Before going on to "and to mention them you had to point at them with your finger" or "to talk about them you had to point at them with the finger"?

#272 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:44 PM:

Well, I know a couple of people who are out-and-out Marxists. I haven't actually asked them this, but it's hardly necessary; when they go on about the destruction of Capital I cannot imagine that they see Obama as an ally.

#273 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:46 PM:

Lenore: Thanks again for the Xopher update!

#274 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:49 PM:

Fragano -- I'm not yet sure exactly how to phrase that in Kipling's voice but I need to take a look at "Just-So Stories" -- it seems to me like there is a story about the invention of language, containing a very similar statement.

#275 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 02:51 PM:

No, that is misremembered -- the story is about the invention of writing.

#276 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:06 PM:

Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori @215: Welcome to Hudson County! Lenore (in Hoboken)

Fascinating, Lenore. What is it in English?

Yar har.

#277 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:11 PM:

C Wingate @272:

Out of curiosity:

* Why are you asking the question? What's the source of the quote?
* What do you think the answer is? Why?

#278 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:18 PM:

C Wingate @ 272...

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know."
- Marx

#279 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:21 PM:

Jörg Raddatz @237: I begin to think that there is a significant part of the population who do not like the rule of law or is too stupid to understand what a great thing it is.

Probably correlates closely with the part of the population that has (a) never lived without the rule of law, and/or (b) doesn't have the imagination to visualize what it would be like.

#280 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:27 PM:

Tim Walters @ 245: Just for the heck of it, I looked at their terms of service and poked around their FAQ, and I couldn't find anything about one-time events.

#281 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:44 PM:

David Harmon @249: That would be a phishing message, wanting to harvest your password. Also, the reason they don't do announcements solely by E-mail.

Thanks, I did recognize that possibility, and so deleted the message and went over and logged onto www.paypal.com independently—wherein I find a banner saying I need to validate my account (as I am reaching the threshhold for transfers from an unverified account).

What I'm saying is that I can't find the message center within Paypal.

Mary Aileen @252: Oh, cool! I may give that a try. (Since my account is funded by a credit card, and can't imagine what earthly difference it would make, aside from making my bank account more vulnerable to hacking. Which is why I have it pointed at a credit card in the first place.)

#282 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 03:56 PM:

C. Wingate @240--in terms of things like economic policies and the surveillance state--Ha! it is to laugh. There are no radical leftists in the Obama administration. In fact, in those areas, the high water mark of leftism in national-level politics was Nixon/Ford. Despite his personal paranoias and addiction to the concept of the unitary executive, Nixon was as progressive as any of the Democratic presidents we've had since his terms in office, in Keynesian terms.

Of course, what with Teh Ghey and all, and Obama's unwillingness to go against the prevailing trend there, some might think the Dirty Godless Commies have taken over--unless they knew enough about 20th century Communist states to know how those treated LGBTQ people.

George Romney, who lost in the Republican primaries to Nixon in 1968, was to the left of his son in a good many areas. I was quite young at the time, but I don't think there was that much excitement over his religious beliefs, either. He just wasn't enough of a hawk to make people like the Alsops (or JEdgar Hoover, for that matter) happy. The entire leftish wing of the Republic party is gone, now--the party has no place for someone like Nelson Rockefeller, and the dance rotuines that people like Christine Whitman must engage in to have any traction in the party are unreal (which is probably why, in the age of Michelle Bachman, Sharon Angle, Sarah Palin, and Christine O'Donnell we hear so little from her).

I can't think of anyone with a significant role in the Obama Administrative who would have counted as a radical leftist by late 1960s-early 1970s standards based on the opinions and policies they currently express, support, and design.

#283 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 04:03 PM:

I have an open-thready request. I know the Fluorosphere is a geographically diverse group, and I am trying to get my little mitts on one or two issues each of a couple of periodicals from the UK. Since I'm in Tennessee, this has not been proving easy (neither of them have online issues).

The magazines in question are Woman's Weekly and The People's Friend, and I would be thrilled to Paypal someone (in advance, even) for the cover costs and the shipping.

The probably unnecessary background to this is that I got my very first rejection ever recently (to me this is very exciting), and so I'm working down my list of markets. I don't want to send a story to a market when I've never seen any sample of the fiction they print, but I don't want to give up on a possibility, either.

Any interested parti(cl)es (or waves?), please email me at alsafi (dot) khayyam (at) gmail.

#284 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 04:14 PM:

Jacque @ 281, according to this post at the New York Times, fraud is the cover story but verifying with Paypal is actually about them making more money off you.

#285 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 04:18 PM:

On the Lemurian coins, I found a lot of interesting comments, but not the two that leapt out at me.

First, the stipulation that unidentified coins are "no more likely to be silver than gold" suggests to me that we should consider the possibility that the unidentified coins may be less likely to be silver than gold. That leads to solutions parameterized by the probability of the unidentified coins being silver, which makes the restriction moot.

The second consideration is one I've discussed before, perhaps even in the dim past of Making Light if such a problem has come up here. Suppose in an alternate universe Mr. Jones comes to the meeting with two silver coins. I propose that it's most likely he'd say,

I have two Lemurian coins in my hand. At least one is silver.
given what we know of the sort of utterances he is prone to. So what happens if he finds that he has one silver coin and one gold? I don't see any reason why he should prefer proclaiming his possession of a gold coin to one of silver, or vice versa. So my interpretation of the problem is that half of the time he has two matching coins, determining which statement he makes, and the other half of the time he has one of each, and chooses equiprobably between the two statements. Given that in the given instance he makes a statement about having a gold coin, he is equally likely to have two gold coins as he is to have one of each metal.

#286 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 04:23 PM:

Jacque (281): If there is a threshhold for transfers from an unverified account, you may not be able to ignore it. I don't usually use Paypal all that much, so I may just be comfortably under the threshhold.

And, on refreshing the page, I see that johnofjack's link in #284 has the answer. If you've hit their $10,000 threshhold, you have to give them your bank account information or you can't use your account. Bummer.

#287 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 04:34 PM:

C. Wingate @ 240: "Question for the assembled non-conservatives: Would you agree with the statement that "the radical left has never held as many levers of power in this country as they have under Obama"?"

Keeping in mind that the "radical left" is a relational term, meaning that depending where you stand your judgment of what constitutes "radical" is going to be radically (natch) different, to my eyes the most extreme leftie fringe of the Obama administration is at least several orders of radicalness away from the raw uncut. The Obama administration's lefties would have to find someone they thought radical, who would in turn point to someone yet more radical, who would then point to someone else who even they thought was beyond the pale, and that person might be someone who I'd call radical.

Economically, Obama's team consists of the classically-influenced neo-Keynesians, the most gung-ho free-market economists who don't outright deny the capacity of government spending to affect positive economic change; in terms of state power the Obama administration has hewed the course set by Bush without interruption; culturally, his alleged leftie bias in repealing DADT is contraindicated by the fact that it was requested by the military itself; and the healthcare plan he passed was based on Republican outlines. No, there isn't a trace of the radical left in Obama's White House. It's sane billionaires, not lefties.

#288 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 04:40 PM:

Jacque @281
I have a dummy bank account, with, I think, $136 in it. That's what my PayPal account points at. (The bank offered free checking, no minimum balance, about 20 years ago, and I took them up on it.)

I also have a PO Box and a generic voicemail number, for when a site insists on that kind of information. Paranoid? Nah. Merely prudent.

#289 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 04:54 PM:

WRT leftists, rightists, and inbetweenists, I think one thing to remember is that we don't always gauge these things from where we sit right now. For some conservatives, they see where we are at this point and compare it to 60 or 70 years ago, and to them, we're scraping along the far left lane, leaving paint on the sidewalls. They think any further turn towards the left will cause some kind of horrendous crash.

It's not that the administration is so leftist, it's that they don't see any movement towards the center and that must be bad by definition.

(Dragging out the soapbox)

There's a natural tendency in people to focus on things...and on people. I don't think the presidency is nearly as influential as we like to believe. Certainly not now, with our tendency towards gridlock. But everybody focuses on that man in the Oval Office and if the weather is nasty, then By God, it must be Someone's fault! It's a bad idea to fall in love with politicians. Find someone who won't screw things up too much, vote for them, and save love -- and anger, for that matter -- for people you actually know.

#290 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 05:02 PM:

On the Tottenham shooting:

The initial official account reported that a bullet had been found lodged in a Police Officer's radio.

Sunday night, there were reports that the initial forensic examination indicated that the bullet lodged in the radio was a Police bullet. That is, it appeared to be a hollow-point bullet of the correct calibre. That story is still being reported in the British press, without contradiction. It's a way from being certain, but it calls into question the initial Police account.

If the reports are correct, it won't be the first times that Police Officers with guns (and, by US standards, a lot of training) have shot somebody they didn't really need to. Though I can understand why a shot fired provokes a reaction.

#291 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 05:17 PM:

Radicals?

"Have you got a mission, James?"
"Yes. I am to eliminate all free radicals."
"Ooh. Do be careful."
- from Never Say Never Again

#292 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 05:30 PM:

Mary Aileen @286: If you've hit their $10,000 threshhold, you have to give them your bank account information or you can't use your account. Bummer.

Hrm. The threshhold they claim for me is $5K. Heh. In my history, they have me halfway between no transfers and the $5K limit.

siriosa @288: dummy bank account

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking about. This whole thing is very irritating, because things were bopping along so conveniently until now....

This probably explains the deafening silence in response to my question, i.e., can I set up my credit card to be my default.

#293 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 05:36 PM:

Steve C @ 289: "For some conservatives, they see where we are at this point and compare it to 60 or 70 years ago, and to them, we're scraping along the far left lane, leaving paint on the sidewalls. They think any further turn towards the left will cause some kind of horrendous crash."

The historical element is a red herring, I think. They're not comparing the present to an actual historical moment, with all its complexities and complications--they're comparing it to an ideal that exists primarily in their own heads, which they find convenient to site in the past. The above statement is indistinguishable from "they see where we are and compare it to their ideal, and to them we're scraping the far left lane." What they're hitting the limit of isn't history but their ideological imagination.

This isn't a right/left thing, except insofar that lefties are less likely to site their political ideal in the past. (The baby boomers and the sixties being the big exception.) A few orders of radicalness away from one's own views in any direction, everyone starts to lump everything together as an undifferentiated mass of dangerous awfulness teetering on the brink of collapse.

#294 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 05:36 PM:

Given that Obama is to the right of Nixon, I'd say that the radical left held more levers of power under Nixon than they do now.

#295 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 05:50 PM:

Open threadiness: for sheer WTFery, I haven't seen anything to match this in a very long time. Mostly worksafe, but keep the brain bleach handy.

#296 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 05:52 PM:

Open Thready: I just want to get this out there. (partial repost from Facebook)

We were nearly at a compromise on the debt ceiling four days before deadline when 22 Tea Party Republicans in the House screwed the debate. This will cost us, conservatively, half a percent on our interest, ie $73 billion a year.

These are their names. I wish never to forget them.

Justin Amash (Mich.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Chip Cravaack (Minn.), Scott DeJarlais (Tenn.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), Trey Gowdy (S.C.), Tom Graves (Ga.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Timothy Johnson (Ill.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Steve King (Iowa), Tom Latham (Iowa), Connie Mack (Fla.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.), Ron Paul (Texas), Tim Scott (S.C.), Steve Southerland (Fla.), Joe Walsh (Ill.), and Joe Wilson (S.C.).

#297 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 05:53 PM:

C Wingate @240, is it possible to hold fewer than zero levers of power?

@272, from a Marxist perspective, Obama is clearly a creature of Capital. Now, the funny bit is that he's enabling Capital's self-destruction, which is right in keeping with Marx's own projections of how the capitalist phase of history is supposed to end. Possibly one could regard him as a radical leftist by assuming that this is a form of the often-mentioned "11-dimensional chess" --- that Obama is a secret Marxist enabling Capital self-destructive urges because he knows it will usher in The Revolution. One could then extend this argument to claim that every US president for the past half-century or so has been a closet Marxist, that the entire engine of American capitalism has been a Marxist conspiracy to bring about a socialist revolution.

#298 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:01 PM:

Open-threaded employment-seeking fun.

I saw an ad Friday for a programmer/analyst. Along with the requirements for MVS/DB2, it specified:

"Must work well with people."

I guess "must work well with others" isn't specific enough.

#299 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:05 PM:

What the odds are depends on whether people come from the Village Where People Only Tell Lies.

The Village Where People Only Tell Lies has a problematic 911 system. Everybody keeps calling in and saying they're fine.

#300 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:09 PM:

Avram @ 297: The Tea Party, then, is the most profoundly Marxist of them all.

#301 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:21 PM:

Lee #295: Arggh ... they start the howlers with the very first sentence! I haven't even been to Burning Man, and their initial mention of it had me going "uh, what?"

The way they turn everything into deviant sex and Satanic orgies tells me all I need to know about what sort of "Christians" they are.... Possibly the most revealing sentence in the bit: ...the train’s smokestack is Satan’s love hammer of deviance and the billows are his forced streams of liquefied DNA. (Because you know, that DNA stuff must be from Satan, it's all scientific and stuff!)

#302 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:23 PM:

Lee @ 295: That was so perfectly insane, I had to look it up. Sadly, or happily, or sappidly, it is a satirical site. Oh, but what satire.

#303 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:38 PM:

Lee @295: Oh dear. It's hard to read that as anything other than parody. An article link at the bottom of the page provides even more, um, entertainment. It starts with the sentence: "I am extremely terrified of Chinese people, but I am not racist."

#304 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:43 PM:

Um. Duh.

#305 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:44 PM:

Lenore @216: Thanks for the update; really glad to hear that Xopher's op went (apparently) well and he's recovering okay.

HLN. Croydon is burning. That's just down the road from me, really. It's sad.

#306 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:45 PM:

it isn't possible hold negative levers of power but it is possible to have a negative grip on one.

#307 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:47 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 306: There must be fifty ways to love your lever.

#308 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:52 PM:

heresiarch #302: Ouch, I've been bitten by Poe's Law!

#309 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 06:53 PM:

Tim Walters (307): TMI ;)

#310 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 07:01 PM:

Jacque @276 -- I expect you meant to ask, "What is it in Raven?"

#311 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 07:04 PM:

Jacque, sounds like the light bulb went off between 303 and 304, so there's no point me adding to the glare. There are some specific clues there, but they're easy enough to overlook when the writers are adeptly dancing on my buttons (and perhaps yours as well).

#312 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 07:12 PM:

Tim Walters #307


Yank on the tool, Jewel
Get a good grip, Pip
Exert steady force, Morse
And make the thing slide
Put oil in the slot, Mott
Look where it should go, Joe
And push it aside.

#313 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 07:25 PM:

#307: One of those brass-handled levers that steampunks love so much?

* * *
Michelle Bachmann is blaming the S&P rating downgrade on the U.S. raising the debt ceiling.

#314 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 07:33 PM:

Open thready: perhaps some of you resourceful Fluorosphereans will be able to help me with a question about Sendak's sources.

#315 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 07:35 PM:

Lee @295: that made me laugh hard.

#316 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:03 PM:

So, open-threadiness:

I've been warned that at least one of my hearing aids is likely to conk out RSN, and both are at the end of their expected lifetime. I am aware of the "racket" where audiologists mark up their aids insanely, and am hoping to try and get my new pair at a lower price.

Has anyone here had experience with buying hearing aids over the Web? I've seen at least one site that lets you enter an audiogram, but how is fitting handled for mail-order aids?

#317 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:04 PM:

Modesto Kid @314: The story may've started as a political parable in "Punch", 1848.

I'm not familiar enough with the politics of the period to figure out who "Jack" is intended to be.

#318 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:12 PM:

Julie L. #317: I note that they quote as a proverb, "Don't Care came to a bad end", suggesting that there may have been yet a prior related tale. The "chloroform" parties et al described in the next column are also amusing!

#319 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:12 PM:

Thanks, Julie! That seems like a good candidate indeed. I will add it to my post...

#320 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:15 PM:

Tim Walters @307:

That lever line yanked from quite possibly the best Muppet Show of all time (and the only one to use exclusively original songs from the guest artist.)

Yes, I do own the Muppet Show "Best of" Collection on DVD. Some of the discs are scratched from overuse. "At least" my Paul Simon episode isn't.

#321 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:20 PM:

There's an alternate lead-in to the lion story in 1863, suggesting that the Punch article was a riff on an existing story.

#322 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:27 PM:

Be careful with that "dummy bank acount". If you don't have activity in it for too many months in a row, the bank will likely start charging "dormancy fees" and the next time you bother to look, you might have a zero balance and the account's been cancelled.

#323 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:27 PM:

Okay, there's definitely a pre-existing lion story, since there's a prior reference in 1845.

#324 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:42 PM:

DanR @ 320: That lever line yanked from quite possibly the best Muppet Show of all time

It bubbled up from my subconscious without attribution, but it wouldn't surprise me if I saw that episode back in the day.

#325 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:49 PM:

Ooookay. Dead end here; 19th-century search in Google Books on "don't care" "eaten by lions" turns up some tantalizing allusions, but I can't find the intervening lines anywhere.

There seems to be an alternate version that runs as follows:

"Don’t care didn’t care,
Don’t care was wild:
Don’t care stole plum and pear
Like any beggar’s child.

Don’t care was made to care,
Don’t care was hung:
Don’t care was put in a pot
And boiled till he was done."

But whither leonine gourmandise?

#327 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:57 PM:

1800 "Tommy and Harry" cite (with lovely engraving of Harry being et by a lion), but without "don't care" catchphrase.

#328 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 08:57 PM:

Julie L #325: Well that ditty is an obvious source for the epigram, at least. I wouldn't be surprised if the lion story was Really Old, perhaps dating back to one or another mythology or folklore.

#329 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:06 PM:

Wait, I typed too soon-- scrolling up a bit to p39 yields the following conversation, in which the virtuous Tommy chides his wicked brother Harry for bad behavior (spelling/formatting normalized to modern standards):

"[T]hey will be your ruin, Brother Harry, and you know it grieves poor Papa and Mama."

"I don't care for that," says naughty Harry.

"O fie! fie! Brother Harry" says Tommy, "how often have you been told that '"Don't care" has brought many a one to an evil end.'"

"I don't care for that neither," says the little Churl: and thus he went on (as you will soon hear) till "Don't care" was his ruin at last.

#330 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:09 PM:

247
I didn't get an 'internal' e-mail when it happened to me, either. So I closed the PayPal account - I don't trust them (or anyone else I can't easily get hold of) with that kind of reach. (They also didn't say up front that you can only use them for a limited dollar amount before they want that kind of access.)

#332 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:14 PM:

In lesson 6 (p. 44) he repents of not caring, but it is too late, as he is cast away and prey for wild beasts. (Lions in particular are not mentioned, though.) And what beautiful type-setting!

#333 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:14 PM:

263
One of the people who's apparently big in the teaparty universe was complaining about 'Washington getting slammed from the right by Communists'.
I have a hard time even figuring out how to parse that, in the non-grammatical sense.

#334 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:18 PM:

Noah Webster did not think much of Fenning's composition.

#335 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:19 PM:

286
I hint their limit at a couple of hundred dollars (maximum). (I couldn't find their 'message center' either, but I did find a page buried in there with e-mail information.)

#336 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 09:53 PM:

Lenore @ #216. Thanks for the update on Xopher.

#337 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 10:46 PM:

To add a bit more security against PayPal hacking, you can set up two-factor authentication (you enter username and password; you then enter a numerical code either generated with a dedicated bit of hardware, or texted to your phone, before you can actually log in).

There's info at this PayPal page.

Information on cost is fuzzy. It seems to be $29.95 to buy the dedicated piece of hardware to generate the codes, but the cost of using your phone isn't clear. When I signed up to use my phone, I thought it was free, but they charged me $5 (a little more digging after the fact got me a page stating that $5 fee, which I can't find now). The FAQ link on the page I linked above says there's no charge to use your phone, other than standard text messaging rates. Maybe they changed it. This other version of the FAQ implies that it costs $29.95 whether you use your phone or get the hardware.

I find PayPal's entire web interface utterly irrational and annoying, so I'm not surprised the information on this is contradictory and useless too. I like how the fee they charged me isn't even one of the available options. I still have to use the damn PayPal because there are situations in which it is the only feasible service. Grump.

But the two-factor authentication makes me feel at least slightly more secure in using it, and ultimately I would have paid $5 (but not $29.95). I just wish I'd known I was going to pay $5.

(Yes, I've been having a grumpy day today. How about you?)

#338 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 11:46 PM:

Fidelio at # 233: As a long-ago physics major, I'm pretty sure you are using the term momentum correctly.

#339 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 11:48 PM:

C. Wingate: It seems plausible that your question may be sincere, in these days when "liberal" means anyone with the politics of Eisenhower (who warned against the military/industrial complex) and Nixon (who founded the Environmental Protection Agency).

#340 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 11:51 PM:

Fidelio at # 282: The entire leftish wing of the Republic party is gone, now.

Indeed. Mark Hatfield passed away yesterday.

#341 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2011, 11:55 PM:

Aaaaahhhh!

Sorry, had to get that out of my system. It's nice to have a civilised oasis in the web here at Making Light. I have just escaped from spending too much of my evening elsenet where too many people are whinging about the misfeatures in the new version of Yahoo Mail.

#342 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 12:14 AM:

Allan Beatty @ 339...

"Only Nixon could go to China."
- Spock

#343 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 12:15 AM:

Allan Beatty @ 339...

"Only Nixon could go to China."
- Spock

#344 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 12:17 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @322
Be careful with that "dummy bank acount".

I take a look at the statement every month. If they start attacking it with fees, i'll write a check. So far (20 yrs on) so good.

It probably makes a difference that it's a local, small bank. I'm sure if it were eaten by a bigger bank, there'd be trouble.

#345 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 12:43 AM:

Good news on Xopher!

#346 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 01:03 AM:

Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori @ 216: Thank you for the update on Xopher. It's good to hear that he's doing well.

In fact, he’s bored! He’s a little too woozy to read, but not woozy enough to sleep. The pain meds are quite effective, but they have their downside, for sure. What worked for me in that state was podcasts that I could fade in and out of -- not an audio book that I had to follow. Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, The Moth,...

#347 ::: An Infinitude of Tortoises ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 02:07 AM:

Pardon my tardiness, but I must weigh in on the matter of the gold coins, especially since I spot no "correct answer" post yet from Jim M. and since I correctly analyzed the Monte Hall Problem within a minute of first hearing it. Maybe I'll get lucky again.

I say the probability is 0.5. By my reading, the statements by Ms. Smith and Mr. Jones are logically equivalent: I have one gold and one unspecified coin. The coins' relative manual order is irrelevant. The holders' knowledge of the unspecified coin's metal is also irrelevant, since it in no way affects the truth of their statements. Since they both have one randomly selected coin, equally likely to be either silver or gold, neither is more likely than the other to have more gold coins. Hence, 0.5. Yes, I'm assuming no diabolically subtle tricks of phrasing on Jim's part -- or gross obtuseness on mine.

#348 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 02:27 AM:

Tortoises: Nope. That the two statements aren't equivalent is the whole point. (And I'm afraid that I can't resist pointing out that even by your own logic you have arrived at the wrong answer.) There have been numerous correct analyses post in the thread, so I'll just tell you to read it over -- and pay attention to the people who give an answer of 1/6.

#349 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 02:35 AM:

HLN: Area man today has the first of what hopefully will be many sessions at Taping For The Blind.

I read the first chapter of Last Night at Twisted River, by John Irving. It was pretty interesting, and hopefully the book will be enjoyable. I haven't read anything else by Irving except The World According to Garp, which I didn't like -- but was pretty certainly too young for at the time (I was, I think, 12).

The controls were easy enough to handle, not all that different from what I do at home with Audacity. My workflow was a bit different; I edited as I went rather than reading through and editing after. It occurs to me belatedly that I could do it the other way. I should probably experiment with that. Editing as I went broke up my flow quite a bit.

I will say that I really really envy them their soundproof booths.

When I have the whole thing done it'll be broadcast. I wonder about copyright, but apparently their clients have specialized receivers, so it's not over the regular air. Because of that, and because it's charity, they assure me that their copyright situation is OK. Anyway, I guess that's their worry and not mine.

#350 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 03:01 AM:

It's not just a "fail to recognise" by The Sun (Particle).

The photograph is a deliberate misrepresentation, using a wide angle lens, close to the subject, to distort the image and exaggerate the length of the saw-blade.

The blade on those things folds into a slot in the handle, so they're not so incredibly long.

Since the apparent sharpness of the photo is difficult to judge at the low pixel count of a photo on the web, but the scene lighting looks low-level, I can't be sure, but getting the depth-of-field has me thinking the camera had to be on a tripod for a long exposure. It's not something you get looking that way by chance. Somebody had to get down low with a camera, lined up with that fire in the background, with the pruning saw at the correct angle. This isn't likely to be down to luck. And it isn't likely to be a camera in a 'phone.

I don't think this is just ignorance. Whoever took the photograph is a liar.

[Technical Note: the distortion arises because we don't view the image from the correct distance. You could take a wide-angle picture, enlarge a tiny section from the middle, and get an image with the same apparent perspective as one taken with a long focal-length lens. When the object is a foot from the camera, a six-inch difference in distance has a huge effect. When you're a hundred yards away, "for your own safety", the rioter brandishing a weapon, ten yards beyond the Police, looks rather closer to them than he is.]

#351 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 03:20 AM:

David @349

Talking books for the blind, using a specialised physical format, get certain copyright privileges in the UK. And there seem to be similar provisions in US copyright law. It's part of what's fueling some disputes over talking e-readers. "Blind", for the purposes of the law, includes a lot of people with some vision.

#352 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 03:44 AM:

You'll remember previous experiences of the Flourospherians buying unusual garments from distant suppliers.

The BBC has a report on the last Palestinian factory making the Keffiyeh. With cheap imports from China, what is keeping the business afloat is a bunch of Arab supporters, based in Kuwait, who are using the internet to promote the authentic Palestinian product.

Pick the right colours for the fabric, and you could have something that appears on the fashion-show catwalks... Not something with a heavy dose of political symbolism, but still an aspect of the Arab Spring.


#353 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 05:09 AM:

Dave Bell #350 - there's an entire blog devoted to the lies of the Sun and other tabloids. Those of us do historical fencing or re-enactment have known for years that they refuse to tell the difference between a sword, katana, machete, cleaver and kitchen knife.

There's going to be a lot more hysteria in the press over the current rioting and looting, with it being used as an excuse for racism and further crackdowns, and likely any real useful attempts to deal with deprived areas falling by the wayside.

#354 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 06:35 AM:

Popping this in after #212, because the thread's getting longer faster than I can follow right now:

One of my pants pockets has 4d20 in it. The other has some pens. Which one has my wallet? Is there a flash drive in either one? And is there anything currently in my pockets?

--Dave, speaking of known unknowns...

PS: I'm purposely not saying anything about the coins.

#355 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 06:52 AM:

@290, and anyone who's interested. At this stage, given what is happening, given who, what and where has been attacked and looted, I think we should all be able to agree that this has absolutely nothing to do with the original triggering incident. Some time soon we will be able to have a debate as to why hundreds of feral toerags feel able to loot, burn and pillage on our streets, and to what extent wider social conditions are somehow 'to blame'. However, anyone who tries to justify this behaviour, to pretend that in itself it has some kind of meaningful 'politics' or goal beyond immediate self-enrichment and thrill-seeking, needs to take a hard look at themselves, and at the real people who are being hurt out there.

And p.s., that may be a picture of a pruning saw, but do you want one waved in your face?

#356 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 07:39 AM:

This is just to say
I have eaten
a coin
that was in
the puzzle

and which
you were probably
needing
for the solution

Forgive me
it was delicious
so rich
and so full of permutations

#357 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 07:57 AM:

alex@355: Better the pruning saw than pretty much anything in my kitchen. It would be awkward to swing in a crowd, I think, although I suppose there is the potential for a nasty ripping cut if the person holding it managed to get it into contact with flesh and pull. But as a melee weapon I believe it would lack utility. If one has enough gardening tools that one has a proper pruning saw, one should certainly have something that's more appropriate to bring to an angry mob.

#358 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 08:02 AM:

alex #355: Sorry dude, but the big difference is that the Egyptians had *support* from the local "police", who flatly refused Mubarak's orders to attack them.

The British protesters know that a peaceful protest will at best be ignored by both media and government (see the US anti-war protests). More likely, (as happened here) the police will simply attack them and face no consequences whatsoever for beating or killing peaceful protesters.

Also, given what I've heard from prior similar incidents (in the U.S. and Britain), I have no confidence that the "rioters and looters" were not set up by the police in the first place. In both countries, the police have a long history of using plainclothes agents to "supply" violence for protests by groups whose organizers had made it clear they had planned and organized a peaceful protest. Then of course, they use the incidents by their agents to justify unlimited violence against all protesters....

#359 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 08:28 AM:

Steve C. @298

A colleague of mine has a sign on his office door that reads, "I work well with others. Others. Not you."

#360 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 09:03 AM:

Sarah S. @ 359 -

Oh, I like that!

#361 ::: jimmy the saint ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 10:00 AM:

I'm thinking those looters and rioters in Britain need a good old ass whuppin'. Unbelievable that it's been going on for three days now. They have stamina, you have to give them that.

Hell, the LA riots only lasted a day - probably because by then everyone had stolen what they needed and were drunk on malt liquor

#362 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 10:03 AM:

re 350: Not all pruning saws fold, and this looks like the sort that doesn't. Here's a pretty big example (16" blade).

Really, though, a saw is a lousy weapon. Trees stand still while you saw off their limbs; people don't. And those teeth get caught on things.

#363 ::: jimmy the saint ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 10:12 AM:

Also read that there were more cops, sorry bobbies, on teh streets of london for the royal wedding than there are for the riots.

screwed up priorities.

stock market crashing, riots in the streets, all we need now is some killer virus to unleash and it's The STand all over again

#364 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 10:18 AM:

Julie L: searching for the slogan "Don't care came to a bad end" brings up some nice hits. Carroll used the lesson in Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, for one.

#365 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 10:23 AM:

There was a report on BBC radio that the riot in Tottenham on Saturday was a result of police beating a sixteen-year-old girl who had the cheek to harangue them. There is a phone-video of the incident also on Youtube, but I can't tell much from it. Not much has been said about this since, the media prefering to concentrate on the line that everything since then has been opportunistic looting.

#366 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 10:40 AM:

janetl @346: Don't forget the wonderful world of old radio shows from Archive.org! The Lux Radio Theater has good audio equivalents of a lot of swell movies (boiled down to about 48 minutes plus ads) with some remarkable casting — my favorite is Edward G. Robinson as Sam Spade in THE MALTESE FALCON. They have the first two Thin Man movies with, like, the first eight names from the original cast list. There's also a lot of Orson Welles. There are half-hour adaptations from Screen Guild, and the Gunsmoke programs are outstanding.

David Goldfarb @349: I got to do a radio show for the blind back in Virginia. I read "Love is a Fallacy" by Max Shulman and did a two-person reading of some archy and mehitabels. It went out live, I think. Not sure if it was taped.

David DeLaney @354: And is there anything currently in my pockets?
Doesss it have a ring, Precious?

#367 ::: jimmy the saint ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 10:55 AM:

NelC, let's hope some of her friends gave back as good as she got

#368 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 10:58 AM:

Ledasmom @ 357: I like your pragmatic analysis!

#369 ::: Anaea ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 11:13 AM:

David Harmon @358

One of the reasons the protests in Wisconsin have never turned violent is that whenever somebody shows up and starts inciting violence, or otherwise behaving poorly, everybody else stands back and accuses them of being a provocateur. It means even sincere would-be rioters can't get any traction.

#370 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 11:32 AM:

There's also the fact that, once it looks like police resources are stretched too thin to respond, anyone inclined to do some looting has a reasonable chance of getting away with it. So even though your protest started for perfectly good reasons, and the violence started from some testosterone-poisoned idiot with either the protesters or the cops deciding to try busting some heads and see what happens, there's good reason to expect that looters will exploit the situation.

#372 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 12:23 PM:

alex @ 355: That's a false dichotomy--people are more complex than EITHER I am doing it for political reasons OR I am doing it for personal gratification. When the complaint is that we are not being heard, we are being denied prosperity, we are being screwed over even as others are being enriched, then looting the stores you can't afford is a political act. To become upset because their actions are counter-productive and negative sum is to ignore how their productive and positive sum options have been systematically cut off and marginalized.

ObSublime

#373 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 12:37 PM:

It's a dirty secret of the new labour years that they never did manage to do much about the deprived areas left over from the 80's and 90's. Increased benefits kept the inhabitants fed, watered and with tv, but despite the hype not a lot happened.
Of course dealing with them would have meant dealing with the inequalities of a finance capitalist society, which might just have something to do with it...
That, and it does seem to be genuinely hard work turning an area round, involving so many things, from moving people in and out, careful policing, more jobs, better housing, schools etc.

#374 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 01:36 PM:

The problem is, who is going to tell these people that breaking the law, taking things you don't own, and generally misbehaving yourself is not on?

Politicans? Law enforcement? Business leaders? The clergy? The media?

I suspect the cost to the nation of the riots will be several orders of magnitude smaller than what the rioters have seen pass unpunished, or punished with the merest slap on the wrist.

I don't condone lawbreaking and looting. But I don't think one can wink at it from the suits and then reasonably persuade the jeans to refrain.

#375 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 02:13 PM:

#374 ::: abi

Hear her! Hear her! The scope of the crimes committed here by the institutional power elites are equal to those anywhere else.

Still, I'm not in favor of consumerist riots, unless it is for getting the food and water and other necessaries for yourself and family

.... Our friends P, K and M, came back last week from London where they were stayed as house sitters - dog-walkers, a friend's apartment. It's a neighborhood that's been hit hard by the rioting. Their friends sent them a video, complete with audio of what they're experiencing (video artists, like K, musician-composers like P & M), which P forwarded to us.

It's damned awful. Some of it is shot from inside their friends' home -- it really does give the sense of an invaded city being subjected to the victors' soldiers given their traditional three days of sack and riot.

Love, C.

#376 ::: JackV ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 02:19 PM:

Is it certain that gold and silver refer to chemical composition or colour, or something else of which coins can only be one or the other? Because it's totally different if coins can be gold AND silver[1] :)

[1] Eg. some coins are made of gold, some coins are silver coloured, some are both, some are neither. Which is very unlikley, but logically possible.

#377 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 02:28 PM:

abi @374, Constance @375

ObBujold, from Shards of Honor

"The real unforgivable acts are committed by calm men in beautiful green silk rooms, who deal death wholesale, by the shipload, without lust, without anger, or desire, or any redeeming emotion to excuse them but cold fear of some pretended future.

But the crimes they hope to prevent in that future are imaginary. The ones they commit in the present - they are real."

#378 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 02:30 PM:

Constance @375:

Still, I'm not in favor of consumerist riots, unless it is for getting the food and water and other necessaries for yourself and family

I'm not either, but I understand the impulse. It grows from the same rootstock as the one that left so many American households in foreclosure. We live in a society that uses possessions—consumption—as the marker of success, and tells us that success is everything. Is it any wonder that people will beg, borrow and steal to look like winners?

Big business would prefer that we only do one of the three. Please, sir, may I have a raise? Please may I have a job, if I work long and hard enough and stay away from the union organizer and parrot the corporate line even on my off hours? Oh please, sir?

But when the pleading doesn't work—because if we give to everyone who asks they'll come to expect it, you know, and demand it at a right—then not everyone sits in their poor but honest hovel and gnaws on their their meager but nutritious crumbs (assuming those crumbs haven't been taken away in the austerity drive). Because society is broad, and people vary. And some of them vary toward a kind of optimism that believes the experts when they say the market will rise forever, while others vary toward the idea that stealing is OK, or at least excusable, when everyone else is getting a piece of the action.

Our consumer economy looks like a plague to me right now, killing some of us slowly and some of us quickly, but getting us all in the end.

Hey, C Wingate, am I on the radical left yet?

#379 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 02:43 PM:

Re: coins...

Okay, it's still bothering me, but I've finally worked it out to my own satisfaction. Yes, it's surely riddle & rhetoric, but here are (in my opinion) the most likely scenarios:

If Smith has purposely placed her gold coin on top, then her possible original permutaions: SG, GG, GS.

If Smith had always determined to reveal her top coin, and has not rearranged them, then her possible permutations: GG, GS.

If Jones has seen both of his coins, then his possible original permutations: GG, GS, SG.

If Jones has seen only one of his coins, then his possible permutations: GG, GS.

Therefore, the possible solutions:

IF Smith has arranged her coins, AND Jones has seen both of his coins, THEN Jones has a 2/9 chance of holding more gold than Smith.

IF Smith has not arranged her coins but had always meant to reveal her top coin, regardless of its metal, AND Jones has seen both of his coins, THEN Jones has a 1/6 probability of holding more gold.

IF Smith has arranged her coins so that a gold coin is on top, AND Jones has seen only one of his coins, THEN Jones has a 1/3 chance of holding more gold.

IF Smith has not arranged her coins, AND Jones has seen only one of his coins, THEN Jones has a 1/4 chance of holding more gold.

IF all of these possible scenarios are equally likely, then the probability of Jones having more gold coins than Smith is 35/144, or approximately 24%.

IF, on the other hand, we make no assumptions as to the motives of Smith and Jones, and we simply determine the probability based on the unknown coins in each hand, we fall back to an answer of 1/4.

#380 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 02:58 PM:

abi @ 378:

am I on the radical left yet?

Not quite, but I can see you from there without a telescope.

#381 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 03:09 PM:

Abi @ 378... Is that the left from where you're standing, or the left of someone facing you, in which case your left is their right, unless you're both looking in mirror, and hey, who's that guy with the goatee in the mirror?

#382 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 03:32 PM:

abi:

I definitely see your point, and official lawlessness and impunity is a great force for evil in the world. But I am deeply skeptical that the looters in these riots are responding to lawlessness in high places. My guess is rather that most of them are responding to a short-term availability of TVs, shoes, clothing, etc., due to the police having been chased out of the neighborhood. This is common in every riot, whether triggered by police violence, unpopular court decisions, unpopular political decisions, sports victories or defeats, etc. Some folks see the short-term lawlessness as an opportunity to steal some stuff and maybe not get caught.

One of the hard lessons of any number of cnflicts and revolutions in history shows up here, as well--the fact that you or your ancestors were royally, unforgivably f--ked over by someone doesn't actually make you any more noble or decent. It's quite possible to transition quickly from the victims of repression to the oppressors, and it's quite possible to be both oppressed/screwed over by someone more powerful, and also to be surpassingly evil and nasty in your response. (A look at the Israel/Palestine conflict, or how the victims of German barbarity in WW1 approached acceptable terms for their surrender, or how post-colonial governments in any number of places treated their own people and ethnic or religious minorities offer a great many examples of all these things.).

At some level, we want evil to be punished by the universe. But most of the time, the universe doesn't oblige. Lawlessness in high places strikes me as probably having a pretty clear moral connection with looting stores during riots--in both cases, people are seeing their opportunity to get away with something evil and taking it. But i don't see where the causal link is.

#383 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 03:39 PM:

Speculation:

Perhaps the existence of social networks and the ability to communicate peer to peer among arbitrarily large, fluid groups of people makes it much easier for all kinds of demonstrations, uprisings, riots, flash mobs, and other movements to happen. Perhaps this is simply a change in the world--the police can and will start monitoring these communications channels, but without extensive censorship, I think that won't change he fact that it has just become easier to organize protests and movements and such.

As evidence, I would point out the protests here in the US, including the Wisconson protests and also the Tea Party rallies (the origin of these was more bottom-up, later I think they were largely co-opted by the Fox News and talk radio crowd.). Then I'd point to the Arab Spring movements all over, to the protests in Spain and Greece, etc.

#384 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 03:50 PM:

albatross @382:

Lawlessness in high places strikes me as probably having a pretty clear moral connection with looting stores during riots--in both cases, people are seeing their opportunity to get away with something evil and taking it. But i don't see where the causal link is.

It's not that the lawlessness is specifically in "high places" that's the issue, though my question of who, exactly, has standing and ability to lecture the looters is a serious one. There really is not a lot of establishment left untainted in the UK.

And that is my real point: to what society are these looters and rioters supposed to be loyal? Where are the institutions for them to believe in? It's the same shape of question as the other one I'm seeing asked around a lot: what future are they endangering? What prospects are they putting at risk?

As one commenter said on Crooked Timber, this is what it really looks like when there's no such thing as society. Heck of a job, Maggie.

#385 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 03:54 PM:

Been a few years since a TV show featured Lucy Lawless.

#386 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 04:15 PM:

Re #345; He's been eaten by a bank? ;)

#387 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 04:28 PM:

Abi @ 384: Who has standing and ability to lecture the looters? Does vox pop count? I expect we'll hear interviews from people whose home or workplace is burned or looted and whose communities become wastelands from the lack of commercial services and economic opportunity. I'm not saying they were living in a capitalist paradise to begin with, but pillage doesn't improve the situation. I live in Washington, DC, and there are still areas depressed from the riots of 1968. A lot of neighborhoods have recovered greatly in the last couple of decades, but we are still paying the price.

I'm pretty torn by the whole demonstration/mass action dynamic. I really want to see justice done in the case of police, business, and political misconduct, and I'm unsure how that can be accomplished without taking it to the streets. On the other hand, there is a lot of room for riots to make things worse than they were before.

#388 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 04:29 PM:

albatross @383

Perhaps the existence of social networks and the ability to communicate peer to peer among arbitrarily large, fluid groups of people makes it much easier for all kinds of demonstrations, uprisings, riots, flash mobs, and other movements to happen. Perhaps this is simply a change in the world--the police can and will start monitoring these communications channels, but without extensive censorship, I think that won't change he fact that it has just become easier to organize protests and movements and such.

I suspect it's best classed as another iteration of the broadsides and pamphlets that fueled the American revolution, and the photocopied fliers that used to publicize raves: similar in shape, a step further in degree.

#389 ::: Dave DuPlantis ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 04:34 PM:

ISTM that people are constraining the problem space rather than the solution space. Assuming that "evenly and randomly" means that a) the probability of a given coin being gold is 50% and b) it has no bearing on the probability of any other coin being gold ...

For Jones to have more gold coins than Smith, he must have two and she must have one, given the information we have. The probability of Jones having two gold coins is 1/4, and of Smith having one gold coin is 1/2 ... so the probability of Jones having more gold coins than Smith in this situation is 1/8.

#390 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 04:36 PM:

Dan Hoey @387:
Who has standing and ability to lecture the looters? Does vox pop count? I expect we'll hear interviews from people whose home or workplace is burned or looted and whose communities become wastelands from the lack of commercial services and economic opportunity.

That's probably the only group that does have standing.

Look, don't get me wrong. I don't support the rioting and the looting, not in the least. But I think the way the media are portraying it, and the way the powers that be are talking about addressing it, is so seriously flawed as to be useless. Or, perhaps, the source of even more damage, so that next time is worse.

If the British government, and the British police, want to prevent a repeat of this, they're going to have to give the people in those communities some feeling that they're a valued part of society. That's going to involve money, even in these austere times, but it's also going to involve respect, attention, and genuine empowerment. It's going to involve actually giving a damn.

Unfortunately, I don't see much chance of that at the moment. So I suspect there will be a next time, and it will be worse.

#391 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 04:49 PM:

albatross @ 382: "But I am deeply skeptical that the looters in these riots are responding to lawlessness in high places. My guess is rather that most of them are responding to a short-term availability of TVs, shoes, clothing, etc., due to the police having been chased out of the neighborhood."

It's not a lack of attention to legal form in high places they're responding to, it's a lack of reciprocity. The police aren't looking out for them; why should they look out for the police? The businesses aren't paying fair taxes or fair wages; why should they feel any obligation to their property? The government is cutting the social safety net, never enough in the first place--why should they listen to the government that isn't listening to them?

To come at abi's point from another angle, why should they abide by the rules of a system under which they can't win and which the winners ignore with impunity? While I dislike the alternate rule set they've enacted, I can't fault their distrust for the system.

(It's very easy to fault looters for stealing consumer goods when one is in the position of already having the consumer goods one wants.)

#392 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 04:52 PM:

Anaea #369: That's a useful defensive strategy... but I'll note that in Wisconsin, too, the police were sympathetic to the protesters!

The basic strategy of "crush all protest" fails utterly when the folks the honchos expect to do the crushing, turn out not to be the obedient thugs that their employers expected.

#393 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 04:59 PM:

Somewhat on a tangent, this is an interesting way to combat extremism:

'Trojan' T-shirts carry hidden message to extremists

#394 ::: Dave ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 05:41 PM:

heresiarch @ 391: Speaking as someone only 100 yards or so from some of last nights' rioting:

I can agree with you with the points about the police and the government, but as far as the businesses go - to a huge extent these are local businesses that are being trashed, and in many of them, the people running the businesses were barely getting by before this.

In many ways what's strange is the fact that they *haven't* gone for wealthier areas. London's a small place - the wealthy places aren't far away. I don't know if the thinking is that the police will protect those places harder - it wouldn't surprise me. Another alternative explanation I've heard/extrapolated is that they think *anyone* owning a business is "rich". I know many young people seem to have hopelessly inaccurate ideas of what business owners earn. Whereas I know many of the owners around me are actually pulling in under minimum wage.

As far as the way things are being portrayed - I think many Londoners would say things are being understated. I work in central London, my workmates are from all over London, and most of them had seen trouble over the last 24 hours; most of them know someone who has directly been affected.

As far as injuries go, my wife works in one of the London hospitals, and they are literally filled to capacity with trauma victims, with all non-essential operations being cancelled. One civilian has already died, and it seems likely others will follow (from news reports, I suspect the person injured a few hundred yards down the road from me isn't going to pull through).

I fear the outcome of all this is going to be a pretty unprecedented shift to the right in London - at least in terms of acceptable policing methods. Expect the police to be lobbying hard in a lot of areas in the aftermath.

#395 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 05:50 PM:

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs has been sentenced to life in prison for raping two girls he had taken as "spiritual brides." The younger of the two victims was 12 years old. Jeffs recorded himself raping her in front of witnesses, and carried the tape around with him.

#396 ::: An Infinitude of Tortoises ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 05:54 PM:

David Goldfarb @348: Thanks for your note. And I'm glad to see (e.g., Dave DuPlantis @389, DanR @379) that the controversy still rages. I should have known better than to ponder this at 2 AM. After looking at a few posts where the answer came to 1/6, I still didn't find the arguments entirely convincing. In any case, you're quite right to point out that I missed it even on my own terms, so let me start over. The correct probability is "of course" 0.25. But before explaining how I got there, let me ask you: What would your analysis be if Jones had instead said, "I have two Lemurian coins in my hand. The one on the left is gold"?

#397 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 05:57 PM:

David Delaney at #354:
What have I got in my pocket?

#398 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 06:16 PM:

Dave #394: In many ways what's strange is the fact that they *haven't* gone for wealthier areas. London's a small place - the wealthy places aren't far away. I don't know if the thinking is that the police will protect those places harder - it wouldn't surprise me.

The same pattern has shown up in American riots such as Watts (Los Angeles), Philadelphia and so on. At the time, I recall the same reasons being given -- in American terms, "if they'd tried going into the white areas, they'd be facing the National Guard with shoot-to-kill orders."

I'd also add that the shops near them are the shops they're familiar with, and which they've had personal experience with not being able to afford stuff they carry.

Infinitude of Tortoises #394: "The one on the left" is equivalent to "the one on top". Either way, it indicates a specific coin, rather than the less-informative "the total is more than...".

#399 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 06:29 PM:

David Harmon @393: It only works if they wash the shirts, so there's a likely failure rate around 40% there.

#400 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 06:44 PM:

Anaea, #369: It would be nice if those individuals were being recorded, identified, and their connections (or lack thereof) to Walker and his allies traced. Proof that even one such person was a paid provocateur would put him in a very bad position legally. Of course, it's always possible that some of them are amateur volunteer provocateurs as well.


#401 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 06:47 PM:

Modesto Kid, wrt carelessness -> et by lions: I'm still trying to figure out who "Jack" was intended to be in the 1848 "Punch" satire.

Best guess so far is John Russell, who was Prime Minister at the time, but the Wikipedia overview doesn't say anything linking him to a failed attempt to raise the income tax, which seems to be the matter of contention in the cartoon.

#402 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 07:03 PM:

Then again...

"[I]n 1848, Great Britain was in the throes of the distress caused by the railway crisis of 1847-1848. John Stuart Mill, in his great work published in that year, had lent the authority of his weight to the opponents of the tax. [....] With a large deficit staring him in the face, however, Lord John Russell had no thought of abandoning the income tax; on the contrary, in introducing the budget on November 18, he went so far as to recommend its renewal for five years, at the rate of five per cent, i.e. one shilling in the pound.

"This proposition aroused so great an uproar that on February 28 Sir Charles Wood, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, dropped the suggestion and asked only for a continuance of the tax at the old rate[*], and for another three years."

[*: Up on pp132-133 of the same book, it looks like that the 1842 Property and Income Tax Act had a 150 pound deduction and an income tax rate of 3.5% in England (slightly less in Scotland).]

Sadly, while this may be Punch's Jack, he doesn't seem to be the eponym of the Jack Russell Terrier.

#403 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 07:08 PM:

Kip W.@399, re: David Harmon @393, does "not having enough sense to come in out of the rain" make up for not washing the shirts?

#404 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 07:33 PM:

Me at #358: My comment about the failure of peaceful protests seems to be supported by one of Patrick's links (Penny Red):

"Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."
Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ‘’’

Incidentally, I did not know about the protest he mentions....

#406 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 08:38 PM:

Some of the places looted, they're not local businessmen. I looked up Tottenham Hale Retail Park, and the only "local" businesses there are likely to be franchised fast-food.

I suspect reporter-bias, but the places reported as set on fire, not just in London, are national brands. I get an impression of a lot of other damage, but no details. Is it the big-name companies that are being targeted, and local businessmen being "collateral damage". Or do I need to watch Al-Jazeera rather than the BBC?

Anyway, it doesn't matter what the motive was if your place got damaged or destroyed.

#408 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 09:54 PM:

Bill Stewart @403: That probably depends on a lot of factors — detergent action, mechanical action, temperature — any two of which would rule out the possibility of a pithy reply from me, so I can only shrug in bemusement.

#409 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 09:56 PM:

350
If it's the same size as the folding pruning saws I've met, the blade might be a foot long. (I have a photo of my father sharpening one.)

#411 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 10:50 PM:

Tortoises@396: I agree with David Harmon@398. See also my reformulation @217.

#412 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 11:56 PM:

The Modesto Kid @310: I expect you meant to ask, "What is it in Raven?"

No, that would be this. :)

Kip W @311: :) I do have a clue. I just don't want to wear it out. Ahem.

Caroline @337: Altogether, it sounds like there isn't a way to handle this that doesn't involve a lot of extra work. Which is stupid, because I thought the whole point of Paypal was that it was supposed to be convenient. ::sigh::

#413 ::: An Infinitude of Tortoises ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 12:15 AM:

Hmm. To me, Jones's "At least one of them is gold" is no more or less informative in terms of solving the puzzle than Smith's "The one on top is gold." The end result of both their statements is that we know each has one gold coin and one unspecified coin. (Agreed?) As I see it, we can "subtract from both sides" the known gold coins and focus entirely on the one unspecified coin each holds. And I still fail to see how the "orientation" of the coins makes any difference here -- which is why I raised the perfectly legitimate possibility of Jones's gold coin being on the "left". It could just as well be aligned with Arcturus; Jones's possible "hands", in terms relevant to comparing her total gold coins with Smith's, would still be only GG or GS. (Remember, my "GS" represents coins listed in an arbitrary order and is equivalent to "SG". Jones's coins could be aligned with Aldebaran, or the Great Pyramid, or....) Hope I'm not boring you with all this, but there's clearly some facet I'm still not grokking in fullness!

#414 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 12:49 AM:

Infinitude @413, Tim Walters, David Goldfarb, et al:

I think the basis of this ensnarement is explained fairly thoroughly here: Boy or Girl Paradox

#415 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 01:00 AM:

abi @ 390:

the way the powers that be are talking about addressing it, is so seriously flawed as to be useless. Or, perhaps, the source of even more damage, so that next time is worse.
ISTM that the talking heads are attempting to prejustify abuses on the part of the police, and rationalize draconian measures to stop the rioting. This is the pattern I've seen in other such situations (Paris last year, the riots in the US following the killing of Martin Luther King).

Dave @ 394:

One of the standard police responses to civil unrest is to contain it in the originating neighborhoods, on the theory that it will prevent damage to the neighborhoods of people who matter more, and will turn the rioters on "their own", which will serve them right. This, of course, completely ignores the fact that the rioters are only a small percentage of the people who live in that neighborhood, and that the rest don't deserve that violence either.

In my experience, news reports about riots and other forms of civil unrest are rarely accurate, and are often deliberately slanted and/or fabricated to justify any actions the police or their masters deem required to deal with the situation. The rioting is often used as an excuse not to discuss the socioeconomic situation that caused the deep alienation from society that allowed the riots to occur, because that situation is part and parcel of the political strategy of those in power.

As an example of fabrication of news, there were at least two cities in the US where riots occurred in 1968 that were never reported; the police cordoned off the affected neighborhoods and did not allow reporters anywhere near them. One of them was Philadelphia; I know about it because Eva got off the subway that night and saw the cordon before she was hustled back onto the subway.

#416 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 01:47 AM:

DanR @ 414: None of the caveats and quibbles in that link apply here, since the problem unambiguously states that the unidentified coins have random values.

And you think that one of Jones' coins is identified, but since you can't identify which one, I don't agree. (Saying "the gold one" is tautological, like saying "the taller one" if I ask you which of Smith or Jones is taller.)

#417 ::: Anaea ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 01:47 AM:

David Harmon @392 - Oh, absolutely - they may well have been the ones to teach the crowd to do that. There are a ton of reasons the protests in Madison never turned violent, but they all boil down to the local infrastructure being sympathetic to or actively supporting the protests. The same passion and anger without that support...it would have looked like London. Hell, without Ian's pizza, there were points where low blood sugar might have sparked a riot.

Lee @400 - some of that went on, though we had bigger priorities that usually took precedence. From what I saw, non-local anarchists were the biggest demographic of likely troublemakers. There was a consistent theme of people not being able to understand that nearly all of the authority figures were on our side, which changed what constituted appropriate tactics for dealing with authority. It's still my biggest source of frustration in dealing with people coming in from out of state.

And in other news, I'm finding it really easy to understand where the rioters in London are coming from. Really, frighteningly easy.

#418 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 02:09 AM:

A columnist at The Grauniad tries to explain the riots here.

#419 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 04:01 AM:

New US Poet Laureate is Philip Levine, succeeding W.S. Merwin. Both of them are 83. Here's a WaPo article. Levine's poetry tends to be about working people; Merwin's about nature. (I don't actually know anything about either one beyond the articles, except that Merwin's done some work on rainforest restoration in Maui that I think is the project my sister volunteered with.)

#420 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 05:05 AM:

abi@390

I would tentatively suggest that the time to focus on the causes of the rioting is after the unrest itself has been contained and people's persons*, homes and businesses are safe.

Last night was quiet in London, although there was looting in some other cities. I suspect tonight will be quieter everywhere. Parliament has been recalled an will debate the situation on Thursday - I hold out hope that this will focus on more than simply police powers and how to handle a riot in progress.

In the mean time, there have been stories in the mainstream press** which try to take a nuanced view of the situation.

* Odd formulation, but I imagine you can see what I mean.

** Links are to the Guardian because it's the one I mostly read - for those unaware, it is a left leaning publication.

#421 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 05:45 AM:

See this, from a man with impeccable 'liberal' credentials:

http://kenanmalik.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/five-quick-points-about-the-riots/

To regard these events in themselves as anything other than counter-productive, if one is actually interested in advancing social justice, rather than empty posturing, is impossible. If the aftermath of the events is constructive for that cause, it will be in the way the aftermath of a flood or a wildfire leads to better environmental management - but far more difficult to achieve, since the general run of opinion here is that the rioters deserve a good kicking. If anything does come of this, beyond a reversal of proposed cuts to policing budgets and an accelerating sense of general social malaise, it will surprise me, and I think the majority of observers.

#422 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 06:16 AM:

TexAnne @ 410... Oooooh...

#423 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 06:22 AM:

Dave Bell @ #406:

One of the stores set on fire in Croydon is a 100+ year old local furniture store. I guess mostly national brands than local stores, though, if nothing else because national brands stores seem to be more prevalent than local stores.

#424 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 06:24 AM:

Here is a further article* I had in mind @420, but couldn't remember the provenance of earlier.

* The Independent, according to Wiki, is politically left leaning but pro-market.

#425 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 07:42 AM:

Tortoises #413: The end result of both their statements is that we know each has one gold coin and one unspecified coin. (Agreed?)

NO. Smith has one specified coin. Jones has two unspecified coins and a constraint about their total. See my #152 for why you do not have the same information about the two sets of coins.

As I see it, we can "subtract from both sides" the known gold coins and focus entirely on the one unspecified coin each holds.

Hell, no. You do not have an equation here, you have two distinct sets. Bluntly, probabilities have very specific rules about how they combine and resolve. Subtracting Smith's known coin from Jones' pocket is not even in the same book.

Jim: Even after several people had worked through this problem correctly, in detail, and with clarifying analogies, this "Tortoises" person has tried to restart the "debate" from the beginning with "well, Jim didn't say what the right answer is!" You know, and I know, that authority is irrelevant to the solution of a mathematical problem -- but it can certainly help solve a social problem, and I suspect this is starting to become one of those.

#426 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 08:05 AM:

A comment from someone on a website, taking the bigger view:
"Looting isn’t a political act? Nonsense, looting is a fundamental political act. The people doing the actual looting may not be acting through political motivation, but the act of looting is highly political.

Looting is THE MOST IMPORTANT political act, because looting is exactly what happens when people believe (rightly or wrongly )that the laws no longer apply to them.

Looting is an exact analogy to the Newspaper publisher who ignores the rules because the regulator is completely toothless and the lawmakers are in the back pocket. Looting is the hedge fund manager killing a currency, or the shareholder closing a factory. Looting is exactly the same as the MP who writes his own expense claim, because there is no-one there to check. Looting is the same as the millionaire footballer who thinks his bank account gives him the right to spit roast his way across Europe or the property developer who rips the heart of a city because he can.

Looting is the population’s way of saying ‘there is no such thing as society’. What is that young guy doing with a plasma screen under his arm? He could never acquire that from working down Tescos, so he has waited for an opportunity and when the rules no longer apply to him and the prevailing culture has liberalised the property laws he has acted in his own self interest and to f.ck with everyone else. Isn’t that EXACTLY what we have been saying to everyone else? The only difference is that ‘we’ removed the rules willingly.

Looting is what happens when you replace rules with ‘voluntary codes of conduct’, ‘light touch, self regulation’ and Government getting out of the way."

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/08/09/only-poor-people-go-looting-and-other-silly-claims/

#427 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 08:41 AM:

David Harmon @425, Tim Walters, Bruce Harmon, all the rest of the 1/6thers:

Your thoughts on my explanation @379?

Regarding the Boy vs. Girl Paradox, please read this excerpt:

Analysis of the ambiguity

If it is assumed that this information was obtained by looking at both children to see if there is at least one boy, the condition is both necessary and sufficient condition. Three of the four equally probable events for a two-child family in the sample space above meet the condition:

Older child Younger child
Girl Girl
Girl Boy
Boy Girl
Boy Boy

Thus, if it is assumed that both children were considered while looking for a boy, the answer to question 2 is 1/3. However, if the family was first selected and then a random, true statement was made about the gender of one child (whether or not both were considered), the correct way to calculate the conditional probability is not to count the cases that match. Instead, one must add the probabilities that the condition will be satisfied in each case[11]:

Older child Younger child P(this case) P("at least one boy" given this case) P(both this case, and "at least one boy")

Girl Girl 1/4 0 0
Girl Boy 1/4 1/2 1/8
Boy Girl 1/4 1/2 1/8
Boy Boy 1/4 1 1/4

The answer is found by adding the numbers in the last column wherever you woud have counted that case: (1/4)/(0+1/8+1/8+1/4)=1/2. Note that this is not necessarily the same as reporting the gender of a specific child, although doing so will produce the same result by a different calculation. For instance, if the younger child is picked, the calculation is (1/4)/(0+1/4+0+1/4)=1/2. In general, 1/2 is a better answer any time a Mr. Smith with a boy and a girl could have been identified as having at least one girl.

Point being, question is ambiguous. Statistically accurate answers must take into account possibility of different knowledge base by both Smith and Jones.

Hope that helps.

#428 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 09:10 AM:

Tortoises:

One important way to think about the problem is "What is the possibility space (i.e. the set of all possible outcomes) here?" and "What possibilities are excluded by new information?"

In this case the total possibility space for both Jones and Smith is:

GG
GS
SG
SS

(Where GS means a gold coin on top of a silver coin, SS is two silver coins, etc. Also, it's worth stating here that each outcome has equal probability)

When Smith says "The top coin is gold" this excludes SS or SG as possibilities, leaving GG and GS, each with equal probability.

But Jones' statement that he has at least one gold coin does not exclude SG as a possibility, so the possibility space for Jones is GS, SG, GG (again, each with equal probability).

So Smith has a 1/2 chance of having two gold coins, but Jones only has a 1/3 chance. And the probability of Smith having one coin and Jones having two is (1-1/2)*(1/3)=1/6

#429 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 09:31 AM:

Chris W @428:

I think what Tortoises is saying, *and what I'm saying* is that Smith declaring her top coin is gold means she placed her gold coin on top, and therefore does not exclude the possibility of her originally being dealt SG. Effectively, Tortoises' is a rhetorical argument, stating that Smith and Jones have equivalent probability matrices.

Really, I don't think anyone needs more nuts-and-bolts convincing about the 1/6th solution. It is a simple answer to a slightly different, non-ambiguous, statistical problem.

#430 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 09:37 AM:

Another entry in the genre of "if male superheroes were drawn the way female superheroes so often are": What If Male Superheroes Posed Like Wonder Woman On The David Finch Justice League Cover?

#431 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 09:49 AM:

Jacque @412: My understatement does you an injustice. I figured you had gotten it. Please excuse the phraseology.

Bruce Cohen @415: The rioting is often used as an excuse not to discuss the socioeconomic situation that caused the deep alienation from society that allowed the riots to occur
This seems to me something like the situation where a teenager (or older) feels so strongly about something that their parents seem unable to take notice of that they pull out the strongest arrow in their quiver and use the f-word in relation to it, hoping that this will shock the folks into recognition of its magnitude... after which point the only only only thing the parents can think or talk about is how awful it is that their child used that word.

#432 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 09:54 AM:

DanR:

Yes, you've identified two unstated assumptions in the problem (or at least the standard solution). To wit:

1) Mr. Jones achieved his knowledge that at least one of his coins in some way which did not privilege one coin over the other. (For example, by looking at both of them, rather than just the top one). Without this assumption, the problem is entirely uninteresting, since then Smith and Jones actually do have the same possibility spaces. Assuming that Mr. Jones has only looked at his top coin completely erases the distinction that the problem carefully draws between "My top coin is gold" and "At least one of my coins is gold."

2) Neither Smith nor Jones is manipulating their coins in any way towards any desired outcome.

So yes, if you use other assumptions you get other results. But the assumption that statements are based on complete information is a very common one in probability problems, and I see no reason not to turn an interesting problem into an uninteresting one by not using it here.

As for the assumption that Smith is manipulating her coins in order assure that a gold one is on top, it's interesting, but completely unsupported by the text of the problem. If we're going to start adding assumptions about the intentions of Jones and Smith, rather than simply assuming that they are ciphers who receive random coins and then make statements about them, then I could just as easily add a different assumption: "Smith is OCD and always places her silver coins on top, therefore the probability that the bottom coin is gold if the top coin is gold is 0"

And arbitrarily assigning equal probabilities to these different sets of assumptions is simply an exercise in calculation without any basis in fact or theory. (Why include these two sets of assumptions and not any number of other possible assumptions that could be added?)

#433 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 10:43 AM:

DanR: Your analysis looks good, though you have missed some symmetrical cases, and also confused things a bit by reordering some of the permutation lists.

If [<someone>] had always determined to reveal [their] top coin, and has not rearranged them, is equivalent to if [<someone>] has seen only one of their coins. Either way, they are not tampering with the order provided by "the draw". Choosing a gold coin to present does not count as a draw.

Thus each of your cases are correct, but your second and third cases are symmetrically equivalent. Also, the second case is the conventional reading of the original problem.

Note that if they both pocket their coins¹, and then draw gold (as Smith originally did), we can (1) rule out that they have all silver, and (2) halve our suspicion that they are drawing from a mixed pair.

Choosing a gold coin only gives us (1), but (2) happens for each independent draw. That is, even if Jones never shows us both of his coins at once, every time he draws a gold coin (without ever drawing a silver), we become more confident that he does in fact have two gold.

¹Note that because they're drawing from a finite bag, drawing the second coin without replacing the first is not an independent draw -- that's where the folks who got onto "the size of Lemuria's currency supply" were coming from.
----

And Now I'm Really Finished With This! Gaah.

#434 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 10:54 AM:

http://rosamicula.livejournal.com/540476.html

An essay about the young people (13% to 20% who leave school with no qualifications and no connection to society), and who are presumably most of the rioters.

#435 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 11:15 AM:

Serge @381:
==and hey, who's that guy with the goatee in the mirror?

Dude, I'm NOT saying your name three times again!

--Dave, at least not until I've got the circle closed and charged

PS: For those who reflected the last pocketses question back at me, the correct answer is "No, there's not anything currently in my pockets, as I'm not wearing pants".

PPS: HLN - Local man now has in his possession a PHYSICAL COPY of Nobilis 3rd Edition, so it _exists_! Those of you who like Jenna's stuff, go thou to eos-sama and buy! (She's also blogging there now, in addition to the Hitherby Dragons posts.) ... or, er, after checking, don't, because they don't have any way to actually purchase it there yet. Bah.

#436 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 11:26 AM:

Chris W. @432:

Valid points, all. However, I would argue that dealing with the assumptions is the more interesting part of this problem.

#437 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 11:56 AM:

DanR @ 429: I think what Tortoises is saying, *and what I'm saying* is that Smith declaring her top coin is gold means she placed her gold coin on top, and therefore does not exclude the possibility of her originally being dealt SG.

If Smith places a gold coin on top whenever she has one, then the chance of her hole coin being silver is 2/3, not 1/2, which directly contradicts the problem statement. The same proviso also removes the ambiguity cited in the Wikipedia extract, not that I particularly agree with that anyway.

Worrying about Smith's and Jones' motivation or procedure is like grilling a joke-teller about exactly what mutation enabled a kangaroo to talk. The whole point of writing a problem in this style is to signify that your only concern is with the information you're given. Even without the proviso about the unspecified coins, yours would be a strained reading; with that proviso, it's simply wrong.

#438 ::: LinD ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 12:23 PM:

Stepping back in to Making Light after being away far too long (hectic segment of life), to post the following delightful link:

Unnecessaryquotes

#439 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 12:46 PM:

So Smith and Jones look at their coins, then they put coins into two envelopes, and mark them "Smith" and "Jones".

"Now," Smith says to you, "pick an envelope, and you can keep the contents."

#440 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 12:52 PM:

But do the names marked on each envelope correspond to the person who was holding the coins prior to putting them in the envelope? Does each envelope contain the same group of coins that one of the people was holding at the beginning of the story?

#441 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 12:57 PM:

Tim Walters @437:

Arrgh! You got me on that one! Yes, the proviso does prove that Smith has not purposely arranged her coins, and therefore we must assume her matrix to contain only GS or GG.

That still leaves the question as to whether Jones has "identified" his gold coin by saying, "At least one is gold."

#442 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 01:10 PM:

DanR @ 441: That still leaves the question as to whether Jones has "identified" his gold coin by saying, "At least one is gold."

How can he have identified it if you can't tell me which one it is?

#443 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 01:42 PM:

I hadn't even been aware of the riots in English cities...

I suddenly was reminded of A Clockwork Orange....

Most rioting and looting is in relatively local areas--the people most victimized in high crime rate areas are the people who live in those areas, not people outside of them.

Most of a decade ago with the invasion of Iraq and and the obscenely misrun occuptation of the country, the invading militaries, particularly the US military, stood by and initially did nothing to deter vandalism, looting, thievery, robbery, arson, and even kidnapping, rape, and murder by such basic social obligations of governance as providing police patrols and surveillance and guarding and monitoring and protection etc. to public offices, city streets, facilities, museums, schools, etc.

There are "it's there, so take it" mentalities oin varying degrees, ranging from "nobody owns it and it's going unused so I'll take it" to "everyone else is looting, I want -my- share!" to "Looks like nobody's going to bother to notice or punish anyone who takes that, so I'll take it, since I can get away with it", to being caught up in mob psychology. Crooks will steal anything that they want that it looks like they can get away with stealing....

As to where thefts and lkooting and vandalism occur, there are ones of convenience--few people are going to on the spur of the moment drive two hours to commit looting and vandalism, that tends to take more time and attention and planning than most people tend to bother exerting..

#444 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 01:46 PM:

#378 abi
Constance @375:

Still, I'm not in favor of consumerist riots, unless it is for getting the food and water and other necessaries for yourself and family

I'm not either, but I understand the impulse. It grows from the same rootstock as the one that left so many American households in foreclosure. We live in a society that uses possessions—consumption—as the marker of success, and tells us that success is everything. Is it any wonder that people will beg, borrow and steal to look like winners?

O yes, I get that very well. The politicans have to fly back from their post August vacations in places far, far, far away just to get put to speed on the crisis.

O yes, the damages to people who are not responsible for these things, including the toxic consumerist economy that they have made and shoved down everyone's throats, and then yanked away the means to even participate in it -- what do they expect is going to happen?

This is class war, but so many people of the out class are being damaged, maybe forever ....

Again, this actually happens to be a consequence, not a symptom, though it's also a symptom, perhaps, of a global economy gone berserk, a global economy whose only function is to consume, not create -- and especially not create anything productive and sustainable? While in the meantime punishing, turning into criminals, as we have done in the U.S., anyone who is poor and can't participate.

If / when it happens here, with everyone armed (except me) the streets will be knee deep in blood. The world of ultimate warlordism, whether they wear suits or not. Not good for small living things and animals.

Love, C.

#445 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 01:53 PM:

@ #390

The blather by the so-called pundits and experts 30 + years down the road -- the titles of the articles and the features, the calls for study to find the real causes, the proposed remedies, blahblahblahblah -- ARE EXACTLY THE SAME NOW AS THEY WERE IN 1981. Or -- here, for instance, in 1965, 1971, you name it. Compare the captions and headlines and think pieces in the media in 1981 with those even in the UK Guardian today -- and they are the same.

Love, C.

#446 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 03:07 PM:

Evidently, in the land of Lemuria, gold is not $1770 per ounce, as it is today in our world, since when gold is $1770 per oz anyone carrying gold coins is accompanied by armed guards.

Re the rioting: we've been here before, many times. I heard the British PM on NPR this morning blathering about "thugs," typical useless rhetoric. Please don't misunderstand, I don't excuse or applaud the looting and the violence. But guthrie at 426 makes an excellent point: this is a convenient specie of violence for the establishment to condemn.

And nothing will change. Yes, the stealing and smashing is political, but it is surely not revolutionary. (Lenin would be appalled at the triviality of the action.) It will not affect the power of the state in any way, except to increase it, and to temporarily harden positions, or slide them further to the right -- more police! Longer prison terms! Less help for people who truly need it, because the proles are clearly not sufficiently grateful for what they are given.

BTW, this morning I heard a report which said that due to the most recent budget shortfall in California, some cuts in state funding are about to go into effect; all targets predetermined in political agreements signed months ago. Among the sectors that will lose funding are community colleges, programs for the disabled, and health care for the very poor.

Marat, we're poor -- and the poor stay poor...

#447 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 03:18 PM:

And the first three members of the Gang of 12 (the budget supercommittee) are announced: Democratic Senators John Kerry, Max Baucus, and Patty Murray. It will be interesting to see the others. Republicans are already attacking those choices.

#448 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 03:34 PM:

http://rosamicula.livejournal.com/540476.html

An essay about a large number of young people in the UK who've never been brought into the culture and don't feel a part of it. The writer grew up close to that part of the culture and has taught many of the kids.

It's the most sensible-looking thing I've seen on the causes of the riots.

*****

It seems to me that people who set fires are much more alienated than people who steal stuff.

#449 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 04:02 PM:

All right, have some vox pop from Manchester city centre yesterday and today. A summary of assorted overheard conversations in the street and on the bus, my colleagues, and the barrowman I get my daily fruit ration from.

-- the violence and looting were not spontaneous protests. It was organised looting by the local gangs, and there were rumours flying around the social networking sites as early as lunchtime that the planned time for kickoff was 4pm. (Which is why some of my colleagues left work early last night, and the rest of us kept a wary eye on the local news.)

-- the *organised* looting was planned to exploit the fact that half the Manchester police force was down in London last night.

-- a bunch of wastrels looking for a chance to thieve (the polite version of what the glorious proleteriat in the form of the cleaning staff were saying about being told to get out of town early because trouble was breaking out all over)

-- the police should have gone in and thrown the initial small groups hanging around waiting for the off straight into the vans, before they told their mates to come on down because the police wouldn't do anything (the polite version)

-- why the hell weren't the police breaking a few heads, or at least bringing out the water cannon? (the less polite version)

--they need to flood the centre with police tonight, and chuck them in the van and off to the nick as soon as someone even thinks about looking at them funny, preferably hitting them with a truncheon or two to make sure they stay down.

I have deleted most of the swearing.

Of course, there's a certain amount of bias here. I was lucky and managed to pick a route to the remote bus stop that was safe at the time (although it was trashed by looters a couple of hours later). Some of my colleagues legged it because they saw a crowd of looters coming towards their bus stop, some were chased by looters, and some of my colleagues live in flats above shops that were targeted by looters. We got in to an undamaged workplace this morning, but many of us have friends who weren't that lucky.

We are not impressed by people excusing the looting on the grounds that it's only what the fat cats do.

"What a shame that [group we approve of] have been driven to attack [group we disapprove of] by the actions of [group we disapprove of]. We don't, of course, condone the violence, but really, they brought it on themselves."

It doesn't sound any better coming from the fluorosphere than it does from wingnuts. And if you think I sound bitter, it's not entirely unconnected with wondering if a missile was about to come through the office window a couple of times this afternoon.

#450 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 04:32 PM:

Niall @ 439

So Smith and Jones look at their coins, then they put coins into two envelopes, and mark them "Smith" and "Jones".

"Now," Smith says to you, "pick an envelope, and you can keep the contents."

And that is the moment at which I conclude Smith and Jones are con men and I am the pigeon. (If you don't want me to include human motivations and quirks in my analysis, don't have the logic problem involve human beings.)

#451 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 04:59 PM:

#409 Julia

"domestic terrorists"

#446 Lizzy

[from me #119 http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009119.html back in 2007...

George Bush we're poor
We weren't always poor
George Bush each day
We hate your much more
We want our rights
That you took away
We want you [censored] TODAY.

Bush contributed to UK spending with his "I'm a Bigger Prick Than You Are" war against Saddam Hussein and consequent misadministration in Iraq, along with having the UK's Prime Minister at the time acting as something of a catamite....

#447 Tom
I remain incensed at the media repeating the lies calling Kerry and extreme liberal. He is NOT. For one thing, he BELIEVED the lies of the Pinocchio who occupied the White House in 2001-2008 and voted to hand over all sorts of authorizations to to the schnook... at the time he voted in favor of allowing the schnook to play dominance games with Saddam Hussein with the US taxpayers and the citizenry of Iraq and a whole lot of other people(Some by their taxes going to the Iraqi adventure, others by refugees fleeing to their countries....) and irreplaceable world heritage of manuscripts and museums holding, archaeological stratigraphy and knowledge that could be been gain by digs rather then destructive looters and the US military siting encampments on antiquity sites, all victims.... Kerry at the time said "he would be watching" but that part of his speech when he voted to let the schnook do what the schook and his neocon apocalytics greedy weasels wanted, got forgotten...

Kerry is NOT a liberal. He's not a blue dog Democrat, but he's no liberal. He's less liberal than Tricky Dick was.... and unlike the last Kennedy in Congress, he hasn;t got the political junk yard dog killer instinct for political infighting--Teddy was a political fighter of a degree most people don't appreciate, one of the last times there was any sort of opponent to speak of running against him, his fought hard, and his opponent was completely outfought. Id on;t remember any details of the debating, but the other guy came off as a nebbish.

#452 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 05:23 PM:

Jacque, #412: PayPal is convenient, by comparison to having to write a check, dig out an envelope, find and copy the address, find and affix a stamp, get it to the post office. Even more so if the process involves buying a money order rather than writing a check. If you're on the vendor end, try Google Checkout as an easy, free alternative.

Kip, #431: That's a good analogy, to which I will add that if the parents are deliberately trying not to take notice of whatever the teen is upset about, then hijacking the argument into being about the use of the F-word is also an excellent diversionary tactic.

#453 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 05:40 PM:

Lee, the little melodrama played out a while back in RASFF, when I finally got so tired of someone I said I didn't give a f***. For that, I got analyzed minutely by a battery of folks who contended that "f***" is a violent and shocking word.

Yes, not giving a f*** is a form of violence. This, from grownups.

#454 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 05:46 PM:

Many people who know poorish areas of the big cities of the UK will know of elderly people whose lives are made a misery by lawless little juvenile shits. The usual low-level abuse that goes on for months and months, never quite reaching a point where it's big enough for the police to respond in more than a token manner. The elderly victims try to ignore the noise at all hours, and clean the urine from their doorsteps, and don't dare confront their tormentors. (Confront the tormentors' parents and you'll get another mouthful of abuse). It goes on for months and months, often till it kills the victims. Not in any way that can be pinned down as murder; usually it's a heart attack or stroke, exacerbated by the stress of being afraid in your own home all the time and being burgled every year or two, that does it.

These are in fact hate crimes, of a non-specific variety—the victims aren't necessarily gay or disabled or of a different ethnicity (though they might be); differences don't matter; the perpetrators and their mates are doing it for a laugh.

It is indeed a class war; the working classes are being oppressed horribly by the underclass and it's been going on for about 20 years now and the law-abiding poor are not at all averse to the idea of the non-law-abiding poor getting a truncheon or a rubber bullet in the face, now that the latter have picked a deliberate and public fight with the state (see Julia Jones's vox pops @449). And the elderly victims, in particular, aren't fond of hearing the this-is-an-explanation-not-a-justification line of social commentary that talks of social exclusion, the crimes of the rich, alienation. The elderly victims were children of the Crash, the Depression, the Means Test Man, the British Union of Fascists, the Board of Guardians, bread-and-dripping for tea, one family to a room with an outside toilet shared between 4 houses in the terrace. They were working in factories at 14 and they were at war at 18.

(A certain type of ironic interjector usually makes a hilarious crack about the Four Yorkshiremen sketch at this point. For the well-off to excuse the crimes of the poor on the grounds of their poverty is a liberal virtue; for the poor to condemn the crimes of the poor on the grounds that they were in the same boat or a worse boat once, and didn't commit crimes, is apparently letting the side down.)

This isn't a crack at anyone on ML; reading back on what I've written, it's more of an exasperated moan really. You may gather that I have had elderly relatives in the situation described above.

#455 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 05:47 PM:

Julia Jones @449 We are not impressed by people excusing the looting on the grounds that it's only what the fat cats do....It doesn't sound any better coming from the fluorosphere than it does from wingnuts.

True. All of them should be arrested, tried and suitably punished.

My problem is that I'm hearing people saying "What can you expect from these guys? They're a deadweight on society. Rioters going to riot. Only way to deal with it is break some heads." Ignoring root causes of disaffection and alienation is just going to push the problem down the road a way. Waiting until it's over to discuss this will entrench the "they're all thugs, so let's break some heads" analysis.

So the rioters are to blame for the disorder. But we need to be responsible for trying to avoid it happening again.

#456 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 06:32 PM:

Neil W @ 455:

But we need to be responsible for trying to avoid it happening again.

Exactly. Instead of pointing fingers and assessing blame, what needs to happen is something similar to an aircraft crash investigation, where the idea is to discover the causes of the crash and develop ways to prevent those causes from resulting in another crash in the future. Not that any such objectivity is likely in the current situation; I suspect any real investigation would uncover plenty of things that would piss off just about everybody from rich to poor, white to brown to black, and especially politicians and police1.

1. It doesn't matter who started it or what the triggering incident was, handling civil disorder as a military problem is an extremely bad and ultimately self-defeating idea. And if the yabos committing the violence are not well-liked by their neighbors, treating the whole community as the enemy is giving up one of the best tools you've got to isolate and identify the miscreants.

#457 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 06:37 PM:

Double standards...
I have the TV news on, for the first time in several days. The station gave air time to "President Obama is going to spend a week vacationing on (one of the Massachusetts islands, I can't remember if it's Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket...)in a manner connoting that this is very wrong of him, he should be skipping vacation and staying working on the job in DC--despite the fact that Congress had vacated DC for the summer except for the token less than handful necessary to technically keep Congress in session, preventing any recess appointments like the Schmuck made--despite the fact that are more than 200 appointments in limbo from secret holds by ratshit Republicans, the same ratshits who were screaming how all appointments and legislation should be held on "up down votes" on what -they- wanted ramrodded through with no discussion and no revisions or close examination--those more than 200 appointments in limbo (there might be fewer now, some people withdraw themselves as candidates sitting in limbo week after week, month after month... but the overall number is very very much higher than the appointments that the Schmuck wanted that he didn't get--and that INCLUDES people who got rejected... and some of the rejections, that sack of shit Bush appointed during recesses, ANYWAY....
>
I am not a big Obama fan. My opinion is that he is an APPEASER to evil people and the evil they perpetrate. But he's lightyears less abominable than anyone running for the Republican candidacy for President. They lot of them make Haman's sons look collectively worth one breath.... (the Purim service, the leader of the congregation is supposed to use a single breath to recite the names of the sons, because collectively that;s all they're worth... and every tine the name "Haman" gets uttered, little kids whirl noisemakers to drown out his name... )

Romney is a lying take-whatever-position-sucks-up-to-the-biggest-pressure-groups weasel and someone whose capital fund cut jobs in the USA and sent them to China and India etc. and invested in companies only if they offshored, and those are the -nicest- things I have to say about him... and the others aren't any more attractive than he is...

The sack of shit took the entire SUMMER of 2001 off, and continued taking most of the summer off the rest of his time fucking up the country with his misadministration. He acceded to allowing a briefing on Al Qaeda to be scheduled for I think it was September 12, 2001, after having refused to hear any briefin on the topic the first half of the year, and taking the entire summer off. Of course, Al Quaeda acted on September 11, 2001 hijacking four airliner and turning them into weapons of mass murder and horrific destruction.

But how much criticism and how much -cheerleading- to criticize the schmuck was there by the media for taking off the summer? Not much.... biased pieces of shit "media"....

#458 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 06:39 PM:

Well, yes. Surplus population. Means no jobs no function no purpose.

It's all over the world.

What are we going to do?

Love, C.

#459 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 07:06 PM:

I am leaving on a week's vacation on Friday.

This would be a convenient time for me, Mr. Jones, to receive all gold and silver coins, loose or in envelopes, due me.

#460 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 07:18 PM:

Constance #458: Means no jobs no function no purpose.

More like "no profit to be made off them". The idea of investing in people is just as foreign to the fat cats as the idea of investing in anything else that won't turn a profit next quarter.

#461 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 07:34 PM:

Happy things:

I now live in a house with a total of three women and two cats. The cats are very slowly getting to know each other-- Iggy, who is gray and friendly, wants to be friends with Patina, who is tortoiseshell and wary. They have been within a few feet of each other without any hissing or growling.

Also, the things that went wrong with my move-- mold in the climate-controlled storage unit, mostly-- are now fixed, mostly. And the broken pipe on the car is fixed, so I can drive the three of us and none of the cats to the State Fair. A housemate and I did four hours of errands and got things for the house. I am considering what exact shade of purple to paint my room, and which, if any, color of green will match it.

Besides, cats adjusting to each other: hilarious.

#462 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 07:35 PM:

Tim Walters @442: How can he have identified it if you can't tell me which one it is?

If we assume Jones has seen both of his coins, as David Harmon says is the conventional interpretation of the problem, and if Jones has only one gold coin, then Jones is singling out this coin -- referring to his one gold coin specifically -- when he says "At least one of my coins is gold."

If, on the other hand, Jones is holding two gold coins, then his statement is equivocal, and does not "identify" one coin over another.

Thus, there is a 2/3 probability that Jones' statement identifies a specific gold coin, and that the solution to the problem of the Lemurian coins is 1/4.

#463 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 07:45 PM:

Tim Walters...

Oops, I guess that last argument doesn't hold water either... If Jones is holding only one gold coin, then the probability of him having more than Smith is 0.

I guess I'll have to concede this and move on.

1/6.

#464 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 07:54 PM:

Tim Walters:

Final rhetorical proof:

There is a 2/3 chance that Jones is identifying his coin and has only one gold coin. In this scenario Jones has a 0 chance of holding more gold than Smith.

There is a 1/3 chance Jones is not identifying his coin, and has two golds. In this case he has a 1/2 chance of holding more gold than Smith.

{(2/3*0)+(1/3+1/2)}=1/6

#465 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 09:33 PM:

DanR @ 464: I still think "at least one member of Congress is a secret lizard-being, I'm the only one who knows which one or ones they are, and I'm not going to tell you" is the exact opposite of identification.

But hey, right answer. :)

#466 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 09:45 PM:

Tim:

Only if it's not true.

#467 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 10:31 PM:

Constance @ 444: "Still, I'm not in favor of consumerist riots, unless it is for getting the food and water and other necessaries for yourself and family."

"Oh, but television is more important than food!"

#468 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 11:42 PM:

Xopher update:

He's doing fabulously well. Each day I've seen him he's been more alive and energetic, and has had less of the post-surgery indignities to deal with. Yesterday they stopped the IV drips, but left the feeding tube in to be used only at meals. Today at noon they removed the bolster which had been holding his tongue in place, and capped the tracheostomy. This evening, while I was visiting, a team of doctors (it's a teaching hospital) came by to see him, and removed his feeding tube altogether. They gave him some cranberry juice to drink, and after tasting it, he commented that he didn't usually like cranberry juice, but this juice tasted absolutely wonderful!

Yes, he commented - once the bolster came out and the trach was capped, he could talk again. He even sang a bit with me. His tongue is still a bit swollen, and he's not used to its new shape yet, so he sounded a bit like one does after getting a filling at the dentist. But I could understand him. He is very, very relieved.

They're keeping him in the hospital for 24 hours to make sure he's able to breathe, eat and drink successfully, then he should be coming home. I'm heading off on my Reno trip tomorrow, so the next update should come from Xopher himself!

#469 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 11:47 PM:

Hooray for Xopher and modern medicine!

#470 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 11:53 PM:

A member of our community
Has been away.
There is good news,
The prognosis is good,
We expect him back.
Good news is good to hear.
Xopher's recovering.
I look forward to his return!

#471 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 11:57 PM:

Bravo for Xopher!

#472 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:17 AM:

XOPHER SINGING.

*chokes up*

#473 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:35 AM:

Three cheers for Xopher and his doctors!

#474 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 01:00 AM:

Thank you for the good news about Xopher! May his smooth recovery continue.

#475 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 01:42 AM:

Lenore, thank you, and Xopher, yay!

#476 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 01:46 AM:

Thanks for the Xopher update!

#477 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 02:35 AM:

Three cheers for Xopher!

#478 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 02:38 AM:

Thank you for the Xopher updates.

And hooray for a soon-to-be well Xopher! Who is singing and everything!

#479 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 02:47 AM:

Xopher- so happy to read this update about you.

#480 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 02:52 AM:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue;
Xopher is fabulous,
Old news is new!

#481 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 02:56 AM:

Paula Lieberman @459:

I am Northern Irish. I thought that crack from Bush was callous, clueless fuckwittery when I heard it, and for rather different reasons to you. And after yesterday morning, when I walked down a road that was hit by a massive IRA bomb 15 years ago, and noticed how many of the anti-blast windows installed afterwards had been quite effective at keeping looters from easy access to their pickings, I am unimpressed by you apparently thinking that quoting it is an effective rebuttal of my post.

#482 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 02:56 AM:

Wonderful news! Thank you so much, Lenore! Xopher, you have all of our best wishes!

#483 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 03:30 AM:

Yesterday, I was watching the news on Al Jazeera

It's all very modern, but the style is very reminiscent of the BBC as it was. It has the feel of proper journalism.

But their coverage of economics and finance seems a bit biased against increasing taxes on the people who actually have some money. And there was advertising for what looked to be a very expensive style of holiday in Malaysia. OMG, the bling on that wristwatch!

But the riots, there was the father of one of the young men who was killed in Birmingham. He'd tried to do CPR on his son. If it had been radio, you wouldn't have been able to tell he was anything but a native Brummie. And, in his reaction, he was a better man than the politicians.

And I had a feeling that, in that part of town, Al Jazeera isn't seen as a "Them", in the way that even the BBC might be.

#484 ::: Dave Bell seeing incoming spam all over the place ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 03:40 AM:

Spam probes on multiple threads, dating from around 2007. (The threads, not the Spam)

#485 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 05:55 AM:

I doubt anyone is interested, but because it's been in my head for the last few days, here's my diagnosis of the English Riots:

I blame the Chartists.

No, seriously - when they failed [damn them!], we lost the last chance of a social movement in this country that wasn't a slave to the state/capitalism nexus. Everything that came afterwards was either built around the Fabian model of upper-class intellectuals trying to arrange society to be more efficient by law, or the Trades Union model of basically accepting the bosses' right to order you around, as long as they paid you enough. And both kinds were absolutely complicit in the building of an imperialist, urbanised society that rendered itself dependent on international capital flows just to survive.

The post-45 Labour moment, because it was stuck in this same groove, was the second great lost chance: nationalising things under bureaucratic managers, rather than collectivising strategic industry as workers' cooperatives with a public-trust function, for example, thus simply reproducing the TU 'them and us' relationship with a new 'them'; mucking about with neo-imperial nonsense like the 'groundnut scheme' in East Africa and working towards a 'British Bomb' instead of engraining workers' participation from shopfloor to boardroom and building a real cooperative commonwealth with ex-colonies.

Once those kinds of real, massive, world-historical mistakes have been made, all the shorter-term stuff - including Thatcher - is just the icing on the cake. The Right have their cloud-cuckoo-land of moral restoration and individualism, and the Left theirs of expropriation and direction [I wonder if some of them genuinely don't understand that if a 'rich' person's wealth lies in assets with a market value, you can't realise that wealth for other purposes unless another rich person is willing to buy them...] Neither side has a clue about how to make a country of over 60 million people actually function cohesively, and the [relative] 'centre' from which we're governed only knows how to placate finance capital, because it is literally the only thing keeping us fed.

We have lots of nice ideas: we've invented 'Human Rights' to tell us how we should behave, we spend a fortune keeping ourselves alive in ways unimagined fifty years ago [even while we eat, drink and smoke our way to oblivion], but we have no clue how to turn this into a meaningful, productive, happy collective life.

[Obviously, lots of people have lots of different 'clues' about that, from my own evident bugbear about cooperativism and social responsibility, to deep ecological semi-extinction, but at the centre of political debate, there is no sense of potential structural change.]

We've been living on cheap credit for so long, we've forgotten the connection between working, saving and having nice stuff, forgotten that there might be any sense of balance or proportion between individual needs, wants and available resources, forgotten above all that a society is and always has been a fragile thing, always almost-broken, always needing positive effort to hold it together, always threatened by people who would break it - either to extract profits, or to fulfil divisive ideological dreams, or just because they want more than they have, and see it there for the taking.

In the face of this level of vast mistake, everything else - ethnic tensions, drug use, gang cultures, elite corruption - is trivial. There is no foundation that could be reached for by a simple change, no one dimension of current society that could be transformed by more of this or less of that. It's been heading in the wrong direction for 150 years.

#486 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 06:57 AM:

Tim @465 -- actually we've got a good number of lizard-beings in Congress, many of them are indeed not even particularly secretive about it any longer.

#487 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 07:38 AM:

Glad to hear the good news about Xopher!

#488 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 08:07 AM:

Lenore #468: Yay yay yay, Xopher's on his way!

#489 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 08:31 AM:

Some of the press are now moving beyond kneeejerk on the riots:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/10/uk-riots-society

[Still a long way to go to reach the 1840s, of course.]

#490 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 08:45 AM:

Fantastic news about Xopher - the progress! The drinking! The talking! The singing!!.

#491 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 08:46 AM:

So good to hear the news about Xopher! One bright shiny thing to start the day off right.

#492 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 08:52 AM:

Excellent news on Xopher, hip hip hooray!

#493 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:21 AM:

Yay on Xopher!

#494 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:29 AM:

Lenore @468--thanks for the updates, and I hope you have an excellent trip, at both ends and in the middle.

Xopher--Go you! Like the others, I'm glad things are going so well. I hope your progress back to good health and joyful noise-making is smooth and easy.

#495 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:30 AM:

::applauds Xopher::

#496 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:36 AM:

Alex @485

A lot of people forget that the 1840s were when Marx and Engels were getting started.

I happen to write stories set in a very alternate world, and one of the different nations—you might consider it a hero-character in the setting—is an anarcho-syndicalist independent British Columbia. Real-world, there was certainly tension over the late arrival of the rail link to Canada. In some ways, the whole project was a bribe to British Columbia. It's possible that Canada could have ended up as two nations, East and West. (And Newfoundland...)

Anyway, various forms of bottom-up political approaches were around, a century and more ago. Many of them get lumped together as Anarchism, and isn't it ironic how much Tea-Party and Libertarian rhetoric about government parallels the no-government approach. The big difference is in who is left in charge. And both Communists and Fascists were apposed to Anarchism. But despite everything they did, the CNT is still in Spain.

So are other countries in Europe a bit different? Maybe. The German model certainly has more influence from workers in the management of companies. And maybe that's why the economic ideas typified by the American Right don't have quite the same traction in the rest of Europe. "Get Out of Europe Now!" squeal the newspapers, but it's not hard to interpret those squeals as the fears of the powerful. And, frankly, it is a little embarrassing to see who Britain's Conservative Party aligns with in the European Parliament.

I see the Godwinism looming, so I shall stop there.

(Oh, and the writing? "Saunders was wearing a shirt which, if colours were weapons, would have been banned by the League of Nations.")

#497 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:41 AM:

Hooray for Xopher! Singing, no less! Yay!

#498 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 10:12 AM:

Lenore: thanks so much for being our conduit to Xopher and for keeping us up to date. Hope your trip is wonderful.

So glad to hear Xopher is doing so well!

Hope to see him back here soon.

#499 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 10:48 AM:

Xopher, yes!! Singing, yes!!!!

#500 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 11:09 AM:

Re: #468 -- Radio Central Nervous system cues up "Hallelujah Chorus" -- while the waterworks begin in the optic system.

Xopher is singing.

Lenore, thanks for the updates -- Xopher, I'm really looking forward to hearing/seeing your voice here real soon now.

#501 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 11:16 AM:

Is it just me, or is Making Light running slow this morning?

#502 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 11:27 AM:

Making Light is under a massive spam-attack this morning.

#503 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 11:40 AM:

Jim Macdonald... I've got a Navy question, if you have time once the spam attack is over.

I watched "Destination Tokyo" last night and was rather perplexed by something. When one of the submarine's sailors required emergency surgery, it turned out that they didn't have a doctor onboard so the crew's pill-provider had to do it. Is this what one calls "dramatic license'?

#504 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 11:55 AM:

Serge @ 503: That's been reliably reported in other, less dramatic places - submarines do not carry doctors on board. One of the USN ratings is Medical Corpsman, who is tasked with the routine medical care, as "independent duty" when there are no medical officers.

#505 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:01 PM:

Yay for Xopher! This is great news!

#506 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:04 PM:

Dammit, captain, I'm a Medical Corpsman, not a doctor!

#507 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:09 PM:

He's dead, Niall -- you grab his tricorder; I'll look for his wallet.

#508 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:18 PM:

You silly people...

#509 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:22 PM:

My father was a Navy what-we-call sick berth attendant in WW2 (the Big One!). He reminisced that he had once assisted in an emergency appendectomy at sea. It was performed by the hest-qualified surgeon available, a Chief SBA, working to instructions relayed by radio from a US Navy cruiser, which carried an actual doctor. The patient recovered, strange to say.

He also remembers receiving a chitty from a LST that came in explaining that the bearer suffered from an attack "of what is commonly known as crabs". He says - I have no idea of whether this is true or not, for my father was given to embroidery - that he sent the seaman back with the approved treatment, insecticidal cream, and a reply to the effect that the condition was known medically as pediculosis pubis "or the pattering of little feet upon the private parts".

The Australian Navy being the organisation it was, no further correspondence was entered into.

#510 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:31 PM:

Serge @503

Purely anecdotal evidence: My father's oldest brother (hmm, I have an odd difficulty calling him my "uncle" given that our lives never overlapped) while on a Navy ship in the Pacific in WWII died of appendicitis because not only did they not have anyone capable of the surgery on board but they were under radio silence and not able to summon a qualified individual on time. Off the top of my head I have no idea what type/size of ship he was on, although I'm fairly certain it wasn't a submarine.

#511 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:34 PM:

An old friend of mine told me the following cure for crabs. Being quite young at the time I almost believed him.

Rot13'd for those easily grossed out:

Lbh nezrq lbhefrys jvgu yvtugre syhvq naq na vpr cvpx. Lbh funirq bss unys gur nssrpgrq nern, fbnxrq gur unvel unys va yvtugre syhvq, frg vg ba sver, naq jura gur yvggyr ornfgvrf pnzr ehaavat bhg, lbh fgnoorq 'rz jvgu gur vpr cvpx.

#512 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:39 PM:

Serge Broom @503--IANJM, but no, it's not. Wheeler Lipes was the first Pharmacist's Mate to do this, but not the only one; two other appendectomies in similar circumstances are known of in World War II--you'll want to go about 2/3 of the way down that page for that era. It's my understanding that World War II era subs, which were mighty small things with very small crews*, compared to the modern nuclear subs, and some of the USN's other small vessels, often did not carry a physician, but instead relied on giving the assigned corpsman extra training on What To Do Until Getting Back to Port.

I am not in a position to say why the USNavy made this choice in assignments, but I suspect it was partly the fairly small size of the crew, the very limited space on subs, and the tendency of phsyicians to take a longer time to train than corpsmen, plus the tendency of subs to be lost with all hands. Why put a physician on something so vulnerable, with so small a crew, when you have cruisers with 700 crewmen and aircraft carriers with two thousand? Subs were also less likely to see the sort of surface combat that produces casualties requiring immediate surgery which other naval vessels had to deal with.


*The Gato-class subs had about 60-man crews; the Balao-class about 80-man crews. The Ohio-class vessels out there these days are about 250 feet longer, with 150+ crew-their displacement, submerged, is about 7 times that of the Gato-class boats. If Wikipedia isn't mistaken, of course.

#513 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:49 PM:

Serge #503

That's Navy Corpsman, and, while actual MD type physicians are rare onboard Navy ships (at least the smaller ones), every ship has at least one corpsman (universally known as "doc.")

Less common now in the days of high-speed comms and helicopters, but it's been known to happen that a corpsman performed appendectomies and such, under the rule that if you try the patient may die, but if you don't the patient will die.

#514 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:53 PM:

Here's what the Royal Navy has to say about submarines:

Q. How do the crew receive medical attention?

All submarines carry qualified medical ratings and there are standard operating procedures for any medical emergencies that are beyond their skills. If the submarine is operating in areas that make it unsuitable to evacuate casualties, then they will embark a submarine qualified doctor.

I think it likely that an SSBN would carry a Doctor rather than risk having to reveal their location, while the subs which launched cruise missiles against Iraq and Libya have support close by.

On the other hand, this is the USN answer:

How does the submarine crew get medical attention?

All submarines have a highly trained, experienced medical specialist on board called a hospital corpsman. These individuals receive training similar to that given to a physician's assistant in the civilian world. In emergencies, these individuals are even trained to perform basic surgeries. Preferably, however, emergency cases are either rapidly delivered to a shore facility by returning to port or by helicopter emergency medical evacuation from the submarine. It may also be possible to transfer the sick person to a better-equipped surface ship either by small boat or helicopter.

#515 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 12:54 PM:

Thanks, everybody. It was quite a good movie by Delmer Daves (although it felt a big padded in places - probably for the morale-boosting of the audiences), but I did wonder. Since the sub was hiding in the middle of Tokyo Bay, the Pharmacist Mates had to perform an appendectomy by relying on someone reading the procedure to him off a medical book.

#516 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 01:22 PM:

I haven't heard of that treatment for crabs, but the one favoured in the Royal Navy (some time ago, I make no doubt) was rum and sand. The rum was said to make the beasties raging drunk, and they would them pelt each other to death with the grains of sand.

#517 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 01:44 PM:

Julia Jones @ 449: "-- why the hell weren't the police breaking a few heads, or at least bringing out the water cannon? (the less polite version)

--they need to flood the centre with police tonight, and chuck them in the van and off to the nick as soon as someone even thinks about looking at them funny, preferably hitting them with a truncheon or two to make sure they stay down."

I'm always rather impressed with how quickly (pre-emptive!) violence leaps to mind as a method of defending their advantage among those that have it, even as they vociferously condemn violence as a method of getting such things from those who do not. Violence in defense of greater inequality: there is a banner to march under with pride.

I wonder if those so distressed at the thought of losing what they have that they salivate for the water cannons and truncheons have ever imagined what they would do if deprived of their home, their job, their comforts--would they take it quietly? Would they accept meekly the constant violences of poverty, the insults and the assaults, the abuse and the degradation? Would they still be obedient to a law that is getting stop-searched every day, acquiescent to an order that they are perpetually on the bottom of?

"We are not impressed by people excusing the looting on the grounds that it's only what the fat cats do."

I'm terribly curious to hear who it is, precisely, who is "excusing" the looting on those grounds, with quotes. I am also interested to hear which rioters it was who were going after the fat cats--as I understand it, the rioting is mostly in poor and working class neighborhoods.

Steve with a book @ 454: "Many people who know poorish areas of the big cities of the UK will know of elderly people whose lives are made a misery by lawless little juvenile shits."

Because surely what we need to do right now is figure out who is being most oppressed by whom, who has committed and been a victim of which offenses. Because as we all know, moral righteousness is a quantity calculated arithmetically by the equation [victimization] - [offense], and if we determine that the rioters have been more offenders than victims then their legitimate complaints can be safely ignored in favor of those whose lives have left them even deeper in the shit. And let us be absolutely sure not to recognize that the web of suffering is deep and tangled, with nearly everyone playing victim and victimizer in their turn, and that nothing can be easily cancelled out. Most of all, let's be most sure not to leave anything at the feet of the system that as a whole produces this set of outcomes, because personal choice is the only real source of virtue and vice.

#518 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 02:29 PM:

Steve C @511: Hm. Darwin Award and intelligence test, rolled into one. Very efficient!

#519 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 02:45 PM:

Lenore @468:

Xopher singing! Thank you thank you thank you for this splendid news.

Will you be at Renovation? Join our little YahooGroup if so: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fluorosphere/?yguid=493220554

#520 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 03:02 PM:

Dave Luckett #516:

According to one of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books, vinegar. It's not clear (to me, at least) whether that was for total cure, or just immediate relief. In any case, somewhat less worrisome than Steve C #511.

#521 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 03:07 PM:

Serge #515:

I recall reading a similar story--maybe what the movie was based on?--in an old collection of Best Of Readers Digest in possession of my grandmother. (It was chock full of WWII-related stuff, including "I was a Male War Bride".)

#522 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 03:46 PM:

And now for something completely different...

Potential "magic bullet" for viruses discovered at MIT.

Not a vaccine, but an actual cure -- it prevents the virus from reproducing, and triggers the dissolution of the infected cell at the same time, which breaks the spread of infection. So far they've tested it on 15 different viruses, including common rhinovirus, H1N1, and dengue fever, and it's nailed every one of them.

If this lives up to the promise of the early tests, it'll be a world-changer. HIV, HPV, measles, chicken pox, mumps, polio, Ebola, rabies... the list of things which would no longer be life-threatening goes on and on.

#523 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 03:56 PM:

joann @ 521... Here is what imdb.com says...

The appendectomy done in this film actually happened. It was performed on the USS Silversides SS236. Pharmacist's mate Thomas Mooere removed George Platter's appendix 150 feet below the ocean's surface. Photographs of the surgery are on display where this submarine is docked, in Muskegon, Michigan, at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum.
#524 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 04:00 PM:

@Lee: There's also early testing results from using HIV as a part of a gene therapy regimen that appears very effective at putting the kabosh on leukemia.

These were clinical trials, not petri dish work.

#525 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 04:02 PM:

Lee @ 522 -

That's terrific - here's hoping the testing goes well. A broad-spectrum antiviral would do wonders.

#526 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 04:08 PM:

Yay, Xopher singing, talking, eating, drinking! Hooray!

#527 ::: Ginger sees good spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 04:24 PM:

Yup, some good tasty Spam, spam, spammity spam SPAM!

#528 ::: Tim Walters smells spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 04:24 PM:

527 has a certain meat-byproduct quality... but it's certainly true that the news about Xopher is "good content."

#529 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 04:45 PM:

Hooray for Xopher! And no damage to his vocal cords!

#530 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 05:01 PM:

heresiarch@517: good points that we're all aware of; but perhaps you don't appreciate how bad things looked on Monday night in London and Tuesday night elsewhere. The police were clearly not in control and looked to have no plausible plan for regaining control; the cities were burning; the non-rioters were on the losing side of a war; no doubt the arsonists and looters had explanations to give but no-one was interested just then.

The Crown Prosecution Service and the Magistrates' Courts have played a blinder over the last two days, and can claim a lot of the credit for calming things down: as early as yesterday, guilty pleas were being heard and prisoners were being sent up the chain to the Crown Court for sentencing. (Magistrates' Courts can impose only up to six months' imprisonment; Crown Courts can get serious with you.) The spectacle of courts working night-shifts to get through the long lists of people who'd been fingered almost immediately surely concentrated a few minds and made potential rioters decide that it wasn't worth it. For the first time in decades, the law actually meant business.

The list of convictions makes unexpectedly sad reading. Six months for stealing bottled water is harsh, and then there's the silly girl here who nicked a telly from Comet, for example. But for all that she's a biblical-style repentant thief, what's to be said about the parable of the Bad Samaritans? Read more about the victim here. No, actually we're not all guilty, in the final reckoning. He'd just nipped out to break his Ramadan fast.

Understanding why the riots occurred is indeed something to be striven for, but no putative explanation will be complete if it doesn't acknowledge the truth that rioting and nicking stuff and burning down 140-year-old furniture businesses is enormous fun if you think you can't get caught and if you don't care about the victims. Indeed there's more to it than that. But it's still there.

#531 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 05:06 PM:

heresiarch:

Thugs and thuggish behavior have a lot of costs beyond the easily-measured crime statistics and insurance claims. Most of us who have some experience with being bullied in school can understand the mechanism here--plenty of kids endure a year or two of utter hell in ways that do not show up on any official report or statistic, but which result from one or more bullies making their lives very hard. Some subset of those kids do show up in the statistics, as kids whose grades fall off, or who drop out, or who attempt or succeed at suicide. My impression is that much the same is true of thuggish behavior and thugs in everyday life--it really doesn't take but one jerk being threatening and vandalizing your property to make your life a lot worse.

That doesn't mean the answer to thuggish behavior is head busting by the cops, or fire hoses, or Singapore style canings. What it does mean is that the society isnt working out very well for the folks who are victims of that thuggishness. If it's reasonable to say "the rioting is wrong, but the rioters have gotten the shaft in many ways," it seems no less reasonable to me to say "it's wong to call for head busting or flogging or summary execution for looters/rioters, but many of the people calling for that stuff have gotten the shaft in many ways."

#532 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 05:07 PM:

Serge @ #523, had it happened a few years ago rather than 70 the appendix itself would have been on display at that museum.

#533 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 05:18 PM:

I think there is nothing more common than to see someone who starts out thinking that X is bad, upon seeing horrible event Y, confidently explain that Y is the inevitable and just consequence of X.

Social injustice has been going on a long time, and has often been much worse. It seems very unlikely that the recent riots are explained at all by this social injustice, other than maybe as an aggravating additional factor. Honestly, when people bust out windows and steal stuff from stores, I think it's usually hard to see a primarily political motive there, since the direct economic motive is so obvious. (Rather like when some politician privatizes state assets at fire sale prices and ends up somehow a very rich man as a result, my guess is that his political beliefs regarding privatization were probably less important than his direct financial incentives.)

The notion that these riots are the results of Thatcherism in some philosophical sense seems as silly, to me, as the notion that they're the result of the decline in traditional morality and churchgoing by the British people. No doubt the social and political forces involved in Thatcherism and declining religiosity have some kind of effect on the context of the rioting and looting, but probably not a defining effect.

Here's my prediction. If technology and law and society evolves in such a way that rioting and looting is easier to get away with, I predict it will become more common, regardless of what happens to progressivism, religious belief, or Thatcherism.

#534 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 06:04 PM:

Albatross @ 532... it's wong to call for head busting

Or Victor Wong to go after James Hong?
:-)

#535 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 06:07 PM:

Linkmeister @ 533... A 150-foot appendix would be quite a sight.

#536 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 06:45 PM:

Perhaps part of the problem is that, having pretty much voluntarily given up the physical methods of controlling people, whether for philosophical, ethical or in the case of the death penalty, not actually making any difference, there seems to be few ways of actually changing people's behaviour so that they stop being thieving bastards.

Or rather, I get the impression there are some ways of doing so, but they cost too much money and are quite difficult.

#537 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 07:28 PM:

Hmm. So, it seems my bank, SunTrust, has decided to do away with free checking. Now I get a 5$ fee for "unlimited check card usage", and a minimum balance of $500 to avoid another $7 monthly fee.

Grrr....

#538 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 08:36 PM:

I'm home (actually I've been home for hours, just got around to posting here (after going through days of email and changing my FinkedOut settings)). Still don't have the mental acuity to comment very coherently on matters of substance (not that that ever stopped me before), but I'm here, I'm alive, I can taste things, and I have a certain amount of pitch control in my vocal cords.

My articulation is fucked beyond recognition, but I knew it would be at this stage. We'll see what happens.

When I have more energy I will post about Skills I Have Acquired But Hope Never To Use Again and What's Worse Than Having Your Catheter Jostled By A Careless Nurse - Well, I'll Tell You, but not just now (and I will try to remember to ROT13 the icky bits).

I just want to say that Lenore read many of your posts here to me when I was in the hospital and could only lie there (well, actually when I could only scribble furiously in a notebook), and they were all EXTREMELY HELPFUL to my endurance of the most extended period of physical misery in my life thus far.

I love you all. Lenore will be at Reno; give her many hugs. She's been my rock all through this.

#539 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 08:44 PM:

Xopher! Good to see you! Take care of yourself.

#540 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 08:50 PM:

Xopher! If our schedules and the planets align, can I take you out for your birthday?

#541 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:07 PM:

Xopher!!!!

I was crying at my desk on my lunch hour from Lenore's wonderful news (thanks Lenore!) but this is even better. Many virtual hugs and may all the BEST deities in every pantheon shower blessings on your medical team--and, of course, on you.

OMG Xopher can sing!!!! **dances**

#542 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:15 PM:

Xopher! So nice to see your phosphors! Hope the recovery continues to go smoothly.

#543 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:29 PM:

Welcome back Xopher! I hope your recovery continues smoothly, I'm wishing you well in all things.

I suppose getting to honestly wear an epithet is small consolation for warranting the epithet, but hey, you take what victories you can.... ;-)

#544 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:31 PM:

Good to see you back, Xopher!

#545 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:34 PM:

426
Looting is people who think it's all right to ignore stop signs and speed limits and parking-lot markings as long as they don't get caught.

#546 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:37 PM:

Welcome back. I look forward to hearing about Skills You Have Acquired But Hope Never To Use Again.

#547 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:48 PM:

Yay Xopher!!!

#548 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:50 PM:

{{{Xopher!}}}

#549 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:50 PM:

Welcome back!!!

Abrupt course change to the thing I logged on for:

I'm messing about with a list of Famous Last Words of Redshirts in Doctor Who.

"It's fully sedated, no need to worry."
"Nothing could get through those doors!"
"See you later."
"Are you OK?"

Anybody got more?

#550 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:51 PM:

Welcome back Xopher! Your articulation seems just fine to me.

#551 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 09:56 PM:

Welcome back!

#552 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 10:26 PM:

P J Evans @546: Seriously? There seems to me to be a whole lot of problems with that analogy. So much so that I'm having a hard time thinking you intend it straight.

#553 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 10:44 PM:

Welcome back, Xopher!

#554 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 10:47 PM:

Steve with a book @ 531: "Understanding why the riots occurred is indeed something to be striven for, but no putative explanation will be complete if it doesn't acknowledge the truth that rioting and nicking stuff and burning down 140-year-old furniture businesses is enormous fun if you think you can't get caught and if you don't care about the victims."

albatross @ 534: "Honestly, when people bust out windows and steal stuff from stores, I think it's usually hard to see a primarily political motive there, since the direct economic motive is so obvious."

If burning history and stealing stuff are such universal human imperatives, then you two would be out there too if you could? No? Why not? Do you lack the basic human drives towards desiring fun or pursuing economic benefit? Or perhaps what drives these things isn't quite as simple and universal as you want to think. What your unforgivably superficial "state of nature" accounts fail to explain is why the vast majority of people find the arson a sickening waste and the looting a distasteful aberrance. The people who find this stuff fun and rewarding are a minority of human beings, concentrated in the poorest of the poor: vague appeals to "human nature" are the opposite of explanatory. What is it about their experience that makes this option that we would refuse so very appealing?

But asking that question requires acknowledging that their lives and mentalities are just as much a product of society as our own--they are not beasts beyond the bounds of our communities, but our own little monsters. It requires asking how it is that we the privileged have so utterly failed to create a society where rioting and burning and looting aren't an attractive option for anyone, even the worst off.

"I think there is nothing more common than to see someone who starts out thinking that X is bad, upon seeing horrible event Y, confidently explain that Y is the inevitable and just consequence of X."

I grow increasingly impatient with these condemnations of entire structures of argument, as if pointing out that they can be and are fallaciously employed therefore places them forever beyond the reach of cogent use.

#555 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 11:03 PM:

Tim Walters #465:
How do secret-lizard-beings vote on legislation?
What is their stand on the issues?

#556 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 11:26 PM:

553
Well, I get annoyed with those @#$%^&*()s. Especially when they nearly run me over as I proceed through the parking lot in a safer and more legal manner.
(No, really, last weekend I saw someone come down one one-way aisle the wrong way, make a u-turn through the spaces about 30 feet from the cross-aisle, and come back up the aisle I was about to back into, again going the wrong way in a one-way row. (It wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last.) I also saw a guy make a right turn, the weekend before, quite suddenly, from a left turn lane, across two lanes of (stopped at signal) traffic. This evening it was an ambulance (lights and sirens) with traffic not pulling over, or even stopping.
I don't think they're actually that stupid, but they certainly seem to be very sure that it's okay for them to do what they want, and the heck with the rest of us.)

#557 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 11:28 PM:

Xopher, hooray! So overjoyed to see your words! I really missed your voice, and I really did keep on thinking about you.

Also, I think your post is way too coherent and witty for your claim of lacking mental acuity. I wish I could muster that kind of writing voice while fuzzy-brained!

#558 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 11:52 PM:

Xopher, yay!

#559 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 12:03 AM:

In wake of riots, British PM proposes social media ban

(CNN) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron thinks he's found some culprits to blame in the recent riots that have rocked London and other cities -- Facebook and Twitter.

Saying the "free flow of information" can sometimes be a problem, Cameron's government has summoned those two social-networking sites, as well as Research In Motion, makers of the BlackBerry, for a meeting to discuss their roles during the violent outbreaks.

"Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media," Cameron said Thursday during an address to Parliament. "Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them."

Cameron said that government officials are working with authorities "to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."

Remainder of the article at the linked site.

As we all know, prior to Twitter there were no riots.

#560 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 12:15 AM:

I have to return my cable modem tomorrow afternoon. I might be able to pop my head in once or twice while I'm on the road, but don't count on seeing me until I'm an official resident of the Empire State.

(eeeee!!!)

#561 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 12:42 AM:

James Macdonald #560.

It makes me want to hold my head in my hands. It makes me want to slap Cameron upside his. What in God's name is he thinking of?

#562 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 12:45 AM:

TexAnne @ 561... don't count on seeing me until I'm an official resident of the Empire State

I for one already rejoice for you.

#563 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 12:46 AM:

Xopher, hurray! Every day in every way you are getting better and better.

#564 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 01:13 AM:

Another voice welcoming back Xopher, who even now can probably sing better than I can.

J Homes.

#565 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 01:43 AM:

P J Evans, #546: No, looting is people with dark skin. If they're white, they're "salvaging". (cf. post-Katrina)

Xopher, good to see your font!

#566 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 01:51 AM:

Erik Nelson @ 556: How do secret-lizard-beings vote on legislation? What is their stand on the issues?

If you could tell them by their politics, they wouldn't be secret.

#567 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 02:01 AM:

Xopher, good to hear from you! Glad things are getting better.

Controlling information flow is a very common approach of governments. It's never as effective as people want it to be. It's much more effective to monitor the flows and use the information generated through them than it is to try to stop them.

#568 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 02:45 AM:

Xopher! Welcome back!

#569 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 03:48 AM:

Dave @562

He is coming across as a sanctimonious little twerp.

As it happens, there was a documentary on TV last night about the history of circuses, and they mentioned that there was a circus "language". It's something that's more solid than the mix of slang and l33t-speak which those involved in the riots might use, but how can any monitoring system cope with an unknown language? Might traffic analysis confuse a Worldcon with a brewing riot? How big and complicated system do you need to detect and flag-up suspicious traffic, without too many false positives swamping the human staff?

This could easily be a problem on the scale of Google Translate. How many riots do you need before a pattern emerges in the statistics? And this will be a Government IT Project. Oh dearie me...

This text seems to confuse Google Translate, and it's hardly obscure...

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

ObSF: Babel-17


#570 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 05:13 AM:

Welcome back, Xopher :)

#571 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 05:34 AM:

Hooray for Xopher!

Dave Luckett @562 It makes me want to slap Cameron upside his. What in God's name is he thinking of?

He's discovered how powerless he is at this kind of thing and is rushing to get ahead of it. The police and other emergency services figured out what to do, did it, and eventually got on top of the situation. Hospitals and the court service used their emergency plans. Some neighbourhoods got together and tried to stop it. Meanwhile he sits in a committee meeting*.

They've cut police funding and going back on that will reopen the whole austerity cuts can of worms AGAIN. They've said that rioting is bad, but most of us have already figured that out. If I were feeling charitable I'd say he's looking for quick, cheap and easy ways to keep a lid on things until he can figure out some long term solutions. If I weren't I'd say he's looking for a quick, cheap and easy scapegoat to look like he's doing something about it.

* "This plan will put 16 000 police on London's streets tonight Prime Minister. We think that should be enough to deal with the violence."
"What are our options?"
"We could get more, but then we'd be stripping other cities which would be vulnerable to riots of their own."
"Okay we'll go with your plan."

#572 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 05:48 AM:

Jenny Islander@550

Hmmm...I can give you the last words of a couple of decidedly non-red-shirts*:

"But know this, Time Lord: You are not alone."

"Now I'll never know if I was right"

"I don't want to go."

There are a bunch of last words mostly from the new series** up at wikiquote, though it's probably ones less easily found you're after. I'm currently watching through the Fourth Doctor (just finished The Android Invasion) so I'll start taking notes :D

* In reverse order of how likely they are to bring a tear to my eye

** plural, dammit

#573 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 06:52 AM:

Hospital shmospital
X-opher Half-a-Pbbbbt,
had spots of cancer -
was not feeling young;

silenced for a few days,
tracheostomically,
now shows us that the cat's
not got his tongue!

--Dave

#574 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 07:19 AM:

Jenny Islander @550

Maybe not a red-shirt either, but for last lines I've liked "I'm finally getting something done!"

Said by the commander of a space transport in Warrior's Gate before giving full power to the engines (and just before the big explosion).

#575 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 09:40 AM:

I'll be at Worldcon; I'm helping with the Language Creation Workshop on Thursday evening, and I'll be at the Language Creation Society fan table/exhibit a good part of the time, though I don't know exactly when. (More volunteers for said fan table are welcome.)

I may be at Dragoncon as well, but only Sunday. (Going just for the day on Saturday isn't worth it, the at-the-door registration line is so insanely long; they're much shorter Sunday, though still longish. A few years ago some friends and I spent three hours waiting in line Saturday morning, only to realize once we finally got indoors that the snaky line between us and the desk was as long again as the line outside -- at which point we gave up and went home. Other years, going on Sundays, I've been able to register in 45-75 minutes.)

#576 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 10:11 AM:

Re: TNH's particle on "Stasi disguise" -- sorry, but AFAICT, those outfits only look weird because they're outdated! I have no reason to suspect that they wouldn't blend right into a crowd in 1960s or 1970s East Germany.

#577 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 10:14 AM:

Lila @542: OMG Xopher can sing!!!!

That's strange. He never could sing before...
[/keeding]

#578 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 10:28 AM:

Xopher! Welcome back!

TexAnne: Safe journey to you.

#579 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 10:30 AM:

Xopher!

So glad to have you back where you belong...

You look MAH-velous.

(It's a good thing this is an office with cubicles -- no one but my monitor can see my eyes welling with joyful tears...)

#580 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 10:37 AM:

Yay! Xopher!
And safe journeys, TexAnne.

#581 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 10:50 AM:

David, #577: I agree. They'd be horribly conspicuous now, but I saw lots of people dressed like that when I was in college. #3 seems to be going for the John Denver look, which was quite popular in certain circles.

#582 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 11:12 AM:

Welcome back, Xopher!

#583 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 11:21 AM:

Welcome home, Xopher Perquetil!

#584 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 12:01 PM:

Lee @582,

It's even possible that the sunglasses were specially for the photographs, so the identity of the agent wasn't obvious, though they do hide just what exactly you are looking at. It's sort of consistent with an article I saw, it may have been in a book called Murder, Ink about how a private detective would use clothes. Things like unbuttoning a jacket or taking off a tie. I don't recall a mention of hats.

#585 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 12:35 PM:

Xopher: Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Texanne: Drive safe.

#586 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 01:03 PM:

There's now a device that attaches to the iPhone and is a state-of-the-art biometric scanner. Coming soon to a police officer near you.

Iphone iris scanner

#587 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 01:34 PM:

Xopher!

(Joining in the general happiness of the news of the goodness.)

#588 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 01:52 PM:

Yeehaw Xopher!

#589 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 02:01 PM:

heresiarch@555: I'm not ascribing the riots solely to greed and I'm sorry if I gave that impression; nor do I attribute them entirely to the habits of bored sadism that I was banging on about @454. But I'd be skeptical of an explanation that doesn't take these into account.

I really would be tilting at windmills if I tried to lay down a definitive single explanation of Why This Happened, having just looked at the spreadsheet of court appearances on the Guardian website. There's a wider spectrum of society there than you might guess and undoubtedly there were lots of different motivations. The media has been a bit excited about the fact that some arrested persons were definitely middle-class; one imagines students living in an 'edgy' area, accustomed to being polite and penitent to coppers who tell them off for doing amusing things with traffic cones, finding to their dismay that this approach doesn't work when you're caught with a handful of looted goods during a riot.

A good look at the moral context of the riots from a right-wing perspective (and not the one you might expect) here.

The poor of the criminal underclass undoubtedly have something to say and we should listen to it, but please also listen to those from the non-criminal poor who have something to say, namely 'the underclass has been making our lives a misery for the last twenty years and perhaps you'd like to do something about it'.

Anyway, wishing a good recovery to Xopher.

#590 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 04:28 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @539: Yay!!! Welcome back! Technology is exceedingly cool when it works.

#591 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 04:53 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ #539: Congratulations, best wishes for continued healing, and um, about that name change . . . I wasn't aware that surgery could be performed which would change one's ethnicity to Dwarf or Native American. Learn something every day.

#592 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 05:37 PM:

Linkmeister @592: Perhaps it was the first thing he tried to lick with after waking up from the surgery?

--Dave, Two-Sentences-Runon

ps: one can only speculate about which Circular Object of Doom might have been involved

#593 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 07:02 PM:

Welcome back, Xopher!

#594 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 07:14 PM:

Open threadiness:

This interview describes a lawsuit in which the plaintiffs claim to have been subjected to "enhanced interrogation" by US military or intelligence people in Iraq, as retribution for whistle blowing. I have no way of knowing if it's legitimate, but a US court has allowed the case (again Don Rumsfeld) to go forward, so I assume it must at least look pretty plausible.

It will be very interesting to see what comes of this, and whether the administration will try to suppress the case on official secrets grounds.

#595 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 08:58 PM:

Yay, Xopher! (You look perfectly articulate from here...)

#596 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 09:06 PM:

--Dave, Two-Sentences-Runon

I sigh. The last place we lived, we had two sheds, and nobody nicknamed me.

#597 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 09:31 PM:

Oh, wonderful news about Xopher.

#598 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 09:35 PM:

Great news about Xopher!

#599 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2011, 10:16 PM:

595
I expect I will be reading about it at emptywheel's new place.
---
HLN: Local woman watched a late-flittering bat this morning (shortly after 6am local), and noticed that the moth whose path intersected that of the bat didn't appear again.

#600 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 01:25 AM:

Goodness, Xopher! Goodness indeed.

#601 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 03:04 AM:

Xopher @539, great news! And welcome back!

#602 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 03:22 AM:

Question for the Encyclopedia Fluorosphericana:

My computer has a built-in SD card reader. For some reason, whenever I put in a card larger than 2 gigs and try to look at it with Windows Explorer, the program locks up and I have to kill it. I'm running Windows XP Home Edition on... I'm not exactly sure what, because it's been upgraded at least once since I got it. Is this just a quirk, or is there something I can do about it?

#603 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 04:36 AM:

Lee@603, it's hard to diagnose driver problems remotely - it might be that the cards are a newer format than the hardware you've got can read, or something Windows could fix, or the card's formatted in a file system it doesn't recognize. One workaround you could try is to get an SD-to-USB adapter (they're $5-10 these days) and see if that helps. Another thing you could try is to plug in the card and fire up Control Panel's System tool to look at the hardware and see if you can download a newer driver for it.

#604 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 04:47 AM:

How not to submit a manuscript for publication - 2011-08-12_eager_writer_leaves_movie_script_in_briefcase_outside_office_of_literary_agent_w.html

LAPD Bomb Squad blew up a "suspicious" briefcase left outside a Beverly Hills literary agent's office. Apparently a writer had been unsuccessful at getting the agent's people to read his movie script, and decided to leave the briefcase with a computer copy of it outside the agent's door in hope they'd pay attention. Police have been interviewing the writer about it, but have not released his name.

#605 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 07:07 AM:

Lee @603

It sounds as though the card reader is limited to SD cards, and cannot cope with SDHC cards. I think the upper limit for SD is a 2GB card, but if you have a 1GB card, keep it safe, because some old gear can't read the 2GB cards.

If it's built-in to some hardware, check whether a firmware upgrade is available--this worked for the old Pentax camera I had--but since this is a PC, your easiest option may be a USB adaptor. You need an SDHC card reader. It will read SD cards with no problems, and will not need drivers with Windows XP.

The usual file format for these things is FAT, even when reading and writing files under Linux.

I don't know what arrangements you have for USB stuff, you might need an extension lead (or hub) to put a card reader in a useful place. Most of the multi-function card readers I've seen come with a short lead, hard-wired or using a socket on the reader. You might not have USB2 on the computer, but the really cheap stuff might still be USB1, which is best avoided. (I was seeing a UK retailer still selling USB1 leads and hubs, earlier this year.) It all works, but if you have a USB2 computer, you won't get the speed.

If you can use larger USB flash drives without problems, SDHC->USB should be fine.

#606 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 07:23 AM:

British riots again... Democracy Now has an interesting interview up.

Besides adding more historical context, they bring up a verrry interesting point, that this is happening just when the leadership of the British police has been knocked out by the Murdoch scandal. They suggest that the various section and task-force leaders are jockeying for the top job. They also dub it an "insurrection", which is a word I hadn't seen brought out yet.

#607 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 08:16 AM:

Xopher! Welcome back!

#608 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 08:40 AM:

David @607

A quote from that interview:

DARCUS HOWE: Not go with a demonstration to the House of Lords or Parliament and to your MP and whatever. We have to lift it sky-high and let the entire civilization of this world know that what they’re doing in Afghanistan is much of what they do to kill people here. I’m not angry, but I’m deadly serious. Every time I walk the street, my eyes are scanning the landscape for rogue police officers. And that’s—I warn my children to do that, and my grandchildren.

My last interaction with the Police was after my traffic accident, which put me in hospital with a fractured spine. And I'm willing to accept some of the blame. I saw two Police Officers, one while I was in the ER, one maybe five weeks later.

The second was all We were going to charge you with a driving offence, but because of the seriousness of your injuries... It was hostile. I didn't argue. I didn't push back. I know there might be legal reasons why they didn't tell me anything about the trucker who was doing a U-turn, at night, across a busy highway, but I can't escape the feeling that their default thinking has become a "them and us".

It's not an "every time I walk the street" thing: my ancestry is as native English as they come (which is a a pretty mongrel breed when you think about it). But if a Police Officer came up to me on the street, I'd worry what he might do. I don't feel as if I'm a default target

May you live in interesting times.

May you come to the attention of those in authority.

May you find what you are looking for.

These lines are all ambiguous. Maybe, when you come to the attention of those in authority, it is too easy for them to see what they are looking for.


#609 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 09:53 AM:

Dave Bell #609: Yup. I feel much the same here in America.

Like you, I'm not obviously a "default target" -- but (inter alia) being on the autistic spectrum☀ does put me at risk for some officer deciding I'm "acting suspicious" -- and once they decide that, any attempt to claim otherwise can be taken as "failure to cringe".

That said, I'm not quite as wary of the police here in Charlottesville as I was in NYC -- besides the local cult of Jefferson, it's a university town with a thriving artistic community. A county or two over... Idunno.

☀ And I'm on the low end of the spectrum... this is much worse for actual Aspies and classic autistics!

#610 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 12:47 PM:

Maybe we're distracted by other things.

Today, 13th August 2011, is the 50th anniversary of the erection of the Berlin Wall.

It "fell" on the 9th November 1989. (And the Worldcon in 1990 was in the Netherlands.)

There is no definite number for the number of people who died attempting to cross the Wall. Some claims total over 200 but more detailed research has identified 136.

#611 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 01:14 PM:

About the Gathering of Light... We'll still be meeting on Wednesday, starting at 6pm, but at the Milano instead. If you can't make it from the beginning, we expect to be there for quite some time.

#612 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 01:16 PM:

Serge, #612: Excellent! Don't expect us until 7:00 or thereabouts -- the dealer room closes at 6, and we'll have to shut down and then take some items up to our room before we can do any socializing.

#613 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 02:25 PM:

Dave Bell @611:

I, I can remember
Standing by the Wall
And the guns
Shot above our heads
But we kissed
So nothing could fall

The Wall may be gone, but the song remains timeless.

#614 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 02:38 PM:

AKICIML, but particularly Uncle Jim if he's around:

Does anyone have any insight into possible causes of frequent yawning/apparent shortness of breath?

I say "apparent" because I had this checked out last month, and I came in with 100% oxygen saturation, a healthy pulse rate, and clear lungs. Suspected culprit was the Lexapro I was taking, which I then discontinued. Yawning/gasping symptoms decreased directly thereafter.

Now it's back.

Also, despite the yawning/gasping behavior, I'm not experiencing any difficulty performing ordinary activities, including frequent stair-climbing with laundry, and, last week, moving several mattresses.

Therefore I don't consider it urgent enough to pester an ER or urgent-care walk-in clinic over the weekend. I've left a message on my primary doc's voicemail, and will call again Monday morning. It's just damned annoying in the meantime.

Other medications (although this is not among their listed side effects, in contrast to the Lexapro): 900mg oxcarbazepine, 100mg lamotrigine, both taken at bedtime.

Anyone care to hazard some theories, so I can discuss them with the doc on Monday? Any quick-relief suggestions besides someone giving me the Heimlich, which is a bad idea if I'm not choking, I know, I just feel sort of as if I'm a baby who needs to be burped, which might have something to do with all the extra air I'm swallowing when I gasp like a goldfish?

Because, as I said, it's damned annoying.

#615 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 03:01 PM:

Good news, Xopher. Fine to read you again.

#616 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 03:50 PM:

Rikibeth #615

Oxygen saturation is a fooler. 100% saturation doesn't mean as much as it might if you have a) anemia (from whatever cause) or b) carbon monoxide poisoning. Your CO detector isn't going off, is it?

Yawning is a poorly-understood physiological phenomenon.

Shortness of breath -- what do you mean by that? You say you're gasping and swallowing air?

Consider allergies (spores, molds, and fungus). Are you sleeping okay? Electrolytes all balanced?

Consider too that this might be a vaso-vagal reaction. Talk with your primary doctor about this. You may want to rule out some underlying conditions.

#617 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 04:35 PM:

Jim @617:

Possibly anemia. I am neglectful and don't have a CO detector, but we don't have a gas stove, the oil furnace in the basement is running only as much as it needs to create hot water for washing dishes (we always wash clothes in cold, and it's been warm enough that we've been showering cold purely for comfort), and assorted windows are open throughout the house, so I wouldn't expect CO. Also going outside doesn't change matters.

Shortness of breath -- yes, gasping/swallowing air. Small feeling of lump in throat and tightness around sternum. Doesn't seem to affect my ability to perform tasks.

Allergies: yeah, totally could be. All those trips up and down to the basement, I'm probably taking in a higher dose of mold than I usually do.

Sleeping: no worse than I usually sleep on these meds. There haven't been any CHANGES in sleeping, anyway.

Electrolytes all balanced: how do I check? Should I just sip some Gatorade and see if it tastes vile or delicious? That's the only check I know. I've read that oxcarbazepine can cause hyponatremia. How would I know if that happened? Would that cause this ridiculous gasping?

I will look up vaso-vagal reaction, and mention it to my doctor on Monday.

Thanks for all the help on useful stuff I should be bringing up with my doctor, and meanwhile I'm going to try some allergy meds and see if they improve the situation.

#618 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 04:43 PM:

The test sip of Gatorade was delicious, even in a flavor I DON'T LIKE. Time for a Healthful Walk to the corner store to get some Gatorade, I think.

#619 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 04:54 PM:

Go out and get a CO detector. They cost as little as $20. I'll wait. (There have been some very sad cases of people whose neighbors left the car running in the garage in the other half of the duplex; it's just basic common sense to have one, along with your smoke detector. With any kind of luck you'll never, ever hear it go off.)

For electrolytes, only lab work can tell for sure, but eating a banana and a pickle, washed down with some nice Gatorade, should fix the problem if that's what's causing it.

For anemia, are you bleeding from whatever cause? More difficult causes, like marrow not producing enough red cells, I can't help you with. Again, only lab work will tell for sure. Same for hypothyroidism and other metabolic disorders.

Many of your allergy meds cause drowsiness, and there you go, yawning again.

The lump in the throat and the tightness around the sternum is non-specific. Causes range from trivial to serious (e.g. from classic hysteria to heart attack).

Is there any chance that you're a thin blonde in your mid-twenties who smokes and takes birth control pills?

#620 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 05:36 PM:

I'll go get a CO detector next week, when I have more than $20 in my bank account. Promise!

(Duplex, but garage, if you can call it that, is detached and not used for cars. Seriously, this house leaks like a sieve, and I suspect that even in the dead of winter when we've shrink-wrapped our windows, it'd be hard to get a dangerous concentration without a blatant source like a kerosene heater.)

Not currently bleeding from any cause I'm aware of, and don't have particularly heavy menses. Do eat primarily vegetarian, although I cook in cast-iron skillets. Lab work has never shown even a tiny tendency towards thyroid disorders. Back when I used to donate blood, however, it was a bit of a crapshoot whether I'd pass the crit each time.

I haven't been taking any allergy meds this year, as my seasonal symptoms weren't bad in spring, and I tend not to have seasonal symptoms in the summer or fall, except on REALLY high mold days. When I do, I generally take Claritin, which is allegedly non-drowsy. Haven't yet tried it in combination with these psych meds. Who knows, it could make me drowsy now. I miss Seldane. It WORKED in a way that the promised "just-as-good" replacement Allegra never managed to match.

I'm a thinnish (5'4", 130-135) brunette, 41, nonsmoker, no BCP. Does that make me less of a risk for blood clots? Haven't been on any long plane trips recently either.

#621 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 06:21 PM:

heresiarch @517:

The populus whose vox I quoted are people who live and/or work in the affected area of Manchester, and who are reacting to a situation where they were either directly threatened themselves or had a "that could have been me if I'd walked the other way or at a slightly different time" experience. People who knew that they personally could have been in a situation where violence was going to be done to them, and might have had to make the choice of turning the other cheek or committing violence themselves in self-defence. People who were afraid of a repeat on Wednesday, because on Tuesday, even after the looters turned threatening and then violent to a level that justified using force to arrest them, the police appeared to hold back from doing so until well into the night.

You have chosen to recast them as people who are salivating at the prospect of pre-emptive violence in defence of their consumer goodies.

The looting in Manchester was not a spontaneous protest. It was an organised criminal raid set up by one of the local gangsters, who was witnessed by reporters engaged in directing two young men who were *very* busy texting, and caught on camera chatting to some of the looters and giving them directions. The list of names, addresses and occupations of the people charged in Manchester's magistrates' courts this week makes it quite clear that many of the looters were not the victims of "the constant violences of poverty, the insults and the assaults, the abuse and the degradation" you so eloquently describe.

From my perspective, your contributions to this thread are collectively very much an example of excusing the looters and blaming their victims.

I think that poverty and alienation are contributing factors, and must be tackled. I do not think that they form any sort of excuse, not least because I consider such to be a gross insult to the many thousands from similar backgrounds who did not travel into the city centre on Tuesday to join in the looting.

#622 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 06:23 PM:

Rikibeth, I'm glad you're going to talk to your primary doctor on Monday. Take care of yourself until then.

Vasovagal reactions happen when your nervous system, in response to some sort of trigger, slows your pulse and/or lowers your blood pressure. Triggers can be any kind of painful stimulus, the sight of blood, stress, dehydration, hypoglycemia, etc.

Vasovagal reactions can occur even when you don't have a conscious emotional reaction to the trigger. For example, I don't consciously mind having any kind of needle procedure; my pain tolerance is pretty high and I don't tend to worry or panic about the process. But I reliably have vasovagal reactions every time I get stuck with anything bigger than about 23-gauge. It's essentially a reflex.

Another thought: maybe check kidney function? A family member had chest tightness and shortness of breath whose ultimate cause was kidney failure. It's unlikely, but worth a thought.

Also, CO detectors really are that cheap, and easily available at any of your big-box stores (Lowe's, Home Depot, Target, Walmart). I have one just sitting on top of a shelf -- in fact, this reminds me to check the batteries.

#623 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 06:56 PM:

Rikibeth @621: whether I'd pass the crit

This sounds like some obscure college entrance exam.

I occassionally get the yawnies for no obvious reason. Yawn and yawn and YAWN and yawn, sometimes to the point where my eyes are streaming with tears. Usually happens first thing in the morning, or after work; basically, if I've been stationary(ery?) for a long time.

I've felt the lump or bubble sensation in my chest/throat, too. No clue what that's about either. Have to resist the impulse to go all, "OMG, I'm having a heart attack!!" Demonstrably, this has not been the case.

Sometimes it feels like it comes on because my slouch has gotten the better of me. I've found Pilates towel work to be helpful, not least because of the "percussive breathing." (When I was in the hospital for my hysterectomy, they wanted me to get up to 2400ml on the little inspirator thingie by the end of the weekend. I picked it up, took an experimental hit, and rang the bell at 3000ml. Heh.)

#624 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 07:08 PM:

Caroline, thanks.

Hm. Hypoglycemia could be involved, because one of the side effects of my meds seems to be appetite suppression. The way it's been manifesting, I consider this a feature, not a bug, because I'm finally getting rid of a stubborn 15 pounds that wasn't going anywhere. I don't actively dislike food -- put me in front of a restaurant menu, and I will order and eat with pleasure, and probably clean my plate -- but I just don't feel very hungry. I eat breakfast, because in the morning I DO generally want food, unless it's already pushing 90 out; but then I feel fine, and then I have no particular impulse to eat anything until I notice that it's time to make dinner, and then I eat a moderate amount of that. Doesn't FEEL like hypoglycemia, though. I'm far too familiar with that sensation.

Also probably not dehydration, for a silly reason: my boyfriend gave me a GORGEOUS glass tumbler, about the size of a pint glass, from the Chihuly exhibit gift shop at the MFA in Boston. It's such a pleasure to drink out of it that I have several pints of ice water a day.

I hope it's not kidneys. If it is, it's probably related to my meds, and I do NOT want it to be that. I don't seem to have any other symptoms of kidney failure, anyway.

Next week, when I have the $20 available to spend, I'll get that detector. Right now, it is entirely impossible, as the money is Not There.

#625 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 07:21 PM:

Jacque @624: Hematocrit. ;-)

I wondered if it might be positional. It did seem to improve a little when I was up and walking to the corner store, but on my way home it was back to being a nuisance again.

I'll look into the Pilates thing, but... I really really really hate most formalized exercise. I'm perfectly willing to walk several miles to get somewhere, or haul mattresses or laundry up and down stairs, or go surfing even though I'm terrible at it because that's merely Playing In The Ocean (and water hurts a lot less than snow or pavement when you fall down on it), no matter what my core muscles tell me the NEXT day after I've been surfing, but if you put an Exercise Program in front of me, the little kid who couldn't do anything right in gym class pops up, and says "I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it." The only way I can trick myself into exercise is in a form I call "Gothercize," which involves a 30-minute playlist of synthpop and industrial, a black ice skating practice dress, fishnets, and my best club boots. It may look silly in my living room, but it's so clearly not gym class that I'll do it.

Maybe the strengthening exercise my former flute teacher had me do would help -- lying flat on my back with a heavy book on my stomach, to exercise the diaphragm.

#626 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 08:00 PM:

Rikibeth #626: if you put an Exercise Program in front of me, the little kid who couldn't do anything right in gym class pops up, and says "I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it.

Hmm. You may have just explained another chunk of why I've had so much trouble with my shoulder exercises....

#627 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 08:33 PM:

Rikibeth @ 626... The only way I can trick myself into exercise is in a form I call "Gothercize," which involves a 30-minute playlist of synthpop and industrial, a black ice skating practice dress, fishnets

I obviously am going to the wrong gym.

#628 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 08:52 PM:

Ah, but Serge, what I do in my living room is merely training, as it were, for the full performance event -- a night of dancing at a Goth club. Where you will see even more elaborate and delightful outfits, and other participants than just me.

Elizabeth Bear's Shadow Unit bonus story Opportunity Cost describes the whole phenomenon with great fidelity and affection. Three of the example-named clubs were local-ish to me (us) -- alas, Flux is defunct -- and the odd one out was Catt Kingsgrave's local when she lived in Texas. I like to think that the girl in the leather corsetry and netting skirt is me, making a cameo -- it's not unlike what I wore to go Goth Bowling with Bear.

THAT is my gym. Your steampunk finery would be eminently suitable and much admired. It still goes on, every week, probably somewhere near you.

#629 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 09:12 PM:

Rikibeth @ 629... Your steampunk finery would be eminently suitable and much admired

Why, thank you!
I was concerned that, due to my age, I'd be classified as a Dirty Old Man.
:-)

#630 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 09:18 PM:

Not if you're dressed properly, Serge. Presentation COUNTS. You're not so VERY much older than me, and I'm just a little too young to be a true ElderGoth, although I can truthfully say I danced at Traxx in DC before it shut down and was demolished (had to have the black nondrinker X on my hand, but I was there). The photos I've seen of you in full-on dressy steampunk, with the brocade? Only admiring looks.

Now, someone younger than you, but clearly over 35 and dressed in a polo shirt and khakis? HE'D be instantly pegged as a Dirty Old Man. And roundly ignored.

#631 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2011, 11:56 PM:

Rikibeth @626: Hematocrit. ;-)

That just makes it sound like the school in question is Hogwarts or something. 8-)

#632 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 12:02 AM:

Jacque @632: I can't POSSIBLY be in danger of failing a test at Hogwarts, right? I never even got a Hogwarts letter! Or is this like those dreams one gets where you forgot all semester that you even registered for the class and now you realize you have to take the final?

#633 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 12:17 AM:

Rikibeth @ 631 ...
Now, someone younger than you, but clearly over 35 and dressed in a polo shirt and khakis? HE'D be instantly pegged as a Dirty Old Man. And roundly ignored.

... which reminds me of the time that we (successfully, despite the bouncer attempting to keep the horde of us out) imported a friend with short hair, clean shaven, and wearing beige chinos and a cranberry button down shirt[0] into the local goth bar, to general enjoyment and eventual acceptance as "one of the crowd".

[0] It simply hadn't occurred to any of us (having only just met him in person) that he wouldn't turn out to dress like the rest of us, despite having generally similar interests and tendencies.

#634 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 12:31 AM:

xeger: I am impressed!

#635 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 03:17 AM:

The US had riots and looting in major cities massively back in the 1960s, and later in specific areas such as South Central Los Angeles. Why did those specific areas the times have the riots and major arson, and looting and others not?....

For that matter, the Vault of Boston (the financial services industry) back in the early to mid 1960s in Boston, orchestrated a campaign that apparently included terrorizing the Jewish community that existed in Dorchester, in a conspiracy that in some ways presagd the housing bubble of last decade--the Vault wanted the Jews to sell out their to blacks come north from the South, with the newcomers being sold houses that the newcomers could not possibly pay the mortgages off on--but the banks would get to keep all the loan origination fees, and get the house back to resell to someone else. The many of them elderly Jews tended to have been in their two and three decker hours long enough that they they owned them outright. Vandalism and muggings which apparently were paid acts in many cases, persuaded the Jews the area had become unsafe and they needed to move out--or their relatives how had moved out to have families out in the suburbs/where jobs had moved to, were urging them to move out--my parents and my mothers' siblings and their spouse who didn't live in Dorchester, urged the sister, brother-in-law, brother, and father to sell out and move....

=============

Working poor who spend all their time and energy trying to eke by at long hours and low wages don't tend to be looter and rioters--they don;t have the time and energy. Adolescents with lots of time and nothing to do which gives them a stake in society as regards feeling invested or feeling that they have a place in it contributing time and effort constructively and being rewarded for it with recognition and acclaim and being valued and valued for helping build, can get -extremely- destructive and malicious. Out in suburbia adolescents and chronological adults do such socially responsible (sarcasm) things as drive cars and other wheeled vehicles over athletic fields, destroying the fields and wrecking them for recreational use for football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, baseball, etc. If there are fences up to try to prevent the damage, the vandals make tear up the fence first getting it out of their way.... The victims include the adolescents who use the fields, the ones who contributed time and effort to building and maintaining the fields.... but there are alway the few nihilists/malicious sorts who take joy in wrecking what other people build....

#636 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 07:08 AM:

Paula #636: Come to think of it, that's a question that the riot stories I've seen haven't been asking, which is qui bono? Meaning, OK, we've got proximate causes, and historical roots... but which power-players gain real advantage from having this break out there and now?

#637 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 07:51 AM:

Rikibeth @ #633: Or is this like those dreams one gets where you forgot all semester that you even registered for the class and now you realize you have to take the final?

I had that dream EVERY DAMN QUARTER when I was in school. I have also had the one where you are called upon to substitute for another actor in a role you don't know.

David @ #637: if it's true that gang leaders were organizing the looters via cell phone, my first guess would be that the riots were intended as a distraction to divert police attention from some more major operation. If so, they certainly worked.

#638 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 09:29 AM:

This Is Just To Say

I have left
the plums
that were in
the icebox

which I am
probably
saving
for later

The apricots
were so delicious
so sweet
and so cold

#639 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 11:39 AM:

Open threadiness: A recent blog post I read says we are entering a world where liberal vs. conservative is not the main struggle anymore -- it's people vs. corporations. So what are some science fiction novels and stories where the world is openly run by multinational corporations? One that came to mind for me is Joe Clifford Faust's Ferman's Devils and Bodekker's Demons (packaged as Handling It by SFBC), but I don't have it handy to confirm.

#640 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 12:12 PM:

World run by corporations: oh, lots of novels. The classic is Pohl & Kornbluth's The Space Merchants. Kornbluth's solo Gladiator at Law is from about the same period. More recently, there's John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up, Robert Reed's The Hormone Jungle, K.W. Jeter's Noir, and Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. For slightly lesser values of "run by", i.e. corporations more powerful and government less powerful than now, there's Max Barry's Jennifer Government, several of Ian McDonald's novels including Desolation Road, Kim Stanley Robinson's The Gold Coast and the Mars trilogy, and Terry Bisson's Voyage to the Red Planet.

#641 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 12:15 PM:

Lila #638: Mmm... firstly, I tend to doubt that the local gangster boss is enough of a Player to be a prime mover here. I can certainly believe they'd take advantage of the chaos, but successful gangs don't want their neighborhoods descending into chaos.

Also, the original conditions, with the police "keeping a lid on things", are favorable to gangsters -- more opportunities for bribery, protection rackets, "getting things done". After this is over, all sorts of rocks are likely to be overturned, and some of the problems might actually get fixed!

#642 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 12:23 PM:

Thanks, Jim Henry @641! I knew there were some good oldies but was drawing a blank.

#643 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 01:09 PM:

Janet @640: First one that came to mind for me is Heinlein's Friday, but it's worldbuilding, not at the center of the plot.

#644 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 01:24 PM:

Janet @640: A sort of flipside is Lafferty's Syndic, where it's the Mafia that took over America... but they then have to deal with a conventional invasion by traditional nation.

There's also Islands In The Net, but there it's part of the backstory, and things have changed somewhat.

#645 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 02:26 PM:

They've been testing the effects of spoilers at UCSD. No, not aerodynamics, but whether people enjoy stories more than they know the ending.

A BBC Report.

It does feel a little limited to me. but it's almost scary that the speculation is that Agatha Christie may be a little be too complicated for modern readers to cope with without spoilers.

#646 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 02:49 PM:

Dave Bell @646: Maybe one of the reasons Agatha Christie is complicated for modern readers is that she was very much an observer of her time and place, and the world has changed enough from what it was then that younger readers or those not versed in social history might need FOOTNOTES.

In other news, about my shortness of breath, because I know you're all so fascinated -- well, no, but someone might have cogent observations to make:

This morning I woke up and my period had started. Because I hadn't caught it prior to onset, I knew from experience that the cramps wouldn't respond to NSAIDs, even the prescription ones I have, so I took my next-level-up prescription, Tr@m@dol (hopefully the l33t spelling will get it past the gnomes, as I suspect it's a Word of Power).

Shortness of breath/gasping is now negligible.

Does that suggest muscle spasms as a proximate cause for the nuisance symptoms of the past few days?

#647 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 02:56 PM:

David Harmon @ 645: Lafferty's Syndic

Actually by Kornbluth, if I'm not mistaken.

#648 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 03:23 PM:

Because of spam in an old thread I ended up looking online for a sketch or picture of a youthful Elinor Glyn so I could see whether the subject of the poem had been for cause or just a nifty name to rhyme about. (Having seen "IT" my mental association was Margaret Dumont, which I feel is less likely to inspire thoughts of tiger rugs unless there's a hungry Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush about.) Couldn't find one, but among the many shots of Clara Bow (yay!), Julia Roberts (em, no) and Anne Hathawqy (yay, but what connection...?) there was one of Tamara de Lempicka which lead to an essay that was neat if you like Art Deco nudes or unusual lives. At last, useful serendipity in Google image searches instead of annoyance at clutter...

#649 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 03:38 PM:

#637 David Harmon

I don't know more about the British riots of last week than anybody else. You asked the absolute money question, " ... ... but which power-players gain real advantage from having this break out there and now?"

For the The American Slave Coast, our research had us digging into the mob actions of the era that led up to the Declaration of Independence. I'll quote from my LJ entry, "Mob Action":

[ What is hard for most of us to comprehend about mobs is that mob actions have different purposes. They can be spontaneous,expressions of justified protest over the price and availability of necessities and other injustices. They can be opportunistic violence in the void of law and order. They can be called out by those run the mobs for a variety of purposes. What is particularly hard for us after years of being taught by entertainments that there is only good-bad, yes-no, either-or -- mobs can be all these things at the same time, or can begin as one thing and turn into another.

The one thing we do know certainly is that the action of the mobs, particularly in New England, most particularly in Boston, were fundamental to the time we could declare independence. In every mob situation (I'm thinking at the moment in particular of the ransacking of wealthy merchant and lieutenant governor Thomas Hutchinson's mansion in 1765 in Boston that galvanized the American separatist movement), there are those who perform the violence, and there are those who interpret it. Those who control the interpretative narrative are the ones who benefit from mob actions. Benjamin Franklin, with his media empire, control of the mail and his personal abilities (persuasive writing skills, brilliant mind, etc.) was a first responder and primary interpreter of the mob actions;his was the narrative that was disseminated throughout the colonies, north and south, and even abroad.

With cynical gloom I'm watching the process going on at the moment concerning the mob action in England. Those whose interpretation becomes the narrative are the ones who have the power:

http://www.economist.com/node/21525894

"Gauging the political beneficiaries of suffering is a crass business. But the pattern is clear: riots tend to bolster the right. Margaret Thatcher won elections after Brixton and Tottenham burned in the 1980s. American cities and university campuses were laid waste in the late 1960s; Richard Nixon was duly elected and re-elected. Chaos in French banlieues in 2005 seemed to work in favour of Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential election 18 months later. This week’s riots in Britain might be expected to play out favourably for any Tory prime minister. But the current one is unusually well-placed to benefit." ]

Love, C.

#650 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 03:40 PM:

Well, despite three or four previews my response to David Harmon's comment that asked who benefits from the English riots got held for review. The final preview looked OK to me, but -- things get borked all the time these days between preview and post, it seems -- I don't mean particularly on ML, but just about everywhere.

Love, C.

#651 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 03:44 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @640: what are some science fiction novels and stories where the world is openly run by multinational corporations?

Not a novel, but the movie that leaps immediately to mind is Rollerball.

Rikibeth @647: Ah, Tr@m@dol. I am notoriously impervious to painkillers, but this one actually works on me!

#652 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 04:19 PM:

Julia Jones @622:

I have walked into riots, or had them come upon me, in both the US and the UK. I have never participated in one since I was born*.

And I have lived in crappy, poor neighborhoods (more recently in the UK than in the US), ones where I knew better than to go into my local pub. I've taken my kids elsewhere because the nearby play parks are filled with broken glass and broken play equipment, thanks to the local teenagers. I know when not to make eye contact and when not to complain about smoking on the bus

I have moved on, because I'm lucky and can do so. But I'm not totally talking from theory and inexperience, here.

From what I can see, the situation is complicated, both on the map and in the calendar. Why people were doing things on the third night of rioting, in a different city, may not be the same as why they started in London.

I don't doubt at all that there were opportunistic rioters, either individuals or gangs. I wouldn't go to book for everyone involved in the disturbances.

But that can't discount the people who rioted because peaceful protest doesn't work, and because the police, and the Met in particular, have failed in their duty to the citizens they're supposed to protect. Nor does it erase the magnitude of the hypocrisy of the British establishment (of all parties), nor the damage that it has wrought on the poor and the vulnerable.

I'm sorry you were upset. I'm sorry you were unsafe, and I'm glad that you weren't injured. I don't discount or disbelieve your experience. But I can't discount the other side, either.

-----
* Antenatally, yes; it was a political protest that went wrong.

#653 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 04:24 PM:

Constance @651:

Sometimes it's not a borked link. Sometimes it's that your words or phrasing match patterns of known spammers.

The gnomes were nice. They let the comment go, and gave me cookies.

#654 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 04:29 PM:

Thanks, Abi. I brought it up in order not to bork the comment numbers, but you probably know that.

Love, C.

#655 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 04:29 PM:

Janet @640: My first thought is Marge Piercy's He, She, and It.

#656 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 04:34 PM:

Constance @655:
I brought it up in order not to bork the comment numbers, but you probably know that.

I know, and I'm grateful.

#657 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 05:49 PM:

[checks to make sure this is an open thread]

If, I say, if, the software behind Making Light were to be adjusted such that comments were assigned sequential numbers even if held for moderation, then renumbering would not be needed.

(Numbers almost of this sort are already assigned — as seen in comment permalinks — but those are overly large to be suitable, presumably due to not being specific to the post the comment is in.)

I have no idea whether this is practical to implement.

It would have the effect of revealing the number of held comments between each visible comment; perhaps one could practice some form of numerology thereupon.

#658 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 05:50 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft at 640:

The Space Merchants by Kornbluth and Pohl

#659 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 06:04 PM:

Kevin, that's been discussed before. One problem is than when a comment really IS spam, and the gnomes catch it, the mods just execute it, so it doesn't get a number. Or they don't even bother, and in the current method that doesn't hurt anything, because the comments haven't been assigned numbers yet.

I think there would be a lot of missing numbers, and the open threads would get to their cumbersome value pretty quickly.

I'm sure there are other issues with that, but that's the one I remember most from earlier discussions. I'm sure you'd agree that a solution that makes more work for the mods is a bad thing.

#660 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 06:11 PM:

On Elinor Glyn, I find it a little difficult to judge photographs of the time, because of the standards for clothing, the design and the acceptability. All women have a slightly odd shape to modern eyes. But what I do see is a face which, while maybe a little square, has various recognised cues for beauty, such as the symmetry.

Even allowing for the heavier make-up which was used in the period, and what might be done for a photograph, and I see a trace of flattery in the painting, I don't think she'd be looking that good, at the age she was, if she didn't look good in her youth.

But I think the verse depended as much on a certain notoriety as on her appearance.

#661 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 06:19 PM:

IIRC in The Syndic, part of the world was run by corporations. Maybe the whole civilized world?

As for Lafferty, I'm currently reading his Serpent's Egg. IIRC, he generally wrote about straightforward government tyranny. I'd noticed before how much he wrote about tyranny, but this is the first I realized how much transhumanism (of a rather odd sort) is in his work.

Spoilers: I'm still faintly unhappy that I found out in advance what Focus was in A Deepness in the Sky. I think the horror would have worked better if the story had unfolded in order for me.

On the other hand, finding out what had comprehensively pissed people off about Darwinia meant that I wasn't caught by surprise and could enjoy the book as pretty decent sf.

V sbhaq gung zl flzcnguvrf jrer jvgu gur onq thlf. Vg frrzrq orggre gb unir arj yvsr guna erpbeqvatf bs uhznavgl orvat ercynlrq vaqrsvavgryl.

#662 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 06:26 PM:

Darwinia was one of those books where the Big Reveal spoiled the entire premise for me. I would have preferred spoilers, if only so that I could have avoided the book entirely; the actual premise isn't one I wanted to read.

That said, I generally strongly prefer a lack of spoilers. If I've heard what's going to happen in a story, I spend a lot of time waiting for That Thing I Heard About to happen, to the point of not really paying attention to what I'm reading/seeing otherwise. I can always rewatch with full knowledge, but I can only read/watch something without knowing the twists once.

#663 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 06:43 PM:

Tim Walters #648: Yep, you're right... brain-fart on my part.

Constance #650: Eeek. And aside from the politicos, the obvious "interpreter" here is Rupert Murdoch's empire, which clearly benefits from having something to bury his current scandal....

Nancy Lebovitz #662: Re: Darwinia: VVEP, vg jnfa'g n znggre bs "erpbeqvatf orvat cynlrq vaqrsvavgryl", nf n fvatyr nepuvir juvpu jnf rdhvinyrag gb n fgngvp cyrahz. Gur iveny sbezf unq birejevggra n ynetr cneg bs gur bayl erznvavat erpbeq bs uhznavgl'f uvfgbel.

#664 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 06:43 PM:

I can think of two instances recently where I've been tremendously glad to have spoilers: seeing other people discuss the content of episode 5 of Torchwood: Miracle Day let me know that actually watching it would potentially give me nightmares, and certainly leave me distressed and shaken for days, so I was pleased to know enough to skip it.

And, just in the last hour, I saw an English friend of mine tweet a reaction to her current episode of Law & Order UK, and immediately assumed that her reaction was caused by the thing that would upset me most, were it to happen, so I asked her to reassure me that it had NOT happened, and she direct-messaged me a reply explaining that it was a season-ending cliffhanger and that my fear was left as an uncertainty,

The current season is going to start airing on BBC America on Wednesday. Since I KNOW the content of the cliffhanger, I'll be a lot less distressed when it comes up. Still won't enjoy waiting for the resolution, but at least I won't have the shock on top of it.

(I hope I've been oblique enough about Law & Order UK to prevent spoilers for those who dislike them. Those who know the way I interact with the series might guess.)

#665 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 07:01 PM:

Rikibeth @ 665:
I tried watching Torchwood at a friend's urging, and got just as far as the first-season episode where Wnpx beqref fbzrbar ba uvf grnz, ng thacbvag, gb xvyy uvf tveysevraq, jub'f orpbzr n Plorejbzna, and stopped there. I hated him for that, and I wasn't sure the creators intended us to stop looking at him as a heroic figure.

Does the series go on to deal with the personal ethics and/or morality of its main characters directly, or is it presented uncritically?

I ask because I love Doctor Who and wish I loved Torchwood as much, but I'm not sure whether I want to give it another shot.

#666 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 07:02 PM:

Giving away the last line wouldn't ruin the wonderful "And Having Writ..." but it would certainly ruin 400+ pages of setup for that last line.

#667 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 07:05 PM:

Bruce Durocher @649, Dave Bell @661: Based on the 1903 photograph that comes up early in the Google Image selection, in which she would have been ~39 years old, I find her face quite lovely. Now, the three-quarters view of a face is almost always more flattering than straight-on, and in the straight-on photos from ten or more years later, she's more "interesting" or "striking" or "handsome" than "pretty," but for her to be able to appear pretty-to-beautiful, in a photo, at 39, in a time when cosmetics weren't used commonly or heavily (face powder was typical, rouge, lipcolor, and eye color rare except in theatrical use) -- I'd say that's a strong indication of attractiveness.

I do also think that the verse (which I'd never encountered until now) had more to do with the subject matter of her work than with any of her own personal attributes.

#668 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 07:36 PM:

Local news: Thunderstorms about, with associated power blinking. I so have a UPS, but it has just enough oomph to give me warning to shut down. Annoying, but at least the dropouts started before I began the OS install I've been working up to for the last 2 days....

#669 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 08:01 PM:

Rikibeth @668

It's my understanding that more make-up was used for portrait photographs. The monochrome film of the time has no sensitivity to red light, and not much mid-spectrum. Now, consider what that might mean for human skin. Maybe I'm thinking too much of the movie business, but look at the even skin tone in the pictures, Sometimes you get the shadow from a hat. It's the paintings which have the skin variation.

I do wonder if they took as much care over pictures of foreigners. I often see a dark skin tone for people from India and, while I know there's a huge range, how many people seeing the photographs would recognise the problem. Then remember that we have a photograph printed from a negative, possibly by somebody who had never seen the original person.


#670 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 08:23 PM:

johnofjack@666: It pretty much went on to present its characters uncritically. In fact, two of them even entered into a romance (I won't say directly, but let's just say that they're the two that based on "Cyber Woman" you'd least expect).

#671 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 09:06 PM:

Dave Bell @670

Maybe some women wore more makeup for portrait photography, but I have in my possession a number of portraits of my family members from that era or just a little later. There is a studio portrait picture of my grandmother, age six, so it would have been taken in 1912, and I am as certain as I can be that my great-grandmother would NOT have countenanced putting makeup on a six-year-old, even as she tried to make her look her best -- and my grandmother actually remembered having that picture taken, and pointed out the faint drops of water just visible dripping off the end of her very long hair, which had been brushed with considerable effort into long, perfect sausage curls (instead of the random disorderly curls it would have had by nature -- I got my hair texture from her). If she'd been made to wear makeup for the picture, she'd have told me about it.

Her skin tones, in the picture, looked just as even and silvery as Elinor Glyn's in hers.

For that matter, a picture of her at age 12 in the ocean, in one of those wool middy-collared bathing suits, had the same effect.

Maybe Elinor Glyn was wearing makeup, maybe she wasn't. My best knowledge of portraits of the time suggest she wasn't wearing lipcolor because there would have been more tone variation between lips and skin if she had, and the effects around the eyes look like the way light and shadow fall on a face in a portrait studio, not like cosmetics. For instance her eyelashes don't look enhanced.

Anyway, she's really pretty.

#672 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2011, 11:44 PM:

I think I must lead a very sheltered life. The concept of locals being afraid to go into a pub, a place whose owner presumably wants to have the public come in and spend money, and nobody doing anything to rectify the problem--that just does not compute.

#673 ::: Anaea ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 12:25 AM:

johnofjack @ #666

Torchwood is bad, bad, stupid, bad. Except season 3. Season 3 is quite good. Season 4, based on the pilot episode, goes back to unbearably stupid. I may watch one more episode just to make sure.

I'd suggest watching season 3 and pretending the rest of the show didn't happen.

#674 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 03:32 AM:

Jenny Islander @673:
The concept of locals being afraid to go into a pub, a place whose owner presumably wants to have the public come in and spend money, and nobody doing anything to rectify the problem--that just does not compute.

Well, there are locals and there are locals. I was an incomer (this was in Leith, Edinburgh, and I'm American). I'm a woman, and none of the menfolk I could rustle up would fit the local mold. We all dressed and talked differently than the pub's core clientèle.

And this was Swanny's, the place you read about in the papers of a Monday morning after the Friday night before. Well, that and The Vine Bar, which was generally regarded as Swanny's without the class.

The best likely outcome would have been mutual discomfort. The worst is that one of the more regular regulars, much the worse for wear, would have seen us as a proxy for the all-fur-coat-and-nae-knickers snooty set, ripe for taking down a peg or two.

#675 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 03:35 AM:

Also, welcome back, Xopher Halftongue!

I've been on a work crunch, and am now in full sleep-deprivation recovery mode, and thus not really keeping up on commenting on the threads.

But I'm glad to see you again, and to hear that the surgery went well.

#676 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 08:36 AM:

"Torchwood is bad, bad, stupid, bad. Except season 3. Season 3 is quite good."

I'm sorry, I'm going to have to stop you there. Season 3 was a piece of crass, manipulative junk, that never saw a cliché it didn't like, and ended with the most flagrant piece of 'we don't know how to end this, so we'll just reverse the polarity of the neutron flow, again' seen on TV since Dr Who was at its very nadir.

All of which is very sad, because in the first couple of episodes, when it was all about establishing menace, it was quite effectively creepy.

#677 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 09:13 AM:

Rikibeth @ 615

One possibility that occurs to me (and the response to a muscle relaxant fits) is that your back is out. There is a place in my back, right near the bottom of the shoulder blade [1], that if it is out I will feel like I need to burp and find it hard to eat or breathe. I lie on a tennis ball, and if that doesn't help go to a chiropractor.

1) Think of someone putting their hands on your shoulder blade, fingers up, whose hands are the same size as your shoulder blade. Make a line between the joints where your thumb joins your hand. If someone presses on the vertabrae, it will usually hurt if this is the problem.

#678 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 10:08 AM:

SamChevre @678

That's an interesting possibility I had not considered, or even realized it could be related. So far, yesterday's painkillers seem to have effected an enduring fix, but if it comes back... does the tennis ball go in the spot you describe?

#679 ::: SarahS ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 10:56 AM:

I know there are a bunch of Georgette Heyer fans here, because you are the ones who got me to read Frederica, and from there Cotillion, and from there The Black Moth.

E-book versions for nearly every reader and of pretty much her ENTIRE list are on sale for 1.99 per volume this week in honor of her birthday.

#680 ::: Anaea ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 11:22 AM:

Alex at #677, unless you're arguing that S3 wasn't miles better than the rest of the show, I'm not going to disagree with your assessment. But it successfully manipulated me, probably because V unir n fbsg fcbg sbe fnq raqvatf, rfcrpvnyyl jura gurl vaibyir xvyyvat nyyrtrqyl nqbenoyr puvyqera. Also, it was short and continuity driven, which helps a lot, too.

#681 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 12:15 PM:

SarahS @ #680:

Please forgive me if I'm being obtuse, but on sale where/from whom?

#682 ::: SarahS ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 12:47 PM:

Paul A. @682

Oh, sorry! On sale from the standard ebook retailers.

But here is a helpful link.

#683 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 02:29 PM:

SamChevre @678: There is a place in my back, right near the bottom of the shoulder blade [1], that if it is out I will feel like I need to burp and find it hard to eat or breathe. I lie on a tennis ball, and if that doesn't help go to a chiropractor.

Oh...my. Now why the hell didn't that ever occur to me? My thing is that my ribs will occassionally get loose, which causes just remarkable discomfort (and doesn't show up on an x-ray). I have an old horseback riding injury (or, more accurately, a horseback falling-off-of injury) that took me years to diagnose. Turns out it's the right-side rib attachment at T-3 or therebouts that gets out of alignment. (Fortunately, I can sort of iron it back down with my shoulder blades—if I realize that's what the problem is.)

This thing you describe fits in very well with that.

#684 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 02:54 PM:

Went for my first followup appointment. Here's the rundown:

  • No bad cells found in the lymph nodes or in the margins of the tumor extraction. In other words, pathology report was clean.
  • Skin graft is as it should be.
  • My speech is much better than the surgeon expected at this stage. He says my tongue is still quite swollen, and that my speech will continue to improve as the swelling comes down. He's not sure I will need speech therapy at all!
  • Uncomfortable dressings have been swapped out or removed.
  • I can now go on soft foods, as long as I make sure I chew on the right. (I've been chewing on the right for months.) I can gradually introduce other things over the coming weeks, but let me tell you I'm not going to be eating crunchy corn chips anytime soon!
  • My next followup appointment is September 12.
Thanks for all your support! The news is really all good and no bad this time, so I'm feeling pretty happy!

#685 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 03:01 PM:

The Heyer thing is appears to only be for texts sold to customers in the US (and, probably, Canada).

Mind you, Sourcebooks verifies by your entered address rather than, say, your IP address, one adds vaguely, staring indeterminately at the sky.

Continuing a conversation with one's self, one mentions that Sourcebooks ships ePubs. In this they bear a resemblance to bol.com, the main source of Dutch-language eBooks. This is a vexation if a person happens to be a Kindle owner.

The remainder of the conversation, made up of various forms of irritation about applications best left unnamed, operating systems, and other frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful software contortions, will not be conducted online.

Let's just say that I hate DRM with a fiery passion, and am at times tempted to return to paper books only to quit wasting hours screwing around with, or being screwed, by it.

#686 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 03:12 PM:

Glad to hear, Xopher Demi-Langue!

#687 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 03:25 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @685: The news is really all good and no bad this time, so I'm feeling pretty happy!

Yay, skippity happeez!!

#688 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 03:36 PM:

abi: I have soooo missed your presence around here, I just have to say.

#689 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 03:42 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 671, Anaea @ 674, Alex @ 677:
Thanks for the feedback. Based on the comments, I think I'll give the rest of the series a miss.

Xopher @ 685: That's great news. I hope your recovery continues apace.

#690 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 03:43 PM:

Xopher (685): Excellent news! A clean path report is a wonderful thing.

#691 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 04:27 PM:

Generally: I must confess, somewhat abashedly, that I have never read Heyer. One must remember, however, that I began reading SF/F/mysteries at age 8 and rarely wandered away from those shelves in libraries and bookstores. I have dabbled in romance from time to time but am not widely or deeply read.

However, the abovementioned sale is quite, quite tempting, being as I am in possession of a brand-new NookColor.

So. What 3-5 titles would you (any/all) recommend for a Heyer neophyte?

#692 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 04:29 PM:

Xopher @685:

HOORAY! HALLELUJAH!

Virtual confetti tossed!

#693 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 04:36 PM:

Melissa Singer @692:
Generally: I must confess, somewhat abashedly, that I have never read Heyer. One must remember, however, that I began reading SF/F/mysteries at age 8 and rarely wandered away from those shelves in libraries and bookstores. I have dabbled in romance from time to time but am not widely or deeply read.

That would have been me as well, had my pseudo-grandfather not caught me one day, and given me something he thought more appropriate to my age and gender. (I continued to read Heyer. In parallel with SF&F.)

What 3-5 titles would you (any/all) recommend for a Heyer neophyte?

Oh, now you're asking. That's like wondering whether one needs a serial comma.

My vote would be:

A Civil Contract
Frederica
The Nonesuch

... and any other two people come up with.

#694 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 04:51 PM:

Xopher Half-Tongue, that's excellent news!

#695 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 04:54 PM:

Six hoorays for Xopher's six bullet points of good news!

HLN: Area couple is very happy with their new school so far, except for the regular doses of bad financial news: "That loan you've been counting on? You were denied months ago without notification." Two weeks later: "Oops, forgot to tell you: adjunct faculty only get half a paycheck for the first period, and there's a chance we might not process your paperwork fast enough for any check at all." Two weeks later: "Oops, forgot to tell you: new graduate students don't get paid until the middle of the next pay period." (Possible next piece of news: "Also, if you want to be paid in money, you must defeat the gorilla. Otherwise, it's lentils.")

#696 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 04:58 PM:

Does anyone know anything about xeroform dressings? The website I found says "you don't have to worry about it falling off," but mine was a) put on 10 days after surgery, after the donor site was under plastic for a long time; and b) was put on folded to size, rather than in a single layer cut to size. It's sliding all over the place.

I don't know what, if anything, I should do about it. I've been "letting it dry" for hours. I'm not sure it's really going to stick, and I don't know what to do if it doesn't.

#697 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 05:01 PM:

And on a very different note, I've now been out in Berkeley for just over a year. It's interesting to look back on it - it has been a very busy year, between research, classes and teaching, but it's been a great year, and I'm still amazingly happy [*cough* being with my amazing girlfriend for a bit over seven months now *cough*] to be out here, doing what I'm doing.

The academic term starts up in a week and a half, and as a 2nd year, I'll still be taking classes, but since I'm now a NSF fellow, I'm not teaching - which feels kind of strange (I taught both semesters last year, so having more time to devote to research will be a nice change during term). I'm in the process of recruiting an undergraduate research assistant, which should be an interesting process. I got my start in research being one back in Boston, so I figure that I should pay it forward by mentoring current undergraduates.

In the HLN realm, I wound up with a new fridge last Friday (courtesy of my management company and the building's owner), since it totally iced up in evil ways the weekend before last. Note that your fridge isn't supposed to run at 60F, and that when you take part of the freezer apart to try to (successfully, I might add - even if my girlfriend and I had dumped $50 or so of stuff that had been too warm too long a day before) fix things, and find that certain components have melted at some point in the past, making noises about this to your management company may result in New Fridge. New Fridge turned out to be slightly larger (and putatively much more efficient) than Old Fridge, so the whole thing is a major plus in my book.

Overall, life is really good at the moment.

#698 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 05:13 PM:

Wonderful news, Xopher! (Except for the dressing. That sounds like a nuisance.)

#699 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 05:35 PM:

Xopher: unmodified rapture!!!

#700 ::: Jo MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 06:56 PM:

Sympathies to Xopher about awkward dressings, as well as long delayed adding to the general yay! about the good news.

#701 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 07:03 PM:

Yay for Xopher's good news!

#702 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 07:25 PM:

Melissa @ 692

So. What 3-5 titles would you (any/all) recommend for a Heyer neophyte?

These Old Shades
The Grand Sophy
Cotillion

That will do for starters.

#703 ::: Sajia Sultana ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 07:49 PM:

(delurking) Hey Rikibeth, since you're into Goth I think you might be interested in the tribal fusion dance workout dvds from World Dance New York. I'm a singer/bellydancer myself and I found their dvds to be both challenging and user friendly.

#704 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 08:00 PM:

Xopher @685
The news is really all good and no bad this time

And a cheer goes up from the crowd!

We'll toast you at the GoL on Wednesday.

Including Skwid, count is now at 20. Cafe Milano does not take reservations, so I encourage anyone who can to plant the flag early.

#705 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 08:02 PM:

I think it was Cotillion that had me sitting up and saying, "Oh, I see what people like about these now." Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has a review of The Grand Sophy up now-- I liked it better than she did, but she has a lot of good points. I also liked The Devil's Cub because, scrambled for a mild spoiler, V unir abg lrg orra qvfnccbvagrq ol n obbx va juvpu gur urebvar fubbgf gur ureb.

#706 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 08:08 PM:

Wonderful news, Xopher!

#707 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 08:52 PM:

runs flags up poles for Xopher

#708 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 09:07 PM:

Saija, thanks for the tip! I'll look into it, but I know my own quirks; if there's actual choreography that needs learning, I'll probably balk. The nice thing about doing club-style dancing in my living room is that as long as I'm keeping up with the 120bpm, it doesn't matter if my foot goes left when the instructions say it should go right, because there aren't instructions.

#709 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 09:20 PM:

Yay for Xopher's good news.

#710 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 09:20 PM:

In re Torchwood: Children of Earth: I'm afraid that I very seriously concur with alex@677 -- I don't think it was at all better than the previous two seasons, I think it was noticeably worse in a lot of ways. It did a great job of setup and then a truly lousy job of resolution.

(I have similar problems with some of the early bits in the current series: Qvq gur crbcyr jub frag n uryvpbcgre nsgre Tjra Pbbcre unir na npghny ernfba gb qb fb gung vf tbvat gb znxr frafr, be qvq gurl whfg qb vg orpnhfr gur cybg arrqrq fbzrguvat gb xvpx ure bhg bs uvqvat? Onfrq ba zl rkcrevrapr bs Ehffryy Qnivrf, V'z orggvat (fnqyl) ba gur ynggre.

(And as James Nicoll has pointed out, the current series continues to display Russell T Davies' sad innumeracy. I'll keep watching to the end, though.)

#711 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 09:46 PM:

If I haven't already said, I'm planning to be at the Cafe Milano Wednesday evening, though not right at 6pm; I'll need to stay at the RSCC until the fan tables area closes, then take the exhibit books etc. back to my hotel room.

R.A. Lafferty: I'm reading Not to Mention Camels now, which is largely set in a "post-anarchic", with a weak anonymous elective monarch, and a powerful "Lords of the Media" caste. It's one of Lafferty's most accessible books, I'd say -- it's making more sense to me on first reading than most of his other novels I've read.

#712 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 10:15 PM:

I'm beginning to wish I'd never started watching Torchwood. As it is now, I'm engrossed in the characters' lives, and I can't pull out before the end of the current season.

#713 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 11:08 PM:

Melissa Singer at 692 "I have dabbled in romance from time to time"

So have I, but I haven't read any books about it.

#714 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 11:55 PM:

Xopher—I find that there are some things I can watch at any time, and some that I have to be in *just* the right mood to do so. So I prefer to have more of the "anytime" stuff around.

#715 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 01:22 AM:

Great news, Xopher! I hope to hear more. (Halftongue -- that sounds rather heroic. )

Re Heyer, my Sainted Mother (tm) hooked me on sf and fantasy early, but failed with mysteries and Heyer. However, when I was 14 and trapped in the hospital with very bad bronchitis, she brought me The Grand Sophy and I could not escape. Eventually I started reading the occasional mystery too, so it seems I turned out all right after all.

I'm at my parents' house right now -- I think tomorrow I'll venture into the basement and bring up some of her books.

#716 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 02:03 AM:

I think I got all of the "Evangeline Kreck" spam. In any event, I blocked her IP address.

#717 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 09:17 AM:

I greet you from Indianapolis, where I'm staying with a friend until tomorrow. BTW, do I know anybody on I-70 between here and Philadelphia?

I stayed with Sisuile on Sunday night. No one will be surprised to learn that she's as wonderful offline as on.

#718 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 09:25 AM:

AKICIML moment:

I'm getting lost in the "double taxation" rhetoric; can anyone point me to a clear, nonpartisan explanation? Because right now it's starting to sound like "Double taxation" means "I don't want to be taxed on my money." That's probably not the actual argument they mean to invoke.

#719 ::: SarahS ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 09:36 AM:

Texanne @ #718

Welcome to Indianapolis! What are you planning to see/do around town? Are you a knitter? Can I point you to our best local yarn shop? How about cheap and excellent Cajun? How about...

Enjoy!

#720 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 10:27 AM:

Xopher, that is great news -- especially the good pathology report! May your recovery continue to progress swiftly and smoothly.

Rikibeth, I have no idea re: muscle spasms, but it certainly seems possible. I once went to the doctor with chest pain that started during exercise, and had it diagnosed as muscle spasms in the chest wall, so it is a thing. I'm glad you're feeling better, though!

Lila @638, I still have that dream and haven't taken finals in years. It's one of the best nightmares to wake up from, I think -- not only do you get "It was just a dream" relief, but you also get "There's not a test after all!" relief.

#721 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 10:31 AM:

abi @694, regarding reading: My parents were both fans, so they thought sf/f was perfectly acceptable for my age and gender, lol. My dad had already turned me on to comics by then. My maternal grandfather was a science teacher, so SF was cool with him, and the rest of my grandparents were not big readers.

Later in life my maternal grandmother became addicted to mysteries and I had great fun finding new series to throw at her when she was in her 80s. (She read several Carole Nelson Douglas Midnight Louie books while recovering from double-coronary bypass at 85!)

Otoh, when my father's parents died, we found about a dozen books in their apartment, not counting Bibles and religious texts. All mass market paperbacks, in two little stacks on a shelf in the front closet.

#722 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 10:36 AM:

Heyer recs to date . . . more welcome . . . .

One vote each:
A Civil Contract
Frederica
The Nonesuch
These Old Shades
The Devil's Cub

two votes each:
Cotillion

three votes each:
The Grand Sophy

#723 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 10:42 AM:

Heyer recs

I second A Civil Contract, Frederica, The Nonesuch, and Devil's Cub.

I disliked The Grand Sophy, FWIW

I used to love Venetia but on last reread it's had a glancing blow from the Suck Fairy. I still liked it but no longer loved it. And mostly I like These Old Shades, but it does require a tolerance for "blood will tell".

#724 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 10:46 AM:

TexAnne @718:

I'm in Downtown Columbus most of the day in the Arena District, about 5 minutes away from the I-70/I-71/I-670 interchange.

Cellphone is 614-571-5604.

#725 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 10:58 AM:

Heyer recs: Add my votes for Frederica, A Civil Contract, and Devil's Cub. I also remember enjoying The Toll-Gate, but I haven't read it in about 25 years, so I don't know how well it would hold up.

Devil's Cub is a sequel to These Old Shades (about the son of the couple in TOS), but much superior and can be enjoyed on its own. I found the heroine of TOS supremely annoying, but YMMV.

#726 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 11:21 AM:

Okay, will somebody please explain this to me? Here we are, in this bright, shiny new future, right? So why the hell don't we have tubeless bicycle tires, huh? Tell me that!

All right. Well, the bicycle ghods seem to have gotten bored with deflating my tires (knock on wood). But they've come up with new failure mode: I'm peddling along, zipping downhill, and I click my front derailleur to the highest gear and—nothing. No bite on the peddles at all. Peddle as I might, I can't get anything.

Finally worked out this morning that that top gear setting was just neatly placing the chain on the #&ing CHAIN GUARD. WTF? This just randomly started happening in the last two weeks.

My best guess is that, in the process of flipping my bike over to stand on the seat and handle bars for access to the wheels, I've caused some slight maladjustment of the derailleur control.

Heavy ::SIGH::

<casts gaze skyward> I hope you guys are enjoying yourselves.

::plants chin on palm and scowls::

#727 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 11:30 AM:

You guys hear about this?

"For $49 we will put your book in front of JK Rowling and let you know what she thinks of it," says Publish America. http://www.publishamerica.net/JKRowling.html

"Izzat so?", says JKR. http://www.heraldonline.com/2011/08/16/3298008/rowling-rep-us-publisher-wrong.html

(I admit I kind of want to see a post where someone tees off on Publish America, because I have this sense that it's been a while.)

#728 ::: SarahS ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 11:31 AM:

OtterB @#724

I agree with your dislike of "The Grand Sophy" and not even because of the very unpleasant anti-semitism which (alas) one has learned to "read over" a lot of the time.

I just think the main character is a pushy, obnoxious, pain in the ass--Austen's Emma without the epiphany. I couldn't like her, no matter how hard I tried.

#729 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 11:34 AM:

Sandy @719,

The Wikipedia articles on "Double Taxation" and "Dividend Tax" seem pretty clear.

Double Taxation, generally, covers what happens when a company in country A pays somebody in country B.

An example: if I use Amazon's print-on-demand service to sell a book in the USA, Amazon will withhold US income tax. I would also be liable for UK tax on what I received. Ouch! There is a treaty between the two governments, and I can deduct the US tax paid from any tax I might owe in the UK.

The admin details can be complicated.

The political use of the term is centred on Dividend Tax, which is rather different. For one thing, there are two transactions, not one. Can of Worms Warning A person has paid tax on the money he pays to the guy who cuts the lawn, and th guy pays taxes on his income. Good grief! That money has been taxed twice! It's wrong!

(Though, for some business premises, cutting the grass would be a deductible expense.)

#730 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 11:49 AM:

So, the xeroform dressing fell off of its own weight. I called the clinic, and I'm instructed to just keep the donor site exposed to the air until it's all dry, and then I can do whatever I need to, including shower, cover it with gauze, etc.

I hope it doesn't take hours and hours like he said. It's on my thigh, well above where any of my shorts extend, so I'm confined to the house. Unless of course I fashion some assymetrical clothing out of existing supplies, or borrow some hot pants!

Seriously I think this will be OK soon. It's mostly dry except for one or two oozy spots. I wish I could remember who I lent my blow dryer to!

Fox 728: Hmm, not clear whether the error belongs to Rowling's rep or the headline writer, but I think calling PublishAmerica a "Publisher" is at least an extension of the term, if not an outright misappropriation of it.

#731 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 11:53 AM:

re 730: You would think that their next suggestion will be to put a check box on every dollar bill that goes out, and once some tax has been applied against it, you check the box off, and it's a "get out of tax free" after that.

It's irritating how often common sense "free market" thinking about economics ignores the reality that it's all about circular flow of money, and treats taxation as if federal revenue just goes straight into Treasury's incinerators. No, you nitwits! That only happens if you pay down the federal debt. The rest of the time the money gets pumped straight back into the economy.

#732 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 11:59 AM:

Sandy B. @ 619: In the US, "double taxation" typically refers to all corporate taxes, but especially to the capital gains tax. The idea is, if the corporation pays taxes on its income and then that money is taxed again when that money is paid in wages or capital gains, the same money is taxed twice! As Dave Bell suggests, it's about as insightful as noting that the same dollar is taxed repeatedly as it moves through the economy.

#733 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 12:12 PM:

Updating Heyer recs before I go to lunch.

One vote each:
These Old Shades
Venetia (weak positive)
The Toll-Gate

two votes each:
Cotillion
The Nonesuch

three votes each:
A Civil Contract
Frederica
The Devil's Cub

Disqualified:
The Grand Sophy -- apologies to those who like this but anti-semitism puts it off my list. which is not to say I've never read things which contain anti-semitic characters or viewpoints, but I don't really want them in a romance. Thanks to SarahS for mentioning this.

#734 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 12:12 PM:

Just popping in briefly from work, to note that I'm offline at home. I got through my Ubuntu upgrade, and... oops, no Internet. Spent an hour or so trying to diagnose what I'd broken before I called Comcast to discover yep, there's an outage. (Doesn't show on the cablemodem, which was blinking obliviously away.)

Result: I'm stuck with the basic install, no (de)encrypted file systems, can't update packages or fill in optional packages, or get the support packages needed to install the handful of programs I've got binaries for. Basically, I can play Solitaire. :-(

Still out this morning, we'll see what's up when I get home.

#735 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 01:13 PM:

Jacque @ 727

We do have tubeless bicycle tires, but the bad news is that they are still high-end and expensive. There are no-tube conversion kits around. The one on Amazon has mixed reviews. Advice is to always carry a tube in case of punctures, so not always a big gain.

The conventional bicycle wheel has spokes that penetrate it - all of those need to be sealed airtight. So tubeless requires either some form of chemical sealant or a different rim entirely.

Sounds like the derailleur limit screws need adjusting. The late Sheldon Brown's site is still up and the article on Derailer Adjustment [sic] may be helpful.

#736 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 01:23 PM:

I know people here are fans of the drawings of Tom Gauld. Those not watching his website carefully might not have noticed his jacket art for the new(ish) Richard Pevear translation of _The Three Musketeers_, which I just picked up from the sinking Borders.

Three Musketeers, by Tom Gauld

#737 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 01:39 PM:

The Toll Gate for me at least, still holds up fairly well. The heroine is an effective woman, the subordinate characters are strong (Jeremy Chirk gives a glancing look at the social efefcts of the Industrial Revolution, FWTW), and I don't recall, from my most recent re-read, aignificant ethnic suckitude, largely because there are no appearance by non-white, non-English, or non-Anglican characters.

The Quiet Gentleman is also holding up well. I have issues with Devil's Cub, and always have, because it involves People Being Stupid to Advance the Plot.

I just re-read The Masqueraders, and can recommend it as well. Cross-dressing! Insight into social status and what it's made of! And Swordplay!

#738 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 01:59 PM:

Heyer fans: I recommend the book she wrote about the battle of Waterloo, but I'm blanking on the name. Help!

#739 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 02:01 PM:

Re: the leader: that problem was a problem for me to understand (I could trust the math, but not see why it worked, in my several probability courses) until I read Gamow's explanation, which involved the "older child is a girl". Then it was obvious. (side note: I *love* his story of the Alphabet Paper)

But then again, I've read, written and dissected articles on The Principle of Restricted Choice, where I've boiled it down to "It works, trust it." And the level where the math plays equality is very close to "unless you know the player will always do X, you're still better off playing RC" - which again seems odd.

Having said that, yes, it does imply that the ordering is independent of the character - for instance, if I open my wallet and the top bill is a $10, it's almost zero odds that the one underneath it is a $5 (Remember, Canada, so no bills under $5). In fact, the only time the bills won't be in order will be if I've been handed *a lot* of cash - then it will be the opposite of the grifter's roll, faked to look like "all $20s". It's just so much more easy to go through life with an ordered wallet that it's worth the extra time at input (or, as soon as possible after input, if I'd be holding up the line).

On other notes, adding to the sounds of joy for Xopher's sounds!


#740 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 02:06 PM:

I'd forgotten The Quiet Gentleman. Second it.

#741 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 02:34 PM:

Up until a few weeks ago, I was also a person who had never read any Georgette Heyer books. (In my defense, it might have been hard for them to get a word in edgewise, so to speak.)

So far I have read just one, but will add it to the list of recommendations - it was a good read, contained humor, and when someone actually flounced out of a room in high dudgeon on page 19, I knew I was in good hands - Sylvester,_or the Wicked Uncle.

I am assuming I shall enjoy most of the rest of her books once I encounter them.

--Dave

#742 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 03:02 PM:

Lizzy L @739--An Infamous Army is the one built around Waterloo. It has reappeances of the family of These Old Shades and Devil's Cub, as well as characters from Regency Buck* and features, IIRC, cameo appearances by Cavalié Mercer (whose memoirs of Waterloo are available for Kindle, if you're looking for Napoleonic era memoirs), as well as the Duke himself, and other Regency-era notables. Aren't you glad I finally stopped writing that sentence?

For actually true Napoleonic era fiction (as opposed to partly-true, since the leads in An Infamous Army are fictional), Heyer did up the story of Harry Smith and his wife Juana as The Spanish Bride. I do not often suggest this one to people, inasmuch as it does involve the marriage of a girl of fourteen to a man at least ten years her senior, and while they did live fairly happily ever after, and all that, it can be hard to get past that and get into the story. They're an engaging couple, and it's a good story (his memoirs** are online and are also worth a look for those interested in the era, and I think some of his friend John Kincaid's memoirs are accessible for free as well; I downloaded at least one for the Kindle). Still, if the thought of an orphaned girl of fourteen being married, at short notice, to a virtual stranger who is also a foreigner, in the aftermath of the seige and sack of the city where she was living, is going to sit badly with you, no matter how engaging the characters are, or how well it turned out in real life, The Spanish Bride is not for you, and I don't blame you for it one bit. It could, after all, have turned out very badly.

*One need not have read any of those to enjoy An Infamous Army. I just thought I'd mention it.

**He was a tool of Empire, and not doubtful about it, either.

#743 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 03:23 PM:

Lizzy L (739): Heyer's Waterloo book is An Infamous Army. I like that one, too; I didn't mention it before because it's somewhat atypical.

#744 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 03:24 PM:

So, finished with work for the day... just finished the last 3 of 6+ hours re-alphabetizing the Poetry room. When I printed out a new sign for the customers, I restrained myself from using the struck-out phrase "raised by wolves"....

If anyone here is somehow not acquainted with bookstore etiquette: Best option is to put it back where it came from. Second best is stack it on a nearby table, or bring it to the front desk, either way for later reshelving.

#745 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 03:26 PM:

David Harmon (745): Library etiquette is the same.

#746 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 03:43 PM:

fidelio @743:

The gnomes held this comment because of the crunchy, crunchy borked link. They like 'em covered in chocolate and dipped in tea when the digestive biscuits run short.

#747 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 04:08 PM:

I liked The Spanish Bride, too*, but fidelio is right about the icky implications.

*and again, it's been quite a while

#748 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 04:16 PM:

Fox @728: "For $49 we will put your book in front of JK Rowling and let you know what she thinks of it," says Publish America.

Wow, that was fast. Just tried the PA link, and got a 404 on that page. Har.

Henry Troup @736: We do have tubeless bicycle tires, but the bad news is that they are still high-end and expensive.

Come on guys! This isn't rocket science!!! Hmpf. :)

CZEdwards recommended to me a substance referred to in the vernacular as "slime." I'd vaguely known such a thing existed, and was pondering going in search of some. But, guess what? Using it renders tubes unrecyclable. Grumble. (Though, to be fair, so are thorn-resistant tubes. Which is puzzling. But since I can't get resistants for my rims anyway, moot.)

Sounds like the derailleur limit screws need adjusting.

Yeah, that was my guess, as well. I'm also interested in why setting my bike upside down knocked them out of adjustment in the first place. Doubtless, enlightenment will come upon attentive inspection.

I'm sort of retroactively bemused at the whole experience. Happily cruisin' down da road, pop into high gear and—What? Whatwhatwhat!? What the hell!? Very schitzy sensation. "OMG! Reality's come unGLUED!!"

Sheldon Brown's site

Ah! Good to know about. Thank you!

Mycroft W @740: Gamow

Which one? There are two of them herebouts (Igor being the younger).

I've boiled it down to "It works, trust it."

I'm that way with the derivation of percentage. I have to try swapping numerator and denomenator until the result "looks right." I still don't fully grok why it works. Which is weird, because I generally find numbers to be very intuitive things. So why I can't "get" this particular relationship puzzles me.

It's just so much more easy to go through life with an ordered wallet

::rolls eyes:: Can't really point fingers, here, but... :) I find it's much simpler just to never have more than three bills in my wallet. Ahem. (Yes! Really! That's why! Honest!)

#749 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 04:55 PM:

abi @747--and I though I'd fixed them all--can it be time for new glasses already??!? Harry Smith's memoirs. Take that, gnomes!

per Mary Aileen @748--Heyer does not play it for ick, and acknowledges that the situation is an awkward one. However, the issue is still there, and it's a problematic one for many people, and there are good reasons for that. So I don't recommend it, although I do enjoy the book. It's a vividly-told story, with a great deal of focus on the issues of life during wartime--inside a war, really, and Heyer used a great deal of original source material, and seems to have stuck closely to her sources.
But not everyone is going to be happy with it, just based on the premise of the story, and for them, I doubt any of these good points will help much. Accordingly, I leave it out of recommendations, most of the time.

#750 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 05:07 PM:

Updating Heyer recs before I go home:

One vote each:
These Old Shades
Venetia (weak positive)
The Masqueraders (sounds like fun)
Sylvester

two votes each:
Cotillion
The Nonesuch
The Toll-Gate
The Quiet Gentleman
The Spanish Bride

three votes each:
A Civil Contract
Frederica
The Devil's Cub
An Infamous Army (probably not my cup of tea)

Thanks!

#751 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 05:22 PM:

Mary Aileen@746: the last academic library I used had the policy that they preferred you to leave books on a nearby table rather than to try reshelving them yourself. I was kind of insulted that they thought me incapable of putting stuff back in the right place, but I suppose most incompetent shelvers think that they know what they're doing. But I'd often have a flick through every book in a particular Library of Congress subclass numerical range, so if I didn't reshelve I'd be clearcutting a whole shelf. Good grief, the LoC website has links to lists of subclasses in WordPerfect format. Retro.

#752 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 05:51 PM:

my Georgette Heyer recommendations:

Civil Contract
Frederica
Masqueraders.

I am oddly fond of the Spanish Bride. I loathe Heyer's mysteries.

Also, I am much amused that this came up because a friend of mine was recently asking the same question elsewhere.

Anyway, here's a list of Jo Walton's opinions about Heyer's books. (which obviously I don't agree with since I like the Masqueraders.)

#753 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 05:52 PM:

re 746/752: That preference is common because it's not hard for a misshelved book in a library to disappear indefinitely. Ive been fishing in the closed stacks at Enoch Pratt of late and it's striking how often I run across something that is far enough away from where it belongs that nobody is ever going to find it on purpose-- or on the flip side, that the books I request aren't there (and they aren't valuable, so it's hard to imagine that they are being stolen). Pratt's idiosyncratic numbering system also makes misshelves very easy.

#754 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 05:56 PM:

David @ 745, Mary @ 746: in my library, at least, the best option--especially in the children's department, but throughout the rest of the stacks as well--is to please for all that is holy do not attempt to put it back where you found it, but leave it on a table somewhere for us to collect and reshelve.

It's easy to check a short list of designated places for a book that's checked in, but practically impossible to check everywhere a well-meaning patron might have put something by mistake.

#755 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 06:26 PM:

Sandy B. #719: Actually, I think you've got the idea.

Back online, and updating as we speak!

C. Wingate #754: Indeed, and I've regularly found that problem in the main hardcover fiction section. That said, we have limited enough personnel that we really do need to let people at least try to reshelve. The poetry room had gotten past "occasional problems" to "this is barely alphabetical anymore". Of course, that room is a particular problem because it's got so many skinny books, including a fair number of chapbooks.

#756 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 06:28 PM:

johnofjack @755

Both library I've worked in and all the others I have frequented regularly have preferred that patrons not reshelve the books, for the reasons you give.

It is my common practice (when looking for a book that a patron can't find) to look on the shelf above, the shelf below, and the three shelves on either side of where the book belongs. Fairly frequently (unless it is a Bible, the biography of Malcolm X, or a book on the occult, all of which are more likely to have been stolen), the book is on one of those shelves, because someone had helpfully returned it to the closest shelf to hand.

#757 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 06:43 PM:

I do reshelve books in the library, but when I pull a book off the shelf I also pull the books on either side of it out slightly. Then I can readily put it back where I got it. (I also don't walk around with a book and then reshelve it; I either put it back immediately or I use the reshelving cart.)

#758 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 07:19 PM:

On library reshelving: absolutely correct that putting books back in the wrong place leads to poetry sections that need re-alphabetization and to snarky signs about same. But quoting David Harmon's #745, to which I was responding, "Best option is to put it back where it came from." (emphasis mine)

It's sad that so few people can do that.

#759 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 08:05 PM:

Naomi Parkhurst #757: unless it is a Bible, the biography of Malcolm X, or a book on the occult, all of which are more likely to have been stolen

OK, that first item is a boggler. What about That Book by Abbie Hoffman, or do you not even try to keep that one anymore?

#760 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 08:09 PM:

Jacque @ 749: "Come on guys! This isn't rocket science!!! Hmpf. :)"

No, it's bike science, which is considerably more complicated.

#761 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 08:22 PM:

David Harmon, I also forgot these two: test prep books and the Guinness Book of World Records. Yeah.

I don't know why Bibles are frequently stolen; maybe the thieves feel like they really need one more than the library?

I don't know about other libraries, but Steal This Book isn't in my library's catalog. It would depend on whether our collection development librarian felt it was worth replacing if it got stolen.

#763 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 08:36 PM:

Naomi @ 757, 762: I'm known in my library for being able to find things that are missing, wherever they might be. Still: the first best step to finding things is putting them where they belong.

Other common thefts: Zane books, and Disney movies, and action movies, and horror movies, and Sandman books, and superhero comics, and magazines for teens....

#764 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 08:40 PM:

johnofjack, I forgot the Zane books, and the other urban fiction. Yes, and all the others that you said.

#765 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 08:58 PM:

726
The Toll-Gate seems to hold up fine. (It's being reprinted and is due out in early October.)

#766 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 09:01 PM:

For contrast, I'll offer a thumbs-down on An Infamous Army for reasons expounded on in my recent review.

#767 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 09:05 PM:

Lori, 725: I hope to be there around lunchtime--do you think you might be free to grab a bite?

#768 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 09:15 PM:

re 763: especially amusing since a priest I know is undergoing a self-stem-cell reboot of his immune system.

#769 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 10:00 PM:

P J Evans (766): Good to know.

#770 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2011, 10:21 PM:

I vote for A Civil Contract; I think it's one of my favorite books ever.

Cotillion was quite nice, too.

#771 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 04:59 AM:

I don't recall where I first came across the story of Harry Smith at Badajoz. I think it was a somewhat romanticised version which didn't quite mention Juana's age. In a way, the exact age doesn't matter to the story. And it turns out to be a pretty commonplace age-pattern in English history, though that pattern was shifting by 1812. The odd things is, Harry is the one who might once have been thought too young to marry. And you can see that in some of the rules which applied to Army Officers.

So, yeah, there's a bit of clash between an emotional reaction and the intellectual knowledge that things were different then.

(And one web-page which mentions the changes in age at marriage happens to remind us that "teen" is ambiguous: the writer's wife was 19 when she married him.)

My teen years are a long time ago, but there are one or three of my contemporaries who I wouldn't be astonished to learn had been sexually active before they were 16. Though I also wonder how real some of the stories I heard were.

Teens don't seem to have changed so much. They just use mobile phones with built-in cameras. rather than Polaroids.

#772 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 06:38 AM:

Steal This Book has been online for a while (apparently via someone who had the author's blessing). So libraries that want the book represented in their collection, but don't want to acquire and periodically replace a print copy, can always link to it.

#773 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 06:40 AM:

Given everything else that happened at Badajoz, the fact that a girl was a little under what we have currently decided is the 'age of consent' is truly insignificant. And since English law at the time, and for some 600 years previously, held that age to be 12, the significance merely diminishes further.

p.s. yes, thank you, I am perfectly happy with the current state of law on the subject.

#774 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 08:59 AM:

p.p.s. According to Wikipedia, the age of consent in Spain now is only 13, so Harry Smith still isn't doing anything wrong...

#775 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 10:23 AM:

Just heard from TexAnne -- we'll be having a lunch time GoL today.

In birdwatching news, the goldfinches love the new solar fountain birdbath, and the number of hummingbirds using our feeders has doubled in the last 2 weeks. I don't know if the increase is made up of now-flying fledglings or migrants headed back south.

#776 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 10:26 AM:

Updating Heyer recs:

One vote each:
These Old Shades
Venetia (weak positive)
Sylvester

two votes each:
The Nonesuch
The Quiet Gentleman
The Masqueraders (sounds like fun)

three votes each:
Cotillion
The Devil's Cub
The Spanish Bride
The Toll-Gate
An Infamous Army (probably not my cup of tea, and one negative vote)

four votes each:
Frederica

five votes each:
A Civil Contract

So a couple of clear winners at least, and others that I will look at online before deciding what to buy.

My thanks to you all.

#777 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 10:27 AM:

Indeed, it's actually America, Last Stronghold of the Puritans, which is the outlier in pushing the AOC into the upper teens. (Not to mention pushing the drinking & smoking ages above the voting and contract age).

#778 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 10:55 AM:

I wasn't particularly bothered by Juana's age in The Spanish Bride, probably in part because of Romeo and Juliet. Juliet's only 14. TSB is another that I haven't read in quite a while, although it did survive my drastic Heyer cull* some years ago.

*which I've been regretting more recently. I've rebought a couple of those.

#779 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 11:40 AM:

I think for a lot of the people I know who would be squicked by the age issue in The Spanish Bride, it's not AOC issues, but age discrepancy issues that would be bothering them.

Historically, there were plenty of marraiges with far larger gaps, and Dave Bell is right in pointing out that there were those who would have said Harry Smith was a little young to be getting married (especially as an infantry officer without substantial private income), without reference to his wife's age.

#780 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 11:42 AM:

fidelio @750: abi @747--and I though I'd fixed them all--can it be time for new glasses already??!?

Yeah, that "borked link" style is a hard color to see. Would be easier to spot if it was, like, RED or something. 'Course, then, it would be glaringly overbearing in the page, as well.

#781 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 12:29 PM:

AKICIML question

Is there a fairly easy way to make a back up copy of a web site from the front end?

I ask because a couple sites that I used to use for reference have disappeared, and there are a couple I currently use that I'm afraid might disappear--I'm wondering if I could plausibly make a private copy.

#782 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 01:57 PM:

SamChevre @782:

Do you need multiple pages with links to be functional? I've had good luck finding vanished ones on the Internet Wayback Machine, and just wholesale copy/pasting the text into a text file, but I was only after stories, and didn't need any links.

#783 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 02:30 PM:

Rikibeth @ 783

Yes, I'd like to have links functional. What I'd like to be able to do is to go to the index/front-page (thinking of the much-missed-and-mourned whitewolf site) and have it back up everything with an internal link, layer by layer.

#784 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 02:50 PM:

SamChevre@ 782, 784: HTTrack or wget should both work for downloading sites. It's been awhile since I've used them, though, so I can't remember if there are settings to govern the download rate (also of potential concern is the amount of bandwidth it'll take to download an entire site).

#785 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 03:09 PM:

While we're pestering the Fluorospheric Technomages, anybody here speak both bsh and PowerShell? I'm looking for a translation table for commands. Don't need it to be an actual translator, just a comprehensive "cd = dir" kind of thing. Googling has so far been only marginally unproductive.

#786 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 03:10 PM:

me @786: Um, "marginally productive." But the typo is not innacurate, either.

(Having a little trouble with our polarity today are we, Jacque?)

#787 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 03:23 PM:

SamChevre, johnofjack:
I've used wget, which does have a bandwidth throttle.

#788 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 03:35 PM:

TexAnne is on the road again, headed for Wheeling, where she'll probably stop for the night.

We had a lovely lunch at the North Market, and a great conversation, which covered many topics (one being cats, of course).

#789 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 07:21 PM:

As I was looking at the Heyer list, I realized that somehow, I managed to skip reading The Spanish Bride for lo these many years. OMG, that's like finding a new Georgette Heyer novel!!

*** dancing ***

It's on hold at the library, I expect to receive the e-mail letting me know it's ready for pick-up any moment now...

#790 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 07:24 PM:

Ongoing saga of the 11.04 upgrade (oh, you thought that was done? well, so did I):

After much head-banging, it turns out that the graphical manager "compiz" really Does Not Appreciate /home transplants☹. (As in "Aaack! *choke* >dead<) It's much happier now that I let the installer build me a fresh home directory, and copied my data from the old, with only selected dot-files.

☹: That is, I had tried to just keep using my old home directory (on its own partition), complete with all the "dot-files" (configuration) from my old system.

#791 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 08:50 PM:

Hi, Lori! I actually ended up in New Stanton. I felt pretty good as I went through Wheeling, so I thought I'd just keep going to PA...where I got tired, and discovered that the Little League World Series had taken up all the closest hotel rooms. So an hour later, here I am, ready to fall over.

I wish to compliment Ms. Amy Lozier of Omega Artisan Baking. Her "rustic French" tastes exactly like it ought. I know this because she had a very small loaf that she gave me, as a present, because I was disappointed that the big loaves wouldn't keep for more than a day.

And I had a really good ginger lemonade from the Indian place, and a really good iced Vietnamese coffee from the Vietnamese place, and a really fantastic lump of tomme de Cantal from the cheese place...I want to spend more than two hours in Columbus next time!

P.S. No one will be surprised to hear that my streak of "Fluorospherians who are Equally Wonderful Online and Off" is still perfect.

#792 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 10:16 PM:

Catching up*, so please excuse the long list of comments.

Xopher: Hooray! Glad you're home, healing, that the path. report looks good, that your voice is coming back. Continued good thoughts coming your way.

Rikibeth: Do you have any sort of acid reflux issues, or have you had them in the past? That yawning/lump in throat feeling can be related to laryngopharyngal reflux disease (which is like regular gastric reflux, but higher up, and tends not to have heartburn as a symptom, making it pretty silent.) LRD is a pain to diagnose because it manifests as upper respiratory/sinus/allergy type symptoms rather than digestive -- a lump in the throat, post-nasal drip, coughing, sinus pain, chest tightness, sometimes shortness of breath... Given that a muscle relaxant seemed to help, that might be an indicator (since muscle relaxants also affect the flappy valve at the top of the stomach that is the root cause of all reflux issues...). I deal with it via a daily dose of pepcid/zyrtec. The differential dx is pretty easy -- if 150 mg of ranitidine and 90 minutes makes the lump/shortness of breath/yawning stop, the problem is digestive, not respiratory.

Also... +1ing Gothercize. I thought I was the only lunatic who did that. (Though my industrial library is getting a bit shopworn. Time for some new albums.)

Jacque: Slime is actually the trade name for one of the tube sealants. The one I'm using this year is a Boulder product called true goo that can be rinsed out of the tubes, thus rendering the tubes safe for recycling without messing up the water supply or the plumbing. The other bike in the house still has the green stuff (Slime) in the tubes, but I'm much happier with the true goo. (Slime also seems to change the wheel balance more than true goo does.)


* I am trying to edit, but it's August. I don't wanna do anything, and the internet is too good a distraction when I'm feeling particularly ADD. Thus, I am dealing with this by packing manuscript, drinks, sandwich and fruit in bike basket and going to the park where I'm out of wifi range.

#794 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 10:22 PM:

776
lori, I'm voting for fledglings. It's still a little early for any but the first migrants - they usually hit west Texas in mid to late September, and stay a week or three depending on weather. (Made lawn mowing interesting, the year we had six birds competing for one feeder. I felt like I needed a helmet and a flak jacket.)

#795 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 10:27 PM:

793
I might try the pepcid/zyrtec thing myself. I hadn't considered reflux as a possible reason for some of my upper-respiratory goings-on.

#796 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2011, 10:51 PM:

So, the last two books I read were Mercedes Lackey's The Snow Queen (a reread) and Jim Hine's The Snow Queen's Shadow. Next up is McGuire's Mirror, Mirror, another Snow White riff. I think the summer heat is getting to me....

#797 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 02:07 AM:

CZEdwards: I had not heard of that before! I don't think I've had reflux issues in the past, although earlier this year I had Ghastly Stomach Pains that were beaten into submission by a month of Nexium. If I get the Stupid Yawning Nuisance again, I'll give Pepcid a try. Although I would not mind having a medical excuse to take the muscle relaxant. Which is a sign that I like it a little too much. I swear, ~100 years ago I'd have had a laudanum habit. So far, the Nuisance has not come back.

As for the Gothercize, Bella Morte's new album "Before The Flood" has several tracks that are going into my personal rotation (although they're more darkwave than industrial), and I've recently been introduced to a band called //Tense//. Give them a try!

#798 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 02:31 AM:

Bruce @ #794, "yon Obama has a lean and hungry look."

I'm not sure how tasty he'd be. Some of the Republican pols . . . if only Haley Barbour had run!

#799 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 04:00 AM:

So what was the Black Death, if it wasn't spread by rats and fleas in London?

#800 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 04:31 AM:

That article seems to make some elementary errors in the etiology and epidemiology of y. pestis [ooh, look at me with the big words!]

By the wonders of the internet, several medical references reveal to me that, within an urban population, there is no need for animal transmission once plague is established; and that in the pneumonic form, it is easily spread by airborne infection.

Ergo, where's the beef, here?

#801 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 08:39 AM:

In re the inevitability of the Civil War: If The Confederate Reckoning is accurate, then if an honest vote had been taken of the white men in the southern states, secession would not have happened when it did-- secession was pushed though as a result of political maneuvering and electoral dishonesty by a small elite.

The majority seems to have preferred letting things drift rather than either abolishing slavery or going to war.

I don't know whether secession simply would have happened a little later, or if things would have worked out differently if the elite had been more sensible (seems unlikely) or just not being as energetic and politically competent in pursuit of secession.

#802 ::: debio ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 08:44 AM:

SamChevre @782

I used to use a firefox plugin called scrapbook.
It lets you save web pages, with functioning links. If I remember correctly, it also lets you choose how many levels deep you want it to follow links.

You should be able to save an entire website with it.

The only reason I'm not using it now is that I forgot to install it when I set up my more recent laptop. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'll do it again.

#803 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 10:36 AM:

I suppose it was only a matter of time before I got a spam for a perpetual motion machine.

#804 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 10:46 AM:

Hi, TexAnne! Glad you were able to find a hotel room, Little Leaguers notwithstanding. (She was really fun to talk with -- and we had a nice little bitch-and-moan about the current political situation.) I now have an intense desire to meet more of the Fluorosphere face to face. (Hmm, I wonder if I can afford to go to Chicon next year...)

TexAnne, there are several nice science fiction cons here in town, should you decide to come to one, plan to come in early (or stay after), and I'll show you all the neat little places* we have here. And if you're into any of the fiber arts or beading, we've got some great stores.

*Like Franklin Park Conservatory, the Columbus Zoo, the Center of Science and Industry, the Columbus Art Museum....

#805 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 12:09 PM:

C Wingate@804 spam for a perpetual motion machine

I guess it never stops does it...

#806 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 12:33 PM:

SF Gateway (Gollancz)'s first 300 or so ebook versions of mostly-OOP titles, listed on Amazon.co.uk (for a release date of 29th September):

http://goo.gl/Lm0tF

Some good stuff in there. I can see myself getting quite a few of Ian Watson's books.

#807 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 12:45 PM:

Dave Bell & Alex:
Besides the multiple transmission modes, there's been debate for some time as to whether all the plagues lumped under the Black Death were actually forms of bubonic plague, or whether there was another disease or diseases at work. Wikipedia has a good summary under http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Death#Causes

The article however cites some very recent research from 2010, which did DNA studies on mass graves from the Black Death at sites all across Europe, finding DNA from Yersinia pestis (the bubonic plague bacterium) in all of them.

It also notes that there were genes from two now-extinct forms of the bacterium associated with different groups of graves; I would think it's possible that those allowed for slightly different transmission modes than the modern disease.

One thing that tends to happen with diseases over time is that they co-evolve with their human hosts to become less deadly or less rapidly deadly; that lets the disease spread more widely, i.e. be more evolutionarily successful. When syphilis first reached Europe in the 1490s, it was so deadly to Europeans that it often killed within months. In less than 100 years, it had evolved to the slower killing disease which we know now. Given that the Black Death was sweeping Europe almost continuously for over 300 years, it's quite possible that it co-evolved to drop some of the faster and more deadly modes of transmission. At the same time, humans were evolving some genes for resistance to it - the immune system mutation CCR5-delta 32 apparently provides some protection against smallpox, HIV, and it's been suggested it may also help protect against bubonic plague.

#808 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 01:02 PM:

So... just going to try mentioning this to the group here, since it's seemed to do wonders for some.

After almost a solid six months(?) after I finally started meds for ADD, during which my meltdowns and the worst depressive symptoms seemed to be gone gone gone at last, in the last month+ I've slid back into general "can't cope" meltdown feelings, and moderate depression. It's particularly been sliding down the past couple weeks, with bouts of insomnia making it worse. I'm not necessarily needing advice, as I'll be seeing the shrink again soon, but I won't sneer at it either.

Please keep me in your thoughts or send positive energy if you can, however you prefer to do that.

#809 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 01:16 PM:

Clifton, have you considered meditation classes? While they are not a replacement for sessions with your therapist or your medications, they may help short-circuit some of the "unable to cope" thoughts/feelings.

I took classes at my local Buddhist temple, and they really helped me deal with the depression/anger I experienced after 9/11.

Good vibes being sent your way, and hopes that the situation resolves positively for you.

"May all beings be happy..."

#810 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 01:34 PM:

786 Jacque: If by "bsh" you mean "bash", I would strongly recommend you visit ss64.com . list of common bash, Windows batch, powershell, wscript,... commands, options and examples, and (pertinent to your question) at the bottom, an "relevant [othershell] commands" section.

Even if I'm wrong, it's still my go-to site for anything scripting on Redmondware (and, frankly, occasionally for bash scripting, but there are better sites). If ss64.com doesn't tell me what to do, it's time to google for pre-written CMD scripts :-).

#811 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 02:03 PM:

Folks -- I need some good energy here. I'm at work and Mom just called to tell me our Japanese Chin, Katana has escaped from the back yard. He does have a collar and tags on, and he is microchiped...

#812 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 02:59 PM:

Open threadiness...

I was reading about 'bike wars' in Toronto, and it contains this link to Pimp Mijn Bakfiets, and just suddenly had this vision of Abi, Pimpin' out her Ride...

Sorry. I have strange dreams. I'll slink away, now.

#813 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 03:19 PM:

CZEdwards @793: Do you have any sort of acid reflux issues?

Owemji! I was having yawnies over the weekend. I've also been having trouble with AR recently.

I've been putting on a lot of weight this year, because I've been managing my lowgrade chronic anxiety with ice cream. As a correlary, I've been noticing that everytime a new layer of fat goes on, I tend to have trouble with heartburn.

(I'd really like to stop putting on weight now, thank you. I had actually started making progress pulling my weight downward, but then our Month From Hell hit at work in May, and we had bowls of candy at the front desk to appease the angry clientele, and, well. ::SIGH:: Still haven't managed to get back on track.)

#814 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 03:38 PM:

Good energy, Lori.

#815 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 04:20 PM:

Clifton, Lori: All my best wishes for both of you.

#816 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 05:31 PM:

Clifton Royston @808: Good thoughts coming your way.

Interesting: I hadn't realized that depression was associated with ADD. Meltdown feelings don't surprise me; seems to be (IMobservation) that un- or inadequately-regulated ADD is often associated with a fairly high baseline level of frustration.

No useful advice to offer, save be gentle with yourself.

Mycroft W @810: ss64.com

Ah, that does look like a good resource, thank you!

I'm ideally after is some sort of Rosetta Stone: "Okay, I know I want to grep. What's the corresponding PowerShell?"

On poking at ss64.com, looks like that information is there, though starting with grep it takes two steps to get to the PS equivalent. I will explore this. Thank you!

Redmondware ::giggle:: *snark*

Lori Coulson @811: "Universe, paging Katana! Universe, paging Katana! Please pick up the white courtesy phone...."

#817 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 05:57 PM:

Clifton Royston @808:
Good thoughts indeed; many of them. I spent the spring and early summer wrestling with the black dog.


Lori Coulson @811:
And good energy to you as well; may Katana return swiftly.


Cheryl @812:
We moved to NL too late for me to have an excuse for a bakfiets. Alas.

I did add a front crate rack onto Emily a few months ago. Makes her front steer a little heavy, but it gives me somewhere to put my coat when I take it off while riding.

#818 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 07:06 PM:

Clifton Royston #809: Aside from seconding Jacque #817, I'll note that if those ADD meds are central nervous system stimulants, they tend to build tolerance over time. You may need a dosage adjustment (which you would definitely need to check with your doctor).

#819 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 08:40 PM:

Thank you, all of you, it is really appreciated! The good news -- Katana is home.

The amusing news -- because he wasn't wearing his Franklin County dog tag -- I had to pay his bail to get him out of the shelter.

All props and praise to AKC Companion Animal program -- I reported him missing at 4:30pm (took me that long to find the paperwork)*, and headed down to the shelter to file a lost dog report. Just as we pulled into the parking lot, my cellphone rang -- it was the AKC calling to tell me Katana was AT the shelter!

Both Jan and I broke into gales of hysterical laughter, which the nice lady on the phone joined when I explained. Oh, and to whoever created microchips, I bow many times in your general direction.

So he is home, he has had dinner, the shelter gave him a booster shot, and when I told the clerk Katana is allergic to the rabies vaccine, she brought his records up and put that info in, "just in case."

Considering the visions that were playing in my mind, this could have had a much worse ending. The house is a half mile from a very busy street. From what little info the man who turned him in gave the shelter, it seems Katana went to the park just south of the house, rather than towards that road. Lots of candles to light tonight.

We were very lucky -- and I am so grateful to everyone.

*Yes Jim, I know -- that's another thing that needs to be with the go bag...(Grin)

#820 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 08:54 PM:

Clifton Royston @809 -- Lots of good thoughts and also sympathy. I know the frustration of "These drugs help so much! ....Wait, they stopped helping. Crap. What do I do now?"

Glad you're able to see your doc soon and talk options. I hope you're able to find something that works better for you.

Brain meds are super frustrating. Finding the right ones has to be so trial-and-error. Grrr.

#821 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 09:17 PM:

#802

The Civil War, as it was fought about whether the slave society-economy of the Confederacy would rule the rest of the hemisphere -- yes, it was inevitable.

It was inevitable from the moment of the delegates signing the Constitution in Philadephia and the South Carolina signers coming home crowing that they got everything they wanted, i.e. embedding slavery in the document AND having wealth the foundation of power in the new Union -- AND having in the Constitution SLAVES counted as that wealth, i.e. the 3/5th clause.

The letter that John Adams and many others wrote after that signing, which included their names, says that there would be a bloody reckoning for that, but they did it because otherwise South Carolina would not sign and neither would Virginia, who were already exporting their overstock of bred slaves to new territories.

And then, and then, and Then -- along came the Louisiana Purchase.

As well as how many presidents from the south between the signing and the Civil War?

Love, C.

#822 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 09:53 PM:

Rikibeth @ 626 and etc

If anyone is going to/coming to Best Friends Day this weekend, we live 2 blocks from Vinyl Conflict. Flourospherians welcome.

#823 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2011, 11:48 PM:

Sam #823:

FLOURospherians? Will there be baking?

#824 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 07:18 AM:

I got out of Jersey City at 5 to beat the traffic...I am now sitting in front of the admin bldg waiting for 8am, when it opens. Fortunately it's a beautiful day.

#825 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 08:20 AM:

I knew that looked wrong, but I had the Last Word in a refined fashion.

However and on the other hand, my present to myself when I got a new job was a 20-quart mixer, as I do bake.

#826 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 10:32 AM:

I train the filters.

#827 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 10:34 AM:

Lori: Happy to hear of Katana's safe return.

TexAnne: Brava! And welcome to NY.

#828 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 10:34 AM:

Clifton Royston @ 809 ...
After almost a solid six months(?) after I finally started meds for ADD, during which my meltdowns and the worst depressive symptoms seemed to be gone gone gone at last, in the last month+ I've slid back into general "can't cope" meltdown feelings, and moderate depression. It's particularly been sliding down the past couple weeks, with bouts of insomnia making it worse. I'm not necessarily needing advice, as I'll be seeing the shrink again soon, but I won't sneer at it either.

As other folks have said, depending on the meds that you're taking, you build up a tolerance, which results in reduced benefit from the meds :(

Out of curiosity, has your caffeine intake increased recently? That's a pretty common self-medicating thing, and will also wreak bloody havoc on sleeping.

Also, if you don't tend to exercise regularly, doing some sort of exercise may help in the interim, before getting to your shrink.

#829 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 10:42 AM:

I train the filters a priori

#830 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 10:45 AM:

incredible test!

#831 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 10:54 AM:

Dave Bell @ #800, thus demonstrating that archaeologist != epidemiologist.

Clifton Royston @ #809, kind thoughts from here.

Lori @ #820, hooray!

#832 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 11:03 AM:

TexAnne @ 825... Huzzah!

#833 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 11:04 AM:

TexAnne @ 825... Huzzah!

#834 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 11:06 AM:

Darn! Posted twice. I blame the slow WiFi in Atlantis.

#835 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 11:58 AM:

Serge #835:

Given the difficulties with underwater radio propagation, I'm surprised the wifi would work at all.

#836 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 12:04 PM:

Radio propagation?

Gridley waves!

#837 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 12:07 PM:

TexAnne: Welcome to Long Island! When you get settled, drop me a line if you want to set up a mini-Gathering of Light.

#838 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 12:56 PM:

Been away from ML for a while, and see I've missed at least on huge thing...

All my best thoughts, Xopher. Heal well and heal quickly.

#839 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 01:26 PM:

Open-thready news:

My first lead role in a full-length play!

And it's in the club's 80th anniversary production, with the special guest director - who tells us, by the by, that we've got one of Irish literature's most glorious love scenes.

No pressure...

#840 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 03:12 PM:

More nastiness from Missouri (trigger warning: rape, official abuse):

From David Lubar (links added by me):

I'm hoping that somebody with a lot more time and a lot larger readership than I have will put together something about how the very same school board in Republic, MO where Wesley Scroggins tried to ban Laurie Halse Anderson's amazing novel, Speak, from the high school is now being sued for allowing a middle-school girl to be raped and forcing her to write an apology to her rapist. Given that Speak is about speaking out against rape, the irony of this situation is staggering.

#841 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 04:57 PM:

Paul A @ 840... Congratulations!

#842 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 05:42 PM:

Re: reflux mimicking upper respiratory/allergy issues:

It's not obvious, and I stumbled upon it by accident. Doc and I spent the winter and spring trying to treat what seemed like my worst case of allergies ever and exactly nothing worked. I happened to stumble across a reference to globus pharyngis* in an article on using anxiolytics to treat GERD. Since the lump was by far my most annoying symptom, attention was paid. Counter-intuitive diagnostics of this sort makes me wish for more Houses, even with the attendant bad attitude.

OT passive-aggressive rant mode ON: Local Bike Shop guy -- here's a hint. If you sneer at my bicycle, I am highly unlikely to spend more money in your shop. I am extremely likely to ride my beloved hybrid utility bike across the damned street to your competitor and buy not only my parts but my partner's new frame there. It's not like you're the only bike shop in town -- there are fifteen within ten miles, and 25 within twenty. Not to mention the entire Internet. In this economy can you really afford to piss off the customers who do indeed shell out for custom wheels? (Which wheels, I will remind you, you sold me.)

Further, if whilst sneering, you cannot refrain from patronizing me, you will soon find that the multi-tool you asked if I knew how to use is unfolded until it's nothing but sharp corners and shoved where it will do the most damage. Just because I ride a seven-speed hybrid girly step-through does not mean I am mechanically inept.

Dude, I don't care what your problem is -- if it's women, or plump people, or not-racers or not-stump-jumpers, whatever. Get over it. You're in retail, in a recession. Stop pissing off your customers.

Rant: Off

Three bike shops within three miles of my house... and all three make me want to throttle somebody.

*lump in the throat

#843 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 08:51 PM:

Welcome to New York, TexAnne!

(I live in Oregon, but I'm allowed to say that because I'm currently visiting my parents in Sullivan county.)

#844 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 09:47 PM:

CZEdwards: I hear you loud and clear on the bike shops. I quit going to one in town because of the attitude--and in complaining about that shop at another bike shop, was informed that the jerk who finally convinced me I'd had enough of that shop was in fact the owner. The owner of the second shop? Former employee of the first.

#845 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 09:49 PM:

Welcome, TexAnne, to the great East Coast! Your residency here can only be to our advantage; may it be to yours as well!

#846 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 11:56 PM:

CZEdwards @843:
Rather more than 3 miles from your house, but may I commend to your attention the Boulder Bikesmith. They will make a bike for you, not give you any lip, and are generally very courteous about helping with debugging.

They make bike maintenance quite, um, bearable.

#847 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 12:16 AM:

Happy for Lori and Katana! And, belatedly, Xopher Halftongue!

#848 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 02:38 AM:

This has been Have A Weird Week Week for me.

I'm not sure I want to say much more than that right now. But I'll be calling my attorney on Monday for advice on what to do about someone whose recent emails have gotten progressively more bizarre and disturbing.

#849 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 08:03 AM:

Bruce: Yikes. Good luck with that. At the risk of being helpy, the attorney may not be the only person you need to consult; I'm thinking someone who is trained to assess risk (risk to life/property, not legal liability).

#850 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 10:51 AM:

Open-threadiness: Does anyone know the name of the thing on a sewing machine that keeps the spool of thread from flying off? We've inherited a sewing machine (a Singer 5705 C) and that part seems to be missing, but it's hard to look for without a name.

#852 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 11:03 AM:

My post of a google search of sewing machine parts diagrams is held for review.

#853 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 11:20 AM:

A sorta-common comment-spammer trick is to link, not to their page, but to a Google search that returns the payload page. They apparently figure that no one would block or filter Google.com.

They figured wrong.

#854 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 01:31 PM:

Steve C.: In other words, LMGTFY?

I found a manual online, and it seems I might have been all wrong about the purpose of the little bar on top. It would help if I knew how to operate a sewing machine beyond "Step on pedal, needle go up and down." Time to experiment!

#855 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 01:41 PM:

#754 ::: C. Wingate

A bit late, but I note that when I worked in my university's library as a student, we consistently had people assigned to read the shelves, spine-label by spine-label, to find any books that had been misfiled.

The transition from dewey decimal to LOC seemed to confuse people, particularly as the university library I was at didn't print the decimals at the beginnings of the... er... serial numbers(?), so people who didn't go through any orientation would often very "helpfully" reorder entire shelves so that they were "in order" for the next patron.

#856 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 04:01 PM:

Finally finished moving my youngest daughter into her freshmen college dorm room, so rather late to the discussion. Frederica is my favorite-est ever Heyer, but nobody's voted for Regency Buck. It had, hmmm, well, issues, but I still loved it.

I enjoyed Bath Tangle as well, but that might not be everybody's cup of tea.

(N.B. I loved 3 of her mysteries, which probably makes me an RFG, so readers beware.)

#857 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 04:41 PM:

Finally catching up with the Open Threads after a while away (and just as I finish packing for another trip)...

But just also just in time for another belated 'yay!' for Xopher...

#858 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 08:09 PM:

JM @ 851 ...
Open-threadiness: Does anyone know the name of the thing on a sewing machine that keeps the spool of thread from flying off? We've inherited a sewing machine (a Singer 5705 C) and that part seems to be missing, but it's hard to look for without a name.

Er... do you mean the stick-like object somewhere near the top of the machine that you would put the spool of thread on, and from which thread then is fed through the machine?

If so, you don't really need the original bit -- a piece of dowel or a pen or the like will substitute quite nicely.

For that matter, if you're using large cones of thread, you can just put the cone on the table in a spot that makes it easy for the thread to feed off of it, and unlikely to get caught in what you're sewing...

#859 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 08:20 PM:

859
You can even get stands made to hold cone thread, so it unwinds smoothly.

#860 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 08:37 PM:

Serge @ #835:

It's easy to think of these things in hindsight, but I reckon what you should have done is post a third cheer and try to look like you meant to do that.

and @ #842:

Thank you!

#861 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 09:10 PM:

David Harmon at 841: that is a truly awful story. **stomps away muttering about karma**

Okay, so I just read The Spanish Bride. I didn't like it. Evidently Heyer wasn't done with Wellington; portions of the book read like edits from An Infamous Army, which is a much better book. (I'm assuming the pub dates reflect the actual order in which she wrote them.)

S'okay. A Civil Contract and Frederica make up for any number of duds.

#862 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 09:13 PM:

Free wifi on an aero-plane! Future finally here, MOD lack of jetpacks, coin-op sex robots, & vacations at lunar Holiday Inn.

#863 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 09:13 PM:

xeger @859: Turns out what I meant was the spool cap, but thank you! I think I can substitute a rubber band.

#864 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 09:17 PM:

Someone here has successfully merged two one-cat households into a single two-cat house, right?

Because things have taken a turn for the worse. The upstairs litter box is a battleground-- Iggy, small, grey, and friendly, likes to corner Patina, pudgy, tortoiseshell, and spooked. Which means she looks for somewhere else: my bed.

It's been two weeks. We didn't do the textbook slow introduction-- no way to manage it and they've both been okay with cats before. But the cats they've been okay with have matched with them-- Iggy likes other cats, Patina has liked them but in the past few years hasn't had any company and now she likes other cats as long as they know when to stop.

So we have one spooked cat under my bed, my room smells of enzyme cleaner, I'm worried that she's so scared of leaving the room that she'll simply stop doing so except for water, and that's no way to have a cat. She's my responsibility, and she's miserable.

They can be in the same room-- I bring her out in the evenings and she'll sit nearby as long as Iggy doesn't do anything. But Iggy always does something, and now I am a bad cat owner.

We have Feliway spray. I'm looking into a gate for a while. But I don't want to have Bedroom Cat and Living Room Cat, the way some of my friends have three separate kitty tribes. After two weeks, is there a way to help them get along?

#865 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 09:51 PM:

#856 ::: KayTei

A bit late, but I note that when I worked in my university's library as a student, we consistently had people assigned to read the shelves, spine-label by spine-label, to find any books that had been misfiled.

This is shelf-reading, which used to be and still should be a routine part of library maintenance. When I worked in a university library, it was traditional to assign student employees to this task, with greater or lesser degrees of success. When I worked in a federal scientific library, we had regular shelf-reading parties, where everyone was dispatched to various sections of the library. The festive* atmosphere made for a high degree of success. Many libraries no longer can afford enough staff to do shelf-reading often enough, alas.

At the time, the university library used both Library of Congress and Dewey classification, but completed the transition to LC in the early 70s. The government library used a unique proprietary classification system, for good and proper reasons having to do with the specialization of the rather large collection.

*Shhhh! Don't tell anyone, but there was drinking going on in the stacks. And this being the early 70s, some other festivities too.

#866 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 09:52 PM:

Lizzy L #862: No argument there.... I suspect at least some of the school officials involved could reasonably be prosecuted as accessories after the fact.

#867 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 11:07 PM:

Diatryma @865: This can be tough. I've merged 1 cat households 3 times and it only worked once. 1 was a spectacular failure, where the cats fought and injured each other (both were dominant in previous multi-cat households and neither would back down); the other ended with mutual ignoring (much like the human roommates at the time, lol).

Advice I've gotten/used, with varying degrees of success:

1 litterbox per cat--plus 1. Makes it harder for an aggressive beast to surveil all boxes.

A partial separation, to re-enact the slow introduction you couldn't do (the slow intro doesn't always work either). If you can close off part or parts of the residence, restrict each cat to a section for a while, so that each feels dominant somewhere. Then start opening up for a little while at a time.

I know someone who put a screen door on one bedroom and put the dominant cat in there every day for weeks until the two cats became accustomed to each other.

Best of luck.

#868 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2011, 11:26 PM:

For whatever it might be worth: the livestream video from the Hugos
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/worldcon1

#869 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 12:09 AM:

Diatryma @ 865 ...
Someone here has successfully merged two one-cat households into a single two-cat house, right?

I've merged various permutations of +1 onwards -- I'm currently in the midst of a rather drawn out merge of +1 into the household, where some of the cats are fine, and some aren't[0]

Because things have taken a turn for the worse. The upstairs litter box is a battleground-- Iggy, small, grey, and friendly, likes to corner Patina, pudgy, tortoiseshell, and spooked. Which means she looks for somewhere else: my bed.

Ugh. I've dealt with that one by adding a litterbox in the bedroom (which was/is a 'safe' place for the current +1).

It's been two weeks. We didn't do the textbook slow introduction-- no way to manage it and they've both been okay with cats before. But the cats they've been okay with have matched with them-- Iggy likes other cats, Patina has liked them but in the past few years hasn't had any company and now she likes other cats as long as they know when to stop.

Heh. If it's only been two weeks, that's not nearly time to worry yet. Depending on the cats, it can take several months to several years[1] for things to even out...

So we have one spooked cat under my bed, my room smells of enzyme cleaner, I'm worried that she's so scared of leaving the room that she'll simply stop doing so except for water, and that's no way to have a cat. She's my responsibility, and she's miserable.

Making sure that she's got a safe place is important -- and it sounds like her safe place is your room.

They can be in the same room-- I bring her out in the evenings and she'll sit nearby as long as Iggy doesn't do anything. But Iggy always does something, and now I am a bad cat owner.

We have Feliway spray. I'm looking into a gate for a while. But I don't want to have Bedroom Cat and Living Room Cat, the way some of my friends have three separate kitty tribes. After two weeks, is there a way to help them get along?

Again -- it's only been two weeks. That's still very much within the "OMG WTF!!!" range for cats starting to get along.

I'd go with repeated exposure and safe places. One of the things I've been doing with my current challenge boils down to bribery -- they're now generally okay with being around each other if treats are involved, and since a misbehaving cat gets no treats... there's motivation to behave.

Melissa Singer @ 868 ...
1 was a spectacular failure, where the cats fought and injured each other (both were dominant in previous multi-cat households and neither would back down);

I've got something of the opposite problem -- none of my cats that are slowly acclimatizing seem to be dominant, or particularly inclined to be dominant, so there's a lot of what I think of as the "No, you go ahead" doorway routine involved... and as long as there's no triggering behaviour (eg: startling the other cat(s), or running (which sets of chasing), or me paying too much attention to the wrong cat(s)), I've seen them get within a paw-length of each other sans complaint.

[0] Long story... buy me several drinks, and I'll go on about it...
[1] See above.

#870 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 02:08 AM:

We took our friend Anne's two cats into our household, shortly before Anne died two years ago.

Sethra, the fluffy ragdoll mix, was and still is fairly standoffish to the other cats, but has mellowed somewhat (less growling and whap-whap-whapping)over time. It's only in the last few months she's started to bond with people again (me, in particular).

Aliera, Anne's tiger-stripe, bonded fairly quickly with Tabbi, Hilde's caregiver when I'm at work, but is still intimidated by the other cats and mainly stays in Tabbi's room.

Gremlin, our Siamese, was the dominant cat in the household. When he died last month, it started a shuffle in pecking order. Gremlin had been able to go into Tabbi's room without upsetting Aliera. With Gremlin gone, Bastet (our hefty black cat) has been trying to extend her territory into Tabbi's room... and Aliera does NOT get along with Bastet. The hissing-and-pissing contest there still lacks a clear winner.

In short, it gets complicated.

#871 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 02:43 AM:

Thanks for the cat advice. I talked to Iggy's person and she pointed out that she's been through a lot of transitions and stress lately. The current plan is to baby-gate the house into bedrooms, including the bathroom litter box, and living room, including the kitchen and the basement with its two boxes. Possibly with supervised visits in the evening. My cat's safe space is definitely my room, has been since I opened her carrier.

And it matters some that I have also gone through a lot of transitions and stress lately. This is one more thing to handle, and something it is okay to freak out about some.

#872 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 08:58 AM:

HLN: Local man thinks his driver's license is about to expire. After some time, and a check of MVA office hours and related information, man wonders why he hasn't received a renewal notice. Closer examination of driver's license reveals that license expires in 2012 . Local man feels foolish but at least doesn't have to spend next Saturday morning in MVA office.

#873 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 09:53 AM:

Michael I @874 If it makes you feel any better, I did the exact same thing a few years ago and I didn't notice until I had had my picture taken and was called to the window at the DMV.

#874 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 10:13 AM:

I think anyone who's been watching or listening to political news could perhaps be forgiven for thinking it's 2012.

#875 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 11:27 AM:

875
And that it's some other universe that we're being sent politicians from. If we could find that wormhole, maybe we could get it closed. Or caged.

#876 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 03:39 PM:

Michael I #873 - can you not renew by post? That's how they do it here in the UK, although since your licence once you pass is good for 50 years, the main issue is when you get points on the licence or change your address.

#877 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 03:44 PM:

Politicians have always been from an alternate reality.

#878 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 04:02 PM:

Diatrima @865 We introduced a new cat into our household about three months after we lost our senior kitty Lars. The new senior kitty, Rupert, had been completely subservient to the quite elderly Lars.

When we brought Hugo, our new junior kitty into the house, there was about a month of cat politics. Rupert wanted to be the boss, and Hugo wasn't sure about the whole thing.

We did do the slow introduction thing, but I don't really think it did too much to avert the inevetable. So don't feel too bad about not having done it.

Rupert started cornering Hugo in the litter box, and Hugo started going in the corner in the living room. What worked was adding a second litter box in the small bathroom off of our bedroom, and switching over to covered boxes. This made Hugo feel safer.

The other thing we did was to put some double sided tape on cheap plastic placemats, and put the mats in the spot where Hugo was defecating. The other benefit to this is that it was fun to watch the cats hating the tape.

I think you'll have cats living in harmony once they work out the politics. Also, the double-stick tape thing really does work. Good luck!

#879 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 04:03 PM:

Erik @ 878: Yes, but many of the recent crop seem to be from a less-parallel alternate reality.

#880 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 05:15 PM:

877
It depends on where you're licensed. In California, you can renew by mail twice (for a total of 14 years, roughly), but then you have to go in yourself and get a new picture, at least. It's only bad because, well, the DMV has lines, and even with an appointment, you have to stand in one or another line. (It's an hour total, if you're lucky.)

#881 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 05:52 PM:

Diatryma @ 865: As an addition to the baby gate solution, if you feed them at scheduled times, try feeding them right next to one another on opposite sides of the baby gate. We had reasonably good luck with that, feeding two difficult introductions on opposite sides of a closed door--they started to associate each other's smell with Yummy Stuff, and gradually grew less hostile.

#882 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 06:02 PM:

877, 881 (Driver's License renewals)

But, if you have an EDL (Enhanced Driver's License) that lets you cross the Canadian border by land or sea you need to show up in person to renew. Or to change your address. Or your name (as my wife just had to do).

I got the thing so I could go to Canada on vacation while my passport was off at the Indian consulate for a visa. Although I've never actually crossed the border on the spur of the moment, it's nice to know I can.

I sometimes wonder if I should be paranoid and carry the thing in the foil-lined sleeve they gave me when I got it so nobody can read the RFID. Supposedly, all that's in there is an identifying number that can be used to retrieve my record from the system when a border agent scans it.

#883 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 06:53 PM:

Larry 883: I sometimes wonder if I should be paranoid and carry the thing in the foil-lined sleeve they gave me when I got it so nobody can read the RFID.

You should. If someone gets that number they can make a fake one that will read as you.

#884 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 08:33 PM:

Cat Politics:

We've done the add-a-cat thing twice: once bringing Annie home to meet Nim (#1 Cat), and after Nim's passage bringing Monty home to meet Annie.

When we first brought Monty home we kept her in the bathroom for a couple of days, but my other half felt sorry for her and let her out. I suspect that this, and the fact that he carried the crate containing Monty into the house in the first place, are why Annie has been mad at him for over a year (and has decided I am the niftiest thing since canned tuna.)

We have two litter pans (covered, because Monty is a big cat who was doing her business with the wrong end in the litter box) and two feeding stations, both on separate floors of the house. We did this when we brought Annie home and kept the setup, which seemed to help Annie adjust to Monty's arrival.

There has been some territorial squabbling over the last year, mostly being Monty wanting to do whatever Annie does and Annie wanting absolutely no part of this whatsoever. It reminds me of my own reaction to the arrival of my younger brother (about which I was most definitely not consulted, and of which I did not approve.)

We are now 15 months into the second transition, and just back from a week of vacation without the cats (left at home in the care of a daily pet-sitter.) They have neither starved nor killed each other, and we only found one pile of cat yack (so far) so I consider this a success.

They do get along relatively well I guess, although just before heading out of town I was startled by hissing behind me and turned to see Monty, sitting back in alarm, outside the basement catbox, from whose cover Annie's two little white paws were batting. I'm not sure who startled whom first.

We can't get a third cat, because there is no good place in this house for another feeding station and another litter box.


#885 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 08:53 PM:

Completely unrelated to any existing open-threadiness...

HLN: Area woman arrived at work this morning to discover her key didn't work. Since a coworker had mentioned yesterday that the owner had been informed by a local homeless person about an illicit intrusion the previous weekend--one that did NOT set off the alarm, implying access by someone with both key and alarm code--area woman assumed the two incidents were related and turned on cell phone to call boss. Discovered several voicemails on both cell and land line telling woman not to go to work today; one mentioned plumbing issues.

Area woman went to breakfast, then went home, caught up on email, and just thanked her lucky stars that she had not left her laptop at work with the intention of doing more work on a special project that was still behind.

About half an hour ago, woman checked email again--to discover several emails from coworkers referring to an email from the owner (not received by woman)...indicating from context that owner had shuttered the business.

Woman worked a full 40 hours plus much overtime last week, is concerned about any info in owner's email re: payment of wages owed.

Woman reveals self as the Me who is not Me who posted a while back about trying to save her home.

Woman finds this development...scary as hell. Asks Fluorospherians if they know any employment-type entities in the Los Angeles area in need of a copy editor or proofreader. Most of her work in the field has been done electronically so she's rusty on proofreading marks, but can learn quickly. Appreciates any referrals and offers thanks in advance, but expects none, understanding the job market sucks right now.

Woman offers much-belated condolences to those who have recently suffered losses of friends and family, whether two-footed, four-footed, winged or finned. Also offers healing mojo to all with health issues, and rejoices that Xopher Halftongue has reported at least once instance of singing.

**Updated to add: during the 20 minutes it took to write the above, a coworker forwarded owner's email. The business has, in fact, closed, another casualty of the current economy. Final checks are supposed to be mailed on Monday.**

#886 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 09:12 PM:

Syd: Good thoughts headed your way. Sorry to hear of all the troubles.

#887 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2011, 09:42 PM:

@Xopher - If anyone faked my EDL and tried to use it to cross the border, they'd need more of my PII. The name and DL number (not the same as on the RFID) would have to match, as well as DOB, photo and more detailed physical description. In fact the photo has to be an EXACT match because the DL photo comes up on their display when they scan the license.

It'd be more likely to land the copier in jail than enable an escape to Canada.

#888 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 08:27 AM:

TexAnne #825: I believe that the correct posting should have been "Thalatta! Thalatta!"

#889 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 08:54 AM:

Syd: good thoughts from down here in the Southeast. Wish I could offer some more concrete assistance.

#890 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 11:53 AM:

Diatryma -- I've done the 2 household/multiple cats situation a couple of times. The most successful one was when we bought the Feliway plug-ins and placed one in each room.

The new cats spent most of their first six weeks with us hiding in the bathroom linen closet. They only came out of there to use the litterboxes on the screen porch. (The porch is the cats favorite part of the house.)

Most of the original crew has passed on -- the sole remaining one is our elderly 'Mese, DC. The "new cats," Tao and Tealc are almost senior citizens, and the youngest, Valentine, we adopted this past February.

#891 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 02:30 PM:

Syd: If Hollywood is an acceptable radius and call center help desk isn't out of the question, my employer j2 Global Communications has a posted opening

(Others: also in Ottawa, Dallas, Chicago, Dublin, Burnaby B.C. - total of 37 openings from low-end to executive.)

#892 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 03:47 PM:

Jack Layton died this morning. If you're not Canadian, you likely won't know that name: he was the leader of the Official Opposition, the New Democratic Party.

I'm surprisingly upset about this. I mean, I voted NDP, but I never met the man. He seemed (to most people I know, and was known generally as) just a good guy. I thought of him as not perfect, but as an actual working politician, with stated goals that I understood and agreed with, and a straightforward way of speaking and being. He was a source of hope, for me, that maybe the Conservative majority wouldn't actually fuck us all over permanently.

Knowing he was dying, he wrote a letter to be released by his family upon his death; you can find it here, if you want to read it.

The last words are:

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."

That's gone now, and I'm just sad.

#893 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 04:17 PM:

Syd: Good luck, and may the Force be with you. Scary sh*t, jobhunting. We have a job hunting list out here that is local to this area. I wonder if there is something like that in your neck of the woods?

I would also search for local and semi-local writers associations and alliances, because those sometimes have job listings. (You might have to be a member, unless you can find a friend who is a member to pass promising listings on to you.)

A quick Google brings up: Southern California Writers Association and The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society. Also, there's Local Writers' Associations and Groups by State.

#894 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 04:47 PM:

Thank you to everyone who's made suggestions on my Annoying Yawning Problem. I tried the ranitidine approach today. Bupkiss. I guess that means it isn't reflux.

Now I guess I have to find a tennis ball and see if that makes a difference.

I do want to rule out as much as I can on my own before I go to the doctor again, since the last time I did, the answer was "nope, no obvious cause," and I've eliminated the thing we suspected then.

#895 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 05:29 PM:

Syd, I hope that check comes, and wish you good fortune with the job hunt.

#896 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 08:24 PM:

Syd, best wishes for dealing with your disproportionate helping of trouble. I hope that check comes as soon as possible.

#897 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 08:27 PM:

Cheryl @ 893 ...
The last words are:
"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."


Jack Layton was a class act, and we're all poorer for his untimely passing.

#898 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 09:51 PM:

Many Thanks to Henry Troup @ 892 and Jacque @ 894 for the ideas, and Lizzy and JM for the good wishes. Hollywood is definitely in the approved radius and the only thing that concerns me about that posting is not having a technical background, but it's worth a shot. And Jacque, this is one of the reasons I don't feel so bad about asking for help here: other people's minds work differently and may therefore come up with ideas I'm not able to "see" for some reason.

The check issue, BTW, has gotten...stranger. Rather than being mailed, we now have to go to the building of our former employer tomorrow between 9:00am and 11:00am and physically pick up our checks, after which we are directed to go IMMEDIATELY to the bank of issue to cash them. Add to this that my schedule in the computer didn't get revised to reflect my 10+ hours of overtime, and I started to get a little paranoid.

But I have just gotten a confirmation email from the bookkeeper that she received my email with my adjusted hours, and that my check will include them, so that's good. Now I just make sure I'm out of the house on time tomorrow--and that I know the most efficient route to the bank.

And apropros of not much, someone in the very near neighborhood has either hired a mariachi band, or one is having a practice session. The trumpet is noticeable. Not bad, just...piercing.

#900 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2011, 10:15 PM:

Syd @899 - Having worked for a small business with cash flow issues at one point, I can understand exactly why you would /want/ to cash your check immediately at the bank of issue. (And why your employer would want you to - if they only have just enough cash to make the last payroll but not another debt that's coming due, they want to make sure their employees get made right first. As opposed to my previous employer, who occasionally bounced paychecks, which is generally Very Bad News for all parties concerned.)

Good vibes and good luck in your unexpected quest. (I'm in between employers at the moment, too, but this is such a regular occurrence for me it hardly bears mentioning except by way of commiseration.)

#901 ::: Sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 12:21 AM:

Jack Layton was a rare human among politicians, especially among the humorless crop we've got in Ottawa now. He'll be missed, not just as the bemoustached face of the NDP, but as the representative of ordinary, working Canadians, and as the champion of the idea that we can all work together for a better tomorrow.

He stood for something other than fear-of-the-other and I've-got-mine. Vaya con Dios, Jack.

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